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NSA Data Mining Much Larger Than Reported 863

silassewell writes to tell us The New York Times is reporting that the "volume of information harvested from telecommunication data and voice networks, without court-approved warrants, is much larger than the White House has acknowledged." The NSA gained the cooperation of many American telecommunication companies after 9/11 to access streams of communication, both domestic and international, as a part of a presidentially approved program to hunt for evidence of terrorist activity.
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NSA Data Mining Much Larger Than Reported

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  • by anagama ( 611277 ) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Saturday December 24, 2005 @10:36PM (#14334297) Homepage
    I Soviet America, the phone listens to you.
    • by shanen ( 462549 ) on Saturday December 24, 2005 @11:15PM (#14334421) Homepage Journal
      That's not a funny joke, and it isn't limited to any particular country. The modification to make your telephone into a bugging device is actually quite trivial. In the absence of legal constraint, it is probably more reasonable to assume those techniques are being used as well.

      However, as regards the main topic, I've always worked from the premise that powers are abused. Therefore, I've always assumed that the power to tap email is probably being widely abused, and not just by the NSA. It's not the case that I'm doing anything of legitimate interest to legal authorities, but simply that I have an attitude of questioning authority, and they don't appreciate that.

      However, if I had any actual reason to be paranoid, then the situation would be very different, and I would obviously be much more discreet about what I put into my email. That's where you encounter the bogosity aspect of Dubya's claims of the necessity of this kind of illegal surveillance. Wannabe terrorists are not going to jeopardize their complicated plans by describing them in clear email. They aren't even going to expose their real communication channels. Insofar as they are going to use technical mechanisms at all, they are going to go out of their way to obfuscate both the message, the source, and the destination--all of which are trivially easy for anyone who is actually motivated to do so.

      No, there's only one aspect of this that has surprised me so far. That was when Dubya admitted he had done it. He obviously doesn't understand what "impeachable offense" means. He apparently thinks it is only related to a certain number of votes in Congress, but that's just the transient political status. What Dubya has confessed to doing is clearly a violation of the laws that he swore to defend.

      • by mikek3332002 ( 912228 ) on Saturday December 24, 2005 @11:30PM (#14334468) Homepage
        He obviously doesn't understand what "impeachable offense" means.

        Sure he does it's where you sleep with your secetary.
        • You mean when you commit the crime of perjury in a court of law, on an issue very relevant to the case.
      • by AsiNisiMasa ( 910721 ) on Saturday December 24, 2005 @11:50PM (#14334530) Homepage
        He obviously doesn't understand what "impeachable offense" means.

        I think he (or his advisors) looked back at what happened to Nixon and realized that a coverup would be a bad move in the long run.
        • by igb ( 28052 )
          He resigned, late in his second term. As a two-term president, he couldn't stand for election again. Any crimes he committed, which he never admitted to, were pardoned by his hand-picked, unelected vice president (his elected VP having resigned in disgrace). He served no jail time, paid no fines, made a fortune as a speaker and general purpose pundit, and later came to be seen as a great statesman over China. Indeed, how many US presidents get operas written about them (Assassins aside)?

          From here over

      • by wasted ( 94866 ) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @12:04AM (#14334586)
        The real privacy concerns to me are whether the NSA is sharing this information to be used by others for purposes other than those used to justify the monitoring. For instance, if they hear that I have a real big order of yeast and barley malt enroute from one company, and a lot of lab equipment on order from another company, will they alert the ATF that I have just ordered the necessary ingredients and supplies to start distillng alcohol? Although illegal where I reside, a still is not a security risk, and passing on that type of information seems to me to be the greater privacy risk, and goes against the whole reason for the monitoring in the first place. Of course, others may disagree, and no, I don't have a still.
      • by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak.yahoo@com> on Sunday December 25, 2005 @12:50AM (#14334734) Homepage Journal
        Unfortunately, Dubya also understands what it means to have majorities in both houses, soon to be the Supreme Court as well. It means that the odds of an impeachment crossing BOTH houses AND surviving an appeal would be next to nil. Especially as he is popular with the extreme right and it's the extreme right that'll probably decide 2006' elections. After that point, impeachment proceedings would last longer than the remaining presidential term.

        In short, there's absolutely nothing anybody can do about him. There are no effective safeguards and no meaningful counterbalances for this kind of situation. The best any moderate can hope for is that both the 2006 and 2008 elections are decided by great enough margins towards those who want effective safeguards, that it'll be as easy to stabilize and secure the system then as it has been for the current administration to corrupt it.

        My personal preference would be for a constitutional amendment that added a wholly new branch of Government - outside the Executive, Legislative and Judicial - that has all the necessary powers, clearances, means and protections to investigate corruption at absolutely any level in every branch of Government. That is it. That is all it would do. Just investigate. Because it was independent of all other branches, it would not have political appointments made to it, could not be ordered to stop, or indeed even ordered to start. The power of such a body is not in what it could do, but in what it could know.

        Government is often corruptible, not because it is powerful - most humans are powerful over something in their lives, but aren't necessarily abusive - but because few in Government have any reason to believe anyone'll know about it. The moment you can guarantee that (a) someone WILL know about it - no matter how classified the information, and (b) they're utterly protected against reprisals if they talk, then those in power will be much less likely to step over the line. (And, if they do genuinely feel as though they have to, they're going to put every ounce of effort into establishing WHY no alternatives are viable, because they WILL be asked questions later.)

        • by SilverspurG ( 844751 ) * on Sunday December 25, 2005 @12:59AM (#14334759) Homepage Journal
          My personal preference would be for a constitutional amendment that added a wholly new branch of Government - outside the Executive, Legislative and Judicial
          Given the size and scope, much of it unconstitutional, of our current government the best answer can not possibly be more government. The only way to fix bloatware is to hack it down.
          • Not necessarily. (Score:3, Interesting)

            by jd ( 1658 )
            I've found the best way to fix bloatware in a program is to add support for debugging, monitoring and valgrinding. Once you've done that, then ripping out the dead parts of the code is easy. Until you've done that, then you can't be sure if what you're removing is important or not, or if it simply needs writing better.

            One program I had to de-bloat was about 15 million lines long, most of it very badly maintained Motif GUI code. I added a 1,000 line widget set to the code, and was then able to remove 14 mill

        • > In short, there's absolutely nothing anybody can do about him. There are no effective safeguards and no meaningful counterbalances for this kind of situation.

          There's a weak check on it in the form of next year's congressional elections. Most of the legislature is up for re-election, and legislators need to CTA with the local voters. So for the past few months Republican legislators have been increasingly willing to break ranks with a president who much of the public sees as having gone too far. Look at
        • A particularly poignant adage "People get the government they deserve" and another "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance"
        • by shanen ( 462549 ) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @05:37AM (#14335392) Homepage Journal
          Are you trying to write a parody there? What you are describing is called "the Press", and they still have the legal requirements to do the job you described. What is lacking now is the will. Or if you prefer to look at it from the other perspective, they have simply sold their souls for convenience and a bit of job security.
      • by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @02:06AM (#14334964) Homepage
        The modification to make your telephone into a bugging device is actually quite trivial.

        Was quite trivial. It's not 1975 anymore, though, and all our phones aren't model 500 or 2500 Western Electrics. Nowadays, just about everyone has a cheap electronic phone made of inexpensive parts glued inside a plastic case. The [NSA/FBI/CIA] can't just send a guy in disguised as the telephone repair man to couple the carbon mic circuit to the live pair with a resistor like they used to. Not to say they have no way to listen to you, just thought you might want to update your paranoia to something more modern, like laser modulation audio bugging, rather than continuing to use one that's been pretty much abandoned for 20 years.

        • No. Is trivial.

          You clearly have little understanding of modern telecomm networks. It is now much easier to tap a phone than it used to be. The authorities don't even need to leave the office, let alone gain entry to your home. All it takes now is a (computer activated) switch to be thrown at the exchange. This may require the cooperation of the exchange operator, but this is a beaurocratic restriction, not a technical one.

          Incidentally, the same modern network technology also means that tracing calls is
          • by NMerriam ( 15122 ) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Sunday December 25, 2005 @04:49AM (#14335325) Homepage
            No, you're talking about tapping a phone, which is not what the original post was about. The message you're replying to was talking about using a phone as a bug -- something that used to be quite simple, and now is pretty much impossible. The difference is pretty significant, since most criminals realize someone could be listening when they're talking on the phone -- but most of them didn't realize someone could be listening after they hung up!
  • by mozumder ( 178398 ) on Saturday December 24, 2005 @10:37PM (#14334304)
    Please work to make the system secure, even from government intrusion.

    Governments come and go.. no need to drag yourself into their mess.
  • by ThatGeek ( 874983 ) on Saturday December 24, 2005 @10:37PM (#14334305) Homepage
    I've always wondered what huge companies get by turning over data to the Feds. Companies never do anything to "make the world a better place" unless they are getting something in return... reduced regulation? maybe tax reductions?

    All I know is that democracy dies behind closed doors. What exactly is going on in this country?

    This is EXACTLY why I'm learning Spanish! Costa Rica by the year 2010, baby.
    • by humphrm ( 18130 ) on Saturday December 24, 2005 @10:42PM (#14334322) Homepage
      Given the way accounting worked in the early 2000's in corporate America, it was probably "cooperate and we won't look very deeply into your books..."

      Democracy is indeed in sad shape now, but fortunately democracy only truly dies behind closed doors over a long period of time. Ultimately the 22nd Amendment fixes that problem.

      (The rest of you can go look it up on Google. :)
      • by sadler121 ( 735320 ) <msadler@gmail.com> on Saturday December 24, 2005 @11:16PM (#14334428) Homepage
        The 22nd Amendment was a horriable amendment, it now makes the president unaccountable in his second term. REPEAL the 22nd Amendment, do NOT praise it. If the 22nd Amendment wasn't there, we might very well still have Clinton in office (would rather have Slick Willy in office then Dubya), hell, Regan could have had another term, that wouldn't have been so bad ether...
      • This is going to make you unhappy, but check this resolution: H.J. RES. 24.

        The resolution itself states its purpose rather succinctly:
        'The twenty-second article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is repealed.'.
    • I've always wondered what huge companies get by turning over data to the Feds. Companies never do anything to "make the world a better place" unless they are getting something in return... reduced regulation? maybe tax reductions?

      Maybe the Patriot Act, the very same law that makes it a crime for the phone company to tell anyone about it when it happens.
    • What's going on (Score:3, Interesting)

      by quokkapox ( 847798 )
      What exactly is going on in this country?

      We need better leaders. I'm not just referring to our dipshit-in-chief.

      If more people would just stand up and fight for ideas like freedom, tolerance, compassion, and plain old common sense, humanity would be better off.

      Costa Rica by the year 2010, baby.

      Right on. Canada is looking better every day. Actually anywhere not currently targeted by USA nukes. Seriously.

      Happy Solstice, everybody...

  • by farrellj ( 563 ) on Saturday December 24, 2005 @10:40PM (#14334313) Homepage Journal
    The people over at Ars Technica have a great little article about this whole fiasco concerning the wiretapping of US citizens without a warrent...

    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20051220-5808 .html [arstechnica.com]

    From the article:

    "Now let's take a look a statement of former senator Bob Graham (D-FL), who was one of the few senators to be briefed on the program. From a new Washington Post article:

            "I came out of the room with the full sense that we were dealing with a change in technology but not policy," Graham said, with new opportunities to intercept overseas calls that passed through U.S. switches."


    " This system's [TIA] purpose would be to monitor communications and detect would-be terrorists and plots before they happen... This project is not interested in funding "evolutionary" changes in technology, e.g., bit-step improvements to current data mining and storage techniques. Rather, the amount of data that the directors are anticipating (petabytes!) would require massive leaps in technology (and perhaps also some massive leaps in surveillance laws). According to DARPA, such data collection "increases information coverage by an order of magnitude," and ultimately "requires keeping track of individuals and understanding how they fit into models.""

  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Saturday December 24, 2005 @10:41PM (#14334317)
    This administration has always been pro-mining (and drilling), so this should be no surprise.
  • by Ivan Raikov ( 521143 ) on Saturday December 24, 2005 @10:43PM (#14334323) Homepage
    Lambert over at CorrenteWire has a pretty interesting article on Internet surveillance by the NSA [correntewire.com]:
    By carefully examining how Republicans parse their statements about Bush's warrantless, openly felonious, and treasonous[1] domestic surveillance program, and combining that with network engineering knowledge available through open sources, alert reader philosophicus has advanced our understanding of the NSA surveillance system Bush set up. Long story short: (1) Internet surveillance is Bush's goal, not voice calls; (2) the Republican "wiretap" talking point is a diversion, to voice, away from from Internet surveillance; (3) Bush's domestic surveillance system would pose no engineering challenges whatever to NSA. No rocket science--or tinfoil hats--required.
  • by Ohreally_factor ( 593551 ) on Saturday December 24, 2005 @10:50PM (#14334340) Journal
    "If they get content, that's useful to them too, but the real plum is going to be the transaction data and the traffic analysis," he said. "Massive amounts of traffic analysis information - who is calling whom, who is in Osama Bin Laden's circle of family and friends - is used to identify lines of communication that are then given closer scrutiny."

    This is just the sort of sensitive information that the Whitehouse did not want leaked. Now Osama is going to change his long distance calling plan.
    • > This is just the sort of sensitive information that the Whitehouse did not want leaked. Now Osama is going to change his long distance calling plan.

      Osama who?

      Are they even looking for that guy anymore?
  • How to cope? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sglider ( 648795 ) on Saturday December 24, 2005 @10:50PM (#14334341) Homepage Journal
    How can we as the American people cope with a President that doesn't even acknowledge [mcall.com] that what he's doing is illegial? How can we further cope with a Congress that hasn't already 'stopped the presses' by calling for immediate hearings on the matter? I don't mean hearings next week, or next month. I want hearings now. This is a grave threat to our liberties, and I want it addressed right now.

    Of course, this President speaks [whitehouse.gov] about 'freedom [wikipedia.org]', but does 'freedom' include not being able to openly discuss laws and policies [cnn.com]?

    Oh, and the 'fanboy' contingent that believes that civil liberties must be curtailed in a time of conflict need not reply, because I'm not listening, and I doubt [blueoregon.com] Thomas Jefferson would listen to it either.
    • Re:How to cope? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Amiga Trombone ( 592952 ) on Saturday December 24, 2005 @11:26PM (#14334460)
      Of course, this President speaks about 'freedom', but does 'freedom' include not being able to openly discuss laws and policies?

      Of course not. Every time I hear this president use the word "freedom", it's in conjunction with a military invasion of another country.

      It's not a product intended for domestic consumption.
    • Re:How to cope? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Guppy06 ( 410832 )
      "How can we as the American people cope with a President that doesn't even acknowledge that what he's doing is illegial?"

      We've done it before. [wikipedia.org] Which reminds me: before you impeach Bush and remove him from office, remember who then gets sworn in.

      Makes you wish we didn't vote for the two on the same ticket, doesn't it? [slashdot.org]

      "How can we further cope with a Congress that hasn't already 'stopped the presses' by calling for immediate hearings on the matter?"

      By whom, the same Congress that refuses to swear in oil exec
    • http://www.fallacyfiles.org/eitheror.html [fallacyfiles.org]

      a. You support Bush in whatever he wants to do ...or...
      b. You are supporting the terrorists!

      At Bush's inauguration, he swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. The Constitution says NOTHING about suspending ANY rights or portions of the Constitution just because the President says to.
  • by dada21 ( 163177 ) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Saturday December 24, 2005 @10:50PM (#14334345) Homepage Journal
    Yes, you, the voter. You've allowed this to happen in every vote you made for an authoritarian politician -- I can name ONE that has followed their oath (Dr. Ron Paul of Texas http://house.gov/paul [house.gov] )

    The telecommunications companies are regulated by Congress, illegally and unconstitutionally. Communication is speech. Speech is an inherent right all humans share and can not be infringed by any government.

    You give them the power to regulate, they'll make it their power to control in their favor. Initially that favor is only financial -- take care of their nepotism and cronies. Eventually they turn to "help the needy" when the regulations for the needy really only help the monopolies they've created. In the end, the control is about power -- absolute power over the minions.

    Don't don the tinfoil hat, it isn't necessary. Just see that every empire has its day, and the ones most responsible are those who elected, not those who were elected.

    I vote only for myself -- each and every line of each and every ballot. In my mind, I win. I picked the candidate best suited to represent my family and I.
  • Secure IM (Score:2, Interesting)

    Does anyone know a secure IM? I've heard you can interface Gaim with tor, but does it work with Gaim descendents like Adium for OS X? And can you have real time IM with these secure proxy stuff.

    Also, I'd recommend Tor and Privoxy [eff.org] for normal browsing if you want security.
    • OTR [cypherpunks.ca] may do what you want (or not), but it needs to be handled correctly to really be secure, of course. I think there's built-in support for it in Adium-X, too; for vanilla GAIM, there's a plugin, as well as a generic AIM proxy that will work with all clients (but only AIM, obviously, whereas the plugin supports all IM services that GAIM can use).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 24, 2005 @10:53PM (#14334351)
    The problem with all these intelligence programs is the "mission creep" of where they start with what seems like a good cause then morph into being used against constitutionally protected forms of expression such as peaceful dissent and opposing viewpoints. When a program is sold as anti-terrorism in nature as its sole purpose and is given broad lattitude to push the edges of the constitution and elinimate checks-and-balances protections it is a sobering and serious grant of power we are giving one branch of the government. But when it quickly becomes another general-use law enforcement tool used in mundane investigations it is very troublesome and scary.

    The "I have nothing to hide" argument rings hollow when intense surveilance is used as a political weapon.

    Until such time as the administration and intelligence agencies can exercise some self-restraint and accountability I will view all these warrantless intrusions with intense suspicion.

    We are a country of laws based on a strong and unique constitution. I would like it to remain that way.
  • Modern USA (Score:5, Funny)

    by gorehog ( 534288 ) on Saturday December 24, 2005 @10:55PM (#14334356)
    I love living in the USA controlled by monied interests and the Republican party. They foster such an honest, compassionate, and responsible atmosphere for civil discourse.

    Torture, lying, spying on citizens, the list of crimes Bush is responsible for goes on and on. Would someone give this guy a blowjob already so we can impeach him?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 24, 2005 @11:02PM (#14334377)
    As long as you haven't done anything wrong, you don't have anything to worry about.

    And as long as you don't walk funny or wear all one color. And don't celebrate "weird" holidays. And you probably shouldn't visit those weird porn sites or read some of those really liberal sites. And you should eat meat, at least every now and then. Don't be militant about the vegetarian thing, you know? And you really should have a regular job. If you have a lot of free time to go to protests and stuff like that, you might get in the wrong crowd. And probably French is a better choice to learn at that community college than Arabic. Yeah, I know you like the falafel, but don't buy so much of it okay? At least pay cash (but small amounts so you don't raise suspicion) And when you finish thumbing through those books (you know the ones I'm talking about) at the bookstore or library, put them back on the shelf, okay? Actually, why are you going to the library? You've got money to buy books. Only certain types of people go to the library. And, it's okay to criticize the president, with your friends, but no need to put that stuff on your blog, you know? How about an American flag on there? Whatever you think about Iraq, just talk about how you support the troops. Sure you can support the troops but not the war, but you gotta watch how you say it. And I don't mean on your cell phone. Just don't talk about politics on the cell. Yeah I know about your depression, just try to go outside as much as you can, just fake it, whatever, it's safer when they see you come and go more often. No, the tattoo should be of the flag, or a heart, or something. Makes it easier when you're searched. Remember to say "Merry Christmas". I know, I know, but it's just a couple words. Have you considered tossing a bible into your pack in case you're searched? You should take off those pins.. they give the wrong impression. And those electronics books, you're not in school, people might think you're making something you shouldn't. If somebody asks, tell them your TV is being repaired. I think you'd look better without the beard. It's just a suggestion.

    Just basically stay inside the bell curve, and you'll be fine!
  • by bstarrfield ( 761726 ) on Saturday December 24, 2005 @11:16PM (#14334426)

    This is probably one of the most important stories of the year... not to be too dramatic, but possibly the most important story in the last ten. The US government is conducting warrentless wiretaps on its citizens, collecting information in a vest unsupervised net.

    This news came to the fore the day before Christmas. And folks, it's on Slashdot Christmas Eve. How many people are paying attention to this? The New York Times is already in hot water for holding the initial story for a year. Now more and more facts are coming out, during a time when few people watch the news, Congress is out of session, and the president and his staff can be on vacation. It's on Slashdot, and I'm checking Slashdot as I'm watching Red Sleigh Down (South Park) on Comedy Central... how many Slashdot readers are looking at the site? No offesnse to the rest of the worl...

    Jesus, this story may damn well disappear into the *void that's American political memory.

    People, I pray that this story - the Orwellian degradation of our liberties, the expansion of the police state, the emergence of fascism as corporations and security institutions work together - does not fade away. Write your congressional representatives, write the paper, bug your friends and family, but don't ignore this issue.

    We've got to make

  • by NZheretic ( 23872 ) on Saturday December 24, 2005 @11:34PM (#14334479) Homepage Journal
    From The Mass Media as Fourth Estate [ndirect.co.uk]:
    The term fourth estate is frequently attributed to the nineteenth century historian Carlyle, though he himself seems to have attributed it to Edmund Burke:
    Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters' Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important than they all. It is not a figure of speech, or a witty saying; it is a literal fact, .... Printing, which comes necessarily out of Writing, I say often, is equivalent to Democracy: invent Writing, Democracy is inevitable. ..... Whoever can speak, speaking now to the whole nation, becomes a power, a branch of government, with inalienable weight in law-making, in all acts of authority. It matters not what rank he has, what revenues or garnitures: the requisite thing is that he have a tongue which others will listen to; this and nothing more is requisite.
    The mainstream media has failed to hold either side accountable for claims that diverge widely from the known facts [blogspot.com]. The inevitable result is a current administration that, like Nixon, believes it is above the law.
  • by MrSnivvel ( 210105 ) on Saturday December 24, 2005 @11:37PM (#14334490) Homepage

    And it has been around and known about for some time. Talk about late breaking news.

    Here are a couple of links about it. Hell, one of them is from Wikipedia...

  • by EQ ( 28372 ) on Saturday December 24, 2005 @11:45PM (#14334512) Homepage Journal
    Remember NOT to do what most here are doing: flying off the handle with politically misstated misinformation and wild speculations. Get the facts straight first.

    Do not conflate "US Person" with "US Citizen". Do not become completely confused as to what was intercepted. NO calls that were within the US between US Persons were intercepted without a warrant. Get that fact straight first - what is referred to in the articles online is the world-wide intercept program of the NSA, and that it included some calls that had a terminus in the US as well as in a target of interest area overseas. They are not monitoring your call to the local mosque, nor your aunt Mabel in Canada (unless she happens to work for Al Qaeda).

    The relevant parts of the FISA:

    1) the acquisition by an electronic, mechanical, or other surveillance device of the contents of any wire or radio communication sent by or intended to be received by a particular, known United States person who is in the United States, if the contents are acquired by intentionally targeting that United States person, under circumstances in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and a warrant would be required for law enforcement purposes;

    (2) the acquisition by an electronic, mechanical, or other surveillance device of the contents of any wire communication to or from a person in the United States, without the consent of any party thereto, if such acquisition occurs in the United States, but does not include the acquisition of those communications of computer trespassers that would be permissible under section 2511 (2)(i) of title 18;

    (3) the intentional acquisition by an electronic, mechanical, or other surveillance device of the contents of any radio communication, under circumstances in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and a warrant would be required for law enforcement purposes, and if both the sender and all intended recipients are located within the United States; or

    (4) the installation or use of an electronic, mechanical, or other surveillance device in the United States for monitoring to acquire information, other than from a wire or radio communication, under circumstances in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and a warrant would be required for law enforcement purposes.

    Lots of legal analysis of htis going on, but this is one of the more cogent pieces I have seen. Read it and you will realize that although it sounds bad in terms of civil rights, its probably legal, and certainly proper if you take the view that preventing antoehr 9/11 is paramount importance.

    If the NSA surveillance program tracks all international communications (or all international communications to al Qaeda hotspots such as Afghanistan), it does not target specific individuals as required by 1801(f)(1). If the communications are intercepted outside the U.S., the NSA program falls outside the definitions in 1801(f)(2) and 1801(f)(4). If the program excludes intentional capture of purely domestic communications, it falls outside the ambit of 1801(f)(3).

    Bottom line: a massive surveillance system that intercepts millions or billions of international calls and e-mails may not constitute electronic survellance as defined by FISA, provided that the interception occurs outside the United States and neither specific individuals nor purely domestic calls are targeted.

    Bush's supporters and opponents can argue about whether that's good or bad, but the law is what it is. This progrram is likely a direct outgrowth of the events of 9/11 that were arranged between overseas enemies of the US and their domestic agents (who were illegally in the US a the time of the attacks). Intercepting those communications is certainly legal, and reasonable (in terms of the 4th amendment prohibitions of warantless searches).

    Remember - get the facts first, not the rumors and

    • Horse hockey.

      Omaha World Herald was working on a story on wiretapping back in the 1980's. They were blown away by the numbers of wiretaps being done around Omaha and also into Iowa. Mostly based against the pacifists opposed to nuclear weapons.

      I have no doubt that the phone at our soup kitchen back then was tapped. After all, we would go out to the Strategic Nuclear base and cross the line on Hiroshima Day and Feast of the Holy Innocents. Oh yes, people will be getting detained again this Feast of Holy
    • by Reality Master 201 ( 578873 ) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @03:05AM (#14335121) Journal
      Ok, look, if you're gonna quote the law, give us a link to it:

      from FISA [cornell.edu]

      Subchapter 1 (Electronic Surveillance) has the relevant passages of the law.

      Though perhaps you didn't want to give us the link to that, because if you had, someone would have gone and read the law and seen that you're full of shit.

      1. Your point about "not conflating a US person with a US citizen" is non sequitir and meaningless. A US citizen is a US person under the statute, as is a resident alien (a person granted a green card), among others:

        Section 1801 [cornell.edu]
        (i) "United States person" means a citizen of the United States, an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence (as defined in section 1101 (a)(20) of title 8), an unincorporated association a substantial number of members of which are citizens of the United States or aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence, or a corporation which is incorporated in the United States, but does not include a corporation or an association which is a foreign power, as defined in subsection (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this section.

      2. The section of the law you quote is only the definitions section. Specifically, you're quoting what the definition of Electronic Surveilance is. Nothing in what you quote actually discusses the LEGALITY of tapping activities in the US or the warrants required therefore. You missed section 1802 of FISA. This section is about "Electronic surveillance authorization without court order; certification by Attorney General; reports to Congressional committees; transmittal under seal; duties and compensation of communication common carrier; applications; jurisdiction of court." That section has the following to say about electronic surveilance and when warrants are needed:

        from Section 1802 [cornell.edu]
        (1) Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year if the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that--
        (A) the electronic surveillance is solely directed at--
        (i) the acquisition of the contents of communications transmitted by means of communications used exclusively between or among foreign powers, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title; or
        (ii) the acquisition of technical intelligence, other than the spoken communications of individuals, from property or premises under the open and exclusive control of a foreign power, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title;
        (B) there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party;and

        (C) the proposed minimization procedures with respect to such surveillance meet the definition of minimization procedures under section 1801 (h) of this title; and

        if the Attorney General reports such minimization procedures and any changes thereto to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at least thirty days prior to their effective date, unless the Attorney General determines immediate action is required and notifies the committees immediately of such minimization procedures and the reason for their becoming effective immediately.

        Unless the communications take place completely under means controlled by a foriegn power (i.e., not involving US communications carriers), they are potentially subject to FISA judicial oversight requirements. If any party involved in said communication is a US person in the statute, a court order is required. This does not just apply to communications

  • by runcible ( 306937 ) <runcible@he a d n e t.com> on Saturday December 24, 2005 @11:47PM (#14334515)
    The NSA does wholesale surveillance while the FBI does retail, so to speak. Is a wholesale surveillance organization going to be applied to like 500 people or whatever the original number was? C'mon, they could have used the FBI for that. Eschelon only really has value when you let it hoover as much data as it wants ...
    • How did Echelon help deter the 9/11 attack? Oh, it didn't. More importantly, WHY? Doesn't anyone find it rather odd that despite already having the most all-encompassing surveillance technology available and in operation, 9/11 occurred anyway? What's different about the no-warrant wiretaps and TIA (or whatever they're choosing to call it today?) Could it be that the government is merely looking for a way to force public acceptance of a hideous (and, based on the lack of results from Echelon) probably uneces
  • by davebarnes ( 158106 ) on Saturday December 24, 2005 @11:50PM (#14334532)
    plutonium implosion trigger
  • So...the first attempt by the NYT to create panic about supposed "spying" against American citizens turned out to be a total joke (since it was only international calls between known terrorists and people/numbers inside the U.S.) so they're trying again in an attempt to boost book sales. It's not THAT hard to track the author's names, editor's names, etc. and see that.

    Do a little research and you'll find there has always been government monitoring of communication. Think about it a little and you'll realize that an essential part of providing security. There's this little blurb in the founding documents of the U.S. which talks about "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Life is first in the list, before liberty. You can't have liberty if you don't have life and the only way to have life is to protect against those who wish to take it from others.

    What's next? They will discover that cell "phones" are actually radios so monitoring isn't that difficult nor subject to the laws which apply to land line telephones? They'll discover it's possible to read the contents of a sealed envelope without reading it? They'll discover most email is non-encrypted?

    No, wait, I've got it. They'll "discover" frequent buyer discount cards are actually used to gather customer demographics. Yeah, and Diebold is part of the plot to "spy" on every person in the world.

    Oh, yeah, that's a start. Let's also claim the large banks of the world are involved because they monitor credit card use under the guise of looking for fraudulent behavior. (Let's ignore how the Patriot Act allows real-time tracking and reporting of credit card fruad as it happens which has lead to many arrests of the thieves while they're on their shopping sprees.) Yeah, that's good, too.

    OK, we've got the leftwing cooks, let's do something to bring in the rightwing cooks. Uh...we'll claim all this data is stored in a giant computer in Switzerland (built by IBM for the Nazis) called The Beast. We can't pull off the number trick which gave the numeric value of 666 to the names Reagan and Hitler this time so we'll claim GWB = 666. Yeah, that's good. Oh, and he drinks raw goat's blood during the full moon while burning black candles. All that churchy stuff is just a cover-up.

    Yeah, that about covers it.


    Honestly, this is just a bunch of stupid FUD. Of course, the American intel monitors communication. So does every other country and intel/security force. This is the real world, not cartoons. The "bad guys" don't stand out and identify themselves.
    • Nobody is arguing that intel on communications is a bad thing. The real news is bypassing the courts to make sure that what and who they are spying on is legitimate. For instance, we don't want them spying on democrats in order to get the jump on them politically so that they can consistently stay in power by being to outmanuever them. Information is power, and how they get that information should be regulated.

      Secondly, if the President can do all this. Why bother with a the patriot act at all? Seems like he has all the power he needs to do what he's doing. Thirdly, he told the American public that he's going to the court to do wire-tapping. Now we find out thats not whats going on at all. Somebody isn't playing straight with us. That's the news. The NSA/FBI/CIA spying is not news and that I agree with you.

    • First, let's just note that the program caught ENTIRELY DOMESTIC communications [nytimes.com].

      Second, stop beating the shit out of that straw man. Nobody is saying that the government isn't or shouldn't be wiretapping. We have laws, however, that govern how it's done. Those weren't followed. That's against the law.

      The rest of your post is just a bunch of crap to distract from what utter bullshit the premise is and how intellectually dishonest you are.

  • by nbahi15 ( 163501 ) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @12:02AM (#14334578) Homepage

    I know that it is typical for the Slashdot libertarian crowd to have an aversion, almost knee-jerk reaction, to any privacy related issue, we Slashdot liberals feel the same. Bush has once again crossed the line, but as a neo-pinko liberal I am not surprised, I am not even particularly annoyed. My disgust with the United States and its inability to provide an open inclusive society runs far deeper than this single incident. I am annoyed with Missle Defense, drilling in ANWR, Intelligent Design, pro-life, pro-death penalty, secret prisons, prisoner abuse, tying iraq to terror, no child left behind, get tough on immigration, get tough on crime, christian coalition, anti-welfare, anti-healthcare, anti-gun control, pro-business, anti-environment, crap. Really the entire political dialogue of the so-called United States has been broken for years, and Bush certainly doesn't see anything less than absolute god-granted carte blanche on the war on terror. Remember this guy doesn't answer to the voter, he answers to god. So my question is when can we vote on the new constitution, because I feel that I am the one living in Iraq, but I don't have the excuse of invasion?
  • by cwaldrip ( 216578 ) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @12:13AM (#14334614)
    ...welcome our new NSA overlords.

    No, screw that... where's my gun! Time to overthrow the gov... hey, who are you? Get out of my house! Let go of me... I haven't even posted this yet...
  • Boiling this down. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @12:20AM (#14334634) Journal
    In other words, they didn't just tap the phones of a few people.

    They invaded the privacy of EVERY person in the country.

    Rather than provide leadership and encourage us to cooperate with each other as a society, they've chosen the route of paranoia, secrecy, and tyranny.
  • This sort of large scale analysis of interpersonal communications is exactly what the European Parliament has just passed into law [theregister.co.uk]. The Bush Administration may actually be doing it, but at least they're keeping it secret and pretending they aren't. At least they know it's shameful and immoral, and counter to the ideals of a free society.

Today is a good day for information-gathering. Read someone else's mail file.