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Member of President Obama's NSA Panel Recommends Increased Data Collection 349

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-so-fast dept.
cold fjord writes "National Journal reports, 'Michael Morell, the former acting director of the CIA and a member of President Obama's task force on surveillance, said ... that a controversial telephone data-collection program conducted by the National Security Agency should be expanded to include emails. He also said the program, far from being unnecessary, could prevent the next 9/11. Morell, seeking to correct any misperception that the presidential panel had called for a radical curtailment of NSA programs, said he is in favor of restarting a program that the NSA discontinued in 2011 that involved the collection of "meta-data" for internet communications. ... "I would argue actually that the email data is probably more valuable than the telephony data," ... Morell also said that while he agreed with the report's conclusion that the telephone data program, conducted under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, made "only a modest contribution to the nation's security" so far, it should be continued under the new safeguards recommended by the panel. "I would argue that what effectiveness we have seen to date is totally irrelevant to how effective it might be in the future," he said. "This program, 215, has the ability to stop the next 9/11 and if you added emails in there it would make it even more effective. Had it been in place in 2000 and 2001, I think that probably 9/11 would not have happened."' — More at Politico and National Review. Some members of Congress have a different view. Even Russian President Putin has weighed in with both a zing and a defense."
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Member of President Obama's NSA Panel Recommends Increased Data Collection

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  • WTF?! (Score:5, Funny)

    by killfixx (148785) * on Monday December 23, 2013 @11:21AM (#45766811) Journal

    *speechless*

    • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by careysb (566113) on Monday December 23, 2013 @11:26AM (#45766845)

      Seeing as how I haven't really heard anything to the contrary, this is what I expect will happen. And even if I had heard something to the contrary, this is what I would expect.

      • Seeing as how I haven't really heard anything to the contrary, this is what I expect will happen. And even if I had heard something to the contrary, this is what I would expect.

        Well, there was an earlier report in which there were actually some remarks to the effect that "maybe this is a bit much". On the other hand there was also the impression that a lot of it was less about curtailing NSA and more about preventing future whistleblowers.

        And now with this guy's statements.. Yeah, all is once again as I would have expected from a panel full of ex-intelligence types.

        I'm still hoping some major campaign contributors will start bitching about how this nonsense is affecting their bott

      • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday December 23, 2013 @12:04PM (#45767151) Journal
        I'm a trifle surprised that a former CIA director apparently doesn't know how 'empiricism' works: "I would argue that what effectiveness we have seen to date is totally irrelevant to how effective it might be in the future"...

        Yeah, there's somebody you'd give a job related to intelligence gathering to...
    • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Greyfox (87712) on Monday December 23, 2013 @11:28AM (#45766861) Homepage Journal
      It's a double-down! When you're in over your head there are two things you can do. Apologize, admit you were wrong and hope people forgive you and don't throw you in jail. Or you can double-down on the crazy! They obviously opted for the double-down. Oh, and it's a good one, too. You need huge fucking steel balls to double-down like that!
      • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Informative)

        by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Monday December 23, 2013 @11:38AM (#45766961)

        The double-down works because it's focused on denying anything was done wrong in the first place. To apologize means admitting guilt. To continue but more so is an active statement that no law was broken.

      • by jythie (914043)
        Sadly, doubling down on the crazy is generally the best political move. Apologizing or admitting you were wrong almost never works.
      • by Thanshin (1188877)

        You need huge fucking steel balls to double-down like that!

        Actually, you only need need to compare the current loss to the new possible loss and the new possible win.

        If, as I think happens in this case, current loss to new possible loss and current loss possible win, you need only commons sense to double-down.

        Even when the argument of your double down is as stupid as "Terrorists!" or, the only slightly more infantile "pinky swear!".

      • by Immerman (2627577)

        Well, let's just hope that those steel balls have a meeting with a roller mill before too long. Though I have a nagging fear that many (most?) of those in power are working overtime to find a way to spin things so that the double-down crazy can become the new reality.

      • I think it's more of the "Big Lie" technique as defined by Goebbels. Keep asserting something long enough, however outlandish, and eventually people will be telling each other, "Oh, I know it's true, I heard it on the news or something".
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bondsbw (888959)

      This program, 215, has the ability to stop the next 9/11 and if you added emails in there it would make it even more effective. Had it been in place in 2000 and 2001, I think that probably 9/11 would not have happened.

      This is what the terrorists want.

      • This program, 215, has the ability to stop the next 9/11 and if you added emails in there it would make it even more effective. Had it been in place in 2000 and 2001, I think that probably 9/11 would not have happened.

        This is what the terrorists want you to believe.

        FTFY, for certain values of the word, "terrorists."

      • by Thanshin (1188877)

        This is what the terrorists want.

        That's what a terrorist would say.

        Or a traitor!

        Are you a terrorist? Or are you a traitor. (Or are you dancer)

    • Re:WTF?! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by craigminah (1885846) on Monday December 23, 2013 @11:41AM (#45766987)
      You mean "free speechless".
    • That can't be true
      that's not right
      I think it is telephony data . . .
    • by ganjadude (952775)
      why would you be speechless? does this REALLY actually surprise you at all?
    • Re:WTF?! (Score:5, Informative)

      by KermodeBear (738243) on Monday December 23, 2013 @12:33PM (#45767381) Homepage

      Hope and Change, man. Fight the military industrial complex, stick it to the man, fight for the little guy, eat the rich!

      Seriously though - you cannot be surprised about this. If you are, you either:

      1. Have not been paying attention, or
      2. Are not intellectually honest, or
      3. Both 1 and 2.

      No, I'm not saying that putting an (R) after a name instead of a (D) would make it any better. I'm sure that some of these spying programs were started under President Bush Jr., or perhaps Clinton, or Bush Sr., or maybe even earlier.

      You see, nearly all of the politicians these days are big government advocates, and part of big government means they want to watch you so that they can control you. It's for your own good though, see. It's to keep you safe. Or something.

      I am reminded of a woman who called Mike Trivisonno's radio show on WTAM a few years back. She was an old woman from Russia, back when it was part of the USSR. She was angry, screaming at us (the American people in general), "Don't you see what you are doing? Don't you know where this will lead? I left Russia to get away from this! What are you doing?"

  • Nuff said.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Need a crypto method that randomly inserts "FUCK YOU NSA" in cleartext.

    • by Immerman (2627577) on Monday December 23, 2013 @12:50PM (#45767545)

      Mmm hmm. How exactly do you suggest I encrypt the routing information (metadata) of my emails, phone calls, and mail? And still have it reach it's destination I mean? The ISPs, phone companies, email providers, etc. could do such a thing if they chose - but under current law they're all in the back pocket of the NSA and their secret orders anyway, so it wouldn't defend against the elephant in the room (though it would still be a good defense against every *other* privacy-invading parasite monitoring internet traffic.

      Sure, it's good advice to encrypt the contents and deny them the ability to dig deeper (though I don't see phone scramblers catching on any time soon), assuming of course you can find an encryption algorithm that hasn't been compromised by the NSA or other spooks, but it accomplishes exactly nothing in terms of the topic at hand.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 23, 2013 @11:32AM (#45766893)

    Before anyone pipes up with "oh, this doesn't affect me, I'm just a nobody", then try thinking further ahead than the next quarter.

    You may be one among, say, millions of students, but what about 5-10 years from now when you do or invent something important and it's in conflict with what the government of the day wants you to do ?

    That's the point at which your student past is dug up and it's explained to you that unless you play ball your past will be revealed.

    Even if you are the most boring person in the world, then what about the people one or two steps removed from you, ie: members of your class. Guilt by association and all that.

    I really dislike it when people think about where they are today instead of where they may be a few years from now. People like these will sleepwalk into this future without realising it until it's too late.

    • Exactly. It's similar to when people of a political party back increased powers for the branch of government that they control but then act aghast when the opposing party gains control and uses those powers. If you think Government Agency/Branch X should have a certain power, ask yourself how you'd feel if someone completely opposite of you in politician orientation gained control of that agency/branch. How would they use the powers? How might they misuse them? What checks would there be on the power-u

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I really dislike it when people think about where they are today instead of where they may be a few years from now. People like these will sleepwalk into this future without realising it until it's too late.

      A universal truth: people don't care about politics unless and until they believe that it either affects or will affect their daily lives.

      Most people don't think in abstractions, beyond the particular, and most people are just too busy living their lives to constantly wring their hands about every potential threat from the govt. That's probably a good thing overall. The govt shouldn't be the center of people's lives. It's frustrating, though, when a real threat is building ...

  • Laugh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by koan (80826) on Monday December 23, 2013 @11:34AM (#45766911)

    "He also managed the staff that produced the Presidential Daily Briefings for President George W. Bush. Morell was Bush’s briefer during the September 11, 2001 attacks, and has been quoted as saying, "I would bet every dollar I have that it’s al Qaeda."

    So this was one of the people, that ignored the 9/11 warnings, and then went even farther to lie about who did it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 23, 2013 @11:35AM (#45766923)

    from Richard Clark (the one who warned Bush on possible Al-Qaida threats pre-911) who was also on the panel. His line was that many of the NSA's programs are useful, (phone meta data not so much) but the program need more judges (to handle all the requests properly and perhaps a civilian advocate.

    • by Sarten-X (1102295)

      Well yes, but that's a rational response. We don't like those much here.

      If the NSA's stopped this time, the CIA will be running the operation next time, and of course every other country is running their equivalent programs while chastising the US for getting caught. As Bruce Schneier so often has pointed out, modern technology presents incredible power, but we must be careful how that power is used. In my opinion, we should use this situation to establish a baseline procedure for modern surveillance of any

  • by lophophore (4087) on Monday December 23, 2013 @11:35AM (#45766927) Homepage

    Obama is Bush 2.0, even though he led us to believe he was the anti-Bush. We all thought he was going to undo the draconian actions of the Patriot Act, to restore personal liberty and freedom, but that's sure not what we got, is it?

    • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Monday December 23, 2013 @11:44AM (#45767005)

      Not quite.

      There are certain semi-agreed 'debate issues' in US politics. Things that the parties have informally (Or possible, conspiratorially) decided are going to get a lot of attention, be a subject of intence R-v-D warfare and generally decide elections. A lot of these are things that won't actually have a great impact on most of society, like abortion or gay marriage.

      There are also certain semi-agreed 'off the table' issues, where both sides have decided that drawing attention to them would be a bad thing for both sides. This includes defence spending and civil rights, along with such issues as corn subsidies and copyright reform. Rarely do you find a politician daring to even acknowledge these as issues, and any that do risk a backlash from their own party.

      This is one of the 'off the table' issues. If Snowden's leaking hadn't forced it to public attention, it would never have been allowed to come up, and right now both parties are just hopeing it goes away again.

    • Agreed 100%. I find it perplexing when people hate on Bush, yet praise obama, even tho he has done everything bush was doing but moreso. Deportations are higher with Obama than with Bush, even tho he promised immigration reform. DEA raids on legal dispensaries are higher than with Bush, even tho he promised an end to DEA raids in states where marijuana is legal. The Patriot Act and its bretheren have become worse and worse under Obama as well, yet people still praise him as some anti Bush political gamechan
      • by SirGarlon (845873)

        I think the people who hate on Bush, but praise Obama, can point to the fact the Obama never ordered the invasion of a country that had done no harm to America, had no weapons of mass destruction, and was not supporting terrorism. We're talking about the blood of 100,000 civilians [wikipedia.org] give or take. When it comes to morality, George W. Bush's standard is an easy bar to get over.

        All that said, Bush never ordered the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen. Obama has done it more than once.

        I say, put them bot

    • by ganjadude (952775)
      who is this "we all" you speak of? I remember from the time obama was decided that he was the dem nominee telling everyone that he was going to be no better than bush, that he was going to expand on what bush began. Only fools actually believed that obama was going to be any better
  • by Nyder (754090) on Monday December 23, 2013 @11:39AM (#45766963) Journal

    ... you know your doing something wrong.

     

  • by Parker Lewis (999165) on Monday December 23, 2013 @11:40AM (#45766971)
    Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
    Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759
  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Monday December 23, 2013 @11:41AM (#45766981)

    I could understand that after 9/11, drastic measures were necessary to fight terrorism at the time. But now . . . ? We seem to be hunkering down, and assuming that we will need all of this surveillance and security . . . forever.

    All this stuff is purely defensive in nature: trying to prevent terrorist attacks. Despite all these security measures, it is just a matter of time before another attack succeeds anyway . . . like in Boston.

    I'd like to see a plan to reduce these threats forever . . . so we can go back to our normal ways, before the war. Now, it seems that we are preparing for an endless war on terrorism. A permanent state of war is not good for any society.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 23, 2013 @11:54AM (#45767075)

      I'd contend that after 9/11, no measures were necessary to fight terrorism. In fact, it would've been far better to shrug and move on.

      Think about it: What better move to show the world that you won't budge to terrorism by showing you aren't intimidated, and what better way to do that than to just ignore the whole thing, except for mourning your dead and putting the building back together?

      You can always get your own back later. But nooo, you had to fight. Right away. And give up scads of freedoms to do it. And everyone else's too. And wage two wars that have now destabilised the entire area. Destabilisation that is causing yet more people to die and more terrorism to leak back into the rest of the world. These drastic measures have compounded the problem several orders of magnitude. So really, you're reaping what you've sown.

      Instead, what was necessary was to fire every last single intelligence agency in its entirety and rebuild from scratch. For they've been at it for sixty-odd years, had their feelers in every network, and... didn't see this one coming. And they still don't. But in the meantime they've grown that much more in size, power, budget, influence, access, hunger for data, you name it. The intelligence community is completely out of control. So the only fix is still, only much more so, to get rid of it entirely. That, or we'll have to get rid of the entire state of the USoA. Or we'll indeed end up with a permanent state of war.

      • Indeed. It's called TERRORism because it's intended to make people scared. The way to render it ineffective is to refuse to live in fear. One of the best anti-terrorism efforts was the "Anthrax this!" cover, a clear statement that we will not be terrorized.

    • by Shagg (99693) on Monday December 23, 2013 @11:55AM (#45767077)

      A permanent state of war is not good for any society.

      It's good for the people in power. What makes you think that they care whether or not it's good for society.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by broken_chaos (1188549)

      How do you 'win' against a concept?

      Terrorism isn't a person, it isn't a nation, it isn't even a religion. There is nothing to win a war against, so you cannot ever have a traditional end to a war against terrorism. If those in power wish, it's a 'war' that can go on forever, quite easily.

    • by module0000 (882745) on Monday December 23, 2013 @11:57AM (#45767101)

      I don't think the powers that be would like it to ever end. The expression "War is Peace" sums this up...as long as there is a constant threat of war(in this case, "terrorism"), the populace can be made to accept nearly any unreasonable demand in the name of that defending against that threat.

      Imagine if you are the commander of a military force - would you rather a mediocre budget because of peacetime? Or would you rather have a "buy anything and everything no questions asked" mandate because of the imminent threat of war? This also appeals to the sense of power the government leaders have - it allows them a constant state of martial law, effectively letting them act with impunity while "defending us" from war(or in this case, imminent terrorism).

    • Given the costs of a permanent state of war, and the ghastly security apparatus that will happily metastasize in such an environment, why wait for 'a plan to reduce these threats forever' before backing the hell away as fast as we can? If we wait for the plan (and assume that the plan won't involve "build a giant orwellian database and use it to direct our killbots"), we'll be waiting a long time.

      Terrorism just isn't that serious a threat (outside of a few rather ghastly neighborhoods where things classi
    • by Jason Levine (196982) on Monday December 23, 2013 @12:12PM (#45767195)

      Actually, the "drastic measures" were largely a reaction to the events. As a country, we went into shock and some people took advantage of this to push security theater that would make them rich and/or would score them votes.

      All that was really needed was three things beyond pre-911 security:

      1) Lock and reinforce the cockpit doors so a terrorist couldn't burst in and take over.
      2) Instruct pilots that, in the event of a terrorist trying to take over, they are to report it, fly to the nearest airport, and make an emergency landing. They are NOT to unlock the cockpit doors no matter how many people the terrorists kill. Pilots would be shielded from being sued for the loss of life while they tried to make an emergency landing. After all, if the terrorists get into the cockpit, everyone might as well be dead.
      3) Passengers were not to simply "do as the terrorists say" as they did in pre-911 times. Back then "hijacking" meant you go to some other location, spend some tense hours being captive, and then more likely than not get returned home safe and sound. As long as you just cooperated. Now, "hijacking" means you are dead if you don't stop them. Passengers will now rise up and oppose the terrorists. Even if they die doing it. (See Flight 93.)

      If we were to reduce airport security to pre-911 levels with the above exceptions, we'd be just as safe from terrorists as we are today and wouldn't be sacrificing as many freedoms.

      • and wouldn't be sacrificing as many freedoms.

        What freedoms would we be sacrificing if we only implemented the things you suggested?

    • I could understand that after 9/11, drastic measures were necessary to fight terrorism at the time.

      Then that is where you fail. I do not believe freedoms should be sacrificed in exchange for safety (real or otherwise), and certainly not so after something like the 9/11 attacks.

    • I'd like to see a plan to reduce these threats forever . . . so we can go back to our normal ways, before the war. Now, it seems that we are preparing for an endless war on terrorism.

      What if I told you the threat of terrorism was so low even lightning strikes or falling down in the bathtub are more serious threats to American lives?

      9/11 killed one sixth the number of people who die from the flu every year! That means since 9/11 the flu has proven 60 times more dangerous than terrorists. Accidents and heart disease kill 400 times more people every year than a 9/11 scale attack. [cdc.gov] We need proportional protection from threats. 1/6th or 1/60th of what we spend on anti-flu vaccines should be spent on anti-terrorism. The threat is just a fear narrative to get the people to do whatever the government wants. You accept that life is dangerous when you drive to a fast food restaurant, and face a far greater risk than terrorism yet we demand no War on Cheeseburgers and Cars. The war on terror will end when the people stop being afraid of pathetic threats. Accept the risk of being free. It is minimal compared to every other threat you face.

      We don't need the wiretapping spying at all. Omnivore, Carnivore [wikipedia.org], ECHELON, and PRISM's Room 641A existed BEFORE 9/11. [wikipedia.org] The NSA's spying apparatus has failed to prevent every terrorist attack since the 60's, including 9/11. We gave them more powers and they failed to prevent the Boston Marathon Bombing.

      The spying programs are expensive and useless for the protection of American lives. It's too easy to track the tax funds so the CIA gets a large portion of its black-ops money through investments. The cold war machine lost its raison d'etre, and like any business or other cybernetic being it didn't want to die. So in order to keep itself fed with massive funds the spying apparatus must manufacture threats to deceive the public with. [youtube.com] There was never a suspicion of WMD's there was only the need for a threat narrative to fuel a war machine. Just like Vietnam, Just like McCarthyism, The Red Scare, etc. There is no threat to us anymore from countries defined by borders since we have mutually assured nuclear destruction.

      The National Reconnaissance Office gifted NASA two Hubble Sized spy satellites because they're launching far more impressive spy satellites with the biggest rockets in the world. [youtube.com] Hubbles aimed at Earth! That's PLENTY of spying capability to be content with. No force on Earth can move against us without us knowing instantly, the wiretap spying isn't needed at all. If the flu, cars, and cheeseburgers are a more serious threat than terrorism, but domestic spying can yield information that can be used for insider trading, and that's how black-ops are funded...

      Occam's Razor says Snowden is right: [washingtonpost.com] "These programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power."

      Citizens have changed from collateral damage into the prime targets themselves in the new age cold war. Borders are largely safe now. The developing world is used as the outlet to expend the war machines output. Great stockpiles of the machines of war are burned to make room for new spending. [rt.com] Black-ops instigates new proxy wars. [wikipedia.org] The CIA carries out economic warfare at the behest of Corpora [youtube.com]

  • What could possibly be of such interest to go to such lengths? Power? Political corruption? Racial/Religious superiority? The lengths to which they are going bear similarity to some very historic, oppressive regimes.

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Monday December 23, 2013 @11:43AM (#45766993) Homepage Journal

    Also were suggested to put all americans in maximum security prisons, to avoid to be attacked by foreigners. They could keep working from jail for their safety, but their salaries will have a cut to maintain the jail system safe for them.

    Other options like killing all the americans to avoid them to be killed by terrorists, and killing everyone with a doomsday device to avoid the same, if well would be effective for the security of american goals, were discarded as, for now, excessive.

  • refresher needed? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 23, 2013 @11:45AM (#45767013)

    For those with the short memory a reminder is needed: currently email headers and selected contents is collected. Please review once again NSA slides if you need refresher.

    So this basically represents parallel construction of justification: ahem.... we, NSA, should consider collecting emails (even though we already do).

    Somehow they magically think that the public will forget that that collection of emails has been going for the decades and will believe that somehow in 2011 collection stopped.

  • by pauljlucas (529435) on Monday December 23, 2013 @11:48AM (#45767029) Homepage Journal

    This program, 215, has the ability to stop the next 9/11 and if you added emails in there it would make it even more effective.

    So terrorists will simply use snail mail. I don't think they're in that much of a hurry.

  • Why stop there? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Subm (79417) on Monday December 23, 2013 @11:52AM (#45767063)

    > "He also said the program, far from being unnecessary, could prevent the next 9/11."

    Why stop there? If you put everyone in jail you'll prevent attacks too.

    And give us all tracking collars and big bonuses for yourself and your crony pals for the contracts to fulfill all the work.

    As long as we don't consider unintended consequences, history, or conflicting interests like the Constitution and public opinion, expanding surveillance makes a lot of sense.

    Then again, the slightest thought to any of these things makes him sound like a total idiot, if not a traitor.

  • by FuzzNugget (2840687) on Monday December 23, 2013 @11:54AM (#45767067)
    Wolves vote to keep eating sheep for dinner.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 23, 2013 @11:55AM (#45767083)
    NATIONAL Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has criticised the presidential panel reviewing US surveillance programs, saying it was a hand-picked group by the government that only suggested cosmetic changes, according to a Sunday Brazilian TV report. "Their job wasn't to protect privacy or deter abuses, it was to restore public confidence in these spying activities. Many of the recommendations they made are cosmetic changes," Mr Snowden said in an email to the Globo TV channel.

    According to the Globo report, Mr. Snowden said the NSA hasn’t produced evidence to suggest the disclosures have caused harm. He said U.S. law doesn’t distinguish between a whistleblower revealing illegal programs “and a spy secretly selling documents to terrorists.”

    The biggest offense one can commit in the U.S. isn’t to damage the government, but rather to “embarrass it. It’s clear that I could not possibly get a fair trial in my country,” he said, according to the report.

    http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2013/12/22/snowden-criticizes-u-s-panel-overseeing-surveillance/ [wsj.com]

  • In Other News (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheCarp (96830) <sjc&carpanet,net> on Monday December 23, 2013 @11:56AM (#45767093) Homepage

    Chief of Security Wolf vows his pack will personally guard the Hen house

    Private prison owners: "The country needs stiffer drug penalties"

    FBI: We need surveillance to help keep you safe from the people we keep radicalising and arming!

  • by mysidia (191772) on Monday December 23, 2013 @11:59AM (#45767117)

    Had it been in place in 2000 and 2001, I think that probably 9/11 would not have happened.

    Because "YOU THINK"? That is a good enough reason to rape Americans' of their privacy?

    And if we station armed soldiers at every interstate entrance and exit, every state border, every entrance and exit to every major cvity, to interrogate all travelers, strip search everyone driving -- demand to see and record the "metadata" (identification of all vehicle passengers, and their reported origin and destination) --- just maybe we stop the next 9/11 or carbombing too.

    The terrorists will just have to use a different technique...

    • by khallow (566160)
      Keep in mind also that the existing procedures and powers were adequate, there were several points at which the 9/11 attacks could have been uncovered and stopped. They weren't because of incompetent bureaucrats or lack of communication between agencies that legally should have been communicating. This is one of the more loathsome aspects of security theater - that the watchdogs are rewarded with more power for not doing their jobs.
  • Uh... right... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ImOuttaHere (2996813) on Monday December 23, 2013 @11:59AM (#45767119)

    Let me see if I get this right: Three letter agencies refuse to work in compliance with the Constitution and pre-Bush era FISA law... where few people can remember why the original FISA was passed (look it up, it has everything to do with illegal three letter agency data collection on US citizens during the early to mid-20th century, very much like what we're facing now)... where people forget that NSA lawyers were directed by Darth Cheney to find every means of justifying to the secret court (what? a secret court in America? really???) four (that we know so far), count 'um, four illegal spying programs... which the aforementioned secret court accepted with few, if any limits!... so Baby Bush could wave a court signed piece of paper that granted his illegal spy programs legitimacy... and that anti-American "socialist" Obama continually supports... where citizens of the Formerly Great Country of the USA demand safety in nearly gleeful exchange for freedoms... and not one single person involved in these clearly illegal activities has been put on trial... while the US Government hunts those who might reveal aforementioned illegal activities...

    Problem? What problem? Oh. Right. Ice cold Busch and NASCAR await. Gotta go...

  • ...but I'm picturing Walter Matthau in 'Fail Safe'.

    .
  • Any "terrorist" with half a brain assumes the NSA is looking at all standard comms now. To keep tapping these mediums is beyond pointless.
  • Our wonderful government has learned from tyrants very well indeed. Make your citizens afraid, very afraid.

  • by CimmerianX (2478270) on Monday December 23, 2013 @12:15PM (#45767219)
    So wouldn't the terrorists just resort to dropbox and notepad? Maybe everyone's dropbox contents should be indexed....just in case. Besides, what terrorist would continually use the same email address anyway.... seems like a pretty stupid terrorist would... that's who.
  • This is exactly the level of thinking the TSA uses to design its so-called security protocols. Figure out what was done. Design something that looks like you are looking at it. Then do it.

    Meanwhile, terrorists move ahead to different protocols, different targets. Such as (as has been written), using Google Mail and cross-editing mail drafts to pass information. The drafts are never sent. They are an ongoing, live document. Let me repeat, the drafts are never sent. No emails are generated.

    So al
    • Does it matter if it is sent to another gmail address? I wouldn't expect gmail-gmail correspondence to ever leave the server farm.

  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Monday December 23, 2013 @12:24PM (#45767313)

    Why does the public let go unchallenged the claim that there will be a "next 9/11" to prevent?

    The 9/11 attacks were the most ambitious terrorist attacks in history. They certainly terrorized the United States, and government officials obviously remain terrorized to this day. So in that sense, they were kind of a success. They also had massive blowback that Al Quaeda might not be keen to repeat.

    Before 9/11, bin Laden was a folk hero in some parts of the Muslim world because he fought the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. After the atrocity he masterminded, most of his financiers and sympathizers dropped him like he was radioactive. Middle Eastern governments that had formerly turned a blind eye to Al Quaeda started shutting down its finance network and jailing its contributors, raiding training camps and arresting radical clerics. Then there is the US armed response, which was deeply misguided in important ways but which undeniably brought ruin on Al Queada and the Taliban government of Afghanistan. Since at least the battle of Tora Bora, Al Quaeda has been struggling to survive. It's hard to see how redoubling American resolve, just now when the public is war-weary, cynical, and worried about the war debt, would advance the aim of a global Caliphate.

    It has also been said that the 9/11 attacks were self defeating in the sense that exactly because they were so devastating and well-planned, they are nigh impossible to surpass. Next to them, just bombing an embassy looks like small time. So the effectiveness of typical terror attacks may actually have been diminished because the public's expectations have been raised.

    So, even if any organization could pull off "another 9/11", I seriously question whether they would want to. I believe the radicals' current objective is to get the US out of Afghanistan so they can rebuild their safe haven there. In other words, to pick up the pieces from the blowback from 9/11 and get back to where they were on Sept. 10, 2001. There is considerable doubt whether this is possible: the US will definitely pull out, but its drones will still rain Hellfire missiles from the sky day or night, and the US-backed Afghan army is in a position to keep the pressure on for a good long while.

    Which brings me back to why preventing the "next 9/11" is something we should be worried about. If bin Laden had 9/11 to do over again, knowing the consequences for his organization and his agenda, would he go for it? I have to go with "no." Why can't any politician stand up and say that? Claim some credit for the progress in the "war on terror" instead of jumping at shadows?

    Of course, I can answer my own question. The bogeyman of terrorism serves the authoritarian purposes of the government, so they refuse to abandon it. But please, let's start calling them on it.

  • No, no, and just in case you're having trouble keepin up, NO!

    ... and the horse you rode in on.

  • They do realize they won't get away with it right?

    Best case everyone upgrades their security until they're pretty sure the NSA is not able to read it.

    Worst case... big backlashes against the US and NSA...

  • say we need more military hardware

    beer brewers say drink more beer

    of course they are going to peddle their wares

    what would you do for a klondike bar?
  • by FridayBob (619244) on Monday December 23, 2013 @01:27PM (#45767797) Homepage

    This whole NSA spying debacle is nothing more than a self-licking ice cream cone if there ever was one, albeit a rather dangerous one for any democracy to be involved in.

    In at least two court cases now the government has had to admit that its massive dragnet operation has, over the years, not prevented a single terrorist incident; the ones we did catch on time were thanks to tip-offs and good old fashioned detective work. Yet, why does the establishment seem to double down on this issue, even though it's clearly unconstitutional and public sentiment is against it?

    Because of the money involved.

    80% of the NSA consists of private companies that do almost all of the work and it's these companies that have such a massive stake in this gigantic data collecting operation. Normally the government should be able to simply tell them to stop, but the problem is that the tail is now wagging the dog: these companies don't want to see any drop in their profits, which is only their main interest and whole reason for being. So, they're fighting back using mainly legal methods, which these days includes the option to make donations to key politicians. Remember: money equals free speech these days.

    The politicians involved, especially the members of the US House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (Feinstein, Chambliss, et al.), are the most obvious targets for these donations. Like all other members of Congress, they know that 94-95% of the time the candidate with the most money will win the next election, so they actually spend most of their time raising money while in return doing and saying most anything that their most important donors want. Our representatives don't work for us anymore: they work for their donors. Consequently, the government squanders untold billions on so many unnecessary "employment projects" every year, but this NSA mega-project to spy on everyone and everything is a particularly dangerous one.

    That's why we must put a stop to it ASAP: by getting big money out of politics.

    Lucky for us, this is actually easier than you might think. It would be very difficult in any other country, but the United States Constitution happens to include Article Five [wikipedia.org], which describes an alternative process through which the Constitution can be altered: by holding a national convention at the request of the legislatures of at least two-thirds (34) of the country's 50 States. Any proposed amendments must then be ratified by at least three-quarters (38 States).

    Is anybody doing this yet? Yes indeed, and you too can get involved! WOLF-PAC [wolf-pac.com] was launched in October 2011 for the purpose of passing a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that will end corporate personhood* and publicly finance all elections**. Since then, many volunteers have approached their State Legislators about this idea and their efforts have often been met with unexpected bi-partisan enthusiasm. So far, 50 State Legislators [youtube.com] have authored or co-sponsored resolutions to call for a Constitutional Convention to get money out of politics! Notable successes have been in Texas, Idaho and Kentucky.

    However, if the State Legislators are also corrupt, why are they helping us? Well, maybe they aren't as corrupt as you think. And even if they are, the important thing is that they seem to be just as fed up with the Federal government as we are -- so much so that they seem quite happy to help out with this effort. After all, it's a pretty simple proposal that speaks to both Democrats and Republicans.

    It looks to me like this is going to happen. The only question is whether it will be sooner or later. As an ex-pat I can only donate, but if you live in the US you can also contact your favorite State Legislator and ask for a meeting. It's easier than you might think and as a result maybe we can change t

  • by 3seas (184403) on Monday December 23, 2013 @01:28PM (#45767805) Journal

    ...the taxpayers should be asked if they are willing to fund this? Or do we assume a Tyranny is in effect?

  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Monday December 23, 2013 @01:48PM (#45767967) Homepage

    "I would argue that what effectiveness we have seen to date is totally irrelevant to how effective it might be in the future," he said. "This program, 215, has the ability to stop the next 9/11 and if you added emails in there it would make it even more effective. Had it been in place in 2000 and 2001, I think that probably 9/11 would not have happened."'

    OK, let's take your utterly preposterous claim at face value. Let's say that this program would have prevented 9/11, and would prevent another 9/11 tomorrow, and has done fuck-all in between. That means we'd save 3,000 American lives every 12 years. Call it 3,600 to make the math easy. That's 300 lives per year. Against the 4th amendment. How does that price measure up against some of our other freedoms?

    To retain the right to drive automobiles, we spend 34,000 lives per year [wikipedia.org].

    To retain the right to drink alcohol, we spend 34,000 to 75,000 lives per year [nbcnews.com] (depending on how you count alcohol-related accidents).

    To retain the right to use tobacco, we spend 440,000 lives per year [cdc.gov].

    To retain the second amendment, we spend 30,000 lives per year [wikipedia.org].

    To retain the right to be obese, we spend 300,000 lives per year [wvdhhr.org].

    With the possible exception of tobacco, I support the retention of all those rights. Three hundred per year for The Fourth Amendment (and the chilling effect on The First)? Even if his preposterous supposition were true, it would be a bargain at ten times the price compared to some of the other rights we hold dear.

    • by melikamp (631205)

      A great list. To add, there ain't nothing wrong with tobacco that ain't also wrong with alcohol. Just like any other toxic and extremely addictive drug, it should be 100% legal, but regulated tightly: tax it as much as the market will bear, forbid all ads, mandate plain brandless packaging.

  • by NotSanguine (1917456) on Monday December 23, 2013 @03:08PM (#45768613) Journal

    There were numerous reports about the 9/11 hijackers doing things like learning to fly jets and many of them were already on terrorist watch lists.

    The issue wasn't a lack of information, it was apathy and incompetence. Gathering *even more* information about innocent people won't help stop anything. Having competent people who do their jobs can.

    All that said, freedom isn't safe. If we want to be free, we have to understand that there are those who are unbalanced, criminal, or just downright nasty out there. We need balanced laws and competent people to address this, but spying on everyone isn't the answer. That is all.

Murphy's Law, that brash proletarian restatement of Godel's Theorem. -- Thomas Pynchon, "Gravity's Rainbow"

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