NSA Complained It Wasn't Able To Spy Enough; Sought To Broaden Its Power

from the no,-seriously dept

Late on Friday, the NY Times reported on more from the Ed Snowden documents, highlighting how the NSA was whining internally that it didn’t have enough power, and outlining how it planned to get even more. Because, apparently, spying on nearly everyone just wasn’t enough. No, the NSA was fairly explicit in wanting to get rid of the “nearly” qualifier in that last sentence. Its goal was to be able to spy on “anyone, anytime, anywhere” and it didn’t want anything like pesky little “laws” or “civil liberties” to get in the way of that goal.

Written as an agency mission statement with broad goals, the five-page document said that existing American laws were not adequate to meet the needs of the N.S.A. to conduct broad surveillance in what it cited as “the golden age of Sigint,” or signals intelligence. “The interpretation and guidelines for applying our authorities, and in some cases the authorities themselves, have not kept pace with the complexity of the technology and target environments, or the operational expectations levied on N.S.A.’s mission,” the document concluded.

Using sweeping language, the paper also outlined some of the agency’s other ambitions. They included defeating the cybersecurity practices of adversaries in order to acquire the data the agency needs from “anyone, anytime, anywhere.” The agency also said it would try to decrypt or bypass codes that keep communications secret by influencing “the global commercial encryption market through commercial relationships,” human spies and intelligence partners in other countries. It also talked of the need to “revolutionize” analysis of its vast collections of data to “radically increase operational impact.”

Once again, we see that the claims from the NSA that it’s concerned about “protecting” people from “cybersecurity” issues are completely bogus. The goal is and has always been to weaken cybersecurity wherever possible. There’s much more in the article about the NSA’s plans and capabilities, but those two paragraphs above seem to make the key points: the NSA has a ton of power and is constantly scheming to get more, even if laws are currently blocking that ability. Furthermore, it wants to make us all less safe in its efforts to reach that goal.

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Comments on “NSA Complained It Wasn't Able To Spy Enough; Sought To Broaden Its Power”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

It also talked of the need to ?revolutionize? analysis of its vast collections of data to ?radically increase operational impact.?

So even the NSA admits(privately of course) that there’s simply too much data being scooped up for them to handle and put to use, and yet they still want even more, apparently based upon the belief that while it’s useless(or worse than useless) now, at some point in the future they’ll develop some trick or program that’s actually capable of managing that much data and getting useful results from it.

Has anyone considered signing the people in charge of this agency up for addiction rehab/counseling? They really seem to be showing all the signs of a massive power/data addiction, with their ‘I don’t care if it’s not useful or dangerous, I just want more of it!’ thinking.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The NSA have with the help of billions of American tax payer dollars built a replica of J Edgar Hoovers infamous dossier cabinet, but on a gigantic scale. Any elected official that have some power to stop them can be blackmailed or extorted. They have dirt on everyone, and anyone not playing ball with the ‘intelligence bureaucracy’ will find a string of embarrassing leaks (these particular leaks does not trigger global manhunts however) about heir person reaching the press in time for election.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I wonder...

Why should they spin it? If you believe that more data = more security and security is to be prioritized over everything else, then it is a completely reasonable piece.

Asking for triple a data (anytime, anyone, anywhere) is a natural request in that context and if you are as goal-driven as a military, you steer directly for that goal, no matter the costs for self and others.

Consequencial logic taken to the extreme and a complete lack of broader adversarial protection, but in the end, politics works in much the same way, so politicians can relate!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I wonder...

document was, by the sound of it, an internal NSA memorandom. The government could spin this as a agency that got out of control because the agency boss was nuts, Heap the blame on Alexander, followed by pr campain to rehabilitate US worldwide reputation, and sweep the contining spying efforts under the carpet where they belong.

Anonymous Coward says:

as with a certain industry in Hollywood, the more it gets, the more it wants. when it wants others to pay to keep it’s services functioning in The Dark Ages, it wants to keep those services rather than updating to the technical age. they could even have been reading off the same script!
i have said for a long while that the main reason governments, in particular the USG and UKG keep ramping up copyright protection laws is so they can piggy-back their spying, but then blame the entertainment industries when the public fights back! these are all hand in glove!

ECA (profile) says:


The Shot gun effect is a truly good way to DO somethings..
Like make 20 different Games and see WHO likes what..

But for DATA accumulation…Its like SHooting a dictionary and looking at Each word a BB stops at.. or trying to READ the dictionary AFTEr you have shot it a few times..

Unless you can localize WHO/WHAT/WHERE you data is coming from, you are Using a SHOT GUN in the dark.. and all you are finding is WHO is watching porn..

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