TwitterFacebook

CNET Says NSA “Admits” Listening to US Phone Calls - But That’s Not What the Video Shows

Distortion
Media • Views: 35,929

Uh, wait a minute. The latest fear-mongering story about the NSA appears to be bogus. Here’s the story at CNET: NSA Admits Listening to U.S. Phone Calls Without Warrants | Politics and Law - CNET News.

Sounds pretty inflammatory, right?

The National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed this week that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed “simply based on an analyst deciding that.”

If the NSA wants “to listen to the phone,” an analyst’s decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required, Nadler said he learned. “I was rather startled,” said Nadler, an attorney and congressman who serves on the House Judiciary committee.

Not only does this disclosure shed more light on how the NSA’s formidable eavesdropping apparatus works domestically it also suggests the Justice Department has secretly interpreted federal surveillance law to permit thousands of low-ranking analysts to eavesdrop on phone calls.

Really, “eavesdrop on phone calls?” And the NSA admitted it?

If you read this carefully, you’ll notice that the source for this “admission” is not the NSA at all — it’s second-hand information from Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). And Nadler himself never even says he heard it from the NSA.

Here’s how writer Declan McCullagh describes the exchange between Nadler and FBI director Richard Mueller that led to his shocking headline:

Rep. Nadler’s disclosure that NSA analysts can listen to calls without court orders came during a House Judiciary hearing on Thursday that included FBI director Robert Mueller as a witness.

Mueller initially sought to downplay concerns about NSA surveillance by claiming that, to listen to a phone call, the government would need to seek “a special, a particularized order from the FISA court directed at that particular phone of that particular individual.”

Is information about that procedure “classified in any way?” Nadler asked.

“I don’t think so,” Mueller replied.

“Then I can say the following,” Nadler said. “We heard precisely the opposite at the briefing the other day. We heard precisely that you could get the specific information from that telephone simply based on an analyst deciding that…In other words, what you just said is incorrect. So there’s a conflict.”

The key quote here is, “We heard precisely that you could get the specific information from that telephone.” Notice: Nadler did not say they could listen to the phone call, he said “get the specific information.”

Here’s the actual video clip of the full exchange from C-Span, which explains the discrepancy. I’ve set it to start at about 46:00 into the hearing, right at the point where the exchange between Mueller and Nadler begins:

Video

There’s no mention of it in McCullagh’s article, but this entire discussion was about metadata. They explicitly say this several times, using the word “metadata.” And metadata is not “listening to phone calls,” it’s the equivalent of looking at a telephone bill. That’s why Mueller begins (in the clip above) by saying that the Supreme Court has ruled that this kind of data is not protected by the Fourth Amendment.

The bottom line: this CNET article and headline are extremely misleading. There is no evidence here to support the hyperbolic claims made by their article.

UPDATE at 6/15/13 9:10:28 pm

A transcript of the section in question, courtesy of LGF contributor simoom:

Mueller: As we all know, these particular records are not covered by the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court has held that to be the case. And secondly, the determination as to the legality and that standard has been addressed by the FISA Court, in the affirmative, to support this particular program.

[someone introduces Nadler]

Nadler: Let me ask you the following. Under section 215, and I’d also like to associate myself with the remarks that a dragnet subpoena for every telephone record, etc — every e-mail record, though I know they don’t do that anymore, though they could again tomorrow, and they did do it — certainly makes a mockery of the relevance standard in section 215. If everything in the world is relevant then there’s no meaning to that word. Some of us offered amendments to narrow that several years ago and in retrospect maybe we should have adopted those amendments. But that’s no excuse for a misinterpretation of relevance to the point that there is no such meaning to the word.

Now secondly, under section 215 if you’ve gotten information from metadata, and you as a result of that thing that, “gee, this phone number, 873-whatever, looks suspicious and we aught to actually get the contents of that phone. Do you need a new specific warrant?

Mueller: You need at least a national security letter. All you have is a telephone number. You do not have subscriber information, so if you need the subscriber information you would need to probably get a National Security Letter to get that subscriber information. And then if you wanted to do more —

Nadler: If you wanted to listen to the phone —

Mueller: Then you would have to get a special, a particularized order from the FISA Court directed at that particular phone and that particular individual.

Nadler: Now is the answer you just gave me classified?

Mueller: Is what?

Nadler: Is the answer you just gave me classified in any way?

Mueller: I don’t think so.

Nadler: OK, then I can say the following. We heard precisely the opposite at the briefing the other day. We heard precisely that you could get the specific information from that telephone simply based on an analyst deciding that and you didn’t need a new warrant. Other-words is what you just said is incorrect. So there’s a conflict.

Mueller: I’m not sure it’s the answer to the same question. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt.

Nadler: Well I asked the question both times and I think it’s the same question, so maybe you better go back and check, because someone was incorrect.

Mueller: I will do that. That is my understanding of the process.

Nadler: OK, I don’t question your understanding. It was always my understanding. And I was rather startled the other day and I wanted to take this opportunity to —

Mueller: I’d be happy to clarify it.

Nadler: Thank you.

^ back to top ^

TwitterFacebook

Turn off all ads for a full year by subscribing!
Take advantage of our yearly subscription, and save 50% off the normal subscription price! One-year ad-free subscriptions are just $59.95. Turn off all ads for a full year by subscribing now and save!
Read more...

► LGF Headlines

  • Loading...

► Tweeted Articles

  • Loading...

► Tweeted Pages

  • Loading...

► Top 10 Comments

  • Loading...

► Bottom Comments

  • Loading...

► Recent Comments

  • Loading...

► Tools/Info

► Tag Cloud

► Contact

You must have Javascript enabled to use the contact form.
Your email:

Subject:

Message:


Messages may be published unless you request otherwise.
Tech Note:
Using the Contact Form
LGF Pages

This button leads to the main index of LGF Pages, our user-submitted articles. You can post your own LGF Pages simply by registering a free account with us.

Create a Page

This is the LGF Pages posting bookmarklet. To use it, drag this button to your browser's bookmark bar, and title it 'LGF Pages' (or whatever you like). Then browse to a site you want to post, select some text on the page to use for a quote, click the bookmarklet, and the Pages posting window will appear with the title, text, and any embedded video or audio files already filled in, ready to go.

Or... you can just click this button to open the Pages posting window right away.

Last updated: 2015-06-25 5:21 pm PDT

LGF User's Guide RSS Feeds
Recent Pages
Thanos
Boy Scouts of America Votes to End Controversial Ban on Openly-Gay Scout Leaders
The Boy Scouts of America, facing litigation, shrinking membership and sweeping acceptance of gay rights, voted Monday to lift its ban on openly gay troop leaders and employees. The national organization will no longer allow discrimination against its paid ...

10 hours, 27 minutes ago
Views: 107 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 0
Great White Snark
Huffington Post Arabic-Smart Outreach, Sure To Infuriate Bigots
Dirct Link: Huffington Post Arabic - Kudos! Good to see this. The link takes you right there, but for us non arabic readers, a helpful translate panel comes right up. You who do read arabic can judge the content, ...

16 hours, 51 minutes ago
Views: 346 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 17 • Rating: 1
FemNaziBitch
Sandra Bland Was Murdered -Taibbi- Rolling Stone
"In fact, when a cop pulls you over, you should have your license and registration ready, you put your hands on the steering wheel so he can see them when he arrives, and you say 'yes, sir' and 'no, ...

18 hours, 34 minutes ago
Views: 310 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 1
Iwouldprefernotto
More Edited PP Videos
NYT -- More Edited PP Videos in the Pipeline The activist behind the videos, David Daleiden, has said he has enough covertly recorded footage for perhaps a dozen videos that he could release, one a week, for the next few ...

19 hours, 26 minutes ago
Views: 162 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 0
Predaka
Swedish Right Plans Gay Pride March Through Muslim Areas Of Stockholm
haaretz.com From the article: Swedish nationalists are planning a gay 'pride' march through Muslim-majority districts in the country's capital, according to media reports and a dedicated Facebook page. The march, called 'Pride Järva,' is scheduled to take place on July ...

1 day, 8 hours ago
Views: 403 • Comments: 10
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 1
EiMitch
Cracked: 5 Things I Learned Committing A Campus Sexual Assault
cracked.com This is a story of sexual assault told primarily from the perpetrator's perspective, using the pseudonyms "Tim" and "Vicky" for him and his victim respectively. But this isn't the story of a predator on the prowl. No, this is ...

3 days, 9 hours ago
Views: 484 • Comments: 2
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 3
Lumberhead
#BlackLivesMatter Shows There Are Problems in American Life That Can’t Be Blamed on the Rich
Democratic presidential candidates should take heed. They need to come up with a way to speak to this issue. Otherwise, in an Obama-less election, part of the Obama coalition may not be motivated to show up. Obviously, you can be ...

5 days, 14 hours ago
Views: 386 • Comments: 2
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 2
Drive By Commenter
Standing on the corner, screaming as the cars go by….
There is a long standing belief that there is no such thing as "Bad Ink..". You get ink and the name recognition, the story, the push and pull, the NEWS! So whatever Trump is, outside of his little world he ...

6 days, 6 hours ago
Views: 337 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 1
KiTA
Remember that time Gawker doxxed every gun owner in New York City?
"Here is a list of all the assholes who own guns in New York City." From the comments section: The journal posted my address and name for my gun ownership. My past stalker saw this. I haven't heard from him ...

1 week, 3 days ago
Views: 830 • Comments: 1
Tweets: 3 • Rating: 3
S'latch
Did A Man Just Commit Terrorist Murder in Tennessee in Response to A Right Wing Terrorist?
The Federal Court located in Chattanooga, Tennessee appears to have been treating the white, right-wing, racist, domestic terrorist, Robert Doggart, rather softly. Mr. Doggart planned an attack on a Muslim community in New York. In May, about a month after ...

1 week, 4 days ago
Views: 950 • Comments: 2
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 4
 Frank says:

You've got to be digging it while it's happening
'cause it just might be a one shot deal -- From Waka/Jawaka