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Thursday, August 01, 2013

Snowden shines a light on methods; White House tosses us a bone on phones

"These types of programs allow us to collect the information that enables us to perform our missions successfully – to defend the nation and to protect US and allied troops abroad." - National Security Agency statement to The Guardian, on the phone and internet surveillance programs
The dribble of revelations coming from Edward Snowden, via Glenn Greenwald of The (UK) Guardian, poured out a little flood of information, Wednesday, that looks into the nuts and bolts of the process the National Security Agency goes through to monitor our emails and phone calls. Complete with screen-grabs from the user interfaces of the software the secretive agency uses, the revelation refers to an intelligence monitoring system called XKeyscore.

XKeyscore frame grab
From The Guardian

You may remember that one of the first things Snowden said, in that video interview taped for the Guardian, two months ago, was a reference to being able to find out everything he needed to know, even about President Obama, if all he had was a valid email address. "Any analyst at any time can target anyone, any selector, anywhere," he said. "...I sitting at my desk certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a Federal judge to even the President if I had a personal e-mail."

According to Greenwald's latest article, that is precisely one of the tools XKeyscore makes available to the NSA.

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