NSA warned Bush it needed to monitor networks

Steven M. Bellovin smb at cs.columbia.edu
Fri Mar 18 22:52:04 EST 2005

A few days ago, I posted this:
>WASHINGTON (AP) -- The National Security Agency warned President
>Bush in 2001 that monitoring U.S. adversaries would require a
>``permanent presence'' on networks that also carry Americans'
>messages that are protected from government eavesdropping.
>``Make no mistake, NSA can and will perform its missions consistent
>with the Fourth Amendment and all applicable laws,'' the document

Today, I happened to learn the URL for the document itself:
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB24/nsa25.pdf .  There's 
little that strikes me as sensitive in it, other than the (redacted) 
budget numbers.  What's someplace between amusing and appalling is some 
of the other things that NSA had considered sensitive.  For example, 
consider this paragraph, from page 5:

	The National Security Agency has a proud tradition of serving the
	nation.  NSA has been credited with preventing or significantly
	shortening military conflicts, thereby saving lives of U.S.
	military and civilian personnel.  NSA gives the nation a decisive
	edge in policy interactions with other nations, in countering
	terrorism, and in helping stem the flow of narcotics into our
	country.  NSA has been the premier information agency of the
	industrial age, and through ongoing modernization and cutting edge
	research, will continue to be the premiere knowledge agency of the
	information age.

That paragraph, believe it or not, was classified Secret.  For what
it's worth, the official definition of "Secret", from Executive Order
12958 (http://www.dss.mil/seclib/eo12958.htm), is:

	 "Secret" shall be applied to information, the unauthorized
	 disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause serious
	 damage to the national security that the original classification
	 authority is able to identify or describe.

What in that paragraph could cause "serious damage"?  The notion that
NSA gives the U.S. government an edge in policy interactions, i.e.,
it may spy on foreign governments?  I'm shocked, shocked to hear that.

Then there are the paragraphs on pages 16 and 17 that describe
NSA's legislative lobbying on crypto legislation.  Those were marked
FUOO -- For Official Use Only.  DD Form 254 says

	The "For Official Use Only" (FOUO) marking is assigned to
	information at the time of its creation in a DoD User
	Agency. It is not authorized as a substitute for a security
	classification marking but it is used on official government
	information that may be withheld from the public under
	exemptions 2 through 9 of the Freedom of Information Act.

Why is that information eligible to be withheld?  Because it tells
the public that NSA is interested in legislation about crypto and

I could go on, but the topic of overclassification is well-worn.

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