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The NSA Knows Who You've Called 1136

Magnifico writes "USAToday is reporting on the National Security Agency's goal to create a database of every call ever made inside the USA. Aided by the cooperation of US telecom corporations, AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, the NSA has been secretly collecting phone call records of tens of millions of Americans; the vast majority of whom aren't suspected of any crime. Only Qwest refused to give the NSA information because they were uneasy about giving information to the government without the proper warrants. The usefulness of the NSA's domestic phone call database as a counterterrorism tool is unclear."

Jamie adds: Traditionally, the devices which record dialed phone numbers are called pen registers, and trap-and-trace devices. The ECPA provided some legal privacy protection. It was controversial when Section 214 of the Patriot Act amended 50 USC 1842 to allow the FBI to record this information with minimal oversight. The Department of Justice has been required for some time to report to Congress the number of pen registers and trap-and-traces, though in recent years [PDF, see question 10] it declared that information classified.

If anyone has information about how the NSA, as opposed to the FBI, has been involved in domestic phone number collection, please post links in the discussion.

In related news, the National Security Agency has closed down an inquiry into the so-called "Terrorist Surveillance Program," a separate program from this one, by refusing to grant security clearance to the lawyers in the Department of Justice. The NSA and the DoJ are both established under the executive.

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The NSA Knows Who You've Called

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  • Among the big telecommunications companies, only Qwest has refused to help the NSA, the sources said. According to multiple sources, Qwest declined to participate because it was uneasy about the legal implications of handing over customer information to the government without warrants.

    Qwest's refusal to participate has left the NSA with a hole in its database.
    Clearly, Qwest is a nest of terrorists.

    I for one suggest NSA take aim at Qwest and bomb them back to to the PSTN-age!
  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @08:56AM (#15307316) Journal
    What an awesome tool for a government agency to have!

    You know what I love? Scenarios! How about this one: You're arrested as a suspect for a crime you didn't commit. The government doesn't have anything on you except that there are no other suspects or witnesses. What they do have, is a network of vertices (phones) and edges (calls) spanning the past year of your life. They also have a list of "dirty" nodes or telephone users who have a rap sheet or ties to anti-American groups.

    Thanks to Dijkstra's [wikipedia.org] & the Bellman-Ford [wikipedia.org] algorithms, it's a hop skip and a jump to a prosecutor saying "we have records showing you called your mother on such and such date prompting her to call her hair dresser who has been forwarding money to his family living in Mexico that has ties to Islamic Extremist groups!"

    Farfetched? Maybe. But you don't have to be a Sci-Fi author to imagine crazy abuses of this data.

    In the eyes of the government, we are all innocent until proven guilty. This could easily be turned into a data mining tool making some of us "less innocent" than others. And frankly, I'm not looking forward to that day.

    <tinhat> Imagine a time and place where you have a security rating ... you approach an airport terminal and hand them your ID card (or scan your arm) but you can't board the plane because you've been making too many phone calls to your friends who happen to have a rap sheet. </tinhat>
    • by Trigun ( 685027 ) <evil@evilempi r e . a t h .cx> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:04AM (#15307368)
      "In the eyes of the government, we are all innocent until proven guilty."

      No, in the eyes of the government, we are all assets, and are protected as such. Any asset or group of asset wishing to upset the status quo is moved to the basement, the same way I had to move my circa 1970 pole lamp because it clashed with, well, everything.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:35AM (#15307630)
        No, in the eyes of government, we are all guilty until proven innocent. If it were the other way around, there could be no justification for spying. If an individual is presumed innocent, then logically, there is no need to spy on him, let alone moral justification.

        Of course, that's complicating things a bit more than necessary. This spying program increases power and revenue for government, and that's all the reason politicians need to say "go". I'll go out on a limb and say that the power elite doesn't really give a damn whether they catch any terrorists or not -- in fact, the more terrorism, the more government benefits.
        • by aeoneal ( 728354 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @10:47AM (#15308274) Homepage
          We are indeed guilty till proven innocent. I worked as a 911 calltaker back in the early '90s, and part of our training was to ride with police to learn the town. I was appalled by the attitude of the police. They picked different car models for ticketing each night, and followed them around until they found something they could ticket. The attitude (which one policeman stated openly to me) was that "everyone is a criminal, you just have to catch them at it."
          • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 11, 2006 @11:10AM (#15308506)
            everyone is a criminal, you just have to catch them at it

            That's not just an attitude -- it's the reality of runaway government. There are now so many laws that it is literally impossible for a citizen to be 100% law-abiding. This didn't happen by chance; it's by design. The more laws (especially laws which target peaceful, non-violent individuals), the more revenue, control, and power available to those who wield the law for their own benefit.

            To paraphrase that famous excerpt from Ayn Rand's novel, "when there aren't enough laws, one makes them". Imagine a government that was strictly limited to enforcing the principle of voluntary association -- what's in that for the power elite? Not much at all -- there's nothing to exploit. Now imagine a government which is unlimited in how many laws it can make, and how often those laws can be changed around -- what's in that for the power elite? Just about everything a corrupt politician ever dreamed of.

            The simple reality is that laws benefit the power elite, and that's exactly why every year there are thousands more laws on the books than the year before. Government is in the business of coercion, not liberty.

            • by ehiris ( 214677 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @01:52PM (#15310381) Homepage
              This is very true.

              One example I can think of is how the Nixon administration made drugs illegal because they needed to hang something onto the anti-Nixon demonstrators who weren't doing anything illegal but who were an inconvenience.

              Even though the revolution against Nixon was won through the freedom of press, it wasn't seen as a revolution and as such we got left with the fallout regulations.

              I wonder what fallout we will be left with after Bush. Will it be regulation against our privacy? Not even Nixon managed to pull that one through.
      • by Rob the Bold ( 788862 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @10:13AM (#15307950)
        No, in the eyes of the government, we are all assets, and are protected as such. Any asset or group of asset wishing to upset the status quo is moved to the basement, the same way I had to move my circa 1970 pole lamp because it clashed with, well, everything.

        Retro is hot these days. That pole lamp, like witch hunts and covert surveillance, is coming back in style.

    • You've seen the movie "6 degrees of separation"? Given a sufficiently large degree of separation value you can pretty much link any one to anyone else. It's not a very large number either (not as low as 6 though).

      This sort of data mining tool already exists. I used to work for the company that made the first functional implementation of it. Linking everyone to everyone else was one of the little parlour tricks they did during the testing and demo process.

      • What degree of "fan out" do you need to go from one to 6 billion in six easy steps?

        Fans of Douglas Adams rejoice: 42. And a little bit.
      • It's not a very large number either (not as low as 6 though)

        Actually, in the book Linked [amazon.com] it was argued that the degrees of separation are generally less than 6. The older model created by Erdos and Renyi (random) was an attempt at mapping a completely random network. This was the predominant model used by many until Duncan Watts and Steven Strogantz (clustered) offered a different approach that showed a relatively small number of social links were sufficient to drastically reduce the distance of one person
    • by Jon Luckey ( 7563 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:14AM (#15307446)
      it's a hop skip and a jump to a prosecutor saying "we have records showing you called your mother on such and such date prompting her to call her hair dresser who has been forwarding money to his family living in Mexico that has ties to Islamic Extremist groups!"

      Then the government would have to explain why it has not captured the mastermind who lies at the heart of this six degreed web of terror:

      Kevin Bacon.

    • by bombadillo ( 706765 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:14AM (#15307451)
      "Farfetched? Maybe. But you don't have to be a Sci-Fi author to imagine crazy abuses of this data.

      You only have to have lived through the McCarthy era to imagine the abuses...
    • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:16AM (#15307466) Homepage
      What, do you really think the database will be used for plausible terrorism exercises?

      Just think of what database searches will be fired off before the next election. I'm sure the outgoing Bush administration will know more about the democratic challenger than even they know about themselves. And as this program was started in 2001 who knows if it was used last election or not. There was some mighty bad stuff about Kerry that leaked... Not that any politician would abuse a position of power for something as petty as getting re-elected.

      This year's prognosis is the same as last: Screwed.

    • by BrynM ( 217883 ) * on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:24AM (#15307545) Homepage Journal
      You know what I love? Scenarios! ... Farfetched? Maybe.
      Here's a far-fetched scenario for you: On the day the NSA leaked the existence of a huge domestic spying database that covers every US citizen with a phone, the television news was preoccupied with tax legislation (that will benefit the rich mostly), Jeb Bush and the Vatican's position on a work of fiction. Oh wait...
    • by AGMW ( 594303 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:24AM (#15307546) Homepage
      What an awesome tool for a government agency to have!

      I friend sent me this link just yesterday about someone trying to purchase a pizza [aclu.org] in the world it would appear both the UK and US governments want us to live in!

      I, for one, do not welcome any overlords, whether insect or other sufficently low life to want to be in politics!
      Just say NO [no2id.net]

    • by Wah ( 30840 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @10:04AM (#15307865) Homepage Journal
      In the eyes of the government, we are all innocent until proven guilty.

      That's Pre-9-11 thinking.
  • Qwest baby... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bananatree3 ( 872975 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @08:58AM (#15307327)
    here I come! Down you filthy Verizon, AT&T (aka SBC) and BellSouth dogs!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 11, 2006 @08:59AM (#15307332)
    America sucks. It didn't use to. But it sucks now.
    Land of the free my ass. I want the word free taken off all anthems, pledges, etc. It is pure propaganda now.
    • by Tx ( 96709 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:14AM (#15307448) Journal
      I want the word free taken off all anthems, pledges, etc

      Nah, you just need to get the legal department to add some disclaimers. For example:

      "Land of the free (except where such freedom may be deemed by government agencies to conflict with the ability of the state to protect any such notional freedom from any perceived external or internal theats)"

      "I Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty (see disclaimer under freedom) and justice (pursuant to the ability of the pledgee to afford the aforesaid justice) for all."

      Problem solved!
  • by BrynM ( 217883 ) * on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:03AM (#15307355) Homepage Journal
    Man, the NSA must have servers the size of Steven Colbert's galvanized balls. This and the Google search request they made represent massive data sets.
    The agency's goal is "to create a database of every call ever made" within the nation's borders
    Are they really going through old records as well? "Ever made" is a pretty big term, but I'm betting there are lots of old call records on legacy systems and paper out there. Do they have agreements with the companies in question to provide aggregate data for marketing purposes? I also wonder what points they're getting the data from. There's a lot of people and companies spoofing ANI with Asterisk or similar boxes these days. This is a government database though... how clean can that data be? That cleanliness, of course, makes the situation better and worse at the same time. If someone reading has more operational knowledge of telcos and how the call records themselves are transmitted, please post clarifications.

    So many questions, but me no longer wonders how those biggie telco mergers got past regulators anymore...

    • They've even got the first call logged: " Watson, come here I need you!", they are really that good! And you thought American Intelligence agencies were bumbling idiots who couldn't predict disastrous events if our lives depended on it.
      • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @12:04PM (#15309112) Journal
        Very accurately. Ask them. "When are we going to face the disaster of the total collapse of the american legal system and democracy?"

        Answer: "Anytime we want to."

        Perhaps democracy is really flawed at the core. IF it is supposed to work then this is the goverment the people want and therefore they don't want all that nonsense of innocent until proven guilty and due process. OR if democracy don't work then it is all just a costly sham to cover up you are living in a dictatorship.

        Anyone know exactly how do you start a revolution. Perhaps I should make some calls. Oh wait a minute, someone is at the doo..[CONNECTION DROPPED]

  • by coinreturn ( 617535 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:03AM (#15307358)
    I'm sure they're just testing the Six Degrees of Separation hypothesis.

    Seriously, though, how long until they use this information for the "War on Drugs?" Hunting down anyone who ever spoke on the phone with a drug dealer? Oh, wait... someone's pounding on my door right now.
  • Can you hear me now? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Noryungi ( 70322 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:04AM (#15307370) Homepage Journal
    Actually Bin Laden came that close to being snuffed by the NSA, since they have tapes of him talking to his mother by sat-phone, while he was in Afghanistan and she was in Saudi Arabia. This is why Clinton bombed Afghanistan and Sudan using long-range cruise missiles. They missed him, too, by a few minutes, unfortunately.

    Of course, last I heard, he only used trusted human couriers to deliver messages. He may be a madman, but he is a smart madman. And most of these couriers were not American, but Pakistani and Saudi citizens, and they try to be as discreet -- and "un-islamist" as possible. So the NSA domestic spying program is definitely not useful against terrorists. But remember, kids, if we can't listen to your phone, the terrorists have won!
    • by thelost ( 808451 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:10AM (#15307415) Journal
      while i don't for a moment condone anything bin laden had done he's definately not a mad man, he has an ideological viewpoint that is in extreme opposite of Americas/The Wests. His actions are a consequence of that. His actions are not just his own, but representative of a greater movement and can't be argued away simply by madness.
      • Madman? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Richard W.M. Jones ( 591125 ) <rich@NoSpam.annexia.org> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:30AM (#15307595) Homepage
        Well he's mad in the sense that anyone who believes religion in the teeth of obvious evidence to the contrary is mad. By that definition you've got a madman in the Whitehouse too.


      • Misinformed (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Tony ( 765 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @10:41AM (#15308226) Journal
        Also, we receive only one side of the story: the one the US government sees fit for us to see. They conveniently forget to mention it was the CIA who trained him and his original followers to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan during the Reagan years. They also don't bother mentioning that we've spent an order of magnitude more money in Iraq than we have trying to find bin Laden.

        Which one had something to do with 9/11 again?
      • by drooling-dog ( 189103 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @11:01AM (#15308410)
        he has an ideological viewpoint that is in extreme opposite of Americas/The Wests

        He has a viewpoint that is the extreme opposite of the liberal West, you mean. One of the great ironies about the U.S. crusade in the Middle East is that the U.S. and Iran have found broad agreement on social issues (especially regarding health, the rights of women, and contraception) and frequently collaborate in UN agencies concerned with those matters.

  • by BenBenBen ( 249969 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:05AM (#15307378)
    Anyone who didn't see this one coming hasn't been paying attention. When Risen at the NYTimes revealed the 'turrst surveillance program' (to give it its Orwellian name) every single indication was that this was the tip of the iceberg, from Abu Gonzalez' evasive testimony to Congress (specifically all the overly definitive "this program" statements) to the fact that TIA never really went away, it just moved from DARPA to Fort Meade. Add in the recent testimony of that AT&T employee about the NSA tap room in SF, well, duhh. Still to come - every single international call is monitored, to match voice patterns. Keyword analysis is (AFAIK) still a black art but identifying the recipients through voicewaves is old hat. So when Mr Bush says "we want to know who's talking to terrorists" he means it literally, and after the fact, not before. Of course, the NSA measure computing power not in flops, or MIPs, but in acres, so it's anyone's guess what the corporations turned around and agreed to after 9/11. FISA would never have covered this wholesale data mining, congress would never have authorised it, so we're back to that old chestnut, "we're at war" Of course I live in the UK, where we have no expectation of privacy and the fact that GCHQ is routinely spying on every single one of us goes uninvestigated and unremarked. In some ways the US is ahead of us on this. Why don't the democrats propose a constitutional right to privacy? How would the GOP argue against privacy from government? Their voters heads would explode... federal government..
    • The bill of rights: (Score:5, Informative)

      by scorp1us ( 235526 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:49AM (#15307745) Journal
      Article the sixth [Amendment IV]

              The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
  • by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:08AM (#15307399) Journal
    Currently it's a simple message saying I'm not available and to leave a message. Now I'll have to add:

    Be aware that the National Security Agency may be recording this call and anything you say may be used against you. I have no control over this situation as my phone provider is turning over this information on all its customers to the NSA.

    Can't wait to hear the questions about this when people start calling.
  • by Yardboy ( 742224 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:08AM (#15307401)
    My neighbor has head-in-sand mentality. He believes that (a) since he doesn't commit crimes, the gov't will not surveil him, and (b) since he doesn't commit crimes, even if they do surveil him he doesn't care, and (c) if he ever does commit a crime, then the gov't can surveil him, with or without a warrant, since he deserves it. Now that the gov't has collected his phone records without a warrant (we live in BellSouth territory), I wonder if it will change his mind?
  • by Billosaur ( 927319 ) * <`ten.enilnotpo' `ta' `rehtorgw'> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:09AM (#15307406) Journal

    For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made -- across town or across the country -- to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others.

    And later on...

    Sources, however, say that is not the case. With access to records of billions of domestic calls, the NSA has gained a secret window into the communications habits of millions of Americans. Customers' names, street addresses and other personal information are not being handed over as part of NSA's domestic program, the sources said. But the phone numbers the NSA collects can easily be cross-checked with other databases to obtain that information.

    The telcos stand to make out like gangbusters: a) they ingratiate themselves to the military and the government, which will come in handy to defeat Net Neutrality legislation, b) they can sit there and claim plausible deniability when someone brings suit against them because their phone records were used against them in court wrogfully, as they claim they're not supplying personal information to the NSA and c) the NSA, by running these algorithms and tracing calling patterns is generating data that could potentially be used by them to modify call routing schemes, change marketing penetration, and generally give them access to potentially useful information, which I'm sure the NSA will be only too happy to provide, to gain further cooperation.

    Seems as if the telcos are now firmly in bed with the government and will pretty soon be able to write their own ticket to profits on the backs of taxpayers. Are all these illegal immigrants sure they want to be in this country?

  • by George Maschke ( 699175 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:11AM (#15307426) Homepage
    This database might also be useful for trying to track down those pesky leakers. For example, a search could be done for all phone numbers that have called Dana Priest of the Washington Post or Jim Risen of the New York Times. According to independent journalist Wayne Madsen (himself a former NSA employee), the NSA has targeted journalists in a codeword project formerly called Firstfruits [antipolygraph.org].
  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:14AM (#15307450)
    One of the great things about the public education system is that it doesn't teach a critical understanding of historical events. Take police states for example. Most people in the US think they're built in a day and that a police state only exists when thugs in snazzy uniforms goosestep down the street. They not only don't know, but don't even want to know what leads up to the formation of a police state.

    You know what does? People railing against one socio-political-economic class as the root problem of society. Newsflash, most classes are where they are for reasons they could have helped or legitimately earned. A pluralist society needs that class diversity to reinforce individualism. And let's not forget perceived enemies of all types. Then there's the "just give up part of your liberty and you'll be safe, if you've got nothing to hide of course." It's like gun control. There are a lot of cops out there who can't shoot worth a damn and police departments are legendary for resistance to change. Do you trust them with your daily safety? I don't.

    When people say to you "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear," you can respond (which I usually do) with "no decent, civilized person would ever have grounds to criticize the basic checks and balances that you oppose."
    • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:39AM (#15307659)
      You know one thing that really creeps me out about the USA? The "Pledge of Allegiance" thing that many American school children recite every day. I brought this up in conversation with some American friends recently and they didn't understand why many people in Europe find such things chilling.
  • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:16AM (#15307463)
    Dear Osama,

    please can you start using the telephone more often? We're having real trouble finding where you are! It would help if you phoned one of your relatives, spoke loudly and clearly into the phone, and if you can say a few of our keywords that would be great.


    The NSA
  • by 8127972 ( 73495 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:16AM (#15307469)
    .... as they likely know about my 1-900 phone sex habit.
  • by alphorn ( 667624 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:17AM (#15307471)
    Repeat after me: The terrorist threat is minimal.

    In the last ten years, smoking has killed 4 million Americans. Traffic has killed 400.000. Terrorism has killed 4.000. When will you stop handing total power to the government just to fight this one, close to irrelevant risk? And why not spend those many billions on the healthcare system and traffic safety?
  • by slushbat ( 777142 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:18AM (#15307483)
    I think you don't appreciate how clever this really is. Once the terrorists are no longer jealous of your freedom, they will lose interest and leave you alone. All the NSA has to do is remove all of your freedoms and the problem is solved.
  • by nysus ( 162232 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:18AM (#15307488)
    Step 1) Put the technological infrastructure in place
    Step 2) Place your political friends and allies in charge of the infrastructure
    Step 3) Reduce measures to control abuse of they system by claiming it's in the interests of "national security"
    Step 4) Undermine the efforts of your political enemies with your newfound power
  • Never in my life (Score:5, Insightful)

    by koehn ( 575405 ) * on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:19AM (#15307496)
    Never did I think I'd actually be glad to be a Qwest customer. I mean, after all the rolling over that Qwest has done, all the anti-customer behavior, I'm surprised they took the moral high ground.

    Oh, wait. They didn't, they were just afraid they'd get sued.
  • by Xichekolas ( 908635 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:19AM (#15307499)

    "a database of every call ever made inside the USA" ... "has been secretly collecting phone call records of tens of millions of Americans"

    Man, there are waaaay more than 10 million Americans... but I guess they probably have no reason to record the calls of the Religious Right or people watching Fox News... since they are good little toadies... so that probably cuts it down to size...

  • by tehwebguy ( 860335 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:20AM (#15307507) Homepage
    does this include t-mobile and cellular-only companies?
  • It only costs a few buildings, over 3,000 lives but man oh man look at all the great stuff you can do now. You can run roughshod over civil rights and the population will let you do it!

    Terrorism, Terrorism, Terrorism, Terrorism, Terrorism, Terrorism, Terrorism, Terrorism, Terrorism, OMG TERRORISM!!!!!!!!!!!

    Keep your population on edge with a color coded system so they won't question anything. Oh need to raise the level..Is your bathroom breeding terrorists?

    Terrorism is the new Communism(tm)
  • by rahlquist ( 558509 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:26AM (#15307561) Homepage
    are belong to us!
  • by Knytefall ( 7348 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:41AM (#15307672)
    I think it's time to Slashdot these companies.

    If you have Verizon, MCI, AT&T, SBC, or BellSouth for local phone service or long distance, DIAL 0 and complain to the operator.

    If you have Cingular, AT&T, or Verizon for cell phone service, DIAL 611 and get a customer service rep on the line to complain to. REMIND THEM THEY ARE IN VIOLATION OF THEIR AGREEMENT WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU CAN SWITCH TO ANOTHER PROVIDER WITHOUT PENALTY.

    More info here: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/5/11/91046/7966 [dailykos.com]
  • by simrook ( 548769 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:54AM (#15307782)
    This NSA story always gets me going in the morning...

    Dear Qwest;

    I recently signed up for your local phone service. I haven't been using it very much, and was considering dropping it. But because I read today that you're standing up for my rights (even at the cost of government jobs), I've suddenly decided, without hesitation, to keep the phone service.

    In addition, my business will soon be doing complete overhaul of their phone system, as well as their internet setup. I have a bid from the local qwest office on the project. I think I'll go with them.



    Dear 2600/EFF/ACLU;

    Wouldn't it an interesting to have one of your guys go overseas, to say, France (republicans still hate the French) and call the US a bunch. Don't say anything weird. Just make a bunch of calls at odd times (completely random), for very short to very long lengths (again, random). And then start to make a bunch of calls every 15 minutes, exactly 15 minutes apart. Then call New York or DC or something like that (from France). Then call the same number from your US number. Just be sure to do something that would get flagged by George's precious little algorithm.


    Watch the NSA/CIA/FBI/DEA show up at your door.

    Proceed to Supreme Court doorstep and hold a vigil until this gets ruled unconstitutional, which shouldn't take very long (only 4 to 10 years).

    Thank you!


    Dear Verizon;

    Why do I pay you $50 a month to tell George Bush that I'm talking to my parents every Sunday night? Or that I order pizza at 1:00 am often enough? Because Bush now knows that I've called planned parenthood, does that mean my federal student loans are in jeopardy, just like all those people in Africa who can't even talk about condoms?

    Fuck you.
  • by mr_mischief ( 456295 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @10:06AM (#15307875) Journal
    Customers of AT&T, Verizon, and Bellsouth (and Cingular, which is AT&T/Bellsouth) need to sue the companies. They have violated regulations meant to protect the customers. If the companies willing to do this get hit heavily, they will be less willing to do it. The companies not fined and judged to the brink of collapse can then take market share from them, and we'll have more phones covered by companies unwilling to do this.
  • by mwilliamson ( 672411 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @10:08AM (#15307895) Homepage Journal
    I think the time has come to assemble a voip solution that not only encrypts, but uses onion routing to circumvent any attempts at traffic analysis. This big-brother bullshit is quickly getting out of hand. CALEA is going to arse-rape higher education, and may actually require a cleared individual at each institution to work with the spooks in complete secrecy.

    On a related spooky note, the department of Immigration and Naturalization already tracks vehicles (via an automated photo matching system) driving both directions at their (highly unconstitutional) "checkpoints". On the way towards the border you drive through an array of cameras over the highway, on the way back you stop at the checkpoint. I'm not talking about crossing the border here...I'm talking about getting within 50 miles of it and getting searched just because you drove to the most southern part of this country.

  • by Catbeller ( 118204 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @11:03AM (#15308437) Homepage
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/domestic_spying;_ylt=Al tzCvZmCXzQ.QsFg5wYT2Os0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA2Z2szazkxBH NlYwN0bQ-- [yahoo.com]

    By DEVLIN BARRETT, Associated Press Writer Thu May 11, 6:59 AM ET

    The government has abruptly ended an inquiry into the warrantless eavesdropping program because the National Security Agency refused to grant Justice Department lawyers the necessary security clearance to probe the matter.

    The Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility, or OPR, sent a fax to Rep. Maurice Hinchey (news, bio, voting record), D-N.Y., on Wednesday saying they were closing their inquiry because without clearance their lawyers cannot examine Justice lawyers' role in the program.

    "We have been unable to make any meaningful progress in our investigation because OPR has been denied security clearances for access to information about the NSA program," OPR counsel H. Marshall Jarrett wrote to Hinchey. Hinchey's office shared the letter with The Associated Press.

    Jarrett wrote that beginning in January, his office has made a series of requests for the necessary clearances. Those requests were denied Tuesday.

    "Without these clearances, we cannot investigate this matter and therefore have closed our investigation," wrote Jarrett.

    Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said the terrorist surveillance program "has been subject to extensive oversight both in the executive branch and in Congress from the time of its inception."

    Roehrkasse noted the OPR's mission is not to investigate possible wrongdoing in other agencies, but to determine if Justice Department lawyers violated any ethical rules. He declined to comment when asked if the end of the inquiry meant the agency believed its lawyers had handled the wiretapping matter ethically.

    Hinchey is one of many House Democrats who have been highly critical of the domestic eavesdropping program first revealed in December. He said lawmakers would push to find out who at the NSA denied the Justice Department lawyers security clearance.

    "This administration thinks they can just violate any law they want, and they've created a culture of fear to try to get away with that. It's up to us to stand up to them," said Hinchey.

    In February, the OPR announced it would examine the conduct of its own agency's lawyers in the program, though they were not authorized to investigate NSA activities.

    Bush's decision to authorize the largest U.S. spy agency to monitor people inside the United States, without warrants, generated a host of questions about the program's legal justification.

    The administration has vehemently defended the eavesdropping, saying the NSA's activities were narrowly targeted to intercept international calls and e-mails of Americans and others inside the U.S. with suspected ties to the al-Qaida terror network.

    Separately, the Justice Department sought last month to dismiss a federal lawsuit accusing the telephone company AT&T of colluding with the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program.

    The lawsuit, brought by an Internet privacy group, does not name the government as a defendant, but the Department of Justice has sought to quash the lawsuit, saying it threatens to expose government and military secrets.


    On the Net:

    Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility: http://www.usdoj.gov/opr/index.html [usdoj.gov]

    National Security Agency: http://www.nsa.gov/home_html.cfm [nsa.gov]
  • by applemasker ( 694059 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @12:30PM (#15309412)
    The pen register data (originating number, destination number) is probably not protectable, at least not by the Fourth Amendment because you have little (if any) expectation of privacy in this information (according to the courts). If things like drawing blood and taking fingerprints are considered "non testimonial" and therfore not technically a Fourth Amendment "search" then neither is this data, most likely, anyhow. The same is probably true for the duration of the call.

    Here is the kicker though, are you ready?

    This is the NSA doing this.

    Why is this important?

    Well, in 1952, the NSA was formed to spy on foreign governments.

    From the NSA's original charter [austinlinks.com]: "The COMINT mission of the National Security Agency (NSA) shall be to provide an effective, unified organization and control of the communications intelligence activities of the United States conducted against foreign governments, to provide for integrated operational policies and procedures pertaining thereto. As used in this directive, the terms "communications intelligence" or "COMINT" shall be construed to mean all procedures and methods used in the interception of communications other than foreign press and propaganda broadcasts and the obtaining of information from such communications by other than intended recipients, but shall exclude censorship and the production and dissemination of finished intelligence." (emphasis added).

    Domestic surveillance, on U.S. soil of U.S. citizens is new territory for the spooks. Do Constitutaionl rules apply? Who knows. You could be picked up based on NSA-gathered info and end up in Gitmo or worse, and no one would ever know. THAT's the real story and begs the obvious question, why not leave this to the FBI? Probably because such a program would be subject to, oh, I dont know... due process of law.

  • by jafac ( 1449 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @09:20PM (#15314386) Homepage
    The political strategy of Karl Rove, is to use the compliant media - absolutely DESPERATE for any kind of controversial story to sell ad space, increase revenue, to spread the word about any kind of dirt on the man everyone loves to hate; George W Bush.

    Everyone loves to hate him, because he's a fuckup. And he's stinking filthy rich, never worked for it. The absolute antithesis of epicurianism. He drives liberals fucking crazy, because he's everything a liberal hates.

    So he creates a little story about something related to something that Bush has done, only he makes it look illegal, when technically, due to some obscure loophole or conservative interpretation of law or the constitution, it's actually legal. And he calls up his buddies in the press, the Judy Millers, the Chris Mathews, etc. and says - hey, have I got a story for you - (or one of your more liberal friends in the same media organization) - however he gets it going.

    What do you think "10 million phone conversations recorded a day" (oops, I mean 10 million pen-registers a day) means? It means that what Bush is doing - based on the PATRIOT ACT, is technically legal. The So-Called Liberal media has been swatting at Bush madly all day long, and pundits are furiously describing speeches he made where he talked about obeying the law wrt court orders and such. I'm certain that the timing of this story has something to do, as well, with the Goss resignation and Hayden appointment, given Hayden's stewardship of this NSA program. Too much coincidence.

    So the point of all this is - Rove feints with a "fake" Bush is evil story. The Liberals scream and yell, and over react. They can't help it - they've been given incomplete, if not false information. It brews and bubbles for a few days, or weeks, or months, then the FULL story with all the facts get out, and the Liberals end up losing the argument, and looking like asses.

    Remember Rathergate? We all thought we finally had the proof that Bush was a deserter. Until the proof turned out to be a forgery. Who forged it? (My guess: Rove) Where's the REAL evidence that he was or was not a deserter? (My guess: Shredded decades ago, duh!) What was the final outcome? (Dan Rather, Liberal media Icon resigns in disgrace - noone dares question Bush's military service ever again in serious public debate).

    Remember Plamegate? Bush SAID he would fire the leaker. We were all hoping that that meant, Cheney would be fired, or Libby would be fired, or Karl Rove would be fired. Then after a very costly investigation, an indictment which is explained away as "bad memory" (remember Iran-Contra?) and then the TRUTH finally comes out: BUSH is the leaker - because he de-classified Plame. Technically legal. The outcome? Bush still got his war, Libby's case will probably be dismissed, or he'll be pardoned - G.Gordon Liddy spent time behind bars for his Watergate Role, and he's making buttloads on the talk-show and book-signing circuit. And Liberals are "technically wrong" again, because technically, Bush didn't break the law.

    This whole NSA scandal thing sounds exactly the same. Huge controversey made over a story that is changing every time we hear about it. Public debate rages over whether he has the right to do this (when "this" isn't even really defined yet), or whether we have a right to question during a "war", (whether or not you agree on the premise, execution, or whether we're technically at "war"). In the end, I'm afraid we're going to find out that what Bush is doing, is technically legal (or if it's illegal, those facts will never become known) - and that a lot of Liberal pundits, and moderate conservatives, or even hard conservatives who have lost faith, are going to look like chumps, and congress will end up even MORE impotent and irrelevant, and Bush will have more clout to do whatever he wants.

    Some people think that this rove-a-dope tactic is a demonstration of Karl Rove's "evil genius". I disagree. People are gullible. They still trust the media. Th

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel