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Comment: No, they are categorically NOT doing that... (Score -1) 164

by daveschroeder (#49622049) Attached to: How the NSA Converts Spoken Words Into Searchable Text

...and your comment represents the absolutely fundamental misunderstanding that pervades this discussion.

The truth no one wants to hear:

The distinction is no longer the technology or the place, but the person(s) using a capability: the target. In a free society based on the rule of law, it is not the technological capability to do a thing, but the law, that is paramount.

Gone are the days where the US targeted foreign communications on distant shores, or cracked codes used only by our enemies. No one would have questioned the legitimacy of the US and its allies breaking the German or Japanese codes or exploiting enemy communications equipment during WWII. The difference today is that US adversaries -- from terrorists to nation-states -- use many of the same systems, services, networks, operating systems, devices, software, hardware, cloud services, encryption standards, and so on, as Americans and much of the rest of the world. They use iPhones, Windows, Dell servers, Android tablets, Cisco routers, Netgear wireless access points, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Gmail, and so on.

US adversaries now often use the very same technologies we use. The fact that Americans or others also use them does not suddenly or magically mean that no element of the US Intelligence Community should ever target them. When a terrorist in Somalia is using Hotmail or an iPhone instead of a walkie-talkie, that cannot mean we pack our bags and go home. That means that, within clear and specific legal authorities and duly authorized statutory missions of the Intelligence Community, we aggressively pursue any and all possible avenues, within the law, that allow us to intercept and exploit the communications of foreign intelligence targets.

If they are using hand couriers, we target them. If they are using walkie-talkies, we target them. If they are using their own custom methods for protecting their communications, we target them. If they are using HF radios, VSATs, satellite phones, or smoke signals, we target them. If they are using Gmail, Windows, OS X, Facebook, iPhone, Android, SSL, web forums running on Amazon Web Services, etc., we target them -- within clear and specific legal frameworks that govern the way our intelligence agencies operate, including with regard to US Persons.

That doesn't mean it's always perfect; that doesn't mean things are not up for debate; that doesn't mean everyone will agree with every possible legal interpretation; that doesn't mean that some may not fundamentally disagree with the US approach to, e.g., counterterrorism. But the intelligence agencies do not make the rules, and while they may inform issues, they do not define national policy or priorities.

Without the authorities granted by the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA), the United States cannot target non-US Persons who are foreign intelligence targets if their communications enters, traverses, or otherwise touches the United States, a system within the United States, or, arguably, a system or network operated by a US corporation (i.e., a US Person) anywhere in the world. FAA in particular is almost exclusively focused on non-US Persons outside the US, who now exist in the same global web of digital communications as innocent Americans.

Without FAA, the very same Constitutional protections and warrant requirements reserved for US Persons would extend to foreign nations and foreign terrorists simply by using US networks and services â" whether intentionally or not. Without FAA, an individualized warrant would be required to collect on a foreign intelligence target using, say, Facebook, Gmail, or Yahoo!, or even exclusively foreign providers if their communications happens to enter the United States, as 70% of international internet traffic does. If you do not think there is a problem with this, there might be an even greater and more basic misunderstanding about how foreign SIGINT and cyber activities fundamentally must work.

If you believe NSA should not have these capabilities, what you are saying is that you do not believe the United States should be able to target foreign intelligence targets outside the United States who, by coincidence or by design, ever utilize or enter US systems and services. If you believe the solution is an individualized warrant every time the US wishes to target a foreign adversary using Gmail, then you are advocating the protection of foreign adversaries with the very same legal protections reserved for US citizens -- while turning foreign SIGINT, which is not and never has been subject to those restrictions, on its head.

These are the facts and realities of the situation. Any government capability is imperfect, and any government capability can be abused. But the United States is the only nation on earth which has jammed intelligence capabilities into as sophisticated and extensive a legal framework as we have. When the intelligence committees of both houses of Congress, multiple executive agencies under two diametrically opposite Presidential administrations, armies of lawyers within offices of general counsel and and inspectors general, and federal judges on the very court whose only purpose is to protect the rights of Americans under the law and the Constitution in the context of foreign intelligence collection are all in agreement, then you have the judgment of every mechanism of our free civil society.

Or we could just keep laying our intelligence sources, methods, techniques, and capabilities bare to our enemies.

âMany forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." - Winston Churchill (1874-1965), Speech in the House of Commons, November 11, 1947

"The necessity of procuring good Intelligence is apparent and need not be further urged â" all that remains for me to add, is, that you keep the whole matter as secret as possible. For upon Secrecy, Success depends in most Enterprises of the kind, and for want of it, they are generally defeated, however well planned and promising a favourable issue.â â" George Washington, our nation's first spymaster, in a letter to Colonel Elias Dayton, 26 July 1777

Comment: Re:They should be doing the opposite (Score 1) 309

There was a pretty good example last month. I don't think any musician listening to the two songs would say one is copied from the other. Maybe inspired by, but not copied. Nearly every march has horns playing upbeats, a trio section, and a stinger at the end. That doesn't mean the estate of John Phillip Sousa should be suing every composer of marches who came after him.

But even when you are "copying" the nature of copyright law still stifles innovation of transformation. I arrange music for a wind ensemble at my church. In order to even do that, I have to get written permission from the original copyright holder, which isn't trivial in most cases. That's time I could be writing music instead of doing paperwork. Yes, I could write my own tunes, but a congregation isn't going to connect with original music like they do with something they've heard 50 times before.

Then you've got companies who make a business model out of publishing public domain works, copyrighting the edition, and then suing anybody else who tries to publish the same public domain work. Not just music either, but books and photographs, too. Granted, this isn't a rampant problem, but it's enough of a concern/annoyance that some people drop out of creative markets altogether.

Comment: Re: Since when.... (Score 1) 270

by orgelspieler (#49512793) Attached to: FBI Accuses Researcher of Hacking Plane, Seizes Equipment
Sorry. My ignorance of Twitter shows. My understanding was that unless you "follow" somebody, their post will not be pushed to your device. Yes, it's searchable, but so is everything else on the Internet. It's nothing that could have caused panic on the plane or otherwise terrorized large numbers of people. If anything seeing the guy taken away in handcuffs was probably more horrifying for the people on the plane, than if they had seen a random string of letters with no inkling of what it actually meant.

Comment: Re:Precalculated (Score 1) 109

by orgelspieler (#49512731) Attached to: For the most recent tax year ...
The problem with flat tax, and what most people seem to misunderstand about tax law, is that most of the confusion and difficulty filing taxes comes from figuring out what is taxable income. That doesn't get fixed with flat tax. There will still be rules on what is and isn't income, what you can and can't deduct. If you're a business owner, it doesn't make sense to say all of your revenue is net income. You can't just say all the money people take home in a paycheck is income either, because then people will hide it in other places. The wealthy already do this to some extent, hence the AMT. I guess you could remove deductions and credits, but that seems like a shitty thing to do, and most people would never go for it.

Comment: Re: I thought we were trying to end sexism? (Score 1) 599

Boys have a high tolerance for failure, eh? Try telling my son that. His teacher asks questions that either have more than one right answer, but she'll only accept one answer (which polygon can you make out of two trapezoids?). Or sometimes she's just dead wrong (deer do not hunt for food). But if he doesn't get 100% on everything, he's completely heartbroken. We've tried telling him it's no big deal as long as he tried his best. We've tried telling him his teacher made an error. But he becomes completely inconsolable. Nothing helps. Poor kid.

Comment: Re:Since when.... (Score 4, Insightful) 270

by orgelspieler (#49494873) Attached to: FBI Accuses Researcher of Hacking Plane, Seizes Equipment
WTF? Did you even read the article? They're harassing the CTO of a security firm because he dared to point out security flaws in airplanes. Cracking a joke on Twitter to your friends is not the same thing as threatening to bring down a plane. Just because he does private sector research instead of publishing for peer review does not mean he's not a researcher. I do R&D in my job, but it's all trade secret. Am I not doing research since I don't publish? I think the FBI out-assholed this guy by a long shot, and I'm surprised to see a comment like yours modded to +5.

Comment: Re:Humerous?` (Score 4, Insightful) 270

by orgelspieler (#49494661) Attached to: FBI Accuses Researcher of Hacking Plane, Seizes Equipment
His tweet was immediately followed by "There IS a distinct possibility that the course of action laid out above would land me in an orange suite rather quickly :)" So clearly not an actual threat. It's just the FBI being dicks at the behest of large corporations, because Airbus and Boeing don't like being made to look like idiots.

Comment: Re: Decent (Score 1) 482

Your story is anecdotal and does not apply to the population in general.

Wait, what?! One of your prime examples in your argument is people with spending disorders. You can't seriously think that more people have spending disorders than have kids in day care? The argument you made was that money woes are caused by people spending poorly, which you back up with generalizations. That's not even up to the level of anecdote as far as data usefulness goes.

Here's another anecdote. I make more than enough money to live well. I do not buy new shoes until my soles wear out, and I don't buy anything that starts with a lowercase i. But even I would be pleased if my CEO cut his pay by 93% and used the money to bump my salary up even a modest amount.

Comment: The ultimate "man made earthquake" (Score 3, Interesting) 166

by daveschroeder (#49418797) Attached to: The Arrival of Man-Made Earthquakes

Russian analyst urges nuclear attack on Yellowstone National Park and San Andreas fault line

A Russian geopolitical analyst says the best way to attack the United States is to detonate nuclear weapons to trigger a supervolcano at Yellowstone National Park or along the San Andreas fault line on California's coast.

The president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems based in Moscow, Konstantin Sivkov said in an article for a Russian trade newspaper on Wednesday, VPK News, that Russia needed to increase its military weapons and strategies against the "West" which was "moving to the borders or Russia".

He has a conspiracy theory that NATO - a political and military alliance which counts the US, UK, Canada and many countries in western Europe as members - was amassing strength against Russia and the only way to combat that problem was to attack America's vulnerabilities to ensure a "complete destruction of the enemy".

"Geologists believe that the Yellowstone supervolcano could explode at any moment. There are signs of growing activity there. Therefore it suffices to push the relatively small, for example the impact of the munition megaton class to initiate an eruption. The consequences will be catastrophic for the United States - a country just disappears," he said.

"Another vulnerable area of the United States from the geophysical point of view, is the San Andreas fault - 1300 kilometers between the Pacific and North American plates ... a detonation of a nuclear weapon there can trigger catastrophic events like a coast-scale tsunami which can completely destroy the infrastructure of the United States."

Full story

Comment: And why not? (Score 4, Insightful) 227

Considering that nuclear power is the safest form of power the world has ever known, I'd say it's worthy of recognition for offsetting carbon more than anything else. To borrow a phrase, "It's the energy density, stupid."

There's a reason why China has 30 nuclear plants under construction, while the US just approved its first new plant in 30 years.

The world is no nursery. - Sigmund Freud