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WikiLeaks: NSA Recording All Telephone Calls In Afghanistan

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the stirring-the-pot dept.

Government 241

On Monday, The Intercept reported that the NSA is recording the content of every cell phone call in the Bahamas. At the time of publication, The Intercept said there was another country in which the NSA was doing this, but declined to name it because of "specific, credible concerns that doing so could lead to increased violence." Now, reader Advocatus Diaboli points out that WikiLeaks has spilled the beans: the country being fully monitored by the NSA is Afghanistan. Julian Assange wrote, "Such censorship strips a nation of its right to self-determination on a matter which affects its whole population. An ongoing crime of mass espionage is being committed against the victim state and its population. By denying an entire population the knowledge of its own victimization, this act of censorship denies each individual in that country the opportunity to seek an effective remedy, whether in international courts, or elsewhere. Pre-notification to the perpetrating authorities also permits the erasure of evidence which could be used in a successful criminal prosecution, civil claim, or other investigations. ... We do not believe it is the place of media to 'aid and abet' a state in escaping detection and prosecution for a serious crime against a population. Consequently WikiLeaks cannot be complicit in the censorship of victim state X. The country in question is Afghanistan."

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Is the other the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073473)

Is the other one the United States?

Re:Is the other the US (5, Funny)

kthreadd (1558445) | about 7 months ago | (#47073945)

Probably not. The NSA is not allowed to spy on Americans.

Well duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073477)

Considering what's been going on, this is hardly surprising. I hate to sound cynical, but NSAs been doing stuff like this for a long time. Yes, it's a big deal, but I'm not at all shocked by the revelation.

Giga-Duh. (1)

hoboroadie (1726896) | about 7 months ago | (#47073511)

What the hell else are they supposed to do with acres and acres of servers?

Re:Giga-Duh. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073547)

Fix the deficit by mining bitcoins?

Re:Giga-Duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073801)

LOL. It'll work for the NSA, buying off weapons for bit coins.

Re:Giga-Duh. (1)

neilo_1701D (2765337) | about 7 months ago | (#47073563)

Take a picture so now we don't have to imagine what a Beowulf cluster of x looks like any more?

Well duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073549)

Oh noes, a part of the government was doing its job!!! How terrible that our spy agency was spying!!! What? No American citizen could possibly be planning to do something bad to our government, you must be crazy and a criminal to think otherwise. What I do with TCP/IP packets transmitted to the world isn't private? Noooooeeeesssss!!!!

Re:Well duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47074011)

Yeah, on this one, I really have trouble working up any outrage at all. It's the NSA's job description to do this.

Spying on Americans at home, I can get outraged about that one.

Re:Well duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47074153)

Yeah, on this one, I really have trouble working up any outrage at all. It's the NSA's job description to do this.

First they came for the Afghanis, and I did nothing because... meh.
Then they came for me, and I bent over because I love forced buttsecs.

Re:Well duh! (2, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | about 7 months ago | (#47074159)

Given that Afganistan is a military theatre of war, I don't think that it's actually legally an issue that they're monitoring all communications, as those communications are almost certainly being used to conduct warfare.

And perhaps if actually listening to the conversations helps to not detain innocent people because one can actually know what they're talking about, as opposed to the metadata approach where anyone talking to someone associated with opponents is grabbed, then it might not be a bad thing, again, within the scope of a theatre of war.

In the "us versus them" argument, this is a legitimate differentiation between us and them. As opposed to treating us as them as the metadata approach used domestically.

Re:Well duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47074193)

You can spy on your own people all you want but leave us non-Americans alone please.

Re:Well duh! (3, Informative)

jythie (914043) | about 7 months ago | (#47073555)

Not as long as you might think. The technology needed for this level of data collection is only a few decades old at best. 20-30 years ago even tracing a call in an industrialized nation could be a laborious task and collection like this was just undoable.

Re:Well duh! (5, Informative)

jones_supa (887896) | about 7 months ago | (#47073561)

There seems to always be the obligatory "didn't we all know this already" comment in these NSA discussions. Every time it can be found. I'm tired of it.

No, we didn't know. Beginning with the revelations by Edward Snowden, people's eyes have constantly opened more and more to the things that are happening behind the scenes. Some of it is crazy Orwellian crap that many of us couldn't make up in their wildest dreams.

Re:Well duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073665)

Well, I generally agree with you about the attempt by NSA apologists to minimize the impact of any new revelations, but in this case we already knew the NSA was tracking and recording cell phones in Afghanistan. Just last February the Intercept released a report about how the NSA was tracking cell phones of suspected terrorists in order to target them for drone strikes. The surprise for me is that it wasn't another country like Thailand, or Venezuela.

Re:Well duh! (1)

watcher-rv4 (2712547) | about 7 months ago | (#47073755)

Agreed, but one thing is spy on targets predefined and authorized over some kind of court that demands reports. This thing we could even imagine. Another thing is to record everything single call disregarding who is in the call. Bulk record.

Re:Well duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47074041)

First of all let me just say that I'm against drone strikes. The reasons I'm against them are numerous and have been better explained by people loads more articulate than me. Having said that, I can conceivably see how recording the conversations of of an entire nation of people talking on cell phones would allow for the creation of a massive database of voice prints. Being able to identify a suspected terrorist speaking on any phone in real time, I think is an ability that the NSA would want to have (if they don't have already). Combine this with phone record metadata, gps /cell phone tower location data, and you increase the certainty that the person on the cell phone targeted by the drone is the person you intend to kill.

Re:Well duh! (4, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 7 months ago | (#47073737)

That isn't the problem. Joe Everyman expected them to be doing this, but don't know why it's A Bad Thing. All they see is "It's to stop the terr'rists / perverts / commies!" and don't see how it can be abused, not by those in power now, but those in the future.

20 years from now, when the bigots finally get a real right-wing guy in power, they'll look back at all this data and say "Ok, fella's; Find me everyone who ever talked to a brown guy and revoke their passport."

Re:Well duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073815)

Because leftist governments never pull that crap as well?

Re:Well duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47074181)

I suppose a more accurate description would be "a real authoritarian guy in power."

Re:Well duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073811)

Martin and Mitchell defection. Look it up. These sorts of revelations have all happened before, the world's "eyes have constantly [been] opened more and more". And then in a few years we'll all get back to spying on each other like good countries should.

What's shocking is everyone's lack of understanding that this is how the game is played. I'd be more alarmed if the US weren't monitoring entire countries.

Re:Well duh! (1)

BobMcD (601576) | about 7 months ago | (#47073855)

So here's the deal with that - If the recording serves a security purpose, how did the Indian consulate get attacked while we were watching?

Why didn't we intervene? And why haven't we produced recordings of the coordinators?

Look no further, perfect example! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073485)

LOOK at the EFFICACY that their wide dragnet provides.

This, I am unsurprised about (4, Interesting)

sandbagger (654585) | about 7 months ago | (#47073487)

After all, we were at war there. I am wondering as we get to what is being promised as the biggest story of the Snowden documents, what the final scoop will be.

Re:This, I am unsurprised about (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073505)

I think the final scoop will be that the USG did 9/11.

Re:This, I am unsurprised about (1)

ka9dgx (72702) | about 7 months ago | (#47073541)

Wouldn't surprise me at all

Re:This, I am unsurprised about (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 7 months ago | (#47074147)

srsly? why does this conspiracy theory live on? it's illogical on a factual basis alone, let alone on a motivation basis.

Re:This, I am unsurprised about (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073543)

A conspiracy of neo conservatives from AIPAC, not the "entire" USG. Just the capos.

Re:This, I am unsurprised about (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073551)

Not exactly NSA territory.

Re:This, I am unsurprised about (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073571)

This is exactly the reason why they didn't want private entities sifting through intelligence documents.

Re:This, I am unsurprised about (2)

wjcofkc (964165) | about 7 months ago | (#47073611)

I am wondering as we get to what is being promised as the biggest story of the Snowden documents, what the final scoop will be.

Regardless of what the content of that document will be, by the time it's all said and done, the sum total will probably be something like, "99% of the entire human race is a slave species."

Re:This, I am unsurprised about (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073885)

Your calculations are wrong. 100% of the human race is a slave species. But you get to choose your master, so there's that.

Choose wisely.

Re:This, I am unsurprised about (5, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 7 months ago | (#47073821)

After all, we were at war there.

No we're not. No war was ever declared and the majority of our troops have left. At best our troops are in an advisory role now. We're training and supporting the afghan military. Once again we invade a country under the pretense of protecting the innocent citizens of that country... but what we really end up doing is victimizing those very citizens. I wont even bother with "if it's legal"... our government clearly doesn't care... but it's immoral, unjust and completely ineffectual. Despite having every phone in the country tapped it took us how long to catch Bin Laden?

Re:This, I am unsurprised about (1)

Threni (635302) | about 7 months ago | (#47074021)

Hardly anything's been released so far:

http://cryptome.org/2013/11/sn... [cryptome.org]

At this rate, half a century before it's all released, if at all.

Good (1)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about 7 months ago | (#47073497)

Now they have to hire thousands of Afghan translators. It will give all the liberal arts graduates something to do.

Re:Good (4, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | about 7 months ago | (#47073565)

Translators? Why bother, the data probably just ends up poorly filed in some tape farm. Data collection is sexy, data processing is dull.

Re:Good (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073741)

Now they have to hire thousands of Afghan translators

They have admitted that they decide to kill based on metadata alone. Why would they bother with translating the messages? Perhaps so that they can kill anyone mentioned who isn't directly involved too?

Re:Good (3, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | about 7 months ago | (#47073771)

Now they have to hire thousands of Afghan translators. It will give all the liberal arts graduates something to do.

A great deal of linguistic support for the NSA comes from the branches of the military, where enlisted people are sent to Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California to train in the language if skills-testing shows they have linguistic aptitude. A prior university degree -- let alone a liberal arts one -- is not necessary.

Unreliable source (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073507)

I'm sorry, but there is just no source that is possibly less reliable than this. The asshole has no credibility.

Re:Unreliable source (2)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 7 months ago | (#47073597)

If the NSA is willing to collect the phones calls, emails, and web browsing history of every American (as Snowden proved), you think they would hesitate for even a micro-second to do the same for some Muslim foreign country where we're at war??

What color is the sky in your world?

Re:Unreliable source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073629)

Purple.

Re:Unreliable source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073785)

Well I'm a little surprised the NSA is doing it, I though International espionage was the CIA's turf.

I think the split... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073889)

Is CIA does localized espionage, assassinatons, etc.

NSA does anything that falls under broad SIGINT, computer security, etc.

Given the level of scope creep and 'mission restatement' going on with our three letter agencies nowadays. I am not really sure any of them remember what they are actually supposed to be doing anymore.

Re:Unreliable source (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073909)

Na, they're more for assassinations, overthrowing elected governments the US disagrees with and generally stirring up trouble. The NSA vacuums up all the data in the world to tell the CIA where to go.

Ha, "self-determination" my ass (4, Interesting)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 7 months ago | (#47073517)

The only democracy that the U.S. ever intended to bring to Afghanistan and Iraq was of the "You can choose pro-U.S. candidate number 1, or pro-U.S. candidate number 2" variety.

Re:Ha, "self-determination" my ass (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073567)

No different than what the US public votes for. I guess it's kind of like democracy in action in some kind of way.

Re:Ha, "self-determination" my ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073577)

Kinda like the Koch brothers and their "You can choose pro-oil candidate number 1, or pro-oil candidate number 2" style of democracy?

Re:Ha, "self-determination" my ass (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073605)

Well yea... these people HATE us. If we actually gave them a real democracy... the first thing they'd do with it is pass the "Kill all Americans act".

The second bill would be the "turn us back into an dictatorship bill". Which would also pass unanimously.

Re:Ha, "self-determination" my ass (4, Interesting)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 7 months ago | (#47073901)

That's the problem with real democracy. The U.S. has always sold democracy as some cure-all that will somehow turn every backwards country into the U.S. in the 1950's. But *real* democracy doesn't do anything of the sort. And lots of electorates, left to their own devices, will immediately vote in some popular dictator or religious zealot. So to stop this, the U.S. has resorted to advancing a kind of pretend democracy--the kind of "democracy" where the U.S. picks all the candidates and the people choose which carbon copy to vote for. Sadly, the U.S. political system itself has become a similar dog-and-pony show.

Re:Ha, "self-determination" my ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47074085)

The only democracy that the U.S. ever intended to bring to Afghanistan and Iraq was of the "You can choose pro-U.S. candidate number 1, or pro-U.S. candidate number 2" variety.

Exactly.

This is straight up imperialism ... the US has now said "we own you, and will continue to control you, you don't get a vote".

And America has always had the problem that 'democracy' was awesome as long as it resulted in the outcomes they want. The US has worked to overthrow democratically elected governments they didn't approve of, and have in a few cases favored despots and dictators.

America, you need to wake up and understand what your leaders are doing in your name. And you need to understand why the rest of the world may not be entirely happy about you.

And you can start with your self appointed right to spy on anybody you damned well please. Fuck the whole lot of you.

Because America are collectively a bunch of self important, self entitled assholes.

quelle surprise! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073519)

I figured it was either Afghanistan or Venezuela. I'm not sure how much of a surprise this is going to be with the Taliban, though. Suppose the Karzai government might be pissed if the US made promises that only non-government phones would under surveillance. I don't see how this is going to spur on more violence in the region, though.

Completely useless (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073533)

More importantly it just goes to show how useless all this phone recording is, as it still hasn't resulted in an overwhelming victory.

Surprised Assange has no idea what censorship is (-1, Redundant)

raymorris (2726007) | about 7 months ago | (#47073557)

Mass surveillance is bad. I would have thought Assange would have said that. Instead, he doesn't seem to know what surveillance is and what censorship is. Twice he called this "censorship". Censorship is when the authority prevents someone from saying something, when communications have to be pre-approved before they are disseminated. I kind of assumed Assange had at least a grade-school education, but I guess not.

Re:Surprised Assange has no idea what censorship i (1)

stewsters (1406737) | about 7 months ago | (#47073573)

When you listen to what people say and then fire a rocket at their car based on that, it is censorship.

Re:Surprised Assange has no idea what censorship i (0)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about 7 months ago | (#47073601)

When you listen to them planning to kill you, and you fire a rocket at their car, it is war.

Re:Surprised Assange has no idea what censorship i (5, Insightful)

ka9dgx (72702) | about 7 months ago | (#47073627)

When you listen to them talking politics, and then bomb the wedding down the street instead... that's US Intelligence.

Re:Surprised Assange has no idea what censorship i (2)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | about 7 months ago | (#47073613)

When you listen to what people say and then fire a rocket at their car based on that, it is censorship.

Just to play devils' advocate: if you heard people's last minute plans to mount a suicide attack at a market or checkpoint, and you only have a short time to lob a spitfire at them to prevent that, is that censorship?

I mean, I get the general gist of what you mean, but you need to be more articulate and precise, and provide a much better context to your argument.

Re:Surprised Assange has no idea what censorship i (3, Interesting)

stewsters (1406737) | about 7 months ago | (#47073729)

I do not mean to imply that they didn't deserve it, or that I would not have done the same.

I was just pointing out that we as Americans like to consider ourselves morally superior to our counterparts, but in reality we engage in a lot of the same practices.

Sometimes it is cheaper to blow up a school than send in people to determine if there are terrorists there.
Sometimes it is cheaper to have the CIA poison someone who has a different opinion than it is to debate them.
Sometimes it is cheaper to have a motorcyclist throw explosives on the outside of a nuclear scientist's car than it is to try to get the country to stop its program.
Sometimes it is cheaper to execute a cleric rather than have trials to determine guilt.

We are not much different than the people that attack us based on our ideas, we just have a lot more money than they do. It is too easy to dehumanize others and not care about collateral damage when we fight our wars.

Re:Surprised Assange has no idea what censorship i (4, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | about 7 months ago | (#47073623)

The "censorship" in question is the decision not to publish the name of the nation in question:

"By denying an entire population the knowledge of its own victimization, this act of censorship denies each individual in that country the opportunity to seek an effective remedy, whether in international courts, or elsewhere."

Reading Fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073633)

There is no confusion between censorship and surveillance in TFA .

Assange was referring to the censorship of the country in question by firstlook, which redacted or referred to as country 'X'.

Re:Surprised Assange has no idea what censorship i (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073703)

Err... the censorship he's referring to isn't the recording or surveillance, the (self-)censorship is the media outlets voluntarily not reporting the country's name owing to concerns raised by the US government about the impact of the report.

Re:Surprised Assange has no idea what censorship i (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073733)

Mass surveillance is bad. I would have thought Assange would have said that. Instead, he doesn't seem to know what surveillance is and what censorship is. Twice he called this "censorship". Censorship is when the authority prevents someone from saying something, when communications have to be pre-approved before they are disseminated. I kind of assumed Assange had at least a grade-school education, but I guess not.

If you RTFA, you can see that the censorship being referred to is not the surveillance, but the fact that the name of the country was omitted in the prior articles at the request of the US gvmt. Pretty sure that is censorship.

Re:Surprised Assange has no idea what censorship i (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 7 months ago | (#47073795)

Like most activists, the jump to assumptions, impose their version of their world view, and not try to take a look at the other angle, or try to understand why.

Usually your political opponent is not waking up in the morning going, what Evil can I do today, like in a TV Cartoon. In real life your opponent weighs the seriousness problems differently then you do, and feels particular trade-offs are more acceptable then you do.

The NSA mission is to use intelligence to find threats to the United States Interests. They see the threat of not getting intelligence more dangerous then the privacy of others. If they were pro-privacy organization then they wouldn't be able to function, as their jobs is to get secrets. Now if you see this, you realize that other then vilifying the NSA, you need to take a step back and work with their bosses to come up new regulations to prevent them from going too far.

Re:Surprised Assange has no idea what censorship i (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073981)

> Like most activists, the jump to assumptions, impose their version of their world view, and not try to take a look at the other angle, or try to understand why

So that's like Keith Alexander too? Besides, this scoundrel lies through his teeth.

In your view, Alexander would be an activist-plus?

Re:Surprised Assange has no idea what censorship i (1)

ljw1004 (764174) | about 7 months ago | (#47073797)

Sounds like you just logically disproved the existence of "self censorship". Or maybe you don't consider it to be a kind of censorship, despite its suggestive name...

Re:Surprised Assange has no idea what censorship i (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073841)

As mencioned below, censorship in this case refers to the self censorship of not reporting the country, but I'll give you something to consider:

The US has declined to state the evidence they use for some of the drone strikes against civilians, but now we know they have more information they couldn't tell you about because national security. Most likely some of them were killed because they joked (or planned) on the phone about grabbing their cousin and attacking the bastard soldiers harassing them or something. Next wedding they are at with their cousins they get killed by a drone strike.

That's some hard core censorship

Fire the Useless Fucks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073583)

If I was Obama, I would fire every member of the NSA, FBI and CIA for gross incompetence. Throw in the TSA for good measure too.
How can it be, with all this "intelligence" it still took them 10 years to find Bin Laden.
There are still "evildoers" supposedly planning acts of terror.
They still get the drone strikes wrong.
Our mobile phones still get stolen with impunity.
It takes them years to catch a single drug lord.
The 419 and "Microsoft Tech Support" scams are still operating.
Kidnappers are still at large.

These people are obviously just completely useless, and have no idea what to do with the data they are collecting.
Fire every last one of them!

Re:Fire the Useless Fucks! (3, Funny)

Useless (11387) | about 7 months ago | (#47073681)

Leave me out of this! They are nothing like me.

Re:Fire the Useless Fucks! (1)

watcher-rv4 (2712547) | about 7 months ago | (#47073831)

They can't find a Boing 777.

ALL telephones in Afghanistan ? (3, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 7 months ago | (#47073585)

All 15 of them? Wow!

Re:ALL telephones in Afghanistan ? (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 7 months ago | (#47073829)

While phone proliferation in Afghanistan might be lower than in the US, it's higher than several of its neighbors. In addition to land lines, that 16% of Afghans own a cell phone is rather impressive, given how their infrastructure has been bombed, over and over again, for decades.

The same cannot be said for USA - USA and France are the only Western countries that has fewer active cell phones than people.
And the geographical coverage is still far less than 50%, even when only considering the contiguous 48! More sparsely populated countries have far better coverage.
Russia can call the US a third world country when it comes to mobile phone penetration - with good reason.

Re:ALL telephones in Afghanistan ? (1)

lfourrier (209630) | about 7 months ago | (#47074161)

" USA and France are the only Western countries that has fewer active cell phones than people "

false for both, according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_number_of_mobile_phones_in_use

Re:ALL telephones in Afghanistan ? (1)

rvw (755107) | about 7 months ago | (#47074109)

All 15 of them? Wow!

So where did you learn to count in base 1 million?

No shit, this is the JOB of the NSA (4, Insightful)

bemenaker (852000) | about 7 months ago | (#47073625)

This part of the Snowden leaks is the part I have a problem with. This is EXACTLY what the NSA is supposed to be doing. Making this part public record does do damage to the US and is part of being a traitor. I have zero problems with Snowden leaking information about the NSA spying on Americans, not because it effects me, but because it's a violation of the Constitution and the NSA does NOT have that authority, regardless of what laws Congress passes. If the SCOTUS wasn't such pussies they would have taken this on years ago and stopped it, but instead they are 100% complicit in this as well. If Snowden has a problem with these actions from the NSA, why did he take a job there in the first place?

Re:No shit, this is the JOB of the NSA (2)

garlicbready (846542) | about 7 months ago | (#47073659)

Isn't this supposed to be the job of the CIA?
I thought the NSA were only supposed to operate locally

Re:No shit, this is the JOB of the NSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073839)

You are thinking of the FBI. SIGINT has always been NSA.

Re:No shit, this is the JOB of the NSA (3, Informative)

swillden (191260) | about 7 months ago | (#47073871)

I thought the NSA were only supposed to operate locally

Not sure if this is tongue in cheek or not, but I'll answer it. The NSA is specifically barred from domestic spying. They and the CIA are supposed to be focused on foreign intelligence. The agency that would operate locally is the FBI.

Re:No shit, this is the JOB of the NSA (2)

Kardos (1348077) | about 7 months ago | (#47073663)

So from the other side, if an Afghani intelligence agency was recording every call in America, that's OK too because it's their job?

Re:No shit, this is the JOB of the NSA (2)

c (8461) | about 7 months ago | (#47073903)

So from the other side, if an Afghani intelligence agency was recording every call in America, that's OK too because it's their job?

Under Afghani law, probably.

Granted, Afghan law has perhaps recently had a lot of outside fingers in it, so that might actually be illegal.

I don't doubt that it's legal for the NSA to be doing this under American law, seeing how foreign signals interception is largely their main function. With American troops in a foreign country with a history of militant extremist activity, it's pretty much a given that there's going to be signals interception, and with America being heavily involved in stuff like infrastructure rebuilding, there would have been plenty of opportunity to build in interception capabilities. I'd also assume Iraq is in a similar state.

Re:No shit, this is the JOB of the NSA (1)

niftydude (1745144) | about 7 months ago | (#47074199)

So from the other side, if an Afghani intelligence agency was recording every call in America, that's OK too because it's their job?

I fairly certain I recall Obama stating in the past that he would consider it an act of war if any country did that sort of thing to the US. (Unless of course it is one of the five eyes countries, who share what they record in the US back to the NSA to create a nice little bypass of the rule which does not allow the NSA to spy domestically).

Re:No shit, this is the JOB of the NSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073667)

Snowden and everybody but wikileaks saw fit to redact this for security reasons. This news isn't SNOWDEN betraying jack shit.

Re:No shit, this is the JOB of the NSA (4, Interesting)

swillden (191260) | about 7 months ago | (#47073907)

Snowden and everybody but wikileaks saw fit to redact this for security reasons. This news isn't SNOWDEN betraying jack shit.

Well, Snowden betrayed it to Wikileaks.

On balance, I think the benefit of Snowden's actions far outweigh any damage done. Given that it likely wasn't practical for him to vet all the information, and that there was an overwhelming need to disclose the NSA's betrayal of its own people, I think he did the right thing and still consider him a hero. Nevertheless, I do agree that some of the NSA's foreign activities are legitimate and didn't need to be disclosed.

Re:No shit, this is the JOB of the NSA (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about 7 months ago | (#47073671)

"It isn't illegal by the laws of my country" is not a particularly helpful answer when dealing with international relations.

Re:No shit, this is the JOB of the NSA (2, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | about 7 months ago | (#47073677)

I'd like to point out that:

1) It's perfectly legal for the NSA to spy on Britons, which it is documented as doing
2) It's perfectly legal for the NSA to give that information to GCHQ, which it is documented as doing
3) It's perfectly legal for GCHQ to spy on Americans, which it is documented as doing
4) It's perfectly legal for GCHQ to give that information to the NSA.

Re:No shit, this is the JOB of the NSA (5, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 7 months ago | (#47073931)

What the NSA is doing to foreigners IS harming Americans. It's destroying our reputation, destroying our business contracts, and alienating the entire world. How would you feel if China or Russia developed some new technology that allowed them to listen to all of your phone calls and then they went about doing just that?

Just because something doesn't implicitly violate the constitution doesn't mean it's right and just. How many foreigners are you willing to sacrifice for your own safety? How many dictators are we going to install? People are we going to torture? Freedoms are we going to crush? The whole of the nightmare in the middle east right now is the fault of the united states. Every dictator in recent memory was a product of the CIA/NSA's attempts to secure the low price of oil. All the misery you see there now was to make it cheaper for you to get to work in the morning, not to protect you from "terrorists". We're murdering hundreds of thousands of people, men, women and children, all in some insane game of simcity, trying to fix the mess we created. At some point we need to just back away and let these people live their lives. WE are the problem. Not them. If some of their crazies manage to knock down a few of our buildings well... we deserve it.

Re:No shit, this is the JOB of the NSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47074187)

My only correction, not SimCity but Tropico.

Re:No shit, this is the JOB of the NSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47074079)

Afghanistan is a sovereign state. The US is, in fact, not at war with Afghanistan. The US is not entitled to mass intercept all communications of private citizens in another state. Doing so is a hostile act.

The people of Afghanistan have a right to be angry at that, just as you would have a right to be angry if Saudi Arabia or Canada or Switzerland did the same to you.

No shit, this is the JOB of the NSA (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47074083)

I think I see your confusion, you seem to be under the impression that all of this is actually helping US National Security. Don't get me wrong its easy to see how you would feel that way, the media here in the US is obviously quite cozy with the government. I wouldn't call it propaganda so much as a mutual agreement, you (media) keep from overly questioning us & we (gov) won't shut you out of press conferences, imbedded reporting, etc. However virtually all evidence points to the opposite, we have more terrorists & more animosity towards the US than we had a decade or so ago. What the NSA & our defense agencies in general HAVE been doing is making sure the defense contractors have a VERY lucrative contracts providing supplies, surveillance equipment, bombs & drones, and through their actions have been ensuring that we will have to continue to pay them for decades more because at the very least we are creating as many terrorists as we kill with every attack.

Whitelist vs. Blacklist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073639)

Wouldn't it just be better at this point to do a "whitelist story", something like "Here are the countries for which there is no proof that the NSA is performing mass-surveillance" than to do individual stories for countries? I mean, we've had one for Germany, France, the United States itself, the UK (even though that's GCHQ actually doing the surveillance and then passing it to the NSA), and now Afghanistan among others.

Attn: Ass enge: shut the fuck up (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073657)

The NSA should be recording every fucking phone call in Afghanistan.

Re:Attn: Ass enge: shut the fuck up (1)

Nite_Hawk (1304) | about 7 months ago | (#47073775)

Yes, because clearly the best way to win over the population there that doesn't support terrorism is to subject them to things we would ourselves find objectionable.

Basically it's what a security agency should do (-1)

Rotten (8785) | about 7 months ago | (#47073699)

I endorse privacy, but i have to recognize that this practices are the most probable cause of why we have not seen more 9/11's in the last 10 years. I gladly pay the price. Of course one could think that there's more elegant ways to achieve the same, but when this started, elegance was not a choice.
I believe the practices will change over time and under public pressure, achieving the same goals without having to analyze every single communication around, besides the privacy concern, is really not that efficient...

Re:Basically it's what a security agency should do (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073827)

You seem to be under the illusion that the US and the other "5 Eyes" countries were not collecting metadata and recording conversations pre-2001. This is an inaccurate belief on your part.

Re:Basically it's what a security agency should do (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 7 months ago | (#47073899)

"most probable cause of why we have not seen more 9/11's in the last 10 years."

Doubtful at best, and the chance of an actual 9/11 style attack (with planes) will never again occur. Heck, it didn't even work by the four plane that same morning.

However, I do agree that the monitoring they are doing is exactly what we set them up to do in the first place. Nobody ever wants to be spied on, but everybody wants to spy. When the magical pixie horse utopia arrives and there are no wars or conflicts and everybody loves everybody else (or hates but avoids everyone else in a back cabin miles from the nearest other living thing, for libertarians) we won't need to spy. Until then, I still feel the NSA is operating in the best interest of the US as a whole.

Makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073727)

we did just rebuild their entire infrastructure after knocking it over. What better way to keep our eye on them than to build the spying in right from the start.

Of course if you think the NSA "bugged" an entire country you'd be silly... They bought their surveillance pre-installed from the same companies that sell equipment here. The whole thing is a giant playground to see how well everything works. The government will happily pass this information to other governments and the hardware makers will happily sell their wares to Syria and Noth Korea so the dictators can abuse human rights.

It was mandatory corporations profit somehow from the war.. And cheap opium wasn't nearly enough.

Phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47073761)

I bet there are dozens of them in Afghanistan. Dozens!

we do this because weve failed before. (2)

nimbius (983462) | about 7 months ago | (#47073911)

in order to win hearts and minds, one must know what secrets lie within them. Our series of sponsored elections in iraq failed ultimately because we assumed our liberation theology was a mutually shared concern. Hamid Karzai's relations with NATO countries is strong, especially with the United States seeing as during the elections we sponsored, he was the candidate we placed the most effort behind to win. we labelled the opposition "terrorists" and regardless of how moderate their islamic platform was, branded them outlaws and sentenced them to summary execution by drone. The fact that the NSA is monitoring the entire country is reason enough to assume the united states does not have enough confidence in the afghani people to rest assured they will continue to vote for one of "our" guys. We can have democracy in Afghanistan, so long as its the democracy we select. religious or islamic candidates are flatly forbidden regardless of how conservative or progressive they may be as we fear a nationalist element to their political aspirations that would preclude us from installing military bases at will, or outsourcing the country to make tshirts and sweatpants as we did in cambodia and viet nam once the democracy we wanted was had.

If you think this is morally wrong, it is. In american elections we're routinely given to elect fundamentalist christian leaders without so much as questioning the idea they believe in say, the death penalty as is biblically prescribed. We elect leaders at all levels of government in part based on their religion, as would islamic citizens.

The National Security Agency (1, Insightful)

Flytrap (939609) | about 7 months ago | (#47074053)

Most of us can live with the fact that our security and secret agencies sustain our way of life, maintain our security and liberties, preserve our freedoms and protect our and values by denying others (often in far flung lands) of the same as long as we are not forced to confront the morality of that reality or explain to those whose rights, freedoms and liberties the preservation of our own tramples upon why they are not worthy of the very values, liberties and freedoms that we are willing to go to such lengths to protect and preserve?

The activities of spy agencies of every country are conducted in secret for a reason. Often we, the tax payers in whose name those agencies conduct their business, do not want to know the price that some innocent person in some part of the world that we barely know of may have paid for the preservation of our own way of life. We would much rather believe that they deserved to have their rights trampled upon, their liberties denied, their freedom curtailed and yes, if necessary, their life snuffed out; so we grasp at the justifications that our security agencies give us to help us sleep at night: Afghanistan is a cesspool of terrorists... they want to destroy our way of life... etc, etc.

So, it seems that the NSA is monitoring every cell phone call in the Bahamas, Afghanistan and probably every other country that uses US made telecommunication equipment. This revelation should not be a surprise, and we, the tax payer that pays for this should, be relieved to see confirmation that our spy agencies are using our tax dollars to detect threats to our freedoms, liberties, and general way of life before they materialise on our shores...

Our feigned disapproval comes not from finding out the details of what our spy agency has been up to in our name, but rather from the internal conflict that we all must confront at discovering the true price of our way of life.

Here is a reality check for all of us: our freedom, liberties and way of life often come at at the cost of denying someone else of their freedom, liberty and sometimes their life. So, instead of pretending to be surprised at the discovery of what the NSA has been up to in Afghanistan, we should instead seek to bestow upon the people of Afghanistan the very same freedom, liberties and values that we treasure and hold dear, so that hopefully one day, they too can attain the same levels of property that we enjoy and drive out the terrorists who not only threaten us, but threaten them and their ability to prosper as well.

Re:The National Security Agency (1)

Twelfth Harmonic (3464759) | about 7 months ago | (#47074195)

probably every other country that uses US made telecommunication equipmen

That is the big scoop Snowden will reveal. Cisco started begging in WA that they stop it. This will kill off a huge portion of jobs in the US.
Most probably that fact is the moral dilemma Snowden is facing.

so what? (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about 7 months ago | (#47074149)

We were at war with Afghanistan, and it used to be run by a totalitarian regime. Monitoring their phones for a decade or two as part of attempting to transition them to democracy doesn't seem unreasonable. We did the same in Germany after WWII, and also limited German democracy in some ways.

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