Monday, November 4, 2013

Justifying the NSA With Talking Points

A recent Freedom of Information request by Al Jazeera has opened the walls around the National Security Agency a little bit more than what Edward Snowden has already done.  The FOIA request by Al Jazeera requested:

 " talking points, documents from which information was pulled to put into the talking points, and the final agreement from whoever was going to be using the talking points as to their content."

In other words, Al Jaweera requested those talking points that were prepared for use by Congress, the media and anyone else within the Obama Administration surrounding the leak of information about the NSA.  In total, Al Jazeera has now received 27 pages of talking points from the NSA.

Let's dig in and see how representatives of the U.S. government were going to justify snooping on our personal emails, texts and other communications.

1.) Under the heading "Sound Bites That Resonate" we find:

"I much prefer to be here today explaining these programs, than explaining another 9/11 event that we were not able to prevent...The mission of NSA and its military component, the Central Security Service, is focused on saving lives, defending vital networks and in providing essential foreign intelligence to our nation's leaders and allies.  We've served the nation in silence for 60 years."

2.) Under the heading 'Compliance" we find:

"NSA is committed to compliance with the law, thereby protecting and upholding the privacy and civil liberties of the American people.  Compliance at the NSA is robust and rigorous.  There are multiple internal and external levels of compliance, review and oversight."

3.) Under the heading "Protection of Privacy and Civil Liberties we find:

"To be clear, under FISA, in order to target the content of a US person's communication anywhere in the world, NSA requires a finding of probable cause under a specific court order."

4.) Under the heading "Value to Allies we find:

"And our allies have benefited from these lawfully operated programs just as we have."

5.) Under the heading "NSA's People" we find:

"This has been accomplished by the extraordinary people at NSA, the real heroes, along with our partners at CIA, FBI, DOD and DHS."

Lastly, under the heading "Need for Apolitical Conversation" we find:

"We expect there will be further disclosures designed to embarrass.   They will take our partnerships and allies and industry out of context to further inflame the debate."

Keeping in mind that these "Media Leaks Master TPs" were dated June 24, 2013, it is interesting to see how the NSA "anticipated" the fact that some of the leaders of Europe would be upset once it was revealed that their leadership had been electronically stalked by the NSA.

In case you are interested, here is a link to the entire Al Jazeera FOIA data release.  It would certainly appear that the writers of the talking points were burning the midnight oil once Edward Snowden and the Guardian began to release the incriminating data about the NSA's activities.

It's always interesting to see how government justifies its actions, particularly through the use of well-prepared talking points with the intended purpose of stirring up fear on Main Street.  Apparently, this is the story that just keeps on giving and giving and giving.


  1. I'm concerned about our priorities. The "black budget" last year was a massive 52 billion dollars, this is the money used in "secret" spy operations. This should send shivers down the back of those that have read about the totalitarian society of Oceania described in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

    In Orwell's novel, all citizens of Oceania are monitored by cameras and are fed fabricated news stories by the government. Have we opened Pandora’s Box and started down the path to a totalitarian society akin to something out of a novel by George Orwell? More in the post below,

    1. I havn't read your post just yet(but i will). But I find it interesting that people who were brushed aside as tinfoil hat wearing fools were right about the level of the US government spying on its citizens.