Government Officials Think NSA Spying That 'Incidentally' Swept Up Congressional Phone Calls Still Not Enough Spying

from the an-eye-for-five-eyes-makes-the-whole-world-inadvertent-surveillance-targets dept

The Wall Street Journal’s recent revelation that the NSA swept up Congress members’ communications in a dragnet, which had been assumed to have shut down, has provoked a variety of reactions from Capitol Hill. Some Congress members have angrily expressed their displeasure at being spied on like so many citizens of so many nations (including ours).

Others seem more upset that the NSA’s spying was even dialed back in the slightest. In a followup to its bombshell post detailing the inadvertent Congressional surveillance that resulted from its targeting of Israel’s president, the Wall Street Journal has rounded up more comments from government officials who firmly believe the NSA did nothing wrong. And, for that matter, it should have been doing more of it.

In the case of Ms. Merkel, U.S. intelligence veterans feared losing access to private communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin. They also questioned the wisdom of the U.S. forfeiting its advantage, especially given their belief that the closest U.S. allies, including Germany’s BND federal intelligence service, were spying on the White House.

As has been the case universally, world leaders decrying NSA surveillance refuse to acknowledge their own intelligence agencies are engaged in the same tactics. Obviously, the NSA doesn’t want to run a surveillance deficit — something that can be ascertained from its general disgruntlement with its Israeli counterparts. Merkel also ignored another inconvenient fact: German intelligence had partnered with the NSA to spy on other foreign government leaders.

The hypocrisy of international politics remains as solid as ever. Even the promise made to Merkel is conditional, subject to revocation at any given moment. As was revealed earlier, the surveillance machinery is still in place. The only thing that’s stopped is the direct targeting of Ms. Merkel (other high-ranking German government officials are still fair game) and an additional handful of world leaders the administration has declared to be the sort of “friends” the US doesn’t spy on.

Under the new regime that emerged, once a leader was added to the protected list, spying on his or her direct communications was off limits. Restarting monitoring required a consensus among the White House National Security Council, the intelligence services and other government agencies, according to current and former officials.

The implants are still there. The next president could flip them back to surveillance mode. The next episode of international discomfort could bring about the required consensus. The spying was paused, not stopped. But even the pause has been unbearable for some officials.

The NSA maintains it “scrubbed” intercepted Congressional conversations, but that’s less reassuring than the agency would like it to be. All it shows is that there’s still plenty of ways to gather data and communications originating from US persons. The easiest way to do it is to grab it from the “other side” — overseas, with extraterritorial intercepts subject to far fewer civil liberties protections than the NSA’s purely domestic programs.

Filed Under: , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Government Officials Think NSA Spying That 'Incidentally' Swept Up Congressional Phone Calls Still Not Enough Spying”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment

Re: Re:

FYI Tim, the head of government in Israel is the prime minister, not the president.

You’re naive. The head of gov’t in Israel is the Mossad, Shin Bet, and the hard-line Zionist “hawks” who control them. The politicians serve their interests or are replaced with those who will.

There are many countries which are generally controlled via consensus between the hawks and doves. A few such as Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, Soviet Russia, China, the modern US, and Israel have allowed the hawks to have control.

I no longer accept that the electorate (or ordinary citizens) in any of them have any real say in the matter. We get to supply the cannon fodder and pay the bills is all, and cheer for “our team.”

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Report this ad??|??Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Older Stuff
12:25 Australian Privacy Commissioner Says 7-Eleven Broke Privacy Laws By Scanning Customers' Faces At Survey Kiosks (6)
10:50 Missouri Governor Doubles Down On 'View Source' Hacking Claim; PAC Now Fundraising Over This Bizarrely Stupid Claim (45)
10:45 Daily Deal: The All-in-One Microsoft, Cybersecurity, And Python Exam Prep Training Bundle (0)
09:43 Want To Understand Why U.S. Broadband Sucks? Look At Frontier Communications In Wisconsin, West Virginia (8)
05:36 Massachusetts College Decides Criticizing The Chinese Government Is Hate Speech, Suspends Conservative Student Group (71)
19:57 Le Tigre Sues Barry Mann To Stop Copyright Threats Over Song, Lights Barry Mann On Fire As Well (21)
16:07 Court Says City Of Baltimore's 'Heckler's Veto' Of An Anti-Catholic Rally Violates The First Amendment (15)
13:37 Two Years Later, Judge Finally Realizes That A CDN Provider Is Not Liable For Copyright Infringement On Websites (21)
12:19 Chicago Court Gets Its Prior Restraint On, Tells Police Union Head To STFU About City's Vaccine Mandate (158)
10:55 Verizon 'Visible' Wireless Accounts Hacked, Exploited To Buy New iPhones (8)
10:50 Daily Deal: The MacOS 11 Course (0)
07:55 Suing Social Media Sites Over Acts Of Terrorism Continues To Be A Losing Bet, As 11th Circuit Dumps Another Flawed Lawsuit (11)
02:51 Trump Announces His Own Social Network, 'Truth Social,' Which Says It Can Kick Off Users For Any Reason (And Already Is) (100)
19:51 Facebook AI Moderation Continues To Suck Because Moderation At Scale Is Impossible (26)
16:12 Content Moderation Case Studies: Snapchat Disables GIPHY Integration After Racist 'Sticker' Is Discovered (2018) (11)
13:54 Arlo Makes Live Customer Service A Luxury Option (8)
12:05 Delta Proudly Announces Its Participation In The DHS's Expanded Biometric Collection Program (5)
11:03 LinkedIn (Mostly) Exits China, Citing Escalating Demands For Censorship (14)
10:57 Daily Deal: The Python, Git, And YAML Bundle (0)
09:37 British Telecom Wants Netflix To Pay A Tax Simply Because Squid Game Is Popular (32)
06:41 Report: Client-Side Scanning Is An Insecure Nightmare Just Waiting To Be Exploited By Governments (35)
20:38 MLB In Talks To Offer Streaming For All Teams' Home Games In-Market Even Without A Cable Subscription (10)
15:55 Appeals Court Says Couple's Lawsuit Over Bogus Vehicle Forfeiture Can Continue (15)
13:30 Techdirt Podcast Episode 301: Scarcity, Abundance & NFTs (0)
12:03 Hollywood Is Betting On Filtering Mandates, But Working Copyright Algorithms Simply Don't Exist (66)
10:45 Introducing The Techdirt Insider Discord (4)
10:40 Daily Deal: The Dynamic 2021 DevOps Training Bundle (0)
09:29 Criminalizing Teens' Google Searches Is Just How The UK's Anti-Cybercrime Programs Roll (19)
06:29 Canon Sued For Disabling Printer Scanners When Devices Run Out Of Ink (41)
20:51 Copyright Law Discriminating Against The Blind Finally Struck Down By Court In South Africa (7)
More arrow