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NSA Chief Acknowledges Cell Phone Tracking Tests; Warns Senate about Shutdown Effects

On the 70 percent furloughs in the intel community, Grassley said, “You either need better lawyers or need to make changes in your workforce.”

by
Rodrigo Sermeño

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October 7, 2013 - 12:53 pm
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WASHINGTON – National Security Agency (NSA) Chief Gen. Keith Alexander told lawmakers last week his agency once conducted tests to assess whether its systems could handle tracking Americans’ cell phone locations and warned them of the government shutdown’s impact on national security.

Alexander and James Clapper, director of National Intelligence (DNI), testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on proposed reforms to the NSA’s surveillance of phone and Internet usage around the world, exposed by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden.

Americans learned for the first time this summer that Section 215 of the Patriot Act has for years been secretly interpreted to authorize the collection of Americans’ phone records. The American public also learned more about the government’s collection of Internet content data using Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which covers Internet communications. Section 702 allows the attorney general and director of national intelligence, for a period of up to one year, to engage “in the targeting of persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States to acquire foreign intelligence information.”

“When you have all these revelations, it’s no surprise the intelligence community faces a trust deficit. And after years of raising concerns about the scope of FISA authorities… I’m glad that many members of Congress in both parties are now interested in taking a close look at these programs and both the government’s legal and policy justifications for them,” said the committee’s chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

Congress is considering changes to FISA, and other surveillance authorities, that some believe grant the NSA too much freedom in gathering U.S. data as part of spying on targets abroad.

Leahy is urging a complete review by the intelligence community’s inspector general of the government’s use of Section 215 and Section 702. The senator is working on a comprehensive legislative solution with Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the chairman of the House Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee, that aims to address the two sections and a range of surveillance authorities that raise similar concerns.

But the panel did not discuss any proposed reforms in length. Instead, the hearing focused on potential abuses that have become known since the Snowden scandal, and the impact of the government shutdown on U.S. intelligence agencies.

Clapper warned the dangers and threats to the nation become “cumulative,” as “the jeopardy increases” each day the government shutdown goes by.

“This affects our global capability to support the military, to support diplomacy, and to support our policymakers. And the danger here, of course, that this will accumulate over time – the damage will be insidious,” he said.

Responding to the inquiries from lawmakers about his policy for furloughs, Clapper said the intelligence community based its decision on a law that characterizes intelligence staff as essential if they are “necessary to protect against imminent threat to life or property.”

He added that the intelligence agencies furloughed roughly 70 percent of personnel, which he thinks will change if the shutdown continues.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wondered whether Clapper was overstating his claims. He asked how bad things could be if that number of employees could be deemed as “nonessential” under the furlough guidelines.

“You either need better lawyers,” Grassley said, referring to the legal advisers who determined that 70 percent of employees were not essential, “or need to make changes in your workforce.”

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All Comments   (14)
All Comments   (14)
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my neighbor's step-sister makes $87 every hour on the computer. She has been fired from work for 5 months but last month her pay check was $19995 just working on the computer for a few hours. Resources..... WWW.Rush64.COM
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
My roommate's sister-in-law makes $83/hr on the laptop. She has been without a job for seven months but last month her pay check was $15712 just working on the laptop for a few hours. helpful hints...................................................... http://www.max47.com
Go to website and click Home tab for more details.
❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have a bit of a hard time accepting anything from Leaky Leahy, who was found to have disclosed intelligence information.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
The tricky part of any shutdown of our government is the application and definition of that slippery term, "non-essential employees".

Taken literally, if these employees are indeed "nonessential", regardless of where they work, why are they on the government payroll to begin with?

If I were a "non-essential employee" somewhere, I'd have a bit of insecurity about feeding my family and paying the rent.

Moreover, any time an elected politician gets into any discussion of anything at all, the noxious scent of politics will hover over the issue.

Now, any combination of secrecy, money, and politicians is bound to create a thick fog.

Hence, we have this current helluva human political mess, and we need to be very, very careful of just who is elected to any office at all.......White House please take note.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
The problem is that the law was written with safeguards in place, but those apply only if the people in government actually are inclined to obey the law. In reality, they purposely misinterpret the law in order to give themselves the veneer of legality for their illegal activities.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
To those who say if you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about, consider this situation:

Recently I needed to change my cell phone number. Of course I can have no idea who had the number last. Almost immediately I was inundated with out-of-country calls. All unknown calls are added to my Reject Call list, and their frequency is being reduced. All the same, the database would show these calls from who know whom, and from other countries. This situation could happen to anybody, and who knows who had the number last?
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
I would add that the US governmenthas now descended into blatant lawlessness and illegitimacy.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Uh, Oh!
.....now look who is our current Attorney General and President of our United States.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
For those who may still be saying, 'If you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to hide.' That may be true if the government is both reasonable and honest and law-abiding and of good will.

When the government imprisons a US video producer for terrorist attacks in Libya, and when it closes down business after business because they operate on rented government land, evict aged homeowners because their house is on rented government land, and when they close roadside pull-offs because you can see national memorials in the distance, there is no rule of law or governmental good will involved.

Look at how all the Republican presidential primary candidates were brought down. They were impugned with ridicule and outright lies, based on a things that resembled the truth, and could be perceived as true, without actually being true.

If Harry Reid can say he knows Romney’s tax returns, that’s the seed, that Romney paid x number of dollars in taxes. After that the lies begin, and the closer he can get to the actual truth without touching it, the more convincing the lie gets.

The very details of your life become seeds for the lies the government will use against you if you step out of line, or if they need a scapegoat, or if they just want to add you to the current group that they want to demonize.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
So is this new? Remember Filegate? Haliary was implicated, and it didn't take hi-tech to commit the crime.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Alexander and James Clapper, director of National Intelligence (DNI), testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on proposed reforms to the NSA’s surveillance of phone and Internet usage around the world, exposed by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden."

Both Alexander and Clapper are congenital liars who lied in testimony before Congressional Committees and should be prosecuted for perjury.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Privacy advocates argue such information is far more useful to tracking an individual’s activities than listening in on conversations, because the phone’s location is recorded even when it is not in use."

That's not correct. It CAN be recorded even when it is not in use, but that statement implies that such tracking is the normal condition. It is not.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
And you can be certain of this statement? The govt spends a prodigious amount of money on things we never see or know of and yet you still believe that their motives are virtuous?

If you can put a virus/trojan onto a smart phone then it can be used to perform any number of its normal functions to provide intel to people you would not want it to go to.

Just think of that benign app you just downloaded and gave it permission to connect to the web so that you can get the cheapest gas in your area. But it has some extra code and that code goes out and retrieves the spy app and now your phone turns on even though you think it is dormant or it will start listening at a command sent through the gas app when you are sitting at lunch with your friends or business associates discussing private matters...

OPSEC is not just for the Navy Seals. Think before you act...
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm an engineer in the business. I know how cellphones work. I know how the networks work.

They can activate such tracking on a particular phone any time they want to, with all the appropriate legal safeguards, of course [cough cough].

To have it running on ALL phones all the time would crush the network.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
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