THE NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY DECLASSIFIED
Internet wiretapping mixes “protected” and targeted messages, Info Age requires rethinking 4th Amendment limits and policies, National Security Agency told Bush administration
“Transition 2001" report released through FOIA,
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Washington, D.C., March 11, 2005 – The largest U.S. spy agency warned the incoming Bush administration in its “Transition 2001" report that the Information Age required rethinking the policies and authorities that kept the National Security Agency in compliance with the Constitution’s 4th Amendment prohibition on “unreasonable searches and seizures” without warrant and “probable cause,” according to an updated briefing book of declassified NSA documents posted today on the World Wide Web.
Wiretapping the Internet inevitably picks up mail and messages by Americans that would be “protected” under legal interpretations of the NSA’s mandate in effect since the 1970s, according to the documents that were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by Dr. Jeffrey Richelson, senior fellow of the National Security Archive at George Washington University.
The NSA told the Bush transition team that the “analog world of point-to-point communications carried along discrete, dedicated voice channels” is being replaced by communications that are “mostly digital, carry billions of bits of data, and contain voice, data and multimedia,” and therefore, “senior leadership must understand that today’s and tomorrow’s mission will demand a powerful, permanent presence on a global telecommunications network that will host the ‘protected’ communications of Americans as well as targeted communications of adversaries.”
The documents posted today also include a striking contrast between the largely intact 1998 NSA organizational chart for the Directorate of Operations and the heavily redacted 2001 chart for the Signals Intelligence Directorate (as the operations directorate was renamed), which contains no information beyond the name of its director. “The 2001 organization charts are more informative for what they reveal about the change in NSA’s classification policy than for what they reveal about the actual structure of NSA’s two key directorates,” commented Dr. Richelson. The operations directorate organization chart was provided within three weeks of its being requested in late 1998. In contrast, the request for the Signals Intelligence Directorate organization chart was made on April 21, 2001, and NSA did not provide its substantive response until April 21, 2004 – three years instead of three weeks.
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