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Newly Declassified FBI Docs Reveal Predictive Data System

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the like-a-creepy-ad-for-ibm dept.

Privacy 185

An anonymous reader writes 'Newly declassified documents show that the FBI is developing a data-mining system to uncover terror sleeper cells. Among the 1.6 billion records in the National Security Analysis Center — tens of thousands of travel records, including hotel and airline records. Other revelations in the documents uncovered by a Wired.com FOIA request show that the feds want to expand the system for use in cyber-crime investigations, and it's already been used to scrutinize helicopter pilots and Philly cab drivers. The system has eerie resemblances to DARPA's once-banned Total Information Awareness program."

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I've got an idea (5, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522127)

How about a data mining application to scour through political speeches and legislative records to identify politicians most- and least-likely to support such a scheme?

Re:I've got an idea (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29522167)

You can hide anything by just encoding it in one of the obscure excel formats.

Re:I've got an idea (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29522279)

The least likely guy is here [goatse.fr] .

Re:I've got an idea (5, Insightful)

rimugu (701444) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522481)

It wouldn't work. When have you heard about a political speech and reality having any connection?

Re:I've got an idea (-1, Troll)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522843)

....when they use the same words to refer to the same thing, which they do constantly on a given side, even though the word they use may mean something totally different. If a republican says "freedom", they mean "freedom to make money off of you". If a democrat says "freedom", they mean "freedom of choice". You can really do this, you just have to translate given who is saying it.

Re:I've got an idea (4, Insightful)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523073)

I get what you are saying but your examples are only true in narrow contexts.

Ds want you to have the freedom to make lots of choices they approve of, just like Rs. (they just approve of different things)

Ds fully approve of their freedom to make money off the public, just like Rs.

You have to translate based on who is saying it and what (s)he is talking about.

Re:I've got an idea (2, Informative)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522939)

When have you heard about a political speech and reality having any connection?

Oooh, I have one! It even has its own article in Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] .

Re:I've got an idea (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29523047)

Slash butchered the ever-living fuck out of that link. Good job with the unicode support, niggers. What is this, 1975?

Here's correct link, hiding behind a tinyurl: http://preview.tinyurl.com/yhg3xb [tinyurl.com]

Re:I've got an idea (2, Informative)

Marcika (1003625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523123)

When have you heard about a political speech and reality having any connection?

Oooh, I have one! It even has its own article in Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] .

Fixed that for you... (And yes, someone ought to tell the Slashcode monkeys that 7-bit ASCII is only sufficient for 5% of the world's population...)

Re:I've got an idea (1)

wellingj (1030460) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523319)

I've never checked but does slashdot come in any other language than the one read by the 5%?

Re:I've got an idea (1)

Marcika (1003625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523443)

I've never checked but does slashdot come in any other language than the one read by the 5%?

Yes, there are versions of Slashcode that can deal with unicode perfectly fine, but slashdot.org has chosen to filter out anything not in ASCII.

I heard that this was apparently a "fix" for people playing around impersonating other users by using similar characters in their usernames and suchlike. One might think that it wouldn't be much effort to put in a whitelist for some frequently-used glyphs and alphabets, but then, I'm the guy with the 7-digit-uid...

Terrorists get the blame for everything. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29522491)

"Oh, of course we are just looking for terrorists."

Translation: "We are looking for anyone who opposes spending on weapons, and other people who oppose government corruption. Corruption rules!"

Re:I've got an idea (2, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522659)

How about a data mining application to scour through political speeches and legislative records to identify politicians most- and least-likely to support such a scheme?

You'll have faster I/O if you focus on searching for the ones that aren't likely.

Re:I've got an idea (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523573)

There are only two congressmen who wouldn't support it. There are also a handful who would oppose it if and only if their party wasn't in power.

-jcr

Re:I've got an idea (0, Flamebait)

cenc (1310167) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523659)

Just turn on FOX.

Give up? (1, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522165)

You know what, after all these years in IT, I say... give 'em as much data as they want. They'll choke and drown on it. The FBI is the most massively disorganized organization in the US Government. I would not worry about your privacy... they have trouble figuring out how to dress themselves in the morning.

Re:Give up? (2, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522213)

I know eh? Us guys in IT, we have to handle alot. All those log files, so little time to sift through them all. How do you find the problem? I mean if only there was a program to help us sort through it --

Oh hey, whats this ad for? Splunk?

Could that handle Travel, hotel, and airline records that the FBI have been gathering?

Re:Give up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29522245)

bwwwwwuuuuuuaaaaahhhhhh...

I'll buy that for a dollar!!!

-sid

Re:Give up? (2, Informative)

TheBilgeRat (1629569) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522275)

amen. as a federal sector person myself, I honestly am amazed that any branch of the government functions at all. Fraud, waste and abuse are at every level-mostly due to the bureaucracy. They'll shove that data into some database, build a "new and improved" proprietary frontend for Oracle (check that-they'll contract it out, take the "lowest" bid, and spend the next five years patching it into oblivion), and browbeat the probies rounded up to operate it when all it can produce is that Americans buy lots of beer and that Hoover was a cross-dresser.

not that I'm a bitter federal employee managing a POS database or anything...

Re:Give up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29522485)

amen. as a federal sector person myself,

A federal sector person? Is that a euphemism for "long-term resident of a federal corrective establishment"?

Re:Give up? (1)

TheBilgeRat (1629569) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522801)

I wish- at least in jail you get 3 hots and a cot... :)

Re:Give up? (1)

ogdenk (712300) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522805)

I imagine working in government IT doesn't feel all that much different. You just get to go outside more.

Re:Give up? (4, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522439)

they don't need to be omniscient to be a threat to the public. all they need to do is be able to go after enough people to make the public think twice about challenging them.

Re:Give up? (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522495)

If push comes to shove, the public can defeat *any* government. No force can handle 10-50 times it's numbers. As the phrase goes "you're gonna run out of bullets".

Easier example: taser guns can be fired at max, 3 times. 500 angry people vs 10 angry cops? well gee, guess who's going to be running away first.

Re:Give up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29522791)

Easier example: taser guns can be fired at max, 3 times. 500 angry people vs 10 angry cops? well gee, guess who's going to be running away first.

Do the 10 angry cops open up on the 500 people with automatic weapons?

If yes, then the 500 people will break and run.

If no, then the cops will run.

Re:Give up? (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522873)

It doesn't matter. If the cops do open up, they have no more people to exert authority over, and they'll kill each other sooner or later trying to exert some sort of authority, destroying any chance they might have of exerting said authority

If the cops don't open up, they'll run, and lose the authority anyway.

They're in a serious lose-lose in that situation.

Re:Give up? (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522879)

not that I want to encourage rebelliousness, violent, or crazy rightwing concepts, but do you think civil wars involve the police or military? I'll give you a hint: smart police stay way the hell out of it as best they can (as they like to live/have families too). Even in Iraq you should note that as examples.

if people are quite determined to riot/aggress there's no force that can stop that without causing a mass killing the likes of which would not be authorized by any force in the US, for sure.

Re:Give up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29523271)

not that I want to encourage rebelliousness, violent, or crazy rightwing concepts, but do you think civil wars involve the police or military?

In most cases they absolutely do involve the police and the military siding with the faction that supports the government. There are of course cases where schisms exist within the police/military and they fragment in the same was as the general population.

I'll give you a hint: smart police stay way the hell out of it as best they can (as they like to live/have families too). Even in Iraq you should note that as examples.

Operative words being "as best they can." If someone on the opposing side decides to make them involved there's precious little they can do about it. And by "make them involved" I mean by either threatening them or by outright killing them. In the case of being threatened they can knuckle under or they can resist which may lead to being killed. In the case out outright being killed there's not much to be done about that other than hoping those who would seek to kill them are inept.

Re:Give up? (1, Interesting)

wellingj (1030460) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523411)

This is the US. The 50 citizens who were previously considered 'cooks' will take careful aim with their semi-automatic weapons before the cops realize the violence they have instigated. It happened in 1776, I hope it doesn't happen in the US again, but it very well could.

Don't worry... I'm probably already on the list. But you won't be, you displayed 'civility'

Re:Give up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29522989)

If the 500 people are the teabaggers we just saw in DC - the 500 people. They're fucking chickens, both literally and figuratively.

Re:Give up? (1)

wellingj (1030460) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523487)

At least they weren't screwing the public, like most of the people in DC.

Re:Give up? (4, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523109)

No force can handle 10-50 times it's numbers.

they can if they are the only ones with defensive weapons.

Re:Give up? (5, Insightful)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522607)

The public challenging them isn't the problem. It's the guys after their 72 virgins and THEY ARE NOT "THE PUBLIC".

Making the public think twice does nothing but make our lives more of a hassle. Making the guys seeking an express check in to paradise think twice doesn't do much good either. They are planning to die, and that's if the operation is successful. Taking one for the sleeper cell and getting caught just means the guys in the next cell will be getting first choice in the afterlife.

Eventually terrorists won't have to actually do anything. They come up with a zany and half-baked plan, get caught, cause everyone to overreact and then they've caused more damage then if they actually did manage to blow something up.

Re:Give up? (2, Insightful)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522893)

They come up with a zany and half-baked plan, get caught, cause everyone to overreact and then they've caused more damage then if they actually did manage to blow something up.

Seems to be the way it works now....

Re:Give up? (1)

ChiRaven (800537) | more than 4 years ago | (#29524059)

That's why John Gilmore has that picture on his home page with the question "I'm still free. What about YOU?"

Re:Give up? (2, Funny)

Vainglorious Coward (267452) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522451)

give 'em as much data as they want. They'll choke and drown on it

I wouldn't be so sure about that - I've heard there are machines available nowadays which are specifically designed to store and rapidly process information in vast amounts. They're called conpewters or something like that.

Re:Give up? (5, Insightful)

neurogeneticist (1631367) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522479)

Mod this guy up. As someone from a field who tries to separate signal from noise and develop predictive models on a daily basis (in supposedly well-controlled conditions) I can say that they have their work cut out for them. I mean, I use proven methodologies in clear-cut and well-designed experiments and end up with data that is extremely difficult to manipulate (genome wide association studies). These guys/gals are trying to observe millions of humans interacting in indiosyncratic and complex ways with millions of input-points, and they think they can use that data? Talk about multiple-testing correction. Bonferroni is the tip of the iceberg in such a data-set. The scary thing is, if you set something like this up, you will get "answers". It might be the result of a random walk, but who in the "jury of your peers" is going to understand that defense? "But your honor, they didn't even define an acceptable false discovery rate!"

Re:Give up? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29523671)

Heh! That's assuming you would even get to see a "jury of your peers". So far it's been mainly trial by oubliette.

Re:Give up? (5, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522509)

It isn't so much the privacy that is of concern (though that is a concern, too). The problem with so much data is false positives, and the abuse that results from them.

Look up how Bayes' Theorem relates to random drug testing, for example. You will easily see how such systems are prone to false positives. And in a case like this -- where many magnitudes more people are innocent than guilty -- it gets that much worse. You will end up prosecuting (and possibly punishing) hundreds or thousands of innocent people for every guilty party you find.

NOT GOOD.

Re:Give up? (-1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523335)

You will end up prosecuting (and possibly punishing) hundreds or thousands of innocent people for every guilty party you find.

And that's a bad thing? You harm enough innocent people, and their friends, and their families, and their friend's friends, and their family's families -- will all start to talk. They'll start debating. They'll be angry. And they will, eventually, despite warnings of spending thirty years in the electric chair and having a taser stuck up their ass and set to auto-repeat for life, they will still decide that enough is enough. It's an unethical and somewhat disgusting approach -- but it will work. Sacrifice enough innocent people, and some of them will become martyrs. Once the government has lost the support of the people, it's just a matter of time before it crashes.

Oh yeah, and then the terrorists win.

Re:Give up? (1)

c_forq (924234) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523925)

The big problem is I think they are smarter than that. They don't blindly arrest you just because the computer blipped your name, instead they put a spook on you and tap your phone. If they don't see anything in a few weeks it is noted and dropped. If you send a text that says "The wedding cake is ready" without them having anything about a wedding in the file and at least you and the recipient is arrested.

Re:Give up? (4, Insightful)

thewils (463314) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522701)

give 'em as much data as they want

But then they'll be successful in their primary objective, which is self-perpetuation and a larger budget next year.

Re:Give up? (1)

rcamans (252182) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522711)

But wait - I thought they only had the one last suit they will ever wear?

Re:Give up? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522743)

The problem is, they think when dealing with "terrorists" that the more people we put in prison or investigate heavily the safer we are. They think that false positives are a fail-safe, which in reality they aren't.

Re:Give up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29523041)

I hope EDS gets the contract.

Re:Give up? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523153)

I don't look forward to bailing my mom out of prison for her planned 'schwartzwelderkirshtort' terrorist attack.

I don't look forward to EDS getting this contract.

Re:Give up? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523057)

Today perhaps. While i don't buy they would choke on it, lets say for a mom,et that is true. But in time they would get past that and then have all this data to work with.

Giving it all to them (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523241)

You know what, after all these years in IT, I say... give 'em as much data as they want. They'll choke and drown on it.

Nah; they'll just follow the model of the RIAA and other "business" firm that they love. Pretty soon we'll be reading about the FBI busting a terrorist ring - of 2nd graders in Hobunk. They'll have lots of "evidence" - the testimony of other 2nd graders in the school, including a couple that are FBI informants.

They'll also be prosecuting grandmas, though in that case, there might be some real reasons that granny has joined a terrorist organization. Or is it a sewing circle? It's hard to tell the difference, y'know, especially inside a multi-terabyte database.

Wow, What a Shock... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29522197)

You didn't really think TIA was going away, did you?

Re:Wow, What a Shock... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29522425)

We have a problem here. It's likely that intelligence agencies do such work on "black" budgets and politicians can't do anything about it. In the name of national security and hopefully for not too much else.
Why does fbi and such need to duplicate the effort, can't they just get tips from the agencies?
I say these news of total surveillance is possibly meant to instill in ordinary citizens the fear they are being watched. Being afraid of the government is handy for the government, be it a dictatorship or a democracy.

Re:Wow, What a Shock... (4, Informative)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522913)

The FBI needs to duplicate the effort because of the culture of the FBI. They kinda have the mentality that they're at war with the other intelligence agencies, which keeps them from cooperating with nearly anyone. It's a holdover from Hoover's days.

Re:Wow, What a Shock... (4, Insightful)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523639)

Actually, I'm thinking this isn't such a bad thing. When you have agencies competing like that it seems likely that they're also going to be keeping an eye on the other agencies, keeping them more honest in the process. When they all start cooperating I think I'll feel less safe, as a matter of fact.

It's the same with the political parties. Just the right amount of non-cooperation and competitiveness keeps one organization from becoming the oligarchy it naturally wants to become.

Re:Wow, What a Shock... (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523797)

Oh, I feel safer this way too. I'm just answering the question of why it is this way.

Re:Wow, What a Shock... (1)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 4 years ago | (#29524031)

Mi tio dijo que se iba.

This just in . . . (2, Insightful)

Gabrill (556503) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522229)

The federal government (especially those under the executive branch) will do whatever the hell they please, and scandals only force them to whitewash and restart unpopular programs under different names. /rant

Ssssssh! ACORN is giving tax advice to pimps! (4, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522317)

Ignore that silly bit of domestic surveillance you see over there. Look over here at this funny video of a white kid pretending to be a pimp and getting tax advice!

Re:Ssssssh! ACORN is giving tax advice to pimps! (0, Redundant)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523977)

Maybe somebody can explain the furor over Acorn to me. When a cop is found to be crooked, is there a big outcry to de-fund the police? Of course not. I remember a guy selling pot from the McDonald's drive-thru, but I don't remember any big movement to revoke McDonald's corporate license, either. So what is this really about?

Re:Ssssssh! ACORN is giving tax advice to pimps! (1, Flamebait)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 4 years ago | (#29524049)

They are a crooked organization that barely skirted public outrage for decades. Always claiming "What a shame that a few bad apples have to spoil a good time for everyone by breaking the rules."

This latest bit of assisted thievery is apparently enough. All the ballot stuffing, voter registration fraud etc etc has not been.

I put it down to a powerful sound bite finally getting the job done.

'bout time.

In the long run nothing will change of course. New name etc.

Today, do something out of the ordinary (4, Interesting)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522339)

Do something out of the ordinary, once or twice a day. Deviate from your normal routine in very absurd and unusual ways for no apparent reason.

Re:Today, do something out of the ordinary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29522507)

I'm not falling for your ploy to buy Vista!

Re:Today, do something out of the ordinary (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522553)

Yesterday I absurdly did not post on slashdot.

Today, for no reason, I actually used most of my mod points (for no reason).

Do those count?

Re:Today, do something out of the ordinary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29522639)

Should it involve a chicken, and a bowling ball?

*No animals were hurt during this suggestion.

Re:Today, do something out of the ordinary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29522671)

Such as?

If I'm consistently deviating then I suspect the system will flag me as unclassifiable and subject me to more scrutiny. Your suggestion is good only if there is a lot of 'noise' in the system so that they cannot analyze every deviant.

I think I will will stick to my normal routine like clockwork so they can classify me and ignore me.

Re:Today, do something out of the ordinary (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522941)

Maybe have something done over an encrypted network that tells a random 1%-ish of people to deviate? That would be more than enough to keep them completely swamped (~3.3 million deviations a day), and keep the deviation from being easily accounted for (they won't know who will deviate each day).

Re:Today, do something out of the ordinary (1)

rcamans (252182) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522733)

Oh, Great. You want them to focus on me and arrest me, so they are not looking at you?

Re:Today, do something out of the ordinary (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523849)

If they're going to arrest you for doing something out of the ordinary, don't you want to find out so you can either: a) get the hell out of here, or b) make an example out of it so more people pay attention to this absurdity?

Re:Today, do something out of the ordinary (2, Funny)

lennier (44736) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522855)

"Deviate from your normal routine in very absurd and unusual ways for no apparent reason."

But I do that every day already!

Re:Today, do something out of the ordinary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29522861)

That's good advise for a healthy, interactive life. Not just for security reasons..

Re:Today, do something out of the ordinary (3, Interesting)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523021)

I actually did something like that on facebook by giving incorrect feedback on ads and becoming a "fan" of stuff I hate just to see how hard it was to screw up the recomendations.

It is actually harder than you might think.

Well they already have CIPAV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29522599)

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/04/get-your-fbi-sp/

Deeper Questions (1)

solune (803114) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522655)

While i'm not too keen on this, I do have to ask: how is this different than Target teaming up with Citibank and Visa to track your habits and personalize your advertising exposure?

Not that I'm happy with corporate tracking schemes, it seems to me as the accuracy of pattern matching increases, so does the value of commercially compiled databases to governments as an outright buy (rather than a govt DIY project).

As Bob Gates has suggested, off the shelf parts can make for a cheaper option. As American culture gets increasingly digitized, so does the availability of information that can be abused.

Re:Deeper Questions (2, Insightful)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522793)

Target, Citibank, and Visa don't have the power to put me in prison for one....

Re:Deeper Questions (1)

SETIGuy (33768) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523065)

Target, Citibank, and Visa don't have the power to put me in prison for one....

If any of the above (or a few hundred other corporations) wanted you in prison, to prison you would go.

Re:Deeper Questions (3, Insightful)

RingDev (879105) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522815)

Target, Citibank, and Visa won't lock you up in GITMO, bar your right of Habeas corpus, and let you rot for a decade because you went to Anarchy.com. But they will offer you 10% off of your next Molotov Cocktail purchase of more than $100!

-Rick

so ? (1)

Spaham (634471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522657)

The question remains : does it deliver ? And how many false positives ? How many real positives *before* they act ?

Re:so ? (3, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522759)

Sadly, we are never going to know the answers.

I am sure there has been at least one nearly successful action in the US since 2001 that is utterly classified because it would tend to cause a panic - or a violent attack on people of a certain religious faith. So we aren't going to be informed, probably for the better.

All we are going to hear about is a few misguided individuals that had maybe a 5% chance of pulling something off, if they were really lucky. And the American population just goes on thinking that (a) all this terrorist stuff is way overblown, and (b) our government is doing a really good job. Of course, neither of these is all that true.

I suspect if the truth came out about one or maybe even two close calls people would utterly freak out. So in this case, secrecy protects us all.

You are sure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29523413)

Based on what exactly?

But no, you're probably right. Best just let them do whatever they want. It's in all our interests. Or so they say. But I'm sure they're right.

Re:so ? (4, Insightful)

beckett (27524) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523771)

I am sure there has been at least one nearly successful action in the US since 2001 that is utterly classified because it would tend to cause a panic - or a violent attack on people of a certain religious faith. So we aren't going to be informed, probably for the better.

This is using Pascal's Wager as an argument to continue black budget funding. There have been several thwarted attacks like the liquid bomb plot in the UK, and these haven't been causing full blown panic. Do you think there will ever be another shoebomber, or did the very public incapacitation of John Walker Lindh by concerned, untrained passengers suddenly furnish a very real deterrent on any future flight?

I think that sunlight is the best disinfectant in this case. by showing the true nature of domestic attacks or terrorist actions, we can clearly demonstrate who is operating on the side of truth and humanity. It is best to lead by example, not cloaking everything under secrecy and privilege. If the real information is not available anywhere and we are just told to "obey authority", that's not so much secrecy as it's forcefeeding denial. Tell us what the real problems are, not to buy lots of duct tape and pray.

Re:so ? (1, Insightful)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523809)

So in this case, secrecy protects us all.

That same argument is also used to cover up an enormous amount of scary, incompetent, and/or fraudulent behavior by security agencies. From my experience in the government surveillance R&D business, when someone says 'If you knew what I knew, you would support program X', its very often bullshit.

Of course much of what is secret does need to be secret. But often the main effect of secrecy is a lack of accountability. Personally I think we would be better off overall if we opened most of it up.

People get all offended when someone suggests that the US government is a greater danger than terrorists, since the US government is relatively civilized, and terrorists do want to kill us. But we are so much more powerful than the terrorists are that I think it is us that's the greater threat. Personally, taking a long view, I'd rather risk losing a city to a terrorist nuke than risk a Stalinist catastrophe.

Re:so ? (2, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523915)

Personally, taking a long view, I'd rather risk losing a city to a terrorist nuke than risk a Stalinist catastrophe.

I absolutely agree. However, it's worth recognizing that if a US city got nuked, it'd make a Stalinist catastrophe far more likely as panicked citizens would almost be begging government to take away their rights and exploit them.

Re:so ? (4, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523949)

I am sure there has been at least one nearly successful action in the US since 2001 that is utterly classified because it would tend to cause a panic - or a violent attack on people of a certain religious faith.

Which religion? Democrats or Republicans? More seriously, I've heard this kind of argument before. If government actually had stopped a nearly successful action in the US, they'd advertise it 24/7 *unless* it reveals relevant government agencies as acting entirely incompetent in the case.

Call This Number If You See A Terrorist: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29522669)

The number is 1-800-ALQ-AEDA [huffingtonpost.com] .

Have they backtested the predictive system on the policies and actions of BushCo Inc. [whitehouse.org] ?

Yours In Domodedovo,
Philboyd Studge

False Positives (2, Interesting)

codeAlDente (1643257) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522685)

And how much does it ruin your life if you come up as a false positive?

Americanism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29522739)

What's a Philly cab?

Re:Americanism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29523633)

Philly is where the Declaration of Independence was signed. You know, the document that says:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

A better solution (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29522751)

A better solution: offer anybody who's a member of al Qaeda $10 million to knock it the fuck off.

Judging from the CIA's released estimates of membership, we'd wind up a couple billion ahead at that rate. That's what I call a "free-market solution"!

Re:A better solution (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522991)

I'm not following you.

We track the money, kill their entire families, take money back. I see that implied step and approve.

But how do you count the bodies. Specifically the actual hajis vs the scamming 'get your free $10 million' internet 'tards.

I'm all for it anyhow.

Re:A better solution (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523951)

A better solution: offer anybody who's a member of al Qaeda $10 million to knock it the fuck off.

Judging from the CIA's released estimates of membership, we'd wind up a couple billion ahead at that rate. That's what I call a "free-market solution"!

You're forgetting about supply and demand. Make that offer, and every Tom, Dick, and Muhammed will be setting up "Al Queda in Peoria" cells just to qualify for the $10 million.

Hah! (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 4 years ago | (#29522775)

Among the 1.6 billion records in the National Security Analysis Center â" tens of thousands of travel records, including hotel and airline records.

It'll look something like this [youtube.com] ...

OK, but how well does it predict movie ratings? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29522821)

Maybe the winning team(s) could predict terrorist activity.
http://science.slashdot.org/story/09/09/21/2312245/BellKor-Wins-Netflix-1-Million-By-20-Minutes

its a real shame (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523031)

that for years many of us took for granted that we would always live in a free society and left a trail behind us. Now its too late.

What about P2P? (1)

wytcld (179112) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523269)

Last night the Vermont Attorney General spoke to a small group of good Democrats and me about his various ongoing efforts. He's the guy who was suing the phone companies a few years ago for cooperating with Bush on spying on us, so generally on the bright side of things. But he ended his talk by claiming that the same file sharing software his college-enrolled sons are likely using is also being used to spread "millions" of child porn images.

I almost raised my hand to ask him if he was aware of the difference between public file sharing and the darknets, but it didn't seem wise to imply that I had any idea about such stuff to the state's chief law enforcement officer. He has this notion that he can force ISPs to stop file sharing, all in the name of stopping child porn distribution.

Someone should probably tell people like him about how the international terrorists can also use P2P, right? Because if you're drawing up massive terror plans, you're going to be just as likely as a serious child sex abuser to put the evidence where anyone and everyone can find it, right?

Re:What about P2P? (1)

wes33 (698200) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523331)

"But he ended his talk by claiming that the same file sharing software his college-enrolled sons are likely using is also being used to spread "millions" of child porn images."

well, that's true of the wires and optic cable his sons use too ... so what?

Brazil all over again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29523645)

Brazil all over again...

Conspiracy Theory Anyone? (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523717)

it's already been used to scrutinize helicopter pilots and Philly cab drivers

This sounds a lot like the plot of the movie Conspiracy Theory [imdb.com] where Mel Gibson plays a paranoid cab driver who publishes a newsletter of various conspiracy theories jumbled together from random public sources (this was before the age of blogs) and is chased by personnel from a shadowy government agency in black SUVs and helicopters (ala the USSS).

Re:Conspiracy Theory Anyone? (4, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#29523989)

This sounds a lot like the plot of the movie Conspiracy Theory where Mel Gibson plays a paranoid cab driver who publishes a newsletter of various conspiracy theories jumbled together from random public sources (this was before the age of blogs) and is chased by personnel from a shadowy government agency in black SUVs and helicopters (ala the USSS).

The real shadowy agencies are much smarter than that. If someone finds a bit of the truth, they don't chase him down (which would tend to give him credibility), they leak that truth along with a bunch of obviously bogus and silly information just to discredit him.

Not posting anonymously because They will know who I am anyway.

Obligatory.... (1)

Sfing_ter (99478) | more than 4 years ago | (#29524137)

Obligatory Minority Report goes here...

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