Adam Housley and Malia Zimmerman report: Lawmakers probing the surveillance of key officials in the Trump campaign and administration say the intelligence agencies now nominally under the president’s control are stonewalling efforts to get to the bottom of who revealed names and leaked protected information to the press.
“Our requests are simply not being answered.”
– House Intelligence Committee source
The House and Senate Intelligence Committees are currently investigating allegations the Obama administration spied on Trump associates – and possibly Trump himself – for as long as the year preceding his inauguration. And while former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice has been implicated as at least one of the officials who sought redacted names from surveillance transcripts, multiple lawmakers and investigators for the panel told Fox News the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency – all agencies in position to aid the probe – are not cooperating.
“Our requests are simply not being answered,” said one House Intelligence committee source about the lack of responsiveness. “The agencies are not really helping at all and there is truly a massive web for us to try and wade through.”
A Senate Intelligence Committee source said the upper chamber had the same experience.
“Any information that will help find the wide extent on the unmasking and surveillance is purposely not being provided,” said the Senate source.
An FBI spokesperson said the bureau is working in good faith. Read the rest of this entry »
The brothers are suspected of serious violations, including accessing members’ computer networks without their knowledge and stealing equipment from Congress.
Luke Rosiak reports: Three brothers who managed office information technology for members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and other lawmakers were abruptly relieved of their duties on suspicion that they accessed congressional computers without permission.
Brothers Abid, Imran, and Jamal Awan were barred from computer networks at the House of Representatives Thursday, The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group has learned.
Three members of the intelligence panel and five members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs were among the dozens of members who employed the suspects on a shared basis. The two committees deal with many of the nation’s most sensitive issues and documents, including those related to the war on terrorism.
Also among those whose computer systems may have been compromised is Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Florida Democrat who was previously the target of a disastrous email hack when she served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 campaign.
The brothers are suspected of serious violations, including accessing members’ computer networks without their knowledge and stealing equipment from Congress.
Jamal handled IT for Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat who serves on both the intelligence and foreign affairs panels.
“As of 2/2, his employment with our office has been terminated,” Castro spokeswoman Erin Hatch told TheDCNF Friday.
Jamal also worked for Louisiana Democrat Rep. Cedric Richmond, who is on the Committee on Homeland Security.
Imran worked for Reps. Andre Carson, an Indiana Democrat, and Jackie Speier, a California Democrat. Both are members of the intelligence committee, and their spokesmen did not respond to TheDCNF’s requests for comment. Imran also worked for the House office of Wasserman Schultz. Read the rest of this entry »
Classified emails discovered on the server Clinton maintained at her New York home contained material more sensitive than previously known.
WASHINGTON – Anita Kumar, Marisa Taylor, and Greg Gordon report: As pressure builds on Hillary Clinton to explain her official use of personal email while serving as secretary of state, she faced new complications Tuesday. It was disclosed her top aides are being drawn into a burgeoning federal inquiry and that two emails on her private account have been classified as “Top Secret.”
The inspector general for the Intelligence Community notified senior members of Congress that two of four classified emails discovered on the server Clinton maintained at her New York home contained material deemed to be in one of the highest security classifications – more sensitive than previously known.
“We will follow the facts wherever they lead, to include former aides and associates, as appropriate.”
— Douglas Welty, a spokesman for the State Department’s inspector general
The notice came as the State Department inspector general’s office acknowledged that it is reviewing the use of “personal communications hardware and software” by Clinton’s former top aides after requests from Congress.
“Both the State Department and Intelligence Community inspectors general should be looking into the staff use of the Clinton private server for official State Department business. This means giving both inspectors general access and custody of all emails that haven’t already been deleted.”
“We will follow the facts wherever they lead, to include former aides and associates, as appropriate,” said Douglas Welty, a spokesman for the State Department’s inspector general.
“From what is publicly known, it appears that the investigation thus far has focused so much on the former secretary of state, that it’s gotten lost that high-level staff apparently also used this server too.”
— Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee
Despite the acknowledgment, the State Department inspector general’s office has left numerous unanswered questions, including exactly who and what is being investigated. The office initially declined to comment and referred questions to the Intelligence Community inspector general’s office, which said it is not currently involved in any inquiry into aides and is being denied full access to aides’ emails by the State Department. Clinton, herself, is not a target.
The expanding inquiry threatens to further erode Clinton’s standing as the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. Since her reliance on private email was revealed in March, polls in crucial swing states show that increasing numbers of voters say Clinton is not honest and trustworthy, in part, because of her use of private emails.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, wants Clinton and her aides to “come clean and cough up” information about their personal email use. Read the rest of this entry »
Yemen: ‘When President Obama Declares Something a ‘Success Story,’ You Know It Has ‘TOTAL FAILURE’ Embedded in its DNA’Posted: January 24, 2015
U.S. Halts Some Counterterror Efforts in Yemen
Greg Miller and Craig Whitlock reporting for The Washington Post — The Obama administration has been forced to suspend certain counterterrorism operations with Yemen in the aftermath of the collapse of its government, according to U.S. officials, a move that eases pressure on al-Qaida‘s most dangerous franchise.
Michelle Malkin writes:
Four months ago, America’s King Midas in Reverse crowed about the fruits of his triumphant foreign policy in jihad-infested Yemen. A “light footprint” approach to counterterrorism operations, he claimed, was the most effective path to stability. In addition, Obama has shoveled nearly $1 billion in American tax-subsidized foreign aid to Yemen.
Four months later, Iran-backed Shia rebels seized a Yemeni presidential palace. The president and his entire cabinet tendered their resignations on Thursday, creating a vacuum that al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is ready and eager to fill. ISIS is gaining its own Sunni foothold in the Muslim terror-breeding ground. And while the JV team at the State Department dithers with hashtag games and selfies, adults at the Pentagon want to evacuate U.S. embassy personnel and other Americans before it’s too late…(read more)
Armed drones operated by the CIA and the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command remain deployed for now over southern Yemen, where al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is based. But some U.S. officials said that the Yemeni security services that provided much of the intelligence that sustained that U.S. air campaign are now controlled by Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, who have seized control of much of the capital.
“The agencies we worked with… are really under the thumb of the Houthis. Our ability to work with them is not there.”
— Senior U.S. official
Even before the disintegration of the government, officials say, the growing chaos in Yemen had resulted in a steady erosion in intelligence-gathering efforts against AQAP and a de facto suspension in raids by Yemeni units trained, equipped and often flown to targeted al-Qaida compounds by U.S. forces.
Michelle Malkin continues…
The Yemen chaos didn’t happen overnight. The White House has allowed jihad to fester there from Day One. Reminder: In late January 2009, the U.S. Embassy in Yemen came under gunfire. American diplomatic staff had been warned of a pending attack. That same month, two former Yemeni Gitmo detainees, Said Ali al-Shihri and Abu Hareth Muhammad al-Awfi, released a video publicly recommitting to “aid the religion,” “establish the rightly guided caliphate” and “fight against our enemies” after undergoing terrorism “rehab” in Saudi Arabia.
Why has Obama so wantonly aided and abetted our enemies? Appeasement of the international human rights crowd and agreement with the soft-on-jihad lawyers infesting his own Justice Department. As I’ve reported previously, Attorney General Eric Holder’s law firm, Covington and Burling, provided dozens of dangerous Yemeni Gitmo detainees pro bono legal representation and sob-story media relations campaigns. At least nine Obama DOJ appointees represented or advocated for Gitmo denizens before taking positions in our government….(more)
“The agencies we worked with . . . are really under the thumb of the Houthis. Our ability to work with them is not there,” said a senior U.S. official closely involved in monitoring the situation. In a measure of U.S. concern over the crisis, officials also signaled for the first time a willingness to open talks with Houthi leaders, despite their suspected ties to Iran and antipathy toward the United States.
The developments have unraveled a campaign that President Barack Obama described last year as a model for how the United States should fight terrorist groups, and avoid being drawn more directly into overseas conflicts. The turmoil in Yemen has exposed the risks of that strategy, with U.S. officials now voicing concern that the suspension in operations in Yemen could enable AQAP — which has launched a series of plots against the United States and claimed credit for the attacks in Paris this month — to regroup. Read the rest of this entry »
New-Zealand English teacher-turned-terrorist Mark Taylor, who shot into the public eye last year after publicly burning his Kiwi passport and then asking for a new one has blundered again by apparently forgetting to turn off geo-location services on his smartphone while tweeting from Islamic State safe houses in Syria.
“Taylor’s numerous failures demonstrate the opportunities that can be gained through monitoring and tracking extremists via social media and telecommunications. Given his need for attention I’m sure this will not be the last we hear from Kiwi Jihadi. With luck he will fail to read the manual on his next shiny new phone”.
The terrorist, who changed his name to the more appropriate-sounding ‘Abu Abdul-Rahman’ uploaded a series of tweets during his travels across the Islamic State, updating his twitter following on his progress with ISIS. The Daily Mail reports a Canadian jihad-monitoring group recorded 45 of these tweets containing geo-location data and passed the information on to intelligence agencies.
Describing the blunder, Canadian monitoring group IBRABO said: “It’s a rookie social media mistake and one that intelligence and law enforcement agencies pray for when tracking criminals. This week one of New Zealand’s well known jihadists, Mark Taylor removed 45 tweets after he discovered that he was broadcasting his twitter location to every intelligence agency… Unfortunately for him we captured all of them prior to him removing the tweets”. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] The Man Who Waterboarded 9-11 Terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: Megyn Kelly Interviews Dr. James MitchellPosted: December 15, 2014
“It shows al Qaeda and the al Qaeda 2.0 folks, ISIL, that we’re divided and that we’re easy targets, that we don’t have the will to defeat them because that’s what they know. In fact, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told me personally, ‘Your country will turn on you, the liberal media will turn on you, the people will grow tired of this, they will turn on you, and when they do, you are going to be abandoned.”
Mitchell described Sheikh Mohammed in initial interrogations as “immensely arrogant” and “disdainful.”
“He had a propensity at that particular point to be confrontational without being physical,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell touched on waterboarding, telling Kelly, “Those techniques are so harsh that it’s emotionally distressing to the people who are administering them. Even though you don’t want to do it, you’re doing it in order to save lives in the country, and we would just have to man up for lack of a better term.”
Mitchell recalled how he initially did not want to do interrogations, and he remembered the instant that he decided to “pony up.”
“The 911 victims are the reason that I’m here,” he said.
Mitchell remembered the heroes on Flight 93, telling Kelly that if ordinary people were willing to give up their lives to save the Capitol building, then he should be able to give up his moral high ground to save more lives.
“What we forget is al Qaeda tried to decapitate the United States on 9/11,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell recalled how waterboarding was not effective against Sheikh Mohammed, and he told Kelly that other enhanced interrogation techniques finally led the terrorist to divulge useful information.
He cautioned that Americans shouldn’t trust Senate Democrats who Mitchell claimed went in with an agenda on this report. Instead, they should trust the men and women of the CIA who wrote reports which were released back when ex- Vice President Dick Cheney requested them.
Mitchell told Kelly that this ordeal “is like being caught in a bad spy novel.”
He said that those who released the CIA report knew the results they wanted beforehand.
“They didn’t give us a chance to explain anything.”
Now, Mitchell said that interrogators are getting death threats, and he fears for his life.
“I do not mind giving my life for my country, but I do mind giving my life for a food fight for political reasons between two groups of people who should be able to work it out like adults.”
Mitchell alleged that no one from the Senate committee has ever asked him a single thing about the interrogations. Read the rest of this entry »
Louis J. Freeh writes: Seventy-three years ago this week, on a peaceful, sunny morning in Hawaii, a Japanese armada carried out a spectacular attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, killing 2,403, wounding 1,178 and damaging or destroying at least 20 ships. Washington immediately declared war and mobilized a peaceful nation.
“The RDI program was not some rogue operation unilaterally launched by a Langley cabal—which is the impression that the Senate Intelligence Committee report tries to convey. Rather, the program was an initiative approved by the president, the national security adviser and the U.S. attorney general…”
In another unfortunate Washington tendency, the government launched an investigation about who to blame for letting the devastating surprise attack happen. A hastily convened political tribunal found two senior military officers guilty of dereliction of duty, publicly humiliating them, as some political leaders sought to hold anyone but themselves accountable for the catastrophe.
“The Senate committee’s new report does not present any evidence that would support the notion that the CIA program was carried out for years without the concurrence of the House or Senate intelligence committees, or that any of the members were shocked to learn of the program after the fact.”
With the Democratic members of the SenateIntelligence Committee this week releasing a report on their investigation holding the men and women of the Central Intelligence Agency accountable for the alleged “torture” of suspected terrorists after 9/11, some lessons from the Pearl Harbor history should be kept in mind.
First, let’s remember the context of the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when President George W. Bush and Congress put America on a war footing. While some critics in and out of government blamed the CIA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for failing to prevent the terrorist attack, the 9/11 Commission later concluded that part of the real reason the terrorists succeeded was Washington’s failure to put America on a war footing long before the attack. Sept. 11, 2001, was the final escalation of al Qaeda’s war-making after attacking the USS Cole in 2000 and U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998.
“CIA leaders and briefers who regularly updated this program to the Senate Intelligence Committee leadership took what investigators call ‘copious, contemporaneous notes.’ Without a doubt, the Senate Intelligence Committee and congressional staffers at these multiple briefings also took a lot of their own notes…”
The Intelligence Committee’s majority report fails to acknowledge the Pearl Harbor-esque state of emergency that followed the 9/11 attack. One week after the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history, President Bush signed into law a congressional Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which granted the president authority to use “all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States.”
“…Will the committee now declassify and release all such notes so that Americans will know exactly what the senators were told and the practices they approved?”
This joint congressional resolution, which has never been amended, was not a broad declaration of a “war on terror,” but rather a specific, targeted authorization to use force against the 9/11 terrorists and to prevent their future attacks. Read the rest of this entry »
The Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA interrogations is a moment for reflection, but not for the reasons you’re hearing. The outrage at this or that ugly detail is politically convenient. The report is more important for illustrating how fickle Americans are about their security, and so unfair to those who provide it.
“The report’s greatest offense is its dishonest treatment of political accountability. The authors portray a rogue CIA operating without legal authority and hiding information from Congress, the public and even President Bush. This charge is rebutted even by current CIA director John Brennan , who otherwise dries his predecessors out to hang.”
After the trauma of 9/11 and amid the anthrax letters in 2001, Americans wanted protection from another terror attack. The political class fired up a commission to examine what went wrong so it “would never happen again.” So the CIA, blamed for not stopping 9/11, tried to oblige. It captured the plotters, detained and interrogated them—sometimes harshly. There hasn’t been another successful al Qaeda plot on the homeland.
“Ms. Feinstein has had an admirable career, so it is a shame to see her mar her legacy with this one-sided report. Mr. Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper are also not profiles in courage, issuing everyone-has-a-point statements while endorsing release of the report. Better leaders would have resigned for the morale of their agencies…”
But political memories are short. As the Iraq war became unpopular, the anti-antiterror left fought back. Democrats who sensed a political opening began to fault the details of how the CIA and Bush Administration had protected the country—on surveillance, detention and interrogation. Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin, the lead Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee, unleashed their staff to second-guess the CIA.
“Then there is President Obama, who issued his own have-it-both-ways statement that condemned the Bush-era practices but extolled our intelligence services. He could have taken executive responsibility by having Mr. Brennan issue his own report or release the one done by former CIA director Leon Panetta , but that would have meant more personal political risk. Better to leave the public wet work to Senate staff.”
That’s the context in which to understand the Senate report, which reads like a prosecutor’s brief. It devotes 6,000 pages to marshalling evidence to indict the CIA program, and nothing was going to interfere with its appointed verdict. Read the rest of this entry »
Glenn Reynolds: ‘It’s not surprising that in such an atmosphere, CIA operatives would feel comfortable snooping on the Senate’Posted: August 3, 2014
CIA responded to Obama’s acquiescence when it spied on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Public Servants Acting as Public Masters
For USAToday, Glenn Reynolds writes: “Nothing could be further from the truth. I mean, we wouldn’t do that.” That was CIA Director John Brennan’s answer in March when Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., charged the CIA with breaking into computers used by Senate investigators looking into CIA misconduct.
“Call me old-fashioned, but I believe that people respond to incentives.”
It turns out that the CIA would do that — and, in fact, had done so. Brennan’s reassurances were false, and CIA spooks had been hacking into the committee investigators’ computers looking for documents they thought the investigators shouldn’t have, violating a promise not to. So, first Brennan broke a promise. Then, he either lied, or showed that he doesn’t control his own agency, which in many ways would be worse.
[Glenn Reynolds‘ book The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself is available at Amazon]
Brennan has apologized, but his apology won’t be the end of things. We’re already seeing bipartisan calls for his removal, from Sens. Mark Udall, D-Colo., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. The White House is hanging toughso far, but we’re now hearing comparisons made to the speed with which Brennan’s predecessor, Gen. David Petraeus, was cut loose over an extramarital affair. Does this mean that the White House views spying on, and lying to, members of Congress as less serious than an affair? Read the rest of this entry »
Death did not take place at CIA headquarters
For The Washington Free Beacon, Bill Gertz reports: A senior CIA official has died in an apparent suicide this week from injuries sustained after jumping off a building in northern Virginia, according to sources close to the CIA.
CIA spokesman Christopher White confirmed the death and said the incident did not take place at CIA headquarters in McLean, Va.
“We can confirm that there was an individual fatally injured at a facility where agency work is done,” White told the Washington Free Beacon. “He was rushed to a local area hospital where he subsequently died. Due to privacy reasons and out of respect for the family, we are not releasing additional information at this time.”
Transparency: Despite Vows of Help, White House Withholds Thousands of Documents from Senate CIA ProbePosted: March 12, 2014
For McClatchy DC, Jonathan s. Landay, Ali Watkins, and Marisa Taylor report: The White House has been withholding for five years more than 9,000 top-secret documents sought by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for its investigation into the now-defunct CIA detention and interrogation program, even though President Barack Obama hasn’t exercised a claim of executive privilege.
“The most nefarious explanation is that they are not privileged and the White House simply doesn’t want to hand them over…”
— Elizabeth Goitein
In contrast to public assertions that it supports the committee’s work, the White House has ignored or rejected offers in multiple meetings and in letters to find ways for the committee to review the records, a McClatchy investigation has found.
“…Executive privilege is generally asserted after negotiations and brinksmanship behind the scenes. People put on paper what they want to be formalized, and these negotiations by their very nature are very informal.”
— Elizabeth Goitein
The significance of the materials couldn’t be learned. But the administration’s refusal to turn them over or to agree to any compromise raises questions about what they would reveal about the CIA’s use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists in secret overseas prisons.
The dispute indicates that the White House is more involved than it has acknowledged in the unprecedented power struggle between the committee and the CIA, which has triggered charges that the agency searched the panel’s computers without authorization and has led to requests to the Justice Department for criminal investigations of CIA personnel and Senate aides.
Mark Mazzetti reports: The Central Intelligence Agency’s attempt to keep secret the details of a defunct detention and interrogation program has escalated a battle between the agency and members of Congress and led to an investigation by the C.I.A.’s internal watchdog into the conduct of agency employees.
“As you are aware, the C.I.A. has recently taken unprecedented action against the committee in relation to the internal C.I.A. review, and I find these actions to be incredibly troubling for the committee’s oversight responsibilities and for our democracy…”
— Senator Mark Udall
The agency’s inspector general began the inquiry partly as a response to complaints from members of Congress that C.I.A. employees were improperly monitoring the work of staff members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to government officials with knowledge of the investigation.
The committee has spent several years working on a voluminous report about the detention and interrogation program, and according to one official interviewed in recent days, C.I.A. officers went as far as gaining access to computer networks used by the committee to carry out its investigation.
The events have elevated the protracted battle — which began as a fight over who writes the history of the program, perhaps the most controversial aspect of the American government’s response to the Sept. 11 attacks — into a bitter standoff that in essence is a dispute over the separation of powers and congressional oversight of spy agencies.
The specifics of the inspector general’s investigation are unclear. But several officials interviewed in recent days — all of whom insisted on anonymity, citing a continuing inquiry — said it began after the C.I.A. took what Senator Mark Udall, Democrat of Colorado, on Tuesday called an “unprecedented action” against the committee. Read the rest of this entry »
Tehran has capacity to break out to bomb if it wishes, intelligence chief James Clapper tells Senate, but would be detected if it tried to do so
Marissa Newman reports: Iran now has all the technical infrastructure to produce nuclear weapons should it make the political decision to do, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper wrote in a report to a Senate intelligence committee published Wednesday. However, he added, it could not break out to the bomb without being detected.
In the “US Intelligence Worldwide Threat Assessment,” delivered to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Clapper reported that Tehran has made significant advances recently in its nuclear program to the point where it could produce and deliver nuclear bombs should it be so inclined.
“Tehran has made technical progress in a number of areas — including uranium enrichment, nuclear reactors, and ballistic missiles — from which it could draw if it decided to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons,” Clapper wrote. “These technical advancements strengthen our assessment that Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons. This makes the central issue its political will to do so.”
Reporting by by Adam Goldman and Anne Gearan: A long-delayed Senate intelligence committee report released on Wednesday spreads blame among the State Department and intelligence agencies for not preventing attacks on two outposts in Libya that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
The bipartisan report lays out more than a dozen findings regarding the assaults on Sept. 11 and 12, 2012 on the diplomatic compound and a CIA annex in the Libyan city of Benghazi. It says the State Department failed to increase security at the sites despite warnings, and faults intelligence agencies for not sharing information about the existence of the CIA outpost with the U.S. military.
The committee determined that the U.S. military command in Africa didn’t know about the CIA annex and didn’t have the resources to defend the diplomatic compound in an emergency.
“The attacks were preventable, based on extensive intelligence reporting on the terrorist activity in Libya—to include prior threats and attacks against Western targets—and given the known security shortfalls at the U.S. Mission,” the panel said in a statement.
Eliana Johnson reports: Michael Hayden, the former director of the National Security Agency, told CBS’s Bob Schieffer on Sunday that the counterintelligence measures recently unveiled by national-security leaker Edward Snowden were unexceptional. Though he said it’s conceivable the president may not have been aware of specific measures, he indicated that “leadership intentions were a very high intelligence priority.”
“It’s impossible for me to imagine that the NSC, the administration, the White House, didn’t know,” Hayden said, “and the fact that they didn’t rush in to tell the president this was going on, points out what I think is a fundamental fact: This wasn’t exceptional, this is what we were expected to do.”
WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency is facing its worst crisis since the domestic spying scandals four decades ago led to the first formal oversight and overhaul of U.S. intelligence operations.
Thanks to former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden’s flood of leaks to the media, and the Obama administration’s uneven response to them, morale at the spy agency responsible for intercepting communications of terrorists and foreign adversaries has plummeted, former officials say. Even sympathetic lawmakers are calling for new curbs on the NSA’s powers.
“This is a secret intelligence agency that’s now in the news every day,” said Michael Hayden, who headed the NSA from 1999 to 2005 and later led the CIA. “Each day, the workforce wakes up and reads the daily indictment.”
President Barack Obama acknowledged Friday that many Americans have lost trust in the nation’s largest intelligence agency. “There’s no doubt that, for all the work that’s been done to protect the American people’s privacy, the capabilities of the NSA are scary to people,” he said in a CNN interview.
Boundless Informant: the NSAs secret tool to track global surveillance data
Revealed: The NSA’s powerful tool for cataloguing data – including figures on US collection
The color scheme ranges from green (least subjected to surveillance) through yellow and orange to red (most surveillance). Note the ‘2007’ date in the image relates to the document from which the interactive map derives its top secret classification, not to the map itself.
The National Security Agency has developed a powerful tool for recording and analysing where its intelligence comes from, raising questions about its repeated assurances to Congress that it cannot keep track of all the surveillance it performs on American communications.
The Guardian has acquired top-secret documents about the NSA datamining tool, called Boundless Informant, that details and even maps by country the voluminous amount of information it collects from computer and telephone networks.
The focus of the internal NSA tool is on counting and categorizing the records of communications, known as metadata, rather than the content of an email or instant message.
The Boundless Informant documents show the agency collecting almost 3 billion pieces of intelligence from US computer networks over a 30-day period ending in March 2013. One document says it is designed to give NSA officials answers to questions like, “What type of coverage do we have on country X” in “near real-time by asking the SIGINT [signals intelligence] infrastructure.”
An NSA factsheet about the program, acquired by the Guardian, says: “The tool allows users to select a country on a map and view the metadata volume and select details about the collections against that country.”
Under the heading “Sample use cases”, the factsheet also states the tool shows information including: “How many records (and what type) are collected against a particular country.”
A snapshot of the Boundless Informant data, contained in a top secret NSA “global heat map” seen by the Guardian, shows that in March 2013 the agency collected 97bn pieces of intelligence from computer networks worldwide.
The heat map reveals how much data is being collected from around the world. Note the ‘2007’ date in the image relates to the document from which the interactive map derives its top secret classification, not to the map itself.
Iran was the country where the largest amount of intelligence was gathered, with more than 14bn reports in that period, followed by 13.5bn from Pakistan. Jordan, one of America’s closest Arab allies, came third with 12.7bn, Egypt fourth with 7.6bn and India fifth with 6.3bn.
The heatmap gives each nation a color code based on how extensively it is subjected to NSA surveillance. The color scheme ranges from green (least subjected to surveillance) through yellow and orange to red (most surveillance).
The disclosure of the internal Boundless Informant system comes amid a struggle between the NSA and its overseers in the Senate over whether it can track the intelligence it collects on American communications. The NSA’s position is that it is not technologically feasible to do so.
At a hearing of the Senate intelligence committee In March this year, Democratic senator Ron Wyden asked James Clapper, the director of national intelligence: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”
“No sir,” replied Clapper.
Judith Emmel, an NSA spokeswoman, told the Guardian in a response to the latest disclosures: “NSA has consistently reported – including to Congress – that we do not have the ability to determine with certainty the identity or location of all communicants within a given communication. That remains the case.”
Other documents seen by the Guardian further demonstrate that the NSA does in fact break down its surveillance intercepts which could allow the agency to determine how many of them are from the US. The level of detail includes individual IP addresses.
IP address is not a perfect proxy for someone’s physical location but it is rather close, said Chris Soghoian, the principal technologist with the Speech Privacy and Technology Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. “If you don’t take steps to hide it, the IP address provided by your internet provider will certainly tell you what country, state and, typically, city you are in,” Soghoian said.
That approximation has implications for the ongoing oversight battle between the intelligence agencies and Congress.