Congressional panel warns NSA to rein it in

I can’t even imagine how many lists I must be on:

The National Security Agency revealed to an angry congressional panel on Wednesday that its analysis of phone records and online behavior goes exponentially beyond what it had previously disclosed.

John C Inglis, the deputy director of the surveillance agency, told a member of the House judiciary committee that NSA analysts can perform “a second or third hop query” through its collections of telephone data and internet records in order to find connections to terrorist organizations.

“Hops” refers to a technical term indicating connections between people. A three-hop query means that the NSA can look at data not only from a suspected terrorist, but from everyone that suspect communicated with, and then from everyone those people communicated with, and then from everyone all of those people communicated with.

Inglis did not elaborate, nor did the members of the House panel – many of whom expressed concern and even anger at the NSA – explore the legal and privacy implications of the breadth of “three-hop” analysis.

But Inglis and other intelligence and law enforcement officials testifying before the committee said that the NSA’s ability to query the data follows rules set by the secret Fisa court, although about two dozen NSA officials determine for themselves when those criteria are satisified.

A document published last month by the Guardian detailing the history of the NSA’s post-9/11 bulk surveillance on telephone and internet data refer to one- or two-hop analysis performed by NSA. The document, provided by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden, does not explicitly mention three-hop analysis, nor does it clearly suggest that such analysis occurs.

Wednesday’s hearing was the second major public congressional hearing about the NSA’s surveillance activities since the Guardian and the Washington Post disclosed some of them in early June. Unlike the previous hearing on June 18 before the House intelligence committee, members of the House judiciary committee aggressively questioned senior officials from the NSA, FBI, Justice Department and Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

One senior member of the panel, congressman James Sensenbrenner, the author of the 2001 Patriot Act, warned the officials that unless they rein in the scope of their surveillance on Americans’ phone records, “There are not the votes in the House of Representatives” to renew the provision after its 2015 expiration.

2 thoughts on “Congressional panel warns NSA to rein it in

  1. All of the NSA (military) spying is Obama’s fault. He has had nothing to say about this issue——ever. Obama has permitted and engaged in 4th Amendment violations too numerous to count. For those high crimes he should be impeached. Better yet, let’s have our military stage a coup, remove him from office, and then appoint McCain the new pesident. That’s the way democracy should be operated isn’t it? Egyptian style.

  2. I can’t help but wonder how much the NSA has on each and every member of Congress, on each and every judge, state, local, and Federal.

    Time for pols and judges to have little recording devices which they can secretly initiate when necessary.

    And FOIA the fuck out of the NSA and its ilk.

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