Tag Archives: phone surveillance

The NSA’s House of Cards Is Crumbling: Their German Double Agent Just Got Arrested

A man identified by media as a German intelligence officer was arrested this past Wednesday (7/2/2014) on charges of leaking information to the U.S.’s National Security Agency (NSA).

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has so far declined comment on the arrest, but her spokesman Steffen Seibert called the issue a serious matter, adding,

“I will have to leave the conclusions to you.”

German media hasn’t been so mute. Though they refuse to release their sources, a number of news outlets have reported that the man works for the German foreign intelligence service BND.

One of the gates into the BND headquarters

The double agent reportedly told German interrogators that the Americans were particularly interested in information about the German parliamentary inquiry into the activities of the NSA following the revelations that one of the victims of the NSA hacking scandal had been Chancellor Merkel herself.

The popular Bild newspaper reported that the man had been working as a double agent for two years, meeting with American officials at least three times in Austria during that span.

The double agent was reportedly paid $34,000 for hundreds of documents he passed on to the NSA. 218 of these stolen files were found on a thumb drive at the agent’s home.

Click to enlarge

German media adds that if the allegations are true, this is,

 “the biggest scandal involving a German—American double agent since the war.”

So far, the only American response was a short, “no comment” from the National Security Committee’s spokeswoman in Washington.

You would think the NSA would’ve at least tried to be a bit more careful in how they handled such a delicate operation.

It’s hard to ignore the irony of the agency getting caught spying on an investigation that was about them spying in the first place.

Meanwhile, our global image will take yet another hit because of a government agency that has shown a lack of respect for the citizens it’s supposed to protect as well the countries who are supposed to be our allies.

Read the original story from the National Post here.

The NSA Just Admitted That Their Data Collection Systems Are Too Complex for Even Them to Control

If you weren’t aware, the NSA is facing a bunch of lawsuits over their overzealous surveillance programs, which were revealed last summer by Edward Snowden.

One of these lawsuits, Jewel v. NSA, was actually filed before the revelations. The class-action lawsuit, filed on behalf of novelist Carolyn Jewel and a number of other ATT customers, challenges the constitutionality of the NSA programs which were collecting data on American’s telephone and internet activity.

Carolyn Jewel, lead plaintiff in the case against the NSA, outside her home (Photo: Beth Schlanker / The Press Democrat)

As part of the lawsuit, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (who represents the plaintiffs) filed a number of motions to prevent the NSA from destroying data that the EFF planned to use as evidence.

This past Friday, during a hearing over the issue, NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett argued that holding on to the info would be too burdensome for the NSA, saying,

“A requirement to preserve all data acquired under section 702 presents significant operational problems, only one of which is that the NSA may have to shut down all systems and databases that contain Section 702 information.”

NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett

Ledgett continued by arguing that the complexity of the NSA’s surveillance programs meant that efforts by the NSA to preserve their own data might not even work. Not surprisingly, he also tried to get his way using scare tactics, saying that trying to preserve the data would cause,

“an immediate, specific, and harmful impact on the national security of the United States.”

The EFF was surprised by Ledgett’s argument, since the NSA had already been ordered to preserve the data back in 2009. On top of that, a second restraining order was filed in March to prevent destruction of data.

Either way, the EFF’s legal advisor, Cindy Cohn, isn’t buying Ledgett’s arguments. In a recent interview she had this to say about the concerns he raised:

“To me, it demonstrates that once the government has custody of this information even they can’t keep track of it anymore even for purposes of what they don’t want to destroy… With the huge amounts of data that they’re gathering it’s not surprising to me that it’s difficult to keep track– that’s why I think it’s so dangerous for them to be collecting all this data en masse.”

The EFF has said that there is “no doubt” that the NSA has already destroyed some of the information they requested for the lawsuit, but the actual amount data that has been destroyed thus far is unclear.

Read the full story from The Washington Post here.