TwitterFacebook

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

Distortion
Media • Views: 34,282

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!
For about 33 cents a day (per month) or 22 cents a day (per year), our subscription option turns off all advertisements at LGF!
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: 2014-03-07 2:19 pm PST

LGF User's Guide
Recent Pages
Randall Gross
Police Detail Assault Allegations Against NFL’s Jonathan Dwyer - NBC News.com
NBC Another NFL wife abuse allegation Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer head-butted his wife and broke her nose after she bit his lip to stop his sexual advances, and he punched her in the face the next day, according ...

28 minutes ago
Views: 45 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 0
nines09
Christie: Screw The Environment. And Screw You Too.
Right on time. Into lockstep. Forward we venture to the dark past. While he's at it, screw clean air. Screw clean water. Screw you people. The Party Of Responsibilities? The Party of Ignorance and Malfeasance. I find it fascinating that ...

38 minutes ago
Views: 54 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 0
FemNaziBitch
10 Reasons Feminism Might Not Be for You
This post originally appeared on the blog The Outlier Collective. But since that blog is now defunct, and since people have been asking for this post, I'm republishing it here.I'm typically a huge proponent of the idea that feminism ...

16 hours, 29 minutes ago
Views: 152 • Comments: 2
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 2
theliel
AEI Decides to Weigh in on #GamersGate
So Polygon showcases the AEI's anti-femminist response to #gamergate talking about how games are for dudes and dudes need that space to continue being dudes and bitches should get back in that kitchen where they belong. Link is to Polygon ...

23 hours, 24 minutes ago
Views: 110 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 1
CriticalDragon1177
Alternet - Nicholas Wade’s Flawed Book Rewrites the History of Scientific Racism
Jon Phillips takes on Nicholas Wade's claims, and proves once again that so called "scientific" racism is little more than a pseudoscience. This was originally posted in September 2014 edition of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report, ( ...

1 day, 17 hours ago
Views: 220 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 1
Lumberhead
Angry Letters to the One Member of Congress Who Voted Against the War on Terror - the Atlantic
My first attempt at a page - so here we go: The article is a little long but well worth while. I found it to be nicely balanced with interesting excerpts from supporters as well as detractors. Barbara Lee was ...

2 days, 20 hours ago
Views: 336 • Comments: 2
Tweets: 1 • Rating: 5
The War TARDIS
Doctor Who “Listen” Open Thread
I'm back. Last week, I couldn't do this thread, as something more important was going on. One of my best friends, a sweet, and very devout Christian, is going to the UK to help a Christian Group in Oxford, and ...

4 days, 18 hours ago
Views: 307 • Comments: 42
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 3
Rightwingconspirator
Are Higher Frame Rates Really a Better Moving Image in Cinema?
As a guy who scratches the surface of this medium with humble indy efforts and some industrial video experience I have to watch carefully. If I commit to the wrong camera or format, it can hurt financially. Once I had ...

5 days, 21 hours ago
Views: 499 • Comments: 7
Tweets: 25 • Rating: 6
Slap
For guitar fans…
I suppose one needs to be a guitar freak of a certain age to recognize both of these guys. Gabrels' work might be familiar to fans of Bowie/Tin Machine. Nelson's work? I believe him to be one of the most ...

5 days, 23 hours ago
Views: 346 • Comments: 2
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 1
GlutenFreeJesus
Check your gmail accounts!
Here's the link to the tool. One of mine was on that list, so I changed the password. Good luck! isleaked.com

1 week ago
Views: 561 • Comments: 2
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 7
 Frank says:

Get smart and I'll f*ck you over, sayeth The Lord.