Morning Security Brief: No Supreme Court Review of NSA Case, Ricin Letter Link, and More

By Ann Longmore-Etheridge

►The U.S. Supreme Court will not review a ruling by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that gave the National Security Agency access to phone records "kept by Verizon Communications, Inc., on millions of telephone calls," reports Reuters. "The long-shot case was brought to the high court by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a public interest research organization. It was the first time the high-profile issue has come before the justices since former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden began in June to leak secret documents detailing American surveillance programs.... The court rejected the case in a one-sentence order," wrote Reuters.

►And also related to the NSA and FISC actions, according to The Washington Post, "The director of national intelligence on Monday night released what appeared to be the original court document authorizing the National Security Agency to conduct sweeping collections of Americans’ communications records for counterterrorism purposes. The order, signed by the then-chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, was among nearly 1,000 pages of documents being released by James R. Clapper, Jr., in response to lawsuits and a directive by President Obama. The documents also describe the NSA’s failure to abide by court-imposed rules to protect Americans’ privacy, and show that the agency was more interested in collecting cell site location data than it had previously acknowledged."

►Information has emerged that links the contraband-selling Silk Road Web site shut down by U.S. law enforcement agencies with a letter containing Ricin sent to the White House. According to the site Mashable, it received information about the link between the Silk Road and the ricin letter in a document it was sent by a Congressional Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee aide. The information was contained in a letter from Brian de Vallance, the acting assistant secretary for legislative affairs for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. According to Mashable, "Though the Ricin comment was little more than a side note in a letter intended to outline the potential dangers of digital currencies, it disclosed a previously unknown link between the two crime stories.... The DHS letter does not identify the Silk Road vendor who [is suspected of having] sent a Ricin letter to Obama...The letter also does not make reference to the alias of the Silk Road vendor involved." Without more information, it is hard to know whether the evidence of the link is solid. And it is also noted in the article that other people have been arrested for sending such letters. No other details were revealed.




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