FBI Boss: Collecting Billions Of Phone Records Could Prevent Next 9/11, Boston Bombing -- Despite Not Having Prevented The Originals

from the if-at-first-you-don't-succeed,-double-down dept

Robert Mueller, the director of the FBI testified in front of the House judiciary committee on Thursday, and like others before him, attempted to justify widespread domestic surveillance by pointing at all the terrorist activity it has and could have prevented. (All the while conveniently ignoring the fact that these tactics had little to do with successfully prevented terrorist attacks.)

He described how Khalid al-Midhar, one of the 9-11 hijackers, had called a Yemeni safe house from a phone in San Diego shortly before the attack – a phone call that would have been intercepted and acted upon, claimed Mueller, had today's surveillance system been in place.
Prevented 9/11? That's an interesting claim -- one that can't be easily disputed (or verified). But there's a couple of problems with Mueller's scenario. One, the FBI would have needed to "connect all the dots" beforehand, something that much easier said than done. Not having these dots connected allowed the Boston bombers to slip through the surveillance net. This is not necessarily a failure. Exponentially increasing the amount of data turns surveillance into a search for a needle in a haystack -- and the FBI, NSA, et al seem to be mainly concerned that the haystack just isn't big enough.

Two, there's a good possibility that the FBI and NSA already had something like this in the works (if not actually operable) even before the 9/11 attacks. The Big Picture points out that the NSA was already installing backdoors in the Windows operating system back in 1999, and links to a story detailing a DEA/NSA collaboration, which supposedly installed a domestic "call tracing program" at AT&T and Verizon in December of 2000 and which had been tracking calls from the US to various countries since the 1990's.
The government’s dependence on the phone industry, driven by the changes in technology and the Bush administration’s desire to expand surveillance capabilities inside the United States, has grown significantly since the Sept. 11 attacks. The N.S.A., though, wanted to extend its reach even earlier. In December 2000, agency officials wrote a transition report to the incoming Bush administration, saying the agency must become a “powerful, permanent presence” on the commercial communications network, a goal that they acknowledged would raise legal and privacy issues.
In the drug-trafficking operation, the N.S.A. has been helping the Drug Enforcement Administration in collecting the phone records showing patterns of calls between the United States, Latin America and other drug-producing regions. The program dates to the 1990s, according to several government officials, but it appears to have expanded in recent years.

Officials say the government has not listened to the communications, but has instead used phone numbers and e-mail addresses to analyze links between people in the United States and overseas. Senior Justice Department officials in the Bush and Clinton administrations signed off on the operation, which uses broad administrative subpoenas but does not require court approval to demand the records...

In a separate program, N.S.A. officials met with the Qwest executives in February 2001 and asked for more access to their phone system for surveillance operations, according to people familiar with the episode. The company declined, expressing concerns that the request was illegal without a court order. The agency, those knowledgeable about the incident said, wanted to install monitoring equipment on Qwest’s “Class 5” switching facilities, which transmit the most localized calls. Limited international traffic also passes through the switches.

Other N.S.A. initiatives have stirred concerns among phone company workers. A lawsuit was filed in federal court in New Jersey challenging the agency’s wiretapping operations. It claims that in February 2001, just days before agency officials met with Qwest officials, the N.S.A. met with AT&T officials to discuss replicating a network center in Bedminster, N.J., to give the agency access to all the global phone and e-mail traffic that ran through it.

The same lawsuit accuses Verizon of setting up a dedicated fiber optic line from New Jersey to Quantico, Va., home to a large military base, allowing government officials to gain access to all communications flowing through the carrier’s operations center.
This certainly gives the appearance that someone, if not necessarily the FBI, would have had access to a great many phone records months before the 9/11 attacks, if not actually years before. And yet, the attacks still happened and the head of the FBI is using the tragedy as a crutch to support harvesting millions of records on domestic end-to-end calls.

(For added verification that the "because terrorism" argument for widespread surveillance predates the 9/11 attacks, here's George Herbert Walker Bush complaining that requiring warrants for "terror" wiretaps would be an "unnecessary diminution of collection of foreign intelligence" -- in 1976.)

Despite this, Mueller doubled down on the "threat prevention" argument. Not only could the surveillance prevent the next 9-11, but the next Boston bombing as well. This led to many Congressmen angrily asking why the FBI hadn't bothered preventing the first Boston bombing, seeing as it had access to all of this ultra-effective, terrorist-fighting data. Mueller's rebuttal? Even the smallest curtailing of the FBI's virtually unlimited access to data would be catastrophic.
"If you narrow [the scope of surveillance], you narrow the dots and that might be the dot that prevents the next Boston," said Mueller.
Mueller also expressed concern about granting permission to Google and other internet companies to disclose details on requests for data.
He also rejected calls from technology companies such as Google to disclose the scale of the programs, saying even this information could help terrorists seeking to hide their communications.

"Any tidbit of information that comes out" about how authorities track communications means terrorists "find ways around", he said.

"Every time we have a leak like this and you follow it up and look at the intel afterwards [you find terrorists] are looking for ways around.. If we lose our ability to get their communications we are going to be exceptionally vulnerable."
Sure, terrorists might decide to use services that fight government data requests (or avoid services the government is currently surveilling) but so will many Americans and foreigners who are currently suspected of nothing but are being loosely surveilled all the same. Keeping the terrorists in the dark would be one thing if the surveillance was limited to suspected terrorists, but the FBI/NSA's blanket coverage affects millions of people worldwide. This, combined with the lack of proof these supposedly crucial tools are useful in fighting terrorism, is a strong argument for allowing companies forced to comply with untargeted data hauls granted by a secret court to, at minimum, inform their users that these demands are being received and/or complied with.

You have to admire Mueller's one-track defense. According to him, everything that's been leaked harms our national anti-terrorists efforts. Non-terrorist Americans have no need to question the methods being used or fear for their privacy. Mueller says the call data can only be used for anti-terrorism efforts, citing section 205 of the PATRIOT ACT. But as Julian Sanchez points out, this section explicity allows the supposedly "one-purpose" information to be disseminated to law enforcement in order to pursue non-terrorist suspects [Section §1861(g)(2)(c)].
In this section, the term “minimization procedures” means—

(C) notwithstanding subparagraphs (A) and (B), procedures that allow for the retention and dissemination of information that is evidence of a crime which has been, is being, or is about to be committed and that is to be retained or disseminated for law enforcement purposes.
Above and beyond these "minimization procedures" that allow for a surprising amount of easy dissemination, there's the fact that the FBI (and others) have rendered the limitations of the PATRIOT ACT meaningless by declaring pretty much everything collected to be "relevant" to anti-terrorist efforts.
Others questioned whether the FBI had acted lawfully in seeking to use section 215 of the Patriot Act to target all calls made in the US on the basis that they "might become relevant" to future terrorism investigations.
Searching the houses of every phone owner might uncover something relevant to current investigations, which is arguably more useful than harvesting data for future reference, and yet, no one seems to think that's a good idea. Gathering metadata is much less intrusive than house-to-house sweeps, but just because it's less noticeable doesn't mean it's any less wrong.

Mueller's excuses were worn out before he even started using them. But it wasn't the first time "terrorism" has been used to justify government overreach and it surely won't be the last.



Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 3:51am

    everyone knows that trying to justify these actions is nothing but bollocks! of course they are going to come out with this sort of thing, but surely they should know when to give it up, shouldn't they? no one believes any of this crap any more! the people are more afraid of the government that the possible terrorists and when you have a situation like that, you're in deeps shit!! there is no one and no circumstance that can ever justify total spying on your own people, ever!!

    i am waiting now to see how long it takes for the next 'terrorist plot' to be caught and prevented or the next terrorist plot that succeeds, God forbid! and people are hurt so that the crap comments can come out about how this would never have happened if we were able to troll through every single communication of everyone, everywhere! i wouldn't be surprised either if that isn't done intentionally, just so it can be a raised topic again and make the people feel guilty. it sure as hell wont be the first time!!

     

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    Starke (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 3:54am

    Re:

    Shouldn't take too long. The FBI just needs to cook up a new terrorist plot, and find a fall guy first.

     

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    The Real Michael, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 4:13am

    Why not simply throw us all in camps with armed guards patrolling 24/7. That way, we'll be safe from the bad guys. Naturally we'll have to sacrifice all our freedoms, but this government seems to think that's a small price to pay for our safety.

    Of course at that point we'll truly be in danger.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 4:15am

    Delusions

    While collecting the data may contain the information needed to detect a terrorist, it will also contain many false positives. This actually makes it much harder to detect developing plots, compared to focused collection of data on known or suspected terrorists.
    A huge data collection will however provide the stick with which to beat them with when the next incident happens, look you has the evidence but failed to see it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 4:20am

    They should hire the TSA to do the job since they're the best at it.

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 4:32am

    Politicians are idiots

    All it takes is one word from the 'intelligence' services and they will bend over backwards to give what ever is 'needed'. Money, more powers, technology...Nothing is too far.

    What is that word? The word is 'terrorism'.

     

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    RyanNerd (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 4:37am

    This has never been about

    protecting the American public. It has always been about power and control under the guise of safety and protection.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 4:40am

    Re: Politicians are idiots

    "threat"

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 4:46am

    The upshot of this reasoning is that whenever the whole survaillance apparatus does fail to prevent the next terrorist attack, there will be demands for even more intrusive surveillance measures in a never ending cycle.

    Heck, if one were to be somewhat conspiratorial in nature, there is actually quite an incentive for the powers in charge to not prevent all terrorist attacks. Failure in this case leads to more and larger departments in the surveillance state, as well as more bloated budgets which can be turned into higher salaries for the managers of these departments.

    History teaches us that rewarding failure tends to produce bad outcomes.

     

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    horse with no name, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 4:55am

    It could

    If you can imagine that this sort of data collection (and processing) for the moment is still in it's infancy. Over the longer term, things will certainly develop.

    You are looking at version 1 and saying because it didn't work entirely, that it never will. On that basis, Apple was a flop (the Apple 1 wasn't all that), and the Wright brothers only went a few feet, so clearly planes will never work.

    I think the term Luddite applies here, which is an odd thing for a vaunted staff member of Techdirt. Scared of technology?

     

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    Headbhang, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 4:57am

    Slippery slope

    Imagine someday a thought-reading device is invented (some very crude, very limited and very impractical procedures already exist, in fact). By the same logic, these goons would justify widespread thought-reading because "one intercepted thought" could prevent an attack. Where do they draw the line??
    I suspect a blatant invasion of privacy would have to personally hit one of the higher-ups for them to wake up. I'm sure the thought crossed Snowden's mind...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 5:02am

    Prevent How

    the Boston bombing was only a month or two ago, and the revelations have prism in operation for 3 to 4 years, it might be longer. so they had plenty of time to stop the Boston bombing. The Bombs went off, NSA did not stop them.
    After the bombing a loose lipped FBI agent indicated they could tap the phones and listen in to what the bombers had talked about before the bombing. this must have been the Prism asset.
    Prism Can assist in the conviction of a target, but Its a proven fact it can't find a clean skin, proven by the fact the NSA did not stop the first time villains that did those bombs in Boston. or told an agency, like the FBI who have people trained in apprehending Villains.
    Now the FBI chief argues that Prism will stop the next act of madness, I call that Bullshit.
    The Security services have bought an expensive toy, diverting money that could be better spent on crumbling infrastructure, or just paying down the national debt. Now the toy is public Its plain to see why it was so secret, to justify spending so much money, they will need to be-little the constitution.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 5:06am

    Re: It could

    So you want 1984 to become real?

    All I can say is FUCK YOU!

     

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    Bengie, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 5:08am

    ummm

    Not being able to do direct human testing with drugs slows down drug development, but we accept that because of ethics and morals.

    There are a lot of things in life we don't do and have laws against, even though it would be more convenient.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 5:12am

    considering the number of trumped up terrorist plots that the FBI have set up themselves, just so they can report 'another plot discovered and averted' when there was nothing to begin with, i would have thought he was the last person to try to justify this surveillance!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 5:12am

    Re: It could

    9/11 happened in 2001.

    They've had more than a decade to sort this out.

    This isn't a matter of ironing out bugs. The project failed. It's time to scrap it and start over...or abandon the idea entirely.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 5:20am

    Surveillance Failure?

    He described how Khalid al-Midhar, one of the 9-11 hijackers, had called a Yemeni safe house from a phone in San Diego shortly before the attack

    The way this statement is constructed suggests a public phone was used, and therefore the call was recorded. This would indicate that it was not looked at in time, or not passed on in time.
    (Unless it was a phone owned by Khalid al-Midhar, the content of the call would be required to identify him.)

     

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    PaulT (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 5:20am

    Re: It could

    Why am I not surprised that you're an authoritarian with no regard for the actual issues raised?

     

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    Pragmatic, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 5:32am

    Re: Re: It could

    He thinks he's on the winning side so doesn't give a rat's.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 5:36am

    Spooks: "We only failed because we weren't allowed to get or capable of getting enough data. So hand over the rest of the data and don't ask any questions!"

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 5:41am

    Re:

    Did you read the book "Little Brother" ?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 6:23am

    If only we had say the 20th 9/11 hijacker in jail before 9/11

    If only we had the 20th's 9/11 hijacker in jail before 9/11 so we could have been tipped off that the terrorists were about to attack us! Then we could have prevented 9/11.

    If only we had intelligence documents titled "Bin Laden determined to attack in the US" a few months before 9/11.

    If only the NSA had the tools available to give us either of those things, we could have stopped 9/11.

    Oh right, we DID have both of those things, and the government still blew it.

    And we DID have the NSA surveillance since 2005 it sounds like, and it failed to stop the Boston Bombers. Hmm, I don't think their arguments are very credible for some reason.

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 6:27am

    Re:

    Yup, never mind that more data means more time to go through it (automated processes can only do so much). More time taken to analyse data increases the risk of a 'threat' being missed and a tragedy happening. The tragedy happens and the whole sorry cycle begins again.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 6:28am

    Lets strip every American citizen of their rights on the word "could".

    It may or may not stop the next 9/11.

    The thing is, I stopped living in fear a long time ago, I am not afraid of terrorists, I am not afraid of suicide bombers or murdering a-holes that pick up people on the streets to kill just because he believes that others harm his kind more than his own kind harms their own.

    If a 9/11 was to happen again I be sad and would do everything in my power to help bring those responsible to justice, Bin Laden is swimming with the fishes(literally) today and that was good.

    If you are afraid to live in a free democratic country and are willing to give up your basic rights that protects you from rogue governments, well what can I say, I can't force everybody to listen and even if I could I probably wouldn't do it, by it will be a sad day for freedom and democracy.

    We survive sure, the Chinese proved that, but there will always be in the back of the head that uneasy sensation that something is wrong.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 6:30am

    Re: It could

    As per usual, horse with no name rides to the defense of unaccountable government overreach. The fact of the matter is these people are doomsayers and snake oil salesmen. They are exactly like the religious scammers of old who would prophesied apocalypse unless the people agreed to give them more tithes (read: taxes) and power. The proof is in the structure of the thing, neither they nor their historical forebears wants an actual examination of efficacy on the merits. The day an intelligence agency boss comes to the public and says 'here's what we do, here's why we do it, here's our success rate, here's what we want to do, and here's an analysis of what it might accomplish' in real terms that isn't just vague grandstanding for the fearful to play up their fears is the day I will give them a benefit of a doubt and not a single moment sooner.

    If you think the term Luddite applies here you haven't the vaguest of conceptions what the term actually means. Being anti-government abuse and pro-civil liberties and privacy is in absolutely no way what-so-ever the same thing as being anti-technology. What a load of horse shit.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 6:36am

    Re: Prevent How

    Once we concede that it's about prevention we've already lost the battle. Their argument will perpetually be that if we cannot prevent it with current intrusions we must allow greater and greater inroads to our private lives to prevent the next attack. The tell from them is that nothing is ever an indication that we should take a step back from where we are and restore some civil liberties.

     

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  27.  
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    Richard (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 6:36am

    Re: Delusions

    As happened in the case of the recent fatal attack on an off duty soldier in Britain.

    The suspects were well known to the security services - they had even tried to recruit one of them but they failed to predict the attack.

    It puzzles me how people who, when challenged about their failure, say "well it's like searching for a needle in a haystack" but then turn round and demand a bigger haystack.

     

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    Richard (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 6:45am

    Re: It could

    Over the longer term, things will certainly develop.

    Not necessarily.

    All those failed prophecies (heavier than air flight is impossible, you (Einstein) will never amount to anything, we don't like their sound (the Beatles) etc) are noteworthy because they are unusual.

    Other predictions like:

    Perpetual motion machines are impossible.

    DRM will not prevent widespread infringement.

    The next terrorist attack will not be predicted (because it will be different from the last one.

    Have a well deserved reputation for remaining true.

     

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  29.  
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    Richard (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 6:54am

    Re: If only we had say the 20th 9/11 hijacker in jail before 9/11

    If only we had not been so misguided as to create the whole Islamic fundamentalist movement in the first place - thanks to the misguided anti-soviet polies of Carter, Reagan, and Bush (Mk1).

    "In the late 1980s, Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, concerned about the growing strength of the Islamist movement, told President George H. W. Bush, "You are creating a Frankenstein."[33]" from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Cyclone

    And as I write this it seems that the US is determined to repeat the mistake by supplying arms to the Syrian rebels. Some of those weapons will inevitably end up in the hands of Al Qaeda.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 7:17am

    Re: It could

    In other words, "Curse you, Mike Masnick! *shakes fist while twirling curly mustache*"

     

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    BentFranklin (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 7:28am

    I happen to believe that the prevention of the Boston bombing or even 9/11 is not justification enough for what is happening. Worse, we didn't give these people a blank check, they have taken it without asking.

     

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    horse with no name, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 7:55am

    Re: Re: It could

    The next terrorist attack will not be predicted (because it will be different from the last one.

    The problem is you have absolutely no proof along those lines. Based on what has happened in the last 10 years, that might appear to be true, but as you pointed out, many things that were considered true in the past have been proven just to be old wives tales.

    The earth was flat for a very long time, at least according to most people. For some people (such as yourself) it may still be the case, I don't know. Most of the rest of us have accepted this weird new science and moved with it.

    Open your mind and consider the alternatives, rather than closing yourself down and getting stuck with your rotary dial phone because you know this new fangled touch tone thing won't catch on.

     

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    horse with no name, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 8:00am

    Re: Re: It could

    Why am I not surprised that you're an authoritarian with no regard for the actual issues raised?

    The issues raised for the most part are conjecture and an attempt to pile stuff up higher to make it look bad - but without still accepting that much (if not the entirety of the deal) is in fact legal, approved, and would generally pass legal tests of it.

    Moreover, if you replace NSA or PRISM with GOOGLE, you would realize that almost all of these things are acts done in the name of business every day. Google probably knows more about your personal habits and your love of gay Spanish midget porn stars than the US government does. Yet you seem to have no issue handing that information to a company that is just trying to make a profit off of reselling it - yet you have great concerns about the state working with technology to try to develop better ways to not only react to crime after the fact, but to try to prevent it before it happens (or as it happens).

    I guess I am just not as naive as you are, thinking we live in some perfect world where the bad guys just don't exist.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 8:12am

    Re: Re: Re: It could

    Ah, I forgot a couple of things judging by your response:

    "...no regard for the actual issues raised, while basing every argument on half-assed assumptions about the opinions of the people you're talking with that bear no relationship to reality, and ignoring the actual arguments they regularly make."

    Thanks for reminding me.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 8:13am

    Re: Re: Re: It could

    What I have a problem is they are spending billions of dollars to run these programs and no results. So they are spying and failing to catch anyone. Why not instead of trying to catch a terrorist that may or may not kill people and use that to improve healthcare. Far more people are dying due to poor care then all the terrorist attacks in the US. Or put it into paying off the debt. I a sure a lot more people are going to die if the US defaults and the economy crashes.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 8:41am

    Bad idea...

    "Any tidbit of information that comes out" about how authorities track communications means terrorists "find ways around", he said.

    Security through obscurity never works. Never!

     

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  37.  
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    McCrea (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 8:49am

    O.D.D.

    Collecting Billions Of Phone Records Could Prevent Next 9/11, Boston Bombing

    So could not pissing people off. Try not being such an asshat, Mr. Authority.

     

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  38.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 9:13am

    Re: Re: Re: It could

    without still accepting that much (if not the entirety of the deal) is in fact legal, approved, and would generally pass legal tests of it.


    Personally, I don't care one bit whether or not the program is legal, except that if it is, that just makes the whole situation even worse.

    The program is dangerous and wrong. That's all I care about.

    Moreover, if you replace NSA or PRISM with GOOGLE, you would realize that almost all of these things are acts done in the name of business every day.


    Really? I can opt out of the spying done by Google. How do I opt out of the NSA?

    Yet you seem to have no issue handing that information to a company that is just trying to make a profit off of reselling it


    Says who? And even if that were true, so what? That is a consensual arrangement. When the government does it, it is not.

    yet you have great concerns about the state working with technology to try to develop better ways to not only react to crime after the fact, but to try to prevent it before it happens


    That right. The government always abuses these powers. Even if these programs were started with the best of intentions, they never stay that way.

    The problem is that the government has the ability to cause great harm to us all, far more than Google can do. So it requires a much shorter leash.

    I guess I am just not as naive as you are, thinking we live in some perfect world where the bad guys just don't exist

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 9:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: It could

    My last paragraph got dropped:

    I don't thin there's a person here who thinks there are no bad guys. But their existence doesn't justify these overreaching programs.

    I would rather live in a dangerous world where I'm free than live in a safe world under tyranny.

     

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    The Real Michael, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 9:27am

    Re: Re:

    No, but I did read a great Chuck Norris autobiography.

    :)

     

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    The Real Michael, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 9:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: It could

    Like that Thomas Jefferson quote, "I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
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    The Real Michael, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 9:37am

    Re: Prevent How

    Don't forget that the FBI were tipped off years in advance by Russian intelligence about the Boston bombers yet failed to act.

     

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  43.  
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    The Real Michael, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 9:45am

    Re: Re: If only we had say the 20th 9/11 hijacker in jail before 9/11

    But that's what they want. Al Qaeda is a CIA-created boogeyman group meant to create havoc everywhere they show up.

    Funny how after all these scandals have come to surface, like magic, the US is claiming, without any hard evidence, that the Syrian government is using biological weapons and threatening to go to war. I guess they figured they needed a convenient distraction from all that's going on. Also highly interesting (i.e. questionable) that this happens just a couple of days after the Bilderberg meeting in the UK.

     

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  44.  
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    nasch (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 10:09am

    Re: Re: If only we had say the 20th 9/11 hijacker in jail before 9/11

    And as I write this it seems that the US is determined to repeat the mistake by supplying arms to the Syrian rebels. Some of those weapons will inevitably end up in the hands of Al Qaeda.

    Oh don't worry, McCain assures us that we can keep those weapons limited to just the good guys and Al Qaeda won't get any of them.

     

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  45.  
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    Andrew D. Todd, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 10:37am

    Back-Door in Windows?

    The business about back-doors in Windows before 9/11 is rather dubious. I dislike Steve Balmer, "Dancing Monkey Boy," as much as the next man, but I don't think that argument will fly. It was thoroughly ventilated at the time:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NSAKEY
    http://www.schneier.com/crypto-gram-9909.html#NSAKeyin MicrosoftCryptoAPI

    In fact, in the year 2000, Microsoft's relationship with the Federal Government, and the Clinton Administration in particular, was highly adversarial, with anti-trust actions and all. Bill Gates was in a state of deep and public shock that the government could make him obey anti-trust law. It was a whole different world, as you will gather if you read Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's "Findings of Fact."'If the government had made Microsoft an improper suggestion, they would surely have recorded it, and published it as a means of discrediting their enemies.

     

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  46. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    horse with no name, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 12:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: It could

    What, reminding you that you are being a troll?

    You don't see the very stupid concept that we should for some reason deny the authorities the rights we grant companies working for profit?

    You don't grasp that the collection of third party information, while perhaps distasteful, it not particularly in violation of your privacy?

    It's a wonderful world you live in, one of "ignorance is bliss". You are truly a scary man.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    horse with no name, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 12:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: It could

    Like that Thomas Jefferson quote, "I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery."

    You do understand that this is the particular strength and failing that the enemies of the US are using against it, right?

    Until after 2001, the US policy on visas was pretty much "ask and you get", with little vetting and little consideration for who was entering the country. The US was (and still is in many ways) a country without a proper border controls, no tracking for people it let's in, no way to know if they have left or not on time.

    The 9/11 bombers used that system, that "freedom" as the basis for their attack.

    The US is a place full of dangerous freedom. Mostly dangerous, with more guns per person that any other place on earth, more needless death... all in the name of freedom, her clothes bloodstained from those who practice it with full vigor.

    The people who seek to harm (or destroy) the US know all of this, and use your culture against you as a weapon, or at least as a path to get to you.

    Your dangerous freedom is likely to cost you that very freedom at some point. Isn't that sad?

     

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  48.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 12:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: It could

    So you're saying that in order to be free, we must stop being free?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 14th, 2013 @ 12:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: It could

    You don't see the very stupid concept that we should for some reason deny the authorities the rights we grant companies working for profit?


    It seems that you don't understand the extremely important difference between voluntary and involuntary data sharing.

    You don't grasp that the collection of third party information, while perhaps distasteful, it not particularly in violation of your privacy?


    No, I don't grasp that. The collection of third party information is absolutely, 100%, a violation of my privacy. If all the third party information about anyone is collected, the end result is essentially identical to what would be obtained by bugging me, searching my stuff, and following me around.

    If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
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    Phil62, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 2:00pm

    Re: Politicians are idiots

    They don't bend over backwards -- they bend over forwards

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 5:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: It could

    Just because something is legal does not make it right. Nor does it mean it is constitutional. Those are tests for the court, and we must push the courts to decide.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    horse with no name, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 9:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: It could

    It seems that you don't understand the extremely important difference between voluntary and involuntary data sharing.

    I do. Once you share with a third party, you pretty much lose all the privacy that comes with it. The courts over the years (not just FISA, but open courts) have pretty much ruled consistently that this data is not protected private speech.

    Also, please consider Techdirt. Check the number of cookies and trackers related to your visits here. Are all of those truly voluntary, or are you just ignoring them because you don't like the implications?

    The collection of third party information is absolutely, 100%, a violation of my privacy.

    Go argue with the courts, they don't agree. Your communications (voice, text message, email) are protected, but the "envelopes" that you send them in are open to view and therefor not private in the same manner.

    They are not bugging you, they are not searching your stuff - they are only looking at what you willingly share with others. You share as much with Google and Mike's many advertisers and third party cookie tossers. Why aren't you upset about that?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jun 15th, 2013 @ 12:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: It could

    "What, reminding you that you are being a troll?"

    You keep pushing out that accusation, apparently without the basic idea of what it means... Interesting...

    "You don't grasp that the collection of third party information, while perhaps distasteful, it not particularly in violation of your privacy?"

    I do. I also grasp that a private company that explicitly allows you you to opt out of said collection is less dangerous than a US government agency that doesn't allow such things, especially for non-US citizens. But, you already made idiotic assumptions about me, so you really don't know what I think. Ignorance is truly your forte, I believe.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 15th, 2013 @ 8:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: It could

    The courts over the years (not just FISA, but open courts) have pretty much ruled consistently that this data is not protected private speech.


    Yes, I know. But so what? I'm not talking about what's legal. I'm talking about what's right.

    Check the number of cookies and trackers related to your visits here. Are all of those truly voluntary, or are you just ignoring them because you don't like the implications?


    Indeed they are voluntary. I can prove it, too: I've opted out of them, with the exception of one cookie. So, again, how do I opt out of government spying?

    They are not bugging you, they are not searching your stuff - they are only looking at what you willingly share with others.


    Well, we disagree. I think that they are bugging me, and they are searching my stuff. I think that the arguments that they aren't are mere legalisms and wordsmithing.

    You share as much with Google and Mike's many advertisers and third party cookie tossers. Why aren't you upset about that?


    Well, I don't, as I said. But even if I did, it still boils down to that being my choice. Because I choose to share intimate details with one entity does not mean that I should be forced to share them with a different entity.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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