Editor’s Note – Many people think of Facebook in a love/hate manner. It is a common theme among many posts that Facebook is saving all your data, or is mining data, or is collecting personal information to be used by marketers, law enforcement, and who knows. Now we see by the following report that its not just the Facebook people who are watching, its our own CIA and other intelligence agencies.
On its own website, the CIA answers frequently asked questions, and specifically in this case it posts the following:
Does the CIA spy on Americans? Does it keep a file on you?
CIA’s mission is to collect information related to foreign intelligence and foreign counterintelligence. By law, the CIA is specifically prohibited from collecting intelligence concerning the domestic activities of U.S. citizens. By direction of the President in Executive Order 12333, as amended, and in accordance with procedures approved by the Attorney General, the CIA is restricted in the collection of intelligence information directed against U.S. citizens. Collection is allowed only for an authorized intelligence purpose; for example, if there is a reason to believe that an individual is involved in espionage or international terrorist activities. The CIA’s procedures require senior approval for any such collection that is allowed, and, depending on the collection technique employed, the sanction of the Director of National Intelligence and Attorney General may be required. These restrictions on the CIA, or similar ones, have been in effect since the 1970s.
Whether monitoring the social networks transgresses this law is a question only a court could answer. Perhaps our own Department of Justice should look into this, oh, we forgot, Eric Holder is in charge of that department so don’t expect any checks and balances. Nor should we expect this Congress to look into it either, they are too busy dealing with obvious fraud and lying like the Solyndra, Beacon Power, and the Fast & Furious debacles. Congress would need to add about 10 hours to each day just to keep up, let alone ensuring your right to privacy.
CIA monitors 5 million tweets a day.
Twitter and Facebook are enabling the Central Intelligence Agency to get reliable, real-time assessments of public sentiment during rapidly changing events around the world.
According to the Associated Press, the CIA is monitoring up to 5 million tweets a day, poring over Facebook and blog posts, and watching other social networks from a nondescript facility in a Virginia industrial park.
A CIA spokesman did not immediately respond to a request today for comment on the report.
A CIA team known internally as the “vengeful librarians” that numbers in the hundreds gathers information in multiple languages to build a real-time picture of the mood in various regions of the world.
The analysis is “sought by the highest levels at the White House” and ends up in the President’s intelligence briefing almost daily, the AP quoted Doug Naquin, director of the CIA’s Open Source Center, as saying.
When a U.S. Navy SEAL team killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan earlier this year, for instance, analysts at the CIA’s center in Virginia monitored Twitter to give the White House a quick view of world reaction to the event, the story said. The tweets were broken down and analyzed by language and quickly showed that a majority of the tweets in Urdu, the official language in Pakistan, were negative, it added.
A similar analysis of Arabic and Turkish Twitter traffic after the president gave a speech on Mideast issues a few weeks after the raid showed that a majority in the region thought that Obama favored Israel while Hebrew tweets expressed the opposite sentiments, the AP said.
Twitter and Facebook were key resources for following unfolding events in Egypt, Bangok and Iran recently, according to the AP.
The CIA facility was set up in response to recommendations by the 9/11 Commission and is focused on counterterrorism operations, the story said.
News of the CIA operation comes just days the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it is working on guidelines for protecting the privacy rights of U.S. citizens while it monitors social media sites.