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How a Team of Geeks Cracked the Spy Trade

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the connecting-the-dots dept.

Databases 187

drunken_boxer777 sends us to The Wall Street Journal for a lengthy article on a small tech company, Palantir Technologies, that is making the CIA, Pentagon, and FBI take notice. The submitter adds, "And yes, their company name is a reference to what you think it is." "One of the latest entrants into the government spy-services marketplace, Palantir Technologies has designed what many intelligence analysts say is the most effective tool to date to investigate terrorist networks. The software's main advance is a user-friendly search tool that can scan multiple data sources at once, something previous search tools couldn't do. That means an analyst who is following a tip about a planned terror attack, for example, can more quickly and easily unearth connections among suspects, money transfers, phone calls and previous attacks around the globe. ... With Palantir's software 'you can actually point to examples where it was pretty clear that lives were saved.'"

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Call me dense... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29312557)

But what is the reference?

Re:Call me dense... (5, Informative)

TypoNAM (695420) | more than 5 years ago | (#29312603)

This: Palentir [wikipedia.org]

Re:Call me dense... (5, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313025)

It's interesting in the context of this discussion that Tolkien's Palentir were more than just viewing devices. They could also be used to communicate with other stones, and I think for other purposes. Anyway, when one of the stones fell into evil hands, the Dark Lord was able to use his power over it to control anyone foolish enough to try and use one of the remaining stones.

There's a lesson here I think.

I need to fucking shit (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29313127)

Lunch was too much...

Re:Call me dense... (1)

Flea of Pain (1577213) | more than 5 years ago | (#29312867)

Even for an AC, that's pretty bad. I think you owe us all a nerd card.

Re:Call me dense... (0, Troll)

Kugrian (886993) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313407)

Hate to karma whore, but no one else seems to have bothered.

The palantir is a crystal ball from the LOTR universe. It allows the user to see virtually any part of the world.
Palantir Technologies have designed a user-friendly search tool that can scan multiple data sources at once.

Re:Call me dense... (0, Flamebait)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313631)

Good helpful post. I've read LOTR several times - but it's been years since the last time. I was scratching my head over Palantir.

Dinosaurs (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29312563)

amirite?

Seeing things. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29312565)

Sweet name for a company.

Name? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29312571)

> ..a small tech company, Palentir Technologies..

> ..Palantir Technologies has..

> The submitter adds, "And yes, their company name is a reference to what you think it is."

A spellcheck company?

Re:Name? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29312619)

They must have invented a way of transmitting video and audio instantly over great distances.

Re:Name? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29312851)

No; spelling-check

Palin? (0, Flamebait)

blitzkrieg3 (995849) | more than 5 years ago | (#29312601)

I'm guessing the reference is the beloved ex governor, but is it that really so obvious on first reading? Unless I missed it entirely...

It's not like as though the company was named "Rusty Trombones Inc." or something

Re:Palin? (4, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#29312735)

No, it's a Tolkien reference [wikipedia.org] . IOW, they really are geeks.

Re:Palin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29313059)

Isle of Wight?

They're also disingenuous astroturfers. (2, Interesting)

C10H14N2 (640033) | more than 5 years ago | (#29314133)

They've plastered the Pentagon with banners practically claiming they single-handedly brought down GhostNet [wikipedia.org] when they were at best on the periphery of the rather large collection of organizations responsible for it.

Re:Palin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29312857)

It's a Tolkien reference [justfuckinggoogleit.com] .

Re:Palin? (1)

alta (1263) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313105)

Please turn in your geek card.

You obviously didn't READ the books. I could see you missing it if you only saw the movies, since they almost never, if at all, called it by name.

Re:Palin? (-1, Flamebait)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313185)

I did read the books and got the reference. But how is a badly written child's fantasy world a requirement for a true geek? I'm getting sick of people telling me it's such a great work just because he is the father of fantasy. So bloody what? Doesn't make the books any less boring.

Credit where credit is due: He put a lot of work into creating a new world. Writing skills he lacked, though.

Re:Palin? (4, Insightful)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313275)

... a badly written child's fantasy world ....

Now now, Tolkien's Middle-earth was a badly-written ADULT'S fantasy world.

Re:Palin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29313399)

?? I last read it while in grade 6. That would make it child's fantasy world

badly written? (3, Insightful)

conspirator57 (1123519) | more than 5 years ago | (#29314039)

i'm guessing you thing Twilight and Harry Potter are works of genius?

i'm surprised more people haven't taken your flamebait.

Re:Palin? (2, Funny)

nacturation (646836) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313147)

It's not like as though the company was named "Rusty Trombones Inc." or something

That would be a Commander Riker reference?

Reference to LotR (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29312615)

It was the seeing stone that Sauron used in Lord of the Rings.

That is the tool the evil guy used to control the world. Sounds appropriate.

Re:Reference to LotR (4, Funny)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 5 years ago | (#29312893)

Thanks, my internet is down, I was unable to google that myself.

Re:Reference to LotR (1, Insightful)

primalamn (716272) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313159)

Thanks, my internet is down, I was unable to google that myself.

So how are you posting this?

Re:Reference to LotR (1)

mckinleyn (1288586) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313327)

*whoosh*

Re:Reference to LotR (5, Funny)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313885)

Thanks, my internet is down, I was unable to google that myself.

So how are you posting this?

Probably using the legendary Posting Stone of Minas Wooshgul

Re:Reference to LotR (3, Insightful)

hoytak (1148181) | more than 5 years ago | (#29314145)

Thanks, my bookshelf fell down, and I was unable to read it myself.

Re:Reference to LotR (1)

Randle_Revar (229304) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313041)

No, they were a gift from the Valar to the NÃmenÃreans to see other times and places.
Sauron just happened to get a hold of one of them, and used it as an avenue to warp Saruman and Denethor's minds. There is no evidence he used the PalantÃr for their intended purpose.

Re:Reference to LotR (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313117)

And, in other news in the "that's obvious" department, Slashdot still does not have proper Unicode support!

Re:Reference to LotR (2, Informative)

hooeezit (665120) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313089)

That's the FUD propaganda. The more balanced perspective is it's the seeing stone anyone could use to see their future. But it was put to evil purposes instead by Sauron.
Technology by itself is not good or evil. It's how one uses it that makes it so. Remember that the Internet came out of a doom-and-gloom project to create a nuclear-war resistant communication network.

Re:Reference to LotR (1)

conspirator57 (1123519) | more than 5 years ago | (#29314161)

cool, so we can all agree that anyone should be able to get automatic weapons? no? guess people are only willing to go so far down that road of "it's not the technology itself".

Dr. Emmett Brown: I'm sure that in 1985 plutonium is available in every corner drugstore, but in 1955 it's a little hard to come by. :p

Uhh... No. Wrong perspective... (5, Insightful)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313091)

Good guys used it too. To defeat Sauron AND to "keep the world safe".

In fact... Good guys made all 7 Palantir mentioned in LotR.
Sauron got his hands on one of those and used it to corrupt Saruman and Denethor.

So... No. It is not "the tool the evil guy used to control the world."
The message would be that "power corrupts". In this case - power in the form of knowledge or information.

What Palantir really lacked was a decent firewall. No protection whatsoever.
Very intuitive user interface though. And they were practically indestructible.

Re:Reference to LotR (3, Informative)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313149)

It was the seeing stone that Sauron used in Lord of the Rings.

That is the tool the evil guy used to control the world. Sounds appropriate.

The Palantir themselves were not evil, it was simply put to an evil purpose. The last surviving one was so corrupted by Sauron's influence it could never be used peacefully again but you can no more blame the Palantir for that than you could blame a wrench for becoming radioactive when left sitting next to a leaky reactor. Really, the only bit of truly evil magic in the entire book was the Ring itself and, seeing as it bore a measure of Sauron's own power, I think of it less as an object than as a character with a will and mind of its own.

There is no evil in science, technology, or magic; evil lies not in the tool but the hand that wields it.

Re:Reference to LotR (1)

alta (1263) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313181)

Mod -1, Unnecessary definition ;)

Re:Reference to LotR (1)

Alphanos (596595) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313557)

The larger role played by a Palantir was the one used by Saruman. He was chief among the wizards sent to oppose Sauron and the forces of evil, but the knowledge granted by the stone corrupted him such that he turned against his order and sought power for himself.

Even more appropriate.

Sounds like trojan spyware to me (3, Insightful)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 5 years ago | (#29312631)

With a name like Palentir, it sounds like trojan spy program, not a Google like search tool.

Great! (3, Funny)

Saija (1114681) | more than 5 years ago | (#29312635)

Palantir Technologies has designed what many intelligence analysts say is the most effective tool to date to investigate terrorist networks

What? a crystal ball to fight the terrorist:

A palantír (sometimes translated as Seeing Stone but actually meaning "Farsighted" or "One that Sees from Afar") is a stone that functions somewhat like a crystal ball. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Great! (4, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 5 years ago | (#29312655)

And creates a great risk of corruption among those who use it.

Re:Great! (3, Funny)

jeffasselin (566598) | more than 5 years ago | (#29312713)

Only if you use it to chat with Ozzie Ozbourne on MSN Messenger.

Technology to translate Ozzy would be huge leap (1)

leftie (667677) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313167)

The only person right now who can make anything out of anything Ozzy is muttering is Sharon. Technology that can translate Ozzybabble would be a huge leap forward.

Re:Great! (3, Funny)

Abreu (173023) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313163)

> I just met this guy in the Palantir, he was like, really cool, but shy

> But he wouldn't, like, send me his picture, only a flaming eye

> So I asked "ASL?"

> But he just said: "Build me an army worthy of Mordor"

> and I was like "WTF? KThxBye!"

Re:Great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29313827)

Hopefully it can be used to watch the watchers too. I don't trust them any more than the "terrorists".

Re:Great! (1)

SBrach (1073190) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313923)

You do know it isn't an actual cyrstal ball right???

Re:Great! (1)

tsalmark (1265778) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313151)

Just as accurate, and far less intrusive than anything the DHS has come up with.

Bad summary (5, Informative)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 5 years ago | (#29312653)

The summary seems to be a description of a meta-search engine, which is rather common. (Dogpile).

The actual product seems MUCH more interesting than the silly summary. It compartamentalizes secret info, so if you are classified for level 5, you can still search and find info that is level 6, even if the file also has level 4 information. It can also tag information so that if your level 5 clearance is not enough to tell you how person A is connected to person B, you can still know that the connection exists.

Re:Bad summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29312895)

Secret info isn't compartmentalized, only top secret info is....

This feature doesn't really make the app special at all. It's a common feature of pretty much any IT system that deals with classified info. Apps like this have been around since the 80s at least. Take a look at Northrop's Analyst Workshop app.

Re:Bad summary (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#29312899)

The tech sounds quite interesting; but I'm not sure I love the idea of having intelligence agents operate on a "Yes, person A is linked to person B. You aren't allowed to know why; but the omniscient computer assures you that it is so." basis.

Re:Bad summary (2, Funny)

sukotto (122876) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313323)

Trust the computer. The computer is your friend. (There is no ultraviolet classification)

Re:Bad summary (3, Insightful)

steelfood (895457) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313445)

It's all about need to know. If you knowing why is necessary to draw a conclusion, you'll eventually be granted this access.

Under the old system, you outright wouldn't even know that a connection exists, nevermind whether you need to know whether that connection is important or not.

Re:Bad summary (1)

pnuema (523776) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313809)

This is a tool for intelligence analysts. They just write reports and hand them off to people who do have the clearance. I'd be willing to bet good money that the people who make operational decisions are not the ones using this tool.

Re:Bad summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29314073)

I do not think the agent would be operating on just the connection as much as it would be that the case recognized and gets elevated to a higher level when needed. A level 5 classification can see the links and advance it to more important/qualifies/clearance people who can give enough information to allow action to happen.

Before, the link couldn't be shown and the total picture could look entirely less threatening and be skipped over. Now, because the link exists, the information can be reported or elevated to the right person who can consider it all in context. This allows investigation that might otherwise slip though the cracks but it would be by the people with all the information not the ones with only part of it.

Re:Bad summary (2, Insightful)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 5 years ago | (#29312935)

The summary seems to be a description of a meta-search engine, which is rather common. (Dogpile).

The actual product seems MUCH more interesting than the silly summary. It compartamentalizes secret info, so if you are classified for level 5, you can still search and find info that is level 6, even if the file also has level 4 information. It can also tag information so that if your level 5 clearance is not enough to tell you how person A is connected to person B, you can still know that the connection exists.

Yeah, but if you are classified for level 5 and look at level 6, which presumably is above your classification, then you are in fact looking at classified work even if it has level 4 work - which means the levels of classification are being broken and the security is compromised. And if person A is a 5 and looking at classification 6 which is connected to person B it in effect blows any security clearances out the door. Of course, person C who is a 4 looking at person B who is a ....I've gone cross-eyed, dizzy and I'm nauseous.

So CIA and FBI tech enters the 90's. huzzah! (1)

leftie (667677) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313035)

CIA and FBI computer systems are infamously way, way behind. They only got wikis in 2006. Now they can finally google something.

Re:Bad summary (1)

JLavezzo (161308) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313307)

I think you're describing PL4 security. That's not the trick here. When they say different sources, they mean different TYPES of sources, geospacial, dates, ip addresses, telephone logs, video metadata, random XML, SQL. Dogpile searches multiple sources of unstructured text.

Thanks, but then it brings up a new problem (1)

JohnnyComeLately (725958) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313735)

Fact A can be Secret
Fact B can be Top Secret and
Fact C can be confidential
Sometimes taking C and then correlating to something with A+B (with the B removed) will then result in TS (same as B). So, I'd think it's a touchy area. In the 90s a similar "classification by association," was commonly referred to as Elements of Essential Friendly Information (EEFIs), such as a recall roster and leave schedules. If the enemy has the recall roster and suddenly one particular part of a unit gets a 3-ring recall to report for duty, you've got a tip off and good information on what's likely to happen. For example, I knew when the 2nd Gulf War was going to start (within a small window) when I saw something I'd never seen before: A large number of stealth bombers out of their hangars, and taking off in Missouri. You'll notice we now keep some deployed overseas so there's not as easy of a single telling point. With intel, it's the same.

However, getting back to the article, I'm 100% supporting them. I'm a Defense Contractor and I'm tired of incompetent retired mid-/senior officers who get a paycheck for their former rank and do nothing to really make an acquisition program work. On the same note, you've got officers in Program Offices as a PM who will never be held accountable or benefit from his decisions. I could go on with examples, but I think this company has a hard battle ahead but likely brings a great, fresh, greatly needed new perspective. Our government is hurting badly in many areas, and this is a small step to help make a small part of it better. If we can just get more of these going...

The Palantir Tool is a Double-Edged Sword (5, Insightful)

reporter (666905) | more than 5 years ago | (#29312659)

When you aim the Palantir tool at terrorists, you can easily identify useful patterns in disparate data. These patterns reveal information about the names and the plans of the culprits.

What happens when you aim the same tool at ordinary people like Slashdotters? You will discover sexual orientation, adultery, etc.

In other words, the same tool saving us from the terrorists can also defeat the last barriers protecting our privacy. If an intelligence officer in the government hated a particular SlashDotter (due to her articles in this forum), that officer could easily identify her address, her friends, her bank accounts, her adulterous lover, etc. Can you say, "blackmail"?

Re:The Palantir Tool is a Double-Edged Sword (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29312695)

SlashDotter (due to her articles in this forum)

"Her" on slashdot? What do you mean?

Re:The Palantir Tool is a Double-Edged Sword (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29312883)

I think that he is, erroneously, suggesting that ''wimminz'' may sometimes appear on the ''intertubes"

Re:The Palantir Tool is a Double-Edged Sword (5, Funny)

Dancindan84 (1056246) | more than 5 years ago | (#29312939)

If an intelligence officer in the government hated a particular SlashDotter... her friends... her adulterous lover

A female SlashDotter with friends and a lover... it would take a top tier spy tool to find that unicorn.

Re:The Palantir Tool is a Double-Edged Sword (1)

Carbaholic (1327737) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313243)

How much does the tool cost and where can I find one?

Re:The Palantir Tool is a Double-Edged Sword (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313945)

You don't watch much late night television, do you? Act now, and for the special price of $19.95, not only will we send you the Palantir, but we will throw in your very own Special Agent Koworski and not one, but TWO spy decoder rings!!! Call now! That's 1-800-GUL-IBLE

Re:The Palantir Tool is a Double-Edged Sword (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29312963)

Its funny you mention that, I had the asFasBasI (remove the as) come to my house over a slashdot post I made. They were not happy about my criticism of their organization .

Re:The Palantir Tool is a Double-Edged Sword (4, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313541)

Our tax dollars at work. But seriously, I call bullshit. Don't be tryin' to scare people.

Myself and others have talked tons of trash about the U.S. intelligence agencies and leadership on Slashdot and in real-life. The American intelligence agencies would have to be hard-up for funding and job security if they're going to data-mine Slashdot and then go on fishing expeditions to try and find voices of dissent.

I noticed that none of the info in TFA involved plots within the U.S., just "western targets" overseas. Yawn, public plots to kill westerners in the Middle East are a dime a dozen. We see what a fat lot of good that's doing us, in fact our best solution there just to throw enough money at people to get them to turn snitch. All they really want is to feed their families. If you'll notice, that's also the tactic-du-jour stateside: throw money at snitches(many of them already caught and snitching for a break or lower sentence) and proxies just like the RIAA did with MediaSentry. In short, the American intelligence services are a clusterfuck of corporate bureaucracy and dangerous outsourcing and they should be disbanded and rebuilt from scratch. The CIA's resistance to the recent disclosure of their torture techniques on the grounds of "national security" and "harm to the intelligence community" are an insult to our intelligence.

Re:The Palantir Tool is a Double-Edged Sword (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313031)

... ordinary people like Slashdotters ...

Interesting sequence of words there. Wonder what it means.

Re:The Palantir Tool is a Double-Edged Sword (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29313103)

If they were real geeks, they wouldn't use their abilities to create privacy-invading tools.

Re:The Palantir Tool is a Double-Edged Sword (2, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313481)

No software cannot determine your sexual orientation, nor your hidden adultery. It does not read minds, or hearts. It does not magically know events from the past or the future.

Now, if you went online and posted about your homosexual adulterous relationship on a board that publicly reveals your IP address, then yes, a tool could indeed find it. In that case, who defeated the last barrier of your privacy? Did the tool? Or is it your own darned fault?

Re:The Palantir Tool is a Double-Edged Sword (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313707)

Which is why it's a good idea to use separate identities everywhere and keep them separate and distinct.

It's rather difficult and annoying as hell, but that's if you want to be safe. The paranoid will go as far as to access these separate identities from entirely separate systems. Certainly, their access patterns may be similar or the same, but that's only if they can make that connection.

The other thing to do is to change your speech patterns for each identity. The idea is to try to mimic the general speech pattern of the site, and try to insert as little of your own "raw" thoughts as possible. If you do an analysis of people's speech habits, it's only a matter of finding and using outliers to detect possible matches between users of different sites.

If you're only partially paranoid, the easiest way is to use TOR for speech and activities that might appear disruptive (politically charged, lawsuit bait, etc.) and use your normal connection to surf normally. Or go to sites that don't keep logs of IP addresses.

But like anything that falls under information security, it only takes one mistake, one hole, to compromise a locked-down system.

Re:The Palantir Tool is a Double-Edged Sword (3, Funny)

Alpha830RulZ (939527) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313947)

Adultery? You mean like using your other hand?

Name... (1)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 5 years ago | (#29312717)

Hayden Panettiere ?

Ok, well thats the first thing that came to my mind...

"Perhaps they should call it "One Ring"? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29312719)

Yes, and we know who gets to keep the chief Palantir don't we? It always depresses me how engineers can be so smart and so morally bankrupt at the same time.

    'What did you do a work today, honey?' 'Oh, I made a neat tool that makes invading privacy and abusing human rights even more trivial!'

Re:"Perhaps they should call it "One Ring"? (2, Interesting)

castironpigeon (1056188) | more than 5 years ago | (#29312957)

In case you forgot the term engineer originally applied to constructors of military engines. Engineers have a long and healthy tradition of being clever and morally bankrupt.

Re:"Perhaps they should call it "One Ring"? (1)

Punko (784684) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313183)

Thankfully, engineering was split into military and civilian engineering a loooong time ago. Software engineering is simply a recent offshoot from civilian engineering which has been split to the vast number of engineering disciplines we know today. As for being clever and morally bankrupt, engineers are clever. As for morally bankrupt, perhaps is not the tool that is morally bankrupt, but rather the uses it is put to. You cannot claim that the design of a passenger aircraft is morally bankrupt, and yet without that design, a lot of bad things would not have happened in they way they happened.

It is acceptable to say that some technological advances have no purpose or meaningful reason to exist other than morally bankrupt ones, but thankfully, they are few and far between.

Re:"Perhaps they should call it "One Ring"? (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 5 years ago | (#29314137)

"Thankfully, engineering was split into military and civilian engineering a loooong time ago."

You are high, right? Smoking something really strange? There is as much separation between military and civilian engineering as there is between military and civilian written languages. That is to say, there is precious little that can't be interchanged.

Trick question: In a group of people including a waitress, a secretary, a construction worker, a doctor, and a professional wrestler, who is likely to know the simplest, fastest, and easiest way to kill a human being?

They were messing with him (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 5 years ago | (#29312769)

"Hi, I'm Alex Karp," Mr. Karp said, offering his hand. No response. "I didn't know you really don't ask their names," he says now.

Real spies have fake names and ids. There's no reason not to give the guy a name, as long as everyone in the room isn't named "Bob".

Re:They were messing with him (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 5 years ago | (#29312943)

But that would run the risk of blowing that fake name's cover. Of course, he should have been able to just make something up on the spot..

Gee it's almost impressive..... (1)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 5 years ago | (#29312791)

There has been this notion that somehow if you can shove a bunch of data through algorithms that somehow you can catch terrorist networks.

More likely you're just wasting time and here's why: terrorists don't act or usually exhibit predictable and trackable behavior like normal people. Typically they deal with disposable cell phones, cash and other "untrackables".

These guys have managed to come up with Yet Another Terrorist Tracking Tool®

Re:Gee it's almost impressive..... (2, Interesting)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 5 years ago | (#29312913)

but as TFA points out, the people they're looking for often do things that should get them caught, like using the same address and phone number when buying the plane tickets in the case of the 9/11 hijackers. The basic idea is to find a better way to process the data they already have, and to give people the ability to process data that will help them, even when they don't necessarily have access to it (ie the use of data classified at a level higher than the searcher has access to).

The problem generally hasn't been (so far anyway) that the data wasn't there, it was just that no one had the time or ability to process the information in a useful manner to make these connections. Supposedly this tool does a much better job of it than previous tools, but even if it does, we probably won't hear much more about it either way.

Re:Gee it's almost impressive..... (2, Informative)

brainboyz (114458) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313013)

Except, despite all of this, they still exist in a trackable world. They live and have stuff delivered to addresses, they access information that leaves a data trail, and use identifiers which do the same. If they share anything, or a field observer notices a meeting then it gets tagged as a meeting and connection; then any activity at all is tracked back to a single node (bank account, address, person, phone number, etc) then you can link ALL connected nodes to that activity. Cash, disposables, and other "untrackables" still have temporary information: GPS on phone calls, messages intercepted with keywords or names, or phone numbers used for a material order. The info might not be permanently valid, but the connections it makes between nodes are.

Re:Gee it's almost impressive..... (1)

alta (1263) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313039)

If you can even USE the word 'Typically' about something, your are implying that they do something often enough to make it traceable. Then you further your anti-argument by giving examples such as disposable cell phones.

Very interesting. You must be a terrorist posting disinformation.

Or maybe I am for pointing it out ;)

Re:Gee it's almost impressive..... (1)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313415)

Your post is not only ill-informed, but totally illogical. Which is it, are terrorists unpredictable (which itself is a pattern) or do they exhibit certain typical behaviors?!

Never too late to read TFA, you know...

Re:Gee it's almost impressive..... (1)

whiteknight37 (1631277) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313841)

There has been this notion that somehow if you can shove a bunch of data through algorithms that somehow you can catch terrorist networks. More likely you're just wasting time and here's why: terrorists don't act or usually exhibit predictable and trackable behavior like normal people. Typically they deal with disposable cell phones, cash and other "untrackables".

Looks like someone didn't actually read the article...

Governmentsss spying on their own citizensss ... (4, Funny)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#29312811)

... we hatesss it, Preciousss, yesss we doesss.

A double edged sword (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 5 years ago | (#29312901)

After all, all the Seeing Stones are not yet accounted for. Who knows who might be watching?

Splunk! (1)

alta (1263) | more than 5 years ago | (#29312915)

Cool, so they just invented Splunk! Cool. Is it any cheaper than splunk, because if it is, I'll use it.

All we need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29312949)

.... treating the disease rather than preventing it....

STOP SCREWING WITH OTHER SOVEREIGN NATIONS.

There, saved the taxpayer a lot of money.

Re:All we need (1)

aquatone282 (905179) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313007)

You mean like Honduras [latimes.com] ?

This would be the first time... (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313381)

This would be the first time that the US would be acting in the interests of a democratic movement in Latin America rather than in direct opposition. I'm highly skeptical of any action taken by the State Department, but it seems that the Organization of American States support reinstatement of Zelaya with conditions before the elections, as well as the citizens of Honduras itself.

That's why there's no good press. Supporting democracy is protecting the monarchy in Saudi Arabia, and overthrowing governments across the world which have any self-interest that is in opposition to American power. Supporting democracy is declaring war in the outdoor prison in Gaza when they don't vote the way you want them to. Supporting democracy is when you send in guerrilla forces to Latin American countries, where nuns are gang raped for 24 hours while CIA interrogators coach their students on how to get more information, where priests who oppose American sponsored violence are gunned down while they give Mass on Sunday mornings, and where decades of warfare, destruction, and misery are considered progress.

American businesses don't get to make any money when they don't control puppet governments or subsidize weapons to the "freedom fighters" with our tax dollars. So, I remain skeptical on why the State Department wants this guy back in office, but the fact the Fox News is against it gives me some hope.

Re:All we need (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 5 years ago | (#29313391)

Exactly.

For those in the US who may have not heard about it, the Honduran conservatives the Army and Congress kidnapped the democratically-elect president and deported him to Costa Rica, taking over the goverment and repressing those who dissented.

Everybody, except the US, is calling it a military coup d'etat

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_Honduran_constitutional_crisis [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_reaction_to_the_2009_Honduran_military_coup [wikipedia.org]

Re:All we need (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 5 years ago | (#29314055)

Except that the president himself violated the constitution, an act that called for his removal from power (even though a means of removal from power was not defined in the constitution). He did this to remove term limits and instill himself as president for life, subverting democracy in the process. Did you know that the referendum he called for had ballots stuffed with winning number of vote? Even though the referendum was never actually voted on? How about that the nations democratically elected congress and legitimate supreme court were the ones to call on the military to remove Zelaya for his crimes? The issue here is that the Honduran constitution was self contradictory, calling for removal of a president without a formal impeachment process.

Re:All we need (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 5 years ago | (#29314183)

The president's opponents claim he intended to remove reelection limits, but there is no proof at all of this.

The fact that the Honduran constitution had no impeachment procedures is just another proof of the fact that it needed to be revised and rewritten!

Heard about this on NPR a while back (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29312971)

It sounded like a bunch of hype. The search engine is no different than what we can do with our search engine appliances - you can't see results to which you are not authorized. The only thing they bring further seemed to be tracking if you access data as part of a search and then mark it as not related. The idea was that it would keep feds out of your if they already decided you weren't involved.

TOTALLY NOVEL! (1)

belphegore (66832) | more than 5 years ago | (#29312981)

> The software's main advance is a user-friendly search tool that can scan multiple data sources at once, something previous search tools couldn't do

OMG! Did someone finally discover the hidden "UNION" conjunction in SQL?

Starlight! (1)

LanMan04 (790429) | more than 5 years ago | (#29312995)

This sounds similar to Starlight [wikipedia.org] , which the NSA uses for all kinds of "connect the dots" type intelligence activities.

Read between the lines (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29313169)

Palantir is a startup with Clarion (a hedge fund) VC backing. Clarion is now using their connections to showcase their holding via the WSJ. Sounds like Clarion is trying to dump their investment and cash out.

Palantir Software Cracked: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29313737)

Dear Fellow Spies:

Here is a list returned by Google Scholar for "galois lattice" and terrorism [google.com] .

I hope this helps the prosecution of Cheney et al.

Yours In Novosibirsk,
Kilgore Trout

ECHELON (1)

iron spartan (1192553) | more than 5 years ago | (#29314113)

So is this a civilian version of ECHELON? Or a tool to sort through all the data that ECHELON collects?

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