By Mike Cotugno
Contributing writer for End the Lie
The Electric Frontier Foundation (EFF) has published a chart of primary source documents compiled from newspapers and the government regarding the NSA and the recent domestic spying scandals.
In these documents, there is a treasure trove of startling information that has yet to be discussed by both the mainstream and alternative media.
There are many slides to go over, but on this first of a series of articles, we will be covering a top secret course on “Reasonable Articulable Suspicion” (RAS).
What is RAS? RAS is the standard by which the NSA deems you to be someone they can spy on because of your alleged relation or connection to someone they regard as a threat.
On page four of 17, the RAS is defined as follows:
An identifier will meet the Reasonable Articulable Suspicion Standard if based on the factual and practical considerations of everyday life on which reasonable and prudent persons act, there are facts giving rise to a reasonable articulable suspicion that the identifier is associated with one of the specified Foreign Powers.
Let us address the absolutely bizarre and dubious standard. This is completely up to interpretation, which was done purposely, with the intent of legitimizing almost any search of a U.S. citizen’s electronic communications. This is a dangerous precedent that could make anyone a potential threat due to ambiguous standards and definitions.
In fact, on another leaked document (see page 8 here) the Office of Deputy General Counsel for the NSA describes RAS as the lowest standard of proof needed to investigate an individual.
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Perhaps even more startling, they expand on the lax attitude towards spying on civilians on page six of the same document:
Note that the standard [RAS]does not present a particularly high hurdle. The level of evidence demanded by the standard is considerably less than proof by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that here one need not show it is likely than not that a number is associated with [REDACTED list of Foreign Powers].
The problem is that all of the specified Foreign Powers have been redacted in all documents so we cannot know what countries or groups of countries would be considered grounds for the NSA to spy on U.S. citizens.
This means that you could potentially have family in Yemen or Iran and if you decide to contact them through any means of electronic communication you can potentially be flagged as being “associated” with a Foreign Power.
In the next of the series, I will divulge the NSA’s techniques to de-anonymize TOR browser users and their goal to eliminate anonymity on the web completely.
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