NSA Chief Denies (Intentionally) Spying on Americans’ Faces

Mike Rogers confirms the agency has a facial-recognition program targeting foreigners.

Admiral Michael Rogers, commander of US Cyber Command, director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and chief of the Central Security Service, speaks during the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association Cybersecurity Summit in Washington, DC, May 28, 2014.
National Journal
Brendan Sasso
June 3, 2014, 6:27 a.m.

The Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency col­lects and ana­lyzes im­ages of people’s faces as part of its vast sur­veil­lance op­er­a­tion, the agency’s dir­ect­or con­firmed Tues­day.

But Adm. Mike Ro­gers in­sisted that the NSA doesn’t in­ten­tion­ally tar­get fa­cial im­ages of Amer­ic­ans.

“We use fa­cial re­cog­ni­tion as a tool to help us un­der­stand these for­eign in­tel­li­gence tar­gets,” Ro­gers said dur­ing an event hos­ted by Bloomberg.

He said the pro­gram does not spy on a “uni­lat­er­al basis against U.S. cit­izens.” But he ac­know­ledged that some Amer­ic­ans’ im­ages are in­ev­it­ably swept up in the col­lec­tion.

“Clearly, in the di­git­al age, we will en­counter U.S. per­sons in the wil­der­ness, if you will,” he said.

He ar­gued that the pro­gram com­plies with strict leg­al lim­it­a­tions, in­clud­ing on the col­lec­tion of data on Amer­ic­ans. 

“In broad terms, we have to stop what we’re do­ing if we come to the real­iz­a­tion that some­body we’re mon­it­or­ing or track­ing has a U.S. con­nec­tion that we were un­aware of,” he said. 

The New York Times, cit­ing doc­u­ments provided by Ed­ward Snowden, first re­por­ted that the NSA har­vests mil­lions of fa­cial im­ages.

Ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ments, NSA lead­ers be­lieve they must ex­pand their sur­veil­lance bey­ond text and au­dio.

“It’s not just the tra­di­tion­al com­mu­nic­a­tions we’re after: It’s tak­ing a full-ar­sen­al ap­proach that di­git­ally ex­ploits the clues a tar­get leaves be­hind in their reg­u­lar activ­it­ies on the net to com­pile bio­graph­ic and bio­met­ric in­form­a­tion,” the agency wrote in one of the doc­u­ments, The Times re­por­ted.

Ro­gers said the NSA does not have ac­cess to any vast data­bases of Amer­ic­ans’ fa­cial im­ages, spe­cific­ally deny­ing that the agency col­lects pic­tures from state DMV of­fices.

Dur­ing the event, Ro­gers called Snowden “ar­rog­ant,” but said the NSA leak­er is “prob­ably” not work­ing on be­half of a for­eign na­tion, such as Rus­sia.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4995) }}

What We're Following See More »
TAKING A LONG VIEW TO SOUTHERN STATES
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Source:
‘PITTING PEOPLE AGAINST EACH OTHER’
Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Source:
THE TIME IS NOW, TED
Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Source:
CHRISTIE, BUSH TRYING TO TAKE HIM DOWN
Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Source:
7 REPUBLICANS ON STAGE
Carly Fiorina Will Not Be Allowed to Debate on Saturday
1 days ago
THE LATEST

ABC News has announced the criteria for Saturday’s Republican debate, and that means Carly Fiorina won’t be a part of it. The network is demanding candidates have “a top-three finish in Iowa, a top-six standing in an average of recent New Hampshire polls or a top-six placement in national polls in order for candidates to qualify.” And there will be no “happy hour” undercard debate this time. “So that means no Fiorina vs. Jim Gilmore showdown earlier in the evening for the most ardent of campaign 2016 junkies.

Source:
×