What's XKEYSCORE?

The NSA's global metadata search engine

Activists demonstrate against the electronic surveillance tactics of the NSA on July 27 in Berlin.
(Image credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

If you regularly search LinkedIn profiles for national security information, you'll find hundreds of highly compensated individuals who worked for NSA and who list, as one of their skills, the fluency in XKEYSCORE. Glenn Greenwald's publication today of one of the training presentation PowerPoints is sufficient to give us all that skill. (Marc Ambinder: now proficient in advanced web and document production, French, and XKEYSCORE.)

I quibble with the Guardian's description of the program as "TOP SECRET." The word is not secret; its association with the NSA is not secret; that the NSA collects bulk data on foreign targets is, well, probably classified, but at the SECRET level. Certainly, work product associated with XKEYSCORE is Top Secret with several added caveats. Just as the Guardian might be accused of over-hyping the clear and present danger associated with this particular program, critics will reflexively overstate the harm that its disclosure would reasonably produce.

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