Glenn Greenwald published another article with documents from leaker-on-the-lam Edward Snowden today. This article centers around a program called XKeyscore, an NSA tool that is allegedly capable of hoovering up everything a user does online (content of email, chats, etc.). It formed the basis for Snowden’s claim that he could access Barack Obama’s email content if he had the address. The summary and an excerpt from The Guardian:
XKeyscore: NSA tool collects ‘nearly everything a user does on the internet’
• XKeyscore gives ‘widest-reaching’ collection of online data
• NSA analysts require no prior authorization for searches
• Sweeps up emails, social media activity and browsing history
• NSA’s XKeyscore program – read one of the presentations
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.[snip]
In a second Guardian interview in June, Snowden elaborated on his statement about being able to read any individual’s email if he had their email address. He said the claim was based in part on the email search capabilities of XKeyscore, which Snowden says he was authorized to use while working as a Booz Allen contractor for the NSA.
The article also includes a link to a presentation on XKeyscore from February 2008. Lots of technical info there to be parsed.
The NSA denied wrongdoing in a statement to The Guardian:
NSA’s activities are focused and specifically deployed against – and only against – legitimate foreign intelligence targets in response to requirements that our leaders need for information necessary to protect our nation and its interests.
XKeyscore is used as a part of NSA’s lawful foreign signals intelligence collection system.
Allegations of widespread, unchecked analyst access to NSA collection data are simply not true. Access to XKeyscore, as well as all of NSA’s analytic tools, is limited to only those personnel who require access for their assigned tasks … In addition, there are multiple technical, manual and supervisory checks and balances within the system to prevent deliberate misuse from occurring.”
Every search by an NSA analyst is fully auditable, to ensure that they are proper and within the law.
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.
But of course, they would say that, wouldn’t they? Intel officials are getting their chance to explain today, since there’s a Senate judiciary committee going on right now. You can stream it here.