NSA can read email, online chats, track Web browsing without warrant, documents leaked by Edward Snowden show

“A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden,” Glenn Greenwald reports for The Guardian.

“The NSA boasts in training materials that the program, called XKeyscore, is its ‘widest-reaching’ system for developing intelligence from the internet,” Greenwald reports. “The latest revelations will add to the intense public and congressional debate around the extent of NSA surveillance programs. They come as senior intelligence officials testify to the Senate judiciary committee on Wednesday, releasing classified documents in response to the Guardian’s earlier stories on bulk collection of phone records and Fisa surveillance court oversight.”

Greenwald reports, “The files shed light on one of Snowden’s most controversial statements, made in his first video interview published by the Guardian on June 10. ‘I, sitting at my desk,’ said Snowden, could ‘wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email.’ US officials vehemently denied this specific claim… But training materials for XKeyscore detail how analysts can use it and other systems to mine enormous agency databases by filling in a simple on-screen form giving only a broad justification for the search. The request is not reviewed by a court or any NSA personnel before it is processed.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: United States Constitution, Amendment IV:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Join The Electronic Frontier Foundation in calling for a full congressional investigation here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Lynn Weiler” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Momentum builds against U.S. government surveillance – July 29, 2013
U.S. House rejects effort to curb NSA surveillance powers, 205-217 – July 24, 2013
Obama administration scrambles to shut down imminent U.S. House vote to defund NSA spying – July 24, 2013
Obama administration demands master encryption keys from firms in order to conduct electronic surveillance against Internet users – July 24, 2013
Apple, Google, dozens of others push Obama administration to disclose U.S. surveillance requests – July 19, 2013
Secret court agrees to allow Yahoo to reveal its fight against U.S. government PRISM requests – July 16, 2013
How Microsoft handed U.S. NSA, FBI, CIA access to users’ encrypted video, audio, and text communications – July 11, 2013
DuckDuckGo search engine surges 33% in wake of PRISM scandal – June 20, 2013
Yahoo: Since December 2012, we have received up to 13,000 U.S. gov’t requests for customer data – June 18, 2013
Apple: Since December 2012, we have received U.S. gov’t requests for customer data for up to 10,000 accounts – June 17, 2013
Nine companies, including Apple, tied to PRISM, Obama to be smacked with class-action lawsuit – June 12, 2013
U.S. lawmakers urge review of ‘Prism’ domestic spying, Patriot Act – June 10, 2013
PRISM: Do Apple, Google, Facebook have an ethical obligation not to spy on users? – June 8, 2013
Plausible deniability: The strange and unbelievable similarities in the Apple, Google, and Facebook PRISM denials – June 7, 2013
Google’s Larry Page on government eavesdropping: ‘We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday’ – June 7, 2013
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Obama administration defends PRISM data-collection as legal anti-terrorism tool – June 7, 2013
Facebook, Google, Yahoo join Apple in sort-of denying PRISM involvement – June 7, 2013
Report: Intelligence program gives U.S. government direct access to customer data on Apple servers; Apple denies – June 6, 2013


  1. Why are you all surprised? Congress easily passed the USA PATRIOT Act in 2001, which pretty much authorized all these. In 2011, Congress renewed key provisions (PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act of 2011). All of these bills are, and have always been, public record so please contain your panic.

    1. Your ignorance really shines, dumbass.

      For all of you that blame the NSA mess on Bush, read this:
      “But he warned that Congress’ 2008 reform of the FISA system expanded the government’s authority by forcing the court to approve entire surveillance systems, not just surveillance warrants, as it previously handled.”
      Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. But, weren’t the democrats the majority in both houses in congress at that time?

  2. I recall that at some time during the administration of G. W. Bush one of the intelligence agencies proposed amassing a huge database of information that would cover every person, business, and organization in the USA. The news evoked a huge outcry and the agency announced it was scrapping the plan.

    Now, it would appear, thanks to Mr. Snowden’s revelations, that they simply proceeded through other, clandestine means to do exactly the same thing. I regard Mr. Snowden not only as a whistle-blower but a hero. If the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, then we owe Mr. Snowden a debt of gratitude. What, after all, are we to do when the system of checks and balances fails to do its job?

      1. Then you probably have small hands also. For your sake I hope Apple continues to make the iPhone 5S form factor going forward after they introduce the larger iPhone. Although I only see that happening for about a year. But of course I see many women with very small hands using larger phones with no problem so you should survive somehow. Good luck. And actually, it’s possible to have a big dick and own guns. Really, it is.

            1. Not at all. I’m just glad that I live in a country where an irrational desire to acquire guns is treated as a mental illness. And winding you halfwits up is kinda fun.

  3. a courageous man, that Edward Snowden is, to give up his family, his home, his woman and his work in to expose this horseshit. He is certainly “a man without a country” as his country no longer exists.

    1. While one cannot help but be impressed by any analysis from “Little Green Footballs,” it should be duly noted that no one is arguing that the Patriot Act allows unwarranted, unconstitutional eavesdropping on American citizens, the point is the Patriot Act itself is illegally contradictory to the Fourth Amendment. Obama Messiah had his opportunity to let the Patriot Act die, he failed. Congress had the opportunity to defund the NSA, it failed.

    2. GreenFootballs mainly notes that doing this supposedly requires a warrant … I’m sure we can trust the intelligence community not to lie and evade that stipulation, at least not any more than they have in the past, and no more than they have ignored Constitutional prohibitions. The Patriot Act did open the door, and I see little reason to doubt the Guardian or Snowden.

      1. I’d bet you my bottom dollar that that SOB is not from Alabama, not from the South, not a Republican, and not a Conservative.

        Not that there aren’t idiots from all walks, but even the racist I know don’t go around acting THAT stupid. But I DO know of a particular group that will stop at nothing to perpetuate a myth…….

  4. Maybe a whistleblower, maybe not.

    More information is needed (hence the congressional investigation) to find out exactly what is accessible and what isn’t. Can an analyst read email content beyond sender and recipients? That isn’t clear. One thing to keep in mind, some of this information that is part of the query is already open information. The NSA system has organized it making it searchable.

    There are issues here that need to be addressed, but the information we are getting is limited.

    I do think most people are unaware how open online communication already is, and their expectation of privacy is based on 18th century postal service code rather than 21st century technological realities. It’s a good thing this is coming out so people can decide if we need something more secure. It will cost us, but it may be worth it.

            1. Kinda like saying: this is a joke, that /s…

              The whole point of being sarcastic is that you don’t flag it…

              Of course it does help the handicapped to recognize it in leu of capacity, I suppose.

            2. Look up Justin Carter. He was arrested, charged and faces 10 years in jail for making a very sarcastic, over-the-top threat even though he included “lol” and “jk”. Just imagine how much worse it’d be if he hadn’t included those “disclaimers.”

  5. I’ve got a money making idea for the Federal Government – offer people access to their information for a low reasonable annual fee. That way if you lose the url for a website, you can contact the NSA and they’ll let you know what it is.

  6. I’m glad it is being made clear that warrants, as described in the US Constitution are REQUIRED for US citizens while they are on US soil. That has NEVER been the case once a US person leaves the country.

    As for communication by a US citizen on US soil with someone OUTSIDE the USA, that’s a more tricky question. I’ve never read anyone trying to apply the 4th Amendment to such situations, and I can understand why.

    In any case, it’s a FUD FUD FUD world, full of paranoia, propaganda, manipulation and fear fear fear. 😛 Not good.

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