NSA Funding Bill Passed By Senate Intelligence Community Gives Agency Extra Cash To Hunt 'Insider Threats'

from the because-you-can't-be-'protected'-unless-you're-discovered,-amiri dept

An earlier attempt to defund NSA programs via amendments to the Defense Dept. appropriations bill went nowhere (but by a much narrower margin than many expected), and now it’s up to both the House and Senate to push bills through reauthorizing the NSA’s budget.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has already given its thumbs up to NSA spending, advancing a bill that contains a little something extra for its favorite agency.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has advanced legislation to reauthorize funding for the National Security Agency and surveillance programs.

The bill includes new funding for technology to combat “insider threats” and leaks of classified information.

The committee approved the legislation in a 13-2 vote late Tuesday.

The NSA’s budget is currently $10.2 billion (which we know thanks to leaked documents). This additional funding will be earmarked for barn door closing and witch hunting.

The bill would empower the director of national intelligence to make improvements to the government’s process for investigating people with security clearances, such as Snowden.

The phrase, “throwing good money after bad” comes to mind. An intelligence agency of this size and reach should have been prepared for this eventuality and maybe, just maybe, shouldn’t have been so willing to outsource everything from system administration to the background checks themselves. Giving the NSA more money in order to help it guard against an eventuality like Snowden’s massive disclosures is basically rewarding it for running a leaky ship.

The bad news is that the government doesn’t know how to approach the “insider threat” issue. Any nuance is obliterated by a horrible combination of bureaucracy and paranoia, which results in the government suggesting that an employee’s “dissatisfaction with US policies” or financial problems indicate he or she is a possible “insider threat.”

According to the press release issued by the committee, the bill will also include some sort of protection for whistleblowers provided, of course, they go through official channels.

[Institutes] new statutory protections that protect the ability of legitimate whistleblowers to bring concerns directly to the attention of lawmakers, inspectors general and intelligence community leaders

That’s the press release wording, so we’ll have to wait until the text of the bill is made public before we’ll be able to judge the merits of this claim. The administration has talked a strong game about transparency but has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all other administrations combined. Requiring whistleblowers to go through official channels in order to be afforded any legal protections just makes it that much more difficult for any true whistleblowing to occur. Official channels are in place to discourage whistleblowing rather than accommodate it, no matter what assurances might be included in the legislation. Besides, any bill that aims at both rooting out “insider threats” (many of whom may just be whistleblowers) and protecting whistleblowers is at odds with itself.

The bill passed 13-2 out of committee. Even without a roll call of those votes, it’s safe to assume the nays came from Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, which should be an indicator of the bill’s indulgence of the NSA’s desires and the presumably weak whistleblower protections that accompany it.

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Comments on “NSA Funding Bill Passed By Senate Intelligence Community Gives Agency Extra Cash To Hunt 'Insider Threats'”

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23 Comments
Guardian says:

obligatory FUCK USA post

screw your nation, its people, its way a thought and its govt agencies….
the rest of the 6.6 billion on earth think your sick in the head and cause your pwned by these sickos you are sick too….cause you dont fight for or stand for freedom you stand for the very things hitler did.

only hting you aint doing( YET ) is stuffing someone into an oven.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Just in case anyone forgot:

The following comment, made by an AC on an older article, lists several examples of just what happens to those that go through ‘official channels’ for this sort of thing:

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130725/16280123948/government-argues-bradley-manning-was-anarchist-as-case-closes.shtml#c450

(Here’s a hint: It doesn’t go well for them)

CK20XX (profile) says:

Breeding insider threats

It seems to me that labeling people as insider threats just because they’re trying to make ends meet or are critical of US policies is a good way to turn them into actual insider threats. You see the same principle at work with internet file sharing. Legit customers look at groups like the RIAA and MPAA and think, “If you’re so certain that I’m a thief, then perhaps I might as well become one.”

Slinky (profile) says:

Nothing changes..

The bill includes new funding for technology to combat “insider threats” and leaks of classified information.

This only shows that nothing is going to change about the way the NSA is doing their surveillance. They are going to ‘plug the holes’ and continue to do their business the way they have been doing it over the past decade – including hacking into/monitoring and snooping on foreign officials and politicians.

What a ‘sympathetic’ way to make good friends.. As a foreigner I am utterly disgusted and so very dissappointed over this. Apparantly the order of the day is, let?s pretend we?re friends, so we can hack you and totally 0wn your privacy. But hey let?s just thank our ‘new friends’ for their services. Thanks to the NSA, I no longer need to find a cloud storage solution! They already have it backed up in some shitty datacenter somewhere in the desert.

techdirt_user (profile) says:

U.S. Senate Select Intelligence Committee

Members of the committee:

Dianne Feinstein, California
Saxby Chambliss, Georgia
John D. Rockefeller IV, West Virginia
Richard Burr, North Carolina
Ron Wyden, Oregon
James Risch, Idaho
Barbara Mikulski, Maryland
Daniel Coats, Indiana
Mark Udall, Colorado
Marco Rubio, Florida
Mark Warner, Virginia
Susan Collins, Maine
Martin Heinrich, New Mexico
Tom Coburn, Oklahoma
Angus King, Maine

Anonymous Coward says:

What comes to mind...

A child who has been given really nice things but doesn’t take care of them and immediately cries for more instead of learning to be responsible. They have a $10 billion budget that they have misused and that misuse has resulted in the destruction of a significant part of what they have spent that budget building. Now they not only want to keep this budget and all these programs but they want to increase the budget to “fix” them? That is not how you deal with children like this. When children prove that they won’t be responsible enough to take care of their things, you don’t give them more. You take them away.

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