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[liberationtech] Is the Wall Street Journal intentionally confusing the NSA surveillance issue?

Jason Gulledge ramdac at
Fri Jun 14 03:39:34 PDT 2013

There's an article published Yesterday in the WSJ entitled "Foreign Stakes Shield Two Phone Firms from Sweep". It's currently paywalled, but here's the link:

Here's the important bit:

The National Security Agency's controversial data program, which seeks to stockpile records on all calls made in the U.S., doesn't collect information directly from T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless, in part because of their foreign ownership ties, people familiar with the matter said.

The blind spot for U.S. intelligence is relatively small, according to a U.S. official. Officials believe they can still capture information, or metadata, on 99% of U.S. phone traffic because nearly all calls eventually travel over networks owned by U.S. companies that work with the NSA.

The title of this article is misleading.  This article does not say the NSA does not have access to Verizon Wireless customer call data. It just says they don't get it DIRECTLY from Verizon Wireless. They have other ways of going about getting this data, but that isn't what The Wall Street Journal wants you to be focusing on here. Verizon could request the information from Verizon Wireless, and then pass it onto the NSA, or they could just use any number of SIGINT technologies they have available to pull the information directly from cell towers (obviously this takes more effort and suffers issues when scaling)

If you're inclined to disregard this argument consider that the Director of National Intelligence has already lied about it in front of congress. If US government officials are willing to lie about it under oath on television, they're more than happy to play games of semantics with journalists in hopes that one or more of them will run with stories like this one, making it seem like the NSA isn't doing what it's doing. 

Jason Gulledge
@ramdac / twitter
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