NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY

Generally

2007 - 2008

Materials presented in chronological order.

Bazan, Elizabeth B., Gina Marie Stevens, and Brian T. Yeh. Government Access to Phone Calling Activity and Related Records: Legal Authorities. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, 20 Aug. 2007. Available at: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/intel/RL33424.pdf.

"This report summarizes statutory authorities regarding access by the government, for either foreign intelligence or law enforcement purposes, to information related to telephone calling patterns or practices. Where pertinent, it also discusses statutory prohibitions against accessing or disclosing such information, along with relevant exceptions to those prohibitions."

Gorman, Siobhan. "Chief of NSA Urges 'Action': Alexander Wants New Approach, to Fix Systemic Woes." Baltimore Sun, 10 Mar. 2007. [http://www.baltimoresun.com]

An internal memorandum on 21 February 2007 by NSA's director, Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexander, says "the agency must totally rethink its approach to spying and fix 'systemic problems' identified" after the 9/11 attacks. According to the memo, the problems facing NSA "include obtaining enough electric power to run the high-tech networks at its Fort Meade headquarters, fixing an ailing computer infrastructure, and overcoming difficulties in building a system to uncover threat information in the vast volume of data that the NSA captures every day."

Mears, Bill. "Court Dismisses Suit Challenging Domestic Spying." CNN, 6 Jul. 2007. [http://www.cnn.com]

On 6 July 2007, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati "ordered the dismissal of an ACLU lawsuit challenging President Bush's domestic surveillance program." The court decided by a 2-1 vote that the "plaintiffs -- a group of journalists, scholars and legal advocates -- had no legal standing to pursue their claims because they could not show they were targeted by the National Security Agency's warrantless spying program.... The court ordered a federal judge in Detroit to formally dismiss the lawsuit.... The ruling did not address the larger constitutional questions of whether the NSA program is legal, or the limits on permissible warrantless surveillance."

Hickey, Kathleen. " Encrypting the Future." Government Computer News, 6 Aug. 2007. [http://www.gcn.com]

"NSA pushes elliptic-curve cryptography to secure small devices and lend support to interoperable communication networks."

Risen, James. "Bush Signs Law to Widen Reach for Wiretapping." New York Times, 6 Aug. 2007. [http://www.nytimes.com]

On 5 August 2007, President George W. Bush "signed into law ... legislation that broadly expanded the government's authority to eavesdrop on the international telephone calls and e-mail messages of American citizens without warrants.... Congressional aides and others familiar with the details of the law" said that the new law provides "a legal framework for much of the surveillance without warrants that was being conducted in secret by the National Security Agency and outside the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act."

Lichtblau, Eric. "Role of Telecom Firms in Wiretaps Is Confirmed." New York Times, 24 Aug. 2007. [http://www.nytimes.com]

In an interview given on 14 August 2007 by DNI Mike McConnell to the El Paso Times, "[t]he Bush administration ... confirmed for the first time that American telecommunications companies played a crucial role" in NSA's domestic eavesdropping program. McConnell said it is vital "for Congress to give retroactive legal immunity to the companies that assisted in the program to help prevent them from facing bankruptcy because of lawsuits over it."

Shane, Scott. "Panel to See Papers on Agency's Eavesdropping." New York Times, 26 Oct. 2007. [http://www.nytimes.com]

On 25 October 2007, the White House "offered to share secret documents on the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program with the Senate Judiciary Committee, a step toward possible compromise on eavesdropping legislation.... Only Senate Intelligence Committee members and their staffs have seen the documents. Last week, the committee approved a bill that would step up court oversight of N.S.A. eavesdropping while granting legal immunity to telecommunications companies."

Lichtblau, Eric. "Debate and Protest at Spy Program's Inception." New York Times, 30 Mar. 2008. [http://www.nytimes.com]

"This article is adapted from the book 'Bush's Law: The Remaking of American Justice,' by Eric Lichtblau, which is being released [on 1 April 2008] by Pantheon Books." According to current and former government officials, NSA's "eavesdropping program sparked heated legal concerns and silent protests inside the Bush administration within hours of its adoption in October 2001."

Seifert, Jeffrey W. Data Mining and Homeland Security: An Overview. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, Updated 3 Apr. 2008. Available at: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/homesec/RL31798.pdf.

"Data mining is becoming increasingly common in both the private and public sectors.... However, some of the homeland security data mining applications represent a significant expansion in the quantity and scope of data to be analyzed.... Questions that may be considered include the degree to which government agencies should use and mix commercial data with government data, whether data sources are being used for purposes other than those for which they were originally designed, and possible application of the Privacy Act to these initiatives. It is anticipated that congressional oversight of data mining projects will grow as data mining efforts continue to evolve."

Lichtblau, Eric. "Senate Approves Bill to Broaden Wiretap Powers." New York Times, 10 Jul. 2008. [http://www.nytimes.com]

"The Senate gave final approval on [9 July 2008] to a major expansion of the government's surveillance powers.... The measure, approved by a vote of 69 to 28,... includes ... legal immunity for the phone companies that cooperated in the National Security Agency wiretapping program [President Bush] approved after the Sept. 11 attacks.... [Bush] promised to sign the measure into law quickly....

"The measure gives the executive branch broader latitude in eavesdropping on people abroad and at home who it believes are tied to terrorism, and it reduces the role of [the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] in overseeing some operations.... The legislation also expands the government's power to invoke emergency wiretapping procedures. While the N.S.A. would be allowed to seek court orders for broad groups of foreign targets, the law creates a new seven-day period for directing wiretaps at foreigners without a court order in 'exigent' circumstances if government officials assert that important national security information would be lost. The law also expands to seven days, from three, the period for emergency wiretaps on Americans without a court order if the attorney general certifies there is probable cause to believe the target is linked to terrorism."

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