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Former NSA Director: 'We Kill People Based On Metadata' 155

An anonymous reader writes "An article by David Cole at the NY Review of Books lays out why we should care as much about the collection of metadata as we do about the collection of the data itself. At a recent debate, General Michael Hayden, who formerly led both the NSA and the CIA, told Cole, 'we kill people based on metadata.' The statement is stark and descriptive: metadata isn't just part of the investigation. Sometimes it's the entire investigation. Cole talks about the USA Freedom Act, legislation that would limit the NSA's data collection powers if it passes. The bill contains several good steps in securing the privacy of citizens and restoring due process. But Cole says it 'only skims the surface.' He writes, 'It does not address, for example, the NSA's guerilla-like tactics of inserting vulnerabilities into computer software and drivers, to be exploited later to surreptitiously intercept private communications. It also focuses exclusively on reining in the NSA's direct spying on Americans. ... In the Internet era, it is increasingly common that everyone's communications cross national boundaries. That makes all of us vulnerable, for when the government collects data in bulk from people it believes are foreign nationals, it is almost certain to sweep up lots of communications in which Americans are involved.' He concludes, '[T]he biggest mistake any of us could make would be to conclude that this bill solves the problem.'"
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Former NSA Director: 'We Kill People Based On Metadata'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 10, 2014 @07:26PM (#46969387)

    Erdös Number.

    If they can store 3 phone call hops of metadata of who a suspect called over the last 2 years (or was it three) then they have everyone's metadata forever.

    That's one obvious bit of mathematics that the god damn media missed in the latest lies from the White House.

    They have your metadata forever because you're ALWAYS 3 phone call hops from a terrorist who after all once called for a plane ticket or a pizza or a taxi or called someone who did.

    And nice to know that they kill people based on metadata, and that they've made sure that none of your secure communications are secure. The ghosts of Stazi secret police are dying a second time from orgasming all day and night.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 10, 2014 @07:34PM (#46969427)

    Exactly. Bush wrote his Executive Orders in such a way that subsequent Presidents cannot undo them. This is 100% his fault and until Congress acts with a 2/3 majority, the NSA cannot stop it. Blaming Obama, who did not create this can cannot stop it, is unproductive. He has said many times that he does not support this. Why include him in your scorn when he agrees with the public that it should be stopped? That is unless you're a Republican, and you're trying to irrationally blame him.

  • Re:Who cares (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 10, 2014 @07:55PM (#46969529)

    Posting AC to be a devil's advocate here:

    What is ironic is that the NSA isn't a real threat. Nobody gets dragged off in the night. However, there are real intel agencies which will be more than happy to make people disappear. Those are now running unchecked and unfettered now that the "good" (relative here) guys are under the microscope.

    In fact, with NIST standards and kernel hardening (SELinux for example), they have done some good to keep the real bad guys out.

    I know this is an unpopular opinion, but people need to always know who to be worried versus ignored. For me, the NSA isn't on my list. Lots of people/organizations higher up on that (the top being the neighborhood meth-head looking to do a burglary to score some rock to feed his addiction.)

  • Re:Who cares (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @08:08PM (#46969583) Homepage Journal

    That we're losing the 'war' as badly as we are against drugs, obesity, etc... Doesn't detract from the point.

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.