Skip to main content

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.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site