Let’s see. Journalist claims NSA snooping. NSA tells Congress no way without court order. Journalist going to expose lie?

It’s a dance.  The people are worried the NSA has gone too far. Greenwald claims he has proof that the NSA is doing “x”.  The Congress likes the NSA having the power.  Those in Congress, like Michelle Bachmann, listen to the assurances of the NSA that there is no way the abuses can occur.  They go out and tell the people there is nothing to see here. The Greenwald puts out proof the NSA is lying and suddenly everybody is embarrassed and shocked. I’m betting this is going to happen again with this.

In addition to the court order, the other documents are heavily redacted 2009 and 2011 reports to members of the congressional intelligence committees about the use of the programs, where the intelligence community acknowledges “a number of technical compliance problems” occurred in 2009.

“However, neither DOJ, NSA nor the FISA court has found any intentional or bad-faith violations,” the 2011 document asserts. The following three lines in the document were blacked out.

Officials have previously acknowledged there were some problems, but have said they were all caught through regular internal safeguards and said they took steps to correct them.

The NSA program, which gathers data such as the time and numbers involved in every phone call made within the U.S., has become a flashpoint since details were leaked earlier this year by government contractor Edward Snowden.

The collection took place, Mr. Snowden revealed, under the business records provision of section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, the large suite of anti-terror measures hurriedly passed by Congress in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Sean Joyce, deputy director of the FBI, said the program helped identify a co-conspirator in the 2009 plot to bomb the New York City subway system.

“Each and every program tool is valuable. There were gaps before 9/11,” Mr. Joyce said. “We have tried to close those gaps and close those seems and the business records 215 is one of the programs we have closed those seems.”

Under the program, the government collects and stores the data for five years, but it cannot query the data unless it has specific reasons to suspect terrorism.

Intelligence officials said the phone numbers they actually end up looking at are minuscule compared to what they collect.

It’s like watching Lucy, Charlie Brown and the football.   I’m waiting for Greenwald to pull it out.   A common sense review of the claimed process shows there is no way it works the way they say it does. It would be so cumbersome, inefficient and useless that no agency is going to embrace it.  Of course the analysts look, take a peek, poke around a little before notifying the FBI so it can get a warrant.

Update:

And here it is.

 

A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The NSA boasts in training materials that the program, called XKeyscore, is its “widest-reaching” system for developing intelligence from the internet.

The latest revelations will add to the intense public and congressional debate around the extent of NSA surveillance programs. They come as senior intelligence officials testify to the Senate judiciary committee on Wednesday, releasing classified documents in response to the Guardian’s earlier stories on bulk collection of phone records and Fisa surveillance court oversight.

The files shed light on one of Snowden’s most controversial statements, made in his first video interview published by the Guardian on June 10.

“I, sitting at my desk,” said Snowden, could “wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email”.

US officials vehemently denied this specific claim. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, said of Snowden’s assertion: “He’s lying. It’s impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do.”

But training materials for XKeyscore detail how analysts can use it and other systems to mine enormous agency databases by filling in a simple on-screen form giving only a broad justification for the search. The request is not reviewed by a court or any NSA personnel before it is processed.

Again, Lucy…football…arrogant NSA Brown.  Just saying.

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