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NSA CS Man: My Tracking Algorithm Was 'Twisted' By the Government 267

decora writes "Crypto-mathematician Bill Binney worked in the Signals Intelligence Automation Research Center at the NSA. There, he worked on NSA's ThinThread program; a way to monitor the flood of internet data from outside the US while protecting the privacy of US citizens. In a new interview with Jane Mayer, he says his program 'got twisted. ... I should apologize to the American people. It's violated everyone's rights. It can be used to eavesdrop on the whole world. ... my people were brought in, and they told me, "Can you believe they're doing this? They're getting billing records on US citizens! They're putting pen registers on everyone in the country!"'"
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NSA CS Man: My Tracking Algorithm Was 'Twisted' By the Government

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  • Oh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Troke ( 1612099 ) on Monday May 16, 2011 @07:44PM (#36147120)
    I'm shocked. The US government would never do something like that ever! A shame this will never reach +5 Sarcastic
  • In other news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nethemas the Great ( 909900 ) on Monday May 16, 2011 @07:45PM (#36147126)
    ... cryptologist Bill Binney was found dead today in his New York apartment the victim of an apparent accident.
  • Re:Consequences (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 16, 2011 @07:52PM (#36147200)

    Maybe he is one of the few people out there that actually give a fuck about the constitution.

  • Re:Twisted? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Monday May 16, 2011 @08:08PM (#36147356) Journal


    I designed a gun.

    No, no, no! You're supposed to point it away from you.

  • Re:In other news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Monday May 16, 2011 @08:18PM (#36147446)
    Would now be a bad time to point out that the second paragraph neatly explains how he's going to die, and that it will be soon? He's probably coming forward because he knows he doesn't have much time left. The agency doesn't have to kill him, nature will do it soon enough and without all the fussing, paperwork, and conspiracy theories.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 16, 2011 @08:29PM (#36147570)

    As I usually say: Surveillance will just keep growing and growing, because there is no ideology for which its masters don't feel surveillance is useful.

    Right-wing? Got to protect that property from illegal sabotage and activists.
    Left-wing? Got to monitor those social deviants so they can't threaten The People.
    Religious? Got to discover that sinfulness and lack of fear of God.
    Atheist? Got to make sure nobody commits the child abuse of raising someone religious.
    Green? Still relatively useful as a tool because people mean shit compared to the planet.

    Sure, your average person in the street might feel surveillance isn't needed, but the people who float to the top of any political movement tend to enjoy power and its tools.

    I don't have the background to say what could avoid that situation though. Maybe a popular movement that aims to fill the channels with noise - a simple program that runs in the background and accesses various pieces of illegal/objectionable information on a running basis.

  • Re:In other news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Monday May 16, 2011 @08:38PM (#36147658) Journal

    Nah, they usually go for the old "suicide" route, like that reporter a couple of years back that slit his wrists in the tub. the problem was if anybody would have bothered to find out about the guy first they would have found out he had blood phobia so bad his family said he would pass out if he pricked his finger. Kinda doubt a guy that couldn't stand the sight of blood would go for a slow bleed out.

    As for TFA, is anybody surprised? We have seen the enemy and he is us. Ever since the end of WWI (where before WWII we were like 37th on the list of militarily sizes) the USA has been nothing but a giant power grab, hell look at the FBI with COINTELPRO. With that one they went as far as actually executing a Black Panther for not staying in his place, does it surprise ANYONE that our government is right up there with China when it comes to spying on its own people?

    I'm sure they'll claim its to "catch pedos/terrorists" and get Nancy Grace and all the talking heads to cheer for it if this little setback actually causes any flak, but with the megacorps who are in bed with the government owning the media I doubt this will even make the evening news. That is why voting today is pretty much pointless past the local level, the megacorps will make sure only properly bribed choices are allowed. Anyone you vote for, whether D or R, will continue to give lip service to "freedom" and "privacy" while continuing the status quo. See Obama and warrantless wiretaps for example.

  • oh fuck off (Score:3, Insightful)

    by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Monday May 16, 2011 @08:39PM (#36147678) Homepage Journal

    Green? Still relatively useful as a tool because people mean shit compared to the planet.

    you dont need to make things off of your ass if you cant find anything against a particular ideology.

  • Re:Oh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by frank_adrian314159 ( 469671 ) on Monday May 16, 2011 @08:41PM (#36147690) Homepage

    I'm shocked that we haven't launched prosecutions of most of the Bush Administration...

    So am I, but then we'd have to prosecute most of the Obama administration, which has continued the same policies. And I say that with shame as a lifelong Democrat.

    Barack Obama - best Republican president so far.

  • by loshwomp ( 468955 ) on Monday May 16, 2011 @09:31PM (#36148128)

    The Bush people have been let off. The telecom companies got immunity. The only people Obama has prosecuted are the whistle-blowers.

  • Re:Oh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nolife ( 233813 ) on Monday May 16, 2011 @09:54PM (#36148276) Homepage Journal

    Why shouldn't I work for the N.S.A.? That's a tough one, but I'll take a shot.

    Say I'm working at N.S.A. Somebody puts a code on my desk, something nobody else can break. Maybe I take a shot at it and maybe I break it. And I'm real happy with myself, 'cause I did my job well. But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or the Middle East. Once they have that location, they bomb the village where the rebels were hiding and fifteen hundred people I never met, never had no problem with, get killed. Now the politicians are sayin', "Oh, send in the Marines to secure the area" 'cause they don't give a shit. It won't be their kid over there, gettin' shot. Just like it wasn't them when their number got called, 'cause they were pullin' a tour in the National Guard. It'll be some kid from Southie takin' shrapnel in the ass. And he comes back to find that the plant he used to work at got exported to the country he just got back from. And the guy who put the shrapnel in his ass got his old job, 'cause he'll work for fifteen cents a day and no bathroom breaks. Meanwhile, he realizes the only reason he was over there in the first place was so we could install a government that would sell us oil at a good price. And, of course, the oil companies used the skirmish over there to scare up domestic oil prices. A cute little ancillary benefit for them, but it ain't helping my buddy at two-fifty a gallon. And they're takin' their sweet time bringin' the oil back, of course, and maybe even took the liberty of hiring an alcoholic skipper who likes to drink martinis and fuckin' play slalom with the icebergs, and it ain't too long 'til he hits one, spills the oil and kills all the sea life in the North Atlantic. So now my buddy's out of work and he can't afford to drive, so he's got to walk to the fuckin' job interviews, which sucks 'cause the shrapnel in his ass is givin' him chronic hemorrhoids. And meanwhile he's starvin', 'cause every time he tries to get a bite to eat, the only blue plate special they're servin' is North Atlantic scrod with Quaker State. So what did I think? I'm holdin' out for somethin' better. I figure fuck it, while I'm at it why not just shoot my buddy, take his job, give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pipe and join the National Guard? I could be elected president.

  • Re:Oh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Monday May 16, 2011 @10:29PM (#36148486) Homepage

    Barack Obama - best Republican president so far.

    He's nowhere near the best Republican: Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower all come out way ahead of him. And all of those guys would be branded as complete and utter loonies in current US politics, especially their views on class, corporations and taxes. Heck, there's a good argument that Ronald Reagan wouldn't be accepted within the current Republican Party, because he allowed for some tax increases in the 1980's.

  • Re:Oh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theshowmecanuck ( 703852 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @05:10AM (#36150784) Journal
    Fucking retard moderators can't recognize one of the best movie monologues from the past 20 years? This is from Good Will Hunting and not a Star Wars episode, is that it? For one it is not a troll, it is relevant and a much more eloquent and entertaining opinion stated by others in this thread that state the same damned thing. Did you mark them as trolls too. No most were marked insightful or interesting. So come on, some moderator mark this up. But I think it will take a moderator who isn't suffering cerebral anoxia from having their head so far up their fucking ass. For what it's worth, well done for finding and posting this excellent quote.

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev