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NSA Whistleblowers Reveal Extent of Eavesdropping 222

Posted by timothy
from the revealing-the-obvious dept.
ma11achy was one of several readers to write about claims made by two former military intercept operators who worked for the NSA that "Despite pledges by President George W. Bush and American intelligence officials to the contrary, hundreds of US citizens overseas have been eavesdropped on as they called friends and family back home." Ars Technica has a brief report as well, and reader net_shaman adds a link to Glenn Greenwald's opinion piece on the eavesdropping at Salon.
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NSA Whistleblowers Reveal Extent of Eavesdropping

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  • ...and reporting that I can't help but wonder has some political motivations, given the timing of its release.

    That's not the Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP), and not related to foreign intelligence collection programs in that were in place in the United States. That's the NSA working in a foreign military operations theater, and is vastly different. These intercepts were happening in realtime and were focused on an area of military operations.

    When working in the dynamic environment of an operations the

    • by philspear (1142299) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @05:07PM (#25321313)

      When working in the dynamic environment of an operations theater, it's difficult to make distinctions about what traffic should be monitored and when. That is not to say that US Persons [wikipedia.org] should continue to be collected on after their status is known, even under these circumstances.

      One wonders why Bush bothered to pledge that US citizens would never be spied on in the first place. It certainly sounds like something that's impossible to know until afterward. Did he intentionally lie to try to get us to forget about it, did he mean "intentionally," or did he just not realize how it worked?

      • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday October 09, 2008 @05:22PM (#25321495)

        The latter is the most likely.

        To expand on that, it's an oversimplification.

        These intercept operators had no more power than they have ever had. The only new and controversial issues relating to NSA monitoring during the Bush administration have related to collection within the United States[1], and this has nothing to do with that.

        Since the beginning of SIGINT and the beginning of the NSA, collectors have had effective and routine access to myriad conversations with endpoints in the United States, conversations where at least one end is a US Person, or both.

        That happens all the time, and has always happened. Often, you'll hear things you're not looking for. Hell, most of what you hear isn't what you're looking for. But once you determine that a US Person is involved, you're not, however, supposed to record, store, or disseminate such information. Unfortunately, what we have here are people -- many mostly kids -- misbehaving, and sometimes misbehaving badly.

        Anyone who is surprised by this or thinks it has anything to do with Bush has a serious lack of understanding about how Title 50 activities and SIGINT collection have worked for decades.

        Again, to be clear: the "new" capabilities the President authorized dealt with NSA foreign intelligence collection within the United States. That doesn't mean one end of the conversation might not be a US Person. In fact, under the law, it can be...but then the information must be treated with care; e.g., identifying references to US Person redacted, and so on. What you can't do -- then or now -- is target US Persons without an individualized warrant. If traffic from US Persons is intercepted in the course of foreign SIGINT collection, it is NOT a violation of the law, and never has been, as long as it is handled properly.

        So ABC is attempting to conflate Bush administration initiatives -- which don't even exist any longer (TSP) -- with NSA overseas operations, albeit with regard to US Persons. Unfortunately, the latter has nothing to do with Bush or any initiatives of the Bush administration. The intercept operators had no more or less power, save for technological improvements, than they've ever had.

        And surprise, surprise: individuals with the power to listen to things sometimes listen to things they're not supposed to, and by virtue of these people having the necessary resources to actually do their jobs, there really isn't any easy way to prevent it.

        From day one the handling of US Persons in the context of foreign intelligence is hammered into your head. But I guess sometimes immaturity and a cheap laugh at someone else's expense trumps common sense and the doing the right thing.

        [1] NSA facilities for interception may often be physically in the United States, but the interception is still occurring outside the United States

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 09, 2008 @06:04PM (#25321949)

          Two things:

          1)When I was doing this 20 years ago, it was drilled and drilled and drilled that we were NOT to intercept Americans.

          2)There was (and I'm sure there still is) a thing called "tip off"; if you came across a conversation not targeted you were supposed to "tip off" to the appropriate group/individual and roll on, staying on your assigned target. You never knew when the trick chief was listening and we did not get caught staying on something we weren't assigned.

          Is this generation not so strenuously warned against intercepting Americans?

          What happened to targeted topics for intercept and 'tip off'? Is it anything and everything now?

          I'm thinking things have changed and not for the better.

          • by Kagura (843695) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @11:19PM (#25324187)
            I am HUMINT, not SIGINT, but we are warned about not collecting on US persons. Military Intelligence personnel also have to watch a yearly video about it and "intel oversight", a related, if not the same, issue. That video also talks about the dangers of government or administration decrees about collecting on US persons, such as in the era of McCarthy-ism, when "un-American" activities were a valid reason to illegally collect on people.
            • by Kagura (843695) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @11:27PM (#25324203)
              Also, an interesting story, although I can't personally confirm its truthiness: The service member who initially collected the information on John Walker Lindh [wikipedia.org], the American member of the Taliban back during the early stages of the war in Afghanistan, had his intel report sent up to the desk of Condoleeza Rice within an hour of having submitted it, but that along the way he ended up getting in a bit of trouble. There is a specific bullet on every intel report that is required to be filled out every time, and it is to denote whether the report contains any information collected on US persons. He marked it "US: NO" like 99.9% of all intel reports should be, but since this intel report contained information collected on a US person, it should have been marked "US: YES" so that appropriate measures could be taken with the handling of the report.
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                Also, an interesting story, although I can't personally confirm its truthiness..

                One does not confirm truthiness. One feels it in ones belly.

        • by OneIfByLan (1341287) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @06:12PM (#25322035)

          Hi Dave,

          Thanks for the insight.

          "And surprise, surprise: individuals with the power to listen to things sometimes listen to things they're not supposed to, ... there really isn't any easy way to prevent it. ... But I guess sometimes immaturity and a cheap laugh at someone else's expense trumps common sense and the doing the right thing."

          My response and my honest question would be, what the hell ever happened to discipline and accountability? When I got an order, it was the Voice of God and woe be unto the man who dreamed of disobeying his CO.

          There isn't an easy way to prevent people screwing around? Is that a joke? All I ever got was a growl that said "Don't screw around!" and we didn't dare, not if we valued our sorry asses.

          You're literally arguing that there's no such thing as a chain of command any more, that the commanders have lost control of their men. In my day, admitting you couldn't keep your men under control was a wonderful way to lose your rank.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by PopeRatzo (965947) *

            You really think that the worst thing we have to worry about from the unfettered power to listen to our communications is a few agents screwing around?

            Do they just not teach history in school any more? Does nobody care about what it is that's made America a unique place? How easily frightened people will give up their liberty and privacy. It's really sad how so many of my fellow Americans will cower behind proto-fascism because they are scared.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 09, 2008 @06:50PM (#25322457)

            When I got an order, it was the Voice of God and woe be unto the man who dreamed of disobeying his CO.

            Note that Faulk specifically said that the abuses were brought to the attention of NSA supervisors - the ones whom the Bush administration has repeatedly claimed were adequate substitutes for FISA judges in deciding who should be surveilled - and those supervisors said that they were ordered to transcribe the calls in question.

            Dave can go on and on (and on and on, geeze dude) about how some dweeb with a tap was doing naughty things, but he can't change the allegations. If the allegations are true, these were by no means "cheap laughs" by bottom-rung "individuals".

          • by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @07:33PM (#25322783) Journal

            You're literally arguing that there's no such thing as a chain of command any more, that the commanders have lost control of their men. In my day, admitting you couldn't keep your men under control was a wonderful way to lose your rank.

            He's arguing no such thing.

            TFA: Faulk told Ross: "when one of my co-workers went to a supervisor and said: 'but sir, there are personal calls,' the supervisor said: 'my orders were to transcribe everything'."

            Him and other posters are using the "few bad apples" defense in the face of completely contrary information.

            Replace "spying" with "torturing" and we can reuse all the Abu Ghraib press releases.

            • Yeah, I never really got the "It's just a few bad apples" argument either, since the saying from Poor Richard's Almanac goes "One bad apple spoils the bunch."

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by TubeSteak (669689)

                Yeah, I never really got the "It's just a few bad apples" argument either, since the saying from Poor Richard's Almanac goes "One bad apple spoils the bunch."

                I'd have to disagree with that.
                There are cases of "a few bad apples" that don't spoil the whole bunch.
                But, with those, you don't end up with situations that become front page scandals.
                A few government/military individuals rarely have the authority or ability to create that kind of mess

                Bare minimum, you are looking at lax oversight [google.com]
                In the middle is permissive environment [google.com]
                And the worst case scenario is illegal orders [google.com]

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          individuals with the power to listen to things sometimes listen to things they're not supposed to

          That's why they invented these things called "warrants". To prevent people from search or seizure without due process, which is after all, clearly spelled out in our Constitution, you force people who want the "power to listen to things" to tell a judge exactly what they're listening for, what crime they're trying to prevent, and what evidence they have that such a crime is being planned.

          I understand that this

          • by blhack (921171)

            I understand your fear, I just wish you'd talk to a professional about it instead of fucking with our civil liberties.

            Okay, the vast majority of us either work or have worked in IT, right?

            How many times have you been sitting at somebody's desk, and Outlook happily pops up a new message that came into the inbox, you SHOULDN'T BE READING THAT!!!! How many times have you looked through maillog and seen the to and from on a bunch of mail messages, thats private data, dude! Ever had to do recovery on a dead drive and seen some pictures that weren't explicitly sent to you? Ever been poking through a squid log and seen a few o

        • by cpghost (719344) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @07:27PM (#25322759) Homepage

          From day one the handling of US Persons in the context of foreign intelligence is hammered into your head. But I guess sometimes immaturity and a cheap laugh at someone else's expense trumps common sense and the doing the right thing.

          It's not the cheap laugh of some little monitoring guy (or gal) that's dangerous: let'em laugh at our expenses, if only as a little compensation for the incredibly boring work they've signed up to and are forced to do day in day out.

          The problem isn't the little guy in the system, it's the whole surveillance mind set, as dreamed up by increasingly authoritarian and corrupt governments. In most dictatorships, governments use to monitor the populace, and (and this is where it really gets nasty), they also routinely archive all kinds of misbehavior they gather, that they wouldn't have been looking for in the first place.

          E.g.: you talk with your buddy on the phone about how you managed to evade some kind of tax, or you are talking about your extra-marital affairs or whatever. All this is pretty harmless in itself, but it won't be any longer if this conversation gets monitored, recorded and archived. As long as you remain unpolitical, government wouldn't care, but suppose that, a few years down the road, you decide to politically oppose the government in some point. As soon as you gather enough followers, government officials WILL start to dig into the big archives of the surveillance apparatus for material that would shatter your credibility or to start a blackmail. Were you talking about tax-honesty? Good bye credibility. Are you still loving your wife? Good bye marriage, hello divorce.

          That's why spying on the whole population as a pro-active measure is evil.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        You seem to be unfamiliar with Dubya's tendency to say what ever he thinks will sell, with no relation to his true intentions other than to offer a thin justification for the course of action he has decided to take. Why would he bother with that? Because there is so much sensationalism in today's 24 hour News media, that As long as he can draw out any objections to his desired course of action, public furor will die down in about a week. Our entire culture has serious ADD. So any bullshit statement that can
      • by lawpoop (604919)

        One wonders why Bush bothered to pledge that US citizens would never be spied on in the first place.

        He was telling us what we wanted to hear. If he told us the truth, there would have been a public outcry, a congressional investigation, and they would have shutdown, or seriously hampered, the program. By just telling us what we wanted to hear, he got a pass for two or three more years, perhaps more.

        See how that works? You can't trust what they say. You have to investigate and hold them accountable.

    • I wouldn't call it terrible reporting. It says right on the first page of the ABC article who was being eavesdropped on, specifically American soldiers, reporters and diplomatic personnel in Baghdad's "Green Zone."

      However, I think more should be made of the fact that reporters were on the eavesdrop list. Journalists had to give up a lot of freedom of the press to be "embedded" in Iraq, the fact they were also eavesdropped on shows how tightly the government was trying to control the media message.

      It's no wonder there's been less critical, fact-based reporting (not just opinions) of the war in Iraq than Gulf War I.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by daveschroeder (516195) *

        Successful information handling is critical to the success of a military operation as much as anything else. But beyond classified information, there have not, to my knowledge, been any cases of embedded reporters being disallowed from reporting. This is the most realtime and extensive coverage the world has ever seen for a military operation, ever.

        Does the Pentagon want to shape the message? Absolutely. But this alleged monitoring with respect to reporters was passive. I.e., it did not result in reporters'

      • When the original poster said "Article", he meant "Summary" And it's not biased, it's just a slashdot summary.

    • And we don't condone or support that kind of activity, either.

      it's not enough to not "condone" or to not "support" it. When you engage in listening to conversations, you get a certain responsibility. There should be a filter on what is listened to. If a recorded is identified as not worth listening to it should be immediately destroyed. The story at Abu Ghraib was not that what was done was a bad thing. The story was that nothing was done to stop it and when they were caught, everthing was done to swee

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by sleigher (961421)
        Kinda like when you get home from your girlfriends, and your wife asks "where have you been"? Then you answer "nowhere".

        wait, did I click AC
    • by mpapet (761907) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @05:22PM (#25321489) Homepage

      I think most would agree that surveillance probably began under the conditions you describe.

      1. The crux of the problem is the relentless acquisition of power and influence that creeps into what could, in principal, be a good program. Maybe the power-mongering doesn't happen at first, but history has repeatedly shown stuff like this is turned against citizens. There is no reason to believe there would be an exception here.

      2. The Office of the President currently operates under the notion that their powers shall be unconstrained by any other branch of government, tradition and legal history be damned.

      Mix #1 and #2 together and publish it on Slashdot and the conspiracy minded come flying out to condemn it all.

      The rest of the political/legal world generally agree that the Cheney administration views executive powers as unlimited. Therefore, they would probably agree that it's likely the office of the President would willfully sodomize any survielance(sp?)law with signing statements and executive orders.

      Finally, I think it's the case that most Americans know there is "something wrong" with the way the Executive branch has been operating. Media coverage like this is a kind of indirect measurement.

    • by lupis42 (1048492) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @05:45PM (#25321717)
      This makes me angry. Not just 'vote for a third party' angry, not even just 'rant on a blog' angry, but shoot a congressman angry. I honestly want to shoot the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). I believe that his negligence in the matter of oversight is not merely appalling, but actively treasonous. Line him up in front of a firing squad treasonous. What's more, he's not alone. Even Senator Barack 'Change' Obama voted against the rule of law and for the FISA bill that extended immunity to the big companies that participated in, and allowed this.
      I think it's high time we did something. But by something, I don't mean voting for somebody else, that doesn't amount to much. I mean bringing officials, elected and appointed, up in front of tribunals, and making them explain why they have consistently voted to turn this country into a surveillance state to a degree comparable to Communist Russia, or the very same current China that these very same elected officials reprimanded Google and Yahoo for complying with. This is ridiculous. We don't have elected representation any more, we have elected oppression, and it's time we fought back. Really fought back, not just with votes but with riots, and criminal charges. We still, in theory, hang traitors in this country, so why the hell can't we hang the worst enemies our constitution has ever had? Our President, George W. Bush, has been making war on this country, on our constitution, and on our way of life for eight years. His appointed lackeys have been even worse. It's time it stopped.
      • by baldass_newbie (136609) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @05:51PM (#25321801) Homepage Journal

        I honestly want to shoot the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller (D-WV).

        So are you a Second Amendment proponent? Remember, they didn't put that in there about hunting. It was about killing politicians. If everybody's armed, nobody can oppress.

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          If everybody's armed, nobody can oppress.

          If they've got a great big gun and you've got a little bitty gun, I've got news for you: You can be oppressed.

      • Just to be clear here...
        [mic check]123 alpha bravo charlie[/mic check]
        you appear to be advocating for violent overthrow of the United States Government. Is that correct sir?

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by blhack (921171)

        they have consistently voted to turn this country into a surveillance state to a degree comparable to Communist Russia, or the very same current China that these very same elected officials reprimanded Google and Yahoo for complying with.

        It must really suck to see the world like this.

        Honestly, the world is NOT out to get you. Bush is NOT hiding under you bed.
        You might seriously have some psychological problems if you feel this way, I would suggest consulting a psychiatrist because it sounds like you a borderline paranoid schizophrenic.

        I suggest less internet and more "talking to other human beings". You'll find that the world is actually a much more pleasant place that it appears from behind whatever filter you're watching it through.

        • And your attitude is precisely the reason the US is in (and will continue to slide deeper into) shit. Your Founding Fathers were violent revolutionaries who saw the principles they embedded into the Constitution as dearer then their own life. You see your "lifestyle" of credit-card funded mountains of Chinese plastic crap amassed near your huge ass TV from which an endless river of brainless "entertainment" spews forth, and from which you only drag your ass away in your SUV to the nearest McDonald's, far, f

        • by Sabriel (134364)

          Bush is NOT hiding under you bed.

          He doesn't need to. Executive Order 1984: The NSA shall hide under everyone's bed.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      "the intercepts helped identify possible terror planning in Iraq and saved American lives."

      If you believe that, I've got some WMDs to sell you. I'll give you a great price, but you'll have to pick them up in Iraq yourself.

    • by pugugly (152978) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @07:39PM (#25322811)

      Fundamentally the problem with your post(s), is that you are explaining that "It would never happen that way" in the face of two former NSA employees that are stating on the record that yeah, they were explicitly told to keep listening to Americans on phone calls completely outside purview that was explicitly promised by the administration.

      So, maybe you're honest, maybe your not, maybe you do this for a living and you and your boss were doing it right.

      But I am currently faced with believing two people I don't know who have only been vetted by ABC, or . . . believing an administration that has lied, threatened, and tried to be above the law on everything from weapons of mass destruction to failing to properly report a hunting accident.

      I don't care if you believe the administration is honest, competent, or the exact opposite, but the fact is that I can't come up with a verifiably true statement in the history of the Bush Administration.

      Only statements I have yet to see proven incorrect.

      If the dice keep rolling snake eyes, perhaps it's *not* random chance.

      Pug

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by dwarg (1352059)

      Thank you Dave Schroeder for that insightful and informative response all my fears have been put to rest and I can't wait to vote republican again. And if you don't mind me saying so, my that's a low UID you have--very impressive :o)

      ...

      ..

      ...

      ..

      Is he gone?...

      ..

      ..

      Quick! Ide Hay the Ugs Dray from the Arc Nay!!!!!

    • by internic (453511) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @10:32PM (#25323907)

      I agree with the core of your argument, that intelligence gathering in a theater of war is a totally different thing than on domestic soil. I have to disagree with a few other things, though.

      A spokesman for General Hayden said, "At NSA, the law was followed assiduously. The notion that General Hayden sanctioned or tolerated illegalities of any sort is ridiculous on its face." Those of you who laugh at this comment and think you know everything about the illegality of NSA surveillance would be well served to educate yourselves a bit.

      Some fairly educated gentlemen seem to think it was illegal [nybooks.com]. So do I, for what it's worth. In addition, I can say that I think it's wrong. Using the "extraordinary" threat of terrorism as a justification is absurd, when you rationally appraise the magnitude of that threat, and the administration did everything possible to avoid going about getting those powers the right way (they decided not to go to congress specifically because they didn't think they'd get approval). When even Ashcroft, the guy who helped push through the USA PATRIOT Act, says you've gone too far, it raises alarm bells.

      "'This story is to surveillance law what Abu Ghraib was to prison law,' Turley said."

      Indeed. And we don't condone or support that kind of activity, either.

      I'm not sure how much evidence there is for that statement. I guess, for one thing, it depends on what you mean by "that kind of activity". It also depends on who "we" is (the CIA, the military?) or what you consider condoning it. We do carry out extraordinary renditions to countries that practice various kinds of torture (I'm not sure how one can compare them to Abu Ghraib). Not to mention things like the incident in Afghanistan where, "[a] CIA case officer in charge of a secret prison just north of Kabul allegedly ordered guards to strip naked an uncooperative young Afghan detainee, chain him to the concrete floor and leave him there overnight without blankets" (after which he died of exposure).

      Now, realistically, we the public have little way to get an accurate idea of how bad things are. It's reasonable to presume we hear about some of the cases where they screw up and go further than was intended, but we probably don't hear about all of those, and we probably hear about very few of the rest, where they go just as far as intended. Rendition makes it even harder to determine what sorts of things we may, ultimately, be responsible for. So I won't claim to know that Abu Ghraib was run of the mill, but I think it's foolish to assume without evidence that it was so exceptional or "just a few bad apples".

    • by BountyX (1227176)
      ABC wasnt the only oen that reported this story CNN did too. Just an FYI.
  • Well... (Score:5, Funny)

    by djcinsb (169909) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @04:56PM (#25321169) Homepage

    I'd comment, but the NSA is listening...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gerf (532474)

      There's a reason we have a "Declaration of War." To make things like this legal in a time of War.

      Ironically, ole Bushie would have had his way a lot more if he'd gone through the correct channels initially.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The whole "war" thing is bullshit. Just who is the US at war with? "Terrorists" is an impossible thing to gauge. WWII it was German and Japan. Easy enough, those countries surrender and you win the war. This "war" was declared on an intangible thing. It just opened the door for abuses such as the article cover. You can rest assured the "war" will never be won as it means returning your liberties.
        • by gerf (532474)
          My contention is that there is no war, unless declared. War is over after a peace treaty is signed, a country overtaken, or surrender accepted.
          • Re:Well... (Score:5, Informative)

            by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @08:24PM (#25323139)
            What, according to the U.S. Constitution, constitutes a declaration of war? I would contend that the "Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002" passes Constitutional muster as a declaration of war by Congress. If Congress did not mean it as a declaration of war than they were derelict in their duty, because the Constitution does not contain a provision for the use of military force (other than in defense of the territory of the U.S.) except for declaration of war. When the U.S. Congress authorizes the President to use military force, they are declaring war.
    • As someone from the US who has been living outside of the US since July 2001, this is why I semi-jokingly say hello to the NSA whenever I'm on the phone with my family or friends stateside.

      Yeah, there is no reason for them to be listening to my calls (though I have made and received calls from/in Morocco, a *dum Dum DUUUM* Muslim country), but, well, if they are listening, I wouldn't want to come across as impolite. :-/

  • Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gat0r30y (957941) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @04:57PM (#25321181) Homepage Journal
    Who could have possibly seen this coming? I mean the government rampantly abusing powers it took in a time of national tragedy? I for one am totally shocked. Shocked i say.
  • SatPhones? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MozeeToby (1163751) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @05:01PM (#25321229)

    I've only read the first page of the article but it mentions that the people being eavesdropped were talking on satelite phones from the Middle East. I was under the impression that as soon as you broadcaste something you could no longer claim it was private. Isn't this why it's legal to sell police and cell phone scanners? Is this different for satelite phones or am I completely off base here?

    • Re:SatPhones? (Score:4, Informative)

      by HTH NE1 (675604) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @05:05PM (#25321273)

      Isn't this why it's legal to sell police and cell phone scanners?

      You'd better check those assumptions against your local, state, and federal laws before you post again.

    • They used to be, but now scanners sold in the US have the analog cellular freqs blocked, even though there is no more analog cell coverage anyway.

      It's really lame, actually.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TooMuchToDo (882796)

        This is true, although in most cases the restriction put in place is superficial. You can unlock the frequencies by cutting a resistor that is well documented.

        The More You Know(TM)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ClintJCL (264898)
      okay then - your phones are private. your calls are being broadcast over phone lines. So why do warrants exist at all? Gee, maybe because you're wrong about this :)
    • Scanners that cover the cellphone bands aren't legal.
      That legislation was bought by the cellphone carriers back in 1985 (when everything was still analog) because they wanted to tell their customers that using a mobile phone was just as private as using a landline phone.

    • Uh, you obviously have no grasp on the "state of privacy" in the United States whatsoever. Your transmissions are protected under the 4th amendment, just like your snail mail. It's been that way ever since the supreme court case Katz v. United States [wikipedia.org] in 1967.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by IronChef (164482)

      Police scanners are legal.* But it has been illegal for years to sell (or presumably build) a radio which can intercept cell phone signals.

      Companies that sell scanners the US even had to modify their firmware to make it harder to unlock forbidden frequency bands. Originally, they'd make a simple firmware change, or a jumper change inside, but people who buy scanners are kind of nerdy and they figured out how to open up the receive range. The gov't forced them to make that harder to accomplish.

      With phones be

  • ...areyoureallysurprised or ...nosurprise or ...shocker (which is often used sarcasticly where I'm from) or something like that.

  • Well no shit (Score:4, Interesting)

    by n3tcat (664243) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @05:19PM (#25321441) Homepage

    That's why everytime we were talking on the damn AT&T phones and some dumbass gave a hint as to where he was or what he was doing, a huge fuckin red light went off and all the phones died.

    They flat out told us we were being listened to. Just like they tell us everyday with little stickers on our phones on every military installation in the world that say that we're being watched, listened to, recorded, etc etc.

    I'm not saying that it's not bullshit. Just saying this article's spun worse than a gyroscope.

  • by sdemjanenko (1296903) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @05:19PM (#25321445) Homepage
    Well i mean since we know about this there is probably more under the cover. Not to mention, think of all the NSA spying over our own communications that we do not know about and probably no one will whistleblow.
  • by CannonballHead (842625) on Thursday October 09, 2008 @05:45PM (#25321723)

    As many have brought up, it is nearly impossible to say exactly what is going on minutely in a huge operation. So what should Bush have said? "We have no way of knowing whether or not we are spying on individuals."

    Isn't this sort of statement more or less a statement of non-condoning of an activity? The same as if Bill Gates or Steve Jobs said "We will not pirate software" but then some of their employees DO pirate software, and they don't know about it. So when we find out, are Gates or Jobs the ones in trouble for saying it? Because obviously, they should know about every single thing their employees are doing.

    Oh, wait, sorry, I shouldn't compare governments to people's organizations, because governments can be made perfect, as long as we give them more control...

    I'm conservative, Bush wasn't very conservative, and I disagree with a lot of what he has done, but it is interesting that it seems the upcoming election features an "agent of change" that is really no different or even worse with the whole deception thing than people easily think about the ENTIRE Bush administration... and yet Obama and possibly McCain both support larger and more controlling government than Bush did or at least said he did, so I don't understand. Many are so upset at Bush that they are doing a pendulum vote for someone that wants government to be involved in pretty much everything, including your commute to work and what car (or at least, what that car's technology can be) you drive. But of course, he won't spy on anyone. He won't HAVE to. [[[ -5 Troll for "Conservative Viewpoints" :) hehe ]]]

  • After the Election (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Danathar (267989)

    What WILL these people do once Obama is elected. I predict that all the reports of eavesdropping, etc will magically stop.

  • take a look at the encryption on GSM...

    then take a look at the way the U.S. Navy fly over iraq etc...

    privacy ? if they want to follow you they will

    the best joke I heard was that emails from RIM devices where secure, people who claim that never have had any security clearance NSA keeps all the log's get over it

    regards

    John Jones
    http://www.johnjones.me.uk [johnjones.me.uk]

    (I was marked before)

  • These weren't renegades. If you go all the way to page 3 of TFA (I know, who reads these!) you'll read that they were ordered to record these calls, even those of the American Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders, two groups that supposedly were exempt from such tracking.

    They also indicated in the testimony that their higher-ups insisted on their continuing the recording and following of these groups even when they had protested.

    Again: not 'a few bad apples', but something endemic to the system.

  • As mentioned in TFA, while we have a backlog of untranscribed communications from more relevant conversations, these employees were ordered to listen to and transcribe inane conversations of American citizens calling their families back home. Meanwhile, legit intelligence sits decaying on the shelves.

    Sheesh, in addition to firing employees because of their religious beliefs or being gay, they've now got them taking notes on American Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders employees and volunteers who are cal
  • Am I the only one (Score:2, Informative)

    by tjones (1282)

    Hasn't anybody read the book "The Puzzle Palace"? This stuff has been going on for a very long time.

    I can remember throwing random mentions of the phrases "nuclear bomb" or "atomic bomb" to add chaff to the system in the late 80's and early 90's when I was in Europe.

    Anyone who doesn't know that all international phone calls are being monitored by any one of several governments automated systems hasn't been paying attention for the last 25+ years.

An inclined plane is a slope up. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"

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