View Full Version : The NSA's Overt Problem

01-02-2006, 09:19 AM
1 Jan. Washington Post - The NSA's Overt Problem (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/30/AR2005123001594.html).

In any war, surveillance of the enemy is critical. Today, in the eyes of at least some Americans, surveillance itself has become the enemy.

It was not always so. As any intelligence maven knows, some of the heroes of World War II were eavesdroppers, not soldiers...

Who are our masters of surveillance today? Most are located at the National Security Agency, the giant "Crypto City" complex located off Interstate 95 between Washington and Baltimore. The agency vacuums up 650 million intercepts a day -- called signals intelligence, or sigint -- from satellites, ground stations, aircraft, ships and submarines around the world. And it hunts for patterns that might lend seemingly ordinary words significance in the war on terrorism.

But the agency and its experts are not being hailed as heroes right now. The NSA, so secretive that its letters are commonly said to stand for "No Such Agency," has been uncomfortably in the limelight in recent weeks after the New York Times revealed that as the result of a presidential order, the agency has been monitoring thousands of Americans over the phone and by e-mail without court authorization.

As the controversy over the legality and propriety of domestic surveillance by the National Security Agency rages on, one question has not been adequately addressed: Is the NSA's approach really the best way of tracking terrorists? While there's no question that the NSA's covert move into domestic surveillance raises serious legal and ethical issues, the equally important and less examined question is whether -- more than four years after 9/11 -- the agency's methods are suited to tracking the jihadists...

07-15-2009, 06:32 PM
Offices of the Inspectors General of the DoD, DoJ, CIA, NSA, and ODNI, 10 Jul 09:

Unclassified Report on the President's Surveillance Program (http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/pdf/IGTSPReport090710.pdf)

....In the weeks following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 the President authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct a classified program to detect and prevent further attacks in the United States. As part of the NSA's classified program, several different intelligence activities were authorized in Presidential Authorizations, and the details of these activities changed over time. The program was reauthorized by the President approximately ever 45 days, with certain modifications. Collectively, the activities carried out under these Authorizations are referred to as the "President's Surveillance Program" or "PSP".

One of the activities authorized as part of the PSP was the interception of the content of communications into and out of the United States where there was a reasonable basis to conclude that one part to the communication was a member of al-Qa'ida or related terrorist organizations. This aspect of the PSP was publicly acknowledged and described by the President, the Attorney General, and other Administration officials beginning in December 2005 following a series of articles published in The New York Times. The Attorney General subsequently publicly acknowledged the fact that other intelligence activities were also authorized under the same Presidential Authorization, but the details of those activities remain classified....

George L. Singleton
07-16-2009, 09:49 AM
Keeping specifics and details Top Secret is how the war game is played, despite the new Attorney General's foolish and immature remarks. Eric Holder may just be getting himself sidewise with the President today.

10-24-2009, 05:31 PM
James Bamford has written a review of new book on NSA (pub. July 2009):
Matthew Aid's The Secret Sentry: The Untold History of the National Security Agency: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1596915153/counterpane/

The review is: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/23231

Late discovery as this website referred to one I.T. aspect: http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2009/10/james_bamford_o.html

It is a long time since I read Bamford's original The Puzzle Palace (Pub. 1982).