Tuesday, January 18, 2011

NSA Stands Alone- In Respecting Jack Anderson's Rights

Despite calling attention to their GAMMA GUPY operation which eavesdropped on the mobile phone calls of Politburo leaders, it seems the National Security Agency was able to respect the rights of Jack Anderson and not engage in illegal surveillance of him at any time, even at the height of its pre-911 disregard for American rights. In contrast, the FBI and the CIA both stalked Anderson during his career, often on the flimsiest of pretexts.(1)

In response to a FOIA request I had submitted on my behalf, the NSA sent the following final response. In the letter, the NSA makes the rare concession that it indeed had records pertaining to Jack Anderson and even described them. According to the NSA, the records are “foreign intelligence reports dating from the late 1960s and early 1970s. They contain only references to news articles written by Jack Anderson: they are not “about” him, nor was he the target of any collection.”

While I'm annoyed at the NSA's FOIA office for recently demanding fees for a record cited in an NSA publication, my dealings with them leave no doubt in my mind of their forthrightness.

Jack Anderson NSA letter                                                            

(1) All information not from the letter comes from Mark Feldstein's Poisoning the Press and I will add more detailed footnotes once I retrieve my copy tomorrow. 


  1. Interesting that references to news articles are now considered properly classified.

    But also nice to hear at least one agency was able to resist the temptation, for a change.

  2. According to the NSA, the reports are foreign intelligence reports which means they probably fear that someone will see the reference, figure out what the NSA was doing or monitoring, and then take action to avoid being the target of the NSA in the future.

    The problem with the "mosaic theory" as this is called is that nobody has proven that anyone out there really gives a fuck about something that happened generations ago, outside of academics and perhaps some curious bystanders.

  3. Agreed.

    The other problem with the "mosaic" theory, in my opinion, is that it's unacceptably vague. It comes from the same institutional paranoia that until recently said American security would be irreparably harmed if people knew the size of the annual intelligence budget.