Journalism in the Public Interest

FAQ: What You Need to Know About the NSA’s Surveillance Programs

A detailed snapshot of what’s known about the NSA surveillance programs.

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July 10, 2013, 2:34 p.m.

@SeattleGuy, you commented that GeeDub “had to take the fight to Afghanistan…” Of the 19 individuals directly involved in the 9/11 attacks, NONE were from Iraq—OR Afghanistan. FIFTEEN of the 19 were Saudi nationals with the remainder from the UAE, Egypt & Lebanon. Why didn’t we invade Saudi Arabia?


July 10, 2013, 5:05 p.m.

We were attacked by a group of religious extremists, not a country.


July 11, 2013, 7:58 a.m.

@Seattle Guy - “Trust me when I say, these programs absolutely identify terrorist. The IT tools are perfect for the job. Nothing human comes close.”  What utter nonsense.  No one has come up with a single instance where PRISM prevented anything.  NOT ONE!  At best it cant tie things together AFTER something happens, but so can other means once a name is known.  As to the triumph of IT, well, anyone who has worked in Security will tell you about that fallacy.  It takes a human brain to make sense of the megadata once IT identifies the connections.  All the metadata is useless with out the analyst, and all the SIGINT (Signals Intelligence - which is captured metadata) in the world is useless without HUMINT (Human Intelligence); which is why we have had Preditor attacks on funerals. 

All in all, you make no real case because it is obvious that you have no experience in anything except (maybe) IT.  Google, MicroSoft etc and not come and arrest you, put you on a NOFLY list, or audit your tax returns.  We can opt out of all of them.  If you remember the famous quote from a prosecutor during the Clinton scandle “I can indict a ham sandwich” you will understand the dangers in government collection and storage of metadata.  Better yet, ask Angela Merkel who grew up under a government that did just that. 

Many other countries have lived with terrorism for years, and know how to deal with it sanely.  The Shrub (Bush Jr.) and the 4 Horsemen of the Apocolypse (Cheny, Rumsfeld, Crystal, and Wolfowitz) used the attack on the Twin Towers to whip up fear so the country would be behind them when they attacked Iraq.  It worked then, and for some feeble minded people it is still working.  For some mysterious reason many Republicans seem to feel that a BJ in the oval office and a Birth Certificate are more deserving of investigation than lying to Congress, the UN, and the American People.  Afghanistan was, and still is, a side show to the main objective. 

We, as a country, are now in a recovery phase from a long nightmare brought to us by the Shrub and his controllers.  The sane and porportional response to a terrorist act is being play out now in Boston.  It is a sad commentary on Barry O. that, far from being an Agent of Change, he is perpetuating the paranoia, not to mention the huge out of control Homeland Security apparatus. 

Just as WikiLeaks exposed the lies and hypocracy of the War, Snowden has unmasked and exposed the lies and hypocracy in our Security State.  Far from bringing ‘transparancy’ to the government, Barry O. has done everything in his power to hide what the government is doing from the people who are paying huge sums for it.  There needs to be a Public Accounting to finally end this Paranoid State we find ourselves living under.  We can not afford to maintain what the Shrub began; we can’t afford it financially and we can’t afford it diplomatically.  We have become our own worst enemy. 

Right now we are suffering the Blow Back from 10 years of Paranoid Agression spurred on by the very people who are profiting hugely from the status quo.  When we have ‘Droned’ the very last person in the 6th degree of separation, who will we turn on then with this huge hammer we have built?  How will we respond when saner countries demand a full accounting from us on our actions?  Will we continue to be the out of control bully or will we start playing nice with others?  Respect is a two way street, and the only thing other countries respect about the US anymore is our power.  Is that how we want to continue?


July 11, 2013, 12:05 p.m.

Can I get a big “AMEN!” for @PeterBoyle4848? Good comments! I think the bottom line of this entire discussion is the need for governmental transparency. The atmosphere of paranoid secrecy that pervades our government these days is completely antithetical to what we have come to think of as “the American way of life”. Think about it—do you think that even fifty years ago we would have meekly accepted our government’s decision to “pre-emptively” INVADE a sovereign nation? As has been commented earlier, 9/11 was perpetrated by religious zealots—NOT a country. Our “intelligence” community had already established the names and nationalities of all of the perpetrators, but the fact that none were from Iraq didn’t slow us down one iota from our headlong plunge into a long and costly conflict.
Our democratic system of checks and balances has worked well for this country for a long, long time, and it’s time we brought that system back.
“I love my country, but fear my government!”
Attributed to Thomas Jefferson

K. Samsel

July 12, 2013, 10:43 a.m.

How can anyone say the NSA spying is legal? The 4th Amendment of the United States Bill of Rights? Proves, it ISN’T legal. Blanketed searches? ARE NOT LEGAL! Go back to school. Apparently? Your college failed you. Time to sue that college.


July 20, 2013, 1:20 p.m.

idk much about this stuff but since the trevon martin thing started going on im starting to get a bit paranoid at the snowden thing and the new realisations of the public about NSA monitoring. a week or so ago i was just kidding around with some friends saying if zimmerman was not guilty i was going to throw a brick at the first white truck driver i see. kiddingly, referencing the regginald denny truck driver incident.
being the unconscerned person i am about most things on cnn, this actually started to bother me because i know personally i wasnt going to do anything, and i know most of my actual facebook friends know i wouldnt. but i dont want to wake up one day and NSA’s at my door and i get detained or something for like 3 years for a joke. at this point in my life id absolutely hate to have things back to a stagnate position over a joke >.< so im asking is, does this seem like a rational fear? or should i just whatever this whole thing. ive already deleted my facebook. tired of social media anyways.


July 22, 2013, 4:40 a.m.

Merkel is in bed with Bama stealing EU secrets!
When a society leaders adopt a fascist 1984 mentality they also start generating illegal wars and slaughtering innocent men, women. Pvt Bradley Manning exposed our evil military conquests and Edward Snowden exposed a corrupt Congress and President imposing “BIG BROTHER” in America. Our drug addicted corrupt bankers created 9/11 because they wanted the $TRILLION bailout and corrupt Congress to legalize bank monopolies. NOT ONE crooked banker went to jail for stealing the money during the $TRILLION bailout of 2008-2010.


July 22, 2013, 1:06 p.m.

@steve- I do like the frog story, but I don’t think it is relevant here.

The SCOTUS ruled that metadata is NOT private, so much like security cameras in public places, I don’t see them going back to a time when law enforcement did not have these valuable tools. Whether you like surveillance or not, you have to admit it is very effective.

This story about the gal who mailed ricin to the President and other officials and was caught because the USPS scans each and every letter and parcel. No, this is too important to regress.

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This article is part of an ongoing investigation:

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