Former NSA Boss: We Don't Data Mine Our Giant Data Collection, We Just Ask It Questions
from the um,-that's-the-same-thing dept
HAYDEN: It is a successor to the activities we began after 9/11 on President Bush's authority, later became known as the Terrorist Surveillance Program.I'm not sure if Hayden is just playing dumb or what, but asking it questions is data mining. What he describes as asking it questions is exactly what people are afraid of. It's exactly the kind of data mining that people worry about. On top of that, just the fact that he flat out admits that they're putting together the haystack to "try to find the needle" is exactly the kind of issue that people are so concerned about. The whole point of the 4th Amendment is that you're not allowed to collect the haystack. You're only supposed to be able to, on narrow circumstances, go looking for the needle with proper oversight. Yet, here, he admits that there's no such oversight once they have that haystack:
So, NSA gets these record and puts them away, puts them in files. They are not touched. So, fears or accusations that the NSA then data mines or trolls through these records, they're just simply not true.
MARTIN: Why would you be collecting this information if you didn't want to use it?
HAYDEN: Well, that's - no, we're going to use it. But we're not going to use it in the way that some people fear. You put these records, you store them, you have them. It's kind of like, I've got the haystack now. And now let's try to find the needle. And you find the needle by asking that data a question. I'm sorry to put it that way, but that's fundamentally what happens. All right. You don't troll through the data looking for patterns or anything like that. The data is set aside. And now I go into that data with a question that - a question that is based on articulable(ph), arguable, predicate to a terrorist nexus. Sorry, long sentence.
MARTIN: May I back up? Do you have to have approval...That should be a "wow" moment right there, because it also appears to contradict President Obama's claim that "if anybody in government wanted to go further than just that top-line data ... they'd have to go back to a federal judge and — and — and indicate why, in fact, they were doing further — further probing." Furthermore, he's basically admitting that they basically give the FISA Court some vague reason why they need every possible record on phone calls, and then there's no oversight by the court on how those are used, other than vague promises from the NSA that they're not being abused for data mining -- but just for "asking questions," which is data mining.
MARTIN: ...from the FISA court...
MARTIN: ...which is the intelligence surveillance court established in order to go in and ask that question.
You have had a generalized approval, and so you've got to justify the overall approach to the judge. But you do not have to go to the judge, saying, hey, I got this number now. I'll go ahead and get a FISA request written up for you. No, you don't have to do that.
Moving on to PRISM. Hayden's responses are equally astounding. He's asked about the fact that the NSA has admitted that they try to make a determination of if the person is foreign and have a system to determine if they're 51% sure that a person is foreign in deciding whether or not to keep their data. As the interviewer notes, 51% "seems mushy." Hayden's response is ridiculous:
Yeah, well, actually, in some ways, you know, that's actually the literal definition of probable, in probable cause.Um, whether or not that's the standard for probable cause is meaningless. Probable cause is the standard used to determine if someone can be arrested (or to have a search done). It is not the standard for determining if the person is foreign or not, subjecting them to mass surveillance by the NSA. The 4th Amendment requires probable cause for a search, but not probable cause in foreignness, rather probable cause in criminal activity. Is Hayden honestly suggesting that being foreign is probable cause of criminality? Because that's insane.