News / USA

Ordinary Americans Outnumber Foreigners in NSA Spy Sweep

FILE - An undated aerial handout photo shows the National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters building in Fort Meade, Maryland.
FILE - An undated aerial handout photo shows the National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters building in Fort Meade, Maryland.
VOA News

A report in a major U.S. newspaper said when the National Security Agency intercepted the online accounts of legally targeted foreigners over a four-year period, the agency also collected the conversations of nine times as many ordinary Internet users, both Americans and non-Americans.

The Washington Post, in a story posted on its website late Saturday, said nearly half of the surveillance files contained names, e-mail addresses or other details the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents.

"Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else," the Post said of its four-month study of the NSA-intercepted electronic data.

Asylum in Russia

Snowden, 30, who fled the United States, was granted temporary asylum by Russia last August after shaking the U.S. intelligence establishment with a series of devastating leaks on mass surveillance in the United States and around the world.

By law, the NSA may “target” only foreign nationals located overseas unless it obtains a warrant based on probable cause from a special surveillance court, the Post reported.

“Incidental collection” of third-party communications is inevitable in many forms of surveillance, according to the newspaper. In the case of the material Snowden provided, those in an online chat room visited by a target or merely reading the discussion were included in the data sweep, as were hundreds of people using a computer server whose Internet protocol was targeted.

The newspaper said there were "discoveries of considerable intelligence value" in the intercepted messages, including revelations about a secret overseas nuclear project, double-dealing by "an ostensible ally," an unfriendly power's military calamity, and the identities of aggressive intruders into U.S. computer networks.

The Post says the files show that months of tracking communications across more than 50 alias accounts "led directly" to the 2011 capture in Abbotabad of Muhammad Tahir Shahzad, a Pakistan-based bomb builder, as well as Umar Patek, a suspect in a 2002 bombing on the Indonesian island of Bali, it said.

However, The Washington Post reports many of the other files described as useless by NSA analysts were retained. 

'Voyeristic quality'

The newspaper said those files have a "startling intimate, even voyeuristic quality," telling stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes.  

The Post said the daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are, nevertheless, catalogued and recorded.

The paper said it reviewed about 160,000 emails and instant-message conversations and 7,900 documents taken from more than 11,000 online accounts, collected between 2009 and 2012.

The cache Snowden provided to the newspaper came from domestic NSA operations under the broad authority granted by Congress in 2008 with amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, according to the Post.

U.S. intelligence officials declined to confirm or deny in general terms the authenticity of the intercepted content provided by Snowden to the Post.

Last week the Post reported that all but four countries - Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand -- were seen as valid spy targets for the NSA.

Germany's parliament is investigating the extent of spying by the NSA and its partners on German citizens and politicians, and whether German intelligence aided its activities.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AFP and AP.

You May Like

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: HMAN from: N J
July 07, 2014 1:15 PM
This is crazy working with local police so the NSA can pull data off your phones diving down you street, the TSA making us turn on our phones at the airports, reading our email except for Lois Learners, Looking at all our searches on the internet. Building a gigantic facility in Utah for recreation. The Soviet Union would still be in power if they had all this technology.


by: Not Again from: Canada
July 06, 2014 2:06 PM
Very interesting operation, of incredible capabilities. From it one can deduce that using the internet, is like using a highway, if the security forces install a camera to catch drunken drivers, speeders, robbers, kidnappers, drug runners,, other criminals.... any one else using the highway gets his/her car's picture taken = no privacy. Do the benefits outweigh the displeasures/downsides ? ABSOLUTELY!
At the end of the day everyone is safer/more secure if the drunken drivers, speeders, robbers, kidnappers, drug runners... etc are taken off the road. It is clear from the article that, just like on a road, there is not much privacy on the internet, but I rather be alive, protected from the criminals, and should not be embarrassed by having the picture/info collected.
A good point is made, that what is the purpose of voyerism?, files/info that contain no security/safety related info, need to be dumped/destroyed; --- BECAUSE- sooner or later the gvmt, which is no better than the pivate sector in safeguarding the info from been stolen, as this crminal Snowden has amply demonstrated, the info could fall in criminal hands.
The problem surely must be cost; collecting is easy, but analyzing and dumping useless info, is very resource intensive; dumping/complete erasing, should be done as resources are made available.
Much like air security, I rather be delayed/ embarrased by the patting/inspections/questioning... and arive alive at my destination, than have criminals board the same flight.
But now that the system has been fully expossed, I am not sure how usefull will it be? Saddly massive resources have been spent on developing/fielding the system(s) and now it may all be down the drain.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid