I have been relatively inactive on the blog the past few months, and a number of interesting things have happened or been reported. So to celebrate the end of 2013—what I think could easily be called the Year of the National Security Agency, a year that saw perhaps a decisive shift toward the world Dave Eggers recently imagined in The Circle (2013)—I have posted a number of links on recent stories involving the NSA and the national security state below. To address other stories I have neglected over the past few months, I will be posting more general links tomorrow.
A few days ago, Adam Liptak and Michael S. Schmidt reported for The New York Times that, “A federal judge [William H. Pauley III . . .] ruled that a National Security Agency program that collects enormous troves of phone records is legal, making the latest contribution to an extraordinary debate among courts and a presidential review group about how to balance security and privacy in the era of big data.” This comes only eleven days after a ruling issued on 16 December 2013 “by Judge Richard J. Leon in Washington, who ruled that the program was ‘almost Orwellian’ and probably unconstitutional.” This latter story was reported by Ellen Nakashima and Ann E. Marimow on 16 December 2013 in The Washington Post. Amy Davidson has written two fairly interesting and incisive pieces for The New Yorker analyzing each ruling: “Judge Pauley to the NSA: Go Big” and “The Domino’s Hypothetical: Judge Leon Vs. the NSA.” (The New Yorker actually has a number of articles addressing the NSA.)
In August the White House commissioned an independent report on the National Security Agency’s activities, and the report, Liberty and Security in a Changing World: Report and Recommendations of the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies (the link is to the actual 304-page report), was issued on 12 December 2013. Michael Morell, one of the report’s authors, has written an opinion piece in The Washington Post, “Correcting the Record on the NSA Report.” And John Cassidy has an article in The New Yorker on the report, “Inside the White House NSA Report: The Good and the Bad.”
In more specific news on what the NSA is doing:
Also from Boing Boing: “NSA Had Secret Deal on Back-Doored Crypto with Security Firm RSA, Snowden Docs Reveal.”
Juan Cole has written an open letter to President Barack Obama on the occasion of Obama’s words about Nelson Mandela: “Dear Pres. Obama: Dissent isn’t Possible in a Surveillance State.”
Jason Leopold for Aljazeera America reports, “Revealed: NSA Pushed 9/11 as a Key ‘Sound Bite’ to Justify Surveillance.”
From late October, James Fallows quotes an official at the Department of Defense and others for The Atlantic, “‘Let Me Stress How Shocking these NSA Revelations Are’: A View from Inside the Defense World.”
For The Huffington Post, Glenn Greenwald (the reporter that initially reported the Snowden leaks), Ryan Gallagher, and Ryan Grim report, “Top-Secret Document Reveals NSA Spied on Porn Habits as Part of a Plan to Discredit ‘Radicalizers.’”
James Ball and Nick Hopkins write for The Guardian, “GCHQ and NSA Targeted Charities, Germans, Israeli PM, and EU Chief.”
Amongst all of this, Politico tells us what Obama has been reading.
On the other side of the competence coin, Cory Doctorow reports how “FBI Agent Tries to Copyright Super-Secret Torture Manual, Accidentally Makes it Public.”
Alice E. Marwick has an essay in this week’s The New York Review of Books, “How Your Data Are Being Deeply Mined.”
Well, here’s to the end of 2013.