January - August


Materials presented in chronological order.

Gellman, Barton, and Laura Poitras. "U.S. Intelligence Mining Data from Nine U.S. Internet Companies in Broad Secret Program." Washington Post, 6 Jun. 2013. []

NSA and the FBI "are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time. The highly classified program, code-named PRISM, has not been disclosed publicly before. Its establishment in 2007 and six years of exponential growth took place beneath the surface of a roiling debate over the boundaries of surveillance and privacy....

"The technology companies, which participate knowingly in PRISM operations, include most of the dominant global players of Silicon Valley. They are listed on a roster that bears their logos in order of entry into the program: 'Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.'"

See also, Anne Gearan, "'No Such Agency' Spies on the Communications of the World." Washington Post, 6 Jun. 2013.

Savage, Charlie, Edward Wyatt, and Peter Baker. "U.S. Confirms That It Gathers Online Data Overseas." New York Times, 6 Jun. 2013. []

The DNI confirmed on 6 June 2013 that the United States "has been secretly collecting information on foreigners overseas for nearly six years from the nation's largest Internet companies like Google, Facebook and, most recently, Apple, in search of national security threats." This is a separate program from the "seven-year effort to sweep up records of telephone calls inside the United States."

"The Internet company program appeared to involve eavesdropping on the contents of communications of foreigners. The senior administration official said its legal basis was the so-called FISA Amendments Act, a 2008 law that allows the government to obtain an order from a national security court to conduct blanket surveillance of foreigners abroad without individualized warrants even if the interception takes place on American soil."

Risen, James, and Eric Lichtblau. "How the U.S. Uses Technology to Mine More Data More Quickly" New York Times, 8 Jun. 20013. []

"[A] revolution in software technology that allows for the highly automated and instantaneous analysis of enormous volumes of digital information has transformed the N.S.A., turning it into the virtual landlord of the digital assets of Americans and foreigners alike. The new technology has, for the first time, given America's spies the ability to track the activities and movements of people almost anywhere in the world without actually watching them or listening to their conversations."

Barrett, David M. "NSA Programs Do Keep Letter of Law." Politico, 11 Jun. 2013. []

"There has been a certain amount of hysteria about the news" that NSA "has been collecting vast amounts of data regarding telephone calls made in the United States" and "also monitoring emails and other Internet activity.... Americans should have a debate about this program, but not about its legality. The NSA program was well within legal bounds, with direct involvement from the president and oversight by Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Any claim to the contrary is false and misleading."

Nakashima, Ellen, and Jerry Markon. "NSA Director Says Dozens of Attacks Were Stopped by Surveillance Programs." Washington Post, 12 Jun. 2013. []

Speaking before the Senate Appropriations Committee on 12 June 2013, NSA head Gen. Keith Alexander "defended his agency's broad electronic surveillance programs..., saying that they have helped thwart dozens of terrorist attacks and that their recent public disclosure has done 'great harm' to the nation's security." See also, David E. Sanger, Charlie Savage, and Michael S. Schmidt, "N.S.A. Chief Says Phone Logs Halted Terror Threats," 12 Jun. 2013.

Sullivan, Sean. "NSA Head: Surveillance Helped Thwart More Than 50 Terror Plots." Washington Post, 18 Jun. 2013. []

NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander and FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce told the House Intelligence Committee on 18 June 2013 that "the government's sweeping surveillance efforts have helped thwart 'potential terrorist events' more than 50 times since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks."

Gellman, Barton. "NSA Broke Privacy Rules Thousands of Times Per Year, Audit Finds." Washington Post, 15 Aug. 2013. []

Documents provided to the Washington Post by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, including an internal audit dated May 2012, detail how NSA broke "privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008.... Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States.... They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls." See also, Charlie Savage, "N.S.A. Calls Violations of Privacy 'Minuscule,'" New York Times, 16 Aug. 2013.

Savage, Charlie, and Scott Shane. "Secret Court Rebuked N.S.A. on Surveillance." New York Times, 21 Aug. 2013. []

According to a secret ruling made public on 21 August 2013, Judge John D. Bates, then serving as chief judge on the FISC, "sharply rebuked" NSA in 2011 "for repeatedly misleading the court" about a "program that systematically searches the contents of Americans' international Internet communications, without a warrant, in a hunt for discussions about foreigners who have been targeted for surveillance."

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