The NSA's Bulk Collection Of Phone Records Ended Saturday. Long Live The Bulk Collection Of Phone Records!

from the a-dragnet-among-dragnets dept

The NSA’s frontmouth, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, is burying news again. Not that it could help it. Normally, the ODNI likes to do its document dumps (most often consisting of documents ordered out of its hands by federal judges presiding over FOIA lawsuits) on Friday afternoons or shortly before a holiday to buy itself some response time before dealing with journalists and Congressional committees.

In this case, it delivered its latest news on Black Friday, while most of America was either out shopping or covering the story of Americans shopping for the local newsjobber. The timing would be suspect if it weren’t for the fact that the NSA’s bulk phone metadata program ended (at least in this form) at 11:59 PM Saturday night.

On June 2, 2015, Congress passed and the President signed the USA FREEDOM Act of 2015. The Act reauthorized several important national security authorities; banned bulk collection under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, under the pen register and trap and trace provisions found in Title IV of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), or pursuant to National Security Letters; adopted the new legal mechanism proposed by the President regarding the targeted production of telephony metadata; made significant modifications to proceedings before the FISC; and built on the U.S. Government’s unprecedented transparency about intelligence activities. With respect to the new mechanism for the targeted production of telephony metadata, to allow sufficient time to implement a new system while at the same time avoiding any lapse in a national security program, the USA FREEDOM Act provided for a 180-day transition period during which the existing NSA bulk telephony metadata program may continue.

The six months are up and so is the NSA’s Section 215 collection. While this means phone records will be held where they’ve always been held (phone companies) and the NSA must now approach providers with FISA court orders, this does not mean the NSA will no longer be collecting phone records in bulk. It just means it won’t be doing this under those particular authorities (Section 215, PR/TT provisions, NSLs). It still has plenty of options.

For one, it appears to have access to more records than it used to under Section 215. From the fact sheet:

[T]he overall volume of call detail records subject to query pursuant to court order is greater under USA FREEDOM Act.

This could mean the new method (approaching phone companies directly) may give the NSA access to records it couldn’t obtain under Section 215, like additional cell phone records or other communications methods like VOIP. In other words, the requests will be more targeted but capable of obtaining a greater variety of records responsive to the court-approved identifiers.

As I’ve said before, I suspect the NSA was willing to let Section 215 provide bus traction for the administration’s minimal surveillance reform efforts. As long as everyone kept worrying about the bulk phone metadata (subject of multiple lawsuits that are now basically moot as far as the courts are concerned), the NSA would be able to keep its multiple other, more intrusive programs intact. As Marcy Wheeler notes, this program may be dead, but it doesn’t mark the end of the NSA’s bulk phone records collection.

Just a tiny corner of the phone dragnet will shut down, and the government will continue to collect “telephony metadata records in bulk … including records of both U.S. and non-U.S. persons” under EO 12333. Hypothetically, for every single international call that had been picked up under the Section 215 dragnet and more (at a minimum, because NSA collects phone records overseas with location information), a matching record has been and will continue to be collected overseas, under EO 12333.

They’re still collecting your phone records in bulk, not to mention collecting a great deal of your Internet records in bulk as well.

The DNI himself, James Clapper, threw his weight behind reforming this high-profile but ultimately minimal part of the NSA’s dragnet. That should have been indication enough that killing off the Section 215 program wouldn’t severely limit the NSA’s surveillance options, despite the occasional bit of FUD directed at legislators (or parroted by them).

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Comments on “The NSA's Bulk Collection Of Phone Records Ended Saturday. Long Live The Bulk Collection Of Phone Records!”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Trick #1 of stage magic

Distract the audience with something flashy in one hand, while you do the actual trick with the other.

In this case, they threw a fit over one program, which is apparently completely redundant, so that when it was ‘beaten’, people would think that something had actually been done, when in fact the indiscriminate spying wouldn’t even suffer so much as a pause, as other programs continued on, same as before.

So long as they can keep any potential lawsuits focused on specific programs, rather than the spying as a whole(and good luck getting a judge to grant standing on that, given how hard it is with known programs), even if they ‘lose’ it doesn’t really matter, as they just close one program and start up another.

While it’s important to fight the individual spying programs, it’s equally important to realize that the problem will persist until the idea of general, indiscriminate spying itself is dealt with, along with the secret ‘courts’ making secret ‘laws’ that allows such to continue.

Anonymous Coward says:


“as long as there was an older counterterrorism investigation still open, the court could keep issuing Section 215 orders to phone companies indefinitely for that investigation.”

Give that we’re fighting ISIL using the 2001 AUMF, it’s not a great stretch that there’s a broad “investigation” against “islamic terror”, “white terror”, “climate terror”, or whatever terror you want to use to investigate.

tqk (profile) says:

What happened to the shepherd?

This democracy, or representative gov’t in general, only works for us all when everyone party to the deal knows the rules and limits and acts accordingly. To ensure that happens takes oversight. We all need to know that everyone else is sticking to the program, else some will expect more from it than is expected, deserved, or allowed.

Offhand, I’d say the wolves have been plying the shepherd with booze and he’s sleeping it off, if in fact he hasn’t already been eaten. The sheep are looking around wondering what happened to their friends, and their friends’ family, and now that I think of it I can’t remember the last time I saw my brother and sister. Hmm. Isn’t that odd?

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: What happened to the shepherd?

… why did we ever believe that “dude with a stick” could fight off an entire pack of wolves, anyway?

He had a sheepdog! Too bad the sheepdog forgot his job wasn’t just to keep the sheep in line and got suckered into joining his relatives in the attack on the shepherd. Sort of like our police and their current war on domestic insurgents (us).

I was just reading the story (Columbia Journalism Review) on the video of a cop who pumped sixteen bullets into a kid. The police chief fought tooth & nail to suppress the video, but a suit forced it out. The cop’s now been charged with murder. Now that’s a flip flop!

“We will overcome, we will overcome, …” Uh huh.

gezzerx (profile) says:

Why arn't Politicians, Judges & Bureaucrats being prosecuted ?

The question should be , why aren’t Politicians, Judges & Bureaucrats being prosecuted ! Only after the members of our 3 branches of Government are prosecuted should there be a trial for Mr. Snowden, after all they committed their crimes long before he blew the whistle on them ! ! !


§ 241. Conspiracy against rights

If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any inhabitant of any State, Territory, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; or If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured – They shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results, they shall be subject to imprisonment for any term of years or for life.

§ 242. Deprivation of rights under color of law

Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any inhabitant of any State, Territory, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or penalties, on account of such inhabitant being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results shall be subject to imprisonment for any term of years or for life.

“For the purpose of Section 242, acts under “color of law” include acts not only done by federal, state, or local officials within the their lawful authority, but also acts done beyond the bounds of that official’s lawful authority if the acts are done while the official is purporting to or pretending to act in the performance of his/her official duties,. Persons acting under color of law within the meaning of this statute include police officers, prisons guards and other law enforcement officials, as well as judges, care providers in public health facilities, and others who are acting as public officials. It is not necessary that the crime be motivated by animus toward the race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin of the victim.

Torture is also a crime under International law, the US has signed Treaties to that effect !

Time to hold these CRIMINALS to account, so lets take back America people, it is up to us FOR THE SAKE OF OUR CHILDREN & GRANDCHILDREN !

Wake up people, Democrats or Republicans,Tories or Labor. Liberals or Conservatives it’s two sides of the same evil coin it’s called Fascism. So the next time a politician asks for your vote, support or money just say no & vote for an independent candidate. Send a message they can’t ignore & will understand ! ! Both parties have been complicit in this criminal activity. Democrats & Republicans don’t decide elections Independant voters do so now is the time to elect independent candidate ! !

Money in politics equals corruption, reduce the money you reduce the corruption ! We don’t need the worst politicians money can buy, we need politicians that money can’t buy ! It’s time to remove the Corporate Congress from office & take back America !

The whole point is to expose this Election Shame for what it is . We need to divide & conquer Democrats & Republicans instead of them providing the American public with false choices, Its time to remove the Corporate Congress ! !

If you take away their power then you can take away their toys !

The Government will continue its PR & propaganda campaign using the following tactics as quoted by Joseph Goebbels during the 1930’s & 1940’s.

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” AND

“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over”

The following link is a must read ! This is not the Future. This is the here & NOW !

See also :

The supreme law of The USA is the Constitution, not the Patriot act the FISA act, or any other such acts that have unconstitutional provisions,are invalid & it matters not how many public officials say it’s legal, it’s NOT for the Constitutional Amendments say otherwise ! ! To say it is legal only shows the public their betrayal of the Constitution, their oath of office, and the American people.

No more lies, excuses rationalizations,or justifications, the public needs to hold these officials to account to the fullest extent of the law under Title 18 sec. 241 & 242 So any future traitors will know there will be consequences to such behavior. I hope the other five eyed nations have equivalent laws, but if not maybe it’s time to get some. Better late than never.

Don’t blame Snowden or the Press for the actions of NSA & GCHQ & our Governments, they are the ONLY ones responsible for the crimes they have committed ! ! ! See USC Title 18 Sec. 241 & 242 (Above). So why no arrest warrants for high crimes, but only for misdemeanors ? ? ?

High crimes = NSA + GCHQ + PUBLIC OFFICALS OF THE UK & US ! ! !

Misdemeanors = Snowden, Manning, Assange, lAVABIT


Some word of true Patriots are as follows, as opposed to the words of false flag patriotism of today.

He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money.
Benjamin Franklin

He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.
Benjamin Franklin

Experience hath shown, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.
Thomas Jefferson

Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry.”
Thomas Jefferson.

Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.
Thomas Jefferson

In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.
James Madison

Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power.
James Madison

The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.
Patrick Henry

“We the People are the rightful masters of BOTH Congress and the Courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution”
Abraham Lincoln

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
Abraham Lincoln

We should not forget the warning of President Eisenhower . It has become the here & NOW !
The NSA is controlled & operated by the DOD & the MIC (Military Industrial Complex) Private Corporations.

“The very word “secrecy” is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it.”
President John F. Kennedy
Waldorf-Astoria Hotel
April 27, 1961

As a reminder Hermann Goering said at the Nuremberg Trials .
“The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

As is said in the law, falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus. (“False in one thing, false in all things” is an instruction given to jurors: if they find that a witness lied about an important matter, they are entitled to ignore everything else that witness said.)

Time to start removing the corporate Congress from office & defunding the NSA to force them to comply with the law & impose jail time for non compliance under USC Title 18 Sec. 241 & 242 (Google it) or see above .

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”
Benito Mussolini

The short version of the above is as follows:
Any Government or Party that doesn’t abide by the Constitution does not deserve our respect or support ! ! ! They are traitors !

Unaccountable power is absolute power, & is absolutely corrupt !

Disclaimer: Be advised it is possible, that this communication is being monitored by the National Security Agency or GCHQ. I neither condone or support any such policy, by any Government authority that does not comply, as stipulated by the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Why arn't Politicians, Judges & Bureaucrats being prosecuted ?

This entire missive fails on one very important point.

“… right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States …”

You see, after 9/11, the federal government gave itself the emergency power to secretly alter the Constitution and the Laws of the United States, such that they no longer secure either rights or privileges for anyone in the USA except those VIPs deemed necessary to the Security of the holdings of those VIPs, by a secret tribunal made up of those same VIPs that appointed themselves for the job right after 9/11.


Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

“as long as there was an older counterterrorism investigation still open, the court could keep issuing Section 215 orders to phone companies indefinitely for that investigation.”

…and since the previous Section 215 had a counterterrorism investigation open that just happened to cover everyone on the planet, well, long live the investigation. The reasoning supporting the investigation might be perverse but, hey, a bootstrap is a bootstrap–and any bootstrap in a storm.

Steve R. (profile) says:

Fox News has been brazingly pushing for the reinstitution of data collection effort in the name of making it easier for law enforcement and for security. Unfortunately, they are not interviewing those who believe that the data collection efforts would be futile and un-Constitutional.

1. The terrorists could cycle to new phone numbers on a periodic basis and/or after a major event. Essentially that would make the collection of phone numbers almost useless.

2. The stupid “back door” solution to “break” encryption keeps surfacing and surfacing. Well, the terrorists can develop their own encryption making a “back door” useless. Also these “back door” pundits don’t seem to realize that a lot of our activities, such as financial transactions, requires strong encryption.

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