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Terrorists Convicted With Help of NSA E-mail Intercepts

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the apparently-they-listen-to-the-bad-guys-too dept.

Communications 153

A Schneier blog post notes that three would-be bombers were recently convicted in the UK thanks in large part to e-mail communication that was intercepted by the US National Security Agency. This was the second time the men had faced criminal charges; in the first trial, the prosecution was unable to make part of their case because they didn't yet have the e-mail evidence. "Although British prosecutors were eager to use the e-mails in their second trial against the three plotters, British courts prohibit the use of evidence obtained through interception. So last January, a US court issued warrants directly to Yahoo to hand over the same correspondence." The BBC posted a number of e-mails used as evidence in the trial. The communication is coded, and some of it looks like what you might find in your spam folder, but the article also provides the prosecution's explanation of what they mean.

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Woo woo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29367707)

NSA is intercepting this right now! Hi guys! :)

OMFG !! You ARE NEXT !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29367729)

And I am waiting for you !!Muuuwwwhhhahahahah !!

Re:OMFG !! You ARE NEXT !! (5, Insightful)

vivaoporto (1064484) | more than 4 years ago | (#29367935)

That's not really far from the truth. If you pay attention on what really happened, it was NSA (an American agency) monitoring British citizen communications and passing it to the British. It is not far fetched to assume that the British counterpart is also monitoring U.S. communication (on U.S. soil) and passing it to the law enforcement there.

Re:OMFG !! You ARE NEXT !! (4, Interesting)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368265)

Your - what? speculation? - is indeed on target. Long, long ago, I read articles on that very subject. US intelligence is banned from monitoring a lot of US communications, and likewise UK intel is banned from monitoring a lot of UK comms. The simple solution, long before 9/11/01 was to cooperate. Nothing bans the UK from monitoring US comms, so the UK does the job for the US, and passes along the info. That arrangement preceded all of the news about Echelon, Predator, and other "tech" stories about the capabilities of the intelligence communities.

No citations, I'm afraid. I just got out of bed and I'm to fuzzy headed to google for them.

Re:OMFG !! You ARE NEXT !! (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29369993)

You seek the UK-USA Security Agreement.

Exactly as you say:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UK-USA_Security_Agreement

Re:OMFG !! You ARE NEXT !! (4, Funny)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368395)

That's the rumour. According to the tinfoil hat brigade; Canada, Australia, the UK, and the US all monitor each other's traffic. That way, when asked, each country can honestly say,

"We do not, and have never, monitored the correspondence of any of our citizens without a warrant. We do occassionally intercept communications of foreigners."

For what it's worth, I've had the same sig since 1998. I joke that someone in the UK is employed full-time just to read my email. Sadly, nobody reads my email except for my sysadmin.

The emails remind me of an old Law and Order episode when they're listening in to a would-be hitman:

"You got the shirt?"

"Yeah."

"You got the bullets for the shirt?"

Re:OMFG !! You ARE NEXT !! (4, Informative)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#29372007)

That's the rumour. According to the tinfoil hat brigade

Rumour? Wha? The frickin' EU investigated this "rumour" [europa.eu] . Hell, right in Motion for a Resolution they flat out state:

whereas the existence of a global system for intercepting communications, operating by
means of cooperation proportionate to their capabilities among the USA, the UK, Canada,
Australia and New Zealand under the UKUSA Agreement, is no longer in doubt

Followed by:

whereas there can now be no doubt that the purpose of the system is to intercept, at the
very least, private and commercial communications, and not military communications,
although the analysis carried out in the report has revealed that the technical capabilities of
the system are probably not nearly as extensive as some sections of the media had
assumed

And then:

whereas, therefore, it is surprising, not to say worrying, that many senior Community
figures, including European Commissioners, who gave evidence to the Temporary
Committee claimed to be unaware of this phenomenon

ECHELON exists. How capable it is... well, you can read the report yourself. And it's primarily focused on satellite communication interception. But it definitely exists.

Re:OMFG !! You ARE NEXT !! (1)

AmigaMMC (1103025) | more than 4 years ago | (#29369413)

Or anybody else intercepting anybody else's emails.

(sarcasm mode=on) Yey! We live in a free world! (sarcasm mode=off)

Law? (5, Interesting)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#29367733)

I'm not a lawyer, and am especially not a British lawyer... but if intercepted communication is not legal, then isn't getting information from a warrant based on intercepted communication not legal? I mean if a cop illegally searches my house, finds pot, then uses that as a basis for a warrant, it would be thrown out.

The only complication is the arms length relationship between the two governments. But overall, I doubt the validity of this process.

Re:Law? (2, Interesting)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#29367895)

I'm not a lawyer, and am especially not a British lawyer... but if intercepted communication is not legal, then isn't getting information from a warrant based on intercepted communication not legal? I mean if a cop illegally searches my house, finds pot, then uses that as a basis for a warrant, it would be thrown out.

In keeping with your analogy, a cop illegally searches your house and finds weed, you go to court and the evidence is thrown out, but, having been arrested for smoking weed in public at the same time and now knowing you have weed in your house and coincidentally knowing you use facebook, the cops subpoena Facebook without using the found weed, just your having been arrested in public to get the warrant. Facebook sends them the stuff on your account which includes pictures of the weed in your house. The pictures are still valid, untainted evidence.

Re:Law? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#29367949)

You added the smoking in public, without that it would all be fruit of the poison tree.

Re:Law? (2, Informative)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368153)

You added the smoking in public, without that it would all be fruit of the poison tree.

You're misunderstanding the scenario I present. The smoking in public arrest has to be separate from the finding pot in the house happening. That is, in this case, the british police had these suspects under surveillance and were gathering their own intelligence that had nothing to do with the e-mail intercepts from the US intelligence. The british were briefing the US on what was going on (which they now sort of regret) but the arrests had sufficient cause based upon the surveillance and informant information, not the e-mail which it is not clear the british had access to during the investigation.

Re:Law? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29368331)

That is, in this case, the british police had these suspects under surveillance and were gathering their own intelligence that had nothing to do with the e-mail intercepts from the US intelligence. The british were briefing the US on what was going on (which they now sort of regret) but the arrests had sufficient cause based upon the surveillance and informant information, not the e-mail which it is not clear the british had access to during the investigation.

So you're saying that the illegal, unconstitutional, interception of our communication systems had nothing to do with this successful derailing of a terrorist attack.

I agree completely!

Oh yeah, that makes the title wrong also.

Re:Law? (3, Informative)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368557)

So you're saying that the illegal, unconstitutional, interception of our communication systems had nothing to do with this successful derailing of a terrorist attack.

That does seem to be the case. In fact, if anything the US intelligence community jeopardized the case as reported earlier this week. The brits briefed the US president and company on the issue and asked the US to hold off any action until they had the evidence to convict. Instead, it appears Cheney immediately dispatched an agent, without notifying the british, and that agent had Pakistani officials arrest the primary terrorist contact tipping off all the potential terrorists in the UK. As a result the UK had to round up everyone prematurely and without sufficient time to plan and could not wait for them to buy the plane tickets which would have been important evidence.

At least that is what the british police specialist in charge of the investigation told the Times. It basically destroyed all US credibility with the british police for some time and made them a lot less willing to share information with the US, lest the US muck up their operations without warning while lying about it.

Oh yeah, that makes the title wrong also.

Well sort of. The e-mail did help in the conviction, not derailing the attack, which is what the title says. Except, of course, that the e-mail actually was subpoenaed from Yahoo who had the records instead of using the NSA ones.

Re:Law? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29370433)

Oh yeah, that makes the title wrong also.

Well sort of. The e-mail did help in the conviction, not derailing the attack, which is what the title says. Except, of course, that the e-mail actually was subpoenaed from Yahoo who had the records instead of using the NSA ones.

I didn't mean the 'derailing' vs 'conviction' part. I'm referring to the 'Intercepts' part. If what you say is true, the intercepts had nothing to do with this case. The conviction evidence came from a warrant justified by UK surveillance . I've yet to see a legitimate case that the illegal eavesdropping contributed to exposing.

I don't understand why Slashdot is promoting this FUD.

Our liberty, our country, and what she use to represent is far more valuable then the need for this kind of behavior from our politicians.

Re:Law? (2, Informative)

tomtomtom (580791) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368489)

Great... except that AFAICR English law doesn't recognize the prohibition on fruit of the forbidden tree. The prohibition on intercept evidence is entirely separate, and (I think) aimed at preventing defence counsel from obtaining information which could either compromise intelligence sources or give away other related information.

Re:Law? (2, Funny)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368145)

In keeping with your analogy, a cop illegally searches your house and finds weed, you go to court and the evidence is thrown out, but, having been arrested for smoking weed in public at the same time and now knowing you have weed in your house and coincidentally knowing you use facebook, the cops subpoena Facebook without using the found weed, just your having been arrested in public to get the warrant. Facebook sends them the stuff on your account which includes pictures of the weed in your house. The pictures are still valid, untainted evidence.

In subpoena-ing facebook, have they gotten probable cause without relying on the illegal search to obtain that knowledge in the first place?

P.S. I don't have weed in my house, but I do have weeds on my lawn. Can the government come and confiscate them?

Re:Law? (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368337)

In subpoena-ing facebook, have they gotten probable cause without relying on the illegal search to obtain that knowledge in the first place?

I wrote, " the cops subpoena Facebook without using the found weed, just your having been arrested in public to get the warrant". So yes, they have to have probable cause without the search or the judge won't let them subpeona FaceBook.

Similarly, the cops in britain had enough evidence to arrest and get a subpoena for the e-mail records from Yahoo without having the e-mail records from the US intercepts.

P.S. I don't have weed in my house, but I do have weeds on my lawn. Can the government come and confiscate them?

Maybe, but be sure they'll charge you a fine. You go away for a week and come home to find the city has "helpfully" mowed your lawn and sent you a bill for $200. And yet they do nothing about the dozens of properties with foot tall weeds in the from yard owned by banks and real estate agencies. Grumble grumble. Get off my lawn!

Re:Law? (3, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368547)

Maybe, but be sure they'll charge you a fine. You go away for a week and come home to find the city has "helpfully" mowed your lawn and sent you a bill for $200. And yet they do nothing about the dozens of properties with foot tall weeds in the from yard owned by banks and real estate agencies. Grumble grumble. Get off my lawn!

Happened with my parents once in the 1980s with a rental property that was recently vacated. They went for a trip, and found a mowing bill coming back home - a single mowing being $500-600 (forget exact amount but up there, especially back then). Later, after they sold the place, they found out that a local councilman was the brother-in-law to the guy who owned the mowing company.

Nice, "free" country we have sometimes.

Re:Law? (1)

DM9290 (797337) | more than 4 years ago | (#29369387)

In subpoena-ing facebook, have they gotten probable cause without relying on the illegal search to obtain that knowledge in the first place?

I wrote, " the cops subpoena Facebook without using the found weed, just your having been arrested in public to get the warrant". So yes, they have to have probable cause without the search or the judge won't let them subpeona FaceBook.

can you explain the probable cause to me? I don't see logic:

1. Person A was found in possession of weed in public.

2. Person A uses facebook.

conclusion: Person A posted photographs of himself with weed on facebook. (The very same weed he is accused of possessing in public.)

That is what we call a logical leap. It's utterly non-sequitur.

Its like the chewbacca theory of obtaining a search warrant.

Re:Law? (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#29370199)

..can you explain the probable cause to me? I don't see logic:

Actually a lot of courts will grant a subpoena for something that simple, but that doesn't really matter because that was an example used for purposes of analogy. How about we change it to, you're found selling marijuana laced with cocaine to kids at an elementary school and teaching online classes on how to steal money from a parent's pocketbook which you advertise via a Facebook link. Substitute whatever you want since it's a completely hypothetical situation used to explain a concept.

Re:Law? (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368351)

"P.S. I don't have weed in my house, but I do have weeds on my lawn. Can the government come and confiscate them?"

Funny, on more levels than one. And, if I have to explain it, you won't get the joke, so I won't bother.

Re:Law? (1)

Ibiwan (763664) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368457)

"Funny, on more levels than one. And, if I have to explain it, you won't get the joke, so I won't bother."

Oh man, I am SO using that every time I make a pun. Or emphasize a word as if I'd just made a pun, even if I did no such thing.

Re:Law? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29369701)

I don't get it. Explain it to me, I'll get the joke.

Re:Law? (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368527)

Isn't grass considered a weed?

Re:Law? (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 4 years ago | (#29371769)

Bullshit the pictures are valid, only if the cops take the photos of the weed in your house is it valid evidence. Plus the cops would also need the evidence they photographed.

Re:Law? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29368001)

[quote]I mean if a cop illegally searches my house, finds pot, then uses that as a basis for a warrant, it would be thrown out[/quote] That used to be the way it work, but recent (horrible IMHO) decisions by the supreme court have basically rendered this prohibition against illegally obtained evidence null and void

Re:Law? (2, Informative)

trancemission (823050) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368483)

The UK courts do not allow [as a precedent] intelligence gathered through interception mainly because the security services do not want their sources/methods exposed. I am not sure it is 'illegal':

"Currently, use of intercept evidence is only allowed if it is necessary to obtain information which could not be acquired in another way, and any interception must be proportionate to what it seeks to achieve. Where it is used, appropriate protections are in place - such as closed proceedings - to safeguard national security."

"The interception of communications commissioner, a senior judge, oversees decisions on the use such evidence. An investigatory powers tribunal considers complaints from the public, and has powers to order "appropriate remedies"

In this case the US security services went to a US court to get Yahoo to give copies of the email. They did this and the emails were passed to the UK security services as evidence. In this instance the UK court/security services I assume saw this evidence as something which would not expose any sources/methods.

The key here again is using 'terrorism' to change our law and they way in which we conduct justice in this country.

People are trying to erode our justice system and the current lot are running out of time

This should not raise a debate about whether intercept evidence is admissible because it already is. This whole 'debate' is aimed to encourage the use of interception and to make it easier to convict people.

Convicting people shouldn't be easy. Sorry it shouldn't - you need evidence. Hard evidence. Intercept evidence is usually only hearsay evidence [even if it is me saying I did something] - this may help a conviction along with other 'real' evidence which has already been made admissible and proven in court. On its own it is worthless. With enough 'real' evidence I cannot see how intercept evidence needs to be used.

We are now thinking about locking up a 16 and 18 year for plotting to create a massacre at their school [though crime]. Oh they even had files on guns and bombs. This is like locking me up when I was younger for having a copy of they Jolly Roger cookbook and saying I hate school. The least we should be doing is probably trying to help this kids...

Re:Law? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368541)

It seems you forgot the concept of independant countries, with different laws...

PS. The really scary part (of the summary, why would I read TFA? ;p ) is the potential for creative interpretation of literary works as a basis for prosecution...

Re:Law? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29368585)

I mean if a cop illegally searches my house, finds pot, then uses that as a basis for a warrant, it would be thrown out.

A better analogy might be if an undercover cop visits your house and sees pot, then the police use that information as a basis for a warrant.

Re:Law? (1)

The Moof (859402) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368653)

I'm also not a lawyer, but I believe that the evidence is admissible in court as long as law enforcement didn't collect it illegally (at least under US law). IE, a burglar breaks into a house, finds child porn, and turns that evidence over to the police.

Why yes, that example was stolen from an episode of Law and Order...

Re:Law? (1)

DM9290 (797337) | more than 4 years ago | (#29371379)

That example is not exactly analogous because the burglar has no pre-existing evidence sharing relationship with the state.

This is more like the cops entering into an agreement with a burglar in advance, that if he was to find any evidence while committing his burglary that he would turn it over in exchange for immunity and then the burglar does so.

Re:Law? (1)

rpillala (583965) | more than 4 years ago | (#29369557)

This is why the validity of the process is being written off in (the US at least) in favor of military commissions, the state secrets privilege, and preventative detention. That last one is for just the situation you describe. The government doesn't have enough legally obtained evidence to convict someone in an actual court, but they do know (somehow) that the person is going to commit crimes in the future. So, beat the rush; throw them in jail now.

Re:Law? (4, Interesting)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 4 years ago | (#29369877)

I think the distinction here is that they separately obtained the warrant (after trying to infiltrate the group the UK set up their own surveillance of these guys). If I send you an e-mail saying 'blow this up at ..." and the NSA intercepts it, that's surveillance and inadmissible, if at the same time, or some point later, a court in Canada (where I am) or the US (where you presumably are) calls up yahoo with a warrant for said e-mail because they figure I might be sending such things that's fine. That it was intercepted in addition to being obtained via warrant shouldn't affect the validity of the warrant. And no, IANAL either.

From the sounds of it, what did these guys in is that they started with an islamic charity organization that was trying to help people in afghanistan - and as time went on became progressively more radical, and disillusioned with what they saw via the charity. The charity might well have been trying to do unbiased good, but seeing what the US and UK were up to in Afghanistan and especially by 2003 with Iraq took them from trying to help with aid to trying to help by killing the perceived source of the problems. I don't want to sound to sympathetic to a bunch of homicidal lunatics (and on every level fail to see the utility in blowing up civilian aircraft), but at some point sending food and clothing isn't going to help if their lack of food and clothing is because someone is stealing it (see somalia) - you need to go after the people doing the stealing (see somalia).

I honestly believe ISAF is trying, arguably doing a terrible job of it mind you, to help the afghans stand up on their own. That case is much like Somalia, too many warlords or 'Governors' who are basically looting any help we chose to provide, and because they're looting it, we're reluctant to supply it, because we're reluctant to supply it NGO's(charities) try and fill the gap - and in turn supply the warlords with loot to fuel their looting. All the while the population who needs help is getting none of it, and are pissed at us for bombing their country into the stone age so even if they wanted to try, they have no bootstraps to lift themselves up with.

Iraq is all around inherently much muddier. I freely admit my bias that I see the war in Iraq is illegal, unnecessary, and thinly veiled recolonization. You can't on one hand say that, and then get all high and mighty against people who want to do something against the people our governments effectively installed for not helping their own people. The current government in Iraq has been very crafty about asserting their independence (Iraq May Hold Vote on Early US Withdrawal - http://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/168-general/48081-iraq-may-hold-vote-on-early-us-withdrawal.html) , credit where credit is due, but it has taken a long time to get there, and the situation on the ground there can hardly be considered good. More like less bad. In 2006 we were looking at a much bleaker outlook. It's not an easy problem - especially for frustrated youth. Sending money/stuff doesn't help, speaking out and protesting back home doesn't/didn't help. So what's the strategic play? The 'green revolution' Mousavi supporters in Iran, the pro democracy guys in Burma, the religious right in the US, the separatist movements all over seem to regularly grapple with this issue. If you are utterly convinced of the rightness of your position, but have no power what do you do about it? In Iran they're basically screwed. Protests haven't worked, so you're left with armed insurrection, or give up. Burma - they've all but given up. The religious right in the US transformed itself into a political movement and moved their votes to a political party in exchange for influence - but now that they've lost the influence they protest a lot - but what if the protesting doesn't work, and god forbid you get national healthcare, gun control, gay marriage and god back out of the pledge of allegiance? Independence movements, everywhere, grapple with trying to find a place in the political processes, while at the same time some people have long since given up on that and resort to bombings, kidnappings etc. (IRA, ETA, Quebec separatists and so on). All of that of course assumed that the goal is not merely perpetually more power - Al Qaeda's reborn islamic caliphate is simply not an achievable or acceptable goal, but not necessarily one their supporters of today care about all that much - but I could be wrong. These guys in the UK seemed to have no useful strategic position and certainly no connection between what they were doing and getting any obviously connected goal achieved. If your objective is 'all airline travel must stop' then I guess randomly blowing up planes would sort of make sense. If your goal is "all US and UK troops out of Iraq and (maybe) afghanistan" this doesn't really seem a productive step. I'm not sure what is a productive step - especially in the UK where there there are 3 main parties, and the two which have been in power for the last 90 years both went along with the war. Not to shit on the liberal dems too much (or the NDP who are their 3rd party counterpart in canada) but supporting them is unlikely to accomplish anything in the short term unless they form a coalition - something the liberal dems haven't been in a position to do in my memory. At least in the US the democrats came out sort of against the war - eventually - (right or wrong they provided choice to the electorate) but haven't delivered. Their saving grace will probably be the aforementioned assertion of iraqi independence more than their own competence. Which would be equally disillusioning but now 6 years in one can see the light at the end of the tunnel so there's far less motivation for new radicalization about Iraq. I think if Barrack Obama's plan was to put 400k troops into Iraq without any sort of end date you'd have seen a shift in the US towards first mass protests - like Vietnam and then more radicalization against the establishment. These guys seemed to have started with 'protesting doesn't work' - skipped the religious right's nonsense screaming, and then jumped off the deep end into trying to lash out at anything they can like a 2 year old with TNT.

Re:Law? (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 4 years ago | (#29369937)

gah missed a sentence in a last minute edit: "From the sounds of it, what did these guys in is that they started with an islamic charity organization that was trying to help people in afghanistan - and as time went on became progressively more radical, and disillusioned with what they saw via the charity" - and the UK police realized this could happen, were on the lookout for it, and started spying on people, with warrants, very quickly. Credit to them for anticipating the problem.

Re:Law? (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 4 years ago | (#29370155)

Uhhh, no. These people are terrorists. If the government intercepts their plans for unleashing terroristic terror, then I think it's a fair conclusion that those intercepted plans are valid reason to grant a warrant to search for the plans. I mean if you know they're planning, then why shouldn't you be able prove it?!!?

I mean, how else would you know they were planning anything? You can't just walk up and ask them. They'd lie about it!! And now because of all those whiny liberals, you can't even so much pour water over their head while holding a towel over their mouth to make them stop lying. It's insane. Sooner or later, somebody is going to argue that these guys should have the same rights as the rest of us. I mean, God, they're terrorists people!

Who care about nonsense like human rights when freedom is on the line!?

Re:Law? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29370435)

Ugh, that was convincing enough for the first paragraph and a half that I nearly defriended you...

Re:Law? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29370333)

It's in the name of terror prevention. They're allowed to use that excuse to justify anything, including torture, so i hardly think a few intercepted e-mails is gonna make them bat an eyelid.

Re:Law? (1)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 4 years ago | (#29371771)

I'm not a lawyer, and am especially not a British lawyer... but if intercepted communication is not legal, then isn't getting information from a warrant based on intercepted communication not legal? I mean if a cop illegally searches my house, finds pot, then uses that as a basis for a warrant, it would be thrown out.

There is nothing in the US Constitution that requires the NSA not to spy on Brits. Similarly, there's nothing that requires MI6 not to spy on Americans. It would be quite an infringement on either nation's sovereignty to assert such restrictions on their ability to spy on foreigners.

As to your hypothetical, if a US cop breaks into your house in Mexico and hauls you out by force, you have no claim against him as far as US law, since the fourth amendment does not apply in Mexico http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Verdugo-Urquidez [wikipedia.org] . Same with the NSA wiretaps -- they can only wiretap without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe that either end of the conversation is outside the US or not a citizen -- otherwise it's a trip to the FISA court.

Re:Law? (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#29371829)

I think you miss the point:

Nowhere do I say the NSA cannot spy on someone. What I am saying is that if "intercepted" communication is inadmissible, then it follows that normal admissible information that was retrieved because of this intercepted communication should be thrown out as well.

I preface this with the fact that I am not a lawyer. Logic does not always apply to the law.

Someone set us up the viagra (4, Funny)

i_ate_god (899684) | more than 4 years ago | (#29367753)

10% off (10 days left) all pharmaceutical products (bombs), including viagra (dirty bomb) to help make your lover scream with pleasure (explode).

10 days left till dirty bombs explode! EVERYBODY PANIC

Re:Someone set us up the viagra (1)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368449)

10% off (10 days left) all pharmaceutical products (bombs), including viagra (dirty bomb) to help make your lover scream with pleasure (explode).

10 days left till dirty bombs explode! EVERYBODY PANIC

It's even worse than that. I heard them talking about it on that newest hotspot for terrorists, World of Warcraft. This guy codenamed "Leeroy" is gonna charge in out of nowhere and cause carnage!

Nice story bro. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29367777)

Maybe next time they will know to use http://www.gnupg.org/ [gnupg.org]

Re:Nice story bro. (2, Interesting)

ajs (35943) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368215)

Maybe next time they will know to use http://www.gnupg.org/ [gnupg.org]

Which is fairly dangerous in the UK, since it's a crime to not reveal your encryption keys when presented with a warrant. Should you lose your keys you can go to jail for innocently saying that you can't decrypt the message!

Re:Nice story bro. (2, Insightful)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368327)

It's only dangerous if what you're encrypting is less damning than refusing to give up your encryption keys.

The penalty for refusing to surrender your encryption keys is almost certainly less than the penalty for attempted or conspiracy to commit terrorism.

Re:Nice story bro. (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368549)

Contempt of Court, you sit your ass in jail until you turn it over

Not indefinite detention (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29369567)

Actually, no. The penalty is up to 2 years' imprisonment or 5 years if the original charge (for which the police demanded the key in the first place) is terrorism-related.

So basically, if the case hinges on the evidence hidden behind the encryption, then withholding the key is almost certainly going to be preferable.

Re:Nice story bro. (1)

Entropius (188861) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368535)

Seems like steganography in images posted to Flickr would be a lot safer. (And, yes, there are ways to work around jpeg compression being applied to the images by a third party, if you know the quantization matrix in advance.)

Re:Nice story bro. (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368865)

Wow, the US and UK seem to be in a contest of "who can become a police state first". Looks like you guys in the UK are winning.

Withheld (2, Funny)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368007)

The reports i saw gave the impression that the US simply refused to let the prostitution use the evidence the first time (but the evidence had already been collected).

Re:Withheld (1)

Njoyda Sauce (211180) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368103)

The reports i saw gave the impression that the US simply refused to let the prostitution use the evidence the first time (but the evidence had already been collected).

Wow, I'd think they'd want the prostitution more involved!

Re:Withheld (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368817)

The reports i saw gave the impression that the US simply refused to let the prostitution use the evidence the first time (but the evidence had already been collected).

Wow, I'd think they'd want the prostitution more involved!

What, that the UK was pimping out their internal datamining operation to the US?

Re:Withheld (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29368113)

Um... not to be a vocabulary nazi or anything, but I think you may have meant prosecution...

Re:Withheld (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368707)

I don't know if thats an accurate correction, there doesn't seem to be much of a difference between prosecutor and whore in a lot of places.

Re:Withheld (5, Funny)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368801)

"I don't know if thats an accurate correction, there doesn't seem to be much of a difference between prosecutor and whore in a lot of places."

Of course there is - even a whore doesn't want to fuck everybody.

don't you mean prosecution? (1)

LuckySweetheart (1515653) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368119)

The reports i saw gave the impression that the US simply refused to let the prostitution use the evidence the first time (but the evidence had already been collected).

that must have been a fun trail to take part in. . . . .

Re:don't you mean prosecution? (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368163)

that must have been a fun trail to take part in. . . . .

Trying to determine if "trail" was meant as a joke, or if this is the height of irony.

Re:don't you mean prosecution? (1)

LuckySweetheart (1515653) | more than 4 years ago | (#29369999)

it's the height of irony.

Re:Withheld (0, Offtopic)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368291)

The reports i saw gave the impression that the US simply refused to let the prostitution use the evidence the first time

I don't know if that typo was deliberate or not, but I loved it!

It actually worked!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29368029)

NSA Worker: Hey everybody, I found one! The government actually found someone we`re looking for! YEAH, BABY, YEAH!

Re:It actually worked!! (3, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368313)

Now all the need to do is make the most gigantic media spectacle they possibly can, including releasing evidence to the general public, so that we can all think to ourselves "Gee, I'm glad we gave up all those civil liberties and allowed the expansion of government power."

If terrorists are so common, how come this one is so special that they're actually releasing evidence? Oh, and if they *can* release evidence in cases like this, how come they seal the evidence in all those trials where the accused appears to have a good defense?

Hooray for governments knowing how to string the population along like trained rats.

So, the way I read this is ... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368039)

... you still need that warrant. And to get a warrant, you still need legitimate probable cause. So much for all those warrantless wiretaps.

Re:So, the way I read this is ... (4, Insightful)

locallyunscene (1000523) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368209)

While I agree they needed the warrant in the first place, proponents would argue that they wouldn't have known about these guys without the program. Given that these guys were arrested in the U.K. I don't know if the N.S.A. tipped off U.K. authorities, or if the program was entirely useless in this scenario. Regardless, the real question is was this worth the liberties lost?

Re:So, the way I read this is ... (2, Insightful)

huckamania (533052) | more than 4 years ago | (#29369535)

I'm not familiar with the US law that says the NSA can't spy on communications between Pakistan and the UK. Please cite the applicable law if you are going to declare the wiretaps illegal. Perhaps there is a UK law that applies. I tried typing 'or a Pakistani law' at the end of the last sentence but started laughing before hitting the 'r' key. The Pakistanis apparently had no trouble using the NSA.

The NSA charter is to examine enemy communications. This has nothing to do with domestic wiretapping and you should not be shocked by this story. Move along, nothing to see here.

Re:So, the way I read this is ... (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29370507)

The issue is whether the use by British authorities of warrantless wiretaps of their own citizens was improper, even if it wasn't illegal for the NSA to warrantlessly wiretap UK citizens. If a government may not spy on its own citizens with a warrant, can it really get around that restriction just by having someone else do the spying for them?

Re:So, the way I read this is ... (1)

lfaraone (1463473) | more than 4 years ago | (#29370977)

While I agree they needed the warrant in the first place, proponents would argue that they wouldn't have known about these guys without the program. Given that these guys were arrested in the U.K. I don't know if the N.S.A. tipped off U.K. authorities, or if the program was entirely useless in this scenario. Regardless, the real question is was this worth the liberties lost?

What liberties lost? There aren't any laws protecting the transmission of Email, AFAICT. The analogy I use when explaining email to other people is that of a postcard; anybody who handles it (relay servers, ISPs, etc) can read it, but they *probably* won't. It's not like sealed postal mail, which I believe has some legal status. If you want any security in your electronic communications, use strong crypto.

Re:So, the way I read this is ... (2, Informative)

tomtomtom (580791) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368693)

I suspect that they had adequate probable cause in that these guys had already been convicted last year of conspiracy to murder [telegraph.co.uk] . If you ask me, this trial was a huge waste of public money to prove that these people really were terrorists (well, duh... conspiracy to murder isn't terrorism? WTF?).

What's worse, it seems to have been only thinly reported that another 3 people they were trying to convict (who were acquitted on a hung jury last year) were actually acquitted again. This should be seen as a scandalous waste of resources which could have been spent bringing other cases to trial earlier in my opinion.

Re:So, the way I read this is ... (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368903)

... you still need that warrant. And to get a warrant, you still need legitimate probable cause. So much for all those warrantless wiretaps.

Only if investigating US citizens. The guys NSA fingered were in the UK and weren't US citizens. According to NSA's mandate, that made it a case of 'just doin their job'.

What gets me is, TFA is a bit thin on details. According to it, the three had already been convicted of conspiracy to commit murder. No mention of any appeal, which is odd, for they were hauled back into court to face more charges about using soda bottles to carry liquid explosives, which the intercepted emails helped convict them of. I'm not up on the ins & outs of UK law, but here in the US, that'd be double jeopardy, wouldn't it?

Legal Methods Work (5, Insightful)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368143)

This is being held up by some as proof that warrant less wiretapping is important and works. That, of course, ignores the fact that all of the surveillance done in this case happened legally through FISA court requests.

Re:Legal Methods Work (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368405)

Well, it's so much less controversial to say that warranted wiretapping is important and works.

It's even less interesting if you read the articles and see how much surveillance was conducted in addition to the intercepted e-mails.

Re:Legal Methods Work (3, Informative)

gambino21 (809810) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368455)

You are right, and Glenn Greenwald has an excellent blog entry [salon.com] explaining this in more detail. This probably wouldn't be news at all if not for the attempt to use it to justify warrentless wire tapping. If not for the controversy around that and terrorism in general, the article could be titled "criminals convicted with help of legally obtained evidence". You can see how it loses it's effect.

Re:Legal Methods Work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29368517)

This is because, folks know how important to follow the law (FISA) in capturing evidence in important cases.
In all other cases (Read: Not Important), it still makes sense (and saves lives) to do warrentless wiretaping, they say. Go Figure :-)

Re:Legal Methods Work (1)

rpillala (583965) | more than 4 years ago | (#29369643)

And the trials took place in the normal British criminal justice system, without torture. This is also mentioned in the Greenwald piece that another poster has linked.

Weren't these the guys (3, Insightful)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368147)

Weren't these guys that were trying to blow up the planes with explosives that professional chemists with a chemlab available consider a tricky thing to make?

Aside from the FEAR! FEAR! FEAR! value, perhaps the associated agencies shouldn't have tipped their hand over very incompetent "terrorists" and held out for a group that was an actual threat.

Re:Weren't these the guys (4, Insightful)

julian67 (1022593) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368579)

Yes. And other things they lacked were passports (several of the convicted men), plane tickets and a bomb. That's to say they were capable of entering an airport but had no chance of even checking in luggage, let alone enetering the departure area or boarding a plane. Their claim was that they intended to create small explosions in airports as a political act or protest. That claim seems more inline with the evidence to me, but I didn't look into it in any detail. I expect that if they had not been Muslims they might have got charged with lesser offences, and probably only faced one trial, not two. We have a new justice system. If, after being held without charge for en extended period, then charged with offences whose details are not revealed to you, with testimony for the prosecution made anonymously, with evidence available to the prosecution that is witheld from the defence, with some sessions of the court held in secret.....if after all that a jury fails to convict you...well the government starts over and has another shot. This is an example of our high state of civilisation and fearless honesty, one of the reasons we are able to assume the moral high ground and subvert, sanction and attack other sovereign nations who pose no threat to us (unless disparaging words are considered a threat). It has nothing to do with oil, or with dividing potential opposition to other policies and accommodations made with other countries in the region. That would be a ridiculous thing to assert.

Re:Weren't these the guys (1)

mujadaddy (1238164) | more than 4 years ago | (#29369473)

+1 Eloquent

Re:Weren't these the guys (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368877)

Tipped what hand? That they can intercept e-mails? Presumably competent terrorists would know of intelligence capabilities that are the subject of significant news and controversy.

If you're referring to the particular source, you'll notice that they did just that -- refused to allow the obtained e-mails to be used as evidence until the person whose e-mail they were reading died.

Re:Weren't these the guys (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 4 years ago | (#29369111)

The article I read [nytimes.com] says they were planning on using hydrogen peroxide as the explosive. I didn't trust my memory of chemistry so I looked it up [wikipedia.org] . Seems to me that H2O2 is an oxidizer, not a rocket fuel (unless you spray a catalyst with it to get steam & O2). Also seems to me that this wouldn't work so well.

Re:Weren't these the guys (1)

FiloEleven (602040) | more than 4 years ago | (#29370739)

The article I read [nytimes.com] says they were planning on using hydrogen peroxide as the explosive.

WTF? Were they going to plant a paper-mache volcano in the passenger cabin?

I Don't Get It (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368197)

The way TFS is written, either this is about how the NSA is still being bad by snooping on our shit, or how the snooping is making me safer.

The REAL story is that the US is snooping around for the UK, and the UK is snooping around for the US. It's less illegal (in terms of consequences, a politician having their name attached to it, etc.) to have a foreign government spy on the people than it is to do it yourself, I guess.

Wonderful! (2, Insightful)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368285)

So the ends do justify the means!

liberal alert! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29368537)

brian0918, you have been accused of being a liberal. You can choose to defend yourself, in which case you should respond to this note and explain why Americans should expect to be killed just because you want to protect the rights of terrorists. Or if you choose to accept this verdict, you should report yourself to your local branch of the Republican party for re-education.

Thank you and have a nice day.

Re:liberal alert! (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 4 years ago | (#29369059)

Hmm.. actually I would consider myself the exact opposite of a liberal. Close, but no cigar.

*** liberal alert cancelled *** (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29370531)

I would consider myself the exact opposite of a liberal.

Great news! I'm glad to see the re-education process is working quickly and effectively. Soon we will have Obama out of office and will be able to return to the purity and beauty of 2005 America!

Re:*** liberal alert cancelled *** (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 4 years ago | (#29371529)

Except that I would oppose the Republican Party for the very same reasons. You fail to see a difference between liberals and conservatives, whereas I see them both violating individual rights in their own ways, toward their own ends.

Re:Wonderful! (3, Interesting)

badfish99 (826052) | more than 4 years ago | (#29368727)

Absolutely. Thank goodness these people were caught and put in prison for talking about doing something. And thank goodness that their guilt was so obvious that a jury could be convinced that they were guilty after only only two trials for the same offence. Although I see that they are going to get a third trial, as they weren't found quite guilty enough the first two times.

Some might think that keeping on trying someone with different juries until you find a jury that gives the answer you want would be some sort of abuse of the legal process. But not us Brits!

Re:Wonderful! (2, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29370593)

Some might think that keeping on trying someone with different juries until you find a jury that gives the answer you want would be some sort of abuse of the legal process. But not us Brits!

Well, there is the ancient common-law doctrine of autrefois acquit (which served as the basis for the US constitutional prohibition on double jeopardy), but it seems to have been recently weakened substantially in the UK.

Re:Wonderful! (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#29369711)

BTW this was legally obtained wiretapping w/ a warrant. Not the stuff /. bitches about.

Calvin Klein aftershave? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29368361)

associated with hydrogen peroxide???

queue Calvin Klein product defence lawyers in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ....

Legacy of W (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29368459)

So many keep gripping about our abuse of Al Qaeda prisoners. It does not compare to the abuse that has occurred in other arenas by W. The dems need to focus on the real abuses of ALL HUMAN RIGHTS by the W admin, not just on a few ppl.

Dear N.S.A. : Please (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29368491)

intercept the e-mail of this terrorist [georgewbush.org] .

Thanks for your patRIOTism.

Yours In Vladivostok,
K. Trout

Re:Dear N.S.A. : Please (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 4 years ago | (#29369163)

They can't without a warrant, he's a US citizen.

Pick up the fone and call MI-6. Or whoever took over for the KGB. Good luck getting any info out of them, for obvious reasons, of course...

Reasonable Doubt (2, Insightful)

DeanFox (729620) | more than 4 years ago | (#29369063)

I don't know if you have reasonable doubt in the UK but if I were a juror I would need more proof than a prosecutors interpretation of the email.

EMAIL:

Hey good looking! Had a great time last night at your party! Hope to see you again soon!

PROSECUTOR:

This means they successfully completed advanced training at their facility and are planning more training later in the month at the facility in Afghanistan.

I have doubt that the prosecutor is just making this shit up and I believe my doubt to be reasonable.

Therefor, as far as I'm concerned this is evidence of nothing except a thank you for a good time at a party. If the prosecutor had "translation table" they obtained from another intercept then that's different but as it stands... They'd have to do better than "let me tell you what it really says"...

-[d]-

Re:Reasonable Doubt (1)

42forty-two42 (532340) | more than 4 years ago | (#29369965)

If you had read the article, you'd have seen that they were matching up the email contents with what they were seeing with good old fashioned surveillance.

After nearly blowing the whole operation... (5, Interesting)

Shazoom (1634439) | more than 4 years ago | (#29369271)

According to this BBC article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8243176.stm [bbc.co.uk]
The whole operation was nearly screwed up by jumpy politicians. From the article:
The White House is suspected of putting pressure on the Pakistanis to arrest Rauf in 2006, which in turn forced the hands of the British, BBC defence correspondent Gordon Corera said.
Michael Clarke, director of defence think tank the Royal United Services Institute, said Rauf was picked up after the US secretly dispatched an envoy called Jose Rodriguez to Pakistan.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The British were hopping mad about that because it meant... they had no alternative but to move in on this plot before all the evidence was as mature as possible.
"There is a general belief in British security circles that the dispatch of Rodriguez to Pakistan came straight from the White House."
Officers from Scotland Yard's Counter Terrorism Command had what they say was "good coverage" of the suspects and were waiting for more definite evidence before acting.
Scotland Yard's former head of specialist operations, Andy Hayman, said securing the arrests from a "standing start" after Rauf's arrest was a "very difficult challenge".
He told the BBC: "We couldn't gamble with the prospect that if the cell we were watching was alerted by that arrest, then all the things we'd built up along with other colleagues from the security services would have been lost potentially."

So SPAM isn't really SPAM. It's terrorism. (1)

Fuji Kitakyusho (847520) | more than 4 years ago | (#29369795)

If email SPAM is really terrorism in disguise, does that give us any more teeth with which to pursue spammers? I have this dream where busloads of Viagra and mortgage spammers are unceremoniously dropped off at Gitmo pending "further investigation".

Re:So SPAM isn't really SPAM. It's terrorism. (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 4 years ago | (#29371865)

Your the one whose receiving terrorist communication, so what's your involvement?

100 mL containers (1)

telso (924323) | more than 4 years ago | (#29370139)

From the emails:

Regarding the aftershave bottles, you need 40x100ml bottles.

Aha! Proof that allowing any more than 10x100mL bottles will result in a terrorist attack. Way to pick the right number, airport security regulators.

Cheney, Cheney, Cheney! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29370451)

Got your panties in a wad now, don't you, you pussies?

Ha ha ha!

So (1)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 4 years ago | (#29371485)

Going by the so called Libyan bomber case, this means that the suspects were actually innocent does it ? The Lockerbie "bomber" was convicted solely on the statement of a shopkeeper in Malta who had to be "reminded" at least 3 times over several months before he could pick out the suspect who had apparently bought a generic shirt from his shop several months earlier, and the large amount of cocaine that was found at the crash site which was allegedly owned by the CIA and was part of a secret deal with known militants, had nothing at all to do with it (even though the people who the CIA were dealing with were known to have had backroom access to the flight before it left Germany). And so when they let the guy out because he's dying (and actually innocent) the world media makes a fuss because we don't want the truth coming out now, do we. The USA put pressure on the UK and Libya back then and now, to find that guy guilty because they didn't want their dirty little secrets coming out. Al-Megrahi was a fall guy, who's next and what's really going on ?
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