Missing Document From FISA Court Docket Suggests Yet Another Undisclosed Bulk Records Program

from the given-the-preponderance-of-spy-programs,-why-not dept

The thing about transparency is that it’s not just about what you reveal. It’s also about what you choose to keep hidden. In the ongoing docket for the government’s 2015 bulk records requests, there appears to be a missing document.

BR 15-75 (BR = “business records,” “15” = 2015) — the government’s request to have 180 days’ worth of “business [records] as usual” collections before the limitations of the USA Freedom Act kick in — is present. So is the opinion addressing the repercussions of the passage of USA Freedom, which is denoted as “BR 15-77, BR 15-78.” But where — and what — is BR 15-76?

Patrick Toomey at Just Security has a theory:

It’s hard to be certain, but it’s likely that BR 15-76 is an application to restart the phantom CIA bulk financial records program or another undisclosed bulk collection program. Beginning in late 2013, multiple outlets reported on the CIA’s bulk collection of Americans’ international money transfer records from companies like Western Union and Moneygram. Other outlets stated at the time that the CIA program overlapped significantly with efforts to collect “financial transaction data” by both the NSA and the Treasury Department. And according to the New York Times, beyond the CIA program, several officials “said more than one other bulk collection program has yet to come to light.”

If Toomey is correct, I wonder how long said “undisclosed program” will remain undisclosed. Others have come to light over the years, including the DEA’s concurrent collection of domestic phone records, something it apparently ditched to give the DOJ only “one” bulk records collection to defend publicly.

Previous to the post-Snowden era of begrudging transparency, omissions are no longer going to go unnoticed. In the discussion of the BR 15-77,78 opinion, it was noted that no order was attached, meaning the government has presumably not yet received a go-ahead from the court on phone metadata. Ever since the Office of the Director of National Intelligence engaged Transparency Mode, the FISA Court has regularly delivered orders and opinions on the NSA’s bulk collection activities. While some orders have been shortly delayed, there’s never been a complete omission, nor this long of a gap between expiration of a previous order and a reinstatement of the collection request.

Now that the FISC is playing along with the new transparency, omissions of any sort are simply unacceptable. As Toomey states, if this missing paperwork is related to another bulk records collection (possibly one authorized under pre-Patriot Act stipulations), it’s not acceptable that the government has chosen to withhold it from the public. The public doesn’t have less right to know about the harvesting of its records simply because said program hasn’t been forced out into the open yet.

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Comments on “Missing Document From FISA Court Docket Suggests Yet Another Undisclosed Bulk Records Program”

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Secret courts, secret rules, secrets.
These are the death of the country, founded on liberty we now all kowtow to the fear of terrorists or other horrible things and give up so much and gain nothing.
The programs do not work, those that run them should be jailed, but we secretly made it legal but never bothered to inform everyone that our rights are merely illusions we cling to waiting for those we turned everything over to, to remind us we do not have them when we are flagged.

First they came for the…
Well they got everyone else, now they are coming for you.

David says:

Re: Re:

Secret courts, secret rules, secrets.

These are the death of the country, founded on liberty we now all kowtow to the fear of terrorists or other horrible things and give up so much and gain nothing.

Incorrect. You cannot “kowtow to the fear of terrorists” regarding the secrecy of withheld documents you were never told about in the first place.

This is not about kowtowing to the fear of terrorists. It is about kowtowing to a rogue government.

The kind of government George Washington rebelled against.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Secret courts, secret rules, secrets.”

Don’t forget:

Secret bills – we can’t possibly let the public know what will be in this law (e.g., TPA)

Secret interpretations – we know what we’ve decided this law really means but we won’t tell you until we haul you off to…

Secret prisons

Secret kill lists – he’s a U.S. citizen, meh, we don’t need no stinking due process

Anonymous Coward says:

Follow the money and your path will be illuminated,What makes this funny Is the fact they are following ours but will not disclose theirs (ours) , taxation without representation is whats happening here , maybe we need a new tea party not one used for political gain like the teabaggers , but for the people All of the People.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re: cuntholes


Associating the people who are stealing your life and your country out from underneath you (by making their crimes legal), with the literal birth-place of all humans, ever, seems to me to be a rather bass-ackwards comparison.

If selecting an anatomical orifice was necessary, I would have chosen the term “Assholes”, simply because nothing good() ever comes from an asshole, which pretty accurately describes the People in Power and their Minions, in the USA today.

Then again, perhaps the poster is simply a sodomist and thus, sees assholes as the more useful of the two orifices.

C’est la vie eh. Differing strokes…

() certainly shit can be “good” if used as a fertilizer to help make crops grow, but human waste is seldom openly used for that particular purpose, as far as I can tell.

Personally, I would love nothing more than to see the People in Power turned into something useful, such as something good that would help make crops grow.

Hmmmm….. I believe that last sentence could get me labelled as a terrorist/whistleblower in Merry Old England, and consequently allow the British Fertilizer to render my person extraordinarily.

Oh Woe!

GEMont (profile) says:

A flash from the past

Now who could have guessed that the White Hat wearing US Spy-guys would do such an underhanded thing???


FISA Court Tackles Section 215 Mess, Public Advocates In New Opinion (from the bulk-collection-paused? dept)

GEMont, Jun 23rd, 2015 @ 12:57pm

Its the same old Song and Dance my friend…

And while Section 215 undergoes its high-profile, publicly exposed, cosmetic surgery to keep the public focused and looking at the left hand of the NSA, the bulk collection, renamed “the lot collection”, carries on unimpeded under a different program name and a different directive and a different set of rules, secretly under the right hand.

And we have achieved: Business as Usual.


The nice thing about crooks is that they are eminently predictable, especially when they’re under pressure.

GEMont (profile) says:

Silly humans.

The public doesn’t have less right to know about the harvesting of its records simply because said program hasn’t been forced out into the open yet.

The public is not seeing this secret program exposed because it has some mythical “right to know”.

Its is seeing it because Snowden exposed it, and for no other reason whatsoever.

The ONLY reason the public even knows this shit is happening, is because it was “forced into the open”.

Every other Secret Program that is stealing American Public data, or in any other fashion, spying on Americans, is still secret and will remain secret until they are forcibly exposed, because the American Public HAS NO RIGHT TO KNOW about anything that the USG is doing to the Public, using the Public’s own money.

It is so written in the post-9/11 PROstitution of the United States.

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