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On May 5 gadfly journalist Wayne Madsen published an intriguing report at Online Journal about the maladministration's abuse of the NSA. It appeared after the exposure of the NSA's spying on the U.N. before the invasion of Iraq. I see no evidence that this report has been discussed in detail here, and it seems especially timely now.

Madsen may be imperfectly reliable about facts. Yet he worked at the NSA in the 1980s, and appears to have good sources of information there. His May report made several key points, the most important of which were: (a) neocons (especially minions of Cheney and Rumsfeld) were using the NSA to spy upon those they suspected of opposing their policies, including U.S. citizens; (b) the head of NSA schemed to conceal the illegality of such spying; (c) the NSA was browbeating staffers who resisted this perversion of their mission; (d) a series of leaks showed that some in the NSA were fighting back and trying to embarrass Bush and Co.

He reports, for example, that rebel staffers leaked information that the NSA had evidence that A. Q. Khan was selling nuclear components to Saudi Arabia. More strikingly, to my mind, Madsen states that they revealed the NSA had eavesdropped on the phone calls between Colin Powell and Gov. Bill Richardson regarding a N. Korean delegation's visit to NM. I do not know what to make of his claim that the NSA has evidence that United Flight 93 on Sept. 11 was shot down by U.S. fighter planes, so I set it aside from discussion.

In the following selections, Madsen describes how the head of NSA, Gen. Michael Hayden, tried to cover up John Bolton's role in ordering the NSA to spy upon U.N. delegations that were thought unsupportive of Bush's plan to invade Iraq. He goes on to describe how Hayden pressured concerned NSA staffers to Cheney up:

The three key participants who have emerged as orchestrating the misuse of NSA and other U.S. intelligence resources to conduct surveillance of those who opposed neoconservative plans to invade Iraq and ratchet up tensions with North Korea, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, the Palestinian Authority headed by the late Yasir Arafat, and the former government of Haiti are Bolton; NSA's director and the new Deputy Director for National Intelligence General Michael V. Hayden; and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Iraq and current National Intelligence Director John Negroponte. Hayden served alongside Condoleezza Rice in the National Security Council under President George H. W. Bush.

In the lead up to the Iraq War, Negroponte, Bolton, and Hayden, as well as other leading neoconservatives in the Pentagon and White House, directed an e-mail and telephone surveillance campaign against UN Security Council delegates to determine the voting intentions of wavering countries on the council's resolution authorizing military action against Iraq....

A January 31, 2003, Quick Response Capability memo sent by Frank Koza, the chief of the Regional Targets group within NSA's National Security Operations Center (NSOC), to NSA's counterparts in the Echelon communications intelligence monitoring tasking system--Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand--authorized a "surge" telephone and e-mail intercept operation on the offices and homes of government officials of UN Security Council members and "non-UN Security Council Member UN-related and domestic comms."...

Negroponte and Bolton received intercept data from Hayden's staff at NSA. Secret Security Council negotiations to reach a compromise with Iraq and seek more time for UN weapons inspectors were scuttled when Negroponte and Bolton were made privy to private telephone conversations of UN delegates, including the Mexican and Chilean ambassadors.

Leading neoconservatives working for Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld were kept apprised of the sensitive surge surveillance operations....

To ensure that systematic violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and NSA's United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18 (USSID 18) in permitting electronic surveillance of U.S. persons on behalf of Bolton and Negroponte went unhindered, Hayden directed his Directorate of Security and Counterintelligence at NSA to browbeat any analyst or operator who showed the slightest tendency to question authority. Hayden's personally-chosen deputy director, William Black, who serves in a position always considered to be somewhat independent from the transitory NSA director, buckled to Hayden's dictates rather than challenge them....

[NSA's General Counsel's office] provided legal cover for repeated violations of FISA and USSID 18. In responding to internal complaints, NSA's Inspector General's office became a virtual rubber stamp for Hayden and defaulted to ruling against all whistleblowers.

The political surveillance operations directed against current and former U.S. government officials and serving and retired U.S. military officers who opposed the neoconservative game plan was primarily carried out by NSA's super-classified "black ops" organization, the Special Collection Service (SCS)--a joint NSA/CIA "higher-than-Top Secret" joint activity headquartered in Beltsville, Maryland.

Tasking was conducted through NSA's Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID) and authority was granted by Hayden to largely bypass USSID 18 legal restrictions by using off-the-books "training missions" as a cover. Although training mission intercept data collected on U.S. persons is to be destroyed after completion of the mission, intercepts of phone calls made by scores of U.S. government and private persons found their way into the hands of Bolton, Cheney, and other neoconservative elements within the Bush administration.

To deal with actual or perceived troublemakers at NSA, Hayden's handpicked security chief at NSA, Kemp Ensor III, instituted a Kafkaesque system that abruptly yanked personnel security clearances without explanation; wiretapped black (non-secure), gray (secure), and personal telephones; subjected employees to psychiatric examinations and evaluations; concocted trumped up charges against employees involving such things as tax problems and personality disorders, and punished highly-trained and skilled technicians, analysts, and linguists by sending them to non-secure "Red Badge" warehouses and other logistics facilities to perform manual labor duties.

In the midst of the current constitutional crisis, the allegation that Cheney and others obtained data from what purportedly were `training' exercises,  and therefore not for dissemination, could be quite damaging, if true. The focus in the current scandal has been on Bush because ultimately he's responsible for systematically violating the law. But in this instance, it appears that Cheney received prohibited data, and his office may have ordered it to be collected in the first place.

UPDATE: Here is another report about fake "training" exercises from May 2005, in which Madsen says "possible affected individuals include" Colin Powell, Richard Armitage, Joseph Biden, Jimmy Carter, Brent Scowcroft, and Bill Richardson, among others.

United States Signals Intelligence Directive (USSID) 18, the NSA’s “Bible” for the conducting of surveillance against U.S. persons, allows “U.S. material,” i.e., listening to U.S. persons, to be used for training missions. However, USSID 18 also requires that all intercepts conducted for such training missions are to be completely destroyed after completion of the training operation. In the case of Bolton and other Bush administration hard liners, the material in question was not deleted and was transmitted in raw intercept form to external agencies for clearly political purposes – a violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and USSID 18, which only allows such raw training mission intercepts to be transmitted when evidence of criminal activity is uncovered during the training mission. Unlike signals intelligence (SIGINT) data stored in the “Anchory” (formerly known as the SIGINT On-line Intelligence System or “SOLIS”) database, training intercepts are completely off-the-books and, in the case of raw intercepts provided to Bolton and others, the NSA and its Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID) can claim “plausible deniability” in stating that only “official” intercept transcripts were provided to users outside the agency. Because they are to be destroyed after completion of training missions, the training intercepts do not appear in any agency logs and cannot be obtained by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unless they are subpoenaed directly from Bolton and his colleagues....

Intelligence community insiders claim that a number of State Department and other government officials may have been subject to NSA “training” surveillance and that transcripts between them and foreign officials likely ended up in the possession of Bolton and his neo-conservative political allies, including such members of Vice President Dick Cheney’s staff as David Wurmser (a former assistant to Bolton at State), John Hannah, and Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

Calling Mr. Fitzgerald...

Originally posted to smintheus on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 05:34 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  On a personal note (4.00)
    I will add with regard to Cheney that, while watching Terry Moran interview him late last night on Nightline, I was turning over in my hand the "Delete' key that had popped off my keyboard. And suddenly it snapped in half. The man has that kind of effect on me...the NSA too, by the looks of it.
    •  Flight 93 shootdown (none)
      It has just occured to me that whether or not the report is true that the NSA has intercepts proving that Flight 93 was shot down, the evident fact that NSAers told Masden (or his source) that the Agency does ought to show that these disgruntled staffers were aiming to hurt Cheney.

      It was Cheney who initially claimed, falsely it seems, that he'd gotten the word from Bush to shoot down any hostile airliners on Sept. 11. The story reported by Madsen, thus, was intended to put Cheney on the spot.

      Which underlines my central point, that Cheney perhaps was very closely tied to the perversions of the NSA mission and culture. Rumsfeld could have been a secondary target for disgruntled NSA staffers, but my inference from Masden's report is that they identified Cheney as the primary culprit.

  •  Doesn't Matter Now (none)
    Bush confessed he committed the crime.  Doesn't matter if he bugged Khalid-Al-Faisel-bin-Kaboom, John Kerry or Bugs Bunny.  

    He broke the law.  Tens, hundreds or even thousands of counts of civil and criminal violations.  He's done.

    •  well sure he confessed (none)
      but that doesn't mean it matters not at all. The thing that sunk Nixon ultimately was that there were so many charges being made against him, many of them interrelated. It was partly the significance of the counts against him, but also the sheer number of them...so many that Congress could pick and choose which they wanted to press, and which they could set aside.

      Further, this is a charge that goes straight to Dick Cheney. It could be slightly less easy to impale him upon the charge of violating the FISA act and the 4th amendment, because Bush has taken responsibility for making the decision.

  •  I hope that Time or Newsweek (none)
    will get to this stuff.

    Treason's Greetings from Karl Rove and Scooter Libby: Merry Fitzmas and Happy New Smear

    by seesdifferent on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 06:32:14 PM PST

  •  Neo con gang vs Iraq. (none)
    So some of their operative are cought spying. Now we know Neocon is using NSA to spy.

    How compromised is out national security?

    Remember the basic modus operandi here: The neocon gang stove pipe, and created false and misleading information to direct the nation to war.

    THAT is the big crime.  Slowly the picture become more and more clearer.

  •  Who is Madsen? (none)
    I've been following his stuff for quite a while. His website is just horribly designed but man what a reporter. Or at least it seems that way. I mean if half the stuff this guy reports is really true, there are some whopper untold stories in the naked city that's for damn sure.

    But in a way, not a lot of it surprises me. The idea that the NSA doesn't intercept internal U.S. communications has never been believable to me. Now, maybe in the past it's been one of these deals with they work things out with a friendly foreign government -- the Israelis, the Canadians any of several European governments -- who pass their domestic intercepts to the U.S. government. But I've always pretty much assumed that things were tapped.

    By the way, there's a whole lot to say about how the Internet is a major enabler of government surveillance and control of communications. The idea that got passed around in the 1990s about how the Internet would make it impossible for governments to exercise control is, in my opinion, 180 degrees wrong. But maybe that's a subject for another day and another diary.

    •  I don't know much about Madsen (none)
      I get the sense that he loves conspiracies. But then there are many conspiracies in D.C, especially these days. He also occasionally strays into hyperbole ("kafkaesque"), but when I think back, that is a pretty good description of day to day existence in the NSA.

      We as a nation should be talking about whether USSID 18 should be a blanket prohibition against domestic spying by the NSA. I think it should and must, though the end run through foreign agencies has long been rumored. Perhaps legislation could shut down any such quid pro quo arrangements.

      Saw one discussion of digital interception today that argued that, unlike with analogue technologies like phones, it was impossible to track only those digital transmissions one wants to spy upon. According to this person, digital data is cut into small bits and fed along with other, unrelated data in a steady stream, before being reassembled at the point of reception. If true, I do not know what that might mean for the bar against domestic spying without warrants.

      •  not all digital data cut into bits... (none)
        But that IS exactly how the Internet is constructed and why it works so well, that pieces (Packets) can travel separate routes and then get assembled upon reception. I have technical sympathy with the problem NSA has of separating out what they can monitor and what they can't, and the ability (and computer horsepower) to cast a wide net and see what they get... It's a fishing exercise, and lots of us get caught up in it (My daughter speat all last year in Germany...).

        The Bolton story is a perfect example why warrants are needed, and why there has to be a paper trail to show if someone wants to get political dirt under the guise of fighting terrorism.

        Clearly Bush went through the back door because he and Cheney don't want any paper trails...So it's Illegal, so sue me...

  •  This may be one reason (none)
    there were a lot of whistleblowers.  According to the NYT article  Dec. 16:  
    Nearly a dozen current and former officials, who were granted anonymity because of the classified nature of the program, discussed it with reporters for The New York Times because of their concerns about the operation's legality and oversight.

    At least some of those patriotic officials had probably been demoted, scorned, and assigned to manual labor.

  •  There have been a lot of people here (none)
    saying Madsen is nuts, but for this to have been on his site since May saying basically waht has just 'broken' is pretty amazing. And all of it in super detail.
    •  I don't know whether these details (none)
      are a sign that he has good sources in the NSA, or perhaps just the mark of a confabulator. Well, there's at least one other likely possibility, that he does have sources, but unreliable ones who claim to know things for certain when they are just reporting gossip.

      In any case, I've written to one wire service asking that they investigate these reports.

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