I have been very busy this week but do have some stuff lined up for this weekend for the blog.
I ran across this article yesterday which not only blows my mind but just infuriates me. How stupid do they think we are? Wait.. Don’t answer that. It is in one of the databases they have concerning every man, woman, child and pet in America.
The NSA is a “supercomputing powerhouse” with machines so powerful their speed is measured in thousands of trillions of operations per second. The agency turns its giant machine brains to the task of sifting through unimaginably large troves of data its surveillance programs capture.
But ask the NSA, as part of a freedom of information request, to do a seemingly simple search of its own employees’ email? The agency says it doesn’t have the technology.
“There’s no central method to search an email at this time with the way our records are set up, unfortunately,” NSA Freedom of Information Act officer Cindy Blacker told me last week.
The system is “a little antiquated and archaic,” she added.
I filed a request last week for emails between NSA employees and employees of the National Geographic Channel over a specific time period. The TV station had aired a friendly documentary on the NSA and I want to better understand the agency’s public-relations efforts.
A few days after filing the request, Blacker called, asking me to narrow my request since the FOIA office can search emails only “person by person,” rather than in bulk. The NSA has more than 30,000 employees.
I reached out to the NSA press office seeking more information but got no response.
It’s actually common for large corporations to do bulk searches of their employees email as part of internal investigations or legal discovery.
“It’s just baffling,” says Mark Caramanica of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “This is an agency that’s charged with monitoring millions of communications globally and they can’t even track their own internal communications in response to a FOIA request.”
So they can search billions of emails a day and have the capability to store all the worlds data thousands of times over. They can do quadrillions of calculations a millisecond. Yet they claim they do not have the ability to search internal emails? You be the judge.
What is a FOIA request?
This article is about the U.S. federal law. For freedom of information in the fifty U.S. states, see Freedom of information in the United States.
Freedom of Information Act
Long title An Act to amend section 3 of the Administrative Procedure Act, chapter 324, of the Act of June 11, 1946 (60 Stat. 238), to clarify and protect the right of the public to information, and for other purposes.
Colloquial acronym(s) FOIA Act
Public Information Act of 1966
Public Information Availability
Enacted by the 89th United States Congress
Effective July 5, 1967
Public Law 89-487
Stat. 80 Stat. 250
Act(s) amended Administrative Procedure Act
Title(s) amended 5 U.S.C.
U.S.C. sections created 552
Introduced in the Senate as S. 1160 by Edward Long (D–MO) on October 4, 1965
Committee consideration by: Committee on the Judiciary and Committee on Government Operations
Passed the Senate on October 13, 1965 (passed)
Passed the House on June 20, 1966 (306-0)
Signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 4, 1966
Privacy Act of 1974, PL 93–579, 88 Stat 1896
Government in the Sunshine Act, PL 94–409, 90 Stat 1241
Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, PL 99–570, 100 Stat 3207
Electronic Freedom of Information Act of 1996
The Intelligence Authorization Act of 2002, PL 107-306, 116 Stat 2383
OPEN Government Act of 2007, PL 110-175, 121 Stat 2524
Wall Street Reform Act of 2010
United States Supreme Court cases
Department of Justice v. Landano
Scott Armstrong v. Executive Office of the President
v t e
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a federal freedom of information law that allows for the full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the United States government. The Act defines agency records subject to disclosure, outlines mandatory disclosure procedures and grants nine exemptions to the statute. It was originally signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, despite his misgivings, on July 4, 1966 as 5 U.S.C. § 552 and went into effect the following year.
The Federal Government’s Freedom of Information Act should not be confused with the different and varying Freedom of Information Acts passed by the individual states. Many of those state acts may be similar but not identical to the federal act.
See you tomorrow or Sat morning. I have new information on cyber warfare/ security that I found interesting.
Tip of the iceberg