Greenwald's Latest: XKeyscore, NSA's "Widest-Reaching" Internet Program

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
July 31 2013 9:47 AM

Greenwald's Latest: XKeyscore, NSA's "Widest-Reaching" Internet Intel Program

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Demonstrators hold placards featuring an image of former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden as they take part in a protest against the US National Security Agency (NSA) collecting German emails, online chats and phone calls and sharing some of it with the country's intelligence services in Berlin on July 27, 2013

Photo by John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

As promised, Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian are continuing their slow and steady roll-out of NSA leaks. Here's the latest, which comes as senior intelligence officials are set to testify later today before the Senate [British spellings theirs]:

A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The NSA boasts in training materials that the program, called XKeyscore, is its "widest reaching" system for developing intelligence from the internet. ...
The files shed light on one of Snowden's most controversial statements, made in his first video interview published by the Guardian on June 10. "I, sitting at my desk," said Snowden, could "wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email." US officials vehemently denied this specific claim. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, said of Snowden's assertion: "He's lying. It's impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do."
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The XKeyscore training materials reportedly show how analysts can use the program to mine "enormous agency databases by filling in a simple on-screen form giving only a broad justification for the search"—requests that apparently aren't reviewed by any court or any NSA higher-ups before they are processed. Full Guardian article here. Slate will have more on it and the NSA in general later.

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.