NSA just released a touchy-feely Q&A, complete with a touchy-feely image of the NSA, explaining “the Impact of Section 702 on the Typical American.”
I shall now shred it.
First note that this document deals with 702? It should be dealing with Title VII, because the entire thing gets reauthorized by 702 reauthorization. That means Sections 704 and 705(b), which are used to target Americans, will be reauthorized. And they have had egregious problems in recent years (even if the problems only affect some subset of around 300 Americans). Sure, Paul Manafort and Carter Page are not your “typical” Americans, but abuses against them would be problematic for reasons that could affect Americans (not least that they could fuck up the Mueller probe if FISA disclosure for defendants weren’t so broken).
The piece starts by talking about how the IC uses 702 to “hunt” for information on “adversaries,” which it suggests include terrorists and hackers.
The U.S. Intelligence Community relies on Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in the constant hunt for information about foreign adversaries determined to harm the nation or our allies. The National Security Agency (NSA), for example, uses this law to target terrorists and thwart their plans. In a time of increasing cyber threats, Section 702 also aids the Intelligence Community’s cybersecurity efforts.
Somehow, it neglects to mention the foreign government certificate — which can target people who aren’t “adversaries” at all, but instead foreign muckety mucks we want to know about — or the counterproliferation certificate — which can target businesses of all kinds that deal in dual use technologies. Not to mention the SysAdmins that it might target for all these purposes.
The piece then lays out in two paragraphs and six questions (I include just one below) the basic principles that 702 can only “target” foreigners overseas.
Under Section 702, the government cannot target a U.S. person anywhere in the world, or any person located in the United States.
Under Section 702, NSA can target foreigners reasonably believed to be located outside the United States only if it has a basis to believe it will acquire certain types of foreign intelligence information that have been authorized for collection.
Q: Can I, as an American, be the target of Section 702 surveillance?
A: No. As an American citizen, you cannot be the target of surveillance under Section 702. Even if you were not an American, you could not be targeted under Section 702 if you were located in the United States.
Effectively, this passage might as well say, “target target target target target target target target target target
target target target target target target target target target,” which is how many times (19) the word is used in the touchy-feely piece. The word “incidental” appears just once, where it entertains what happens if one of “Mary’s” foreign relatives were in a terrorist organization….[follow this link to read more!]