How Doth The Little Crocodile
by Lewis Carroll
How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!
How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in,
With gently smiling jaws!
There was one moment last week when I was tempted to break my literary fast and blog away but finally thought better of it and decided to instead just chill and relax. It was something I read regarding a classic recent moment in governmental doublespeak. I can't find my original source material but here is a synopsis from EFF.
In a March 2, 2009 FISA court opinion, the Court noted that the program collects "communication of U.S. person who are not the subject of an FBI investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities, and are data that otherwise could not be legally captured in bulk by the government." (first emphasis by the court, second ours). "Ordinarily, this alone would provide sufficient grounds for a FISC judge to deny the application."
The Court noted that, nevertheless, the spying was approved, based on the Court's confidence in the NSA's assurances of a good process and strict controls. By March 2009, however, "The Court no longer has such confidence." The Court's particularly scathing statement about its distrust in the NSA can be found on page 12 here.What happened was that the FISC required the NSA have a "reasonable articulable suspicion" before conducting a search on a phone number. The NSA decided, independently, that it could run searches on the database to develop the basis for the reasonable articulable suspicion. Hence, the NSA was conducting suspicion less searches for information to obtain the court-required basis to search for that information.
"...From 2006 to 2009, the NSA was found by its judicial regulators in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to be illegally surveilling thousands of phone numbers both inside and outside the United States without reasonable suspicion, according to documents released Tuesday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. On a daily basis, NSA analysts searched massive records of phone call metadata for matches with a so-called “Alert List” of 17,835 numbers, of which only 1,935 met the legal requirement of “reasonable articulable suspicion” necessary to track those numbers."