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NSA Whistleblowers Reveal Extent of Eavesdropping

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the revealing-the-obvious dept.

Privacy 222

ma11achy was one of several readers to write about claims made by two former military intercept operators who worked for the NSA that "Despite pledges by President George W. Bush and American intelligence officials to the contrary, hundreds of US citizens overseas have been eavesdropped on as they called friends and family back home." Ars Technica has a brief report as well, and reader net_shaman adds a link to Glenn Greenwald's opinion piece on the eavesdropping at Salon.

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222 comments

What exactly does this mean though? (1)

GuloGulo (959533) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321159)

Frankly, I'm much more interested in an investigation that can't be easily dismissed like these guys inevitably will be. It's great that people are coming forward, but what does it really matter in the long run?

Re:What exactly does this mean though? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321397)

It means that Jews are spying on you, but a couple conscientious Samaritans are ratting out the kikes.

Fucking Jews with their sneaky and greedy ways always trying to get the upper hand on you and me.

If only Hitler had finished what he started.

Re:What exactly does this mean though? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321433)

It means that Jews are spying on you, but a couple conscientious Samaritans are ratting out the kikes.

Fucking Jews with their sneaky and greedy ways always trying to get the upper hand on you and me.

If only Hitler had finished what he started.

Yeah, yeah. I know, don't feed the troll. But...

You Sir are a cunt.

Re:What exactly does this mean though? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321599)

That's what I told your whore of a mother.

Re:What exactly does this mean though? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321719)


If only Hitler had finished what he started.

I wasn't aware Hitler had any unfinished paintings.

Re:What exactly does this mean though? (1)

Ortega-Starfire (930563) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321707)

Nothing, even if the revised FISA law gets repealed, this is now protected under ex post facto restrictions in the constitution. GG two party system for throwing our liberties away.

Terrible reporting. A little perspective... (2, Informative)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321163)

...and reporting that I can't help but wonder has some political motivations, given the timing of its release.

That's not the Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP), and not related to foreign intelligence collection programs in that were in place in the United States. That's the NSA working in a foreign military operations theater, and is vastly different. These intercepts were happening in realtime and were focused on an area of military operations.

When working in the dynamic environment of an operations theater, it's difficult to make distinctions about what traffic should be monitored and when. That is not to say that US Persons [wikipedia.org] should continue to be collected on after their status is known, even under these circumstances.

Additionally, we have to keep the actions of the individual vs the actions of the agency in mind. What individual intercept operators at times did with their capabilities does not necessarily represent organizational support for such actions. Individual intercept operators have misbehaved in this way forever. Does that make it right? Does that mean the organization "condones" it? Of course not. Did UCLA Medical Center support individuals looking up the medical records of Britney Spears and other celebrities, just because they were technically able to do so, and worked under the guise of UCLA Medical Center? Of course not. But these employees also need continuing access to such resources to do their jobs.

Further, "'all employees of the US government' should expect that their telephone conversations could be monitored as part of an effort to safeguard security and 'information assurance.'" The Joint COMSEC Monitoring Activity, traditionally responsible for monitoring activity on government communication lines, is hampered by the increasing use of wireless-, (unofficial) internet-, and satellite-based communications devices for official business. The distinction about where and how such communication might occur can't easily be made, and thus often falls to NSA -- which should then make the appropriate determination as to the disposition of the communication and act accordingly. That can include conversations of an embarrassing or personal nature. These are all humans here, not robots. Yes, they are trained professionals. But they're still human, with all the foibles and flaws we all share.

A spokesman for General Hayden said, "At NSA, the law was followed assiduously. The notion that General Hayden sanctioned or tolerated illegalities of any sort is ridiculous on its face." Those of you who laugh at this comment and think you know everything about the illegality of NSA surveillance would be well served to educate yourselves a bit [slashdot.org].

It's unfortunate that ABC misunderstands -- misrepresents? -- NSA operations with respect to a military theater during wartime as having anything to do with the so-called (and now defunct [slashdot.org]) "Terrorist Surveillance Program".

In fact, two separate "whistleblowers" came forward, separately. The allegations from both, independently, only dealt with endpoints in the Middle East. Once definitively identified as as US Person who is not military personnel, an employee or contractor of the US government, or covered by an active, individualized warrant, and the other end of the communication is also a US Person who doesn't meet any of these requirements, collection should cease.

But the failure to adhere to such longstanding law and policy does not mean that the organization at large condoned such behavior. And, lest we forget, "the intercepts helped identify possible terror planning in Iraq and saved American lives. 'IED's were disarmed before they exploded, that people who were intending to harm US forces were captured ahead of time,' Faulk said."

This is, again, how a few individuals' misbehavior can be a big black eye. In fact, the comparison in the article was quite appropriate:

This story is to surveillance law what Abu Ghraib was to prison law," Turley said.

Indeed. And we don't condone or support that kind of activity, either.

Re:Terrible reporting. A little perspective... (4, Insightful)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321313)

When working in the dynamic environment of an operations theater, it's difficult to make distinctions about what traffic should be monitored and when. That is not to say that US Persons [wikipedia.org] should continue to be collected on after their status is known, even under these circumstances.

One wonders why Bush bothered to pledge that US citizens would never be spied on in the first place. It certainly sounds like something that's impossible to know until afterward. Did he intentionally lie to try to get us to forget about it, did he mean "intentionally," or did he just not realize how it worked?

Re:Terrible reporting. A little perspective... (3, Interesting)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321495)

The latter is the most likely.

To expand on that, it's an oversimplification.

These intercept operators had no more power than they have ever had. The only new and controversial issues relating to NSA monitoring during the Bush administration have related to collection within the United States[1], and this has nothing to do with that.

Since the beginning of SIGINT and the beginning of the NSA, collectors have had effective and routine access to myriad conversations with endpoints in the United States, conversations where at least one end is a US Person, or both.

That happens all the time, and has always happened. Often, you'll hear things you're not looking for. Hell, most of what you hear isn't what you're looking for. But once you determine that a US Person is involved, you're not, however, supposed to record, store, or disseminate such information. Unfortunately, what we have here are people -- many mostly kids -- misbehaving, and sometimes misbehaving badly.

Anyone who is surprised by this or thinks it has anything to do with Bush has a serious lack of understanding about how Title 50 activities and SIGINT collection have worked for decades.

Again, to be clear: the "new" capabilities the President authorized dealt with NSA foreign intelligence collection within the United States. That doesn't mean one end of the conversation might not be a US Person. In fact, under the law, it can be...but then the information must be treated with care; e.g., identifying references to US Person redacted, and so on. What you can't do -- then or now -- is target US Persons without an individualized warrant. If traffic from US Persons is intercepted in the course of foreign SIGINT collection, it is NOT a violation of the law, and never has been, as long as it is handled properly.

So ABC is attempting to conflate Bush administration initiatives -- which don't even exist any longer (TSP) -- with NSA overseas operations, albeit with regard to US Persons. Unfortunately, the latter has nothing to do with Bush or any initiatives of the Bush administration. The intercept operators had no more or less power, save for technological improvements, than they've ever had.

And surprise, surprise: individuals with the power to listen to things sometimes listen to things they're not supposed to, and by virtue of these people having the necessary resources to actually do their jobs, there really isn't any easy way to prevent it.

From day one the handling of US Persons in the context of foreign intelligence is hammered into your head. But I guess sometimes immaturity and a cheap laugh at someone else's expense trumps common sense and the doing the right thing.

[1] NSA facilities for interception may often be physically in the United States, but the interception is still occurring outside the United States

Re:Terrible reporting. A little perspective... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321949)

Two things:

1)When I was doing this 20 years ago, it was drilled and drilled and drilled that we were NOT to intercept Americans.

2)There was (and I'm sure there still is) a thing called "tip off"; if you came across a conversation not targeted you were supposed to "tip off" to the appropriate group/individual and roll on, staying on your assigned target. You never knew when the trick chief was listening and we did not get caught staying on something we weren't assigned.

Is this generation not so strenuously warned against intercepting Americans?

What happened to targeted topics for intercept and 'tip off'? Is it anything and everything now?

I'm thinking things have changed and not for the better.

Re:Terrible reporting. A little perspective... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321973)

big.....
huge......
replies......
by.......
a.....
NSA......
agent.....
defending.....
his......
job......

Go look for another job, fella. I heard Putin will be hiring unethical spies like you... Better to get your resume ready because January, 20 is approaching....

Thanks for the insight. It's terrifying. (5, Insightful)

OneIfByLan (1341287) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322035)

Hi Dave,

Thanks for the insight.

"And surprise, surprise: individuals with the power to listen to things sometimes listen to things they're not supposed to, ... there really isn't any easy way to prevent it. ... But I guess sometimes immaturity and a cheap laugh at someone else's expense trumps common sense and the doing the right thing."

My response and my honest question would be, what the hell ever happened to discipline and accountability? When I got an order, it was the Voice of God and woe be unto the man who dreamed of disobeying his CO.

There isn't an easy way to prevent people screwing around? Is that a joke? All I ever got was a growl that said "Don't screw around!" and we didn't dare, not if we valued our sorry asses.

You're literally arguing that there's no such thing as a chain of command any more, that the commanders have lost control of their men. In my day, admitting you couldn't keep your men under control was a wonderful way to lose your rank.

Re:Thanks for the insight. It's terrifying. (2, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322219)

You really think that the worst thing we have to worry about from the unfettered power to listen to our communications is a few agents screwing around?

Do they just not teach history in school any more? Does nobody care about what it is that's made America a unique place? How easily frightened people will give up their liberty and privacy. It's really sad how so many of my fellow Americans will cower behind proto-fascism because they are scared.

Re:Thanks for the insight. It's terrifying. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25322457)

When I got an order, it was the Voice of God and woe be unto the man who dreamed of disobeying his CO.

Note that Faulk specifically said that the abuses were brought to the attention of NSA supervisors - the ones whom the Bush administration has repeatedly claimed were adequate substitutes for FISA judges in deciding who should be surveilled - and those supervisors said that they were ordered to transcribe the calls in question.

Dave can go on and on (and on and on, geeze dude) about how some dweeb with a tap was doing naughty things, but he can't change the allegations. If the allegations are true, these were by no means "cheap laughs" by bottom-rung "individuals".

Re:Thanks for the insight. It's terrifying. (3, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322783)

You're literally arguing that there's no such thing as a chain of command any more, that the commanders have lost control of their men. In my day, admitting you couldn't keep your men under control was a wonderful way to lose your rank.

He's arguing no such thing.

TFA: Faulk told Ross: "when one of my co-workers went to a supervisor and said: 'but sir, there are personal calls,' the supervisor said: 'my orders were to transcribe everything'."

Him and other posters are using the "few bad apples" defense in the face of completely contrary information.

Replace "spying" with "torturing" and we can reuse all the Abu Ghraib press releases.

Re:Terrible reporting. A little perspective... (1, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322169)

individuals with the power to listen to things sometimes listen to things they're not supposed to

That's why they invented these things called "warrants". To prevent people from search or seizure without due process, which is after all, clearly spelled out in our Constitution, you force people who want the "power to listen to things" to tell a judge exactly what they're listening for, what crime they're trying to prevent, and what evidence they have that such a crime is being planned.

I understand that this seems like a lot to expect of the courageous NRA, daveschroeder, who after all are just trying to protect innocent Americans from the billions of Americans who want to blow us up, but it is in the Constitution, though that doesn't seem to mean a motherfucking thing to you.

I understand your fear, I just wish you'd talk to a professional about it instead of fucking with our civil liberties.

Re:Terrible reporting. A little perspective... (1)

blhack (921171) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322543)

I understand your fear, I just wish you'd talk to a professional about it instead of fucking with our civil liberties.

Okay, the vast majority of us either work or have worked in IT, right?

How many times have you been sitting at somebody's desk, and Outlook happily pops up a new message that came into the inbox, you SHOULDN'T BE READING THAT!!!! How many times have you looked through maillog and seen the to and from on a bunch of mail messages, thats private data, dude! Ever had to do recovery on a dead drive and seen some pictures that weren't explicitly sent to you? Ever been poking through a squid log and seen a few of the gets that people are doing?

The point is that sometimes you come across data that you're not supposed to see (or in this case, hear). Be it in IT, the us postal service, or anything inbetween you do what you're supposed to do and IGNORE IT.
It happens.
If you have a problem with it, move to another country with no infrastructure.

Dave, thank you for the well thought out, informative post. Sometimes the OMFG BUSH DID IT! people need a wake up call.

Re:Terrible reporting. A little perspective... (0, Troll)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322661)

How many times have you been sitting at somebody's desk, and Outlook happily pops up a new message that came into the inbox, you SHOULDN'T BE READING THAT!!!! How many times have you looked through maillog and seen the to and from on a bunch of mail messages, thats private data, dude! Ever had to do recovery on a dead drive and seen some pictures that weren't explicitly sent to you? Ever been poking through a squid log and seen a few of the gets that people are doing?

Honestly, never.

Maybe you are less like the "vast majority of us" than you think.

Re:Terrible reporting. A little perspective... (4, Insightful)

cpghost (719344) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322759)

From day one the handling of US Persons in the context of foreign intelligence is hammered into your head. But I guess sometimes immaturity and a cheap laugh at someone else's expense trumps common sense and the doing the right thing.

It's not the cheap laugh of some little monitoring guy (or gal) that's dangerous: let'em laugh at our expenses, if only as a little compensation for the incredibly boring work they've signed up to and are forced to do day in day out.

The problem isn't the little guy in the system, it's the whole surveillance mind set, as dreamed up by increasingly authoritarian and corrupt governments. In most dictatorships, governments use to monitor the populace, and (and this is where it really gets nasty), they also routinely archive all kinds of misbehavior they gather, that they wouldn't have been looking for in the first place.

E.g.: you talk with your buddy on the phone about how you managed to evade some kind of tax, or you are talking about your extra-marital affairs or whatever. All this is pretty harmless in itself, but it won't be any longer if this conversation gets monitored, recorded and archived. As long as you remain unpolitical, government wouldn't care, but suppose that, a few years down the road, you decide to politically oppose the government in some point. As soon as you gather enough followers, government officials WILL start to dig into the big archives of the surveillance apparatus for material that would shatter your credibility or to start a blackmail. Were you talking about tax-honesty? Good bye credibility. Are you still loving your wife? Good bye marriage, hello divorce.

That's why spying on the whole population as a pro-active measure is evil.

Re:Terrible reporting. A little perspective... (1, Informative)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321515)

You seem to be unfamiliar with Dubya's tendency to say what ever he thinks will sell, with no relation to his true intentions other than to offer a thin justification for the course of action he has decided to take. Why would he bother with that? Because there is so much sensationalism in today's 24 hour News media, that As long as he can draw out any objections to his desired course of action, public furor will die down in about a week. Our entire culture has serious ADD. So any bullshit statement that can allow the pundits to debate back and forth for a few days is pretty much a carte blanc for Bush and his handlers to do whatever the fuck they want to do.

Re:Terrible reporting. A little perspective... (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321663)

One wonders why Bush bothered to pledge that US citizens would never be spied on in the first place.

He was telling us what we wanted to hear. If he told us the truth, there would have been a public outcry, a congressional investigation, and they would have shutdown, or seriously hampered, the program. By just telling us what we wanted to hear, he got a pass for two or three more years, perhaps more.

See how that works? You can't trust what they say. You have to investigate and hold them accountable.

foreign military operations theater (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321327)

So, if we're in a foreign military operations theater, we should start our call with, "I'm an American citizen calling my girlfriend. Get the fuck off the line you pervert." ?

I've never been in a foreign military operations theater, what kind of shows do they have? Is it mostly war movies? John Wayne and Arnold?

Re:foreign military operations theater (2, Insightful)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321363)

FTFA:

NSA awarded Adrienne Kinne a NSA Joint Service Achievement Medal in 2003 at the same time she says she was listening to hundreds of private conversations between Americans, including many from the International Red Cross and Doctors without Borders.

"We knew they were working for these aid organizations," Kinne told ABC News. "They were identified in our systems as 'belongs to the International Red Cross' and all these other organizations. And yet, instead of blocking these phone numbers we continued to collect on them," she told ABC News.

That wouldn't have helped. The NSA continued to listen in even after they realized it was the case. Common sense would dictate that while it might be impossible to never listen in on a US person's phone calls, you would not continually do it. Yet the NSA did.

Re:foreign military operations theater (2, Informative)

Nutria (679911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321549)

Common sense would dictate that while it might be impossible to never listen in on a US person's phone calls, you would not continually do it.

So what you're saying is that it's impossible for US Persons to break COMSEC protocols during pillow talk?

One word: Honeytrap.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honeypot_(espionage)#Sex.2C_honeypots_and_recruitment [wikipedia.org]

Yet the NSA did.

Good for them.

Re:foreign military operations theater (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321783)

But those policies do not apply to Doctors without borders. Surveying them is unforgivable interference with humanitarian aid.

Re:foreign military operations theater (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321875)

Surveying them is unforgivable interference with humanitarian aid.

I call bullshit, unless you provide a damn good reason why clandestine electronic eavesdropping on DWB prevents them from doing their work.

Re:foreign military operations theater (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25322061)

The organization must be free to act and not provide special aid to any one side in a conflict. Any interruption of that by any party by any means endangers their ability to aid populations controlled by the opposition.

Re:foreign military operations theater (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322291)

I call bullshit, unless you provide a damn good reason why clandestine electronic eavesdropping on DWB prevents them from doing their work.

Are you serious? That's the new threshold for civil liberties? "Whether you can provide a damn good reason why eavesdropping prevents you from doing your work"??

Has the whole country gone fucking nuts?

Re:foreign military operations theater (1)

uniquename72 (1169497) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322795)

He didn't say it was right; he said it didn't interfere. And it doesn't.

(It's still fucked, tho.)

Re:foreign military operations theater (1)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321395)

I think it's more a reference to Greek tragedies.

Re:foreign military operations theater (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322263)

So, if we're in a foreign military operations theater, we should start our call with, "I'm an American citizen calling my girlfriend. Get the fuck off the line you pervert." ?

You should also be doing that if you're a Quaker, a member of any anti-war group, a civil rights worker, a Democratic candidate for public office, a journalist, a member of the Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, or the ACLU, and, of course, the Electronic Freedom Foundation.

You have to understand that you're just a threat to the American Way of Life (TM) and be willing to give up your privacy (unless of course you have Something to Hide(TM)).

Re:Terrible reporting. A little perspective... (3, Insightful)

Jabbrwokk (1015725) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321349)

I wouldn't call it terrible reporting. It says right on the first page of the ABC article who was being eavesdropped on, specifically American soldiers, reporters and diplomatic personnel in Baghdad's "Green Zone."

However, I think more should be made of the fact that reporters were on the eavesdrop list. Journalists had to give up a lot of freedom of the press to be "embedded" in Iraq, the fact they were also eavesdropped on shows how tightly the government was trying to control the media message.

It's no wonder there's been less critical, fact-based reporting (not just opinions) of the war in Iraq than Gulf War I.

Re:Terrible reporting. A little perspective... (1, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321577)

Successful information handling is critical to the success of a military operation as much as anything else. But beyond classified information, there have not, to my knowledge, been any cases of embedded reporters being disallowed from reporting. This is the most realtime and extensive coverage the world has ever seen for a military operation, ever.

Does the Pentagon want to shape the message? Absolutely. But this alleged monitoring with respect to reporters was passive. I.e., it did not result in reporters' stories being suppressed. (I know that some here would ask, "How to we know?" Because no reporter has claimed that to be the case.) You're assuming reporters were targeted. They weren't. They were a part of Green Zone communication monitoring along with everyone else.

Re:Terrible reporting. A little perspective... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321895)

'Shape the message'.. almost sounds like.. a euphemism for .. propagandize?

The American government does not propagandize. It 'shapes the message', 'neutralizes targets' (assassinates people), 'kills insurgents' (murders innocent Iraqi people under the premise of freeing them.. but it was an ACCIDENT SO IT DOESNT COUNT THAT THEY DIED)........

Nice.

Re:Terrible reporting. A little perspective... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321913)

"It's no wonder there's been less critical, fact-based reporting (not just opinions) of the war in Iraq than Gulf War I."

Yeah, because the government can keep those reporters quiet when they come back to the states, too...

Re:Terrible reporting. A little perspective... (1)

Galactic Dominator (944134) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321405)

Maybe the timing has something to do with whistle blower protection. Seems likely that a whistle blower can have a bit more confidence coming forward after the current neo-brotherhood is removed from power. I'd also imagine an Obama administration would be more friendly to these whistle blowers but even McCain could use it show he's cleaning things up if so inclined.

I actually thought it was one of the better reporting jobs I've seen recently. They had two independent sources and discussed both sides of the issue including your reference to American lives saved. After watching the video and reading the article, I did not suffer from any confusion as to which program/agency was involved with this as you imply there is. Organizations are responsible for their employees. They are supposed to keep themselves in check since no one watches the watchers.

Re:Terrible reporting. A little perspective... (5, Informative)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322337)

I'd also imagine an Obama administration would be more friendly to these whistle blowers but even McCain could use it show he's cleaning things up if so inclined.

Actually, Senator Obama co-sponsored legislation to strengthen whistleblower protection. McCain? Wasn't there for the vote.

Re:Terrible reporting. A little perspective... (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321447)

And we don't condone or support that kind of activity, either.

it's not enough to not "condone" or to not "support" it. When you engage in listening to conversations, you get a certain responsibility. There should be a filter on what is listened to. If a recorded is identified as not worth listening to it should be immediately destroyed. The story at Abu Ghraib was not that what was done was a bad thing. The story was that nothing was done to stop it and when they were caught, everthing was done to sweep the issue under the carpet.

This story has the same issue. Instead of talking about the safeguards they have in place and the actions they are taking, they are trying to minimise and deny much ever happened.

Re:Terrible reporting. A little perspective... (2, Funny)

sleigher (961421) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322117)

Kinda like when you get home from your girlfriends, and your wife asks "where have you been"? Then you answer "nowhere".

wait, did I click AC

Re:Terrible reporting. A little perspective... (5, Insightful)

mpapet (761907) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321489)

I think most would agree that surveillance probably began under the conditions you describe.

1. The crux of the problem is the relentless acquisition of power and influence that creeps into what could, in principal, be a good program. Maybe the power-mongering doesn't happen at first, but history has repeatedly shown stuff like this is turned against citizens. There is no reason to believe there would be an exception here.

2. The Office of the President currently operates under the notion that their powers shall be unconstrained by any other branch of government, tradition and legal history be damned.

Mix #1 and #2 together and publish it on Slashdot and the conspiracy minded come flying out to condemn it all.

The rest of the political/legal world generally agree that the Cheney administration views executive powers as unlimited. Therefore, they would probably agree that it's likely the office of the President would willfully sodomize any survielance(sp?)law with signing statements and executive orders.

Finally, I think it's the case that most Americans know there is "something wrong" with the way the Executive branch has been operating. Media coverage like this is a kind of indirect measurement.

Re:Terrible reporting. A little perspective... (-1, Flamebait)

toddhisattva (127032) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321525)

Congratulations on keeping your cool while explaining this to the paranoid idiots!

Re:Terrible reporting. A little perspective... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321605)

While you on the other hand can not even realize that all actual information stated in the grand parent was obvious, and he only several insults like you did. Is that really all that your party can do now? Is it that weak and fragile? Pitiful.

and he only several insults like you did?!?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321939)

and he only several insults like you did

If you want to impugn someone in some way, please do so cogently.

Is that really all that your party can do now? Is it that weak and fragile? Pitiful.

Getting a decent thought out must be tough for you. I bet your three brain cells were working so hard when you composed your post that your face looked like you were trying to pass a pineapple.

Re:and he only several insults like you did?!?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321979)

Fuck off you idiot.

What happened to my country? (4, Insightful)

lupis42 (1048492) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321717)

This makes me angry. Not just 'vote for a third party' angry, not even just 'rant on a blog' angry, but shoot a congressman angry. I honestly want to shoot the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). I believe that his negligence in the matter of oversight is not merely appalling, but actively treasonous. Line him up in front of a firing squad treasonous. What's more, he's not alone. Even Senator Barack 'Change' Obama voted against the rule of law and for the FISA bill that extended immunity to the big companies that participated in, and allowed this.
I think it's high time we did something. But by something, I don't mean voting for somebody else, that doesn't amount to much. I mean bringing officials, elected and appointed, up in front of tribunals, and making them explain why they have consistently voted to turn this country into a surveillance state to a degree comparable to Communist Russia, or the very same current China that these very same elected officials reprimanded Google and Yahoo for complying with. This is ridiculous. We don't have elected representation any more, we have elected oppression, and it's time we fought back. Really fought back, not just with votes but with riots, and criminal charges. We still, in theory, hang traitors in this country, so why the hell can't we hang the worst enemies our constitution has ever had? Our President, George W. Bush, has been making war on this country, on our constitution, and on our way of life for eight years. His appointed lackeys have been even worse. It's time it stopped.

Re:What happened to my country? (4, Insightful)

baldass_newbie (136609) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321801)

I honestly want to shoot the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller (D-WV).

So are you a Second Amendment proponent? Remember, they didn't put that in there about hunting. It was about killing politicians. If everybody's armed, nobody can oppress.

Re:What happened to my country? (0, Troll)

Qrlx (258924) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322033)

Come on, the Second Amendment isn't about shooting politicians, despite the Slashdot bias towards that little chunk of Libertarian mythology.

If you look at the history and discussion from back in the day, the people's right to bear arms was granted in order to maintain slavery. That's what the militia was for; to put down a slave uprising.

If people couldn't own guns they would have a much harder time holding slaves, that should be quite obvious.

Re:What happened to my country? (1, Troll)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322361)

If everybody's armed, nobody can oppress.

If they've got a great big gun and you've got a little bitty gun, I've got news for you: You can be oppressed.

Re:What happened to my country? (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322401)

Just to be clear here...
[mic check]123 alpha bravo charlie[/mic check]
you appear to be advocating for violent overthrow of the United States Government. Is that correct sir?

Re:What happened to my country? (1, Troll)

blhack (921171) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322605)

they have consistently voted to turn this country into a surveillance state to a degree comparable to Communist Russia, or the very same current China that these very same elected officials reprimanded Google and Yahoo for complying with.

It must really suck to see the world like this.

Honestly, the world is NOT out to get you. Bush is NOT hiding under you bed.
You might seriously have some psychological problems if you feel this way, I would suggest consulting a psychiatrist because it sounds like you a borderline paranoid schizophrenic.

I suggest less internet and more "talking to other human beings". You'll find that the world is actually a much more pleasant place that it appears from behind whatever filter you're watching it through.

Re:Terrible reporting. A little perspective... (1, Troll)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322115)

"the intercepts helped identify possible terror planning in Iraq and saved American lives."

If you believe that, I've got some WMDs to sell you. I'll give you a great price, but you'll have to pick them up in Iraq yourself.

Re:Terrible reporting. A little perspective... (4, Insightful)

pugugly (152978) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322811)

Fundamentally the problem with your post(s), is that you are explaining that "It would never happen that way" in the face of two former NSA employees that are stating on the record that yeah, they were explicitly told to keep listening to Americans on phone calls completely outside purview that was explicitly promised by the administration.

So, maybe you're honest, maybe your not, maybe you do this for a living and you and your boss were doing it right.

But I am currently faced with believing two people I don't know who have only been vetted by ABC, or . . . believing an administration that has lied, threatened, and tried to be above the law on everything from weapons of mass destruction to failing to properly report a hunting accident.

I don't care if you believe the administration is honest, competent, or the exact opposite, but the fact is that I can't come up with a verifiably true statement in the history of the Bush Administration.

Only statements I have yet to see proven incorrect.

If the dice keep rolling snake eyes, perhaps it's *not* random chance.

Pug

Well... (5, Funny)

djcinsb (169909) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321169)

I'd comment, but the NSA is listening...

Re:Well... (2, Interesting)

gerf (532474) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321301)

There's a reason we have a "Declaration of War." To make things like this legal in a time of War.

Ironically, ole Bushie would have had his way a lot more if he'd gone through the correct channels initially.

Re:Well... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321937)


The whole "war" thing is bullshit. Just who is the US at war with? "Terrorists" is an impossible thing to gauge. WWII it was German and Japan. Easy enough, those countries surrender and you win the war. This "war" was declared on an intangible thing. It just opened the door for abuses such as the article cover. You can rest assured the "war" will never be won as it means returning your liberties.

Re:Well... (1)

gerf (532474) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322373)

My contention is that there is no war, unless declared. War is over after a peace treaty is signed, a country overtaken, or surrender accepted.

Well (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321175)

How can they tell all those Mohameds and Achmeds apart?

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25322283)

Achmed is the one who says, "Silence! I keel you!"

Wow (3, Insightful)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321181)

Who could have possibly seen this coming? I mean the government rampantly abusing powers it took in a time of national tragedy? I for one am totally shocked. Shocked i say.

Never! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321199)

They would never spy on us! /sarcasm

You can never be trusting of government. We have to keep it check.

Bbboogguss Alert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321217)

The N.S.A. intercepts EVERYTHING including domestic.

P.S.: John McCain pals around with radicals [rawstory.com].

Sincerely,
Kilgore Trout

ÐsÐÐÐÐ¾Ñ ÐÑÐÑfÑ

SatPhones? (4, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321229)

I've only read the first page of the article but it mentions that the people being eavesdropped were talking on satelite phones from the Middle East. I was under the impression that as soon as you broadcaste something you could no longer claim it was private. Isn't this why it's legal to sell police and cell phone scanners? Is this different for satelite phones or am I completely off base here?

Re:SatPhones? (3, Informative)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321273)

Isn't this why it's legal to sell police and cell phone scanners?

You'd better check those assumptions against your local, state, and federal laws before you post again.

cell phone scanners are not sold in the US (2, Informative)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321623)

They used to be, but now scanners sold in the US have the analog cellular freqs blocked, even though there is no more analog cell coverage anyway.

It's really lame, actually.

Re:SatPhones? (2, Informative)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321701)

okay then - your phones are private. your calls are being broadcast over phone lines. So why do warrants exist at all? Gee, maybe because you're wrong about this :)

Re:SatPhones? (1)

Mesa MIke (1193721) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321733)

Scanners that cover the cellphone bands aren't legal.
That legislation was bought by the cellphone carriers back in 1985 (when everything was still analog) because they wanted to tell their customers that using a mobile phone was just as private as using a landline phone.

Re:SatPhones? (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321967)

Uh, you obviously have no grasp on the "state of privacy" in the United States whatsoever. Your transmissions are protected under the 4th amendment, just like your snail mail. It's been that way ever since the supreme court case Katz v. United States [wikipedia.org] in 1967.

Re:SatPhones? (1)

raind (174356) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322761)

Is not your cell phone broadcasting? Does it matter if it's a radio (cell phone) or Sat phone?

This just in.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321233)

And in a related story, it was recently discovered that water is, indeed, wet.

Gee...the government doing what it darn well pleases under the cry of "national security". Whoda thunk it?

We Love our Soldiers (0, Flamebait)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321253)

"Despite pledges by President George W. Bush and American intelligence officials to the contrary, hundreds of US citizens overseas have been eavesdropped on as they called friends and family back home."

<spin>We love our soldiers and listen to everything they have to say.</spin>

All together now... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321263)

"If you have nothing to hide..."

You know the rest.

*ducks*

Re:All together now... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321611)

"If you have nothing to hide..."

... you are either lacking genitalia or a brain

greed/fear/ego, that's what drives them (-1, Flamebait)

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Should be tagged with.... (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321329)

...areyoureallysurprised or ...nosurprise or ...shocker (which is often used sarcasticly where I'm from) or something like that.

"No way," they said. (1, Troll)

magus_melchior (262681) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321427)

("they" being Bushies)

"There's no way they're spying on us, using 'terrorism' as an excuse!"

Then we found out that Cheney, Rice, Wolfowitz, Bush, McCain, Rove, and a whole host of Bush administration people lied about WMDs in Iraq, and the al Qaeda connection.

Lying, it seems, is a job requirement in the Bush administration.

Of course, most public offices require deception in some form, but do they really and regularly lie in such a blatant way?

It's the preview button, stupid (1)

magus_melchior (262681) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321457)

Upon reflection, McCain was probably a "me too!" man back then, when everyone still trusted Bush with a visceral paranoia.

Re:"No way," they said. (2, Informative)

dogmatixpsych (786818) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321657)

The Bush administration never lied about WMD or an al Qaeda connection in Iraq (please read my whole post and the two articles I link to before dismissing my comment. As a note: I don't think we ever should have invaded Iraq but we did and there's no changing that). I think it's pretty convenient for so many people to forget that all major intelligence agencies around the world (and all major, interested nations) said repeatedly that there were WMD in Iraq. No one seriously doubted this - not even the UN weapons inspectors. Here are a couple articles about the whole topic (one is from the Wall Street Journal, the other the LA Times):

http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110007540 [opinionjournal.com]

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-kirchick16-2008jun16,0,4808346.story [latimes.com]

As far as al qaeda connection goes, the WSJ article also mentions that:

"What of the related charge that it was still another 'lie' to suggest, as Mr. Bush and his people did, that a connection could be traced between Saddam Hussein and the al Qaeda terrorists who had attacked us on 9/11? This charge was also rejected by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Contrary to how its findings were summarized in the mainstream media, the committee's report explicitly concluded that al Qaeda did in fact have a cooperative, if informal, relationship with Iraqi agents working under Saddam. The report of the bipartisan 9/11 commission came to the same conclusion, as did a comparably independent British investigation conducted by Lord Butler, which pointed to 'meetings . . . between senior Iraqi representatives and senior al-Qaeda operatives.'"

Re:"No way," they said. (0)

esocid (946821) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322109)

I'm sorry, do we live in the same universe?

"Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons."
United Nations address, September 12, 2002
"Iraq has stockpiled biological and chemical weapons, and is rebuilding the facilities used to make more of those weapons."
"We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons -- the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have."
Radio address, October 5, 2002

"The Iraqi regime . . . possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons."
"We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas."
"We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We're concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVS for missions targeting the United States."
"The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his "nuclear mujahideen" -- his nuclear holy warriors. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons."
Cincinnati, Ohio speech, October 7, 2002

"Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent."
State of the Union Address, January 28, 2003

"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."
Address to the nation, March 17, 2003

Just because someone believes a lie to be true doesn't mean it still isn't a lie.

Re:"No way," they said. (3, Insightful)

dogmatixpsych (786818) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322315)

Let's look at it this way. Think of this like scientific research. 15 years ago everyone believed that you were born with all the brain cells you'd ever have. Now we know that that is not true. Those earlier researchers were not lying, they were going on the best knowledge they had at the time. It just tuned out to not be true.

It's not a lie if all the best intelligence from around the world said it was true. A lie means intentional deception. If Pres. Bush was lying then so were the leaders of Britain, France, the U.N., and many other countries. That also means that almost all of Congress were lying as well. It even means Pres. Clinton was lying back in the 90s. The question never was whether or not Hussein had WMDs, it was what should we do about it. That's where other countries (and some within the U.S.) and entities differed with Pres. Bush.

Besides, just because WMDs were never found does not mean Iraq did not have any (I'm not saying they did, I'm just saying that having a lack of evidence does not mean you can categorically say there were no WMDs).

Well no shit (3, Interesting)

n3tcat (664243) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321441)

That's why everytime we were talking on the damn AT&T phones and some dumbass gave a hint as to where he was or what he was doing, a huge fuckin red light went off and all the phones died.

They flat out told us we were being listened to. Just like they tell us everyday with little stickers on our phones on every military installation in the world that say that we're being watched, listened to, recorded, etc etc.

I'm not saying that it's not bullshit. Just saying this article's spun worse than a gyroscope.

Sounds bad but its probably worse (3, Interesting)

sdemjanenko (1296903) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321445)

Well i mean since we know about this there is probably more under the cover. Not to mention, think of all the NSA spying over our own communications that we do not know about and probably no one will whistleblow.

Re:Sounds bad but its probably worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321735)

Umm..It's their job to do that since the agency was started! Sheesh. The only real problem is that some of the immature employees were getting their kicks by sharing recordings with their buddies of calls that should have been dumped since they weren't relevant to national security.

Listened into hundreds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321521)

he and his fellow intercept operators listened into hundreds of Americans

Unless they were embedding microphones inside their bodies, just because two words can be joined together to form another word doesn't mean that it is correct to do so.

Whose error was this: Brian Ross, Vic Walter, or Anna Schecter?

And President Obama will do what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321527)

He'll sign the extension, after saying he won't.

Meh.

What should he have said? (2, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#25321723)

As many have brought up, it is nearly impossible to say exactly what is going on minutely in a huge operation. So what should Bush have said? "We have no way of knowing whether or not we are spying on individuals."

Isn't this sort of statement more or less a statement of non-condoning of an activity? The same as if Bill Gates or Steve Jobs said "We will not pirate software" but then some of their employees DO pirate software, and they don't know about it. So when we find out, are Gates or Jobs the ones in trouble for saying it? Because obviously, they should know about every single thing their employees are doing.

Oh, wait, sorry, I shouldn't compare governments to people's organizations, because governments can be made perfect, as long as we give them more control...

I'm conservative, Bush wasn't very conservative, and I disagree with a lot of what he has done, but it is interesting that it seems the upcoming election features an "agent of change" that is really no different or even worse with the whole deception thing than people easily think about the ENTIRE Bush administration... and yet Obama and possibly McCain both support larger and more controlling government than Bush did or at least said he did, so I don't understand. Many are so upset at Bush that they are doing a pendulum vote for someone that wants government to be involved in pretty much everything, including your commute to work and what car (or at least, what that car's technology can be) you drive. But of course, he won't spy on anyone. He won't HAVE to. [[[ -5 Troll for "Conservative Viewpoints" :) hehe ]]]

Conservatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25322525)

This is exactly why conservatives are better as a minority party than as a ruling party. They can't be held accountable for their own administration. The buck stops somewhere else. Think about what happened in the aftermath of the Abu Ghraib scandal. There was a lot of finger pointing, with no one at the top taking responsibility. Are we to believe that our military personnel are some of the most disciplined people in the world, and yet they are allowed to torture their prisoners for *weeks* without any commanding officers noticing?

You conservatives are great people, and I really mean that. I hope you'll keep an eye on the Democrats and make sure the checks and balances are in place. But until you learn to hold your leaders accountable, I desperately hope that you stay out of power.

Re:What should he have said? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25322719)

and yet Obama and possibly McCain both support larger and more controlling government than Bush did or at least said he did, so I don't understand.

All I have to say is "Department of Homeland Security"
You let me know what "larger and more controlling government" McCain & Obama are supporting.

fuck3r (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25321823)

posts. therefore standpoint, I don't

After the Election (1, Insightful)

Danathar (267989) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322487)

What WILL these people do once Obama is elected. I predict that all the reports of eavesdropping, etc will magically stop.

No privacy in war zone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25322657)

1) There was no misconception about military networks - they had signs saying they were monitored. It has always been military policy to monitor communications in military camps in a war zone - always. I highly doubt that anyone in the camps wasn't aware of this fact.

2) Since there is no way you could transcribe the volume of calls entering/leaving American bases, obviously the calls that were transcribed had one layer of filtering at least. Since they were transcribed anyway, it seems very likely they were trying to figure out better ways of filtering. Either that or working on some killer voice recognition software...

all GSM traffic in a "warzone"... (1)

johnjones (14274) | more than 5 years ago | (#25322803)

take a look at the encryption on GSM...

then take a look at the way the U.S. Navy fly over iraq etc...

privacy ? if they want to follow you they will

the best joke I heard was that emails from RIM devices where secure, people who claim that never have had any security clearance NSA keeps all the log's get over it

regards

John Jones
http://www.johnjones.me.uk [johnjones.me.uk]

(I was marked before)

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