NSA data-mining program under attack

  • News
  • Thread starter turbo
  • Start date
  • #1
turbo
Gold Member
3,077
45
Some time back there was a thread in which the NSA domestic spying program was discussed. In breaking news, it has been revealed that the NSA has the ability to tap into every bit of data traversing AT&T's network, including phone calls, emails, Internet look-ups, etc. If the whistle-blower is telling the truth, those of us who believed that the NSA would gladly spy on all US citizens (not just the "bad" guys) have been proven right, and Bush has turned this country into a police state.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060414/ap_on_hi_te/domestic_spying_lawsuit;_ylt=AjJ2eS.v3SxQgwkyTE2b74Gs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3cjE0b2MwBHNlYwM3Mzg- [Broken]
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Hurkyl
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
14,916
19
Bush has turned this country into a police state.
How does that follow?
 
  • #3
Art
Hurkyl said:
How does that follow?
police state
n.
A state in which the government exercises rigid and repressive controls over the social, economic, and political life of the people, especially by means of a secret police force.
http://www.answers.com/topic/police-state

If you equate the NSA to a secret police force then the statement seems perfectly valid to me.
 
  • #4
Hurkyl
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
14,916
19
He could equate pink fuzzy bunnies to a secret police state too. :tongue:

And, of course, you forgot about the rigid and repressive controls bit.
 
  • #5
Art
Hurkyl said:
He could equate pink fuzzy bunnies to a secret police state too. :tongue:
err yes, whatever :rolleyes:

Hurkyl said:
And, of course, you forgot about the rigid and repressive controls bit.
Many people would consider having their private communications being monitored repressive and you can be sure the fear of attracting attention from the government affects what people say and do and thus the state are exercising undue control over the actions of it's citizens.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #6
90
0
:biggrin: "Psychological impediment" in short :tongue2:
 
  • #7
Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
18,870
2,134
Whistle-Blower Outs NSA Spy Room
http://www.wired.com/news/technology/1,70619-0.html [Broken]

AT&T provided National Security Agency eavesdroppers with full access to its customers' phone calls, and shunted its customers' internet traffic to data-mining equipment installed in a secret room in its San Francisco switching center, according to a former AT&T worker cooperating in the Electronic Frontier Foundation's lawsuit against the company.

Mark Klein, a retired AT&T communications technician, submitted an affidavit in support of the EFF's lawsuit this week. That class action lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco last January, alleges that AT&T violated federal and state laws by surreptitiously allowing the government to monitor phone and internet communications of AT&T customers without warrants.
Whistle-blower says AT&T gave spy agency access to network
http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/nation/20060413-1443-ca-domesticspying-lawsuit.html [Broken]

SAN FRANCISCO – AT&T Inc. and an Internet advocacy group are waging a privacy battle in federal court that could expose the reach of the Bush administration's secretive domestic wiretapping program.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation said it obtained documents from a former AT&T technician that shows that the National Security Agency is capable of monitoring all communications on AT&T's network.
Any warrantless wiretap would in theory be illegal because its violates FISA.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #8
loseyourname
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
1,749
5
Art said:
Many people would consider having their private communications being monitored repressive and you can be sure the fear of attracting attention from the government affects what people say and do and thus the state are exercising undue control over the actions of it's citizens.
It sure is making turbo and ten million other bloggers and internet forum posters wary of criticizing the Bush administration over the internet, isn't it?

You guys sure do exasperate me sometimes. The FBI isn't about to start going out and rounding up all dissenters and put them before firing squads. This isn't frickin' Stalin or Hussein we're talking about here. This is bad and wrong for entirely different and better reasons that don't involve abject paranoia and hyperbole. Such as this:

AT&T violated U.S. law and the privacy of its customers as part of the "massive and illegal program to wiretap and data-mine Americans' communications" without warrants, the EFF alleged.

...

In congressional hearings last week, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales suggested the president could order the NSA to listen in on purely domestic calls without first obtaining a warrant from a secret court established nearly 30 years ago to consider such issues.
This is crap. If what they are saying is true, and the NSA is only tapping into calls by suspected Al Qaeda members, FISA would gladly give them warrants for that, I would think. Why on earth do they need to create this veneer of being above the law? This, combined with the new Bush defense that it's okay for him to out a covert operative because he can, at will, declassify whatever he wants for whatever reason he wants, is giving the president way more power than the constitution ever intended. If these things really are legal, then the laws need to change. If they're not legal, then Alberto Gonzales needs to be exiled to Cuba to work under Castro where he belongs.
 
  • #9
turbo
Gold Member
3,077
45
loseyourname said:
It sure is making turbo and ten million other bloggers and internet forum posters wary of criticizing the Bush administration over the internet, isn't it?
Somebody has to do it. It is silly to presume that the NSA would esablish these capabilities to dredge data in this fashion and not use it. It is also naive to assume that the party in power would not want to exploit this capability for personal/political gain. And I mean either party, although this particular administration has demonstrated a very sickening propensity to lie, obfuscate, and to retaliate against honest people who might hinder their agenda (Wilson/Plame).
 
  • #10
Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
18,870
2,134
The issue is the secrecy, the justification for the secrecy, and the fact that the president claims that the power is 'implicitly granted by congress'.

The constitution is very explicit about how powers are granted, and those power not explicitly given to the executive and legislative branches are reserved for the "People" - not the president and not congress. Congress may grant certain powers to the president (checks and balances) as long as they do not conflict with the Constitution, and most likely that would require an amendment to the Constitution.

The president has gone outside the Constitution to claim an authority of which there is no provision.

Sounds like an Impeachable Offense to me. :biggrin:
 
  • #11
334
0
Here is an exerpt from an essay I wrote recently (I screwed up some of the link addresses):

Many think that the U.S. Government’s violation of privacy is a blatant disregard of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. They see it as the U.S. Government encroaching on a very basic right that all men are entitled to, regardless of race, age, or sex (www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/briefing/privacy.html)[/url]. Though the invasion of privacy with wire taps may violate the Fifth Amendment the Constitution suggests that this is reasonable and history tells us to expect it. President Woodrow Wilson during WWI found it necessary to have a complete media blackout in order to support the American war-cause. This executive power to protect the Constitution and to issue Executive Orders is outlined in Article 2, Section 3, “…he [the President] shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed…” There are several other examples in United States history in which presidents in time of war used their executive power to undermine individuals’ rights for the better of the country. In fact, this same compromise of rights is laid out in the Constitution when describing the onset of martial law in Article 1 Section 9, “The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.” Habeas Corpus is the principle that the government may not hold a person unless for a valid reason. During Martial Law the government may be able to hold individuals without valid reason ([PLAIN]www.usconstitution.net) [Broken]. It is obvious therefore that the Constitution advocates a philosophy known as Utilitarianism. This principle is the concept of the sacrifice of the few for the sake of the many. It is recognized by our own Constitution that in order to protect the lives of its citizens it may have to compromise several rights in times of war or crisis. Though these laws may affect the rights and lives of people, they are only temporary. The History of the United States shows us that wartime laws go out of effect when the war or crisis is over.


Even if the constitution may condone sacrificing rights for the sake of people’s lives, what is keeping the powers that be from abusing the people’s rights? What is there to counterbalance the agencies that use the “national security blanket,” as Nixon’s administration once did. How is it possible to prevent these abuses from occurring and being taken one step further? Since 1974, there has been an act in effect known as the Freedom of Information Act. This allows citizens to access non-sensitive government documents. This free flow of information has allowed additional criticisms of past United States administrations such as President Nixon’s. During the Vietnam War, President Nixon allowed surveillance to be conducted on musician and activist John Lenin to see if he was doing anything that would legally allow him to be deported, since he was a very strong anti-Nixon element. Regardless of the fact that this and other situations make several government agencies appear criminal, this act allows the public to examine the government’s actions, critique them, and in turn respond to them. Despite being able to see what the government is doing, the declassifying of information generally takes several years and thus only allows an after-the-fact reflection (www.fas.org/syp/foia/citizen.html). Regardless, there are several laws in place which control and moderate government agencies, preventing another repeat of the Nixon Administration. In order to counter abuses of privacy such as that, the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act was passed in 1978. This law created a secret court which reviews the legitimacy of reasons for viewing suspects after the first 45 days of that suspect’s surveillance. This law allows for the secret agencies to act quickly gathering invaluable information, but it also allows the effective regulation of this power by seeing if the reasons for continuing surveillance are legitimate (“Wiretaps Require Warrants”). Besides this the United States consists of a system of checks and balances. Even though President Bush may desire more power for secret agencies such as the NSA; it can be and even has been refused by Congress. Even the Presidential Power of the Executive Order can be undone by Congress with 2/3 vote (www.thisnation.com) [Broken]. With the renewing of the Patriot Act, Congress has added several new provisions which further squelch any abuses. One of the new limitations on the Act is when people are given a subpoena demanding for information concerning their computers, library records, and medical records, they now have the right to take this to court and demand substantiation (“Bush Signs Patriot Act Renewal”). Though it is possible for the government to become like “Big Brother,” this is generally the biased vision of an opposing party.

-scott
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #12
67
165
turbo-1 said:
Somebody has to do it. It is silly to presume that the NSA would esablish these capabilities to dredge data in this fashion and not use it. It is also naive to assume that the party in power would not want to exploit this capability for personal/political gain. And I mean either party, although this particular administration has demonstrated a very sickening propensity to lie, obfuscate, and to retaliate against honest people who might hinder their agenda (Wilson/Plame).
I think we mentioned in another thread how this secret information could be used for political gain. And we do know Karl Rove's record on sabotaging political opponents. Put it together and it makes one dam scary sceniaro for the upcoming elections. This administration has given itself the power to do whatever it wishes. And it is legal because the Attorney General says so?:rolleyes: I think not.

Fron another point of view this kind of information gathering could give a devious corporate entity a tremendous financial advantage.
 
  • #13
Rach3
scott_alexsk said:
Here is an exerpt from an essay I wrote recently (I screwed up some of the link addresses):
Scott, don't take this the wrong way, but you really need to work on your research ability. This essay is riddled with errors and inaccuracies - just a few: FOIA was passed in 1966, not 1974 as you claim; in particular it was passed before the Nixon administration! Utilitarianism is not "sacrifice of a few for the many" - where did you learn that? And *.net* web pages are never acceptable sources. Why do you expect people to read what you wrote, if you won't put in the minimum effort to verify it yourself?

Incidentally, Lenin was a Soviet revolutionary, not a Beatle.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #14
334
0
Rach3, John Lenin, the beattle was involved in the peace movement and was a threat to the Nixon Administration. The orginal FOIA was passed in 1966, but the current act was revised in 1974, an error on my part. According to my work in Lincoln-Douglas Debate that is an acceptable definition of a priciple of Utilitarinism. I was not aware of other parts of the concept, but that is one priciple. I'll give you that the idea was over simplified. This was not a very serious essay. I only posted this because it had some relevant cited information. I would call it a research paper if it was.
-scott
 
Last edited:
  • #15
67
165
There are a lot of companies involved besides AT&T and the spying began much earlier than has been revealed by the Bush administration. They began before 911 yet failed to protect us. Are they really protecting us now?

The National Security Agency advised President Bush in early 2001 that it had been eavesdropping on Americans during the course of its work monitoring suspected terrorists and foreigners believed to have ties to terrorist groups, according to a declassified document.

The NSA's vast data-mining activities began shortly after Bush was sworn in as president and the document contradicts his assertion that the 9/11 attacks prompted him to take the unprecedented step of signing a secret executive order authorizing the NSA to monitor a select number of American citizens thought to have ties to terrorist groups
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/011306Z.shtml [Broken]
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB24/nsa25.pdf
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #16
BobG
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
185
80
scott_alexsk said:
Rach3, John Lenin, the beattle was involved in the peace movement and was a threat to the Nixon Administration. The orginal FOIA was passed in 1966, but the current act was revised in 1974, an error on my part. According to my work in Lincoln-Douglas Debate that is an acceptable definition of a priciple of Utilitarinism. I was not aware of other parts of the concept, but that is one priciple. I'll give you that the idea was over simplified. This was not a very serious essay. I only posted this because it had some relevant cited information. I would call it a research paper if it was.
-scott
You mean John Lennon. (You must be young - otherwise, how could you not know how to spell one of the Beatles' names?)

Using the 1974 Freedom of Information Act vs. the original date is a trivial mistake, except that using the wrong date gives the impression that the FOIA was passed in response to Nixon's actions (Nixon's actions probably did give the act a higher profile).
 
  • #17
Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
18,870
2,134
The National Security Agency advised President Bush in early 2001 that it had been eavesdropping on Americans during the course of its work monitoring suspected terrorists and foreigners believed to have ties to terrorist groups, according to a declassified document.

The NSA's vast data-mining activities began shortly after Bush was sworn in as president and the document contradicts his assertion that the 9/11 attacks prompted him to take the unprecedented step of signing a secret executive order authorizing the NSA to monitor a select number of American citizens thought to have ties to terrorist groups
It would seem someone in the NSA was prepared prior to 9/11.

Was the initial NSA surveillance conducted in compliance with FISA?

It was pointed out by someone, that one justification of the Bush administration is that if they had had the special power then they could have thwarted the 9/11 plot!

However, the NSA did have a place under surveillance and they apparently had recorded Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi talking with a then 'suspected' terrorist site in Yemen or Saudi Arabia. But the NSA did not share intelligence with CIA or FBI. So there was an opportunity, but the system blew it.

Makes one wonder what Bush or others in his administration are really up to.
 
  • #18
turbo
Gold Member
3,077
45
Here is a FAQ about the AT&T case from EFF, the non-profit organization that brought the class-action suit against AT&T for the illegal data-mining of US residents.

http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/att/faq.php [Broken]
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #19
67
165
Astronuc said:
It would seem someone in the NSA was prepared prior to 9/11.
Was the initial NSA surveillance conducted in compliance with FISA?
The initial surveillance had to be in compliance.

It was pointed out by someone, that one justification of the Bush administration is that if they had had the special power then they could have thwarted the 9/11 plot!
They had the oportunity to thwart 911. They didn't listen to FBI agents in the field. What was passed up the chain of command was ignored by the Administration. Red flags had been flown by the agent in Phoenix and by the agent who was tailing Zacarias Moussaoui. Both were ignored.

Could it be that they were ignored because the Administration was so heavily involved with the NSA spying that they were blinded by their own illusions of superiority?

However, the NSA did have a place under surveillance and they apparently had recorded Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi talking with a then 'suspected' terrorist site in Yemen or Saudi Arabia. But the NSA did not share intelligence with CIA or FBI. So there was an opportunity, but the system blew it.
Personally as far as protecting Americans from low tech attacks, I don't see where anything has changed except that they are trying to filter through more information. The Dept. of Homeland Security only adds another layer of bureaucracy to stumble over.

Makes one wonder what Bush or others in his administration are really up to.
That is the scarry part.:rolleyes:
 
Last edited:
  • #20
turbo
Gold Member
3,077
45
edward said:
The initial surveillance had to be in compliance.
Not necessarily. There is a public government that feeds us lies and tries to keep us all in line while they plunder the country's wealth. Then there is a government that is not only not open to public scrutiny, but it is not open to the scrutiny of our elected Congressional representatives. The NSA is part of this black government and they are answerable to practically nobody. We may never find out the magnitude of their domestic spying over the years.

The Bush administration models itself after these black agencies, operating in secrecy, lying, leaking "classified" information that they know to be inaccurate in order to support the lies, ignoring the law, both domestic and international, and using personal attacks to bring down people that refuse to toe the party line. Nixon would be proud.
 
  • #21
67
165
A bit off topic and I may be knutz but:

One thing has always bothered me about 911 that was barely mentioned, even at the time. Why did the planes take off on a coast to coast flight with so few passengers on board?

Flight 93 only had 43 people on board and that included the crew and the terrorists. The plane (757) could seat 200+. Airlines usually combine flights when this is/was the case.
Even if the terrorist had purchased large blocks of prepaid tickets (which is what I have heard) shouldn't boarding personel have been suspicious when such a large number of people failed to show.

If a single bag had showed up without a passenger to match it to, a flight would have been grounded until the situation was sorted out. Yet when fifty to sixty people failed to show?? nothing was done.

I am not implying conspiracy here. I am implying incompetence on the part of the airlines because at the time they were supposedly on a heightened state of alert.

Shortly after 911 I went online to the Delta website, and even with ridership down, there were always at least 95 people booked on the coast to coast flights. 95 Was the lowest number I found, most flights had well over 100.
 
  • #22
67
165
turbo-1 said:
Not necessarily. There is a public government that feeds us lies and tries to keep us all in line while they plunder the country's wealth. Then there is a government that is not only not open to public scrutiny, but it is not open to the scrutiny of our elected Congressional representatives. The NSA is part of this black government and they are answerable to practically nobody. We may never find out the magnitude of their domestic spying over the years.
You are probably right. I just keep trying to convince myself that it could not be that bad.
 
  • #23
turbo
Gold Member
3,077
45
edward said:
You are probably right. I just keep trying to convince myself that it could not be that bad.
I hope that I am not right, but then again, I hoped that the NSA was not employing data-mining on domestic to domestic emails, text messages, phone calls, etc, and that hope didn't pan out. If you visited the FAQ I linked earlier, you will see that AT&T illegally gave the NSA full access to all our analog and digital information traversing its networks - now it is trying to get the leaked documents back. Bush can always claim that he authorized all the spying, which in his administration means that the spying was entirely legal. He doesn't have to obey the laws written by our elected representatives in Congress - he makes up his own as he goes along and his sock puppet Gonzales affirms the legality of each and every illegal action of the administration. Impeachment has been suggested, but imprisonment in the general population of a real prison would be a better punishment for these crooks.
 
  • #24
Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
18,870
2,134
edward said:
One thing has always bothered me about 911 that was barely mentioned, even at the time. Why did the planes take off on a coast to coast flight with so few passengers on board?
Early morning coast-to-coast flights off-season sometimes have very few people on board. I have been on such flights, so it was nothing unusual. I don't believe large numbers of people failed to show up.
 
  • #25
Astronuc said:
edward said:
One thing has always bothered me about 911 that was barely mentioned, even at the time. Why did the planes take off on a coast to coast flight with so few passengers on board?
Early morning coast-to-coast flights off-season sometimes have very few people on board. I have been on such flights, so it was nothing unusual. I don't believe large numbers of people failed to show up.
http://www.911myths.com/html/passenger_numbers.html
Some hard info to go along with Astronuc's post.
 

Related Threads on NSA data-mining program under attack

  • Last Post
Replies
9
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
6
Views
1K
Replies
17
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
6
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
9
Views
2K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
40
Views
6K
Replies
2
Views
2K
Replies
5
Views
2K
Replies
2
Views
640
Replies
8
Views
4K
Top