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Encryption Security

NSA has Patented New Eavesdropping Technology 70

Julian Assange writes "According to an article by Suelette Drefyus in the British paper The Independent, the US National Security Agency has designed and patented a new technology that could aid it in spying on international telephone calls. (continued)

"The NSA patent, granted on 10 August, is for a system of automatic topic spotting and labelling of data. The patent officially confirms for the first time that the NSA has been working on ways of automatically analysing human speech. The NSA's invention is intended automatically to sift through human speech transcripts in any language. The patent document specifically mentions "machine-transcribed speech" as a potential source.

Bruce Schneier, author of Applied Cryptography, a textbook on the science of keeping information secret, believes the NSA currently has the ability to use computers to transcribe voice conversations. 'One of the holy grails of the NSA is the ability automatically to search through voice traffic. They would have expended considerable effort on this capability, and this indicates it has been fruitful,' he said." You can find more details here.

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NSA has Patented New Eavesdropping Technology

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  • Echelon v2.0
  • Okay, I'm not sure how this works, but does the NSA have many patents? If not, are they only patenting this because commercially available technology is approaching this level?

    Seems to me that if I had technology like this and was a spy agency, I'd be keeping quiet about it. Does this mean that they have something that can break encrypted voice (the logical next step for people worried about this) waiting in the wings? The article says that several European governments are concerned that about what the NSA has been doing with this up until now, and has a quote from a man saying that the UK government is trying to keep encryption away from the people too.

  • I would probably shudder if I found out what the NSA's budget was; it is rather scary how much money we are giving them to take away our, and every one else's freedoms. Just think of the shear computing power behind this, and more importantly how fast it could calculate how much pi. International monitored information exchange conference on its way, and don't take this the wrong way, but these people are just asking for a car bomb or two (that's not to say that I am the one who will be involved at all with it, just that I can imagine it happening.) Hope I haven't made it onto too many lists!

  • Does anybody read about things that the NSA, FBI, CIA, Microsoft, etc. do, and thing "My GOD, we do NOT have to live like this!"

    We need to stop trying to make these organisations act ethically, and we need to do away with them completely.

    Stop hoping for benevolence, and start working towards freedom.

    Michael Chisari
  • ...'Till I need one of these [].

    (Thx Erik! :)

    "If you don't expect too much from me you might not be let down..."
  • by legoboy ( 39651 ) on Sunday November 14, 1999 @09:27PM (#1533502)
    This link [] lets you read the patent for yourself. It was filed April 15, 1997.

  • I was thinking about how long it took to "train" voice recognition software - thousands of different people - no way..... With a list like echelon though....hmmm...

    Terrorists, Spys & subversives must learn to imitate Donald Duck........

  • If this is right, then those "terrorist plutonium president h-bomb militia" signatures are worthless.
    Yes, the words are all there but the resulting generated analysis-tree would be flat an thus be tated rate close to 0 for topic.
    Why pay for drugs when you can get Linux for free ?
  • I'm may be just strung out from being up too late, but I seem to recall that the NSA doesn't file for a patent until someone else has filed an application that would overlap theirs.

    In this case, I'd bet that some of the voice recognition work prompted the NSA's move. Now, let's spin some drunken spiderwebs of conspiracy... The topic extraction came along because that's part of the system for which they developed voice recognition in the first place, and there's probably somebody at Ft. Meade that got reamed for not trimming that out, as it says too much about what they've been doing for who knows how long. Shades of "Enemy of the State": "every time you say 'bomb', or 'president', or any one of hundreds of other key words it's filtered out and flagged for analysis" (yeah, I know that's not a verbatim quote).

    I really want to know, as everybody else does, what their full capabilities are. I'd also like to know what they're doing with those capabilities they admit to having. I'm sure that since they're government, we can trust them. The techs who run what's gotta be a massive system are all people, though... How many [girl|boy]friend's names are on the watch list, do ya think?

    Thanks to the person who posted the link to the patent, that was thoughtful.
  • by gargle ( 97883 ) on Sunday November 14, 1999 @09:56PM (#1533508) Homepage
    If the patent really contained anything substantial, why on earth would NSA patent it and thus share the information with every other intelligence agency on Earth? They would just keep it secret -- a patent wouldn't stop foreign intelligence agencies from using the information.

    Furthermore, according to Applied Cryptography, there is no need for the NSA to obtain a patent, because in the case that an independent inventor later makes the same discovery, NSA has the power to announce that the discovery they made earlier and date their discovery from the date of their announcement.

    So it seems that the NSA does not really possess such a technology in working form , but the sole purpose of the patent is that if someone else were to later invent such a device (for real), the NSA could stop its use (through their earlier patent), or claim the invention for themselves.
  • that should be eavesdropping [] not evesdropping.

    thanks to babelfish: in french: écoute clandestine
    in german: Heimlich zuhören
    in italian: ascoltare di nascosto
    in spanish: el escuchar detras de las puertas
    in portuguese: eavesdropping (!?!)

    maybe the portuguese don't do such things. ;)

  • The NSA is essntial for fighting terrorism. The US is extremely vulnerable domestically and overseas. You can debate the ethics of their methods, but they are a very very necessary org. Assuming you don't like bombs going off in large cities. This country could be a war zone.
  • If the NSA is developing voice recognition and translation technology for "Big-Brothering", could they at least release some of the happier stuff for public consumption? I bet an NSA version of Babelfish would rock.

    CJ (seeing the silver lining, not the cloud)
  • Maybe someone can answer this: Why would the NSA try to get a patent on such a technology? Their interest in it is obvious, but why "come out" with it? Is there a commercial interest in large-scale automated eavesdropping? Everyone now has confirmed what they're doing (you probably could have guessed anyway), they'll get a lot of negative publicity again. They certainly won't try to get patents on other algorithms that might give them an advantage in their intelligence (something like a revolutionary prime factoring algorithm). Why this one?
  • Yeah, something like GEL - The GNU Eavesdropping Library, a GPL'd package brought to you by the NSA. Should make it into any larger distribution... ;-)
  • Could someone please tell me how or why a government agency should get a patent. My understanding of the reason for patents is to ensure that the developer gets an income for their hard work. So what the is a government agency doing applying for a patent??
  • Exactly my line of thinking, although I dont find their interest to be obvious. Rather, the fact that they have some non-standard interest is the obvious bit. I suppose in some far off alternate universe, they might fear losing court battles if they dont do this, but the reality is that all they need do is stamp it classified to remove it from the reach of the judicial branch.

    So maybe the NSA is trying to engratiate itself with all those firms it is placing limits upon. Is the relationship between business partners closer than that of business and regulator?
  • A quick search on "National Security" [] shows 280 patents either funded by or directly assigned to the NSA.
  • by QuMa ( 19440 )
    Why does the NSA patent anything? Are they afraid of the competition? It's not exactly like it's gonna stop the KGB (What do you mean, no USRR?) etc from using it....
  • The main purpose is to _raise awareness_ about Echelon.
  • I'd rather have the nsa snooping than every company on earth listening in on me...

    (i'd rather not have anyone snooping though)
  • I've got a revolutionary prime factoring algorithm!

    void primefactor(int n)
    printf("%d\n", n);

    It's O(1)! All encryption that relys on "Prime Factoring" is now worthless! j01n my 31337 cyph3rpunk gr00p!!

    OK. enough sarcasm.

    I didn't really mean to single you out on this one, since I see this error all the time. The great Bill Gates supposedly made the same mistake in one of his "visionary" books.
  • The NSA is essntial for fighting terrorism. The US is extremely vulnerable domestically and overseas. You can debate the ethics of their methods, but they are a very very necessary org.

    You might be right. You might be wrong. The problem with statements like yours is that they are utterly useless without some data to back them up.

    Terrorism is bad. Having organizations fighting terrorism is potentially good. I can understand that certain things such an organization does ought to be kept a secret for some time. However, there's no need to be secretative about how much terrorism you have prevented, or what your yearly budget is.

    Furthermore, there is something fishy about government organisations having patents. Research leading to a new way of doing something was paid with tax money; the results should be available for everyone. (After all, that's why X and BSD are available; being developed with tax money, it couldn't be licensed (yes, I know, derivatives are))

    OTOH, patents make that the description of the technique is available. That's better than not having anything at all. I can see good uses for automatic classification of speech, which have nothing to do with spying business. Street interviews, hotlines, court sessions (although the latter is already being transscribed), to name a few.

    -- Abigail

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why would the NSA patent this? To protect their intellectual property. The NSA's job isn't just to spy on people and organisations. The NSA also has the job of protecting US organisations. It protects US organisations by creating standards (such as the rainbow series for computer & network security) and solutions such as their fortezza encryption cards. By selling these solutions, the NSA can also make money - for more development. Expect to see more proects and services from the NSA in the future as they open up to the public a little more, to increase their financial base, as well as saving face from a public and governmental backlash at the secrecy of the NSA.
  • Great, like I am not paranoid enough!!!!!
    People need to ask themselves, "why would a government agency apply for a patent?" I do not think that they are trying to protect themselves from a lawsuit because just how in the hell do you file suit against the NSA for snooping!

    "Excuse me Mr.NSA person, I am from (put any corp name you wish here), and I have a court order that allows me access to your computer farm to check your software for patent violations."
  • rings of Echelon
  • sifting through voice calls for certain things? how hard would it be to just change your converstation :)

    terrorist 1: I spoke with my mom today
    translation: I spoke with Dr. Evil today

    terrorist 2: I think pinky should be here today.
    translation: Its time to take over the world.

    now how could the NSA figure that out :) hehe
  • "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
    - Benjamin Franklin

    I think you have been reading too many Tom Clancy novels. How can the ordinary citizen know that the NSA is "essential" for "fighting terrorism" when the NSA's very existance was classified for years, and its budget and most of its operations are still classified? Your statement about the NSA's "necessity" is in the classic sense pure pseudo-science, because it is non-falsifiable. How has the NSA prevented any bombs from going off on American soil. "Sorry, sir, that's classified. But trust us, we're the government, and we have your best interests at heart." The American politicial experiment is based on the assumtion that we dare not trust that the government has the best interests of the people at heart, and so the government is supposed to be accountable to the people, and restrained by the rights of the individual.

    The erosion of liberties rarely comes packaged with a label that says "here is a totalitarian control; please hand over your freedom now." It most often comes packaged as "there are Bad People(tm) out there! Let us protect you!"

    If we "need" a secret police state to protect us from terrorists, we have already lost the real struggle. A wise teacher once said, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36, KJV) The same question certainly applies to nations. What will it profit America if we become the new Roman Empire, able to enforce a pax americana at home and abroad, if we lose the very idea of what it meant to be "America" in the first place?

    Evil and undemocratic means do not give real security

    While I will no doubt offend the rabid secularists of /. with this, I would like to point out that the inscription on our currency of "In God We Trust" is a great and necessary viewpoint for the preservation of freedom. [Whether the USA is truly living up to this motto is another matter -- I think it is clear we do not.] If you don't like the word "God", feel free to substitute "Providence", "Fate", "the Universe", or what have you, according to your own tradition and belief. Regardless, the point is that one can try to create one's own security through strength and power, or one can simply try to do the right thing, and trust that it will all work out in the end. That is what "In God We Trust" ought to mean -- that as a nation, we are committed to the principles of liberty, and are willing to risk "our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor" to live as if this mattered. Even in a dangerous world with certifiable Bad People(tm) out there.

    The "security" offered by relying on power is no security at all. Totalitarian regimes fall. Empires crumble. Economies collapse. "Invincible" armies are defeated, "impregnable" defences are broached, and the wheel of history turns again. And really, power is not so absolute as all that. If the USA were to turn into a privacy-lost, thought-police-controlled Absolute Safety State tomorrow, do you really believe that we could make ourselves invulnerable?

    If we are willing to send our young men and women to fight and die for oil in the Mideast, don't you think the rest of us ought to be willing to assume some risk to live and die for liberty?

    (Of course, the sadly obvious answer is that most Americans would today gladly trade essential liberty for a little temporary safety.)

    This is a bug, not a feature

    If our society is so fragile that a few terrorists, or the actions of a minor rogue state, can bring us to our knees unless we adopt draconian security measures, I think we ought to admit that this is a bug in the system, rather than resign ourselves to it as a "feature". Slashdotters are quick to lambast the fragility of Microsoft products and praise the stability and robustness of Linux -- now apply this same criticism to the larger technical, economic, and political infrastructures.

    Does the electrical power grid offer key targets of opportinity for terrorists? Well then, we should get serious about "negawatts" in the Amory Lovins [] sense, and look at distributed, locally-generated power rather than relying on a massive electrical grid with a few key failure points and modes. Or even be willing to contemplate the practice of certain Amish groups, which have the rule of "use as much electricity as you want, as long as you make it yourself and don't tie into the grid." Better this, than to live with a secret police.

    For an example that's nearer to fruition, consider Richard Stallman []. While I might quibble with his analysis of freedom and software (I don't think access to source code is quite as fundamental a right as RMS does), he has certainly done the correct thing with his analysis -- he determined not to allow what he considered to be essential freedoms to be bargained away for the sake of convenience and security, and did the work necessary to live freely. We are all reaping the benefits of his adherance to principle today.

    Repeat this analyis with other points of vulnerablity as needed. There's certainly lots of room for debate as to the benefits and drawbacks of particular answers, be we certainly have more options than to be forced to choose between secret, unaccountable intelligence agencies and "a war zone."

    For a start on considering this way of thinking, there are several essays by Wendell Berry that may be helpful. (Note: Berry is not a pacifist -- but he believes that our current strategies of "national defense" fail to defend our nation.) Try "Property, Patriotism, and National Defense" in Home Economics [] and "On Peaceableness Toward Enemies" in Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community [].

    This is the huge modern heresy of altering the human soul to fit its conditions, instead of altering human conditions to fit the human soul. If soap boiling is really inconsistent with brotherhood, so much the worst for soap-boiling, not for brotherhood. If civilization really cannot get on with democracy, so much the worse for civilization, not for democracy. Certainly, it would be far better to go back to village communes, if they really are communes. Certainly, it would be better to do without soap rather than to do without society. Certainly, we would sacrifice all our wires, wheels, systems, specialties, physical science and frenzied finance for one half-hour of happiness such as has often come to us with comrades in a common tavern. I do not say the sacrifice will be necessary; I only say it will be easy.
    -- G. K. Chesterton, What's Wrong with the World []
  • I'd have to wonder about the intent of the patent itself. The NSA (or other government agencies, including agencies in other countries) aren't typically too forthcoming about the details of how they find information. There are a few potential reasons:

    1. Commercial technologies are heading this way and they want to keep them away. This is a possibility. There's a huge amount of information to be extracted about people in conversations whether they're verbal or written. For people who spend time online this can be a significant source of information. Advertising agencies could use this information to extract profiles of online personalities and more effectively target information at them. Agencies such as the NSA could use this information for other means.
    2. They've got the technology, are using it and want to increase paranoia among various groups the government feels the need to innocently threaten. Various anti-government militias and groups fall under this point.
    3. They thought up the technology but don't have the enabling technology to do this. They also don't forsee having the enabling technology in the near or mid term future. This is similar to the point above. They might be attempting to pull a bluff and induce paranoia at the same time.

    If the technology does exist it would be pretty frightening. Imagine being able to extract a list of subversive thoughts of a net entity as well as mixing it with other details: local postings to pinpoint location and possible affiliations; linguistic analysis to provide probable matches with other net entities; many things I can't think of.
  • I bet an NSA version of Babelfish would rock.
    Yeah. Imagine; if you type in "J'adore mon libèrté, et je détest l'NSA Americaine", it'll translate as "I hereby give the US government permission to monitor my communications to ensure that I'm not a kiddie-porn-peddling terrorist."

    Disclaimer: I can't speak french.
  • NSA is for fighting terrorism that the CIA and the US Army are responsible for generating. Just think, if we would have kept our hands out of the middle east, they wouldn't have a reason to hate us.

    So who cares if they have oil, and won't let us have it cheap. What a great reason to find alternative forms of fuel!!

  • This op ed [] from Sunday's Washington Post is worth a read.

    The author is sypathetic to NSA, claiming the agency isn't currently spying on Americans or otherwise overreaching it's mandate, but even he worries about the future potential of the technolgies NSA is developing.

  • The patent contains nothing about decoding speech, BTW.

    In the words of the patent: "This invention relates to information processing and, more particularly, to automatically generating a topic description for text and searching and sorting text by topic using the same. "

    The patent is "A method of automatically generating a topical description of text" based on some factors that it defines. Looking deeper at the equations there, it's obvious that while this doesn't tell you how to fully do it, it's pretty detailed and gives the majority of the info. Basically, using the definition of each word in the input text, this can crank out a general idea of what the text is about. Pretty neat really.

    But no speech recognition here.

    Overtones of Eschelon are here, however, since you don't need a keyword list for something like this. A "red flag" conversation could seem innocent, and this algorithm might give an idea of what's really being discussed, depending on the dictionary being used.

  • Two possibilities come to mind:

    1) in order to be able to use legal terror against any citizen impertinent enough to devize a method for countering the effectiveness of such a device, and thereby limiting their ability to invade our individual privacy at will.

    There is a pretty good chance a countermeasure could involve using the same (patentented) technology as the snooping itself. Even if it didn't, the proximity to a patented technology might be enough to give them sufficient leverage to make the legal process too expensive for a private defendent.

    2) To prevent private industry from employing the technique, by patenting the process and then not licensing it to anyone else. If this is the case, one may assume they have much more sophisticated tools available, and are thus less concerned with other government's security agencies obtaining the technology than they are with private industry or individuals making use of it.

    I have no idea if either of these reasons is correct, but both appear reasonably plausibel.
  • First off, it is NOT voice-related technology - it's a method of finding documents that relate to a particular topic (read the patent). Second, there is good evidence that the NSA cannot (still) filter voice conversations on a a wide scale.

    In general, this report [], prepared by and for the European Parliment, is an excellent summary of what the NSA is up to. The NSA has about 27 patents, all relating to what we like to call Echelon, which is basically a giant search engine. It's entirely automated, and it looks for things that might be of interest to security. No one is reading your mail however, or listening to your phone (as if anyone wants to know how many times you ordered pizza last week).

    Why patent? Two reasons - 1) there is a big industry devoted to equipment and software explicity used by security agencies, and since the G funded the research, well, by golly, why *shouldn't* they make money on the technology? And 2) although it seems counter-intuitive, patenting is a way of securing the NSA's claim of ownership on the technology, and thus its dissemination.

    If you're not a terrorist, then the only real complaint is that we live in a hyper-paranoid country that spends billions (probably trillions) protecting itself, when in fact a more generous, humanitarian foreign policy (connected with the yet more hypothetical willingness of the US population to care) might be a better use of our time and money. If we stopped pissing off all the other countries, maybe we wouldn't have to worry about terrorists. In fact, there has been a groundswell of political complaint that in fact there is little evidence that all this money is justified in the absence of any concrete threat.

    Mostly, it sucks that the NSA has the patent on all the cool searching technology out there.

  • This looks like it might be somebody's phD exercise, but there are some interesting implications: 1. That NSA has had speech to text transcription capability for some time. 2. That NSA has some method by which they can harvest very private fiber-optic based conversations (which now constitute the majority of transatlantic calls). 3. That those cute little radomes in the UK might be receiving something other than satellite traffic. Say, GSM data streams, perhaps....
  • Give me a break - there is NO legitimate use for this technology in the espionage realm. No terrorist is on the telephone to their pal talking in plain language about dropping that bomb on the statue of liberty tomorrow at 12:15pm Eastern Standard...

    I mean come on... it's seems much more likely to me that they are using this to spy on commercial happenings and tip off certain companies in an effort to keep the US strong in the world markets.
  • Perhaps such a patent can serve to prevent businesses and other organizations from making use of such technology, at least in the US. Or maybe it allows the NSA [] to pick up some bonus revenue.
  • Maybe I'm remembering wrong, but I thought that government agencies weren't allowed to take out patents...I seem to remember that Pro-NASA types say things like 'Well, if NASA had been allowed to patent teflon, then they would be able to pay for themselves.' Is this a double-standard, or am I hallucinating again?
  • Follow with my logic for a second. When filing a patent, you have to disclose a lot of information as to how your process works in a new and unique way to do something, right? In this case, it is "topic spotting and labelling of data." Also, patents are freely available to the public to browse at their leisure.

    Now, the NSA, being the secretive organization that it is, obviously does not want their own technology being copied so easily by their adversaries (whoever they may be). Filing a patent would be a good step in the direction of making the technology open to the public.

    If the NSA is ready to openly discuss technology such as this in the form of patents, one wonders what technologies along these lines the NSA does not feel free to talk about just yet. Maybe the conspiracy theorists are right...

    - Shaheen
  • Perhaps they are releasing the patent because:
    (1) they have something that works better, for whatever they are using it for, and
    (2) to allow the NSA to profit from the licensing of this particular technique.
  • by jij ( 94680 )
    Perhaps they are releasing the patent because:

    (1) they have something that works better, for whatever they are using it for, and

    (2) to allow the NSA to profit from the licensing of this particular technique.
  • as insightful, interesting, all that.

    It's well-written and provacative, and offers interesting links rather than only "I assert X."

    Thanks for posting it, Zach.

  • Perhaps we should take the viewpoint that this is good. I know there are some of you out there (myself included) who do not like the idea of "volunteer" conversation checkers, but what if this is usefull?

    What if, because of the NSA listening device, they find and stop some terrorists that would've done something like that Oklahoma gov't centre bombing of the mid-1990s? Given that the machines and devices can both scan and flag bad things, it sounds like real people won't be listening in on otherwise private conversations (unless you say "President -- assasinate -- israeli -- mossad" or something ;-)).

    So given that only machines would listen, and that only recorded conversations with dangerous (to the US, as per NSA charter) implications would be flagged/checked, why should the average person be afraid?

    Oh course, they could always scan for things they shouldn't, but it'd kinda hard to get a warrant to arrest someone for calling the US president a poopy-head.
  • Perhaps it is more important to see what is covered by this patent. Everyone dealing with the internet or information in digital form at large will agree, that finding topics and thus being able to deal with an overwhelming amount of information efficiently by categorizing and sorting it is important beyond spying.
    This arises the question what the NSA intends to do with this patent. Did they patent for protective means when they could have used the technology without anyone knowing, do they want to make money of this by selling the technology in some form, or do they want to hinder others to use this technology by making it commercially unattractive?
    This latter possibility might even mean that we will soon see export laws for certain knowledge base systems as we have alredy seen for crypto software.
  • Yeah, and Tito was an altar boy too at one time. The point is, those notorious mass murderers (in the tens of millions) were virulaently anti-religion. Anyway, to say organized religion keeps the world uncivilized is unbelievably stupid, and ignorant. You are flaunting your ignorance.
  • AFAIK, any unclassified document published by the Government of the United States is in the public domain.

    Thus, even though the NS* holds the patent, they hold it *for the People* of the United States. Therefore we can use this technology by virtue of the fact that we are American citizens.

    Thanks a lot, Nosuch! Keep up the good work!

  • I've been waiting for search engines to advance to the point where it would be possible to search by topic, rather than by keywords. This sounds like it's a step toward doing just that. I'm wondering, though, just how big a step it is. The idea seems straight-forward enough that it seems surprising that this isn't being done already.

    Assuming that the patent isn't abused to suppress the technology, just how big an advance is this? It would be nice if it were possible to index much of the web by subject automatically. Next we'll just need an algorithm to automate ranking pages according to quality. :)


  • It seems to me that Echelon would fall flat on its face when presented with a message entirely in book code. Or, in case it could be set to flag book code messages, simple subsitution could be used:

    dodge for bomb
    car pool for airport
    secretary for courier

    The result of this would be conversations like:

    "Have you made contact with your secretary?"
    "Has the dodge been delivered to the car pool?"

    Looks perfectly innocuous, doesn't it?

    IMO, the NSAs system is only going to catch stupid terrorists. The only reason they could *possibly* invest in a system like this would be to provide American companies with information on their competitors.

    GCS/d++@s+:+@a--c++ULP+>+++L++>++++ EW++N++@o?K?wOM-V?P S+@PE++Y+PGP-t+5X+@R+! tvb+DI++++D+G--e>++h---@r++x+ -

  • The inquisition wasn't a Holy War. It was a court system to prevent doctrinal dissent. And communism has killed many millions more than any religious wars. You really don't know what you're talking about. But this is beside the point. I was not saying atheism leads directly to Stalin and Mao. I did not make the original post. I was just correcting the one above mine.
  • I should resist, but I won't ...

    Ever noticed how many people claim it's organized religion they object to? Makes me wonder what's so great about incoherent religion.
    -- Teresa Nielsen Hayden
  • Surely the patent means that this (patented) technology is so far behind the curve they are sure all the other spoooks in the world already have it/have had it some time.

    What they tell us and patent is old hat to them, scary stuff huh ?

  • Some are incredibly unclued.

    Remember the WTC bombers? At least one of 'em went back to claim that the truck was stolen, and to get his deposit back. *Not* smart...

    So, it almost certainly does happen.

The more cordial the buyer's secretary, the greater the odds that the competition already has the order.