What Does PRISM Do? How Does It Work? Take 2.


I learned today that the military—which, as you know, runs NSA—has long had an unclassified software package called PRISM that’s a sort of workflow or project management tool for information collection. Here’s a description from the Army Field Manual:

The description here of a “collection manager” initiating a sequence that results in a “mission tasking order” sounds fairly close to the Washington Post’s description of PRISM as a tool that allows “collection managers [to send] content tasking instructions” to equipment installed at Google, Microsoft, and other companies.

So now I’m curious: Is Edward Snowden’s PRISM the same as the piece of software described here? Is it just a vanilla piece of project management software that’s widely used throughout the military? Or is it something else that’s more specialized and just happens to have the same name? I’m not sure who can clear this up, but perhaps either Glenn Greenwald or Barton Gellman have some insight into this.

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