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Fmr. Intelligence, Military Officials Urge Against Implementation of NSA Reforms
Washington Free Beacon ^ | 1/16/14 | Daniel Wiser

Posted on 01/17/2014 3:39:39 AM PST by markomalley

Former high-ranking U.S. intelligence and military officials sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Thursday urging him not to implement proposed changes to the National Security Agency’s (NSA) contested surveillance programs that they say would hinder vital intelligence operations.

The letter said Obama must not make a “knee-jerk reaction” to the roughly 1.7 million classified files released by NSA leaker Edward Snowden, including those that revealed the agency’s “metadata” program that contains billions of pieces of U.S. telephone call data. The metadata consists of phone numbers dialed, call times, and their durations, but not the content or subscriber names.

Obama is expected to embrace on Friday several of the more than 40 recommendations made by his review group, which include moving the phone call database to private companies or third parties and requiring court orders on a case-by-case basis for the NSA to access it.

While the signatories to the letter said the ability to store so-called “big data” is a cutting-edge technology that should be studied, they said the review group’s proposals would hamper the NSA program’s ability to quickly respond to national security threats.

“The review group found no evidence that this program has been abused, but they still want to put enormous restrictions on it because of the potential that it might be abused,” said Fred Fleitz, former CIA officer and senior fellow with the Center for Security Policy (CSP), at a press conference announcing the letter. “This could be used to shut down any intelligence program.”

Fleitz coauthored a recent CSP report with Clare Lopez, another senior fellow and former CIA officer, that noted the counterterrorism benefits of the metadata program. The president’s review group questioned whether the collection of phone call data—authorized by Section 215 of the Patriot Act—was necessary to stop terrorist attacks.

“Although the review group report states that the 215 program ‘was not essential to preventing terrorist attacks,’ review group member Michael Morell contradicted this finding just after the report was issued when he said in a Dec. 27, 2013 Washington Post op-ed that if the metadata program had been in place before September 2001, ‘it would likely have prevented 9/11’ and ‘has the potential to prevent the next 9/11,’” the report said.

Fleitz said members of the review group told the Senate Judiciary Committee that they did not consider whether the program could have prevented the 9/11 attacks.

Additionally, the former officials said U.S. intelligence agencies currently face a different type of threat than they did just a decade ago.

For example, Iran is sponsoring and sharing capabilities with non-state actors like Hezbollah that have also worked with al Qaeda and drug traffickers, Lopez said. She called this “threat convergence.”

“These adversaries are not just highly educated, very tech savvy, and very sophisticated, but they are interconnected in a way that was not the case 10, 20 years ago,” she said.

The officials also took issue with some of the review group’s other recommendations.

One would extend privacy protections to non-U.S. persons and prohibit targeting of them “based solely on that person’s political views or religious convictions.” Lopez said the idea was “absurd” and would be “a serious threat in and of itself to American national security” if it prevented U.S. agents from investigating foreigners motivated by Islamic extremism.

Frank Gaffney, former assistant secretary of defense and president and founder of CSP, said transferring the metadata to third parties would create new problems. The data would then be stored on multiple servers in different locations and could be less secure.

“One would think some of the people who are so concerned about the government agencies would be at least concerned about [that],” he said.

Judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court, the judicial body that reviews the metadata program along with congressional intelligence committees, also sent a letter to the committees this week saying they were opposed to the proposal that an independent advocate for civil liberties attend their classified hearings. They called it “unnecessary” and “counterproductive.”

Any sweeping changes to the NSA program would likely require congressional or court involvement. One bipartisan proposal introduced by lawmakers would essentially end the bulk collection of phone data, while a competing bill would keep it intact but require analysts searching the database to have a “reasonable articulable suspicion” that a phone number is associated with terrorism.

Federal judges have issued contradictory rulings on the constitutionality of the program.

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Extended News; Government

1 posted on 01/17/2014 3:39:39 AM PST by markomalley
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To: markomalley

That the program may work is beside the point

the program is illegal

it violates the 4th Amendment by searching American citizens unreasonably with no showing of probable cause

2 posted on 01/17/2014 3:59:58 AM PST by yldstrk (My heroes have always been cowboys)
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To: markomalley

It’s wise to distrust all enemies, foreign and domestic.

3 posted on 01/17/2014 4:02:07 AM PST by oblomov
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To: markomalley

Blah fking blah.

All these shills livelihood depends on the NSA abusing your 4th amendment rights.

Think of it this way:

Michael Chertoff (needle dick pestilence) was the second Homeland Security Secretary.

Under his leadership he insists on systems of full body scanners installed at airports and idiotic practices such as having all passengers remove their shoes.

After leaving his government post he magically finds employment as senior of counsel at the Washington, D.C., law firm of Covington & Burling.

He also co-founded the Chertoff Group, a risk-management and security consulting company, which employs several senior officials not only from his time as Secretary of Homeland Security 

Now, he gets paid $$$Million$$$ for his work and getting more machines installed and ever more consultants to the government.

What in the hell do you suppose his reports and recommendations are going to say¿¿¿

“We are at to great of risk without these systems in place and they will demonstrate just how vulnerable we are with power points and awesome CGI animations that would scare anyone.

So d ck heads like him and man others are why the airports are full of some the dumbest people and retarded processes that realistically have no meaningful impaft on deterence or mitigation.

You and I are being inconvenienced and having for crap that is unnecessary.

4 posted on 01/17/2014 4:22:31 AM PST by Vendome (Don't take life so seriously-you won't live through it anyway-Enjoy Yourself ala Louis Prima)
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To: markomalley

They have a vested interest in their view of self serving avarice.

They want your tax dollars no later the cost to liberty

5 posted on 01/17/2014 4:24:44 AM PST by Vendome (Don't take life so seriously-you won't live through it anyway-Enjoy Yourself ala Louis Prima)
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To: Vendome

Lets not forget Clapper who came from Booz Allen and the former CIA director (can’t recall his name right this second) who now works for Booz Allen.

The NSA needs to be completely dismantled and the contractors who depend almost exclusively on taxpayer dollars need to find out if they’re fit enough to survive on their own.

6 posted on 01/17/2014 4:29:14 AM PST by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: markomalley
The metadata consists of phone numbers dialed, call times, and their durations, but not the content or subscriber names.

The metadata is the look-up table for the raw data that they continue to store: the content of every phone call, email, and download. That is effectively taking possession of my private papers without a warrant. Hence, the trashing of the Fourth Amendment continues.

7 posted on 01/17/2014 5:45:13 AM PST by Carry_Okie (Grovelnator Shwarzenkaiser: fasionable fascism one charade at a time.)
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To: markomalley

“Totalitarians argue that liberty and freedom invariably lead to anarchy, chaos, and the destruction of civilization.”

8 posted on 01/17/2014 6:15:10 AM PST by yefragetuwrabrumuy (There Is Still A Very Hot War On Terror, Just Not On The MSM.
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