NY Times Reveals NSA Searches All Emails In & Out Of The US; Will It Offer Up Its Source For Prosecution?

from the just-wondering dept

This morning, the NY Times' Charlie Savage broke yet another story concerning the NSA domestic surveillance efforts, revealing that... the NSA does a scan of every email going in or out of the US:
The National Security Agency is searching the contents of vast amounts of Americans’ e-mail and text communications into and out of the country, hunting for people who mention information about foreigners under surveillance, according to intelligence officials.

The N.S.A. is not just intercepting the communications of Americans who are in direct contact with foreigners targeted overseas, a practice that government officials have openly acknowledged. It is also casting a far wider net for people who cite information linked to those foreigners, like a little used e-mail address, according to a senior intelligence official.
Again this is the kind of thing that many people had assumed was going on, but it hadn't been confirmed until now. Of course, the NSA's response was not to talk about whether or not this was true, but to claim, yet again, that everything it's doing is "authorized," which is a way of deflecting the fact that it's almost certainly unconstitutional. In this case, the claim is that the NSA isn't storing these emails, but rather: "temporarily copying and then sifting through the contents of what is apparently most e-mails and other text-based communications that cross the border," and the whole process only takes "a small number of seconds" before the records are deleted.

This report raises a whole bunch of issues, but let's focus on two of them:
  1. Right, so remember that last post, where Barack Obama claimed that there is no domestic spying program? Yeah, so about that... Here's a bit more evidence of just what a lie that is.
  2. Here's the bigger one, though. Just yesterday, the NY Times published an astounding editorial that suggests that the US should punish Russia for not sending Ed Snowden back. It is effectively calling for the prosecution of a key whistleblower concerning NSA surveillance.

    So, I'm wondering, does the NY Times editorial board believe that Charlie Savage's source -- who is revealing information not unlike that which Snowden revealed -- shouldn't be protected, should be revealed and should be prosecuted? Because I would imagine that both Savage and that source would find that very uncomfortable. At this point, if you're a government whistleblower, why would you ever go to a reporter at the NY Times when they're supportive of prosecuting sources and whistleblowers?
This latest revelation is important, and it's great that Savage was able to get the information and reveal it -- but why would his own employers so undermine his ability to do that kind of reporting by supporting the prosecution of other whistleblowers and leakers?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 11:50am

    Given the way the internet works, even emails from one American to another can route out of the country and back in again.

     

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  2.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 11:55am

    High Court Low Court ... or rather ... High Corp, Low Corp

    "why would his own employers so undermine his ability to do that kind of reporting by supporting the prosecution of other whistleblowers and leakers?"

    The issue is that bloggers are not reporters in the eye's of the government or the Newspapers, they are treated differently. Anyone going outside of officially approved and supported (reads controllable) channels is to be persecuted.

     

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  3.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 12:00pm

    Re: High Court Low Court ... or rather ... High Corp, Low Corp

    Sorry .. posted before I finished editing ....

    The issue is that bloggers are not reporters, and all leakers are not created equal. In the eye's of the government and the newspapers they are treated differently. Anyone going outside of officially approved and supported (reads controllable) channels, is to be persecuted and discredited in anyway possible.

     

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  4.  
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    bombnobakedalaska, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 12:06pm

    As i live in the UK

    i guess all my Gmail account emails cross the border to the USA so they will be getting read copied and stored?

     

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  5. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 12:15pm

    Here's a "bit more evidence" of a spying corporation: APPLE.

    Apple: Of course we stalk your EVERY move. iOS 7 has a new map to prove it

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/08/08/ios7_tracking_now_its_a_favourite_feature/

    WHY does corporate spying get NO attention here?* Don't forget it's SOURCES for NSA.

    [* And don't try the baloney that you can opt-out! You've no evidence at all that corporations honor those settings, besides that self-identifying as not wanting to be tracked means you're worth tracking. All corporate spying should definitely be opt-IN only.]

     

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  6.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 12:22pm

    Re: Here's a "bit more evidence" of a spying corporation: APPLE.

    "All corporate spying should definitely be opt-IN only."

    I picture the questions ....

    [ ] Do you agree to allow us to forward all your emails to the NSE, DEA, FBI?

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 12:24pm

    Re: Here's a "bit more evidence" of a spying corporation: APPLE.

    It is opt-in. You opt in by using their products/services. You opt out by not using their products/services. This isn't complicated, and has been explained to you repeatedly.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 12:26pm

    Re: Here's a "bit more evidence" of a spying corporation: APPLE.

    because you are free to not use an apple product, or an android device, or any trackable device

    don't do business with corporations; go back to your hippy commune

    there are ways to protect your privacy from a corporation; why are you so dense

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 12:26pm

    Re: As i live in the UK

    Yes. Internet messages such as IM's and emails look for the fastest route to reach their destination, by default. If they pass though US servers, they are most certainly looked at, and even if they don't pass though US servers, they are still being looked at.

     

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  10.  
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    Michael Becker (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 12:32pm

    Re: As i live in the UK

    Most likely yes, that's the safest assumption at this point.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 12:33pm

    In this case, the claim is that the NSA isn't storing these emails, but rather: "temporarily copying and then sifting through the contents of what is apparently most e-mails and other text-based communications that cross the border," and the whole process only takes "a small number of seconds" before the records are deleted.

    In many ways not storing all emails intercepted is worse, as it means that only 'evidence' of wrong doing is kept, and all the surrounding emails that would clear a suspect are lost.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 12:36pm

    NY Times shows why it's a has been paper

    What you outline about the NYTime's hypocrisy on whistle blowers just highlights why the NYTime is a has been paper that has no where to go but down because it's adapted badly to the times.

    The NYTimes fought all the way to the Supreme Court and won to publish the Pentagon papers.

    Now, the NYTimes had a chance to publish Bradley Mannings leaks, did they? No. Do they support Edward Snowden despite their concerns over all the privacy violations his leaks reveal? No, they want him prosecuted.

    The NYTimes has basically become another typical US news agency that frequently sucks up to the government and does what it wants. That's why other then their 538 Nate Silver section, I rarely read the NYTimes anymore.

    And heck, even the NYTimes feelings towards Nate Silver shows how the NYTimes has fallen. A lot of their old reporters hated the young hot shot who came in and basically said "all your stories saying anyone could win this election are bogus, the polls and other numbers prove it" with his models predicting Obama would win in 2012.

     

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  13.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 12:37pm

    Re: Here's a "bit more evidence" of a spying corporation: APPLE.

    And don't try the baloney that you can opt-out! You've no evidence at all that corporations honor those settings


    Huh?? What settings are you talking about? You opt out by not using their services. For completeness, you can also block all traffic to their servers. No part of this involves corporations "honoring" anything.

     

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  14.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:35pm

    Re:

    While possible, in actuallity it's not very likely. Because many of the major (Tier 1) backbones that are in the US are controlled by US companies, and those companies all peer with each other in many locations inside the US, it would take some seriously screwy routing for an email from the US to go elsewhere before coming back.

    What is far more likely is that emails from other countries like Canada or other close neighbors will come into to the US before being sent back to their country of origin.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:39pm

    Re: Here's a "bit more evidence" of a spying corporation: APPLE.

    Well at least you didn't post more shit about Google.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    ss, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:41pm

    Re:

    That's a good point.

    I would imagine that there is a robust gradient retention scale too - prostitution, drugs, anarchy, sedition, activism, theft, infringement, abortion, taxation, guns, disease .. where everything is graded and treated accordingly and, as we've seen, forwarded as appropriate. Yah, and the Arab Spring was a shocker.?.

    Unless the Time's source is Snowden, who's already accounted for, I think we can pretty much consider this source to be a "target".

     

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  17.  
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    Mark Christiansen, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:42pm

    Really, just opt out!

    Don't like what the corporations do? You really can just opt out. Don't do business with them.

    Just opt out of having a phone.
    No need for Internet access.
    No need for electronic banking.
    No need for credit or debit transactions.
    No need to have a car.
    No need for electric power.
    No need for air travel.

    The corporations have no power over you. Get your self some land, a few animals and patent free seeds.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:48pm

    And this is to anyone's surprise? When Bush the Second made a declaratory ruling that all internet traffic is international by its very nature, the result might as well been foreordained. What I want to know where half of today's critics were back then? Letting the ideology and rationalization of "their tribe" get in the way of reasonable thought I am sure.

     

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  19.  
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    ss, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 1:58pm

    Re: Re:

    Given that those companies seem to be providing tube taps both inside the country and out then it would seem official policy considers the Internet a foreign country.

    Hell, given the way that this is so egregious with regards to the Constitution I'd say that it's fairly safe to say that we've about got an entirely different country functioning within our own, a parasite.

    So, yeah, everything is foreign.

     

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  20.  
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    nbcart (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:03pm

    Insider Threat Program defeat?

    "according to a senior intelligence official."

    Most interesting is the above "source". Seems to make a timely mockery of Obama's "See Something, Say Something" program.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:03pm

    Re: Really, just opt out!

    Good luck with that. All banking is done electronically, so even if you only have a savings account, that can be traced.

    In the US, if you don't have a car, you're hugely disadvantaged.

    Electricity and gas help power basics of pretty much everything.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 2:21pm

    The Propaganda Times doesn't even use Strong Box. I imagine the anonymous source is sitting in a jail cell right now.

     

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  23.  
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    Hambone, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 3:22pm

    Re: Re: Really, just opt out!

    Your sarcasm detector appears to be malfunctioning.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    Internet Zen Master (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 3:23pm

    Hmm

    Part of me wonders if Snowden knew about this information (50-50 chance he did), and decided not to leak it because he thought it could cause a lot of damage to the US intelligence community's ability to do their job (which is supposedly keeping America safe from whoever happens to be the "[classified enemy] du jour" through their spying/surveillance/whatever other clandestine crap goes on).

    Honestly, this exposure of the domestic spying program sounds like it could hurt a hell of a lot more than pretty much any of the info released from Snowden's data so far.

    If that's the case, I just gained a little more respect for Snowden, and am even more disgusted by the US government.

    It feels like there's whole surveillance house of cards that has been set up over the last decade, and it's slowly but steadily falling apart.

    As the Zen Master says, "We'll see."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 8th, 2013 @ 3:30pm

    Re: Hmm

    It feels like there's whole surveillance house of cards that has been set up over the last decade


    Oh, over a lot longer than just the last decade.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 4:40pm

    Re: Re: Hmm

    I wonder in fits of paranoia, has the United States been an outright quasi-democracy since at least the fifties where the spooks and the military industrial complex were the ones really in charge? Before I could assure myself that it was very unlikely but now....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    minesiggerthanyoursis, Aug 8th, 2013 @ 9:22pm

    Re: Re: Here's a "bit more evidence" of a spying corporation: APPLE.

    because you are free to not use an apple product, or an android device, or any trackable device

    don't do business with corporations; go back to your hippy commune

    there are ways to protect your privacy from a corporation; why are you so dense

    This Man Has Alittledick

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    ethorad (profile), Aug 9th, 2013 @ 1:07am

    Re:

    Wait, I thought that making a temporary copy of something, even if only for a few seconds while you view it and then discard the copy isn't permitted.

    Source: RIAA

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 9th, 2013 @ 10:08am

    Re: Re:

    I believe the Supreme Court has ruled that transient copies are not, in and of themselves, a violation of copyright.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    bin villanueva, Aug 9th, 2013 @ 8:37pm

    email spy

    Worry this more, the chinese are doing the same with your emails...hahaha...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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