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Privacy Government Security United States Your Rights Online

Whistleblower: NSA Has All of Your Email 478

Posted by timothy
from the well-most-of-it dept.
mspohr writes with this excerpt from Democracy Now!: "National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney reveals he believes domestic surveillance has become more expansive under President Obama than President George W. Bush. He estimates the NSA has assembled 20 trillion 'transactions' — phone calls, emails and other forms of data — from Americans. This likely includes copies of almost all of the emails sent and received from most people living in the United States. Binney talks about Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and challenges NSA Director Keith Alexander's assertion that the NSA is not intercepting information about U.S. citizens." The parts about National Security Letters in particular are chilling, even though the issue is not new.
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Whistleblower: NSA Has All of Your Email

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  • This is not good. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by gtvr (1702650) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @08:33AM (#39755101)
    I'm mostly not a big fan of Ron Paul, but I would love to put him in charge of eliminating this kind of crap.
  • Encrypt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @08:38AM (#39755115)
    This is a problem whose solution has been known and available for over two decades, yet deployment is stagnant.
  • by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Saturday April 21, 2012 @08:40AM (#39755127) Homepage Journal

    I think the whole Bush/Obama thing is a total distraction - and it works for too many people. It's unfortunate it is in the summary because as I see it what is happening is the that the government is travelling further down the same path - regardless of which party controls which branch. The idea that Obama is better or worse is meaningless, by and large they are exactly the same. And if somehow Romney were to beat Obama in the next election, the largest difference would be the switch in which group was defending and which was attacking the administration -- over the very same actions.

  • by Zico (14255) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @08:54AM (#39755201)

    Which is why you should be a huge fan of Ron Paul. Most people here are too smart (or dumb) for their own good. They'll bitch and complain for hours how the government is too big, gets into our lives, spies on us etc.. Then they'll turn around and complain that people need health insurance, schooling, and everything else under the moon and it's up to the government to do that. Yes, in a perfect world everyone would be taken care of and live happy, but that just isn't the case and never will be.

  • by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Saturday April 21, 2012 @08:58AM (#39755211) Homepage Journal

    Answer this honestly - has the operational tempo of the United States military changed significantly?

    I would say no. Sure, we've drawn down troops in one country, and increased the number in others. We've also radically increased the number of assassinations we are carrying out.

  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @08:59AM (#39755219)

    The mission was over. Saddam is dead.

    The Iraq war goal was filled. We're still in Afghanistan. Why?

    The truth is, our country has its own "business" that is seperate of who is in office. The puppet in office maintains the gov's business and rarely changes course. Obama said he would close Gitmo. It's still open.

    Obama said he would give us a public option... he lied.

    Republicans play to the religious crazy people. Democrats play to the sane people... the result is the same. Corporations and power rule all, and the policies created have nothing to do with the voters.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 21, 2012 @09:05AM (#39755243)

    Democrats play to the sane people

    No, they play to the hyperemotional people with victim complexes who obsess over group identity and think the government is Santa Claus with an infinite bag of gifts.

  • Think Big (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anorlunda (311253) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @09:12AM (#39755273) Homepage

    Consider the criticism on government for having failed to head off 9/11. Next consider the fact that the younger government employees will want to operate it in a 21st century way. Then, I think the logical extrapolation is to expect NSA to introduce the requirement that they can track communications retroactively.

    Suppose some person X becomes suspicious. Then there will be an instant demand to examine all X's communications in recent years, together with those of X's contacts, and their contacts, N levels deep. NSA can't know in advance who X is, so they only way to meet that requirement is to intercept and archive everyone's communications all the time.

    Consider the alternative. If they don't archive that stuff, and they could have, and if another 9/11 occurs, then the criticism will be wilting. They will be blamed for not doing everything possible to prevent it, They must do it as a matter of political self defense.

    I posted something similar once before. Another slashdotter thought I was writing science fiction. I don't think so. I calculate that it could be done for 300 million Americans with only a dozen or so exabytes. Heck, pull out your Visa card and order an exabyte server from Oracle today. It is hardly beyond the capability of NSA.

    I also believe that we privacy advocates also have to get our heads into the 21st century. It is time to shift focus from restricting government gathering of information to restricting government use of information already in their possession.

  • by dryriver (1010635) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @09:17AM (#39755293)
    So if those of us who live outside the U.S. use an American service - any American service - like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, Windows Messenger or perhaps mobile kit like an iPhone, are our messages thrown into the NSA Ueber-Surveillance-Database as well? If this is the case, the U.S. is breaking dozens and dozens of national/regional laws. Let me get this straight... You advertise a "free", supposedly "reliable" and also supposedly "private" service like say Gmail, and when I use it to communicate with my friends, acquaintances or business clients, all of my confidential messages get intercepted and funnelled into some huge NSA datacenter in Utah, or wherever it is that these spooks keep their pile of intercept-data. How can this be legal under any definition of any law? If my emails include confidential business documents - like confidential business strategy documents lets say - then "intercepting" and "evaluating" these messages is nothing short of "illicit industrial espionage". That's a serious crime that carries a prison-sentence in many countries. ------- More brave people need to come forward with what they know about clandestine "surveillance centers" being built by various governments, because if they don't, there will be no public outcry, and all these "regional efforts" will eventually be combined into one huge, powerful, global "surveillance grid" that nobody can escape from anymore.----- There is also International Law to consider. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, quoted in my signature, makes it very clear that it is illegal to arbitrarily invade someone's privacy. So these large-scale efforts to gather as many emails or phone conversations as possible, are actually a super-violation not just of regional or country laws, but of human rights treaties most countries signed years ago, and with that, a serious and eggregious violation of internation law. ----- Somebody needs to put a stop to all this nonsense. Not only do these snooping systems not contribute to a safer world in any serious capactiy, but they also threaten to create a future where everyone is watching by someone or some system in everything they do. What precisely are we supposed to tell future generations about this, for example? Are we supposed to tell them "We are sorry, but you will have to grow up and live in a world where everything you do is being watched and evaluated. We could have protested against this stuff when it first appeared on the world scene, but we were daft enough not to do that. Again, sorry for having to live in a f_cked future! Have a nice life..."
  • by Alomex (148003) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @09:19AM (#39755307) Homepage

    The mission was over. Saddam is dead.

    Yet that didn't take Bush any closer to leaving Iraq,,,. hmmm.

    The truth is, our country has its own "business" that is seperate of who is in office.

    This I agree with, but this is not to say that everything remains the same. There is room around the margins and it is quite substantial e.g John Roberts vs. Elena Kagan; or Obamacare vs. no healthcare.

    Obama said he would give us a public option... he lied.

    Last I checked this was the fault of a singularly uncooperative republican caucus in Congress. A caucus which, for the first time in history declared that their overriding goal was to make Obama a one term president even if that meant damaging the country.

  • by Alan R Light (1277886) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @09:23AM (#39755331)
    Um, Obama only got out because the government of Iraq insisted we get out, and seeing as the US ostensibly invaded Iraq to give the Iraqis self-government, Obama couldn't very well dispute the wishes of that government. I don't give a whole lot of credit to Bush or Obama on that count.
  • by Alomex (148003) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @09:26AM (#39755341) Homepage

    If you cannot see the flaw in Ron Paul's simplistic solutions I don't know what to say.

    "For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. ---Henry Louis Mencken

  • by Isaac Remuant (1891806) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @09:30AM (#39755369)

    Do your research. Obama didn't want to get out. []

    President Obama pulled the plug Friday on negotiations that would have kept American troops in Iraq past the end of this year. CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports the president's demand for immunity for U.S. troops stationed there was the dealbreaker.

    It's not about Bush vs Obama, it's' about being represented and Obama does not represent the people who voted for him because his policies go the opposite way from his candidate promises.

    It's not about R vs D. It's about trying to not get fucked for once.

    PS: And it would be awesome if you cared a bit about the effects his policies inflict upon the rest of the world. Drone indiscriminate murders of innocent people are not only ignored but actively hidden against any accountability.

  • At what point. . . (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mosb1000 (710161) <> on Saturday April 21, 2012 @09:31AM (#39755379)

    At what point will psychiatrists have to stop classifying people as paranoid simply because they believe the government is tracking them?

  • by Alomex (148003) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @09:37AM (#39755409) Homepage

    Obama did not leave, Obama got booted.

    Right, because is not like he promised during the elections that we would be out... oh wait he did [].

    OFA prevented the Iraqi government from local prosecution of US troops for crimes committed in Iraq.

    That only determined the size of a leftover contingent. Had the US deemed it necessary to stay in Iraq we had the firepower to replace the present government with one that allowed us to stay.

    Do you remember Manuel Noriega of Panama? He "booted" US troops from the Panama Canal. How did that work out for him?

  • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @09:38AM (#39755413)

    I think the whole Bush/Obama thing is a total distraction - and it works for too many people. It's unfortunate it is in the summary because as I see it what is happening is the that the government is travelling further down the same path - regardless of which party controls which branch. The idea that Obama is better or worse is meaningless, by and large they are exactly the same. And if somehow Romney were to beat Obama in the next election, the largest difference would be the switch in which group was defending and which was attacking the administration -- over the very same actions.

    I think if Romney were elected the unaccountable spying and intrusion would get worse. However, if Obama were re-elected, the unaccountable spying and intrusion would get worse. I suppose you're right that the partisan thing is a mere distraction. The problem is that Congress -- whether of the same or different party of the president in power -- absolutely refuses to reign in the White House. Are they lazy? Do they see the trend as a good thing? Do they not care? Has someone got the dirt on them all?

  • by anagama (611277) <> on Saturday April 21, 2012 @09:45AM (#39755461) Homepage

    I can't believe you're that much a partisan. He tried to keep the troops in Iraq longer without the taint of occupation (if we're there under invitation of the government, that's one thing -- if we just do whatever the hell we want, that's another). Obama failed to convince the Iraqi government to extend its invitation. Yet you give Obama credit for ending a war he tried to extend? What kind of crazy logic is that?

  • by Legion303 (97901) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @09:46AM (#39755469) Homepage

    Some of us even recognize the difference between government resources used for spying and government resources used to provide health insurance, schools, etc.

  • by turgid (580780) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @09:51AM (#39755517) Journal

    The difference is that with the government, if you trip one of their triggers, they really will have you personally identified and tracked. For practical purposes though, you are very, very likely not to be one of those people.

    As the megalomaniacs in charge (politicians, secret service chiefs, police chiefs, defence etc.) become more paranoid, their desire for power and control increases and they realise they can automate much of it, things will get much worse.

    However, this is an ideal time to invest in storage, server, network and database companies.

    Then, we just need to write some scripts to generate thousands of pretty pointless emails a day to each other containing semi-random "trigger" text and sit back as the share prices sky rocket and the security people buy more and more kit...

    Everyone's a winner.

  • by Zibodiz (2160038) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @09:51AM (#39755519)
    The thing that always bothers me is how people defend BO by comparing him to Bush. You're absolutely right, Bush was an apocalyptic failure. And so is Obama. And so will every president be, who is more concerned with politics or favors than he is with rights (personal, state, foreign international, and any other.)

    Just my $.02 as a Libertarian.
  • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @10:07AM (#39755627)

    You can spin it all you want. You can wave you hands around as much as you want.

    But it doesn't change the simple fact that GWB's Iraq war was the biggest clusterfuck this country has undertaken in the last 40 years.

    End of story.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @10:25AM (#39755717) Homepage

    Obama tried to close Gitmo, and congress wouldn't let him.

    Sure he could have:
    "I swore a solemn oath to protect and uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. The Sixth Amendment specifically requires that all persons receive a speedy and public trial for any crimes they may have committed. Therefor, while I would have preferred to try the prisoners currently held in Guantanamo Bay for their crimes, with Congress preventing my from doing so in any court I am required by law to release them without charges."

    That's the leverage that President Obama never used. If he had threatened to do so, Congressional Republicans would almost definitely have changed their tune about trying those prisoners. Ergo, he decided that there are prisoners in Guantanamo Bay that will under no circumstances be either released or tried in an open and fair court, but that the best way to avoid flak from loyal Democrats was to blame it on Congressional Republicans (who wanted to appear tough on terrorism to their constituents). The claim that Congress wouldn't let him, therefor, is a lie, albeit a very believable one.

    He tried to include the public option, and congress wouldn't let him.

    The health care act passed with absolutely no Republican support, including using budget reconciliation to get around Republican filibuster attempts in the Senate. If Obama had had a deal that the Republicans reneged on, he could have vetoed the bill and told his party allies in Congress to send him the bill he really wanted. Since he didn't, the only possibilities are (A) he got exactly the bill he wanted, and/or (B) he was not negotiating with congressional Republicans but congressional Democrats. As the sibling post alludes, it seems that the answer was that he got exactly the bill he wanted.

    From my point of view as an independent, the battle in Washington is not Republicans versus Democrats or conservative versus liberal, but the 'bipartisan consensus' (forged in lobbying dollars) versus the people's real interests. And the people's real interests don't stand a chance.

  • by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @10:52AM (#39755877)

    The truth is, our country has its own "business" that is seperate of who is in office. The puppet in office maintains the gov's business and rarely changes course.

    I absolutely agree. The military-industrial complex has owned this country since the dawn of the 20th century. Any President that gets out of line with their whims likely has a real 'Dallas, 1963 moment' in their not-to-far future.

    Conspiracy theory bullshit? Maybe. But I doubt for a second that these war merchants would sit back for a second and allow any President to cut off the steady stream of blank checks we've been sending their way for at least the last 70 years.

    I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

    - Major General Smedley D. Butler, War Is A Racket []

  • Re:Encrypt (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wvmarle (1070040) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @10:53AM (#39755881)

    Use S/MIME. It's standardized and exists in every good client software.

    PGP or S/MIME is not the point. No-one uses either anyway. The point is: why don't they use it?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 21, 2012 @10:57AM (#39755909)

    The "state's rights" argument is nothing more than "state's right to discriminate". You never hear "state's rights" being bandied about for good things, like helping the needy; no, it's only so that they can throw people off of welfare, outlaw abortion, and other bullshit like that.

    Just as it was before the civil war, when "state's rights" meant "state's right to continue fucking enslaving people". Give me a break.

  • Re:Think Big (Score:5, Insightful)

    by davegravy (1019182) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @10:58AM (#39755915)

    I would rather live in a world where occasional acts of terrorism succeed due to missed opportunities to gather intelligence, than live in a world where there is even the REMOTE possibility that said intelligence will be used against me and my family by those we entrust to collect and manage it.

    It is time to shift focus from restricting government gathering of information to restricting government use of information already in their possession.

    Today's rules for how that information can justifiably be used will be different from tomorrow's. Most likely, the trend will continue towards more liberal use of the information by the authorities as time goes on. When the information exists in storage and the tyrant of the day has sufficient power to gain access to that information, and the right political / social situation presents itself, the information WILL be abused.

    When - not IF - but WHEN the next "Hitler" comes to power, we need to have a system of government that limits the damage he can cause. If Hitler had access to a database of all German communications and the resources to process that information, do you think that would have made things better or worse for the Jews?

    What mechanism of restricting the use of collected intelligence do you propose that would be effective against a talented and devoted psychopathic world leader?

  • Re:Encrypt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @11:33AM (#39756149) Homepage Journal

    +1 insightful.

    I like to tell people that crypto doesn't solve a problem, but instead changes the problem into one that you hope is easier.

    Crypto replaces the problem of securing your communications channel with a problem of key management.

    Since the first problem is usually insoluble, this is usually a good thing, but good luck doing key management when the client machines are zombies controlled by an attacker, like so many personal computers are.

  • by IonOtter (629215) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @11:38AM (#39756191) Homepage

    "At the same time Obama was campaigning on the promise of leaving Iraq."

    Maybe that's the whole problem with our strategy? We treat war and occupations like it was a trip to McDonalds. Drive up, place your order, drive out. Maybe sit in the parking lot for a bit to eat, but everyone can see you're not going to stay there for very long.

    The British were very different. They moved in conquered the place, and the very first thing they would build was a central government. You didn't have a pot to piss in, but by God, there was a place where you could go to complain about it! And things would expand out from there. People would see you building these huge, government buildings, building homes, paving streets, raising families, and they would understand that hey, these folks are SERIOUS about reconstruction!

    Granted, the British treated the locals little better than slaves, but that's not the point? The point is, they were in it for the LONG TERM. As in lifetime.

    We really could rebuild Afghanistan, but it would mean acting just like the British. But Americans-and indeed, most of the first world-no longer has any sort of stomach for that sort of long-term brutality and imperiousness.

  • Re:No (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bigstrat2003 (1058574) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @12:05PM (#39756345)
    No. This would be true if the Republican or Democrat party was acceptable, but both are highly unacceptable. When your two evils are vomit and diarrhea, choosing the lesser of two evils only hurts you. It doesn't help a damn thing.
  • by mister_playboy (1474163) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @12:07PM (#39756355)

    Can we please start bitching about Ron Paul after he's president? ;-)>

    Can we please stop talking about Ron Paul in relation to the Presidency? He has zero chance of securing the nomination from his party this year and he has announced he will not run for President again because he is too old. His shot has come and gone, but you refuse to admit it.

    It's time to find a new figurehead to rally behind. Choose one that is a bit more secular and a bit more friendly to women and minorities, and you would probably see quite a lot of support from /.ers.

  • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @12:30PM (#39756497)

    If you believe abortion is murder, you may pick Republicans as the lesser of two evils because in the event of a Court Appointee, you save a lot of lives. If you believe a woman's right to control her body is sacrosanct, you may pick Democrats as the lesser of two evils because otherwise you prevent a lot of intolerance.

    Either way, you're voting for a government that kills people without trials, in terms of drone targeting. But that doesn't mean there's no difference.

  • Re:No (Score:1, Insightful)

    by bigstrat2003 (1058574) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @12:38PM (#39756559)
    There is no meaningful difference. Both Republicans and Democrats massively violate our civil liberties. All other concerns are secondary to this. The fact that both parties (on average; there are good members of both parties as well, but few and far between) are guilty of this kind of behavior means that it is not a reasonable choice to vote for either one. The number one purpose of our government is to safeguard our freedoms, and as both parties fail at this, neither is a viable choice whatever other differences of opinion they may have.
  • by Toonol (1057698) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @02:43PM (#39757395)
    Nah, that's just silly. State's rights are an economic and civil liberties issue; people want power to reside in a government that is closer to them than the Feds. No state is pushing discrimination, and no state WILL push discrimination... that's just an attempt to tie a movement you don't like to something nasty from a hundred years ago.

    Our government has a system of checks and balances; the commonly mentioned balance is between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the federal government. A balance that is not mentioned is the check that states place on the federal government, and vice versa... equally as important, but it's a balance that has become totally akimbo over the last 5-10 decades. The federal government now dictates to the states, which are powerless to respond. It has gone past the point of self-correction.
  • by SteveFoerster (136027) <{moc.retsreofevets} {ta} {evets}> on Saturday April 21, 2012 @03:20PM (#39757661) Homepage

    I've never understood this mentality. Your vote is mind-bogglingly unlikely to make the difference either way. What exactly do you have to lose by actually voting for the candidate you like the best?

  • by anagama (611277) <> on Saturday April 21, 2012 @08:01PM (#39759229) Homepage

    Don't be a retard, I specifically said that the figures are lower since getting booted from Iraq, but crediting Obama with a troop reduction he actively tried avoid, is a prime example of partisan idiocy, and doesn't change the fact that Obama is just another neo-con warmonger.

I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them. -- Isaac Asimov