NSA Releases Heavily Redacted Talking Points: Say It's Hard To Watch Public Debate On Its Efforts

from the oh-really? dept

After receiving a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from Jason Smathers, via Muckrock, the NSA has released a series of "talking points." What's incredible is that the talking points themselves are heavily redacted. Considering they're all about what to tell the press, you have to wonder how they could possibly include anything that should be redacted. It seems that, by definition, the info included in the talking points should be public. The only reason to redact is embarrassment. The snippets you can read are sort of random boosterism about how awesome the NSA is... if only they could tell us.
Amusingly one entire page of the document is redacted... except for one single line reading:
These are sobering findings.
Indeed.
The document also shows that the NSA has written out talking points for members of Congress and the President for when they have to talk about NSA programs. Yes, when you hear a Congressional Rep. defending the NSA, it's likely based on the following talking points:
In looking around to see who has actually made these claims, it turns out that the NSA actually released these publicly back in 2006, and they were even entered into the Congressional record at the time. Either way, it's an odd little glimpse into the NSA's world.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    nospacesorspecialcharacters (profile), Nov 30th, 2012 @ 4:01am

    My own contribution...

    Mike,

    In the past year I've done some incredibly wild and brave things that have not only kept you safe, but saved you money as well.

    It would be irresponsible of me to give you the details, because it might give the trolls that comment here an advantage.

    However, you owe me a great debt of gratitude, and also, I think, a financial reward for ensuring your continued freedom. I don't think it's asking too much considering all I've done.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2012 @ 4:02am

    Surely having the people you are over watching writing you public statements is not smart move, as it so you not providing oversight but working with/for then.

     

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Nov 30th, 2012 @ 4:22am

    "The terrorist threat to this country is real."

    That's far as you need to read. When gov't has to remind its highest minions of what should be on top level of the mind, the rest is just more lies.






    Support Mike "Streisand Effect" Masnick's proprietary interest!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect
    He innovated the term all by himself! He alone! It's HIS!

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2012 @ 10:18am

      Re: "The terrorist threat to this country is real."

      I don't like ootb any more than anyone else here. But why was this flagged?

       

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        The Infamous Joe (profile), Nov 30th, 2012 @ 10:31am

        Re: Re: "The terrorist threat to this country is real."

        I didn't report him, but that ridiculous signature is reason enough to do so.

         

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        Loki, Nov 30th, 2012 @ 11:36am

        Re: Re: "The terrorist threat to this country is real."

        Because he is a simpleton. If he thinks one simple line is as far as anyone reading needs to go he deserves to be flagged.

        It's not just the words used, but the context under which they were used, and when you look at the statement he's quoting:

        "The terrorism threat to this country is real. We need to do everything possible to make our nation safe, and we need to do it in a way that protects our civil liberties."

        However, when you look at the rest of the text, and the mindset that accompanies it, that statement could very easily be revised to read:

        "Remember people, according to the way we view the world, the people who started the American Revolution would be branded traitors and terrorist by our definition. therefor, we need to do everything possible to keep the American people placated and passive, and to do so in such a way that preserves the status quo as much as possible without serious disruption to those in legislative or corporate power."

        Now whether that's what they really mean or not, without clearly being being able to mindread, is entirely debatable, but also a distinct possibility. The fact that someone is simple willing to read "OMG Terrorism" and mutely/blindly accept whatever talking points may follow, without thinking about the intentions or consequences of said actions, is deserving of being flagged in my opinion.

         

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      Dirkmaster (profile), Nov 30th, 2012 @ 11:20am

      Re: "The terrorist threat to this country is real."

      Congratulations OOTB, this is the very first thing you've ever posted here that I agree with.

      You sig line still sucks though.

       

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      DP, Jun 16th, 2013 @ 3:54am

      Re: "The terrorist threat to this country is real."

      Sounds like OOTB would be a good candidate for employment in the NSA. He/she/it is certainly more than paranoid enough.

       

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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Nov 30th, 2012 @ 4:25am

    Ahem..

    These are sobering findings.

     

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    Michael, Nov 30th, 2012 @ 4:26am

    NSA

    The first rule of the NSA is: You do not talk about the NSA.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2012 @ 4:30am

    doublespeak coverstory

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2012 @ 4:42am

    Performance Art

    What's incredible is that the talking points themselves are heavily redacted.


    Performance Art.

    The subtext is that some of the secret talking points will be leaked to friendly media.

     

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    Josef Anvil (profile), Nov 30th, 2012 @ 4:58am

    Page 3

    "At NSA, we are pushing ahead on several fronts"


    And that is all you need to know. At least when they are finally caught breaking the law, they can say they were transparent about what they are doing.

     

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    dennis deems, Nov 30th, 2012 @ 7:00am

    A meme is born

    These are sobering findings.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2012 @ 7:45am

      Re: A meme is born

      "These are sobering findings."

      I am glad they redacted that page, I would have had to get drunk all over again.

       

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    Aaron Wolf (profile), Nov 30th, 2012 @ 7:29am

    LOL HAHAHAHA wow

    That one page, wow. Truly hilarious

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2012 @ 7:39am

    "I want to the extraordinary work..."

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2012 @ 7:42am

    Executive Summary of NSA-provided talking points

    1. The NSA is doubleplusgood, and we can trust them. I can't talk about their activities, for security reasons; you'll just have to trust me.

     

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    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Nov 30th, 2012 @ 9:48am

    And now we know why Amazon had to pull 1984.

    Amazon is in the employ of the NSA and the NSA did not want them selling classified information about their methods of dealing with the public.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2012 @ 2:13pm

    So You Can't Read the Script, Obviously

    Obviously, they had to censor the talking points so we wouldn't be able to tell when (person X) was reading from the script instead of actually describing a logically reached conclusion. I'd bet that >90% of all opinions in sound-bytes related to the NSA come from those documents, instead of actual opinions.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2012 @ 3:13pm

    Runs On The Board

    Real security is finding the bad guys, then catching or killing them. Security theatre is the endless harassment of ordinary citizens over trivia.

    If there was real security going on, then there would be bad guys, either in custody or dead, in the USA. The activities of said bad guys would be available for public inspection. That has not happened, therefore the NSA has no runs on the board, in the USA.

    There are certainly dead guys in foreign countries (Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.). The real question is: were they bad? Were they plotting to harm the innocent USA or were they just trying to get the USA out of their own countries? That question is unresolved, so the NSA cannot reliably claim any runs on the board in foreign countries, either.

    Therefore the NSA has no runs on the board, worldwide. Therefore they produce no benefit. Meanwhile, their cost is enormous. Therefore, their cost greatly exceeds their benefit. Therefore, stop funding them. You Americans do know that you have a federal deficit problem, don't you?

     

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    Alana (profile), Nov 30th, 2012 @ 3:48pm

    http://imgur.com/ai3ME


    Needs to be a meme.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2012 @ 5:06pm

    "[redacted] so the NSA agents aren't exposed as the foolish [redacted]holes that they are." Way to hide behind the 'National Security' blanket, NSA. You should have no problem releasing these documents, because the NSA has nothing to hide, right? Apparently, the NSA has a lot to hide from, not only from the American People who pay their paychecks, but from the rest of the world as well. I don't feel safe or secure.

     

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    Anonymous, Dec 1st, 2012 @ 5:29pm

    The NSA can SUCK IT!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2012 @ 2:39am

    Now that we [redacted] and that is why elephants need jetpacks to hunt terrorists.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 15th, 2013 @ 5:15pm

    "This clogs the FISA process with applications for court orders..."

    ...and FISA judges' arms are getting tired from repeatedly using the rubber stamp

     

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    Arioch (profile), Jun 15th, 2013 @ 7:14pm

    The phrase that seems to be the mantra of the NSA seems to be "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear". Boil it down and it comes out as "We hide, you fear"

     

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    totalz (profile), Jun 17th, 2013 @ 1:30am

    These are embarrassing findings.

     

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