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Rangerboy

Closed Hearing into the NSA Surveillance Program

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Posted (edited)

*bangs gavel*

 

I call this committee to order, for a hearing on the recent NSA mass surveillance program. I hereby invite the following individuals to testify in front of this very committee:

 

Keith B Alexander, Director of the NSA

Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security

 

The following individuals may give an opening statement...

Edited by Rangerboy

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Mr. Chairman,

 

In light of the sensitivity of these hearings and the likelihood that much of the information to be discussed will likely be classified, I ask that these hearings be conducted in a closed session and that, at the conclusion of these hearings, the committee release a report - to be authored by the Chairman and the ranking majority and minority members - detailing the events of this hearing to be made public.

 

In order to truly get to the bottom of this scandal, it is imperative that those testifying be able to tell us what they know and not be able to hide behind the shield of confidential information.

 

I yield.

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Mr. Chair, I motion to call the following individuals to testify on the NSA Surveillance Program:

 

Secretary of Defense, Major General James Sanderson

The White House Counsel

 

I yield

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12 hours ago, Rangerboy said:

This is a closed door hearing

 

 

( @MrAnderson @Ben can one of you make a private section so I can make this a closed door hearing?)

 

NSA Director General Keith B. Alexander and Sec. of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson are present for questioning and waive their opening statements. 

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2 hours ago, Fisher said:

Mr. Chair, I motion to call the following individuals to testify on the NSA Surveillance Program:

 

Secretary of Defense, Major General James Sanderson

The White House Counsel

 

I yield

 Motion is recognized, 24 hours to vote 

 

Chair votes AYE

 

 

37 minutes ago, Ollie said:

 

NSA Director General Keith B. Alexander and Sec. of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson are present for questioning and waive their opening statements. 

The Chair welcomes both individuals and opens the floor to any committee member to ask questions

 

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@Ollie

 

I'd like to begin by thanking Director Alexander and Secretary Johnson for appearing before this committee today. This hearing has been called to investigate the mass surveillance and data collection program run by the National Security Agency, in cooperation with our allies and data companies such as Apple, Yahoo, and Verizon. 

 

Director Alexander, 

 

I'd like to begin by asking you to describe the process your agency goes through before beginning data collection on any particular individual. Is a judge consulted? Is a warrant obtained? Is evidence of wrongdoing examined before beginning surveillance? Where does the data come from, and to what degree are private companies involved?


Secondly, how long has this data collection program been running? Have they been authorized by presidents past and/or present or by cabinet secretaries? If so, whom?

 

---

 

Secretary Johnson,

 

You've served in the administrations of Presidents Obama, Stevenson, Kline, and now LeClavers. To what degree were you and the presidents you served informed of this data collection program? Did they give explicit authorization?

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20 minutes ago, Ashcroft said:

@Ollie

 

I'd like to begin by thanking Director Alexander and Secretary Johnson for appearing before this committee today. This hearing has been called to investigate the mass surveillance and data collection program run by the National Security Agency, in cooperation with our allies and data companies such as Apple, Yahoo, and Verizon. 

 

Director Alexander, 

 

I'd like to begin by asking you to describe the process your agency goes through before beginning data collection on any particular individual. Is a judge consulted? Is a warrant obtained? Is evidence of wrongdoing examined before beginning surveillance? Where does the data come from, and to what degree are private companies involved?


Secondly, how long has this data collection program been running? Have they been authorized by presidents past and/or present or by cabinet secretaries? If so, whom?

 

---

 

Secretary Johnson,

 

You've served in the administrations of Presidents Obama, Stevenson, Kline, and now LeClavers. To what degree were you and the presidents you served informed of this data collection program? Did they give explicit authorization?

 

Director of the National Security Agency, General Keith B. Alexander (USA): Thank you for the question, Senator. First and foremost, all communications received by the NSA and all cooperation with U.S. company's were done with oversight by FISA courts, with 14 different Judges, and done so with oversight by Congress through programs authorized and reauthorized by Congress. While questions of legality of this might be better suited for the Justice Department, I will do my best to answer accordingly. These programs involve the collection of metadata from telephone calls. These are telephone records maintained by the phone companies. They include the number the call was dialed from, the number the call was dialed to, the date and time of the call and the length of the call. The records do not include the names or other personal identifying information. They do not include cell site or other location information. And they do not include the content of any phone calls. These are the kinds of records that under long- standing Supreme Court precedent are not protected by the Fourth Amendment. The nature of the collection is really dependent on a reasonable, articulable suspicion. While a lot of metadata does exist in a database, it cannot be accessed unless you go through the procedures of documenting that there is reasonable, articulable suspicion that the phone number you want to ask about is associated with terrorists. Unless you get that step made, you cannot enter that database and make a query and access any of those data.

 

For your second question, the program was authorized by Congress twice and reauthorized in late 2012. The program has ran under the past five President's -- from George W. Bush to President LeClavers -- with oversight by the NSA and other intelligence agencies including the FBI. Every administration I've served in has not 'explicitly authorized' the programs in question, as was stated, as they were already authorized by Congress and expanded upon by President's Bush and Obama. 

 

Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson: First I would like to clarify that the Department of Homeland Security has no scope in surveillance or operating similar programs as the NSA does, naturally, under U.S. law. As a member of the National Security Council, I was aware of the programs existence. I was not present for explicit authorizations of the programs. I am also aware of the FISA court orders obtained by the Obama administration as stated by General Alexander initially authorizing the programs and the scope of the programs in question.

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General Alexander, did you have contact with the Presidents you did not mention, Presidents Stevenson, Kline, and LeClavers, about the program, and whether or not they would like to continue it? Was each new administration properly briefed on the size and scope of this, and allowed to make a new decision on whether to keep it in place or not?

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General Alexander,

 

Can you tell this committee how the NSA and other agencies use this metadata for counter-terrorism purposes? How does this metadata actually helps anything if, as you say, it does not include the names or identifying info of the callers or the content of the calls?

 

Secondly, how much of this data - to the best of your knowledge - actually helps to thwart potential terrorist plots or identify terror suspects? I'm not asking necessarily for a number, but a general estimate.

 

---

 

Secretary Johnson,

 

Could you describe to this committee how your department uses - if at all - the data collected under the program the General has just outlined for counterterrorism operations. Would you attribute this program to be a significant asset to your department's work in thwarting potential terrorist plots or identifying terror suspects?

 

And, if I may be so bold to ask - what is the Administration's official position on this data collection program? For, or against?

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Motion to invite more members to this hearing has passed 1-0-0

 

The Following individuals are invited to testify:

 

 

Secretary of Defense, Major General James Sanderson

The White House Counse

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Director Alexander, were any members of congress, the Senate, or iindividuals in the executive branch made aware of the information in the New York Times reports prior to its publication? In other words, who outside of your agency knew what was going on?

 

 

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Welcome Secretary of Defense, Major General Sanderson. Thank you for joining us this afternoon. And thank you for your service to this nation. 

 

I have a few questions for you. First, when were you first made aware of the NSA's mass surveillance system? And by whom? 

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21 hours ago, Ashcroft said:

General Alexander,

 

Can you tell this committee how the NSA and other agencies use this metadata for counter-terrorism purposes? How does this metadata actually helps anything if, as you say, it does not include the names or identifying info of the callers or the content of the calls?

 

Secondly, how much of this data - to the best of your knowledge - actually helps to thwart potential terrorist plots or identify terror suspects? I'm not asking necessarily for a number, but a general estimate.

 

---

 

Secretary Johnson,

 

Could you describe to this committee how your department uses - if at all - the data collected under the program the General has just outlined for counterterrorism operations. Would you attribute this program to be a significant asset to your department's work in thwarting potential terrorist plots or identifying terror suspects?

 

And, if I may be so bold to ask - what is the Administration's official position on this data collection program? For, or against?

 

Director of the National Security Agency, General Keith B. Alexander (USA): The meta-data is used for the purposes of detecting potential activity of a terrorist threat and gaining potential hindsight on that threat or attack. If we are able to see how many times an individual sent out a call to a specific phone number, how many times they were involved in an email chain -- this is incredible insight into the sequence of events leading up to an attack or leading to a potential attack. Following 9/11, we saw a breakthrough in the case of finding the terror suspects after investigators were allowed to review communications between the attackers.

 

Collecting this data and maintaining these programs -- with accountability, as we have done -- is important to national security. If I were to give a general estimate, based on my time in the NSA and my experience, I would say these programs have helped thwart dozens of plots, if not more, and identify even more potential terror suspects. 

 

Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson: The Department of Homeland Security commonly cooperates with our intelligence agencies, such as the NSA, to gain insight into potential threats and to thwart potential threats. I do believe the efforts of our intelligence agencies are invaluable. I believe their work is important and an important asset to our efforts in fighting terror. 

 

22 hours ago, Clay said:

General Alexander, did you have contact with the Presidents you did not mention, Presidents Stevenson, Kline, and LeClavers, about the program, and whether or not they would like to continue it? Was each new administration properly briefed on the size and scope of this, and allowed to make a new decision on whether to keep it in place or not?

 

Director of the National Security Agency, General Keith B. Alexander (USA): I did not explicitly discuss specific NSA programs or NSA tactics with each President nor did they ask about them, from my best recollection, Senator. 

 

53 minutes ago, Fisher said:

Director Alexander, were any members of congress, the Senate, or iindividuals in the executive branch made aware of the information in the New York Times reports prior to its publication? In other words, who outside of your agency knew what was going on?

 

Director of the National Security Agency, General Keith B. Alexander (USA): This wasn't a rouge operation of some kind, Senator, in any manner. Fourteen FISA court Judges approved NSA activities, President's Bush and Obama were involved in the expansions of NSA programs, and the past three President's have been briefed with information obtained through NSA intelligence activities. Congress enacted laws allowing these programs to be instituted and later reauthorized these programs. The collecting of this data is highly regulated with major oversight and accountability. 

 

51 minutes ago, Fisher said:

Welcome Secretary of Defense, Major General Sanderson. Thank you for joining us this afternoon. And thank you for your service to this nation. 

 

I have a few questions for you. First, when were you first made aware of the NSA's mass surveillance system? And by whom? 

 

((Michelle Flournoy is the Secretary of Defense.)) 

 

Secretary of Defense, Michelle Flournoy: Senator, upon entering my position as Secretary of Defense, I have worked closely with our various intelligence agencies and worked closely with the National Security Council. I don't recall ever having a specific discussion with a specific individual about NSA -- as you put it -- 'mass surveillance systems.' I am generally aware of the programs capabilities used for intelligence purposes and was aware of the expansion of the program under President Obama.

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"Secretary Flournoy, were you ever aware, prior to the New York Times report, of the 'common-place'  practice of collecting data and surveillance of foreign powers?"

 

 

And Director Alexander, were any of NATO allies, whether it be their heads of state or their ambassadors, under surveillance? If so, which nations in particular?"

 

 

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General Alexander, what steps would need to be taken in order to shut down this program? How can a President cancel it if they are not explicitly informed of it?

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1 hour ago, Fisher said:

"Secretary Flournoy, were you ever aware, prior to the New York Times report, of the 'common-place'  practice of collecting data and surveillance of foreign powers?"

 

 

And Director Alexander, were any of NATO allies, whether it be their heads of state or their ambassadors, under surveillance? If so, which nations in particular?"

 

 

 

Secretary of Defense, Michelle Flournoy: I was aware of instances where the Obama administration saw the need to surveil foreign officials -- from my recollection, Senator, all of these instances were to ensure the protection of classified information. 

 

Director of the National Security Agency, General Keith B. Alexander (USA): There have been instances of surveillance of NATO allies, whether it be government officials or ambassadors, to gain intelligence information and to protect US national security interests. Under President's Obama and Bush, the NSA had authority to monitor foreign officials in Germany, Turkey, France, and Belgium. 

 

1 hour ago, Clay said:

General Alexander, what steps would need to be taken in order to shut down this program? How can a President cancel it if they are not explicitly informed of it?

 

Director of the National Security Agency, General Keith B. Alexander (USA): Every President has the right and prerogative to look at all national security programs and see what is working, how it is working, and make changes as they see fit. Let me reiterate, Senator, that these programs were authorized and enacted by Congress. The regulations we follow and the parameters we work with were passed by Congress. They were then reauthorized by Congress. They were approved by FISA courts. The programs in question were made legally, by the law, and presumably they would be changed by the law. 

 

 

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@Ollie

General Alexander,

 

What kind of intelligence information is the NSA gathering on foreign officials from NATO allies, and why? Can you explain how intelligence-gathering on foreign officials from NATO allies is germane to the NSA's mission of protecting national security? Is this information pertaining to the individuals' personal activities and communications, or is more pertaining to their government's activities? And if this information is coming from our supposed allies, why is it not being obtained through normal diplomatic and intelligence-sharing channels?

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On 5/30/2018 at 4:12 PM, Ashcroft said:

@Ollie

General Alexander,

 

What kind of intelligence information is the NSA gathering on foreign officials from NATO allies, and why? Can you explain how intelligence-gathering on foreign officials from NATO allies is germane to the NSA's mission of protecting national security? Is this information pertaining to the individuals' personal activities and communications, or is more pertaining to their government's activities? And if this information is coming from our supposed allies, why is it not being obtained through normal diplomatic and intelligence-sharing channels?

@Ollie bump

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