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back to article NSA coughs to 1000s of unlawful acts of snooping on US soil since 2008

The NSA violated privacy laws thousands of times in the last five years by spying on US citizens, an internal audit by the super-snoopers has disclosed. The Washington Post reports that the intelligence agency also overstepped its legal remit since Congress gave it broad powers in 2008. Most of the violations involved …

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Fetch my paintbox ...

... and colour me surprised.

Cue platitudes and excuses from Keith Alexander in 5 ... 4 ... 3 ...

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Happy

Re: Fetch my paintbox ...

Just heard on the radio they're going to make a statement today.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fetch my paintbox ...

"Just heard on the radio they're going to make a statement today."

"We officially acknowledge that, unofficially, a few individuals working for numerous United States intelligence agencies may have overstepped their legal authority.

However, we can not officially acknowledge the unofficial activities due to 'national security' issues.

Therefore, we believe that the official investigation will reach a conclusion, one reached via closed-door negotiations to assure the America public of being secure against the threats against us. The negotiations and settlement will be officially classified, due to the sensitive nature of the NSA policies under investigation, but, rest assured, the interest of the American people will be taken into account and the proper precautions will be taken in the future."

Does that doublespeak sound about right?

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Holmes

Re: Fetch my paintbox ...

Quelle surprise!

In other news, the new pope is also catholic, just like the old one.

And park rangers have observed repeated patterns of arboreal ursine defecation

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Re: Fetch my paintbox ...

I didn't know bears shit from trees.

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Re: Fetch my paintbox ...

"I didn't know bears shit from trees".

He was probably thinking of the notorious pigeon bears of East Dakota.

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Meh

Error Error Error

The really scary part of this is that these violations are at the consolidation and analysis center so they only reflect errors that escaped redaction at the collection centers, where the majority of the work gets done.

So what we're looking at here is a system that is so broken the presence of ~2500 constitutionally illegal procedures slip through the curtains to be reported, the rest are squashed hidden suppressed corrected before they get reported to HQ.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Error Error Error

> . . .

Most of the violations involved unauthorised surveillance of Americans and foreigners in the US. Problems arose thanks to clumsy operator mistakes, insufficient or inaccurate research, failures to follow the correct procedures and even typos.

. . . <

Typos.

And no one mentioned Terry Gilliam's Brazil yet.

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Re: Error Error Error

That would be 2776 errors out of how many queries? For an overall error rate of what? The Post inconveniently does not mention that, so the number is effectively meaningless. That number is undesirable, to be sure, but it certainly be more meaningful if put in a suitable context.

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Re: Error Error Error

If you repeatedly fire a machine gun at random in a highly populated area, sooner or later someone will be killed. There is no need to put anything in "a suitable context". A criminal act is a criminal act, and thousands of criminal acts are A VERY BAD THING, no matter what "error rate" they are said to represent. If someone is doing something that is supposedly legal, but every now and then makes a mistake that results in an illegal act, that person has (broadly speaking) three main options:

1. Stop making ANY errors.

2. Stop the activity.

3. Go to prison.

By the way, how many people have been sent to prison for these "thousands of illegal acts"?

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There is probably another court that gives them permission to ignore anything that this one tells them do that they don't want to.

If they just came out and said basically they do what they like with no oversight that would annoy me less.

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@h3

"If they just came out and said basically they do what they like with no oversight that would annoy me less".

Yes, but it would rudely puncture the carefully-nursed illusions of "democracy", "freedom", "human rights", and "the rule of law". Which is more important - at least, to the people who matter.

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Fetch me my Troll hat!

This is just a smear campaign, America is land of the free.......etc

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fetch me my Troll hat!

agreed... Land of the Free, my ass! At least the UK admits where and how they limit their citizens rights. Long live the Socialist Elite!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fetch me my Troll hat!

"At least the UK admits where and how they limit their citizens rights. "

But, like the USA,, only when they'ce been found out.

E.g. spying rubbish bins in London.

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Headmaster

Re: Fetch me my Troll hat!

"Land of the Free, my ass!"

"Ass", my arse.

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Jail time?

And how many people are looking at 90years for this

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Mushroom

Re: Jail time?

Here's a hint - it's probably a nice, round number ...

... which is one of the many things that makes this so fucking annoying.

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Linux

Re: Jail time?

"And how many people are looking at 90years for this" -- Probably just the one ... Edward Snowden.

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So they admitted 2000+ cases

presumably these are the ones they could be caught out on anyway.

I wonder what the *real* number is ?

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Re: So they admitted 2000+ cases

[I wonder what the *real* number is ?]

It's probably like roaches - if you see one, you've got dozens.

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One rule for one...

'“We’re a human-run agency operating in a complex environment with a number of different regulatory regimes, so at times we find ourselves on the wrong side of the line,” a senior NSA official told the Post in an interview.'

I wonder how the courts would view it if a multinational company said, "We are a human-run company operating under several legal systems in different countries, so at times we find ourselves on the wrong side of the line".

Or a car driver said "I'm a human driver, driving on a lot of different roads with a lot of different speed limits, so at times I find myself driving too fast".

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Terminator

Re: One rule for one...

Don't worry, the error prone, fleshy element in the equation will soon be eradicated: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/08/09/snowden_nsa_to_sack_90_per_cent_sysadmins_keith_alexander/

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Re: One rule for one...

I think you mean the potentially ethical, "fleshy element in the equation will soon be eradicated:"

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Black Helicopters

Well, I am glad this came out.

I'd been hoping that something cataloging the number of violations that occur within the NSA would come out. Now we at least get some smallish glimpse of the truth.

Keep in mind that these violations only concern American citizens, residents and travelers who are within the U.S. The rest of the world is a SigInt free-fire zone as far as the NSA is concerned. I don't overly mind that, since I as an American don't have many legal protections from snooping by foreign governments--that's just the world is. But if you are one of el Reg's many, many non-American readers, you can assume that there are no legal barrier between the NSA and whatever personal or work-related data you are working with.

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Anonymous Coward

You what?

"I'm a human firearms operator, firing at a lot of different targets so at times I find myself shooting people and US senators."

That's not going to get you off a murder charge, is it?

One week jail time per incident sounds quite reasonable, and 53 years in the slammer might concentrate the mind of the NSA's chief.

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Re: You what?

However; "I'm a human missile operator and sometimes hit the wrong town" - does get you off a murder charge.

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Joke

Re: You what?

missing by a town, that's understandable given the difficulties manually targetting these things. What do you expect them to do, create an Earth-spanning set of positioning satellites? Or maybe spend millions creating a way of navigating using spinning lasers?! While we're at it let's throw in bouncing radio waves too! Honestly, you people and your science fiction.

Next you'll be saying they should be prosecuted for bombing the next-but-one country during that Kosovo conflict a few years back. This is war, son, and people die in-theatre. Or, in that case, thousands of miles outside it.

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Re: You what?

"I'm a human firearms operator, firing at a lot of different targets so at times I find myself shooting people and US senators."

That's not going to get you off a murder charge, is it?

That depends if you're a cop or not...

http://reason.com/blog/2013/07/11/cops-shoot-man-in-bed-shooting-ruled-jus

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How on Earth did they over step their remit?

When their remit seems to be - do whatever the hell you want !

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Bigger Gov

So, you big gov Socialist types think bigger government is a good thing, huh?

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Big Brother

Re: Bigger Gov

You small gov NeoCon types certainly think bigger government is a good thing, at least when it comes to the military and espionage (both international and domestic)

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FAIL

Re: Bigger Gov

Conservatives support growing government too. They just want it to grow in a way that puts money into their programs. Don't ever buy that bullishit about the conservative platform being for smaller government, it isn't; their platform is greater control.

A study of their own policies prove it, it's just that the conservatives are also known for completely ignoring their own facts if it'll get them what they want.

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This should be made a movie!

Once again, Snowden leaked documents that the NSA really wishes didn't exist. I am telling you....this is shaping up to be the best plot for a movie!

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I see the Fnords

"The audit only covers figures from the NSA's Maryland headquarters"

I read this as "NSA's marketing headquarters"

" so at times we find ourselves on the wrong side of the line"

I read this as "so we often find ourselves"

"The FISC does not have the capacity to investigate issues of non-compliance, and in that respect the FISC is in the same position as any other court when it comes to enforcing [government] compliance with its orders"

And I read that last 'compliance' as 'non'compliance.

Is this what is meant by the phrase 'I see the fnords" I wonder?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I see the Fnords

A Discordian is Prohibited from Believing What he reads.

Including the above sentence, on pain of pain.

-Mascoponi in situ.

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Black Helicopters

Re: I see the Fnords

Yes, I believe that's likely what they were aiming at when exposing the fnords to the uninitiated.

It's a pity you had to tell everyone about your revelation though. I for one will miss your commentary when you're replaced with a duplicate Runcible Spoon... Runcible Spork!

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WTF?

Meaning?

logs 2,776 incidents of "unauthorized collection, storage, access to or distribution of legally protected communications"

Which particular meaning of the word "collection" is being used here?

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Re: Meaning?

Collection, noun: The act or process of collecting a like type group of items or other works.

It looks like they're trying to collect the complete set.

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Anonymous Coward

Lies to the American people.

Lies to the courts.

Generating documents telling people how to lie to oversight bodies and other government agencies.

How do you know you are not being lied to Mr. Obama? Congress?

"In God we trust."

You are not God.

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"In God we trust."

Only since 1953

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Re: only since 1953

...which, if Eisenhower is to be believed, is roughly when the rot set in.

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Meh

mea culpa

This just means that someone will get a good bollixing, the NSA will announce "Problem solved, it won't happen again" - and America will go back to watching FOX News and Reality TV.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: mea culpa

If they watch FOX News then they may actually see this NSA news as a top story. If they watch CNN or MSNBC then they will just be watching about Hanna Anderson and Lisa Robin Kelly. Of course, if the incompetent George Bush were President then these so called "News" orgs would be calling for his impeachment.

The Washington Post is a left leaning newspaper, but they at least seem to have some level of integrity.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: mea culpa

"...will get a good bollixing..."

Are you kidding me? With this administration? This is typical Chicago style tactics. The ends justify the means. What happened to the people that brought us the IRS attacking conservative groups? They got promotions. The one guy that was "let go" was retiring this year anyway. Too many rights being ignored with this administration. Wake up!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: mea culpa

The last lot were the same, if not worse.

It must be difficult to be an American citizen, having to choose between two near-identical sets of power-mad or just plain mad rulers when so many are fanatical about each of them.

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Re: mea culpa

Erm... show me how it is different here in the UK?

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Coat

Re: mea culpa

We have the Monster Raving Loony Party!

Sanest guys in politics.

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Anonymous Coward

caused by?

"Problems arose thanks to clumsy operator mistakes, insufficient or inaccurate research, failures to follow the correct procedures and even typos."

They missed out 'arrogance' - "we're the NSA and you ain't worth shit"

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Re: caused by?

They missed "We really didn't think this would get out".

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