Sunday, May 29, 2005

NSA watchlists

The Select Committee to Study Government Operations with respect to Intelligence Activities issued their final report on April 23, 1976, and the report can be found on the internet. Among the alleged abuses the committee investigated was how the National Security Agency surveillance affected Americans. Part II of this report deals with NSA's monitoring of international communications. Section B., item 3., of Part II reports on the increasing security and concealment of programs involving American citizens. Paragraph one, containing footnotes 42 and 43 reads as follow:

The watchlist was always a highly sensitive, compartmented operation (42). The secrecy was not due to the nature of the communications intercepted (most were personal and innocuous), but to the fact that American citizens were involved. NSA requested that some of the agencies receiving watchlist product either destroy the material or return it within two weeks (43). This procedure was not followed with even the most sensitive of NSA's legitimate foreign product.

I am quoted in footnote 43, along with two DEA officials. I take issue with the last line of the above paragraph. I had stated to the committee that the Secret Service Intelligence Division did not, at that time, meet the security regulations for the storage of NSA material. Therefore, our policy, following NSA's instructions, was not to store any NSA material, either legitimate foreign product or watchlist material and all NSA material was destroyed after reading. I also told the committee that all watchlist material came to me in double sealed envelopes by messenger, with the order on the outside of the envelope that it was to be opened only by me. All material was opened by me, and was immediately destroyed after reading. Nothing was stored. There was no need to store any reports as they were of little intelligence value.

The last line of the above noted paragraph insinuates that security procedures were not followed. But since footnote 43 pertains to information given by me and the DEA officials, I assume that it was the DEA that was not following the correct procedures. The last line of the paragraph does not clarify this, and infers that both DEA and the Secret Service were at fault. Neither the Secret Service nor I were in violation of NSA security procedures.

The above noted paragraph is poorly written, such as one finds in many Senate committee reports. The staff members who conduct the interviews and write the reports have their own agendas for the final staff reports (usually political). In this case, the final report does not accurately reflect my interview.


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12:25 AM  

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