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NSA Officers Sometimes Spy On Love Interests 384

Posted by timothy
from the lives-of-others dept.
Jah-Wren Ryel writes "The latest twist in the NSA coverage sounds like something out of a dime-store romance novel — NSA agents eavesdropping on their current and former girlfriends. Official categories of spying have included SIGINT (signals intelligence) and HUMINT (human intelligence) and now the NSA has added a new category to the lexicon — LOVEINT — which is surely destined to be a popular hashtag now."
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NSA Officers Sometimes Spy On Love Interests

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  • by DarkOx (621550) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @10:23AM (#44663589) Journal

    Really is anyone surprised?

  • by kthreadd (1558445) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @10:25AM (#44663599)

    Wasn't the oversight supposed to prevent this?

  • Re:Humans (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kthreadd (1558445) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @10:32AM (#44663643)

    Actually it's not that unlikely that your girlfriend/boyfriend might be a terrorist if you work for the NSA. Just think of it, the perfect way to infiltrate the system. If anything this should be mandatory procedure for all NSA employees.

  • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @10:37AM (#44663665)

    No one is surprised, but what about spying on other people's sexting (or whatever you call it when people send revealing pictures of themselves via email). If you really want the general public to get properly outraged over this stuff, forget the 4th Amendment, and find cases of Carly sending interesting pictures of herself to her boyfriend, with the expectation of privacy (forget the technical aspects of whether that expectation is reasonable - human decency says you don't read other people's mail).

    It's actually better if Carly, and a bazillion others are at least 18. Otherwise it would degenerate into a discussion of "child pron", whether it was reported, individual criminals at NSA, yada, yada, yada. 18+ women sending revealing pictures of themselves to boyfriends/husbands, and people at the NSA checking them out, is exactly the sort of Peeping Tom behavior that would get the whole country up in arms.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @10:39AM (#44663677)

    > Wasn't the oversight supposed to prevent this?

    Yes it was. According to the article most of these were only found out during un-related lie-detector sessions, not by any auditing system. It poses the question - how many other cases of abuse have slipped by because the employee knew how to fake out the lie detectors?

  • Re:Humans (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ebno-10db (1459097) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @10:40AM (#44663685)

    You would make a brilliant bureaucrat/politician. I'm not saying you are one, or even that you have the slightest inclination towards such sleazy behavior, but you certainly understand how they think.

  • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @10:41AM (#44663689)

    Good point. Probably the only ethical thing about the NSA is that they're an equal opportunity employer.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 24, 2013 @10:43AM (#44663707)

    Spying on love interests is one thing, but spying on innocent children to plan sexually assaulting them is a different category. It's happened before [bbc.co.uk], and I don't understand how people can still defend these monstrous surveillence activities.

    Why won't someone think of the children when it's finally appropriate?

  • Re:Humans (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @10:52AM (#44663761)

    Yeah this is exactly why people have a real problem with ubiquitous spy networks. They will inevitably be abused. What happens when the government changes and the new guys don't mind using this apparatus to suppress political dissent? What happens when dissent has been suppressed, the administration becomes the aristocracy and the president effectively becomes king? It's happened before in many places, and the only lesson to take away from all this is that the price of freedom is indeed eternal vigilance.

  • by arobatino (46791) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @10:57AM (#44663781)

    Most of the incidents, officials said, were self-reported. Such admissions can arise, for example, when an employee takes a polygraph tests as part of a renewal of a security clearance.

    Which is exactly what you'd expect if the probability of getting caught is close to zero and the true number of cases is much larger.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 24, 2013 @10:57AM (#44663783)

    And it seems that the boys who work at Ft. Meade may have
    been breaking this law.

    Of course they are above the law, aren't they ? Time will tell, just
    as it did with Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels, Goering, and the rest.

  • by FuzzNugget (2840687) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @11:03AM (#44663819)
    Corrupt is as corrupt does. They've already demonstrated a profound moral bankruptcy and a willingness to collectively serve only themselves, this just a matter of scale.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 24, 2013 @11:12AM (#44663877)

    "Most of the incidents, officials said, were self-reported." So their "significant care to prevent any abuses" consists primarily of "tell us when you've done something bad."

    If they actually had strong internal checks in place, the majority of abuses would be detected by those systems, not by self reporting.

  • by rtb61 (674572) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @11:14AM (#44663901) Homepage

    Oversight. Don't you get it at all. You are being handed another charade. NSA is meant to secure and gather intelligence, not act upon it, it was never set up that way.

    You are being handed the "BIG LIE", what counts is what other agencies who received private information from the NSA, who had access to the electronic interception established by the NSA, did with that illegally obtained information. They are now looking to through out a few scape goats, a smoke screen to hide the others well beyond the confines of the NSA.

    How much information did the US Department of Homeland Security receive from the NSA. What was the nature of the information, who had control over it and what did they do with it. The NSA are a direct feeder of information into the CIA, again, what information was received, who had access and what did they do with it. Next up the FBI, how much were the FBI in bed with the NSA, why did the FBI allow agents of the NSA to freely break the law. What information did the FBI receive and what did they do with it.

    Now you would think it would stop there, but oh no, it get's far far worse. It is public knowledge the corporate security contractors had full access to the information being gathered under the NSA auspices. Private for profit individuals with total and full access to all the intelligence information, now what the hell did they do with that information and who else did they give it too. What politicians and their backers had access to what information, to leverage power.

    Now you are getting a pretty little song and dance about a couple of NSA agents being naughty, all the while else the NSA provided access too with out any control at all and no record of what they did and Uncle Tom Obama the choom gang coward pretending it all stops at the NSA's door. The intelligence gatherer and not at the CIA's, Department of Homeland Security, FBI's et al (basically the whole US military industrial complex and it's financing banks). Those are the organisations that act upon the information provided by the NSA, they were all in on it, they all knew it was going on and they all had access to the information.

  • Re:ctrl-c (Score:2, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @11:23AM (#44663977)

    I had to do a SIGINT on previous girlfriends too.

    Joking aside, it's a well-known fact dating back to well before the roman empire that family is a vulnerability that can be exploited in warfare. The NSA, like any good intelligence agency, keeps track of all exploitable weaknesses in both its own agents as well as the enemy's.

    I don't think this is particularly newsworthy -- the problem with the NSA isn't their capabilities, but rather who they're using them on. Very often, it seems the NSA is being run more like the FBI; chasing down the political adversaries of the current majority party, doing DNA analysis on dog shit (true story -- Hoover did it), and investing an inordinate amount of resources in suppressing speech unpopular to the current majority party. The NSA may have once been a first-rate intelligence organization but nowadays they're looking more KGB-ish... overconfident and leaking like a mcdonald's coffee cup during morning rush hour. They really have only themselves to blame for this sorrid state of affairs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 24, 2013 @11:27AM (#44663999)

    And if you don't comply when an FBI agent sends you a NSL asking for the medical records of his ex-girlfriend, you also go to jail.

  • Re:Humans (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PPH (736903) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @11:29AM (#44664015)

    That's not the way background checks for security clearances work. You don't snoop on your own wife/girlfriend/whatever. The agency has people that check out your activities and associates from time to time for any potentially compromising (blackmail potential) situation or connections to foreign intelligence or criminal groups. Other information uncovered is rarely fed back to the employee.

  • by arobatino (46791) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @11:29AM (#44664019)

    According to TFA most incidents were "self reported", meaning someone failed a polygraph. Since polygraphs are bullshit we know a lot of times the criminal abusing this power got away with it.

    Not to mention that it's not in the NSA's self-interest to learn about these cases, since it makes them look bad. So they probably don't ask more than the most perfunctory questions in this area.

  • by hedwards (940851) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @11:35AM (#44664065)

    I'm sorry, but this is bullshit.

    Where were you racist idiots when these programs were being started by President Bush? Seems to me that it was only when we got a black President that suddenly these things became a problem. And none of you folks ever bother to mention that these policies were started by the GOP. Most of us on the left never wanted these policies in the first place, but it's not like voting GOP would have offered a better situation. So, we mostly voted for somebody that was going to fix something. Which he did, DOMA is over, DADT is over, ACA passed and he hasn't started any pointless wars.

    But, unfortunately, he's staying the course on things that I would rather he not stayed the course on. But, you're a naive moron if you think that Romney or McCain wouldn't have. And in all likelihood they would be abusing it even worse.

  • Sex is the key (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 24, 2013 @11:38AM (#44664085)

    Clinton murdered plenty of people in a cruise missile attack in Sudan - US reaction - Yawn.
    Clinton had consensual sex with a willing female - US Reaction - Impeach, impeach, impeach.

  • by smpoole7 (1467717) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @11:49AM (#44664143) Homepage

    > Where were you racist idiots when these programs were being started by President Bush?

    Disagreeing with someone over policy has nothing to do with racism. That's a red herring whose only purpose is to stifle discussion. The truth is, those who keep playing that card are just crying "wolf," and it will eventually lose any meaning whatsoever.

    For the record, I DID disagree with Bush on this endless surveillance, even though I'm a conservative.

    And there were some of us who were hoping that Obama would do BETTER. And you can't understand their disappointment?

    Two wrongs don't make a right.

  • by sideslash (1865434) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @11:49AM (#44664149)

    I'm sorry, but this is bullshit. Where were you racist idiots when these programs were being started by President Bush? Seems to me that it was only when we got a black President that suddenly these things became a problem.

    Please cut out the ridiculous accusations of racism. Whether you noticed or not, there has been a fairly sustained clamor about the Patriot Act, beginning with that ill-conceived law's passage. The clamor is louder during the current administration because (thanks to Snowden) we know more about the abuses now.

    There's an unfortunate pattern of responding to any criticism of President Obama with "racist! racist!" whether there's any evidence of racism or not. There are plenty of valid criticisms of Obama and his administration, several of them potentially impeachable offenses (yes, including starting an unauthorized war). But getting back on subject, since there isn't any racism evident in the comment to which you were responding, I'd thank you kindly if you would just shut your big mouth.

  • by LifesABeach (234436) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @12:10PM (#44664289)
    How Senator Mitch McConnell [go.com] got his information about Ashley Judd's private medical data for a slander campaign; and not see a corollary of the humanity that is the NSA?
  • That's what's fucked up about the US&A, you think you only have those two options: the right-wing party, and the far-right-wing party.

  • by nbauman (624611) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @12:45PM (#44664479) Homepage Journal

    Parent said

    Obama implements his real agenda, namely oppression of everyone not merely the black man.

    From reading the right-wing web sites, like the Wall Street Journal comments page, it's clear that racism is one of the things that drives the right-wing anti-Obama movement. And you can hear this from their right-wing "leaders" too.

    They're recycling the Reagan-era tropes about welfare mothers and lazy, irresponsible black men. (Which were themselves recycled from the racist South.) Sometimes they use code words and sometimes they come right out and say it.

    I saw one comment on the WSJ comments page saying that Charles Rangel should be "lynched." (Rangel is a real war hero, BTW. He saved the lives of 40 men in his unit. My question for right-wing assholes is, "Where did you earn your combat ribbons? That usually shuts them up. "Uh -- I had other priorities.")

    There has always been a strain of racism in America -- half the country was slave states, after all, and it took years after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 before they were allowed to vote in those formerly slave states.

    As conservatives like John Dean complain, the Republican Party made a Faustian bargain to win power by exploiting the stupid racist vote. After LBJ got the Democratic Party to support voting rights for blacks, the racists moved into the Republican party, and the South turned Republican (and racist), just as LBJ predicted.

    It's true that there are some racist Democrats. But the Republicans use racism as a basic strategy to divide Democrats -- and Americans.

    It's too bad racism distracts us from other important issues, like privacy and government snooping.

  • by nbauman (624611) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @01:19PM (#44664667) Homepage Journal

    The debate is over what's an effective way to protect our security.

    As Bruce Schneier says, you don't find a needle in a haystack by piling on more hay.

    Look at some of the articles that were written by real intelligence agents, like the ones who interrogated the Nazis during and after WWII. They all knew German very well. If you're interrogating German officers it's a good idea to know German. Duh.

    If you think you're engaged in a war with with Arabic terrorists, it would be a good idea to learn Arabic and Farsi. Before you start tapping every cell phone and Internet connection in the world, it would be a good idea to start by reading their newspapers (rather than depending on MEMRI).

    The lazy thing to do is to sit on your ass behind a computer and, if you have an infinite budget, scoop up every electronic communication the world and save it "just in case." Then if you see somebody talking about terrorism, arrest them and keep them in prison forever "just in case." Which is what we're doing.

    The smart thing to do (and here I betray myself as a liberal) is to understand your adversary, and find out why they hate you so much and if there's anything you can do about it.

    After 9/11, the Wall Street Journal offices, which faced the WTC, were destroyed and they had to put the next day's edition together in an editor's uptown apartment. They spent the next year using their network of reporters (many of whom did speak Arabic and Farsi) interviewing people around the world trying to figure out why they hated us. That's what Daniel Pearl was doing.

    One of the themes that kept coming up again was Israel. One Arab businessman was a subscriber to the WSJ. He said, "I like America. I got my MBA in America. But you've got to do something about Israel." For the moderate, westernized Arabs, "doing something about Israel" means stopping the settlements (which is reasonable) and a two-state solution with Israel on the 1967 borders, which Hamas and the Arab League have already agreed to.

    The way to protect our country is to do real intelligence, find out what the rest of the world is thinking, and go after the basic causes.

  • by ttucker (2884057) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @01:26PM (#44664725)

    I'm sorry, but this is bullshit.

    Where were you racist idiots when these programs were being started by President Bush? Seems to me that it was only when we got a black President that suddenly these things became a problem. And none of you folks ever bother to mention that these policies were started by the GOP. Most of us on the left never wanted these policies in the first place, but it's not like voting GOP would have offered a better situation. So, we mostly voted for somebody that was going to fix something. Which he did, DOMA is over, DADT is over, ACA passed and he hasn't started any pointless wars.

    But, unfortunately, he's staying the course on things that I would rather he not stayed the course on. But, you're a naive moron if you think that Romney or McCain wouldn't have. And in all likelihood they would be abusing it even worse.

    Yo dawg, I'm sorry, your, "I'm sorry, this is bullshit", is bullshit.

    Trying to paint everyone who does not like Obama as bigoted big establishment Republicans is a false dichotomy. Open your mind to this possibility, there are people that did not like Bush or McCain, do not like Obama, and would rather not have voted for Romney.

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@mac. c o m> on Saturday August 24, 2013 @01:33PM (#44664781) Journal

    Here's a little tip for you, sparky: tossing off insults like "racist" doesn't excuse the crimes that are currently being perpetrated on the teleprompter-in-chief's watch, and trying to excuse them on the basis that they happened first during the Bush regime raises the question of what anyone gained then by picking Obama over the other guy. Wasn't Obama supposed to be the guy offering "hope and change"?

    As for starting wars, well: you're flat out lying. Obama has committed acts of war against Yemen, Libya, Egypt, and is about to do so to Syria without even getting a fig-leaf non-declaration of war like Bush did.

    Regarding gay rights, well praise him! Praise him for coming around on the gay marriage issue only a little while after Dick fucking Cheney did.

    -jcr

  • by wbr1 (2538558) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @01:50PM (#44664875)

    It's true that there are some racist Democrats. But the Republicans use racism as a basic strategy to divide Democrats -- and Americans.

    Both parties do whatever they can to divide us. All these divisions keep us from seeing the real issues that we get fucked on.

    Do you think Exxon or BP give a flying fuck about abortion rights?

    Do you think Blackwater cares what color you are

    Do you think the MPAA gives 2 shits if you engage in gay marriage?

    Do you think the NSA gives a hoot about immigration reform?

    Do you think Boeing has nightmares about obesity and school kids diet?

    Their agendas are much different, and much more nfarious, because we are manipulable dollar signs or targets to them. (maybe not to the NSA, but we are to the corporations that provide them and the TSA et all equipment, research, training, etc.)

    The politicians do not care, because as long as they get CORPORATE money, they can swing voters to get in on the divisive shit. That is not to say that racism, gun control, immigration, abortion, etc are not important, but they are the lubricants with which we are finding ourselves more easily fucked.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @01:52PM (#44664889)

    Another thing that's bogus about this - the statement that it didn't involve spying on Americans.

    So all of these NSA officers have foreign girlfriends and wives? Isn't that maybe a trifle problematic?

  • by Tom (822) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @01:54PM (#44664905) Homepage Journal

    It also means the auditing systems failed.

    I used to run the IT compliancy in a mid-size company (2500 employees). I know the technical and process options you have, and frankly, this should either not be possible at all (technology solution) or have been caught during auditing (process solution). This is the kind of stuff that Separation of Duties was invented to prevent.

  • by msobkow (48369) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @03:24PM (#44665291) Homepage Journal

    Crying "racism" denigrates everyone who hates Obama for his bad policies, and belittles Obama himself by portraying him as a man whose sole reason for being judged is being black.

    If anyone is racist, it's those who cry "racism" in the face of years of stupid and abusive policies. They can't argue against the points, so they play the race card. It's bullshit. Obama is more than a black man. Give him some credit for being able to instigate hatred for reasons other than the colour of his skin.

  • by Dutchmaan (442553) on Saturday August 24, 2013 @05:40PM (#44665943) Homepage
    Caucasian, as in from the Caucasus region? I find it interesting that you insisted on black, but refrained from using white... No hate, just an observation.

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