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New Snowden Leak: of 160000 Intercepted Messages, Only 10% From Official Targets

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the that-old-familiar-story dept.

United States 201

An anonymous reader writes in with the latest news about NSA spying from documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post. Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else. Many of them were Americans. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or "minimized," more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans' privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S. residents."

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What's worse? (-1, Troll)

johnsie (1158363) | about 3 months ago | (#47393099)

What's worse, intercepting peoples messages or making them public for anyone to read?

Re:What's worse? (4, Insightful)

conscarcdr (1429747) | about 3 months ago | (#47393129)

Yeah, let's just go back to intercepting peoples' messages quietly, shall we?

Re:What's worse? (1)

CaptainDork (3678879) | about 3 months ago | (#47394645)

It would be nice if the American government was competent.

That way, they could perform miracles of a semi-religious nature and we'd never know about it.

The problem I have is that we know about it.

Re:What's worse? (4, Insightful)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 3 months ago | (#47393133)

What's worse is your wilful misconstrual of an important privacy rights issue either out of malice or ignorance.

Re:What's worse? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393161)

"...either out of malice or ignorance."

Or maybe 'johnsie' is being paid to stir up the pot a little?

Re:What's worse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393803)

Completely irrelevant.

A crime is illegal regardless of if you get paid to report it or not.
Why do you find it so important that we discuss everything but NSAs misbehavior?

Re:What's worse? (1)

Mister Transistor (259842) | about 3 months ago | (#47393981)

Plus the trolls are plentiful enough they don't need to PAY them to find a dissenting opinion!

Re:What's worse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393169)

And exactly how many peoples messages have you read so far?
Everybody new NSA is intercepting messages but ignored it for the lack of proof.
Now that the proof is out in the open we all of a sudden rationalizing that it was a bad thing and the way it was before Snowden was somehow better.

Re:What's worse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393193)

You deserve what's coming to you.

Re:What's worse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393221)

Remember, most IP metadata, if not most traffic, is sent in clear-text?

Re:What's worse? (5, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 months ago | (#47393235)

What's worse, intercepting peoples messages or making them public for anyone to read?

Since the latter is a violation of my constitutional rights and the former is not, I'm going to say intercepting peoples messages. Any more inane questions or can we move onto the topic of why our federal government has torn up the constitution and is currently using it to wipe their ass?

Re:What's worse? (3, Informative)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about 3 months ago | (#47393581)

Which one is the former and which the latter? Because intercepting messages sounds like it is mighty unconstitutional.

Re:What's worse? (3, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 months ago | (#47393639)

You're right, I got them mixed up. :-p
You get my point though.

Re:What's worse? (4, Insightful)

Arker (91948) | about 3 months ago | (#47393797)

What's worse, committing a crime or exposing a crime?

Are you really having to stop and think about it?

Re: What's worse? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393983)

Here's faggot Archer with his tt tags.

Re:What's worse? (5, Insightful)

linearz69 (3473163) | about 3 months ago | (#47393947)

What's worse, intercepting peoples messages or making them public for anyone to read?

If by "making them public" you are referring to the messages the article wrote of, then you are a moron. Its clear the reporter got permission from the author of the message to reprint, and the article did very well to show how intrusive the collection process is.

If by "making them public" you are referring to the NSA storing the intercepted message, and then allowing random defense contractor jerkoffs / lawyers / cops / self appointed authorities to access them in the future, then you might have a point.

Re:What's worse? (1)

Lakitu (136170) | about 3 months ago | (#47394619)

That's probably the funniest noir moment about this. The Washington Post, a newspaper, is being trusted with data so sensitive they don't even want to reveal some of it publicly.

A newspaper! I think I'd rather give my credit card information to Target than trust a newspaper company with knowing anything about the internet.

I would count the days until lax security leads to the raw data leaking onto the general internet, but it's probably already been read by Unit 61337.

Americans don't care (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393135)

For all Snowden's sacrifices he is barely making a dent in the collective ignorance of Americans. At least other countries are being shown/reminded of just how dangerous the NSA is to them.

Re:Americans don't care (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393197)

And they'll never care unless you start taking some physical away from from them. Then they'll piss and moan.

Re:Americans don't care (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393215)

Except for the German government, it seems. This is such a huge farce, I don't even find words to describe it appropriately.

Re:Americans don't care (4, Insightful)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 3 months ago | (#47393325)

Look. On the one hand, it will be virtually impossible to make the technology disappear that allows any government unprecedented surveillance powers.

Based on the historical evidence of the governments of men, it would also be rather reasonable to expect there will exist elements within our governments willing to exploit national security fears to abuse surveillance powers.

With awareness, ignorance is left off the table as a selection. At least if we are made aware, we then choose to make a difference or play along.

Re:Americans don't care (1)

ron_ivi (607351) | about 3 months ago | (#47394221)

make the technology disappear

It's not a matter of making the technology disappear.

It's about using appropriate technologies to keep sensitive data private.

I would hope that every foreign business in the world is now researching encrypted email, VPNs, etc for their corporate communication just to protect their industrial secrets and corporate IP.

And I would hope that US companies now assume that China and Russia are doing similar spying to the NSA -- and therefore are also researching encrypted email, VPNs, etc.

Once such companies do that (and they will - because money), the appropriate technogies will become widespread enough that reasonably encrypted email will trickle down to consumer tools like gmail/hotmal/etc.

And that's what'll re-enstate privacy for the common person.

Re:Americans don't care (1)

joocemann (1273720) | about 3 months ago | (#47394245)

Every lock you build has a key. A security cold war is inevitable.

Re:Americans don't care (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47394431)

Good job you've got those guns, otherwise you lot would be being repressed.......

Re:Americans don't care (5, Insightful)

wealthychef (584778) | about 3 months ago | (#47393705)

The point is not to make a dent in the collective ignorance of Americans. That's asking a lot. What is the point is to uncover the man behind the green curtain, who promises us he is keeping us safe with his awesome powers, but is instead bumbling around, lying, and providing a fertile ground for abuse by collecting too much information and having an opaque process. Evil loves the darkness, even when the "good guys" are the ones that turn the light out in the name of national security.

Re:Americans don't care (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47394149)

Reign em in or quit your whining . They are your responsibility.

Re:Americans don't care (1)

davydagger (2566757) | about 3 months ago | (#47394977)

its probably the biggest dent thats been made post reagan.

You don't see it on the TV, but people are slowly starting to question everything.

The only people immune from this, are people who have *a lot* to loose if the government comes crashing down.

What haven't they lied about? (5, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 3 months ago | (#47393177)

As recently as May, shortly after he retired as NSA director, Gen. Keith Alexander denied that Snowden could have passed FISA content to journalists.

âoeHe didnâ(TM)t get this data,â Alexander told a New Yorker reporter. âoeThey didnâ(TM)t touch â"â

âoeThe operational data?â the reporter asked.

âoeThey didnâ(TM)t touch the FISA data,â Alexander replied. He added, âoeThat database, he didnâ(TM)t have access to.â

Robert S. Litt, the general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said in a prepared statement that Alexander and other officials were speaking only about âoerawâ intelligence, the term for intercepted content that has not yet been evaluated, stamped with classification markings or minimized to mask U.S. identities.

Every step of the way, the NSA has been forced to go back and qualify its previous statements.
And not just statements to the American people, but to Congress as well.

One analyst rests her claim that a target is foreign on the fact that his e-mails are written in a foreign language, a quality shared by tens of millions of Americans. Others are allowed to presume that anyone on the chat âoebuddy listâ of a known foreign national is also foreign.

In many other cases, analysts seek and obtain approval to treat an account as âoeforeignâ if someone connects to it from a computer address that seems to be overseas. âoeThe best foreignness explanations have the selector being accessed via a foreign IP address,â an NSA supervisor instructs an allied analyst in Australia.

And these are the carefully vetted selectors that are being used to not-spy on Americans.
It might be faster for the NSA to just make a list of the things they haven't publicly lied about.
What a farce.

Re:What haven't they lied about? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393233)

The only farce here is the American people standing for it. That includes those at the highest levels.

Re:What haven't they lied about? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393239)

What a farce.

The real farce is that Americans will keep voting for the same two political parties, no matter what they do.

Re:What haven't they lied about? (4, Insightful)

weilawei (897823) | about 3 months ago | (#47393281)

We have two? I only see one from here...

Re:What haven't they lied about? (4, Insightful)

augahyde (1016980) | about 3 months ago | (#47393379)

We have two? I only see one from here...

In name we have two. In reality we have factions of one.

Re:What haven't they lied about? (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | about 3 months ago | (#47393723)

Let's look on a brighter side. Maybe the NSA can find those lost IRS emails :P

Re:What haven't they lied about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47394705)

what country do you live in?

Re:What haven't they lied about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393999)

Any ideas on how I can show Snowden my gratitude by ensuring his return to America will exclude his being punished by the authorities for having revealed their failings to us?

Re:What haven't they lied about? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47394665)

Show your appreciation for his sacrifice by making it mean something.

There are four boxes to be used in the defense of liberty. Soap, ballot, jury, ammo. Use, starting now, in that order.

Re:What haven't they lied about? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47394085)

What a farce.

The real farce is that Americans will keep voting for the same two political parties, no matter what they do.

I think that is what annoys me the most. Where is the public outcry? Nobody seems to care that our once famous Democracy has become something twisted and evil. All top level NSA managers should be imprisoned a year for every illegally intercepted message. But that will never happen, no one can do anything to reign in an out of control criminal agency; Congress won't do anything because they created the problem and fear all the blackmail evidence the NSA is holding on them, the president won't do anything because he is too busy trying to EXPAND their powers, the DOJ will not do anything because they are even MORE corrupt, the people will not do anything because NO ONE CARES!

Re:What haven't they lied about? (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 months ago | (#47393247)

Well, they're using the excuse that they are forced to lie because the programs are top secret, congress isn't authorized to see the data so congress should stop asking questions so they don't have to lie to them.

Re:What haven't they lied about? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393989)

Anything that is too secret to be told to the representatives of the public is not compatible with a republic.

So they just have to stop it. Yes, it will make some things harder, but "it was easier that way" is not an excuse to break the law. Particularly not for the government.

Re:What haven't they lied about? (1)

joocemann (1273720) | about 3 months ago | (#47394279)

The intelligence oversight act of 1974 gave small groups in congress the ability to oversee intelligence activities that breach rights -- the basis being that warranting evidence would then lead to permissions of privacy violations, etc. I don't understand why this isn't still important. It was important in August 2001. It was important on September 10th 2001.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H... [wikipedia.org]

Re:What haven't they lied about? (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 months ago | (#47394575)

The intelligence oversight act of 1974 gave small groups in congress the ability to oversee intelligence activities that breach rights -- the basis being that warranting evidence would then lead to permissions of privacy violations, etc. I don't understand why this isn't still important. It was important in August 2001. It was important on September 10th 2001.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H... [wikipedia.org]

Watch the Frontline special on the NSA:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/... [pbs.org]

Re:What haven't they lied about? (4, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | about 3 months ago | (#47393343)

There statements will change only slightely. It will go from "No!" to "So?".
The real issue is not so much that they are spying or even lying about it. The issue is that nothing is done to stop it.

Re:What haven't they lied about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393921)

tldr; I can't even read what it says. If you are posting to a site that doesn't handle Unicode characters, don't copy and paste Unicode. It's not difficult.

Re:What haven't they lied about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393969)

Every step of the way, the NSA has been forced to go back and qualify its previous statements.

Since when is adding "-- not." called "qualifying a statement"?

Is there some sort of Newspeak Dictionary where one can look up when and why various phrases changed their meaning to the opposite?

It might help keeping up with all those honorable men.

Re:What haven't they lied about? (3, Insightful)

linearz69 (3473163) | about 3 months ago | (#47394069)

Every step of the way, the NSA has been forced to go back and qualify its previous statements.
And not just statements to the American people, but to Congress as well.

This is kind of like the scorpion and the frog.

Perhaps the concern here shouldn't be the NSA as much as the people who make the laws that enable the NSA to be the way they are. The NSA is a large secret agency that has been created by decades of congressional legislation. Due to "security concerns" the NSA operates relatively autonomously, and, by design, even the president and courts have limited oversight. The limitation of this oversight of the Judicial and Executive branches should be challenged but really hasn't. Why?

And people rail against the NSA, but they really need to look at congress who has allowed the agency, through legislation, to completely avoid the Judicial branch of our government, and not be accountable to the executive branch which it is supposedly running under.

One of the things I've notices is a general public complacency on this NSA issue. I'm curious as to why more people don't think the NSA spying is a problem. I was having a conversation with a friend the other day, and he seem real concerned about CIA drone strikes in Yemen. When I said I was more concerned about the NSA in Mountain View, he looked at me like I needed a tinfoil hat.

Re:What haven't they lied about? (2)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 3 months ago | (#47394839)

Due to "security concerns" the NSA operates relatively autonomously, and, by design, even the president and courts have limited oversight.

This isn't true at all
The President has ultimate authority over the actions of the intelligence agencies.
The Congress has ultimate control of funding for the intelligence agencies.
Further, both houses of Congress have intelligence oversight committees that were formed in the wake of multiple scandals from the 1960s and 1970s.

None of this is new. FISA was written as a direct result of the US Army spying on domestic protests by American citizens.
The domestic and overbroad spying by the NSA is exactly the type of thing that FISA was originally intended to halt.

Every time we pass a law to stop some shitty corporate or military behavior, it gets slowly watered down over the years until it's incapable of meeting its original goals.

Re:What haven't they lied about? (2)

ron_ivi (607351) | about 3 months ago | (#47394177)

Gen. Keith Alexander denied that Snowden could have passed FISA content to journalists

Does that mean that Alexander's kinda a witness to Snowden's innocence in this leak?

If it goes to trial, a NSA director saying it couldn't have been Snowden who leaked this stuff is probably a pretty good alibi.

The Spin (4, Interesting)

weilawei (897823) | about 3 months ago | (#47393251)

The amount of spin applied to the article is incredible. It reads like a propaganda piece designed to have snippets quoted out of context. Good soundbites.

In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are

Which appears to imply that we only target foreigners... Since Americans are "untargeted" they don't deserve a mention.

At one level, the NSA shows scrupulous care in protecting the privacy of U.S. nationals and, by policy, those of its four closest intelligence allies — Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

And then they never balance out that "At one level" until three paragraphs later.

Then, they spend most of the article on a fucking fluff piece about the content of some romantic messages. What the fuck is this shit?

PR spin piece, through and through. They managed to ruin an actual news story.

Re:The Spin (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 3 months ago | (#47393509)

Post > Bezos > CIA

Don't expect them to say nice things about the NSA. Sounds like a regular turf war to me.

Re:The Spin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393563)

You are a twit, they explain why they spent time on the romance.

"What she does not understand, she said, is why after all this time, with the case long closed and her own job with the Australian government secure, the NSA does not discard what it no longer needs.'

Re:The Spin (5, Insightful)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | about 3 months ago | (#47393619)

I think it's smart. Lots and lots of people don't respond to stories that are technical and abstract. OK so they spy on people using "tor" with "selectors" yawn change channel *zap*.

Human interest stories are different. This story might reach a whole audience who just couldn't find it in themselves to care until now. But ooooh juicy details about someone's romance with a jihadist, interesting, and huh .... wait. They could get that stuff on anyone, couldn't they. They could get that on me.

So this story could prompt the housewives of America to care more than perhaps they have so far.

Untargeted? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393761)

If someone intercepts your communications, records them to persistent storage, and keeps them indefinitely for later inspection, YOU ARE BEING TARGETED. Your papers and effects are being seized without any judicial oversight, contrary to the 4th amendment of the US constitution. What the hell is wrong with you?

Re:Untargeted? (1)

weilawei (897823) | about 3 months ago | (#47394611)

You're agreeing with me. Note how I put "untargeted" in quotes...

Re:Untargeted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47394739)

well here,
let's think about this a little bit more clearly.
i didn't pull you over - i redirected your daily route to work
and along that path i installed license plate readers
we weren't really updating that bridge :)
we were updating our records
ofc, when they do this with cellular data you're not the target.
the traffic on your isp is.
you are not the target until we find something interesting in our logs from your isp
THEN you become the target
america's, american's....
i suppose it's all semantics but really
we don't target yemeni's with missles and drones until after they've been identified.

Re:The Spin (2)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about 3 months ago | (#47393789)

You are a terrible reader. I cannot imagine a PR piece that could be more harmful to the cause.

It sounds like you allowed some preconceived notion to spin the words for you, because I didn't find your references until the second read through. The first was after reading this post so I was looking for spin to confirm it.

The article was not well written in parts, but it includes some quotes that, taken out of context, more than balance out your spin assertion. The very first sentence in the article explicitly states that Americans were not legally intercepted. The question of who was targeted is a separate issue, depending on the definition of foreign, which is also addressed later.

Your assignment. Make one list of all of the positive spin, and another of spin free clearly negative information. Especially when it is the same concept worded differently. Post this list to back up your claim.

Re:The Spin (1)

weilawei (897823) | about 3 months ago | (#47394627)

I didn't find your references until the second read through.

You mean to say you didn't read the headline--which was the first reference of only two. That's some real close reading there.

Re:The Spin (1)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about 3 months ago | (#47394741)

Correct. Headlines are the worst offenders at information dispersion, and I ignore them unless I'm certain I missed something.

My argument stands. Your assignment is not complete.

Re:The Spin (1)

weilawei (897823) | about 3 months ago | (#47394807)

Your assignment is a load of BS. A PR spin piece can say lots of things, but the headline and the top of the fold is where most readers stop. Anything more than a quick skim is unlikely--and you are prime evidence of that. You didn't even get TFH. Even worse, you didn't read the first sentence.

The very first sentence in the article explicitly states that Americans were not legally intercepted.

Now, that word... explicit. I don't think it means what you think it means. Did you mean IMPLICIT?

Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post.

It says that ordinary internet users (Americans and others) outnumber legally targeted foreigners. At no point does that sentence explicitly state that Americans were targeted illegally. It merely says that ordinary users outnumber "legally targeted foreigners". It DOES NOT state that collection was considered to be illegal for Americans. You can infer that all target collection on foreigners that was not legal was illegal, but it doesn't state whether or not Americans having their data collected was illegal.

What you're doing is making an inference from something implied by that statement.

Now shut the fuck up and go away already until you learn to read. FFS...

Re:The Spin (1)

weilawei (897823) | about 3 months ago | (#47394859)

For bonus points, try searching that page for the word 'illegal' or 'unlawful'. You will not find it. Words containing 'legal' appear only twice. The use of 'lawful' occurs once, in 'lawfully', where they claim:

Most of the people caught up in those programs are not the targets and would not lawfully qualify as such.

So, they don't lawfully qualify as being targeted. So it's not actually targeting is what they're arguing. (Also, a load of BS.)

You have to feel sorry for Edward.. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393291)

The guy now faces a gradual slide into obscurity as the initial outrage over his revelations congeals into apathy and and acceptance by the vast majority... in the best case scenario for him personally, he will spend the rest of his life in departure lounge purgatory like this guy [wikipedia.org] . There are plenty of worse possibilities. I wouldn't be surprised if he goes a bit loopy and we begin to get stories of him doing strange things like other well known whistleblowers who ended up in similar circumstances, when that happens we should remember that every human has a breaking point and it doesn't devalue their accomplishments. Was it worth it? Will he be vindicated in future history? Only time will tell, but what's fairly certain is he won't be alive to see it. I'm not implying there will be assassinations or whatever but that the world's slide into a darker period of history is still accelerating and it will be decades, at least, before the pendulum naturally begins to swing the other way.

Re:You have to feel sorry for Edward.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393641)

Interesting comment. Maybe you are correct.

10%? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393403)

And how many of those targets should be targets to begin with? With how easy it is for the government to label someone a 'terrorist' or an 'extremist', their targets are probably mostly harmless people, anyway.

Does Snowden know anything ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393461)

This is one reason I doubt whether Snowden was an agent or just a techie looking after the plumbings. We all know that target are those we are interest in seeing the content of the messages they are sending and receiving. However, communication patterns of sending and receiving from whom, when and where are also information about these targets which may lead to other interesting targets, even if the contents were not legally allowed to be viewed by NSA. If any target is in communication with 10 others non-targets, you get a lot of messages received and sent from non-targets. Techies would know about the source and sink count of these transmissions, and know the target id's so that they can be separated and sent to real agents, but have no idea about how these information are used and results of these analysis.

Re:Does Snowden know anything ? (3, Insightful)

jeIIomizer (3670945) | about 3 months ago | (#47393543)

Do you know anything? More specifically, do you know anything about the constitution, or freedom? If your idiotic mass surveillance scheme isn't being conducted with constitutional warrants and can't help but sap up a information on innocent people (millions in this case), then it's unconstitutional and evil. What is so hard to understand about that?

Re:Does Snowden know anything ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47394111)

So how much do you get paid to spread bullshit and use illogical arguments in order to attempt to justify the unjustifiable?

I ask not for myself, of course, but I have an ex-girlfriend that I think would be great for the job.

What the hell? (5, Insightful)

engun (1234934) | about 3 months ago | (#47393501)

The tone of this post is insane. It makes it sound like Americans are the only people on this planet with a right to privacy. What about the rest of the world? So the NSA's only crime is that it spied on US citizens? Is it perfectly ok to undermine those same rights for other human beings?

Re:What the hell? (5, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 months ago | (#47393537)

There are at least three separate arguments here. One is whether it's wrong to spy on anyone. The next is whether it's wrong to spy on your own citizens. The third is whether you ever have an excuse to violate the highest law of the land (the constitution, of course) in order to uphold lesser laws.

It's not hypocritical to believe that the answers are no, yes, and no, respectively. It's douchey, but not hypocritical. Hypocritical would be ignoring the fact that every nation with the funding has an espionage program.

Re:What the hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393569)

Hypocritical would be ignoring the fact that every nation with the funding has an espionage program.

It would only be hypocritical if the person personally believed that that was okay. Not everyone agrees with what their government does, so just because a country has an espionage program (that spies on innocents) does not make the people opposing such things hypocritical.

Re:What the hell? (2)

jeIIomizer (3670945) | about 3 months ago | (#47393551)

No, it isn't okay, but that won't stop people from 'justifying' it by saying "Everyone else is doing it, so it's okay!" or "It keeps us safe, so it's okay!" or "It's technically not illegal, so it's okay!"

Re:What the hell? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393557)

The difference with other countries is size, the US one is far bigger.

Re:What the hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393629)

Citizens of a country have a right not to be spied on by THEIR OWN country, except in accordance with due process of law. Between countries, there is no such right, nor should there be, as it would an infringement the "human right" of self-government.
If Austria wants to spy on Belgian citizens, it can. If Belgians don't like it, they are free to disband their government and request to be annexed by Austria. Etc.

Re:What the hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393685)

We can put whatever limits on our governments that we want. If we don't want them to spy on innocent foreigners, then they don't get to. It's that simple.

Re:What the hell? (1)

Lakitu (136170) | about 3 months ago | (#47394447)

Every single country in the world treats its own citizens differently from how it treats foreign nations' citizens. Governments as we know them could not even function if this were not the case.

Re:What the hell? (1)

jeIIomizer (3670945) | about 3 months ago | (#47394835)

Every single country in the world treats its own citizens differently from how it treats foreign nations' citizens.

Yes, but it does not follow that we must spy on innocent foreigners. All we have to do to not do that is... stop it. That's all.

According to the NSA, you are not a US citizen if (5, Interesting)

whoever57 (658626) | about 3 months ago | (#47393643)

If any of the following apply:

1. You write emails in a foreign language

2. You chat with known foreigners.

3. You use an offshore proxy (perhaps to watch sprts events not available on US TV).

4. Your broswer has stored tracking cookies from Yahoo, which advertisers consider unreliable.

These are the reported cases. Prbably there are more. Remember that the NSA claimed that it did not track people if the balance of probabilities showed them to be US citizens, but this shows that, once again, the NSA was lying.

Re:According to the NSA, you are not a US citizen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393821)

So the Navaho Speakers of WW2 would probably qualify in your list. Even today they speak to eah other in Navaho and also write emails using their native language.

Yep Traitors/Terrorists/Bad Guys the lot of them

There are probably more than a few inside the 'Beltway' that would agree with that last statement though I do not.

Posting this may well get me on their 'they are a person of interest list', along with probably 30% of US Citizens.
Paranoia at its best.

How big is the problem really? (1, Interesting)

godrik (1287354) | about 3 months ago | (#47393687)

How many people are really being unlawfully spied upon? I am not saying that even 1 would be acceptable. But do we have any numbers on that? Because it seems that there was 10,000 unlawful account being spied upon. This is a very small "collateral damage" on the size of the population. There are 313,000,000 people in the US. We are talking about 0.003% which seems "somewhat reasonnable"

Maybe the article was talking about only a single program. But how vast this "mass surveillance" really is?

Re:How big is the problem really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393763)

Please read the fine article.

It proposes that based on a 1 in 10 "success" rate, the dragnet is wrongly flagging close to 1 million US citizens.

That's straight from the article.

My understanding, though the article doesn't specifically say so (my reading comprehension could be wrong), is that the NSA program captures everything else and that everyone else is correctly flagged as a US citizen and their data is left alone.

Re:How big is the problem really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393907)

Huge problem.
Dragnets are illegal. Just like DUI checkpoints. And NAZI checkpoints.
You must have individualized suspicion. Not a fucking fishing expedition.
Get a clue people.

Re:How big is the problem really? (1)

Megol (3135005) | about 3 months ago | (#47394035)

Nazi checkpoints? Yes that sounds illegal - stopping people and checking if their political* ideas fit a certain profile isn't allowed in any democratic state.
DUI checkpoints are absolutely allowed and arguably saves a significant number of lives each year.

(* one could argue that National socialists isn't really a political view but that isn't really relevant here.)

Re:How big is the problem really? (1)

anagama (611277) | about 3 months ago | (#47394451)

States with greater privacy protections written into their constitutions outlaw DUI checkpoints. Those more closely aligned with the Feds' "guilty until proven innocent" mentality, use DUI checkpoints.

By accepting the propriety of a search without any articulable suspicion that you may be engaged in illegal activity, DUI checkpoint states, and the people who support such laws, are steepening the slope we're on as we glide toward police state.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R... [wikipedia.org]
Once loaded, do a text search for "ten states" to get the list of those on a higher moral level with regard to this issue.

Re:How big is the problem really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47394813)

Driving is a privilege. Therefore, you must give up your constitutional liberties when you exercise that privilege, even though the government has no power to force you to do so.

You don't technically have to fly on an airplane. Therefore, it's okay for the government to ignore the fourth amendment and violate everyone's fundamental liberties.

Even with free speech zones, you're still allowed to speak. Therefore, it's not a violation of the first amendment.

Look at all these lovely authoritarian arguments... And it's always funny to see some moron support some of them, but not others.

Re:How big is the problem really? (2)

jeIIomizer (3670945) | about 3 months ago | (#47394489)

DUI checkpoints are absolutely allowed and arguably saves a significant number of lives each year.

Fucking bullshit. In the 'land of the free,' freedom is preferred over safety. Randomly stopping people to check if they're breaking the law is definitely a constitutional violation, and it goes over the line.

Oh, some judges may have approved it, but that doesn't make it right or constitutional.

Re:How big is the problem really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393915)

As far as I'm aware, they're sucking up just about everybody's information (or "metadata" as they like to call it).

Re:How big is the problem really? (1)

Lakitu (136170) | about 3 months ago | (#47394531)

They're sucking up all kinds of communications metadata, but it's separate and unrelated to the programs discussed in the article.

Re:How big is the problem really? (5, Informative)

jeIIomizer (3670945) | about 3 months ago | (#47393919)

We are talking about 0.003% which seems "somewhat reasonnable"

That's not even close to reasonable. It's an egregious violation of the constitution and people's fundamental liberties.

They're Spying On Everyone - These They Read (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393951)

They're capturing "metadata" on every conversation/email/message. Now to me metadata includes the contents of the message (conveniently translated to text format, ergo "meta-")..

In any case they're spying on all 300M Americans.They're guaranteed to read the ones referenced in the article.

Re:How big is the problem really? (3, Interesting)

Lakitu (136170) | about 3 months ago | (#47394505)

Here's the relevant paragraph from the article:

If Snowden’s sample is representative, the population under scrutiny in the PRISM and Upstream programs is far larger than the government has suggested. In a June 26 “transparency report,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence disclosed that 89,138 people were targets of last year’s collection under FISA Section 702. At the 9-to-1 ratio of incidental collection in Snowden’s sample, the office’s figure would correspond to nearly 900,000 accounts, targeted or not, under surveillance.

They use this information from Snowden, the 160,000 intercepted messages, showing that nearly 10 people were targetted "incidentally" for every 1 legitimate target. With that 10 to 1 ratio, and a transparency report released in june showing that there were almost 90,000 legitimate targets, the math comes out to approximately 1 million Americans "incidentally" targetted.

Of course it's a crock to say these people's communications were spied upon "incidentally". They were explicitly targetted for incidental reasons such as being in the same IRC channel, using a foreign IP address, etc.

What I don't get, though, is that the list of "minimized" targets whose identities were scrubbed as being likely Americans includes "a sitting President". Does this mean they spied on President Obama's communications, and then scrubbed his identity from it? Were these legitimate targets sending threatening emails to thanksobama@whitehouse.gov or what? Did they scrub any reference to his name, even when it didn't involve communications originating from him?

How did he wind up as any of these "incidental" targets?

Stop parroting NSA-speak (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393779)

If you seize someone's private papers and/or effects, commit them to persistent storage, and keep them around forever just in case you need them... you ARE TARGETING THEM. Anyone with their communications in NSA possession has been a target of NSA surveillance. If they weren't targets, the NSA wouldn't have kept the data.

Re:Stop parroting NSA-speak (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47394755)

i don't know, i'm starting to think this is more akin to videotape and audio.
or at least that they believe it is.
recording A person without their knowledge is illegal.
but what if that is at a public forum?
is the internet a public or private space?

is this more akin to a public or private venue.

You just don't get it do you?!?!?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393895)

You have the right from search and seizure.
That means that unless YOU (YOU!) are specifically under reasonable suspicion (and often probable cause), for having done something, you CANNOT be touched.
Any and all bulk metadata collection and bulk full take, regardless of who is eventually pulled out of the pile,
IS AGAINST YOU AND YOUR RIGHTS TO NOT BE COLLECTED. DO YOU FUCKING UNDERSTAND?!?!?!
Unless YOU're in some shit and have reasonable/probable specifically upon YOU (FIRST!!!!) Your metadata is YOUR BUSINESS.
They CANNOT just go grab all the metadata, then go link it all up fishing.
Metadata is YOU.... YOU FUCKING STUPID PEOPLE.
And they have ZERO right to get it without an exact fucking warrant that NAMES YOU SPECIFICALLY.

There is NO discussion to be had on these 'news' releases... it's just plain WRONG.

So WAKE UP SHEEPLE!!!!
Start calling your congresscritters and running third, fourth and N party campaigns... NOW!!!
Or accept the rape of you, your children and grandchildren... FOREVER!!!!!

How about a list of names? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47393917)

Hey Post, List the names of the people intercepted. Maybe that will light a fire underneath a few of them.

Two words: "parallel construction" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47394121)

The government is clearly breaking American citizens (and those on its soil) constitutional protections. The NSA does the spying and hands off "tips" to American law enforcement. American law enforcement are then required to do what is called "parallel construction" whereby they lie to the court on how the investigation came about.

If you think your not in this dragnet think again. And not only are you in the dragnet if the NSA thinks law enforcement will benefit from the data they'll pass it on. For those of you who remember 9/11 and the laws which were passed the one really dangerous protection that was eliminated was separation of FBI/police/NSA. The government consolidated these agencies into the department of homeland security with the specific intent to make it easier to share data between them. This was in the name of fighting terrorism. The reason we had these laws that prevented the sharing of data in the first place though was because of civil rights abuses in the past. Think Martin Luther King.

The only true patriots on 9/11 were thrilled. Not because innocent people died, but because somebody was fighting back against an illegal acting and oppressive government. While its a different form of oppression it is oppression. The reason for 9/11 was the US governments oppression in the middle east (and even this may have been facilitated by our own government, but keep in mind that is pure speculation). Now these terrorist may be oppressors too, for which we should object, but anything to quell the US government and rein it in is a good thing. Unfortunately the reality is it only works when a large and powerful enough opposing force does acts. And in this case the government used it as an excuse to seize even more control.

"Fireworks Show" still to come (3, Informative)

joelholdsworth (1095165) | about 3 months ago | (#47394141)

Note that this is not yet Greenwald's "Fireworks show" - his promised grand finale was delayed from 4th July. From what I've gleaned, there will be a big-bang scoop naming specific names of US citizens - major public and political figures - who were wiretapped by the NSA. USG has claimed there will be some harm done, so the story has been delayed while the journalist team investigate.

Stay tuned. I can't wait.

Re:"Fireworks Show" still to come (2)

Lakitu (136170) | about 3 months ago | (#47394541)

Out of curiosity, where did you hear this?

I think it's really interesting that of the "minimized" identities listed in the article, one of them is

A “minimized U.S. president-elect” begins to appear in the files in early 2009, and references to the current “minimized U.S. president” appear 1,227 times in the following four years.

Does this mean they were reading Obama's communications after he was elected to become President, and then scrubbed his name from it?

hmm.... (1)

Celarent Darii (1561999) | about 3 months ago | (#47394151)

The article doesn't really specify how the 90% were spied upon. It could simply be as a consequence of recording a telephone from a known suspect. I imagine that even a terrorists normal activity consists of many mundane things that involve innocent people: they order pizza, they go to bars, they buy things in stores, etc. Of course if someone is under surveillance, all these innocent people also get involved by the simple fact that they become somehow possible accessories in his crime. I would imagine that 90% of the activity of any criminal, including organised crime, is fairly innocuous, and innocent people will be also recorded because of this.

What I would really like to know is how much of this gathering of information is a consequence of the gathering of information on a possible suspect or simply a mass gathering of data about everyone with the filter applied afterwards. If the suspect is already under surveillance, I imagine that the innocent population would tolerate a loss of privacy simply because that person is a threat. If it is the other way around, that is that information is gathered indiscriminately in order to search for possible suspects, then it is extremely dangerous.

The fact that the Post does not describe in detail these findings makes the article more sensational than useful in my opinion.

Re:hmm.... (1)

jeIIomizer (3670945) | about 3 months ago | (#47394529)

We have a government that's collecting so-called "metadata" on nearly everyone in the country even though it is unconstitutional--one that has lied a myriad of times--and you have some reason to doubt this?

If the suspect is already under surveillance, I imagine that the innocent population would tolerate a loss of privacy simply because that person is a threat.

I can't believe I have to keep reminding people of this, but the US is supposed to be 'the land of the free and the home of the brave.' Free and brave people do not sacrifice such freedoms for safety. I'd rather risk death (though it's not so clear that any of this improves safety) than allow the TSA, DUI checkpoints, stop-and-frisk, free speech zones, protest permits, etc. to continue, and any person who wants to live in a free country would agree.

If it is the other way around, that is that information is gathered indiscriminately in order to search for possible suspects, then it is extremely dangerous.

It's already extremely dangerous to punish innocent people in the pursuit of alleged criminals and terrorists. It's not something that would happen if we were truly the land of the free.

Re:hmm.... (1)

Lakitu (136170) | about 3 months ago | (#47394571)

It doesn't specify all of them, but it does specify some of them:

If a target entered an online chat room, the NSA collected the words and identities of every person who posted there, regardless of subject, as well as every person who simply “lurked,” reading passively what other people wrote.

There are others, too, but this would imply that if one of the legitimate targets had a slashdot account, or some other message board, anyone posting or reading the same site might be scooped up into the list of "incidental" targets.

Anyone showing signs of being a "likely" American, according to the article, were then "minimized". ie, their names were scrubbed. Of course their criteria for determining likely American status is not very rigorous.

Hang him high (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47394843)

How is it he is still alive to continue to trash Americans' security?

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