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Gen. Keith Alexander On Metadata, Snowden, and the NSA: "We're At Greater Risk" 238

Posted by timothy
from the let's-say-this-is-jeopardy dept.
An anonymous reader writes with some snippets pulled from a lengthy Q&A session at The New Yorker with former NSA head Keith Alexander, in which Alexander defends the collection of metadata by U.S. spy agencies both abroad and within the United States: "The probability of an attack getting through to the United States, just based on the sheer numbers, from 2012 to 2013, that I gave you—look at the statistics. If you go from just eleven thousand to twenty thousand, what does that tell you? That's more. That's fair, right? [..] These aren't my stats. The University of Maryland does it for the State Department. [...] The probability is growing. What I saw at N.S.A. is that there is a lot more coming our way. Just as someone is revealing all the tools and the capabilities we have. What that tells me is we're at greater risk. I can't measure it. You can't say, Well, is that enough to get through? I don't know. It means that the intel community, the military community, and law enforcement are going to work harder."
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Gen. Keith Alexander On Metadata, Snowden, and the NSA: "We're At Greater Risk"

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  • probabilities? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iggymanz (596061) on Friday May 16, 2014 @01:03PM (#47018817)

    why is this shithead talking of probabilities? let's talk about REAL attacks. Like the one where the government of an immigrant called our Homeland Security morons and actually warned us about someone. And our Homeland Security statsi did exactly nothing. Then, the person who was the subject of that call blew up the finish area of the Boston Marathon. For that matter, what about 9/11, our intelligence and national police watching those Saudi terrorists for years to see what they would do; well, we saw what they did.

    • by Kremmy (793693)
      He's talking probabilities because that's all they base anything on these days. When we have a presidential election, the results are announced the same day through statistics and probabilities then an awful lot of votes get lost in the noise. Our entire economy is debt, to the degree that there is no money which is not owed to someone else. There are no real attacks because the system is entirely predicated on the POSSIBILITY of attack. It's bullshit from the top down, at every level.
      • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Friday May 16, 2014 @01:31PM (#47019067) Homepage Journal
        Why listing to a gold-plated, brass-hatted liar?

        Hitler had Generals with more personal and professional integrity.

        This man has less veracity than a 70's era Politburo Apparatchik, more mendacity than Midway Huckster and greater venality than a Back Street Cutthroat.

      • He's talking probabilities because that's all they base anything on these days.

        I'm not too sure about that. What he's talking about is BS, not probabilities.

        If he wanted to talk about genuine, important statistics, then he would also be talking about the probability that anything the NSA is doing would actually prevent or deflect such an attack. Given the actual evidence we have so far, I would estimate that probability at close to zero.

        So we have huge costs, in economic, social, and personal freedom terms, with little probability of success.

        Sure sounds like worse than a wast

    • Re:probabilities? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday May 16, 2014 @01:19PM (#47018983) Journal
      If you had as little to show for your handiwork as he did, and what you did have was as dire as it is, you'd be speaking as vaguely as possible as well...

      The results that the NSA has achieved, apparently a hilarious variety of diplomatically touchy shenanigans extending throughout our alleged allies, are the ones that they just dig the hole deeper by talking about. They blew the pretense that they were playing defense for us and offense only against commie-nazi-fascists ages ago, so any talk about actual examples of competent work just makes them look creepy (and, unfortunately, they are pretty good at mass spying; but they apparently can't turn that into useful results, and their only plan is even more massive mass spying...)

      In the area where they could earn back some PR karma, they basically have fuck all to show, only vague handwaving about how their surveillance could have been so super effective that it stopped attacks before they even became visible, even as it repelled elephants. Unfalsifiabile; but even less satisfying than the assorted 3rd-string idiots the FBI has managed to perp-walk after foiling some pitiful little scheme that they had to be coached through.

      What the agency is good at are mostly things that they would just dig the hole deeper by talking about, and it's what they aren't good at that people would actually want to hear. So, we get vacuous nonsense.
      • The NSAs main purpose used to be codebreaking. I bet a number of years ago a report was sent to the top describing how with modern (at the time) methods encryption would be impossible to crack in any reasonable amount of time and resources. So they switched to the alternative of snooping on the data while it was in plaintext, and trying to introduce weaknesses into future encryption schemes, and using side channels to pick up snippets. Hence their whole existance is based largely on mass surveillance.
    • by PaddyM (45763)

      That's what I don't understand. All this metadata, and yet they couldn't prevent Boston bomber? This is a guy who got away with murdering people. He should have been in prison. Instead "statistics say we need to invade everyone's liberties". I haven't seen a single reporter ask about the metadata they had on the Boston bomber. If they couldn't prevent that attack, what attacks are they actually preventing?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by interkin3tic (1469267)
      While I hate the security theater industry, that's not quite a fair criticism. They get a lot of noise, and his name was misspelled [reuters.com].

      Infinitely more important though, lets not fall into the trap of using their logic. No government agency can protect against any possible psycho wanting to kill people. We should reject the premise that homeland security CAN protect us against such people if we just allow them to keep secret watchlists and give up our rights.

      Instead I'd frame it as "Homeland securi
      • by bigpat (158134)

        While I hate the security theater industry, that's not quite a fair criticism. They get a lot of noise, and his name was misspelled [reuters.com].

        Buttle or Tuttle? The movie "Brazil" seems like a foretelling documentary of the NSA and the US Federal Government and what happens when you turn the fight against terror into an issue of "Information Retrieval". Government "Big Data" is the new Big Brother.

      • Re:probabilities? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Friday May 16, 2014 @03:45PM (#47020445)

        They get a lot of noise, and his name was misspelled.

        Irrelevant. It was misspelled in a way that is entirely common and should have been anticipated. Has nobody at NSA even heard of Soundex or any of those other word-matching algorithms? It would appear not, but in reality of course they have. So why weren't they using one or more of them?

        I'm doing work where such algorithms might end up coming in handy eventually. And I know about them and they are readily available. And I'm hardly a highly-paid NSA employee right now.

    • You have to allow casualties to keep people scared.
    • by tomhath (637240)

      I don't understand why people keep using the Boston bombings as an example of the system failing. The US had no reason to arrest or deport them. No amount of security will ever stop two brothers from setting off pressure cookers full of 4th of July fireworks in a crowd.

      I think a better topic for discussion is the killing of al-Awlaki [wikipedia.org]. Was he trying to organize attacks against Western targets? Was killing him wrong?

  • Sign (Score:5, Informative)

    by cultiv8 (1660093) on Friday May 16, 2014 @01:04PM (#47018831) Homepage
    Well worth the watch if you have the time, gives a very good overview of how the NSA amassed as much power as it has: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/... [pbs.org]
  • Had to check (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lagomorpha2 (1376475) on Friday May 16, 2014 @01:09PM (#47018877)

    If you go from just eleven thousand to twenty thousand, what does that tell you? That's more. That's fair, right?

    Given who is speaking I had to do some fact checking before accepting it as truth.

  • Obligatory. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Scot Seese (137975) on Friday May 16, 2014 @01:09PM (#47018881)

    Gen. Keith Alexander,

    http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/... [quickmeme.com]

  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 16, 2014 @01:10PM (#47018883)

    It means that the intel community, the military community, and law enforcement are going to work harder.

    No. It means that your efforts are turning more and more people against the United States of America. It means that your actions have made people hate you more. Rather than putting more efforts into improving people's feelings towards America, you're turning more people against you.

    And it should be noted that it's no longer just foreign individuals who are growing to hate you - your efforts are making more and more Americans hate you too.

    Maybe - and this is just a wild idea here - you should stop being complete asses. You know, stop treating everyone in the damn world like the enemy. Maybe, just maybe, that might help make people hate you less which will probably help reduce the number of actions against you.

    But, let's be honest here, that's not what the power brokers want. The power brokers want to clamp down a polio state upon America and the world at large and the only way to do that is to foster the hate and continue to make America the victim of increasing hostility from malicious interests. You're fostering the hatred because it makes it easier for you and your ilk to justify strengthening the police state that you so dearly want.

    bleh.

    • Re:No (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 16, 2014 @01:30PM (#47019061)

      How does this intelligence gathering turn people against us? Everybody in other countries with an ounce of brains in their heads could reasonable assumed that this is going on, and everybody in America with an ounce of brains can reasonably assume that other countries (including our allies) is either doing the same thing or trying to gain the means to do so. The revelations by Snowden only serves to rile up those with their heads in the sand (and inflate his sense of self-worth), but serves little other useful purpose.

      • by naasking (94116)

        Everybody in other countries with an ounce of brains in their heads could reasonable assumed that this is going on, and everybody in America with an ounce of brains can reasonably assume that other countries (including our allies) is either doing the same thing or trying to gain the means to do so.

        Not everybody was aware of the extent this was happening, like the NSA trying to subvert encryption protocols and hardware devices. Certainly those well-versed in security culture probably suspected, but the confi

    • My summation is similar but goes like this:

      from 2012 to 2013, that I gave you—look at the statistics. If you go from just eleven thousand to twenty thousand, what does that tell you?

      MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

  • by mtrachtenberg (67780) on Friday May 16, 2014 @01:11PM (#47018897) Homepage

    A spymaster asserts spying is important! Details at 11.

    • by mtrachtenberg (67780) on Friday May 16, 2014 @01:12PM (#47018911) Homepage

      Coming up next -- investment bankers on why investment bankers deserve billions of dollars.

      • by Richy_T (111409)

        Followed by "That guy who stole your car stereo" explaining how it's society's fault.

        • ...which if then followed by Alexander and Clapper explaining how they stole your privacy, but it's Al Queda's fault

    • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Friday May 16, 2014 @01:37PM (#47019139)

      Well, let's take what he says at face value for a moment.

      Basically, he is arguing the ends justify the means. There's nothing in the US Constitution to support that, though, so it's an invalid argument. The Constitution states - pretty much as absolutes - what our rights as citizens are. There's no "well, you can have this freedom only if it doesn't make things too hard on the police" clause... as far as I can tell, anyway.

      He also says that, because of the Snowden revelations, "the intel community, the military community, and law enforcement are going to work harder." Well, good! If the threat is indeed growing, they *should* work harder. To stop threats against the country and its citizens, they should use every tool that's available to them within the law. But what they *shouldn't* do is violate the constitution or civil laws in pursuit of those goals.

      • by hjf (703092)

        Your bit about the constitution is wrong.

        The constitution is just a set of guidelines to prevent abuse from a totalitarian government. Laws routinely limit the rights of citizens.

        You have a right to free speech, but you can't say CUNT on TV.

        • sure you can ... you just can't broadcast it publicly. HBO is "on TV"
        • The constitution is just a set of guidelines to prevent abuse from a totalitarian government.

          The constitution is the highest law of the land in the US, and it is the very reason the government is even allowed to exist.

          And the constitution is a whitelist of powers the government has, not a blacklist of those it doesn't.

          Laws routinely limit the rights of citizens.

          And unless the constitution explicitly allows for those laws, they are unconstitutional. The TSA, the NSA mass surveillance, DUI checkpoints, free speech zones, protest permits, etc. are all unconstitutional. That our judiciary branch is often complicit in the crimes against the Ameri

    • Yes but a Spymaster saying that they need to get data about the general population to fight terrorists is news. It's like a researcher stressing the importance of false positives.

      Hint: concentrating on potential terrorists instead of amassing data about everyone should make agencies work less, not harder.

  • by alphatel (1450715) * on Friday May 16, 2014 @01:13PM (#47018919)
    If you own a clothing store and want to prevent theft by increasing security you can:

    Add metal tags to clothing
    Hire more security guards inside the store
    Install cameras in the ceiling and watch shoppers

    The NSA opts instead to
    Ask shoppers to wear metal tags
    Hire agents to follow them after they leave
    Install video cameras in their homes

    And now we call it "America"
    • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc&carpanet,net> on Friday May 16, 2014 @01:36PM (#47019123) Homepage

      ....and in the end, you might still spend more on those cameras and guards than the reduction in theft; possibly even more than the total of all the theft, including the part you didn't stop.

      Bruce Schnieir made a nice observation in one of his newsletters a while back about how security never makes money for anyone but security folks....for everyone else it is a cost...always a cost. A cost that may mitigate other costs, but, its always a cost itself....in fact, it can ONLY be a benefit up to the extent that it mitigates other costs.

      That is, if you lose $10,000 a year to theft.... the absolute maximum you can ever save by implementing security is $10,000 a year, and every dollar you spend on that security reduces that benefit. If you hire a security gaurd for $40k/year... you are actually losing 4 times the maximum benefit his job can provide, before he even provides any benefit.... which is likely to only be a portion of that maximum.

      So the absolute maximum benefit of all this surveillance, of all this tampering with equipment, of invading privacy and creating a massive database that would be the wet dream of the Stasi and only needs a change in policy to be used to terrible effect....the likely unachievable maximum benefit is bound.....well really fucking small.

      • by ewieling (90662)
        I mostly agree with what you say, but want to point out your estimate of a security guards salary is grossly inflated.

        "According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, security guards earned an average of $23,970 in 2012. The bottom 10% of security guards earned less than $17,390, while the top 10% earned at least $42,490."
        • "According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, security guards earned an average of $23,970 in 2012.

          Which, after you add in benefits, taxes, and other non-paycheck costs of hiring him, will come to about $40k a year.

  • Irrelevant data (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gurps_npc (621217) on Friday May 16, 2014 @01:16PM (#47018947) Homepage
    Look, there is no question that spying on people will reveal some crimes.

    There is also no question that spying on people will damage our society. Some innocent people will have their non-criminal secrets revealed, damaging their lives beyond reason. Some innocent people will be falsely accused of crimes they did not commit - perhaps even going to jail or being killed by a drone. Certain people will become accustomed to violating the law for valid reasons and will start to violate it for personal reasons - the cases where US intelligence agents spied on ex-lovers are just the start.

    The question is, is the damage done greater than the damage prevented. From the huge and vast history of spying, we also know that we can not simply take the government's word. Even if they start good, they too often end up going too far.

    So we set up a system that is supposed to not only prevent the worst damage done by spying, but to prevent even the APPEARANCE that that damage might be occurring.

    General Keith Alexander's article talks a lot about the damage the spying prevents. It totally ignores the massive damage he and his ilk does.

    As such it is not convincing at all. It's like a gold miner talking about how much gold they are going to get out of the mountain without even mentioning the massive amounts of toxic materials he is dumping directly into the town's reservoir.

    • It's like a gold miner talking about how much gold they are going to get out of the mountain without even mentioning the massive amounts of toxic materials he is dumping directly into the town's reservoir.

      This is by far the BEST analogy I've seen on this recently.

    • by mariox19 (632969)

      The question is, is the damage done greater than the damage prevented.

      In a free country, such Utilitarian arguments take place only within the ruling principle of liberty. We don't weigh the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 6th amendments against some kind of first year philosophy student's bullshit session. We've established a constitutional framework for very good reasons.

    • by TheCarp (96830)

      Not only that but there is a real hidden trust issue here.

      What is the difference between The US government collecting this sort of data and North Korea doing it? If someone came out with evidence that the DPRK was doing exactly this same stuff both to their own people and abroad (and don't get me wrong, to some extent they likely are...even if its unlikely they have the same level of capability) What is the difference?

      The answer is very simple: Policy. we are protected, to some extent, by policies which try

    • by Simulant (528590)
      The reaction to 9/11 pretty much proves that the US will accept no risk unless it's self inflicted.
      • basically, we decided we should destroy our own freedoms before anyone else can get a chance to.

        it just is that simple. and if we keep people in a false sense of fear, they can be controlled and manipulated to do the Big Man's bidding, whatever and whoever that is, this week.

        I don't think at all about terrorists. but I do think about the loss of freedom, almost weekly, now. I know who 'broke' things and I won't listen to their lies ever again. if their lips are moving, they are lying; its very easy, now

  • "It means that the intel community, the military community, and law enforcement are going to work harder."

    Yes, I agree. Good conclusion.
  • Why is this guy still called a General, he's a fucking politician already, a political appointee and from his spintalk he's learning the DC shuffle pretty well. A real general would lead his troops into battle and kill the fucking enemy, not continually spy on the citizens or trample on the constitution he's sworn to protect. You have soliders to fight wars, not play political games and trying to color everything with spintalk.

    • Why is this guy still called a General, he's a fucking politician already, a political appointee and from his spintalk he's learning the DC shuffle pretty well. A real general would lead his troops into battle and kill the fucking enemy, not continually spy on the citizens or trample on the constitution he's sworn to protect. You have soliders to fight wars, not play political games and trying to color everything with spintalk.

      If you are in the USA then he is, in effect, a politician as are all your Generals. Until the corporates get enough leverage to be able to neutralise these Generals and replace them as your de-facto politicians.

  • by rogoshen1 (2922505) on Friday May 16, 2014 @01:27PM (#47019043)

    I'd rather take my chances and live in a free society with some "risk" than in an oppressive nanny state that feels the need to increasingly monitor every aspect of my life.

    That's what he's missing, the 'risk' he's talking of is the price to pay for living in a free society.

    • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Friday May 16, 2014 @02:38PM (#47019753) Homepage Journal

      I'd rather take my chances and live in a free society with some "risk" than in an oppressive nanny state that feels the need to increasingly monitor every aspect of my life.

      That's what he's missing, the 'risk' he's talking of is the price to pay for living in a free society.

      This.

      One of my favorite revolutionary war-era quotes is Jefferson's "What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it's natural manure."

      Normally, we think -- as did Jefferson, I'm sure -- that the "blood of patriots" mentioned is that of citizens fighting to throw off an oppressive government. Sometimes we also think of it as the blood of soldiers defending against tyrannical forces threatening to invade. But it's equally valid to think of it as the blood of innocent citizens which is shed simply because freedom and safety are sometimes at odds with one another. Sometimes, the only way to be safer is to give up some freedom...and it's often not worth it.

      I say "often" because this isn't a black and white issue. There is a balance that has to be found, a balance that takes into account the relative harms and the numbers of people. In this case, I think the right of 300 million US citizens[*] to live free of spying by their own government is really, really big. Moreover, it's also really important to our continued freedom in all areas that we be comfortable speaking our minds, and government spying directly damages that freedom. For example studies have shown that the NSA's actions have had a chilling effect on what reporters are willing to talk about. That's very, very dangerous.

      9/11 was tragic, yes. We should try to avert future large-scale terror attacks, certainly. But against the scale of the nation as a whole, 9/11 -- the largest, most successful terror attack ever -- was a flea bite. It killed fewer people than die on our roads every three weeks, and did less property damage than a major hurricane. We could survive a 9/11 every year and not really feel the pain (as a nation -- obviously the people directly impacted would suffer greatly). And I reiterate that 9/11 was the largest, most successful terror attack ever. That's not the kind of thing that's easy to repeat, or, therefore, very likely to happen again.

      Another serious consideration is that if we allow our government to obtain too much power over us then we might arrive at a point where we need to refresh the tree of liberty via Jefferson's method. That would be far deadlier than a few terror attacks, even big ones.

      We need to accept that we can't have perfect safety. Hell, we can't have it even if we're willing to give up all freedom. So we should accept that part of the cost of freedom is a few lives, and we should honor those people as heroes who unwittingly sacrificed for the freedom of the rest of us. That's a far more effective way to preserve freedom than spending the lives of soldiers in foreign wars while voluntarily giving up the freedoms they're supposedly dying to defend.

      [*]Yes, I realize that non-US citizens also want to live without being spied upon. That's a valid issue, but separate from the point I'm making.

    • But what about the children?
  • by stink_eye (1582461) on Friday May 16, 2014 @01:35PM (#47019109)
    Rather than taking actions that short cuts the Constitution of the United States and infringes the rights of the citizen populace you claim to want to protect. Guess what, if the people of the US have lost faith and trust in the Military, Judiciary, Executive, and Legislative branches, as well as in Law Enfiorcement there is a reason for it. It's not some mass hallucination or mob mis-perception. The US Government has undermined the trust of the populace and now it is reaping the consequences. Don't bitch that the job is now harder because of infringements caused by corruption and incompetance within the highest corridors of power within the U.S.
  • The three main weapons in the arsenal against freedom.

    Guess what, everyone? The number of threats against the United States has likely been about the same from year to year for decades and decades now, they're just trotting out these 'independently gathered statistics' because they've been caught with both hands in the surveillance cookie jar and crumbs all over their faces, so now they trot out the FU&D to try to justify themselves. Them, them, fuck them, I say. Go back to traditional spycraft techniq
    • by WoOS (28173)

      The three main weapons in the arsenal against freedom.

      And I always thought the three main weapons were: Surprise, fear, and ruthless efficiency [youtube.com].
      Could we get Mr. Alexander maybe join a reenaction of Monthy Phyton. It seems to fit quite well to the NSA.

  • I propose that we put at least 2 cameras in every room. This way we can catch everyone committing a crime and reduce dramatically the risk of crime in the USA. I propose that the NSA, who has the expertise, would expand its role and electronically monitor the cameras. The computers would flag potential crimes happening for the NSA experts to look at. They would maintain the database and rules would be in place to prevent any abuse by the NSA professionals. Oversight of this NSA operation will be by a s

  • What that tells me is we're at greater risk.

    Risk of what exactly?

    Because you're talking about taking away my constitutional freedoms. That's a big deal. You need to give me some idea of what I'm being protected from. A terrorist attack? Because, the chances of that are 1 in 9,138,785. I'm willing to take that risk if it means I get to remain free.

  • And yet despite his scaremongering, which coincidentally means he needs more money and resources, I'm more likely to die of a heart attack or get hit while riding my bike than to ever even SEE a terrorist.

    We should take all their money and spend it on automobile safety and heart disease prevention....

  • Everytime some dude says "Death to America!" or something like that on the Internet, that's a credible threat. Oh look, there's another one. If you don't stop it, it'll be like nine eleven times a hundred!

    • Don't forget that every mention of the word "bomb" being a possible threat. Even if used as to describe a bad movie ("The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie's gonna bomb at the box office") or as slang to describe something very good ("That burrito is da bomb."). It doesn't matter the context, it's a threat.

      The fact that we haven't been attacked by mutant turtles wielding exploding burritos is thanks to the tireless work of the NSA!

  • A Fair Trial (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AndyCanfield (700565) <andycanfield@yand e x . c om> on Friday May 16, 2014 @02:24PM (#47019637) Homepage
    Some people ask whether Edward Snowden can get a fair trial in the US. The real question is whether Keith Alexander can get a fair trial in the US. He was the head of an organization which was doing illegal things. Will he get a fair trial? Will he get a trial at all? No.
  • by dave562 (969951) on Friday May 16, 2014 @02:39PM (#47019763) Journal

    The government does a great job of keeping the conversation focused on "terrorism" and the inevitability of it.

    They never allow the dialogue to shift to the causes of terrorism. We never see discussions about the specific foreign policy elements that generate the hatred and anger that leads to people getting to the point where they are willing to sacrifice their lives to inflict harm to the American economy and way of life.

    Until people begin having real conversations about what we are doing, why we are doing it, what the benefits of doing it are, and what the risks associated with it are, this is going to continue.

    Unfortunately it seems that any sort of multi-faceted conversation like that is not of interest to most of the population. Those who are interested in having those conversations have already had them, and decided that the benefits outweigh the risks. Money in their pockets is worth the cost of a few lives and civil liberties.

    It all comes back to the 1%. There is a small portion of the population that is gambling with the lives of everyone else. Everyone else is too disorganized to remove the 1% from power.

    Until people get to the point where they are willing to publicly stand up and say, "I am tired of living in fear for my life so that WE can make money at the expense of the rest of the world." Nothing is going to change. And that is the truth of it. On some level, all of us, ALL OF US, benefit from the current system and are too comfortable with it to do anything more than whine about it online.

  • The military officers I have known have at least been coherent.

  • by SlovakWakko (1025878) on Friday May 16, 2014 @03:05PM (#47020015)
    ...and start respecting other states' sovereignty. I mean for real, not just with words. Maybe then the number of attacks will start dropping...
  • I'd rather deal with a higher level of threat then accept extra legal NSA/CIA spying within the US.

    The politically incorrect reality is that we've probably let too many bad people into the US and the western world at large. Say you want to keep radical elements out and they cite you for racism because the people trying this crap lately tend to not be white. That said, were they white, I'd have the same attitude about it so I don't see how race comes into it. Obviously, people shouldn't be excluded based on

    • I'd rather deal with a higher level of threat then accept extra legal NSA/CIA spying within the US.

      That's because you realize that, if the NSA were to scrap their entire Internet spying program tomorrow, our percent chance of being directly affected by a terrorist attack would go up about 0.0000001% (and even that is probably overestimating it).

      • Even if it went up more, the actual problem is that they keep letting radical elements into the country. Again, someone is going to cry racism here but it has nothing to do with race. It has everything to do with people landing on a plane or crossing our southern border... and then doing something terrible. Period.

        The DHS recently released something like 30 thousand illegal immigrants in the US onto US streets who were also convicted of other crimes including MURDER, RAPE, and assault.

        Now how fucking stupid

  • by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Friday May 16, 2014 @03:10PM (#47020067)
    Stop being imperialist, corporate dicks on the international stage (including propping up tin pots du jour just for stinking profits). This will never happen.

    "Avoid foreign entanglements (including Israel)." -- George Washington
  • Just violate a basic human right of most humans in the planet, including foreing governments and normal citizens, and you will have a lot less friends. And that will be your fault, your actions, not theirs or Snowden's.
  • by BobMcD (601576) on Friday May 16, 2014 @03:12PM (#47020087)

    Dear Mr Alexander, fuck you. No, seriously, fuck you all to hell. At this point I would rather be attacked than be your slave. At least if I am attacked I will have an enemy that I can fight instead of some asshole trying to justify his own slimeball existence. Your fear mongering can go right back up your ass for all I care. I'm sure you can get the University of Maryland to do a study on that for you as well, so long as you pay them enough.

    Sincerely, Bob

    P.S. Fuck off.

  • His first example in the New Yorker was how the NSA thwarted Basaaly Moalin.

    Some background [wikipedia.org]: Basaaly Moalin emailed Najibullah Zazi asking how to make a bomb. Zazi was already under FBI investigation. The NSA is scanning all email traffic, finds the word "bomb" in this email, and they foward this to the FBI, and they go forward from there. The two end up arrested.

    This is a good turn of events. Bravo FBI for doing a good job. We are not saying that this is a bad thing, nor are we saying that these things sho

  • Using global statistics isn't relevant to US operations. So, the relevant question would be how do US deaths due to terrorists acts compare before and after. Sandy Hook, Boston Marathon, and the Aurora Shooting would arguably all fit the bill of terrorism in the US and are less than a year before Snowden's leaks, and the death toll exceeds what we've had in the time since then.

    So, General Alexander, you are cordially invited to shut the hell up.
    • It was almost as if the USA was already imploding and just needed a nudge...

      Authoritarians have weaknesses. And the USA is an authoritarian society. People living a culture are also limited in their ability to self-reflect; in addition, Americans live in a bubble already (it's so bad that it's pretty much a global impression of Americans. The stereotype is not unfounded. )

      No leader realizes they are too authoritarian; many tricks to manipulate their character flaws works on societies as well. Maintaining

  • Does it matter if some random citizen is killed by a criminal or terrorist? They are dead by malevolent hands either way.

    We have a situation where a 9/11 number of people are killing each other in a more or less statistically predictable fashion every quarter decade over decade. It happened this quarter, it will happen the next and the one after that...yet nobody at NSA seems to be talking or otherwise giving two shits about that.

    I think we should be looking at ALL risks and reallocate funds away from NS

  • By putting back doors in our communications infrastructure, the NSA is creating an attack vector for enemies to use.

  • Do the phone companies and internet companies get ordered to hand over our meta-data? Or are they volunteering the information of their own free will? The answer to this question will determine our plan of attack on fixing this situation. Do we need to punish the corporations for selling us out, or do we need to crucify our politicians for selling us out? We have limited resources, we can't effectively do both.
  • The job of the NSA in broad terms is to collect data (whether that be from cellphone companies, ISPs, web companies or wherever else) and then feed that to analysts who will take that data, sift through it and pull out useful pieces of information.

    The problem the NSA has right now is that they seem to want to collect ever greater amounts of data (with no effort made to target the data that is most likely to contain useful information) yet the number of analysts they have turning that data into information i

[Crash programs] fail because they are based on the theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby a month. -- Wernher von Braun

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