NSA’s Domestic Spying

I don’t normally read the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times, I just scan the front page quickly when the papers are delivered to the office.

On the Front page of the Wall Street Journal Monday, March 10, 2008 what caught my eye was this little headline “NSA’s Domestic Spying Grows As Agency Sweeps Up Data”.

Apparently the NSA has been spying on us long before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

NSA’s Domestic Spying Grows
As Agency Sweeps Up Data

Terror Fight Blurs
Line Over Domain;
Tracking Email

By SIOBHAN GORMAN
March 10, 2008; Page A1

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Five years ago, Congress killed an experimental Pentagon antiterrorism program meant to vacuum up electronic data about people in the U.S. to search for suspicious patterns. Opponents called it too broad an intrusion on Americans’ privacy, even after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

But the data-sifting effort didn’t disappear. The National Security Agency, once confined to foreign surveillance, has been building essentially the same system.

The central role the NSA has come to occupy in domestic intelligence gathering has never been publicly disclosed. But an inquiry reveals that its efforts have evolved to reach more broadly into data about people’s communications, travel and finances in the U.S. than the domestic surveillance programs brought to light since the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Congress now is hotly debating domestic spying powers under the main law governing U.S. surveillance aimed at foreign threats. An expansion of those powers expired last month and awaits renewal, which could be voted on in the House of Representatives this week. The biggest point of contention over the law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, is whether telecommunications and other companies should be made immune from liability for assisting government surveillance.

Largely missing from the public discussion is the role of the highly secretive NSA in analyzing that data, collected through little-known arrangements that can blur the lines between domestic and foreign intelligence gathering. Supporters say the NSA is serving as a key bulwark against foreign terrorists and that it would be reckless to constrain the agency’s mission. The NSA says it is scrupulously following all applicable laws and that it keeps Congress fully informed of its activities.

According to current and former intelligence officials, the spy agency now monitors huge volumes of records of domestic emails and Internet searches as well as bank transfers, credit-card transactions, travel and telephone records. The NSA receives this so-called “transactional” data from other agencies or private companies, and its sophisticated software programs analyze the various transactions for suspicious patterns. Then they spit out leads to be explored by counterterrorism programs across the U.S. government, such as the NSA’s own Terrorist Surveillance Program, formed to intercept phone calls and emails between the U.S. and overseas without a judge’s approval when a link to al Qaeda is suspected.

Read the FULL STORY HERE (this link will be be good for a couple of more days unless you are a subscriber to the WSJ – otherwise, try this nsa-spying-in-wsj.doc).

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~ by swfreedomlover on March 13, 2008.

One Response to “NSA’s Domestic Spying”

  1. Thanks for letting us know. What a great article!

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