NSA Refuses To Release Secret Obama Directive On Cybersecurity

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Order may allow military takeover of internet

Steve Watson
Nov 21, 2012

The National Security Agency has refused to release details of a secret presidential directive which experts believe could allow the military and intelligence agencies to operate on the networks of private companies, such as Google and Facebook.

As we reported last week, an article in the Washington Post, cited several US officials saying that Obama signed off on the secret cybersecurity order, believed to widely expand NSA’s spying authorities, in mid-October.

“The new directive is the most extensive White House effort to date to wrestle with what constitutes an “offensive” and a “defensive” action in the rapidly evolving world of cyberwar and cyberterrorism.” the report states.

In response to the move, lawyers with the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request (PDF) demanding that the Obama administration make public the text of the directive.

The NSA responded to the FOIA request this week with a statement arguing that it does not have to release the document because it is a confidential presidential communication and it is classified.

“Disclosure could reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security.” the NSA response reads.

“Because the document is currently and properly classified, it is exempt from disclosure,” the statement notes.

Attorneys for EPIC say they plan to appeal and force the text of the secret directive to be publicly disclosed.

“We believe that the public hasn’t been able to involve themselves in the cybersecurity debate, and the reason they can’t involve themselves is because they don’t have the right amount of information,” EPIC attorney Amie Stepanovich said.

In an official statement to Congress earlier this year, EPIC explained that the NSA was a “black hole for public information about cybersecurity.”

EPIC is also involved in ongoing lawsuits involving the secret nature of the NSA’s relationship with search engine giant Google, and a similar secretive presidential directive issued in 2008 regarding the NSA’s cybersecurity authority.

As we have also noted, the latest secret directive appears to also legally enable the US military and the NSA to use newly created computer viruses to attack any organisation or country deemed to be a cyber threat. Obama has already shown the willingness to carry out such attacks, as new details surrounding the 2010 stuxnet attack revealed earlier this year.

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  1. And my ex thought I was just being paranoid four years ago when I refused to set up any sort of Facebook or twitter account. I told her that my opinion of linked-in, MySpace, Facebook, etc, was that they were either directly controlled by CIA and NSA or had been compromised very early on and were essentially the silver platter of self-inflicted surveillance. As of about six months ago when the facts of NSA and CIA involvement in illegal surveillance became known, she finally shut her pie hole and deleted her accounts. (Which of course, as we now know, doesn’t delete the information or limit access to it later in any way.)

    • As I stated before, everything the government wants to know about us that facebook or other social media could provide it already knows by other means. Using social media to learn it is just laziness on the part of government workers.

      Plus social media is full of bad data. I am a fan of bad data when it comes to stuff like. I like polluting the data and I think everyone should do it. Fake profiles, profiles about roll playing game characters, lying about birth dates, locations, etc, all good things by me. There’s a reason they tried to make lying online illegal. They don’t want the data polluted. Bad data is worse than no data so that’s what I aim for.

      Social media data is already highly misleading. People who try to have the most friends. Friend lists that include people they haven’t seen for 20+ years. It just gets more and more polluted and divergent from reality. If the government wants to use social media against us in some east german way it’s going to be interesting to say the least.

      Some sites don’t allow commentary or login except by facebook. I made a facebook profile for a character in a movie I like and that’s what I use. Every time a site wants personal info, I make it up as I go along.

      I do have a real linkedin profile. Mostly to see the occasional job offers. The government already knows where I have worked. It’s called the IRS.

  2. What utter bullshit! Any cyber-war going on has been in many ways initiated by these asshats in DC. They create the problem and then their solution is to ratchet down on us all.


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