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Wiretapping and National Security

Lefty

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Can anyone tell me how this leak about warrantless wiretappings hurt national security? I asked this question on another thread, but I didn't get any answers that sufficently answered my question. How does this leak hurt national security?

Rules:
1. Citing other leaks does not prove that national security was hurt by this one. Stay on topic.
2. Citing law that tells me how leaking is illegal is off topic and irrevelent.
3. Saying "the terrorists know we are wiretapping their phones now" is a stupid argument because our ability to wiretap phones has been public knowledge for decades, and president Bush even talked about it in many speeches and campaign tours during the 2004 election campaign.
4. Saying that's it's my fault for not understanding the concept of national security is not an argument.
5. Arguing that terrorists now know the warrant issue will take time and they can exploit it is ridiculous since the court allows you to get a warrant 72 hours after the wiretapping began.
6. Insulting me doesn't prove your point, it just makes you look like an asshole.
7. Insulting the NYT may be fun... but really, it's not proving your point.
8. Saying "loose lips sink ships" might sound nice, but it doesn't prove your point.
9. Saying "isn't it obvious?" also doesn't prove anything. If it's so obvious you should be able to explain it to me.
10. Try not to use wild baseless speculation. I know some of your imaginations could really go wild with this one, but try to keep it realisitc and under control.
11. Try to stay on topic, the :spin: is getting old.

Now let me tell you why I don't think this leak hurt national security. Well, first of all, do you really think the terrorists didn't know we could wiretap phones? It's been public knowledge that we have the abilty to wiretap phones for... at the very least 3 decades. The only thing that we didn't know about in this leak was the government wasn't getting warrants to wiretap suspected terrorists. So I guess the real question becomes. How does knowing we aren't getting warrants help terrorists? It doesn't. It just doesn't.
 

cnredd

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Originally posted by oldreliable67 earlier today...

James Risen's new book has a alternative explanation for the secrecy and why FISA rules and regs may be insufficient. According to his new book, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration, the key to the program is a shift in telecommunications technology that in recent decades has made US networks the carriers of lots of international telephone and email traffic. A large volume of purely international telephone calls - calls that do not begin or end in the US - also now travel through switches based in the US. Calls from Asia to Europe, for example, may go through the US-based switches. This so-called transit traffic has dramatically increased in recent years as the telephone network has become increasingly globalized. Computerized systems determine the most efficient routes for digital "packets" of electronic communications depending on the speed and congestion on the networks, not necessarily on the shortest line between two points. Such random global route selection means that the switches carrying calls from Cleveland to Chicago, for example, may also be carrying calls from Islamabad to Jakarta. In fact, it is now difficult to tell where the domestic telephones system ends and the international network begins.

Risen goes on to say,


"In the years before 9/11, the NSA apparently recognized that the remarkable growth in transit traffic was becoming a major issue that had never been addressed by FISA or the other 1970s-era rules and regulations governing the U.S. intelligence community. Now that foreign calls were being routed through switches that were physically on American soil, eavesdropping on those calls might be a violation of the regulations and laws restricting the NSA from spying inside the United States.

But transit traffic also presented a major opportunity. If the NSA could gain access to the American switches, it could easily monitor millions of foreign telephone calls, and do so much more consistently and effectively than it could overseas, where it had to rely on spy satellites and listening stations to try to vacuum up telecommunications signals as they bounced through the air."

So, according to Risen's book, it seems that most of the new surveillance program was not about domestic surveillance at all; most of it was about the surveillance of entirely international calls and e-mails that just happened to be routed through U.S. networks in the course of delivery. According to Risen, the program typically monitored about 7,000 individuals overseas at any given time, as compared to about about 500 people who were located in the United States. From an operational perspective, then, the big difference between prior NSA practices and the new program was that the NSA was using a back door into domestic privider switches in the U.S. to monitor communications that were mostly foreign to foreign.


Consequently, it's not that terrorists may suddenly realize that they may be monitored; that argument never made much sense, as every member of Al-Qaeda must know that they may be monitored. Rather, the security issue is twofold. In the short term, terrorist groups now know that they can stand a significantly better chance of hiding their communications from the NSA by chosing communications systems that don't happen to route through the U.S. And in the long term, some countries may react to the disclosures of the program by redesigning their telecommunications networks so less traffic goes through the United States. The more people abroad know that the NSA can easily watch their communications routed through the U.S., the less people will be willing to route their communications through the U.S. No doubt it was a long-term priority of the NSA to ensure that lots of international communications traffic was routed through the U.S., where the NSA could have much better access to it. Indeed, Risen's book more or less says this. The disclosure of the program presumably helps frustrate that objective.

http://www.debatepolitics.com/showpost.php?p=188948&postcount=64
 

Lefty

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Wow, what a well thought out answer. I spent like 5 hour last night trying to get TOT to give me a real answer, but I never got him to answer my question. Kudos to you (and oldreliable67) though.

Now that having been said, I find a real issue here. First you say:

Computerized systems determine the most efficient routes for digital "packets" of electronic communications depending on the speed and congestion on the networks, not necessarily on the shortest line between two points. Such random global route selection means that the switches carrying calls from Cleveland to Chicago, for example, may also be carrying calls from Islamabad to Jakarta.
Okay, so the route is random. But yet your claim is that now that terrorists know that we can do this they will look for different routes. How would they know? The route is random right? It's determined by the speed and congestion on the networks... so really, unless terrorists had access to these networks they wouldn't know what route their call is taking. Terrorists are always going to be look for newer and better ways of avoiding us and getting around our spying, but concerning this leak it doesn't seem like the information that was leaked could lead to any major changes in the way the terrorists operate.

As for countries redesigning their telecommunications networks? Well I haven't heard of any talks about this and if in time countries decide to redesign their telecommunications networks, it could be the result of any number of things, including just wanting to update the technology. This is really just specualtion, and though it seems reasonable, there is no evidence to suggest that this leak has led to the redesigning of any countries telecommunications network, and I do not see this as a probable result of the NSA leak.

I can see the point you are trying to make, but do you see why I have a problem with it?
 

oldreliable67

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Lefty said:
I can see the point you are trying to make, but do you see why I have a problem with it?
Yep. A couple of small elaborations are in order...

by chosing communications systems that don't happen to route through the U.S.
Not every telecommunications company in the world routes calls thru the US. That means that if terrorists want to avoid this program, all they have to do is select one of those carriers. For those carriers that do route thru the US, routing is as described, random and determined by sophisticated algorithims that look for traffic density, etc.

though it seems reasonable, there is no evidence to suggest that this leak has led to the redesigning of any countries telecommunications network, and I do not see this as a probable result of the NSA leak.
Its only been what, less than a month since the NYT article and simultaneously (quite coincidentally - or not), Risen's book came out with his description of this technology. Give them time. It is speculation, but my guess is that there will be private telecom networks that, if they haven't already done so, will re-jigger their networks or at the very least offer 'clients' alternative networks that don't route thru the US - its just software and very easy to do. For example, you've seen those adds for "10-10-something or other dialing"? Its just software that directs calls to a specific network or network backbone.

Moreover, I would not expect them to announce it to the rest of the world.
 

TimmyBoy

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Lefty said:
Can anyone tell me how this leak about warrantless wiretappings hurt national security? I asked this question on another thread, but I didn't get any answers that sufficently answered my question. How does this leak hurt national security?

Rules:
1. Citing other leaks does not prove that national security was hurt by this one. Stay on topic.
2. Citing law that tells me how leaking is illegal is off topic and irrevelent.
3. Saying "the terrorists know we are wiretapping their phones now" is a stupid argument because our ability to wiretap phones has been public knowledge for decades, and president Bush even talked about it in many speeches and campaign tours during the 2004 election campaign.
4. Saying that's it's my fault for not understanding the concept of national security is not an argument.
5. Arguing that terrorists now know the warrant issue will take time and they can exploit it is ridiculous since the court allows you to get a warrant 72 hours after the wiretapping began.
6. Insulting me doesn't prove your point, it just makes you look like an asshole.
7. Insulting the NYT may be fun... but really, it's not proving your point.
8. Saying "loose lips sink ships" might sound nice, but it doesn't prove your point.
9. Saying "isn't it obvious?" also doesn't prove anything. If it's so obvious you should be able to explain it to me.
10. Try not to use wild baseless speculation. I know some of your imaginations could really go wild with this one, but try to keep it realisitc and under control.
11. Try to stay on topic, the :spin: is getting old.

Now let me tell you why I don't think this leak hurt national security. Well, first of all, do you really think the terrorists didn't know we could wiretap phones? It's been public knowledge that we have the abilty to wiretap phones for... at the very least 3 decades. The only thing that we didn't know about in this leak was the government wasn't getting warrants to wiretap suspected terrorists. So I guess the real question becomes. How does knowing we aren't getting warrants help terrorists? It doesn't. It just doesn't.
No matter what the government does, no matter how hard the government tries, the terrorists will always be able to circumvent government attempts and find alternative means of communication that either the government fail to detect or are unable to detect. Spying and monitoring more closely will not stop another successfuly terrorist attack, no matter how hard the government tries or what new technologies the government comes up with. Their will always be new ways to circumvent technologies or old ways that render technology useless. Trying to place more control over the population or trying to spy more on the population will in the end, fail and do no good towards stopping the next terrorist attack.
 

TimmyBoy

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Those who expect to be ignorant and free, expect what never was, and never will be. -Thomas Jefferson
 

oldreliable67

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Trying to place more control over the population or trying to spy more on the population will in the end, fail and do no good towards stopping the next terrorist attack.
Not sure that I would agree with your characterization of "place[ing] more control over the population" and/or "spying on the population", at least with reference to the NSA surveillance program that is currently under discussion. The data that is being sampled is entirely digital, that is, it is a combination of 0s and 1s (any programmer members will recognize this and can confirm). The technology, as I understand it from James Risen's book cited in the earlier post, looks for patterns of say, "1001000100111100" which might represent "joealqaeda@aol.com" or whatever key words the NSA is looking for. Only when this pattern is found is a message referred to a human operator for analysis.This may still offer some privacy concerns, no doubt, but it isn't as if some human operator is sitting there with earphones listening to you talk to your grandma.

Moreover, what do you mean by "control"? Where does "control over the population" even enter into this at all?

As for "doing no good towards stopping the next terrorist attack", how do you know that it hasn't already saved lives, or even already stopped a terrorist attack somewhere in the world? We don't. We don't know at this point that it has or has not. Eventually, we will learn more details, but right now, we just don't know.

Besides, what would you have us do, just throw up our hands and do nothing? Its easy to criticize the decisions of those in postions of responsibility, especially in hindsight, when we don't have to make the decisions.
 

oldreliable67

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TimmyBoy said:
Their will always be new ways to circumvent technologies or old ways that render technology useless.
Forgot to address this in my last response...

Absolutely right. In fact, many press reports for some time now have portrayed bin Laden and al Qaeda types as resorting to hand-carried messages and 'trusted messenger" types of communications as a result of our success at penetrating their cell/satellite phone communications. This is good and bad for us. Good that it makes their commo much more inconvenient and cumbersome and therefore to some extent, less effective. Bad because we no longer have an opportunity to locate them via cell/satellite phone location techniques.

Now that the packet-sniffing program has been disclosed, I have no doubt that new network configurations will be utilized that avoid US based backbones. Thanks, NYTs.
 

TimmyBoy

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oldreliable67 said:
Not sure that I would agree with your characterization of "place[ing] more control over the population" and/or "spying on the population", at least with reference to the NSA surveillance program that is currently under discussion. The data that is being sampled is entirely digital, that is, it is a combination of 0s and 1s (any programmer members will recognize this and can confirm). The technology, as I understand it from James Risen's book cited in the earlier post, looks for patterns of say, "1001000100111100" which might represent "joealqaeda@aol.com" or whatever key words the NSA is looking for. Only when this pattern is found is a message referred to a human operator for analysis.This may still offer some privacy concerns, no doubt, but it isn't as if some human operator is sitting there with earphones listening to you talk to your grandma.

Moreover, what do you mean by "control"? Where does "control over the population" even enter into this at all?

As for "doing no good towards stopping the next terrorist attack", how do you know that it hasn't already saved lives, or even already stopped a terrorist attack somewhere in the world? We don't. We don't know at this point that it has or has not. Eventually, we will learn more details, but right now, we just don't know.

Besides, what would you have us do, just throw up our hands and do nothing? Its easy to criticize the decisions of those in postions of responsibility, especially in hindsight, when we don't have to make the decisions.
I am a programmer myself and I wired up my own control unit and arithmetic logic unit as part of a project to build a CPU processor. A good understanding of discrete mathematics and binary code is in order. So their is no need to lecture me on 1 or 0s. Technical know how doesn't really matter in this discussion. This method that you describe might catch one or two planned terrorist attacks, but terrorists are a very determined enemy, they will keep trying, like they did with the World Trade Center and eventually suceed. September 11 was not the first attempt that terrorists made in attacking the World Trade Center. Their were other failed attempts and the US governmnet only attacked the symptoms of the problem by jailing the terrorists. It did no good whatsover, because the terrorists were not deturred and they just came right back again, except this time they succeeded. When they failed the first few times, they made a promise to the US government, that they will continue and they promised the US government that they would one day suceed. Very determined and undeturred by past failures and punishments. I think a good analogy to look at this problem is that their is a disease out their that needs to be cured. Terrorism is a symptom of that disease. If you only try to attack the symptoms, you are still not doing anything to cure the disease and in the end, your attempts to cure the disease, by only attacking the symptoms, will fail and then the symptoms might appear again on much stronger and worse level than before.
 

oldreliable67

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TimmyBoy said:
A good understanding of discrete mathematics and binary code is in order. So their is no need to lecture me on 1 or 0s.
Ah, you are the member that I was trying to think of when I wrote that part of that post! It certainly was not intended as lecture to you - I recalled that someone had said that were a coder, but I just couldn't bring to mind who. Another senior moment!

TimmyBoy said:
September 11 was not the first attempt that terrorists made in attacking the World Trade Center.
How well I know. You may or may not recall from my previous posts, but I survived both attacks. In '93, I was working on the 92nd Floor for a brokerage company, and in 2001 was in the building on a consulting assignment (a lower floor, thank goodness, or I might not be here today).

TimmyBoy said:
I think a good analogy to look at this problem is that their is a disease out their that needs to be cured.
Absolutely. But even with curing a disease, one doesn't neglect protecting oneself while one is trying to effect a cure. Moreover, while trying to cure the disease, it helps to learn as much as you can about the pathology (i.e., who is spreading the disease).

BTW: in what language(s) do you code? I have coded for many years, though never as a way of making a living. Rather, I've written a lot of bond arbitrage software, equity trading systems, option valuation models, etc. for my own work. Most of work has been done in C and more recently, C++. I confess that I've become lazy and a real fan of Excel and VB and VBA of late, too.
 

Lefty

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oldreliable67 said:
Not every telecommunications company in the world routes calls thru the US. That means that if terrorists want to avoid this program, all they have to do is select one of those carriers. For those carriers that do route thru the US, routing is as described, random and determined by sophisticated algorithims that look for traffic density, etc.
Do you realize that a terrorist organization would have to hack into all the telecommunication networks in order to gain access to the programs that randomly generate routes? You realize that that is like... impossible. I mean, really, can you even begin to imagine how difficult that would be? I can't even imagine someone doing that and then getting away with it. I really don't think it's possible to hack into all the telecommunications networks around the world, and have no one notice.

And by the way, I noticed a big flaw in your argument that I somehow missed before. You are talking about international calls going through the US, whereas this leak dealt the the US government spying on US citizens without a warrant. It seems while your argument for international calls may be relevant to another discussion about people outside of this country, we are dealing with calls within the US... which presumably will have to go through the US at some time.

oldreliable67 said:
Its only been what, less than a month since the NYT article and simultaneously (quite coincidentally - or not), Risen's book came out with his description of this technology. Give them time. It is speculation, but my guess is that there will be private telecom networks that, if they haven't already done so, will re-jigger their networks or at the very least offer 'clients' alternative networks that don't route thru the US - its just software and very easy to do. For example, you've seen those adds for "10-10-something or other dialing"? Its just software that directs calls to a specific network or network backbone.

Moreover, I would not expect them to announce it to the rest of the world.
If a country was revamping it's telecommunications network they would certainly announce it. It's not like they could keep an operation like that secret. The way it stands that is just speculation and I highly doubt anything will ever come of it.

You do realize that we can still wiretap those lines? And I think the claim that it's more difficult has been over exaggerated.
 

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oldreliable67 said:
Ah, you are the member that I was trying to think of when I wrote that part of that post! It certainly was not intended as lecture to you - I recalled that someone had said that were a coder, but I just couldn't bring to mind who. Another senior moment!



How well I know. You may or may not recall from my previous posts, but I survived both attacks. In '93, I was working on the 92nd Floor for a brokerage company, and in 2001 was in the building on a consulting assignment (a lower floor, thank goodness, or I might not be here today).
I am certainly glad you survived.



Absolutely. But even with curing a disease, one doesn't neglect protecting oneself while one is trying to effect a cure. Moreover, while trying to cure the disease, it helps to learn as much as you can about the pathology (i.e., who is spreading the disease).
In the effort of trying to protect ourself, we are also destroying our cure that we are trying to effect.

BTW: in what language(s) do you code? I have coded for many years, though never as a way of making a living. Rather, I've written a lot of bond arbitrage software, equity trading systems, option valuation models, etc. for my own work. Most of work has been done in C and more recently, C++. I confess that I've become lazy and a real fan of Excel and VB and VBA of late, too.
I program in Tcl (Tool Command Language). I took classes in Java, C and C++ while in college, but I am not a true programmer in these languages, though I do understand the basic concepts behind these languages such as object oriented programming and structural programming. In order to be a true programmer, you have to get experience and also learn from some experienced programmers in industry. You don't learn to be a programmer by sitting in a college classroom, though they do help one to understand some of the mathematics behind the hardware and lower level assembly language that comprises the high level languages. I also write database scripts with Oracle that goes with the software that I write in Tcl. But I have some experience with both Oracle and Tcl. I have to say, that I think some of the new languages that are used today, have alot of hype surrounding them and that some of the older languages are still very useful for writing software and in some instances, depending on what you are trying to do, superior to the new languages. It's just that their is alot of hype and propaganda surrounding the newer languages.
 

cnredd

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Lefty said:
And by the way, I noticed a big flaw in your argument that I somehow missed before. You are talking about international calls going through the US, whereas this leak dealt the the US government spying on US citizens without a warrant. It seems while your argument for international calls may be relevant to another discussion about people outside of this country, we are dealing with calls within the US... which presumably will have to go through the US at some time.
Currenly, the switches are random, which means we can't knowingly decipher which calls are foreign and which ones are domestic unless there is further analysis (or, as oldreliable pointed out, the NSA notices a pattern)...

Lefty said:
If a country was revamping it's telecommunications network they would certainly announce it. It's not like they could keep an operation like that secret. The way it stands that is just speculation and I highly doubt anything will ever come of it.
This is less than a month old...Patience, grasshopper...Because of this leak, we anticipate countries around the world to use this announcement..."Use THIS company for your communications....We don't use US switches, so those pesky NSA agents can't spy on you."....Great advertisement for the global community...also for the terrorists, but that has never been a concern for those who think the US is a greater threat than radical extremists...Appeasing the masses has always been more of a concern than consequences...

Lefty said:
You do realize that we can still wiretap those lines? And I think the claim that it's more difficult has been over exaggerated.
You may THINK that, but according to YOUR rules...

10. Try not to use wild baseless speculation. I know some of your imaginations could really go wild with this one, but try to keep it realisitc and under control.

Try not to color outside of your own lines again, OK?...:2wave:
 

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lefty said:
Do you realize that a terrorist organization would have to hack into all the telecommunication networks in order to gain access to the programs that randomly generate routes?
I'm confused as to why you say a terrorist organization would want to hack into the telecom networks in this way...if your saying that a terrorist org would have to do so in order to manipulate the route algorithms so as to avoid the US, I don't think they would have to do that.

The routes are software configurable, true, but I believe the terrorist orgs will be offered ample opportunities to avoid US routing without having to hack to do so. There are enough private telecom companies (and state owned, for that matter) that the attraction of $$ and/or religous/political considerations/payoffs will provide those opportunities. Its now a market opportunity, thanks to the NYT.

I noticed a big flaw in your argument... You are talking about international calls going through the US, whereas this leak dealt the the US government spying on US citizens without a warrant.
No. The essence of the "illegal warrantless wiretap" argument with respect to this program, as I understand it, is this: If the NSA sniffer picks up a pattern, say "JoeAlQaeda@aol.com" and that address is say, Pakistan, but the sender is "MyOtherBrother@aol.com" and is in the US or is a "US person", and the NSA subsequently monitors that traffic, the monitoring of the "US person" end of that conversation or exchange is illegal. Is that consistent with your understanding?
 

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cnredd said:
Currenly, the switches are random, which means we can't knowingly decipher which calls are foreign and which ones are domestic unless there is further analysis (or, as oldreliable pointed out, the NSA notices a pattern)...
So... what? What's your point? It looks like you only served to prove my point further that they switches are random and there is no way for a terrorist in the middle of the desert to know where his international phone call will go through.

cnredd said:
This is less than a month old...Patience, grasshopper...Because of this leak, we anticipate countries around the world to use this announcement..."Use THIS company for your communications....We don't use US switches, so those pesky NSA agents can't spy on you."....Great advertisement for the global community...also for the terrorists, but that has never been a concern for those who think the US is a greater threat than radical extremists...Appeasing the masses has always been more of a concern than consequences...

You may THINK that, but according to YOUR rules...

10. Try not to use wild baseless speculation. I know some of your imaginations could really go wild with this one, but try to keep it realisitc and under control.

Try not to color outside of your own lines again, OK?...:2wave:
Hahaha... ahhh right, well I guess some further explaintion is in order. First I never heard asbout this claim that it was quite as difficult as oldreliable claimed to wiretap a phone call that was going through the united states. So that made me suspicious since I had always been under the impression that it wasn't quite that difficult as he made it out to be. Though I felt at firs that my suspicions were unfounded enough to comment. I talked to some people, and a good friend of mine who had knowledge in this area said that the claims made were bullshit. That when I posted that I thought the claims were... not... so... true. I'll post some links later that back up this claim, at the moment I am rushed for time and... really should have bookmarked those damn things.

oldreliable67 said:
No. The essence of the "illegal warrantless wiretap" argument with respect to this program, as I understand it, is this: If the NSA sniffer picks up a pattern, say "JoeAlQaeda@aol.com" and that address is say, Pakistan, but the sender is "MyOtherBrother@aol.com" and is in the US or is a "US person", and the NSA subsequently monitors that traffic, the monitoring of the "US person" end of that conversation or exchange is illegal. Is that consistent with your understanding?
You make getting access to telecommunications networks sound so easy. And oldreliable... seriously, what terrorist is going to put alqaeda in his email address. You know the NSA program picks up US citizens this way. "Ihatealqaeda@aol.com" or "alqaedasucks@aol.com" ... even if someone has something like "ilovealqaeda@aol.com" it doesn't mean that they are a terrorist. Could just be a stupid 14-year-old that thinks he is funny. Just because they pick up on key words doesn't mean the person in question is a terrorist. An email address? You make the NSA out to be really desperate for intel here.
 

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You make getting access to telecommunications networks sound so easy.
It is easy when you're the NSA and the telecoms don't object too much to letting you in anyway. There was a good discussion of that subject on one of the blogs a week or so ago. I'll see if I can find it and post it up.

seriously, what terrorist is going to put alqaeda in his email address.
Jeez, Lefty, those were just examples, illustrations of the process, not specifics! Don't take that quite so literally!

I talked to some people, and a good friend of mine who had knowledge in this area said that the claims made were bullshit.
Hang on, there! First, remember that as far as the mechanics of the NSA surveillance program, I'm relaying info as described in Risen's book. None of that is original with me. If you don't believe Risen, thats fine, say so, but don't go shooting the messenger. There has been rampant speculation about the nature of the program; Risen offers the first look 'behind the curtain'. Believe it or don't, its up to you.

A more valuable contribution to the discussion would be your describing why your friends/whomever think that Risen's description of the program is bullshit. If they are so adamant, they should have alternative views to offer, right?

You make the NSA out to be really desperate for intel here.
What were doing after 9/11? Did you follow the 9/11 Commish findings at all? If you did, you would know that the US was indeed desperate for intel following 9/11. We still are. This is lives we're talking about here, not who will be the next tiddlywinks champion.
 

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oldreliable67 said:
It is easy when you're the NSA and the telecoms don't object too much to letting you in anyway. There was a good discussion of that subject on one of the blogs a week or so ago. I'll see if I can find it and post it up.



Jeez, Lefty, those were just examples, illustrations of the process, not specifics! Don't take that quite so literally!



Hang on, there! First, remember that as far as the mechanics of the NSA surveillance program, I'm relaying info as described in Risen's book. None of that is original with me. If you don't believe Risen, thats fine, say so, but don't go shooting the messenger. There has been rampant speculation about the nature of the program; Risen offers the first look 'behind the curtain'. Believe it or don't, its up to you.

A more valuable contribution to the discussion would be your describing why your friends/whomever think that Risen's description of the program is bullshit. If they are so adamant, they should have alternative views to offer, right?



What were doing after 9/11? Did you follow the 9/11 Commish findings at all? If you did, you would know that the US was indeed desperate for intel following 9/11. We still are. This is lives we're talking about here, not who will be the next tiddlywinks champion.
Yes it's easy for the NSA and that's my point. It's easy for the NSA... not the terrorists.

As for what my friend said. I realize that his word is no foundation for an argument, I saw I site... but damnit I can't find it again. I'll keep looking.

As for the NSA's desperation for intel, if they start looking for "JoeAlQaeda@aol.com" I think maybe the people there should start looking for new jobs. That's just ridiculous. And I know Joealqaeda is an example, and as were my examples. I was trying to get the point across that it's not an effective method to say that you are going to look for keywords because only terrorists will use them. That's just not true at all. A terrorist might have "pinkfloydfan@aol.com" does that mean that we curb the freedoms of all fans of pink floyd? I certainly hope not since I just so happen to be a rather big fan.
 

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Yes it's easy for the NSA and that's my point. It's easy for the NSA... not the terrorists.
Sorry, I guess I'm totally confused. Please reiterate your point and get me back on track.

I was trying to get the point across that it's not an effective method to say that you are going to look for keywords because only terrorists will use them.
You continue to confuse my attempts (and Risen's) to simply for exposition with reality. Undoubtedly, there is clearly a lot more to this program than just looking for "JoeAlQaeda@aol.com", but we don't yet know enough about the program to know what it might be. For example, one thing that has been alluded to a bit is the modeling of associations and references. (This is distinct and separate from the data mining concepts of "TIA".) But not much as been disclosed about it as yet. I get the impression that there are elements of fuzzy logic, genetic algorithims, etc., involved, but there isn't much to go on as yet, so all we can do is speculate.
 

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1. An interesting patent application. Wonder what the NSA is doing with this technology...
Automatically generating a topic description for text and searching and sorting text by topic using the same


Abstract
A method of automatically generating a topical description of text by receiving the text containing input words; stemming each input word to its root form; assigning a user-definable part-of-speech score to each input word; assigning a language salience score to each input word; assigning an input-word score to each input word; creating a tree structure under each input word, where each tree structure contains the definition of the corresponding input word; assigning a definition-word score to each definition word; collapsing each tree structure to a corresponding tree-word list; assigning a tree-word-list score to each entry in each tree-word list; combining the tree-word lists into a final word list; assigning each word in the final word list a final-word-list score; and choosing the top N scoring words in the final word list as the topic description of the input text. Document searching and sorting may be accomplished by performing the method described above on each document in a database and then comparing the similarity of the resulting topical descriptions.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Inventors: Nelson; Douglas J. (Columbia, MD); Schone; Patrick John (Elkridge, MD); Bates; Richard Michael (Greenbelt, MD)
Assignee: The United States of America as represented by the National Security (Washington, DC)
Appl. No.: 834263
Filed: April 15, 1997
Source.


2. And another one (not a patent) but interesting potential applications. And notice who funded the research...

Machine Demonstrates Superhuman Speech Recognition Abilities

University of Southern California biomedical engineers have created the world's first machine system that can recognize spoken words better than humans can. A fundamental rethinking of a long-underperforming computer architecture led to their achievement.

The system might soon facilitate voice control of computers and other machines, help the deaf, aid air traffic controllers and others who must understand speech in noisy environments, and instantly produce clean transcripts of conversations, identifying each of the speakers. The U.S. Navy, which listens for the sounds of submarines in the hubbub of the open seas, is another possible user.
...
The USC research was funded by the Office of Naval Research; the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency; the National Centers for Research Resources, and the National Institute of Mental Health. The university has applied for a patent on the system and the architectural concepts on which it is based.
Source.
 

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If it is so important to be able to conduct surveillance on these potential terrorists, WHY NOT AMEND FISA TO ALLOW FOR WARRANTLESS WIRETAPPING?

FISA allows for warrantless wartime domestic surveillance for the first 15 days of a war. In allowing the 15 days, Congress stated that such amount of time "will allow for consideration of any amendment to this act that may be appropriate during a wartime emergency." They chose 15 days because they said it would be reported within 7 days and that each House would vote within 7 days thereafter. Soooooo, what's the problem here? If our national security was at stake, why wouldn't the executive branch seek to amend FISA?
 

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Why not amend FISA?

Somewhere on one of these related threads, I posted a case for not approaching Congress to amend FISA. The gist of it was that the comments of a number of interested parties (Admin, Congress, et al) all suggested that doing so would necessitate revealing aspects of the new technology being employed that would negate the value of the program.

Being on the outside looking in, we have no way of knowing exactly how true that might be. But, given the technological wizardy these guys are coming up with, I find hard to totally discount it. Of course, now that the cat is out of the bag, thanks to the NYT, perhaps that is a more viable alternative.
 

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oldreliable67 said:
Why not amend FISA?

Somewhere on one of these related threads, I posted a case for not approaching Congress to amend FISA. The gist of it was that the comments of a number of interested parties (Admin, Congress, et al) all suggested that doing so would necessitate revealing aspects of the new technology being employed that would negate the value of the program.

Being on the outside looking in, we have no way of knowing exactly how true that might be. But, given the technological wizardy these guys are coming up with, I find hard to totally discount it. Of course, now that the cat is out of the bag, thanks to the NYT, perhaps that is a more viable alternative.
Let's not forget that the AG says that the authorization of "all necessary and appropriate force" allowed the president to conduct surveillance without a warrant. However, as pointed out by my new favorite legal scholars, the AG said that he didn't want to approach Congres because he had been advised that it would be "difficult, if not not impossible" to amend FISA. What this letter states is, "The adminstration cannot argue on the one hand that Congress authorized the NSA program" based upon the "all necessary and appropriate force," while at the same time claiming that he couldn't seek amending the law because Congress would say no.

Tell me why the AG couldn't say what you suggest--that they couldn't ask because they were afraid of what it would reveal. I have heard of no such such excuse, and he could claim that now since the cat's out of the bag.
 
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I hope he keeps listening in on those who wish and plan us harm. It's why I voted for him - to defend this country.
 

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Originally posted by KCConservative:
I hope he keeps listening in on those who wish and plan us harm. It's why I voted for him - to defend this country.
Since you voted for a criminal, you must advocate breaking the law.
 
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Billo_Really said:
Since you voted for a criminal, you must advocate breaking the law.
Is he in jail? Has he been impeached? Have any of these looney left predictions come true? Face it, your 2000 and 2004 desperate politcal jealousy is losing it's steam. In fact, I think I'll write my legislators and urge them to begin spying on you. :lol:
 
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