back to article Thanks, Obama: NSA to stream raw intelligence into FBI, DEA and pals

A last-minute rule change signed off by the outgoing Obama administration has made it much easier for the NSA to share raw surveillance data with more than a dozen government agencies. The changes [PDF] are tacked onto executive order 12333, which was enacted by then-President Ronald Reagan to allow intelligence agencies to …

  1. Gert Leboski

    Intelligence, intelligence, intelligence.....

    Who knew there was so much of it in the USA, going by recent events? ;)

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Intelligence, intelligence, intelligence.....

      Re-read the list... those are all oxymorons.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Intelligence, intelligence, intelligence.....

      Certainly Obama has not displayed much intelligence of his own during a pretty p1ss poor 8 years. Promised so much yet delivered so little, reminds me of the Freddy Mercury song "the Great Pretender". Thankfully the 1d10t is on his way out, but boy, what a vindictive attitude he has sneaking things like this in his final days.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes we can. Yes we did.

    When politicians refer to "we", they are always referring to themselves, the political elite (sic), never "we the people". When you understand that, their speeches reveal just how self serving these public "servants" really are.

    BTW What happens to people who violate their oath to uphold the Constitution?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Yes we can. Yes we did.

      With this administration that might change.

      I can see daily presidential security briefings on the secrets of his republican "colleagues" in the house

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yes we can. Yes we did.

      "BTW What happens to people who violate their oath to uphold the Constitution?"

      Oh, I know this one. Don't tell me - they get promoted?

  3. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Department of Energy? That well known establishment of international spies and spooks !!!!!!!

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Well, they are going after their stray scientists from time to time... especially those with links to China.

      (Recently there has been this case of complete stupidiy where consulting for a civilian nuke outfit running a Westinghouse unit in China is construed as "making plutonium for a foreign power". I guess there is some prosecutor looking for a way upwards the ladder.)

    2. mr. deadlift

      only when it comes to the upside down that is.

    3. Steve Knox

      DoE and Intelligence

      The E in DoE includes nuclear energy. Additionally, the power grid will be one of the primary targets of any significant attack on a developed nation.

      1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

        Re: DoE and Intelligence (Fixed it for you)

        The E in DoE includes nuclear energy, including nuclear weapon design, testing, manufacturing and safeguards. So they do have their own intel and counterintel operation around those subjects.

        Thanks a lot, President "Yes, we scan" Obama!! If one night you find a bag of flaming dog-doo on the porch of your new home in DC, I swear it wasn't me repaying you in kind.

    4. Fojonx


      They maintain the office of the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) and related activities

    5. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      "Department of Energy? That well known establishment of international spies and spooks

      For reasons far too complex and stupid to follow all the nuclear weapons R&D labs are under the DoE.

      Hence anyone who might be talking about weapons design or enrichment is definitely on their "We want to know more about them" list.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Department of Energy? That well known establishment of international spies and spooks

        DoE access seems reasonable, given their nuclear remit.

        This is fairly amateur though, where's the the access for equivalents of Food Standards Scotland, or the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, etc?

        1. CheeseTriangles
          Black Helicopters

          Re: "Department of Energy? That well known establishment of international spies and spooks

          ..."This is fairly amateur though, where's the the access for equivalents of Food Standards Scotland, or the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, etc?"...

          I was surprised that the Welsh Ambulance Services National Health Service Trust doesn't have access to the raw intelligence. Their Jason Bourne capabilities are second only to the Department For Communities, and needs recognition.

    6. Bernard M. Orwell

      "Department of Energy?"

      The US DoE has responsibility covering some interesting things. They are, obviously enough, responsible for power generation in the US including nuclear and fossil resources. There are also responsible for the US Nuclear Weapons program including the control of fissionable materials, which may explain why they are on this particular list. Curiously, the DoE also covers the Human Genome Project and heads up the US National Laboratories program.

    7. Dabooka

      Nah, you got it wrong

      Surely it's Duke of Edinburgh, although if it refers to the man or the organisation I don't know.

      The only way to be establish this is to see if the application is met with a racist response, or a request to sponsor a trip to Snowdonia.

  4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Raw intelligence?

    Obama, depositing raw sewage out of spite like a little scorned girl.

    (Well, I could imagine a memo on his desk saying "You do this or no lucrative speaking occasions for you, Mr. Soon-Ex-President", and he has known how his bread is buttered since his selection at the national convention way back when.)

  5. wayne 8

    Does not apply to Israel

    Israel/Mossad has been getting raw feed from NSA for a while already.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Does not apply to Israel

      No surprises here.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does not apply to Israel


      1. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: Does not apply to Israel

        This was reported widely at some time during the 2013-2014 moral panic over Snowden, as I recall. Google should turn up references fairly quickly, or a search of the Washington Post, New York Times, Guardian, or Intercept web sites

    3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Does not apply to Israel

      Although possibly only for the humor value.

      Hey Moshe - the Americans have just "discovered" that Iraq has WMDs!

    4. TAJW

      Re: Does not apply to Israel

      And you know this how? Having worked for those agencies, I think it highly unlikely. There are very specific rules about what can and can't be shared with foreign governments.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Does not apply to Israel

        ... there are specific rules, yes, but not too-general to apply in all circumstances.

        Besides, there are far less specific rules about going around them that are not too keenly shared with those without clearance.

        But organisations I've worked for get around the rules very effectively by legally knowing where procedures & practices end, and where the guidelines start or are just too damn vague.

  6. Schultz Silver badge

    Covering asses?

    This might be an adjustment of the rules to cover ongoing practice? The Trump has some erratic qualities and I could imagine that some officials got cold feet about routine violations of law that might or might not be tolerated in the future.

    I am, of course, just extrapolating from what I read on ElReg about the UK security services.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What they want you to think: prevention of attacks on the grid or millions of individual smart meters, prevention of violent incidents where dozens die, ...

    What they'll do first: make a database of all furrners and figure out which ones are downloading "New Girl".

  8. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


    " Quite why this needed to be rushed through in the dying days of the Obama administration remains to be seen."

    Because it's fascist, and goes against basic American principals. Obama has hated freedom, especially right to privacy, all along (based on his record) and this goes along with that. By slipping things like this through a) At the last second and b) via Executive Order, he can (at least try to) bypass any discussion or review of unconstitutional actions such as this.

    1. NotBob

      Re: Fascists

      Additionally, we are going from a career politician to a wildcard. He's been getting his jabs in (such as at Israel), now he's taking care of the people around him.

    2. Eddy Ito

      Re: Fascists

      Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it's really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own.

      Oh he was so close. It's a pity he didn't mention the part about just ignoring it when it becomes inconvenient as evidenced by so many acts in the past eight sixteen twenty four let's just say a depressingly long time.

  9. Fan of Mr. Obvious

    Number of times "warrant" appears in the guidelines

    ...ZERO unless you include the word "warranted." Of course they cannot use the information against US citizens so no need to worry. Or maybe that is the part they redacted (why would we need to read that part?).

    Of course we trust these agencies to do the right thing. No way any agency that that would have difficulty getting a warrant would not go this route.

    Me thinks someone is massaging the rocker switch on the shredder that holds the Constitution.

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: Number of times "warrant" appears in the guidelines

      The warrant requirement already exists in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, as amended. My recollection is that in exigent circumstances, surveillance can be done for up to 72 hours while a warrant is being obtained. E.O.12333 is an executive order and, as Edward Snowden was advised by the NSA legal staff when he asked, executive orders cannot legally go beyond what the law and Constitution permit.

      Discussion of actions like the one described in the article, without reference to their legal context, is not useful and tends to spawn a lot of fairly extreme commentary that may not be warranted. There is no guarantee, of course, that the agencies that comprise the intelligence community always operate within legal and constitutional bounds, but if they act illegally, an executive order cannot change that.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Those 15 members are....

    This sure reminds me of that Russian proverb:

    "У семи нянек дитя без глаза"

    "Give a child seven nannies, and she'll lose an eye"

    There! I knew all these Russian lessons will be useful some day.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Those 15 members are....

      There! I knew all these Russian lessons will be useful some day.

      Yup. Clearly, you're destined to work at the White House. Enjoy!


  11. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Does not surprise me in the slighest

    3 letters are like California Hotels. You can check out any time of night, but you can never leave. Obama first internship was with CIA. He never left after that. Funny how nobody even noticed that (or was bothered in the slightest) when he was being elected the first time. Change? Maybe. But definitely not the change civil rights activists have been looking for.

  12. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    "raw intelligence"

    That's oxymoronic. Happily, the article itself refers to "raw surveillance data". Unhappily, this implies that what the NSA are feeding has not been boiled down in any way. Wouldn't it be more efficient, and secure, to analyse the raw data once and then feed the results to these other agencies? Isn't that what the NSA are for? Happily, the answer is "yes" and so we have the re-assurance that the US government is *too stupid* to act as an effective police state.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: "raw intelligence"

      I think it's more likely that none of the other TLAs trust the NSA to analyse the raw data in a way which suits their purposes.

  13. ritey

    Too much information

    They are basically admitting there is too much data for them to look at and need help. Which is admitting that mass surveillance/bulk data collection does not work.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Too much information

      Admitting there is too much data to do analysis on, yes.

      But also that when they stuff up (and cause a collateral impact), leak the data tor otherwise embarrass someone important, those who own the effort will share the blame (onto the least important among them), so that the effort can continue unaffected...

  14. LionelB

    There's something missing here...

    Where's BOKBASTIC BOB when we really need him?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There's something missing here...

      This one is clear enough not to need any "help" :(

      Morons, the lot of them. Now, remind me again, why do we call that place "developed"?

      Control is in the hands of a select few, voting is a cynical farce, torture is deemed OK, the law is written for one part of the population and at best selectively enforced, weapons are everywhere and frequently get innocents killed (not infrequently by law enforcement) and yet it's not an African banana republic.

  15. Oh Homer
    Big Brother

    Just a formality

    This Executive Order merely legitimises what the IC has been doing extrajudicially all along.

    The root of the problem isn't the law, it's the elitist lawmakers, specifically the total lack of any real democracy in America.

    What proportion of the American people would actually vote to have their privacy violated by their own government, do you suppose?

    In their obsessive pursuit of some neoliberal vision of Freedum®, Americans have ironically created one of the most oppressive regimes in history.

  16. EnviableOne Silver badge

    At least the list is shorter than the one in the IPA

  17. phuzz Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Well, he did promise the "most transparent administration" in history.

    What? You thought he meant transparent to the public? Nah mate, transparent for the intel agencies...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Strange how our data laws suddenly give lots of agencies access to our data and then the US do it. Anyone would think their was a conspiracy.....

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's a *lovely* hand grenade under US business..

    I have a feeling this may be designed to hamper the incoming* Trump administration from gaining any trust with foreign governments. It's now very public knowledge that they spy on everyone, and this order has just removed any remaining restraint aimed at preventing widespread abuse of that data.

    The result is that no government can trust the incoming administration not to spy the heck out of them and, by consequence, any US business can be suspected of being co-opted into this game.

    I wonder how long it will take legislators to publicly address this.

    * Yes, truly worth yelling "INCOMING!!" for ..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That's a *lovely* hand grenade under US business..

      That's actually a very good point. The US economy has been surging since Trump got elected, throwing this in a week before he takes the reins would be a great way for Obama to ruin his start of term.

      And on the flip side, of course, it will be what his supporters blame for everything he does wrong. Ehh, a little from A and a little from B...

      1. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: That's a *lovely* hand grenade under US business..

        It's an (amendment to an) executive order. Any time after Noon next Friday Donald Trump can rescind or modify it it if he chooses. There is no meaningful sense in which it binds him. So it is not, actually, a good point at all.

    2. GrapeBunch

      Re: That's a *lovely* hand grenade under US business..

      No. "The business of America is Business". The gov't would not consciously harm the interests of (big) (US) business. Foreign gov'ts and foreign business? "Their loss is my gain" is an old standby.

      Starting The Donald Administration on the wrong foot? Yes, I can see that.

      I thought the measure's international consequence was more in the line of revealing one's arsenal, a vital step in deterrence of a global cyberwar. At the end of the movie Dr. Strangelove, the US and the SU together destroy the world. SU had set up a Doomsday Machine but, since Everything is Secret, had neglected to tell the US. Peter Sellers as the US prez plaintively asks, isn't the whole point of a Doomsday Machine that the Other Guy knows that you've made one? Alas, too late for that world. <ot>The destructive capabilities of Cyberwar have barely been broached. True, it will be impossible for Cyberwar to destroy life on the planet. OTOH, it should not be forgotten that at least two of the major Cyber powers also have world-swallowing nuclear arsenals. So you've got two vectors to jump from Cyberwar to Holocaust: one, one side could be hurting too much from the direct effects of the Cyberwar; two, supposedly everything is codes in briefcases and multiple fingers on multiple switches / buttons, but who is to say that an IDIoT (Intensely Destructive Internet of Thermonukes) might not be activated? You know, in the interests of efficiency and labour-saving? Impossible? Not when IDIoTs enter the frame. Right now it would take, what, seven minutes for either of two narcissists to End It All using current protocols. But what if that is Too Slow? Wouldn't an icon on the President's Desktop be Just The Thing?</ot>

      1. dm_dv

        Re: That's a *lovely* hand grenade under US business..

        How exactly does cyber-war destroy all life on the planet? Sooo.. in essence you think the Network administrator can't perform his Job of walking over to the rack and simply un-clipping the Cat 5e or Cat 6 (depending on how l33t you are!) cable from the rack mount, when he notices loads of traffic flow, thereby ending any and all cyber onslaught and leaving the intruder with a middle fingered salute?

        People need a reality check, they watch too much hollywood garbage about hacking and believe garbage like what you see in movies is all too real.

        What is not garbage is the TAP & Tunnel interface API's that are at this moment included in your Free software distribution's be they BSD or Linux and even proprietary Windows has them too, this is all about meeting the demands of Legislation, if you legislate that there must be back-door access, then the programmers will design such access into the afore mentioned systems, just don't whine like a little bitch when they share that information with all and sundry as they are required to do by those same Laws.. Numb nuts & Twinkle toes!

  20. TAJW


    Obama said his would be the most transparent administration ever. He just didn't say the transparency would all be from the citizens, not him.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You do realise that everyone who has commented here has gone on the list for a black chopper visit.

  22. dm_dv

    Love the Panic

    Dont you just love the Panic going on right now... Especially in the White House where trump has banned loads of the Computers installed by the out going president...

    "Who are these bloody people Bond? How is it our own establishment has been penetrated by some secret organization thats all seeing, all knowing and we know virtually nothing about it?!"

    Ironic how the truth comes out, is there a back-door? Erm, yeap!

    In point of fact the code to that back-door has been found in the wild on numerous occasion's.. One can only imagine the huge sense of relief felt by all parties involved, oh they know about it at last, oh thank god, scatter it to the four winds...

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