spy-vs-spy.bmpLooks like the NSA is getting into some new snooping business:

In a major shift, the National Security Agency is drawing up plans for a new domestic assignment: helping protect government and private communications networks from cyberattacks and infiltration by terrorists and hackers, according to current and former intelligence officials.

As Marcy says, it looks like the NSA — which has much broader powers — is taking over much of the Department of Homeland Security’s duties.  Up until now they’ve only guarded the government’s classified networks, and may have to change their charter to do this.  There are a whole host of privacy concerns which arise with what’s being proposed:

“This will create a major uproar,” predicted Ira Winkler, a former NSA analyst who is now a cybersecurity consultant.

“If you’re going to do cybersecurity, you have to spy on Americans to secure Americans,” said a former government official familiar with NSA operations. “It would be a very major step.”

A former senior NSA official said the difference between monitoring networks in order to defend them and monitoring them to collect intelligence is very small.

The former officials spoke on condition of anonymity to protect relationships with intelligence agencies.

I’m sure the NSA is exempt from the politicization that every other department in the federal government has been subject to under the Bush administration, and that when they call anti-war activists terrorist sympathizers and traitors they are only kidding.

But if that wasn’t enough to ease your privacy worries, this should be:

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, a former NSA chief, is coordinating the initiative.

I know I’m relieved.

Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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