Congressional Reps Ask Bruce Schneier To Explain To Them What The NSA Is Doing, Because The NSA Won't Tell Them

from the look-at-that dept

This is both depressing and good news at the same time. A group of Congressional Representatives (who are among the most critical of the NSA) apparently asked Bruce Schneier to come brief them on what the NSA is doing because the NSA won't tell them:
This morning I spent an hour in a closed room with six Members of Congress: Rep. Logfren, Rep. Sensenbrenner, Rep. Scott, Rep. Goodlate, Rep Thompson, and Rep. Amash. No staffers, no public: just them. Lofgren asked me to brief her and a few Representatives on the NSA. She said that the NSA wasn't forthcoming about their activities, and they wanted me -- as someone with access to the Snowden documents -- to explain to them what the NSA was doing. Of course I'm not going to give details on the meeting, except to say that it was candid and interesting. And that it's extremely freaky that Congress has such a difficult time getting information out of the NSA that they have to ask me. I really want oversight to work better in this country.
There's really not much more to be said about that, other than it shows what a complete joke it is for anyone to claim that Congress has real oversight over the NSA. It's great that these Reps would reach out to someone with qualifications like Schneier to have this kind of conversation. It's depressing that such a thing was necessary.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    vancedecker (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 1:57pm

    Honestly, from listening to the NSA people, they probably don't exactly know themselves. It's the consultants and contractors that actually know the systems, just like in real companies, often the senior executives are just the stooges there for show or because their frat bro from USC brought them in.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    DLC, Jan 16th, 2014 @ 2:02pm

    Re:

    USC = the Trojans = crafty and devious group that trick you into letting your guard down = NSA

    I see what you did there!

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2014 @ 2:06pm

    Re:

    When dirt hits the fan senior executives only pretend that they knew nothing about it to avoid getting in trouble. "It was all done by some lower level employee behind my back" they claim. Chances are they aren't as ignorant as they make themselves out to be.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2014 @ 2:19pm

    Funny the public hears every week what the NSA claims it isn't doing. All the efforts so far going into calling them to account aren't working. Judges for the FISA court are claiming it's too much work to hold them accountable. The oversight committee gets lied to and no one is out for blood over it. The president sends out a committee to investigate and then pretends to act on it, all the time doing cosmetic changes that have no real meaningful effect.

    The public is pissed off about it and it is not going to blow over. So far, a $4 billion contract to sell military jets has been cancelled, AT&T has been denied bidding rights to a setup in Europe, France has found it has a white elephant on it's hands in the terms of a satellite found to have spy stuff hardwired in and the UAE won't proceed with the purchase, and various companies such as Crisco are finding out they are no longer welcome in the China market. This stuff is just getting started on the market side. We'll be hearing more of that for years.

    And in all this, we have an Intelligence Committee that acts anything but intelligent. The house can take care of this really fast. Clear it right up. All they have to do is end financing the NSA until it can come up with answers that can be believed and so far, the answers coming out of the NSA can't.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2014 @ 2:24pm

    Re: Re:

    Just checking but you're willing to supply the same logic to Obama and the NSA right?

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Jake, Jan 16th, 2014 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Re:

    And if they are, they shouldn't have been. Wasn't it President Truman had a sign on his desk saying, "The Buck Stops Here"?

    And yes, I know that applies to the current President as well, but I'm not entirely convinced the NSA are actually taking orders from the Oval Office at this point.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Beech, Jan 16th, 2014 @ 2:36pm

    What gives me hope is that I'm not terribly surprised to see Amash's name there. It seems to me that he's one of the good ones.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2014 @ 2:36pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    If you follow that logic to its logical conclusion it begs one question, who exactly are they working for now?

     

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  9.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 2:41pm

    Thats it damn it!!!

    "various companies such as Crisco are finding out they are no longer welcome in the China market." - Now the Chinese wont buy our vegetable shortening either? Well if that isn't the straw that broke the camels back.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2014 @ 2:44pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Possibly

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2014 @ 2:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Like all bureaucracies, themselves. It just they have the technology to protect themselves by spying on everybody else.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2014 @ 2:55pm

    Re: Thats it damn it!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    vancedecker (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 3:09pm

    Re: Re:

    The point is that the real abuse is happening in a way that the upper levels may not even be aware of.

    If Snowden gained this much access, other probably have it as well. Companies, Private Investigators, Foreign Government pay a lot of money for information obtained from blackmarket sources.

    How many Snowdens are out there whose purpose is purely profit driven?

     

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  14.  
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    vancedecker (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 3:12pm

    Re: Re: Thats it damn it!!!

    How can anything they say be taken seriously and credibly when United States law allows them to lie, actually demands that they lie. It's impossible to know.

    However, all this talk of software vulnerabilities seldom touches on the huge elephant in the room of hardware manufacturers. Intel, Nvidia...

     

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  15.  
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    vancedecker (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 3:13pm

    Re: Re:

    it works on multiple levels...


    :)

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2014 @ 3:18pm

    Re:

    Good guy, at least hes making a god damn worth of an effort

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2014 @ 3:19pm

    for these guys to properly understand this stuff they need to briefed on the material by someone who understands the material and can answer questions, being unclassified lets everyone interested in the room so afterward their is meaningful debat on policy, possible laws. NSA prraticed compartmentalisation with the informatioh, even if an opposed politician was concerned, how could he discuss it with those who helped him draft lesislation.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2014 @ 4:15pm

    and just as upsetting that the FISC is going to continue giving the non-oversight that they have been giving up til now, because if they had to really give proper oversight, it would be too much work for them! what a joke and a fucking insult at the same time!!

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2014 @ 5:06pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    NO!

    All you have to do is listen to Jeremiah Wright and you will immediately grasp what the US economic problems are.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremiah_Wright

    The problems are planned.

     

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  20.  
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    GMacGuffin (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 5:39pm

    I suppose it's kudos to the Reps for asking the right guy, anyway.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Pissed off, Jan 16th, 2014 @ 6:26pm

    What prevents these stoogie Reps from comencing contempt-of-Congress felony charges against Alexander?

    Just like they did against Hollywood screenwriters during the Commie Scare last time around.

     

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  22.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 6:50pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    To be fair, when this whole debacle started it wouldn't have been that surprising if Obama hadn't known a thing about what the NSA was really doing, since the NSA brass has shown no hesitation lying to anyone else, so it's not too hard to believe they'd have been lying to him to.

    After all the info on the NSA started coming out though... if he doesn't know what they're doing now, it's because he doesn't want to know.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2014 @ 9:11pm

    Um, who is Bruce Schneier?

    Might have been a good thing to state in the article.

     

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  24.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 11:58pm

    Wikipedia is your friend

    Short answer:

    'Bruce Schneier is an American cryptographer, computer security and privacy specialist, and writer. He is the author of several books on general security topics, computer security and cryptography.

    Long answer:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Schneier

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2014 @ 12:51am

    Re: Re:

    I wish Ron Paul was also in office.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2014 @ 12:52am

    Re: Re: Re:

    (also still in office *)

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    David, Jan 17th, 2014 @ 2:29am

    Re: Re:

    Don't overexert your analogies. It was the Trojans who let their guard down against the Danaes (Greeks). The Trojan Horse is what was used against Troy. The overall plotting is credited to Odysseus, but the job of the required social engineering was given to Sinon.

     

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  28.  
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    Lance Bledsoe (profile), Jan 17th, 2014 @ 2:47am

    Re:

    (I agree that more contextual info on Mr. Schneier would have been useful.)

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Jan 17th, 2014 @ 5:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    According to a report in the National Journal, the Republicans are hoping to pin the blame on the donkey for surveillance.

    Let's not fall for partisan tricks, as both parties are equally responsible. That there's no real oversight is down to Lofgren, et al, not acting sooner. If we're to have real oversight, we need to stop voting the same people back in and we need to hold the people who are in office now to account for their actions.

    As for the president, I recall reading an article in TD that says he gets his info from the papers first. That'd explain why he knows very little about what's going on. He needs to stop being cautious and remember he's a Constitutional scholar. Or has he forgotten that?

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Jan 17th, 2014 @ 5:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Follow the money. Corporations offering "security services" are behind this. I seem to remember reading about Spystein's husband making out like a bandit from all this.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Jan 17th, 2014 @ 5:24am

    Re:

    The house needs to stop playing partisan games and remember they represent us. I predicted it'd take a financial hit to wake them up, and now that it's happening, they'll have to do something.

    Get the popcorn: it's corp v corp and it's going to get ugly.

    BTW haven't we forgotten the warplane deal with Brazil that went belly up over this?

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Toby J, Jan 17th, 2014 @ 8:27am

    Speling

    Those poor representatives can't get no respect, not only does the NSA not tell them anything but you misspelled two of their six names.

     

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  33.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jan 17th, 2014 @ 8:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    According to a report in the National Journal, the Republicans are hoping to pin the blame on the donkey for surveillance.

    And desperately hope that no one points out that a number of these programs were first put in place by Bush, a republican, I'm guessing?

    Yeah, they're both to blame, any attempt to play 'No, it's all their fault!' to score points with the voters and dodge responsibility needs to be shut down immediately and pointed to as the cheap dodge tactic that it is.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2014 @ 3:57am

    The Representatives are definitely talking to the right guy. I view this as good new. :)

     

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