90% of NSA Targets Are Innocent… and German CIA Spy-Facepalm

90% of the people the NSA watches are totally innocent.

That’s the conclusion of Barton Gellman’s remarkable latest piece [1] in the Post, dissecting just under 200,000 intercepts which Snowden passed on to him. (Notably, the US government appears to have claimed several times that Snowden did not get this specific material.)

Not unsurprisingly, it seems the signals intelligence people don’t really care that much about whether they’re “accidentally” eavesdropping on “US persons,” and this counts double when they’re actually after a target. When in “hot pursuit,” the standards for someone being foreign or not get, how shall we put it, rather flimsy.

The whole story [1] is worth a read, though one thing the documents do NOT show is a clear “smoking gun.” There’s no “Enemy of the State” case of the NSA definitively and undeniably using their powers for evil, something which has been more or less lacking in the Snowden releases overall. Nevertheless, as Snowden puts it:

“Even if one could conceivably justify the initial, inadvertent interception of baby pictures and love letters of innocent bystanders,” he added, “their continued storage in government databases is both troubling and dangerous. Who knows how that information will be used in the future?”

Also, continuing on the past thread of the German intelligence officer who was caught spying on the NSA investigative commission for the Americans, new developments.

In a classic moment of counterintelligence facepalm, German counterintelligence initially ran his email address past their US “partners.” They’d caught him offering his services to the Russkies and wanted to know whether the Gmail address in question was “familiar” to the Americans.[2]

The Americans did not reply, but the account went dead quickly thereafter!

In any case the evidence against the 31 year old man (who was apparently quite handicapped) is very strong. They found a laptop (given to him by his American handler for communications purposes) with a “Weather App” that turned into an encryption program when you asked for the weather in New York.

He also had an “emergency” phone number, New York area code, which German services have identified as being linked to the CIA. [3] The man was evidently sending them caches of documents weekly; his last delivery was July 1, and the request for more information on the NSA commission was also something new in the last few weeks.

[1]
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/in-nsa-intercepted-data-those-not-targeted-far-outnumber-the-foreigners-who-are/2014/07/05/8139adf8-045a-11e4-8572-4b1b969b6322_story.html

[2]
http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/bnd-verfassungsschutz-wollte-agenten-mit-us-hilfe-enttarnen-a-979416.html

[3]
http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/inland/enttarnter-agent-beim-bnd-ein-naivling-mit-geltungssucht-13029626.html
http://www.bild.de/politik/inland/cia/bnd-agent-spitzelte-fuer-cia-36692424.bild.html

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