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Report on the USA Freedom Act Telephone Call Records Program

A disputed program that allowed the National Security Agency to gain access to logs of Americans’ domestic calls and texts yielded only one significant investigation, according to a newly declassified study.

The United States. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (Y 3.2:P 93/3/) issued the report “Report on the USA Freedom Act Telephone Call Records Program” and a factsheet on February 26, 2020.

co-published on govdoc-l and freegovinfo.info.

NSA security education posters from the Cold War

Security Fever: Catch it! ArsTechnica just posted these wild posters from the NSA’s security education program. They were released because of the diligence and FOIA request of our friends at the Government Attic where you can see all of the posters.

In February of 2016, the people behind the website Government Attic made an unusual Freedom of Information Act request to the National Security Agency: “A digital/electronic copy of the NSA’s old security posters from the 1950s and 1960s.” It took more than two years, but the NSA finally got around to honoring the request—providing digital images of more than 100 posters from NSA’s Security Education Program, spanning from the agency’s early days in the 1950s up to the 1970s (with some minor redactions, of course).

The posters are a time capsule of Cold War era government secrecy culture, and they use every possible approach in the propaganda and advertising book to hammer home the need for security awareness. Posters from the 1950s heavily played on the threat of the Soviets to life, liberty, and religion—with a heavy emphasis on the role of Christianity in the lives of good, God-fearing Americans of the time. Others focused on patriotism and on the need to protect the American way of life.

But with the cultural changes of the 1960s and 1970s, things got a little… looser, as pop culture references started to seep into the security propaganda materials—along with occasional warnings about the counter-culture (such as “Don’t Blow Your Clearance on Drugs”). A Saturday Night Fever-themed poster, with an illustration of John Travolta that looks a bit more like a young Mitt Romney, is perhaps the high-water mark of the trend. While perhaps not as iconic as the World War II operational security poster “Loose Lips Might Sink Ships,”  the “Security Fever—Catch It” poster is a lost classic.

via Security Alert: NSA security education posters from the Cold War | Ars Technica.

Document of the day: NSA’s guide to the internet

This just came through my twitter feed from @MuckRock. Through a FOIA request which shook it loose from the notoriously difficult NSA, we now have access to NSA’s 2007 Untangling the Web: a guide to Internet research. It kind of reads like a Terry Pratchett novel if Terry was having a psychotic/psychedelic episode. As MuckRock notes, “you don’t have to go very far before this takes a hard turn into ‘Dungeons and Dragons campaign/Classics major’s undergraduate thesis’ territory.” Read on, you’ll thank me later!

And if you’re interested, I collected and cataloged a version for our library. The original NSA link to the document no longer resolves (and it was put up just last year!!), but there’s an archived copy in the WayBack Machine.

The NSA has a well-earned reputation for being one of the tougher agencies to get records out of, making those rare FOIA wins all the sweeter. In the case of Untangling the Web, the agency’s 2007 guide to internet research, the fact that the records in question just so happen to be absolutely insane are just icing on the cake – or as the guide would put it, “the nectar on the ambrosia.”

via The NSA’s guide to the internet is the weirdest thing you’ll read today.

John Oliver talks about Government Surveillance and Section 215 of USAPA

With the vote on reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act coming up on June 1, leave it to John Oliver to have the most thorough mainstream examination of govt surveillance and the implications of the USA [[PATRIOT Act]]. Plus he does a great interview *in Russia* with Edward Snowden (warning: Oliver is a little NSFW).



More on NSA’s Google-like search engine to share data w agencies

Thanks Rachel for posting about the Intercept‘s new report about NSA’s search engine of harvested data. I thought readers would be interested in this DemocracyNow interview with Ryan Gallagher, the Intercept reporter who wrote this story. A particularly chilling part of the interview was when Gallagher described how the Intercept is now off-limits for Federal employees. Very creepy.

via NSA Creates Google-Like Search Engine to Help Other Agencies Access Collected Phone, Email Records | Democracy Now!.

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