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Schneier: Break Up the NSA 324

New submitter BrianPRabbit writes "Bruce Schneier proposes 'breaking up' the NSA. He suggests assigning the targeted hardware/software surveillance of enemy operations to U.S. Cyber Command. Further, the NSA's surveillance of Americans needs to be scaled back and placed under the control of the FBI. Finally, he says, is 'the deliberate sabotaging of security. The primary example we have of this is the NSA's BULLRUN program, which tries to "insert vulnerabilities into commercial encryption systems, IT systems, networks and endpoint communication devices." This is the worst of the NSA's excesses, because it destroys our trust in the Internet, weakens the security all of us rely on and makes us more vulnerable to attackers worldwide. .... [T]he remainder of the NSA needs to be rebalanced so COMSEC (communications security) has priority over SIGINT (signals intelligence). Instead of working to deliberately weaken security for everyone, the NSA should work to improve security for everyone.'"
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Schneier: Break Up the NSA

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  • Oh, Hell NO! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21, 2014 @11:07AM (#46303803)

    DO NOT break up the NSA. Do away with it and replace it with nothing. The CIA too.

    For those of you treasonous traitors that like to yell "national security" to cover up for your crimes, consider this: Before the CIA and NSA were founded, the US was 8-0 in war. Since those organizations were founded, the US is 0-5 in war.

    You treasonous traitors that like the NSA and CIA (I'm looking at you cold fjord) are the national security risks.

  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @11:12AM (#46303833)

    Not really. Modern justice is one of those concepts that came about as a way to stop the cycles of violence fed by vigilante justice. As such it needs to be violent and ugly enough to sate the victim's desire for revenge well enough that they don't feel the need to take things into their own hands. At the extreme, why do you suppose executions are so brutal? We know perfectly well how to kill people completely painlessly - a gas chamber filled with pure nitrogen will knock somebody unconscious in under a minute, usually without them ever noticing anything is wrong (we're not wired to detect oxygen deprivation), and they'll be dead a few minutes later. But somebody dieing peacefully in their sleep doesn't provide any catharsis for the victims. So we use techniques that induce plenty of twitching and whimpering to sate our bloodthirsty consciences.

  • by Electricity Likes Me ( 1098643 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @11:13AM (#46303847)

    What are you even saying? The whole thing about parallel construction is not that evidence is invented. It's that if you actually committed a crime, then a lot of other evidence which can be reasonably discovered probably exists and its easy to find it - i.e. "this guy probably killed someone and buried him in the woods along the highway, we know from an inadmissable wiretap" - but that means there's still actually a body, and once discovered that is admissable evidence.

    You can't be prosecuted from inadmissable evidence, but hohoho, you're also not as good at crime as you think. The alternative to completely eliminating parallel construction and surveillance exchange is a situation where NSA analysts happen across evidence of a crime (like the above example) and then can notify no one at all. Is that really an improvement?

  • by JohnnyComeLately ( 725958 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @12:01PM (#46304197) Homepage Journal

    What initiates the process is your act of calling internationally, and correllating to a known or suspected threat. 99.999% of us will never "accidentally" call anyone the NSA is interested in. Have you made a call and accidentally gotten the German president? Also, there are literally millions of calls. The only thing that gets an analyst looking at your specific call is multiple calls. You'd have to call President Joachim Gauck [] quite a few times in my ficiticous scenario. The very same thing would happen with the DEA if you called a drug dealer the next street over. "Roving wiretaps," is the term for what would catch you. "Opps, wrong number" and you're not very likely to get a surprise visit at home. Call 5-10 times asking, "for the suff," and you might come home to guests.

    Also, in this specific case I believe you're trying to make, the NSA surveillence tip isn't admissible in court. If you've read an intel document, a large number state at the very beginning in no uncertain terms, "This information is not to be used in a court of law or for any judicial purposes." (I'm paraphrasing). It's on the FBI to investigate, find probable cause, get a prosecutor to agree, find a judge to agree, and then charge you. Whether it's the NSA seeing your metadata linking your phone call to a Taliban bomb-making expert in Syria, or a NYPD officer seeing, as he performs a walking patrol, large tubs of liquid in your car's backseat, leading to multiple triggers and a remote receiver, while parked at a shopping mall during Christmas season, is there really a difference? No. Before you say, "Well my car is in a public place," remember your international call crosses the same legal threshold. If you absolutely want to be unspied upon while calling your TB bombmaker by the NSA, then fly him stateside so it's a domestic phone call. This assumes the guy isn't already on a no-fly and being monitored, so good luck. Back on point, governments watch other governments. Part of this is agencies with specific missions.

    The NSA is in charge of monitoring overseas communications. They are within the Legislative Branch's oversight and follow federal laws on what they can look for, how they look, etc. If you don't want to know what threats are overseas, then write your Senator and Representatives. As you draft that email, keep in mind thousands were saved during WWII by the fact we broke German encyption. 9/11 was missed because there was no system at the time to catch the two Al Quida operatives in San Diego who were calling their AQ handler overseas, and there was no process for the NSA to tip the FBI that there's two phone numbers in the US who are calling a known bomb maker overseas. If you think it's bad to catch this, mail the letter (or hit "Send" on the E-mail, "Submit" on the website submission).

  • by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @02:35PM (#46305155)

    Which is exactly how it's organized. The NSA is spying on overseas comms. When it links to a date/time placed/received call stateside, they hand that information to the FBI, and say, "This phone number in the US is talking to some very bad people overseas." The FBI then starts the investigation.

    If this was what was happening, people would not have so many problems with it. If you want to claim it _is_ this way then I expect to see people charged with criminal misconduct currently holding offices and not performing their duties as they should. Here are two words for you to review. "Parallel Construction".

    Let's assume that everything is on the up and up, and we have nothing to worry about. The orifices in question are recommending to move to a 3 step system. If you call a store that has an employee that has a friend that called a "questionable" country you are within legal rights for monitoring. This is too vague of a definition, yet people think it will fix something. Play 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon and you quickly see that anyone can be associated with a "terrorist" pretty easily.

    Second, calling overseas is not bad. "Overseas" is yet another overly broad term. Do they monitor K-mart officials because they do business? Wow, what a convenient term to use! Now if you shop at K-mart you are within 3 steps! Isn't that incredible? (no, don't answer that rhetorical question)

    In a post following this one you claim "it's only metadata". Anyone that believes that metadata is "nothing" (or down plays it's significance) is either repeating propaganda or extremely ignorant. You will find few friends here repeating propaganda or making uneducated claims. You can't play down what it is, when we have studied what this data contains and can be used for. We also see the cases of IRS targeting certain groups which warrants a full open inspection of the system.

    I get it, it's hard to believe your own government has become corrupt. The truth is that we have become very corrupt, and until we have open investigations and trials we won't know the extent of corruption. The days of arguing for the innocence of America are long gone (The Gulf of Tonkin is a bitch for that delusion, and just the first of many). The arguments we should be pushing today are how we fix the corruption, and how we open offices for inspection, and how we put criminals that have held (and perhaps are holding) public offices on trial.

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?