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NSA internal documents lays down US surveillance practices.

Washington, April 26 -- An internal (US) National Security Agency (NSA) document perfected April 16 and yet to attract the attention of those who are very much interested in Washington's domestic and foreign surveillance network reveals the manner in which the vast and extensive spy network is managed and executed.

The document, which Asian Tribune read in entirety, reveals that no US citizen is subject to NSA surveillance, whether the citizen is within the borders of the United States or abroad.

Even if the American citizen living in a foreign country - possibly in his country of birth - is very much involved in that country's defense, national security or foreign affairs, areas the NSA is much interested on behalf of the US administration, under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the NSA is prohibited from bringing him under surveillance.

This Report, prepared by NSA's Office of Civil Liberties and Privacy, provides a comprehensive description of NSA's Section 702 activities, and provides revealing aspects of American surveillance program, a program the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has been disclosing from last year.

Created in January 2014, the Office is also charged with ensuring that civil liberties and privacy protection are integrated into NSA activities.

The mission of NSA, the report states, is to make the nation safer by providing policy makers and military commanders with timely foreign intelligence and by protecting national security information networks.

NSA collects foreign intelligence based on requirements from the President, his national security team, and their staffs through the National Intelligence Priorities Framework. NSA fulfills these national foreign intelligence requirements through the collection, processing, and analysis of communications or other data, passed or accessible by radio, wire or other electronic means.

Section 702 of FISA initial passage in 2008 and the subsequent re-authorization in 2012 provides a statutory basis for NSA, with the compelled assistance of electronic communication service providers, to target non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located outside the U.S. in order to acquire foreign intelligence information, the report notes.

The targeting procedures are designed to ensure that Section 702 is only used to target non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located outside the U.S., it says.

The NSA internal document continues (Quote) Electronic service providers, under the FISA, are legally compelled to assist the government by providing the relevant communications. Therefore, tasking under this authority takes place with the knowledge of the service providers. NSA receives information concerning a tasked selector through two different methods.

In the first, the Government provides selectors to service providers through the FBI. The service providers are compelled to provide NSA with communications to or from these selectors. This has been generally referred to as the PRISM program.

In the second, service providers are compelled to assist NSA in the lawful interception of electronic communications to, from, or about tasked selectors. This type of compelled service provider assistance has generally been referred to as Upstream collection. NSA's FISC- approved targeting procedures include additional requirements for such collection designed to prevent acquisitions of wholly domestic communications. For example, in certain circumstances NSA's procedures require that it employ an Internet Protocol filter to ensure that the target is located overseas. The process for approving the selectors for tasking is the same for both PRISM and Upstream collection.

Once NSA has received communications of the tasked selector, NSA must follow additional FISC-approved procedures known as the minimization procedures. These procedures require NSA analysts to review at least a sample of communications acquired from all selectors tasked under Section 702, which occurs on a regular basis to verify that the reasonable belief determination used for tasking remains valid. (End Quote)

The document lays out the manner in which processing and analyzing of communication are done as "Communications provided to NSA under Section 702 are processed and retained in multiple NSA systems and data repositories. One data repository, for example, might hold the contents of communications such as the texts of emails and recordings of conversations, while another, may only include metadata, i.e., basic information about the communication, such as the time and duration of a telephone call, or sending and receiving email addresses.

"NSA analysts may access communications obtained under Section 702 authority for the purpose of identifying and reporting foreign intelligence. They access the information via "queries," which may be date-bound, and may include alphanumeric strings such as telephone numbers, email addresses, or terms that can be used individually or in combination with one another".

NSA Surveillance of US citizen in foreign land

The NSA document is very clear about data collection or surveillance of U.S. citizens living in foreign country.

The NSA is aware that many American citizens living in foreign countries - most in their countries of birth - are engaged in areas that the American authorities are very much interested such as defense, national security or foreign affairs.

The NSA document very clearly states that such persons cannot be subject to its radar to extract information sensitive or not.

The document notes: NSA cannot intentionally use Section 702 authority to target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S. person, or anyone known at the time of acquisition to be located within the U.S.

The NSA analyst must review a sample of communications received from the selectors to ensure that they are in fact associated with the foreign intelligence target and that the targeted individual or entity is not a U.S. person (meaning a US citizen) and is not currently located in the U.S. If the NSA analyst discovers that NSA is receiving communications that are not in fact associated with the intended target or that the user of a tasked selector is determined to be a U.S. person or is located in the U.S., the selector must be promptly "detasked."

As a general rule, in the event that the target is a U.S. person or in the U.S., all other selectors associated with the target also must be detasked.

If NSA discovers that it has tasked a selector that is used by a person in the U.S. or by a U.S. person, then NSA must cease collection immediately and, in most cases must also delete the relevant collected data and cancel or revise any disseminated reporting based on this data.

Identifying and Tasking a Selector

Next in the Section 702 process is for an NSA analyst to identify a non-U.S. person located outside the U.S. who has and/or is likely to communicate foreign intelligence information as designated in a certification. For example, such a person might be an individual who belongs to a foreign terrorist organization or facilitates the activities of that organization's members. Non-U.S. persons are not targeted unless NSA has reason to believe that they have and/or are likely to communicate foreign intelligence information as designated in a certification; U.S. persons are never targeted.

Once the NSA analyst has identified a person of foreign intelligence interest who is an appropriate target under one of the FISC-approved Section 702 certifications, that person is considered the target. The NSA analyst attempts to determine how, when, with whom, and where the target communicates. Then the analyst identifies specific communications modes used by the target and obtains a unique identifier associated with the target - for example, a telephone number or an email address. This unique identifier is referred to as a selector. The selector is not a "keyword" or particular term (e.g., "nuclear" or "bomb"), but must be a specific communications identifier (e.g., e-mail address).

Next the NSA analyst must verify that there is a connection between the target and the selector and that the target is reasonably believed to be (a) a non-U.S. person and (b) located outside the U.S. This is not a 51% to 49% "foreignness" test. Rather the NSA analyst will check multiple sources and make a decision based on the totality of the information available. If the analyst discovers any information indicating the targeted person may be located in the U.S. or that the target may be a U.S. person, such information must be considered. In other words, if there is conflicting information about the location of the person or the status of the person as a non-U.S. person, that conflict must be resolved before targeting can occur.

Dissemination of Intelligence

NSA only generates signals intelligence reports when the information meets a specific intelligence requirement, regardless of whether the proposed report contains U.S. person information. Dissemination of information about U.S. persons in any NSA foreign intelligence report is expressly prohibited unless that information is necessary to understand foreign intelligence information or assess its importance, contains evidence of a crime, or indicates a threat of death or serious bodily injury. Even if one or more of these conditions apply, NSA may include no more than the minimum amount of U.S. person information necessary to understand the foreign intelligence or to describe the crime or threat. For example, NSA typically "masks" the true identities of U.S. persons through use of such phrases as "a U.S. person" and the suppression of details that could lead to him or her being successfully identified by the context. Recipients of NSA reporting can request that NSA provide the true identity of a masked U.S. person referenced in an intelligence report if the recipient has a legitimate need to know the identity. Under NSA policy, NSA is allowed to unmask the identity only under certain conditions and where specific additional controls are in place to preclude its further dissemination, and additional approval has been provided by one of seven designated positions at NSA. Additionally, together DOl and ODNI review the vast majority of disseminations of information about U.S. persons obtained pursuant to Section 702 as part of their oversight process.

DOI means Director of Intelligence, and ODNI means Office of the Directorate of National Intelligence.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Asian Tribune.

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Publication:Asian Tribune (India)
Date:Apr 26, 2014
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