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In a House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday, the NSA admitted it analyzed far more data from American citizens than previously revealed, and was lambasted by a bipartisan panel of lawmakers.

The most revelatory admission by the NSA's deputy director Chris Inglis, is that the agency looks "two or three hops" from terror suspects when evaluating terror activity. That third "hop" is new. The first hop is you. The second hop is people connected to you. The third hop is people connected to all the people in the second hop.

For a sense of scale, researchers at the University of Milan found in 2011 that everyone on the Internet was, on average, 4.74 steps away from anyone else. The NSA explores relationships up to three of those steps.
The members of the committee didn't seem to pick up on this bit of shocking new information, and didn't focus on it, but they had plenty of criticism for the massive surveillance program, with Jim Sensenbrenner, GOP author of the Patriot Act and warning that Congress might very well cancel the program. In one exchange, he focused on Section 215 of the Patriot Act, under which the dragnet surveillance of cell phone data has been collected. Section 215 requires that all data collected be relevant to an actual terrorist investigation. The government, with help from a compliant FISA court, says all calls are relevant. Sensenbrenner is having none of that.
“Doesn’t that make a mockery of the legal standard, because you’re trying to have it both ways?” [...]

“Section 215 expires at the end of 2015,” Sensenbrenner warned Cole. “Unless you realize you’ve got a problem, that is not going to be renewed. There are not the votes in the House of Representatives to renew Section 215. You have to change how you operate Section 215, otherwise in two and a half years you’re not going to have it any more.”

That's just a sampling of the tenor of the hearing. Here's a bit more.
Ranking Minority Member John Conyers (MI): "You've already violated the law in my opinion."

Rep. Jerry Nadler (NY): "I believe it's totally unprecedented and goes way beyond the statute."

Rep. Ted Poe (TX): "Do you see a national security exemption in the Fourth Amendment? … We've abused the concept of rights in the name of national security."

This is by no means the end of the Patriot Act or even of Section 215. Not as long as committed NSA supporter Sen. Dianne Feinstein draws breath as the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. But that the Republican House of Representatives is actually conducting some actual investigation and oversight into a real scandal isn't nothing. It's an encouraging start.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 02:57 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (36+ / 0-)

    "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. [...] There would be no place to hide."--Frank Church

    by Joan McCarter on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 02:57:55 PM PDT

  •  Please check testimony (5+ / 0-)

    I may have misinterpreted what I read.

    I believe there is

    You

    The first hop is your friends

    The second hop is friends of friends

    The third hop is friends of friends of Friends.

    Restore the Fourth! Save America!

    by phillies on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 03:05:53 PM PDT

  •  Twas (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, Youffraita

    Perfectly alright under the bushco, and remember, the records from daddy forward are locked down much longer to public view now, which was fine with them tepubs as well, everything!!

    "If military action is worth our troops' blood, it should be worth our treasure, too; not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American." -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013

    by jimstaro on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 03:13:10 PM PDT

  •  Bipartisan? Who would have thought (8+ / 0-)

    Thank you Snowden for whistle-blowing.

    BTW, Information Technology pros think he is one;

    NSA Surveillance: IT Pro Survey Says What?

    When the Washington Post published the results of a Pew Research poll on the subject last month, it concluded that most Americans (56%) accept NSA data collection, even at the expense of privacy, as a defense against terrorism. But it didn't characterize its 1,004 survey respondents as ignorant about computer security.

    Stu Sjowerman, CEO of security training firm KnowBe4.com, did so indirectly. He posed the same survey questions, via SurveyMonkey, to more than 1,500 IT professionals — people who do understand computer security — and came to the opposite conclusion. In Sjowerman's survey, some 70% said the NSA's actions were unacceptable, compared to 41% in the Washington Post-Pew survey.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 03:16:41 PM PDT

  •  This is welcome news... (12+ / 0-)

    Someone needs to force this administration back under our system of laws. They've shown nothing but contempt for the Constitution and cannot be trusted to behave rationally on their own.

    I hope Congress keeps up the pressure and forces the NSA to disgorge the information already collected, they have no right to it.

    And would someone please primary DiFi?

    •  Well at least this administration refused to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      I love OCD

      Defend DOMA in court because they believed it unconstitutional.  And the Supreme Court agreed with them.

      Contempt for the constitution?  The people who are contemptuous of the Constitution are those who write and pass laws that are unconstitutional.

      Which party passes more unconstitutional laws and which Presidents have signed more bills into law that have been struck down as unconstitutional?

      The true culprits contemptuous of our Constitution are those who knowingly pass unconstitutional laws.

  •  I don't believe that any (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, Shockwave

    GOPer would have a problem with extralegal spying...as long as it was being done by a Shrub administration or other GOP thugs.

    Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

    by Youffraita on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 03:40:51 PM PDT

    •  You may well be right. Who cares? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      midwesterner, corvo

      If the Thugs will vote against the growth of the surveillance state for ANY reason, I for one won't look a gift horse in the mouth.

      A House vote is a House vote; they all count the same. Votes don't have motivations or agendas.

      I don't believe that any GOPer would have a problem with extralegal spying...as long as it was being done by a Shrub administration or other GOP thugs.

      When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill...

      by PhilJD on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 04:45:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So all of a sudden you trust Republicans. (0+ / 0-)

        From my experience, Republicans only cast a vote if its in their best interest.

        So why are so many Republicans suddenly against the Patriot act and its surveillance powers?  How does repealing the Patriot act or diminishing its surveillance powers benefit Republicans?

        That's the question you may want to consider before giving Republicans your blanket approval.

        For whatever reason?  What if their reason to stop surveillance is to hide criminal behavior?

        •  Nope, not any more then (6+ / 0-)

          I trust the Dems who have looked the other way on torture or spying under the Bush admin.
          Imo, they are all criminals who have violated the oath they to to defend the Constitution.
          They have already hidden the criminal activities.
          But if the thugs vote to stop this shit, I support that.

          Gitmo is a Concentration Camp. Not a Detention Center. Torture happens at Concentration Camps. Torture happens at Gitmo. How much further will US values fall? Where is YOUR outrage at what the United States does in OUR names?

          by snoopydawg on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 12:03:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Any of this occur without Snowden? (8+ / 0-)

    He who would trade liberty for security deserves great customer service.

    by Publius2008 on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 03:42:56 PM PDT

  •  If I understand correctly, ... (4+ / 0-)

    The first hop is people connected to you.

    The second hop is people connected to people connected to you.

    And the third hop is people connected to people connected to people connected to you.

    If I'm correct, you left out one hop when you wrote:

    The first hop is you. The second hop is people connected to you. The third hop is people connected to all the people in the second hop.
    In any case, thanks for an excellent diary.
  •  So now we depend on Republicans for our rights (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ScienceMom, Shockwave

    Boy are we screwed!

    •  And what a devastating thing to have to say (6+ / 0-)

      about Democrats.

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 04:30:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No Democrat I know would blithely trust (0+ / 0-)

        or depend on a Republican.

        In fact, I don't know any Democrat who would so readily defend any Republican vote.

        •  Well, *you're* obviously not (3+ / 0-)

          the President of the United States.  He depends on and trusts in lots of them.

          Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

          by corvo on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 07:13:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  A lot of Democrats (3+ / 0-)

          had no problem with Republican votes to bring about Obamacare or the stimulus either.

          A 'Democrat' should decide their support based on the merits of the legislation not which party it came from.

          We are not Republicans afterall.

          •  Alan Grayson has just offered an Amendment to (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Words In Action, CroneWit

            the defense authorization bill that would re-establish the 4th Amendment.

            Per Digby:

            "Amendment to H.R. 2397

            Sec. 10002.  None of the funds made available by this
            Act may be used to obtain or seek to obtain information
            relating to an individual or group of individuals held by
            a third party in a system of records unless the individual
            whose name or identification information the Federal Gov-
            enment is using to access the information provides express
            and informed consent to the specific search, directly
            to the Government and not as a term of service, or the
            Federal Government obtains a warrant, upon probable
            cause,  supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly
            describing the place to be searched, and the persons or
            things to be seized."

            •  Alan Grayson (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              midwesterner

              is one of the few Democrats I could count on one hand who consistently acts like the Democrat he campaigned to be. The rest are cowards, charlatans and imposters. That class includes the President and many of his appointees.

              Security state zombies are everywhere. ☮ ♥ ☺
              Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue

              by Words In Action on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 07:29:13 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The NSA 90 day order to Verizon expires today. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Words In Action

                Will the the White Houserenew the court order ?

                The Obama administration is refusing to say whether it will seek to renew a court order that permits the National Security Agency's bulk collection of phone records on millions of Verizon customers when it expires at the end of this week.

                Officials declined to discuss what action they intend to take about the order at the center of the current surveillance scandal, which formally expires at 5pm Friday.
                ...
                Senator Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, asked if he thought Obama should let the Verizon order expire, said: "Yes. This type of secret bulk data collection is an outrageous breach of Americans' privacy. If the administration feels this program is vital to our national security, it should declassify the secret court interpretations that justify broad data collection so Congress and the American public can debate it in the light of day."

    •  I will never make that mistake again. (0+ / 0-)

      Republicans protecting our rights has never happened and never will.  

      Therefor that's not what they are doing.  It doesn't matter what they say, how they say it or how many different ways they say it, and it doesn't matter how many times they say it, if Republicans claim they are voting to protect our rights, they are lying.

      •  Thats just silly (5+ / 0-)

        this whole conversation was about NOT VOTING to reauthorize, not some new legislation that we should be wary of. A 'real Democrat' should support any no-vote on the re authorization of the Patriot Act. Especially the man who originally voted against it because:

        The December 14, 2005 letter was passed around in the Senate to gather support for specific changes to the Patriot Act. Sen. Obama was particularly concerned about sections 215 and 505, which give the government two legal means to collect extensive business records (the FISA court and national security letters, respectively). Sen. Obama's "Dear Colleague" letter argues that the requirements for making these requests need to be tightened:

           

        The conference report would allow the government to obtain library, medical and gun records and other sensitive personal information under Section 215 of the Patriot Act on a mere showing that those records are relevant to an authorized intelligence investigation. As business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have argued, this would allow government fishing expeditions targeting innocent Americans. We believe the government should be required to convince a judge that the records they are seeking have some connection to a suspected terrorist or spy, as the three-part standard in the Senate bill would mandate.
        •  Perhaps it is. There's something I believe that's (0+ / 0-)

          Even sillier.  All of these Obama supporters who voted for him because Republicans told lies, started wars and passed the Patriot act suddenly distrust him because he doesn't refuse the power and authority bequeathed to him from Republicans.

          Never mind that President Obama hasn't been found to be misusing that power like the Bush Administration has.  Never mind that the only instances of surveillance seem to be regarding true security leaks.  Never mind that Republicans are suddenly concerned about the legality of the patriot act.  Never mind that the very concerns Obama worried about in 2005 were addressed and tightened in July 2008, just months before Obama was elected.  The only thing that matters now is for Republicans to find a way to make Obama's use of the patriot act illegal but maintain the legality of their own use.

          It's ironic that Obama's concern about the patriot act as Senator is now under suspicion as President but Republicans who passed the legislation when they were in power and now are criticizing their own legislation under Obama are being hailed as protectors of American rights.  No suspicion at all about the reversal of their position.

          Why is everyone demanding that Obama stop utilizing the Patriot act instead of telling him to use it for what it was intended for.

    •  they still oppose right to privacy (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ender, eztempo

      because that would protect abortions and reduce profits of data mining companies.

  •  A couple more months of this and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    duhban

    Republicans will start suggesting that any data collected about Americans regardless if it was first collected by a private company with permission from the consumer or not, it will be inadmissible as evidence in any court of law, and then they will suggest that criminals discovered from the NSA's information will be immune from prosecution.

    And then Republicans will find a way to privatize that data and sell it to a third party who can then do whatever they want with it.  Just as they have done with the rest of our government protections.

    Because it's OK for private companies like Google or Facebook to collect a person's private data.

    If anyone thinks this scenario is some kind of conspiracy theory then you should refer to the privatization of education, the privatization of prisons, the privatization of the military, the privatization of our justice system by litigation and plea bargaining, etc, etc, etc.

  •  So boring after the previous thread (0+ / 0-)

    Is Hunter around?

    (J/K!!!!!!!!)

    "Mitt who? That's an odd name. Like an oven mitt, you mean? Oh, yeah, I've got one of those. Used it at the Atlas Society BBQ last summer when I was flipping ribs."

    by Richard Cranium on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 06:03:57 PM PDT

  •  Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon (3+ / 0-)

    If the NSA ever started going after Kevin Bacon, everyone would be screwed.

  •  Nice! Good to Americans agreeing on something (5+ / 0-)

    Those who are still dogging Edward Snowden should move on.  The bigger issues are coming to light.  

    The symbol for the Republican party shouldn't be an elephant -- it should be a unicorn.

    by Deadicated Marxist on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 06:13:27 PM PDT

  •  Can't wait to read the take on all this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action, corvo, CroneWit

    from our resident "The-4th-Amendment-Doesn't-Mean-A-Fucking-Thing-In-The-Digital-Age" expert. I'm sure he'll be chock full of explanations as to why all of this is perfectly legal.

    Each of our comments is a butterfly in the Amazon. Be ever mindful of the hurricanes we spawn.

    by WisePiper on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 06:13:41 PM PDT

  •  Tweet of the year: (4+ / 0-)
  •  Are these the same Republicans who voted (0+ / 0-)

    for CISPA? They might want to re-read that bill.

  •  Really now (0+ / 0-)

    You know why the Republicans want to flog this.

  •  It can't hurt! I like the fact that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    midwesterner

    anger is being directed at something that deserves anger.  I'm quite sure it wouldn't happen if Mitt was in the Oval Office, which reduces my enthusiasm a bit, but the NSA needs a check rein.  

    Funny side note, I'm rereading "The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo" series.  Fiction, Swedish author, dirty spy agencies a central theme, and this dude knows more about NSA surveillance (8 years ago) than most of us do.  It's not a secret if fiction writers can delineate in this much detail.  The crime in my opinion lies with our media and our population.  Incredibly popular books, the facts are all there, and no one thought about it.  No one here wrote about it.  

    House Hearings will deteriorate into ODS, people will turn off, the NSA will proceed unless we actually have that conversation about perceived safety vs de facto loss of privacy.  The government is in your cell phone, my vagina, my neighbor's property, everyone's aquifer.  Is that okay?

    I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

    by I love OCD on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 06:42:15 PM PDT

  •  Old saying : "Partisan politics ends at (4+ / 0-)

    the water's edge."

    Meaning, there are events that transcend partisan politics.

    NSA  spying on Americans is one of these events.  

    When Conyers and Sensenbrenner are on the same page the issue transcends partisan politics.  

    Thanks for posting this info.

  •  We're all "people of interest"! Yay! nt (3+ / 0-)
  •  a real scandal? (0+ / 0-)

    I didn't know the NSA following the law was a scandal.

    Bloody hell I never thought I would see the day the front page was paying into one of the many 'outrages' of the GOP

    In the time that I have been given, I am what I am
    Shop Kos Katalogue
    Der Weg ist das Ziel

    by duhban on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 08:08:09 PM PDT

    •  That's the way! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Words In Action, CroneWit
      Ranking Minority Member John Conyers (MI): "You've already violated the law in my opinion."

      Rep. Jerry Nadler (NY): "I believe it's totally unprecedented and goes way beyond the statute."

      Rep. Ted Poe (TX): "Do you see a national security exemption in the Fourth Amendment? … We've abused the concept of rights in the name of national security."

      'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

      by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 09:34:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sensenbrenner's empty threat (0+ / 0-)

    to take away section 215 in 2015 is a laffer.
     a totally GOP Congress freaked out and terminated this program in 2003, IIRC, when it was presented as Total Information Awareness. They defunded it, so Rumsfeld went to Plan B with dark defense money + private contractors, and we now have TIA Extreme!

    This spying is not going away, ever. Congress can bluster, but they can't stop it either. It is the new normal. And if that creates a chilling effect on troublesome political speech, then oh well. Really, it's no biggie. Most of us never use those rights anyway.

    Last full month in which the average daily temperature did not exceed twentieth-century norms: 2/1985 - Harper's Index, 2/2013

    by kamarvt on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 05:00:52 AM PDT

  •  The Queens of Stalingrad Will Fight To Protect (0+ / 0-)

    their interests without realizing the extortion being done with the data --as pointed out by several NSA whistleblowers.

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