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Rick Moran


June 8, 2013 - 6:01 am

So who is lying and who is telling the truth? Most of the leading internet companies have weighed in with denials that they gave the National Security Agency “direct access” to their servers. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg claims, “Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the US or any other government direct access to our servers.” Google’s CEO Larry Page wrote something similar on the Google Blog: “First, we have not joined any program that would give the U.S. government—or any other government—direct access to our servers.”

So, was the Washington Post incorrect? The short answer is no. And, as this fascinating article in the New York Times points out, both the tech companies and the Post are telling the truth:

When government officials came to Silicon Valley to demand easier ways for the world’s largest Internet companies to turn over user data as part of a secret surveillance program, the companies bristled. In the end, though, many cooperated at least a bit.

Twitter declined to make it easier for the government. But other companies were more compliant, according to people briefed on the negotiations. They opened discussions with national security officials about developing technical methods to more efficiently and securely share the personal data of foreign users in response to lawful government requests. And in some cases, they changed their computer systems to do so.

The negotiations shed a light on how Internet companies, increasingly at the center of people’s personal lives, interact with the spy agencies that look to their vast trove of information — e-mails, videos, online chats, photos and search queries — for intelligence. They illustrate how intricately the government and tech companies work together, and the depth of their behind-the-scenes transactions.


In at least two cases, at Google and Facebook, one of the plans discussed was to build separate, secure portals, like a digital version of the secure physical rooms that have long existed for classified information, in some instances on company servers. Through these online rooms, the government would request data, companies would deposit it and the government would retrieve it, people briefed on the discussions said.

The negotiations have continued in recent months, as Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, traveled to Silicon Valley to meet with executives including those at Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Intel. Though the official purpose of those meetings was to discuss the future of the Internet, the conversations also touched on how the companies would collaborate with the government in its intelligence-gathering efforts, said a person who attended.

While handing over data in response to a legitimate FISA request is a legal requirement, making it easier for the government to get the information is not, which is why Twitter could decline to do so.

Details on the discussions help explain the disparity between initial descriptions of the government program and the companies’ responses.

It is doubtful that the tech companies knew the code name of the program — PRISM — so they could easily deny they were taking part in such an effort.

And, it’s important to remember that the FISA requests are compartmentalized at these companies, with employees dedicated to complying with government requests for information who are outside the chain of command.

Tech companies might have also denied knowledge of the full scope of cooperation with national security officials because employees whose job it is to comply with FISA requests are not allowed to discuss the details even with others at the company, and in some cases have national security clearance, according to both a former senior government official and a lawyer representing a technology company.

That inability to discuss details of the program extends to the CEO’s whose carefully worded statements nevertheless reveal that they have been complying with requests from the government for information. But their main point — that the government does not have a “back door” access to their servers — is also a fudge on the truth:

In one recent instance, the National Security Agency sent an agent to a tech company’s headquarters to monitor a suspect in a cyberattack, a lawyer representing the company said. The agent installed government-developed software on the company’s server and remained at the site for several weeks to download data to an agency laptop.

In other instances, the lawyer said, the agency seeks real-time transmission of data, which companies send digitally.

“Real time” transmission of data is also called “monitoring.” The companies implied in their statements that there was no snooping of this sort, but apparently, in some cases, there is. And it sounds like that agent had “direct access” to the server. I don’t know how else you would describe downloading government software directly onto the server and then capturing data.

Either the CEO’s were unaware of these instances of the government getting direct access to company servers and monitoring communications or they couldn’t admit it because of their non-disclosure agreement.

It’s clear that some in the press have misinterpreted the specifics of the internet surveillance program, but the CEO’s haven’t helped matters by issuing statements that skirt the truth and don’t reveal much about their participation in PRISM, even if they were reluctant to do so. That is probably due in part, to rules governing disclosure, but even with that consideration, they appear to have failed the transparency test.

Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker. He is also host of the"RINO Hour of Power" on Blog Talk Radio. His own blog is Right Wing Nut House.

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There was an article in Bloomberg BusinessWeek in the past month about the team of whizkids who crunched data for Obama in developing election strategy.
There is no doubt in my mind that some of this group had access to the PRISM data and IRS information to help them develop material that burdened TEA Party and Republican candidates.
Always remember that we are talking about Chicago gangsters here. We got Jarret, Axelrod, Ploufe and Emanuel (and dozens of buttonmen) with their hand in this. They are crooks and there is a lot, lot more to this story than we've heard.
The tech companies are going to deny involvement and knowledge because they know how criminally this data and it's crunching was really used.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Let's see, early on, before Facebook's IPO, all IT head honcho's had a round table with mr. Prevaricator-in-chief!!!Aiding and a betting, even in his first term.
O.K., let’s fast-forward to 2013 and beyond.
Let’s start by connecting the dots. “Data mining” for political gains and “end game” was perfected by Mr. Obama’s 2007/08 run for President. Need proof? His mentor and professor Roberto Unger was convinced of this. Mr. Unger did a rudimentary form of “data mining” for Brazil’s Lula first term Presidential elections (facilitated by first generation electronic voting equipment, since banned by international agreements). “Data mining” was perfected by Mr. Obama in the 2011/12 Presidential elections by “slicing and dicing” 2010 census data collected by his crony friend Mr. Rahm Emmanuel(Obama moved this from Commerce Dept, to Executive Branch). Roberto Unger’s disgust with this “data mining on steroids,” created a chasm between he and Mr. Obama’s chief re-election architect, Mr. Axelrod and his “techie-nerd” guru Mr. Harper Reed…both, championing this “extreme” form of “data mining” of census data and applying this in analog form (spread sheets) by districts for “get out the vote” ground game results. Obama won again.
Now, four and six years later, 2010 census data is unreliable so daily, accurate census data is necessary for accurate analog, district pin pointing of newly eligible voting age american segments (19 to 34 year olds) registered to vote. Where to get this vast trove of information? “The Patriot Act!” The NSA has the only means of collecting, tabulating and digesting reams and reams of seemingly random data “data mining” if you will, tabulating this per district and organizing it into actionable plans…across these fruited plains, for upcoming 2014 mid-term elections and later, 2016 Presidential elections. Of course, ALL of this “handiwork” aided and abetted by complicit tech sector behemoths!!! Wake-up America. Chances of Democratic (read:Progressive New Left Activist) control of these USA for the foreseable future (2 generations) is very, very real and palpable. Sheeple, organize, join a Tea Party, without this America will have been totally “transformed” (promised by Mr. Obama). Remember Mr. Van Jones mantra:”TOP DOWN/BOTTOM-UP AND INSIDE OUT” its happening right before our very eyes. Pray. Amen.Collapse of America’s economy is a fact. Default is unavoidable!
1 year ago
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