Monday, May 22, 2006

Even if it were legal, NSA surveillance clearly ineffective

Seymour Hersh has an interesting piece in the New Yorker on the telecoms co-operation with the NSA warrantless surveillance of Americans. Here's the key quotes that should set to rest the calls for a retraction from USA Today for breaking the story.
A security consultant working with a major telecommunications carrier told me that his client set up a top-secret high-speed circuit between its main computer complex and Quantico, Virginia, the site of a government-intelligence computer center. This link provided direct access to the carrier’s network core—the critical area of its system, where all its data are stored. “What the companies are doing is worse than turning over records,” the consultant said. “They’re providing total access to all the data.” [...]

“After you hit something, you have to figure out what to do with it,” the Administration intelligence official told me. The next step, theoretically, could have been to get a suspect’s name and go to the fisa court for a warrant to listen in. One problem, however, was the volume and the ambiguity of the data that had already been generated. (“There’s too many calls and not enough judges in the world,” the former senior intelligence official said.) [...]

Instead, the N.S.A. began, in some cases, to eavesdrop on callers (often using computers to listen for key words) or to investigate them using traditional police methods. A government consultant told me that tens of thousands of Americans had had their calls monitored in one way or the other.
If that's not enough to prove the telecoms are complicit in this illegal end run around the Fourth Amendment, Wired has published documents filed by EFF in their suit against AT&T, challenging the judge's order to seal the evidence.

Bush keeps telling us this program is only targeting al Qaeda. If that were true and there really are tens of thousands of AQ supporters in this country, we're in deep doodoo if they haven't managed to catch even one of them with four years worth of datamining at this grand scale.
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

defense tech had a link to a guy at WAPO who called it "Bush's "star wars" "

3:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Libby said...

Good description. That reminds me, I wonder if they ever posted the answer to the diagrams at defensetech.

5:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the guesses were awesome. People were like emotional about it

5:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Libby said...

I checked the other night and didn't see the answer. Is it there? Or do you know what it is?

7:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Bronwyn said...

Instead, the N.S.A. began, in some cases, to eavesdrop on callers (often using computers to listen for key words)

Which is why, when making phone calls between Saudi Arabia and the U.S., I and my friends used to drop words like "plutonium" and "uranium" and "SCUD missile" into the conversation.

O the gay days of youth!

2:03:00 PM  

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