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Submission + - Do the NSA and others really NEED to do what they have been doing?

Cow007 writes: Here's the question nobody seems to be talking about in earnest: do they really NEED to do this. All of the powers been developed for gathering information are they able to accomplish their stated goal without it. isn't it really a matter of analyzing intelligence they have that is the issue? I tend to lean in some ways towards a yes answer for that question. However intelligence analysis is not something to be under estimated. When looking back over the events of 9/11 it became clear that the government had the information necessary to be able to prevent the attack or know about it in advance.

Does the cost-benefit ratio of this surveillance to infringement on freedom truly pan out when were talking about terrorism? The founding fathers would probably say no, however in situations where there's a possibility of terrorists acquiring acquiring CBRN weapons this is a difficult question.

In calculating this cost-benefit ratio one would have to take into account the possibility of this actually happening. However the most concerning situation would one where terrorists used biological weapons. Such attacks would be much more cost-effective than building a crude nuclear device or using chemical weapons since it's fissile materials are hard to come by and prohibitively expensive as are radiological materials suitable for building a dirty bomb. It is also notable that chemical weapons are difficult to disperse effectively and require a larger amount of material. By far the smallest amount material needed for an attack would be biological in nature.

If someone were to distribute a lethal, transmittable and weaponized virus we would be talking about fucking Moonraker level damage to human life.

I don't know if you remember but it was talked about in the media that the NSA was going to do "a mop up operation" after 9/11. The goal of this procedure was to go back through their databases and whatever stored information they had in the files to extract information such as phone calls regarding this event. They were in fact able to extract phone calls probably talking about the operation on 9/11. For example a phone call using code words such as the wedding is a go etc. I developed the opinion that it would have been possible for the intelligence community, properly coordinated could have analyzed the intelligence they already and been able to prevent the attacks or at least have some information about them being a possibility.

A big problem with having more intelligence means that you have more intelligence to sort through. This is reflected by the NSA's efforts to be able to analyze large amounts of information. Nevertheless this is a trade-off.

What do you think? Did the NSA and other government agencies really need all the tools that they been developing to be a will to adequately execute their mission?

In regards to encryption it is definitely a system of very low cost method to be a will to make it very difficult for others to be able to decipher information. Should the NSA undermine encryption standards be provided with keys for them or two at the old-fashioned way- hard way?

I have been thinking for a long time that for the NSA to properly do their job they would have to be able to decrypt communications. So much so in fact that the NSA would seem like a nearly irrelevant body without this capability. I think that they must be using quantum computers or heavily developing them to be able to do this. Evidence of seems to suggest that they have not fully achieved this capability as of yet as evidenced by the continued need to undermine encryption standards or circumvent them.

The problem with using quantum computers to pick up messages within data that is theoretically impossible to distinguish from random data and streams of random data due to encryption circuits that are continuously loaded.

I joke that if one is using quantum computers to find messages in data that may contain random data or actual encryption then decrypt they will always find exactly the messages they are looking for :P
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Do the NSA and others really NEED to do what they have been doing?

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The tao that can be tar(1)ed is not the entire Tao. The path that can be specified is not the Full Path.