"In every way that matters, the separation
between government and corporations is nonexistent, and this is especially true
when it comes to national security and
the surveillance state"
Glenn Greenwald, With Liberty and Justice for
Analysts are told they can trace contacts of
Americans as long as they cite a foreign
The National Security Agency has been
exploiting huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of Americans
social connections to identify associates, locations at certain times,
traveling companions and other pertinent information.
The agency is
authorized to conduct "large-scale graph analysis on very large sets of
communications metadata without having to check foreignness" of every e-mail
address, phone number or other identifier.
The agency augments the
communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources,
including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger
manifests, voter registration rolls, GPS location information, as well as
property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents.
There is no restrictions on the use of "enrichment" data, and several
former senior Obama administration
officials said the agency drew on it for both Americans and foreigners.
Since the 1979 Supreme Court ruling Americans have
no expectation of
privacy about what numbers they call.
The Justice Department and
the Pentagon decided it
was permissible to create contact chains using Americans' "metadata," which
includes the timing, location and other details of calls and e-mails.
The agency is not required to seek warrants for the analyses from the
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Phone and e-mail logs
allow analysts to identify associates, detect movement in time, acquire clues
to religious or political affiliations, pick up sensitive information like
regular calls to a
psychiatrist's office, late-night messages to an extramarital partner or
exchanges with a fellow plotter.
"Metadata can be very revealing," said
Orin S. Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University.
things like the number someone just dialed or the location of the person's
cellphone is going to allow them to assemble a picture of what someone is up
to. It's the digital equivalent of tailing a suspect."
The policy - "Defense
Supplemental Procedures Governing Communications Metadata Analysis" - was
authorized by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and
Attorney General Michael B.
"Sigint Management Directive 424", November 2010 stated the
Supreme Court ruling
metadata was not constitutionally protected allowed
Analysts, using metadata "without regard to the nationality
or location of the communicants" acquired the conversations of foreign
politicians, business figures or activists and anyone else in the
One of the main tools used for chaining phone numbers and e-mail
addresses has the code name Mainway.
Vast amounts of data flow daily
from fiber-optic cables, corporate partners and foreign computer networks that
have been hacked.
"Better Person Centric Analysis" describes how the
agency looks for 94 "entity types," including phone numbers, e-mail addresses
and IP addresses.
The NSA correlates 164 "relationship types" to build
social networks and what the agency calls "community of interest" profiles,
using queries like "travelsWith, hasFather, sentForumMessage,
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