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NSA Confirms It Has Been Searching US Citizens' Data Without a Warrant 274

Posted by Soulskill
from the we're-all-shocked dept.
Charliemopps writes: "According to Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, 'There have been queries, using U.S. person identifiers, of communications lawfully acquired to obtain foreign intelligence targeting non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States. These queries were performed pursuant to minimization procedures approved by the Fisa court and consistent with the statute and the fourth amendment.' Basically, if you communicated with someone that is 'reasonably believed' to be a terrorist, you've lost constitutional protection against searches without a warrant, according to the NSA."
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NSA Confirms It Has Been Searching US Citizens' Data Without a Warrant

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  • April Fools? (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by QilessQi (2044624)

    I'm guessing.... no.

    • Re:April Fools? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by HeckRuler (1369601) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @06:09PM (#46634569)

      A little depressing, but it's getting hard to tell.

      • by lgw (121541)

        Well, up to this story it was hard to tell. This one is so obviously true is breaks the pattern. How sad is that?

        • Re:April Fools? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by ThatAblaze (1723456) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @08:19PM (#46635453)

          Slasdot's biggest april's fools joke this year: No april's fools jokes! All of the news is unbelievable!

          • by Mashiki (184564)

            I think they're trying really hard not to piss anyone off after the beta fiasco.

            Well anyway, it sounds to me that the only solution to fix the letter agencies is to fire everyone, and not hire anyone that has any primary, secondary, or up to 4th degree connection to them for a period of no less than 10 years.

            • by Feyshtey (1523799)
              How about if we fire them and put them in jail, and just not hire any replacements, period.
              • by Mashiki (184564)

                How about if we fire them and put them in jail, and just not hire any replacements, period.

                The problem is, you need intelligence agencies. You need to protect yourself from enemies foreign and domestic. You need to be able to be able to spy on other governments to find out their ulterior motives, and you need to be able to conduct covert operations instead of engaging in full out wars. I'm not saying it's perfect, but it's sure a lot better than what we had before the agencies existed. But they've expanded beyond their scope and purpose.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        James Clapper and Keith Alexander belong behind bars.
        • You think their replacements will be any different?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward
            If we started putting these people behind bars when they break the law? Yes, eventually the replacements would get the hint.
      • If it's too far-fetched to be from The Onion, it must be a real headline. Because comedy is supposed to make sense.

    • Re:April Fools? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by HermMunster (972336) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @06:22PM (#46634655)

      Whether they are joking or not, regardless of their claims, the activity of the NSA is a violation of the constitution. It matters not what the FISA court says or what they believe it should be. It is a civil rights violation and they have been breaking the law. Without a warrant any collection of data is a violation of the 4th amendment. The purpose behind the 4th amendment was to stop general warrants, of which, the NSA activities qualify.

      • But if a court says it is okay, then it must be okay. After all, men in black robes are smarter than the rest of us!

        • And plus, they were doing it to protect us from [spooky voice]TEEERRROOORRRIIISSSTTTSSS[/spooky voice]. Everything is ok so long as you are doing it to fight [spooky voice]TEEERRROOORRRIIISSSTTTSSS[/spooky voice], right?

          • Re:April Fools? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by cffrost (885375) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @05:42AM (#46637521) Homepage

            And plus, they were doing it to protect us from [spooky voice]TEEERRROOORRRIIISSSTTTSSS[/spooky voice]. Everything is ok so long as you are doing it to fight [spooky voice]TEEERRROOORRRIIISSSTTTSSS[/spooky voice], right?

            My only fear with regard to "terrorism" — excluding the conversion of my country into a totalitarian police/surveillance state (as I consider this to be a realization rather than a fear) — manifests itself along the lines of: "I hope that steroid-fueled, combat-ready, bored cop over there doesn't think up an excuse to harass/question/search/detain/arrest/chem-spray/electrocute/beat/pop me, as he's all jacked-up to 'fight terror,' and there aren't any terrorists around to be fought (but I am), and I'm nine times more likely to be killed by a cop than killed by one of the elusive boogeymen the government seems to want me to fear."

      • Executive branch (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        And the NSA is under the Executive branch of the US Government - the President of the US.

        Back in 2001 - 2008, there was a President that was grabbing more power away from Congress and from we the people under the reason of National Security and safety and 9-11.

        Some of us had a problem with that. We were called "unAmerican", "Bipartisan" and "Liberal".

        When we protested and said that, "Whoever is next in office will get those powers and they WILL expand on them - regardless of their party." we were accused

      • by Trogre (513942)

        Good, you have accepted that. Now what, O citizen, are you going to do about it?

        • Citizen? I'm a consumer.

      • by amiga3D (567632)

        Haven't you heard? We reinterpret the Constitution now to mean whatever we want it to mean. Can't let the founding fathers get in the way of freedom.

      • The constitution has become merely a historical document. When there's no one to enforce it, it's essentially useless.
  • by gatkinso (15975) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @06:06PM (#46634519)

    Not sure where that leaves "communist."

    • by mrmeval (662166)

      Most of them were buried, burned or otherwise rendered non-corporeal by Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh, etc, etc, etc

    • Not sure where that leaves "communist."

      With the hippies, in the commune.

  • wtf (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @06:07PM (#46634535)

    wtf is up with the auto-play read-out loud BS? It's like being waterboarded with "beta" feature. Make it stop.

  • by Jahoda (2715225) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @06:30PM (#46634717) Homepage
    "These queries were performed pursuant to minimization procedures approved by the Fisa court and consistent with the statute and the fourth amendment.' Basically, if you communicated with someone that is 'reasonably believed' to be a terrorist, you've lost constitutional protection against searches without a warrant, according to the NSA." No, I'm sorry. I don't really give two-fucking shits what kind of weasel-dicked lawyer-speak garbage these scum fucks have come up with, continually honing, and that boils down to "Because FUCK YOU, that's why". What I want to know is: "When the justice system is no longer interested in enforcing the clear spirit and intent of the US Constitution, what are we as citizens supposed to do?" We have no representation in congress, clearly the police are not interested in protecting us and ensuring the government is bound by its own laws. The answer is coming down to bloody and violent conflict, or a one-thousand year police state that makes the feudal structure of 10th century Europe look like club-med.
    • So they just have to paint up to 6 people [wikipedia.org] with the brush of terrorist to get you, that is just collateral damage.. They are at war after all.

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      Basically, if you communicated with someone that is 'reasonably believed' to be a terrorist, you've lost constitutional protection against searches without a warrant, according to the NSA.

      According to the NSA in this particular admission. Adding it all up you're a person of interest if you:
      1. Are a foreign terrorist.
      2. Are a foreigner at all (we're apparently recording every SMS everywhere, and who knows how many full calls).
      3. Communicate with a foreign terrorist.
      4. Probably anybody who communicates with #3, to who knows how many degrees of separation.
      5. Administer a system that a potential foreign terrorist uses, or work for a company that administers such a system.

      It isn't a stretch

      • by dbIII (701233)

        3. Communicate with a foreign terrorist.
        4. Probably anybody who communicates with #3, to who knows how many degrees of separation.

        Well that could nicely include the entire Reagan era Republican Party after North was caught selling weapons to Hezbolla less than a year after they had blown up more than one hundred US Marines.
        Also does funding the IRA fit the bill? There's a few in politics that were mixed up with that.

        Funny how double standards go isn't it?

        • by Rich0 (548339)

          Frankly, I'd be shocked if it didn't include 85% of the world's population. Ollie North is just a bonus...

    • by symbolic (11752)

      > We have no representation in congress,

      That is our own fault. As long as we continue treating candidates like items on a fast food menu, nothing will change. Voters need to get involved during the primaries, and select and support candidates who are not there to perpetuate the status quo. Business as usual is *all* you're going to get from seasoned, incumbent, and party-endorsed candidates, especially those on the national level.

      • by dbIII (701233)
        Personally I think you guys need an electoral system as good as is implemented by people from the USA that help run elections in developing countries. You already have the expertise. You already know what happened in Florida in 2000 was a joke laughed at internationally long before there was a result (so I'm not suggesting it was rigged - there were a dozen or more fuckups before getting anywhere near that suggestion). You already know that voting on a Tuesday and other sillyness is a barrier to a decent
      • by TitusC3v5 (608284)
        Fast few menu implies that there is an actual choice. Our presidential elections (and elections in general, really) are more akin to the Super Bowl.

        The system isn't going to change until the general populace starts seriously supporting 3rd parties. But with the media, money, and politicians in power being linked together like some kind of demented ouroboros, the chances of that happen are somewhere between nil and nonexistent.
    • by fnj (64210)

      When the justice system is no longer interested in enforcing the clear spirit and intent of the US Constitution

      Are you kidding? Never mind the spirit and intent. They are violating the PLAIN PAINSTAKING WORDS of the Constitution! What we have is a system infested with maggots from top to bottom. These maggots either don't quite have the power (yet) or the inclination to actually change the Constitution, so they are cynically just altogether ignoring that piece of paper. The safeguards, such as the Supreme C

      • They are violating the PLAIN PAINSTAKING WORDS of the Constitution!

        You seem to have missed that the Courts, SCOTUS especially, seem to now exist to tell the People that they cannot possibly understand the plain words of the Constitution, and that it often means the opposite of what a plain understanding of it would seem to mean.

        Their ultimate argument, therefore, is that the People cannot understand the Constitution, and therefore and logically, could never have been competent to authorize a government und

  • belief? (Score:4, Funny)

    by minstrelmike (1602771) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @06:38PM (#46634779)
    That might be what the NSA says, but how could anyone believe them after everything else that has happened?
  • by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @06:38PM (#46634781)
    I don't get it? If the person is is 'reasonably believed' to be a terrorist, then the FISA court would rubber-stamp a warrant so quick it would make heads spin. So why not get the warrant?
    • by whoever57 (658626)

      So why not get the warrant?

      Because even the FISA court might balk at issuing a warrant for Dianne Feinstein's communications. You didn't really think that the NSA is not trawling through the communications of politicians, did you?

      • by dbIII (701233)
        How about trawling through the communications of heads of other intelligence agencies so they can be thrown out with the utter bullshit of "moral turpitude" as part of an intelligence turf war? We've already seen it go that far.
    • I don't get it? If the person is is 'reasonably believed' to be a terrorist, then the FISA court would rubber-stamp a warrant so quick it would make heads spin. So why not get the warrant?

      Warrants require evidence. The NSA usually doesn't have any.

  • by dtjohnson (102237) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @06:51PM (#46634875)
    Either communications (phone, email, twitter, etc.) are private and protected by the Constitution...or they are not. It cannot be both ways. If they are protected by the constitution...and the government, through its agency, the NSA, refuses to uphold the constitution, then a constitutional crisis is upon us...and the way forward on that is bleak since the constitution has been the basis for the existence of the United States for the last 2+ centuries. Here, we have the government essentially saying that their needs entitle it to disregard the constitution that they are sworn to uphold. Probably the only way to really resolve this is to arrest and bring the responsible officials into court on charges of treason...and it's not clear who or what would do the arresting and prosecution.
    • Probably the only way to really resolve this is to arrest and bring the responsible officials into court on charges of treason.

      US Constitution, Article 3, Section 3. Learn it, love it, live it.

      • by dtjohnson (102237)
        The oath for Federal Officials:

        "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

        That makes things pretty clear.
  • by burni2 (1643061) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @06:55PM (#46634905)

    If you have communicated with someone "believed" to be a terrorist:

    Say your friendly Kebab dealer at the corner where your phoned in and ordered 2x Lamacun 1x Doener Kebab,

    perhaps his brother is an "orthodox" muslim (now it misses the bitter taste of calling extremist such) is believed to be a terrorist, so is his brother (blood is thicker ..) and so your are for (a day or two or a month, hey don't reason with a machine ..)

    So questions to be asked:
    a.) under which conditions is someone believed to be a terrorist

    b.) how deep is the search depth

    c.) what is ment with "communicated"
    - ebay buyer/seller
    - same chatroom (e.g. IRC)
    - same kebab dealer .. "hey you dropped this 5$US bill ... Ohh thank you" this is "communicating"

    • So questions to be asked:
      a.) under which conditions is someone believed to be a terrorist

      Well, zero. NSA has been scanning UseNet since the 1980's, really any Internet traffic (I'm sure earlier than that). They don't read your "stuff", it's scanned for keywords, then routed as procedure requires. It used to be common knowledge, it's been forgotten as well as the Usenet -to all but a few of us. The word "Nuclear" has always been a keyword.

      • I just took a nuclear shit. It was the bomb.

        (Am I doing it right?)

        • I just took a nuclear shit. It was the bomb.

          (Am I doing it right?)

          Used to be 3 Submarine cable gateways, two on the West coast and one on the East (New York), now there are a few more http://www.cablemap.info/ [cablemap.info] anything going those routes are sure to be monitored. Seeing as /. is accessed in Europe, yes it should catch some attention.

          Satellite or radio communications I've no clue how that works out; but my Dads job in the Air Force up till 1970 was to support/monitor that traffic (Philippines, Africa, Azores, India, etc), and he never talked about his work.

    • Ah no... the NSA needs far far less evidence than that. Basically, if they want to listen to your phone calls, they just use their vast trove of meta data, their "3 steps" rule and you're linked. I'm fairly certain the president could be considered linked to terror... actually that'd be way too easy... but you get my point.

    • Small World Phenomena

      Or, the Erdos Number. [wikipedia.org]
      Now, let's say your kebab dealer tweets about a limed time deal on select types of kebabs to spread awareness on twitter using a local city hashtag. Everyone who searches the city's hashtag around the time it was posted has received a communication from a possible terrorist. Furthermore everyone working at Twitter now can be suspected.

      If that wasn't bad enough, let's say the "orthodox Muslim" brother who is suspected of terrorist acts performs one thus: He tweets with the city hashta

  • Like I didn't see this one coming. This shouldn't come as a revelation to anyone.

    When you have the ability you use it, the more you use it the less defined the lines become.

  • by Anonymous Bullard (62082) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @07:05PM (#46634973) Homepage

    "Basically, if you communicated with someone that is 'reasonably believed' to be a terrorist, you've lost constitutional protection against searches without a warrant"

    Fair game. Really. And I speak here as the pacifist humanitarian that I am.

    But how do you make distinction between a terrorist and a freedom figher whose people are trying to survive genonide under your friendly ("preferred") trading partners? Tibet (unique in every way; language, culture, ethnicity, script etc.)? Ukraine (unique and close to Europe)? Or perhaps just a member of some rural middle-eastern belief system from the 6th century?

    What value system are you basing this "terrorist" label upon? Believing in freedom? Self-determination? Or something else? Saying unpleasant things about the militaristic occupying nation? (you'd disappear in China)

    It's the 21st century so please make up your mind and finally make more than a pretend stand on this issue: who are the terrorists (who you may actually trade with) and who are the actual victims of terrorism (often state-sponsored)?

    The whole democratic majority of the world (as long as it exists) has a last chance to decide what they consider acceptable, at a state level. Are your real opponents mere misguided goat herders or something state-sponsored and fundamentally game-changing?

    • You don't. You're not understand what they are doing. They don't care about terrorists. They think they have the right to go through all of our data, all of the time. The constitution and laws of this country are simply another obstacle in their way. They want to read your mail? Record your calls? They look at your metadata, find a link to something... Terrorists, drugs, whatever... viola, you're a target.

    • But how do you make distinction between a terrorist and a freedom fighter

      Both 'terrorists' - so all of your communications are subject to search and seizure if you "communicate" within 2-degrees of separation with any of them.

      Heck, I've seriously begun to wonder if the Nigerian spammers aren't actually State-sponsored, to establish a 2-degree network of "communications" regarding "financing" that spans every Internet user. After all, the NSA cannot be expected to individually analyze every case, so they ha

  • After all, he was palling around with a known terrorist.

    In fact, given the 6 degrees of separation factor, almost *every* American has an association with a terrorist, and even if not, the definition of terrorist can be widely expanded to make sure that you're an associate of a terrorist. Think about how many names are on that no-fly list...

    • Back in the day, my father-in-law worked with Elizabeth Dole on transportation issues. Elizabeth Dole doubtless was connected with Reagan, and Reagan likely with Oliver North, who dealt directly with terrorists. That's five jumps, and that's only what I know about.

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