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Feds Have a High-Speed Backdoor Into Wireless Carrier

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the all-the-better-to-snoop-with dept.

Security 229

An anonymous reader writes "An unnamed U.S. wireless carrier maintains an unfiltered, unmonitored DS-3 line from its internal network to a facility in Quantico, Virginia, according to Babak Pasdar, a computer security consultant who did work for the company in 2003. Customer voice calls, billing records, location information and data traffic are all allegedly exposed. A similar claim was leveled against Verizon Wireless in a 2006 lawsuit."

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Wow! (5, Funny)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 6 years ago | (#22657752)

If some guy said it, it must be true!

Ghorbaneh Shoma (3, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#22657800)

Babak, Agha!

Re:Ghorbaneh Shoma (1)

Mr. Lwanga (872401) | more than 6 years ago | (#22659444)

Lived in SoCal for a long time, still haven't picked up Farsi, translation please.

Re:Wow! (1)

LilGuy (150110) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658652)

I'm wondering why there's no submission of documented evidence to wikileaks yet...

moo (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22657758)

moo

Re:moo (1)

infonography (566403) | more than 6 years ago | (#22657924)

So another Whistleblower speaks, its a MOO http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MOO [wikipedia.org] But then again, The FBI Academy [fbi.gov] is located on the United States Marine Corps Base at Quantico, Virginia.

With a pipe this big, the RIAA needs to know this so they can start suing these students.

vagina (1)

professional_troll (1178701) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658146)

vagina

CALEA (4, Informative)

jaredmauch (633928) | more than 6 years ago | (#22657770)

It's very likely this is to meet the realtime reporting/relay requirements of the CALEA statue which governs lawful intercept of voice and data communications.

Re:CALEA (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22657810)

I don't buy it. If it were legitimate it would be properly logged and controlled.

Re:CALEA (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22657830)

What makes you think it isn't properly logged and controlled?

Re:CALEA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22657904)

'Cause itz teh fedzz, teh [A-Z]{3}, like FBI, CIA, DHS...

Re:CALEA (5, Interesting)

faedle (114018) | more than 6 years ago | (#22657846)

This is precisely what this is.

NEWS FLASH: EVERY wireline and wireless carrier has facility like this between their central offices and Quantico, Virginia. I can tell you for an absolute fact that a medium-sized cable company operating in the Rocky Mountain region has similar facilities between their main office and the FBI Academy, because I helped install it.

Welcome to the world post-CALEA.

Re:CALEA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22657884)

Horse****. Why does a telco need a dedicated line into the FBI Academy?

Re:CALEA (4, Informative)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22657916)

well, the reason thats in CALEA that a legal wiretap must be reporting the details in real time to avoid the possibility of modifying the results of a wiretap from any side (IE: no '3 second broadcast delay' or situations like that).

Still horsepucky, but it IS part of CALEA as the above posters are mentioning.

Re:CALEA (4, Interesting)

faedle (114018) | more than 6 years ago | (#22657928)

Because the FBI Academy in Quantico is the clearinghouse for the FBI for all CALEA wiretaps, and acts as a "one-stop shop" for carriers wishing to comply with the law.

Use the Goog. It's your friend.

Re:CALEA (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22657942)

If you helped install it, then you should learn to shut up on sites like this.

Re:CALEA (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658616)

It is likely that it is perfectly legal to disclose this information. Remember that complete secrecy about large organisations is just an invitation for widespread corruption. You keep the stuff secret that is supposed to be secret but don't obscure everything so subclerk level 19B can be running a mail order stationary warehouse on the side paid for by the taxpayer. The current US executive branch's approach to secrecy is counterproductive.

Re:CALEA (1)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658052)

NEWS FLASH: EVERY wireline and wireless carrier has facility like this between their central offices and Quantico, Virginia. I can tell you for an absolute fact that a medium-sized cable company operating in the Rocky Mountain region has similar facilities between their main office and the FBI Academy, because I helped install it.
Pretty much every internet carrier in the western world is compromised in a similar manner. It's like padlocks on lockers. It keeps honest people out but anyone who is planning to commit a crime or some act of rebellion (err.. terra) will always be taking this into consideration.

Re:CALEA (0, Troll)

pushf popf (741049) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658056)

And this surprises who?

Don't do evil shit and you won't have to worry.

In fact, if the gov't didn't have this capability, I'd say they weren't doing their job.

Re:CALEA (4, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658260)

Don't do evil shit and you won't have to worry.
If you have nothing to hide?
Seriously? You're going with that argument?

Re:CALEA (1)

Darundal (891860) | more than 6 years ago | (#22659304)

Obviously, someone forgot what site they were on.

Re:CALEA (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658498)

Prove you're not a terrorist.

Oh, you can't? Too bad, we have wiretaps that says you are.

That's not you, you say, they're not real?

Prove it.

Re:CALEA (4, Insightful)

bigdavesmith (928732) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658564)

It's times like this I wish I could mod things 'wrong'

You think all those people in Chinese prisons who were arrested for speaking out against the government 'did evil shit'?

Not that we live in China, but thinking that this can't turn against you...

Re:CALEA (0, Troll)

pushf popf (741049) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658754)

The point is that I don't live in China. I live in the US. And right here, right now, I couldn't care less if there's some guy sitting in an office in Virginia listening to my phone calls.

If there comes a time when the US government starts acting like China (having people tortured and killed because of their political views), we can take care of it with something called an "election".

Re:CALEA (4, Insightful)

eli pabst (948845) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658862)

Once they feel confident enough to openly acting that way, then it's already too late.

You should seriously spend some time learning about the principles this country was founded on, because the concept of monitoring interpersonal communications of American citizens would have been an appalling affront to the people who founded it and gave their blood and lives for it. Frankly I find it shameful that so many Americans are willing (if not overjoyed) to hand over their Constitutional rights.

Re:CALEA (4, Insightful)

bigdavesmith (928732) | more than 6 years ago | (#22659154)

I'm not trying to be insulting, but I'm not sure you understand the reality of what you're trying to argue.

If there comes a time when the US government starts acting like China (having people tortured and killed because of their political views), we can take care of it with something called an "election".
Read the above quote. If the US ever starts killing people for expressing political views, you're going to fix that by... expressing your political views? Or are you assuming that even though the government is willing to kill people for their political views, they're going to keep the voting system fair and unbiased, so that people who don't like getting killed can vote and change the system?

I'm not trying to be a dooms-day preacher, saying that we're going to start killing our own citizens for exercising their freedom of speech, but the fact of the matter is, as seen in your circular logic (someone correct me if that's not what it is) in the quote above, that by the time it is a problem, you're not going to be able to fix it by voting.

I feel like I understand your argument; I'm not doing anything wrong in my house, so why do I care if the government puts cameras up and watches everything I do? Honestly, I don't care one bit. Until someone decides to pass a law that makes copying a CD illegal, or being gay (just an example... I'm not) illegal, or decides they don't want to count my vote in the next election because I'm a Democrat (again, just an example), or decides that I should be put in jail where my anti-government ideas can't influence other people. And by then, voting isn't going to do me much good.

Re:CALEA (2, Insightful)

LowlyWorm (966676) | more than 6 years ago | (#22659548)

The fact is every government has government class of weapon-cariers be they police, solders or otherwise. As long as we can keep them persuaded (or persuade ourselves) they are there to protect us and the general welfare we are safe. Based on many other cultures, we will allow almost anything as long as we are not starving.

Re:CALEA (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 6 years ago | (#22660116)

Makes me think Jericho is a future documentary. Not as much the bombs but how the city / country has been locked down.

I just wonder what we'll hit first: Jericho or Idiocracy.

Re:CALEA (1)

IanDanforth (753892) | more than 6 years ago | (#22659574)

Or better yet, "Not Even Wrong!"

Re:CALEA (4, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658724)

Don't do evil shit and you won't have to worry.
First problem - this system encourages lack of oversight - you know the checks and balances that our American system of government was founded on. In the past, not only did a wiretap require a court order, there was someone at the phone company who actually checked that the court order had been obtained before enabling the wiretap.

Now, while a court order is still legally required, it is no longer technically required. The FBI need only press a button to start wiretapping. Not only is there no one outside of the organization verifying that the FBI has a legitimate need to know, there is no one keeping records of the wiretaps other than the FBI itself. Our American system has been subverted in the name of safety.

Second problem - what the FBI can use, criminals can abuse. And I'm not talking about criminal behaviour by the FBI itself, I mean unauthorized users with the smarts to co-opt the backdoors that the FBI uses. See this paper from the January/February 2008 issue of IEEE Security and Privacy. [crypto.com]

Third problem - what's your definition of "evil shit?" Does it include breaking up with your boyfriend, the federal agent? [informationweek.com]

Re:CALEA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22659620)

You are so clueless on the design of CALEA systems. Stop watching so much TV.

Re:CALEA (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22658572)

Absolutely. I work for a large CLEC and while we don't have dedicated facilities connecting to LEOs, we have dynamic IPSEC tunnels that are used to carry traffic during wiretaps. It's obvious the author and submitter have never heard of CALEA.

Re:CALEA (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 6 years ago | (#22659268)

Not to mention the rather redundant fact that every IXP (that's IXP, not ISP, kiddies) in North America is also completely bugged by the feds at both the hardware and software levels. That pretty much covers everything, along with TIA, NAO, CIFA, and...oh yeah...the S.A.I.C. control (under authority of some group or other in the Pentagon) of Hart InterCivic, Premier Election Systems, ES&S and Sequoia Voting Systems - which means the next presidential election....

You can call me crazy, but first do the forensic economics hacking to check me out.....

Re:CALEA (5, Informative)

chill (34294) | more than 6 years ago | (#22657868)

CALEA taps are on a per-warrant basis. They are explicitly ONE WAY. The LEA can NOT establish a connection back to the carrier. It must initiate the tap from the carrier side. The LEA can not input requests directly. They must pass them to the carrier to enter.

While a DS-3 might not be out of the question to the FBI, depending on the volume of traffic, I have yet to see an "unmonitored" line. Everything I've seen (and set up -- I do this for a living) is an IPSec tunnel from the carrier to the LEA with BER encoded ASN.1 for data and packetized native (to the carrier) encoded voice. And the line works one way only. Carrier --> LEA. The only packets flowing back are stateful connection packets.

In short, I think this story is B.S.

Yes, the FBI probably has a big line with no firewall. That is because the firewall(s) is/are on the carrier end. The carriers do extensive logging as well, so it doesn't surprise me that the FBI-end of the circuit isn't heavily logged. They log their REQUESTS and the carrier logs the connections.

Re:CALEA (5, Informative)

faedle (114018) | more than 6 years ago | (#22657900)

While it is true that the connection is "one way", many large carriers do it with a conventional high-cap circuit, like a T-1 or DS-3, because it is easy.

It may appear to be unfiltered to the person making the connection. However, if it is anything like the T1 I hooked up where I worked, only the calls with active warrants are passed down the T1. That being said, the T1 hooks directly into the switch just like any other T1, and is configured to be a CALEA port in the switch itself. A wire-frame guy who isn't doing the programming/translations wouldn't know any better, so I think that's where this "idea" comes from.

Re:CALEA (3, Interesting)

statemachine (840641) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658080)

If you read the article, you'll notice that it isn't some "wire-frame guy" but a security consultant hired to specifically address network security. So he'd have access to all the routers and their ACLs and other firewalling hardware, which would allow him to make such a judgement.

Re:CALEA (1)

faedle (114018) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658118)

This is also fairly standard.

Many switches open a data channel between the switch and Quantico. Telcos are required to deliver not only the voice, but details about the call including supervision status, digits dialed and collected, and even if the tapped phone goes on and off hook.

Typically, this "call detail" information is delivered via TCP/IP from the switch in question. My understanding is you cannot have any stateful packet inspection between your switch and the FBI, because of the potential for this to be compromised.

Re:CALEA (1)

nehumanuscrede (624750) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658356)

There is quite the possibility that certain Law Enforcement members
have direct access to the switch itself. Switch being the Nortel DMS,
Lucent 5ESS, Eriksons, and whatnot. All that is required is RAS or VPN
access to the backbone network and they have the keys to the kingdom
at that point.

Several flavors of devices sit on the network which convert a telnet
session into an async connection directly tied to the switch. It's just
like sitting at the main console. . . .

( Cisco comm servers, Datakit and Applied Innovation switches to name but a few )

Thus, anyone with access to the network who has knowledge of the IP / Socket
of the mediation device can connect directly to the switch itself.

What level of access to the main switch at that point is beyond my knowledge,
but I can say that while some have been configured specifically for CALEA,
there are multiple channels that can be used for access on any given switch.

Re:CALEA (4, Insightful)

webb75 (462705) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658240)

Read the article next time:

" Because the data center was a clearing house for all Verizon Wireless calls, the transmission line provided the Quantico recipient direct access to all content and all information concerning the origin and termination of telephone calls placed on the Verizon Wireless network as well as the actual content of calls.

        The transmission line was unprotected by any firewall and would have enabled the recipient on the Quantico end to have unfettered access to Verizon Wireless customer records, data and information. Any customer databases, records and information could be downloaded from this center."

  Since the tech was at the telco & not at Quantico, he was referring to security on the telco side. There was no firewall on the telco side.

Re:CALEA (0, Flamebait)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 6 years ago | (#22659328)

In short, I think this story is B.S.

Right, poster chill, with the US intelligence organizations having been majority privatized, and the US election system having been completely privatized, and the two now owned by the same corporate entities answerable to the Pentagon, of course everything is BS....

Exactly what segment of your cortex DOES function, BTW???

So, what are we doing about it? (1)

Matt Perry (793115) | more than 6 years ago | (#22657786)

Does anyone know what the status of any opportunistic encryption packages for Windows or Linux? Can this stuff be set up easily now?

Re:So, what are we doing about it? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22657850)

Backhoe?

Re:So, what are we doing about it? (2, Informative)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658092)

Does anyone know what the status of any opportunistic encryption packages for Windows or Linux? Can this stuff be set up easily now?
OpenS/WAN supports opportunistic encryption.

NatSec. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22657796)

Get over it.

3-letter agencies spy on Americans, news at 11... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22657798)

Is anybody really surprised?

Talk is Cheap (2, Insightful)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 6 years ago | (#22657802)

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Re:Talk is Cheap (3, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 6 years ago | (#22657836)

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

The problem is that, with this administration, any claims of domestic spying are hardly "extraordinary". It's more like "business as usual" - to be assumed unless there's evidence to the contrary.

Re:Talk is Cheap (0)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 6 years ago | (#22659130)

If you're going to claim that a given carrier having a hard line directly to an FBI facility is "ordinary", you're going to have to come up with a lot more evidence of a lot more instances of such a thing. "Domestic spying" may be "ordinary", but this specific claim is, to my knowledge, not ordinary at all. As far as I know, it's been made (seriously) twice, and so far has yet to be proven in either instance.

Re:Talk is Cheap (3, Funny)

monoqlith (610041) | more than 6 years ago | (#22657870)

Hmmm. How about we try to get some?

Go to your Verizon Wireless-serviced cell phone, call a friend in a foreign country, and have a normal conversation, but make sure to throw in a few key "red flag" words and phrases here and there. Examples of "red flags" are:

"Bomb"
"Subways"
"Code Green"
"Statue of Liberty"
"Monuments"
"Airplanes"
"Buildings"
"I hate George Bush and think the Justice Department is a corrupt pile of shit"

Say goodbye to your friend once a few or all of these phrases have been sprinkled into your conversation. Then sit back in your favorite Barca lounger, take out your stopwatch, measure how many minutes it takes for one or more black SUVs to park across from your driveway.

Re:Talk is Cheap (1, Funny)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658046)

You forgot to add:

terrorist
Same-sex marriages
Nader for president

Re:Talk is Cheap (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658420)

The big wedding :-)

Re:Talk is Cheap (1)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 6 years ago | (#22659106)

And how, exactly, would that be evidence for the specific claims being made by Mr. Pasdar?

Since we don't know what wireless carrier Mr. Pasdar is referring to, we don't know that my experience with my carrier is actually evidence for his claim. I could have a different carrier.

And since your test doesn't actually eliminate all possible technologies but the one Mr. Pasdar describes, the results would be utterly inconclusive even if I happened to be using the same carrier to which Mr. Pasdar refers.

Finally, it's not our job to get Mr. Pasdar's evidence for him. It's his claim; he bears the burden of proof. Of course you can choose to believe his claims without requiring that he support them with evidence (perhaps, as you've done here, with the assistance of a comical fantasy in which simply imagining that you've conducted an irrelevant and inconclusive experiment is sufficient proof to support your beliefs). Personally, I prefer to wait and see what the accuser will actually bring forth to justify his accusations.

Honeslty (1)

vespacide2 (1235470) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658988)

Only the most naive people in this world actually believe that the US government doesn't listen in on whoever whenever.
Give me a fucking break.

Guess who! (4, Funny)

Ripit (1001534) | more than 6 years ago | (#22657808)

FTA:

That suit names Verizon Wireless as the culprit.

"Can you hear me now?"

"Yes we can, perfectly clear."

Re:Guess who! (1)

megaditto (982598) | more than 6 years ago | (#22659336)

What I am wondering is how they manage to send the many billions of phonecalls down a single DS-3 line?

In an unrelated story.... (3, Funny)

Holistic Missile (976980) | more than 6 years ago | (#22657828)

....Babak Pasdar, a computer security consultant, has not been seen nor heard from since he left a client site earlier today. His family life was stable and solid - his family suspects foul play. Federal officials suggest that no foul play was involved, and regret that they cannot waste their resources on a missing person who 'probably ran away to start a new life.'

Full story at eleven....

Cool (2, Funny)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22657852)

How do i get one to my house?

Re:Cool (2, Informative)

chill (34294) | more than 6 years ago | (#22657892)

A DS-3? With a really big check. :-) Depending on contract length I've seen them as cheap as $5,000 per month.

FBI (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22657860)

Fraudulent Bureau of Inquisition

Hmm (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22657872)

I wish my connection was that quick, I could game better. http://canimakeonemillion.50webs.com/ [50webs.com]

The NSA and FBI are both hiring in the Tech areas (4, Funny)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 6 years ago | (#22657950)

If your interested in applying, call your mother and tell her.

Re:The NSA and FBI are both hiring in the Tech are (1)

llamaxing (895844) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658364)

Shouting her name from the basement constantly until she responds probably won't help, either. You should consider getting off the couch and asking her in person. Eye contact will help greatly.

Re:The NSA and FBI are both hiring in the Tech are (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22658654)

Woosh!

And the loyal opposition, the Democrats, will... (5, Insightful)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658036)

Make a roaring bluster about this and then fold like wet paper tigers when it comes time to put up or shut up..

Do you want to know why Bushco thinks it's above the law? Because until you fucking cowards grow a goddamn spine and stand up to their evil, corrosive attitude towards the rule of law THEY ARE.

Why is it that in 8 years, I have never, EVER heard of a major Democrat standing up and saying outright, without analogy, subtlety or tact, that thanks to Bush the terrorists have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams? That thanks to him, 19 insane religious fanatics have gone from "attacked three buildings and got their organization crushed like a bug for it's trouble" to "shook the rule of law, the foundation of the most powerful country in the world, to it's base?" That thanks to him and the Republican fear machine, bin Laden has changed and hurt American society in ways he never could have dreamed of? That thanks to him, the terrorists have won in every way that matters?

Re:And the loyal opposition, the Democrats, will.. (0, Offtopic)

Idefix97 (725474) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658128)

Hear, hear. Mod parent up!
Someone should stand up and fight for our rights - Land of the Free?

Opposition? You've been deceived... (3, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658180)

there's little difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. They're both intent on maintaining and building government power. It's only their _priorities_ which are different. Ultimately, they're for the same end result. That's the great scam - they stay in power by making the plebes think they have some sort of say in their destiny.

Re:Opposition? You've been deceived... (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658772)

It's only their _priorities_ which are different.
Hell, when each party gets 'campaign fund-raising' money from the same corporate 'donors' - even their priorities are the same.

Re:Opposition? You've been deceived... (0, Flamebait)

bendodge (998616) | more than 6 years ago | (#22659208)

The current crop of Republicans are just go-slow Democrats. They are all socialist in the end. The only exception I know of is Ron Paul. We simply must elect him.

(I'm wasting some mod points I used on this article, but I think it's important enough.)

Re:Opposition? You've been deceived... (1)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 6 years ago | (#22659316)

They are all socialist in the end. The only exception I know of is Ron Paul. We simply must elect him.
All the sig links and comment spam in the world won't make that happen, though: you need votes to get elected, and that means you need to convince the voters that your platform is what they want. Unfortunately for Ron Paul, what they want isn't radical libertarianism. Most voters in the US are just fine with government-operated schools and highways, Social Security, and those other "socialist" programs he opposes so strongly.

Nonsense (3, Insightful)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 6 years ago | (#22659220)

there's little difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. They're both intent on maintaining and building government power. It's only their _priorities_ which are different.
Oh, and their policies. You know, little things like health care, social security, abortion, welfare, environmental and industry regulations, taxes, teaching religion in schools... those things matter, at least to most of us.

But I guess if the only thing that matters to you is "government power", then yes, you might think they're the same, because you're ignoring all the substantial differences.

Re:Nonsense (1, Insightful)

Loopy (41728) | more than 6 years ago | (#22659642)

Sophistry, but I'll give you an "A" for subtlety. Most of us do care about those things but most of us are experienced enough to know that GOVERNMENT is the absolute worst entity to charge with making positive changes therein. I'll grant you that the current US gov't is botching things pretty badly but the white house can't do it without the help of the other two branches, no matter how much people like to vilify GW as the root of all evil. Fortunately, the founding fathers saw how self-serving human nature is and planned accordingly. I'd rather have a gov't stagnated and unable to do much than one that felt it had the mandate of heaven, even when literally killing their own citizens en masse.

Re:Nonsense (3, Insightful)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 6 years ago | (#22659840)

Most of us do care about those things but most of us are experienced enough to know that GOVERNMENT is the absolute worst entity to charge with making positive changes therein.
Experienced? No, that's not experience, it's ideology. Look at any country other than the US, and you'll find plenty of people with plenty of experience who believe that the government is quite capable of making positive change.

In fact, one might argue that the main reason the US government has been so bad at making positive change is that there are so many people here who believe, as a matter of principle, that government can't do anything well - and when those people are elected, they use their power to prove themselves right.

Government is really just an alternate way to get things done. Private industry and the free market are excellent at getting things done efficiently, but the other side of that coin is, they don't even try to get anything done that isn't going to be profitable. If you want something done, period, whether or not it's profitable, that's where government is useful. For example, look at phone and electrical service in rural areas: it didn't exist before the government stepped in, because it wasn't profitable to build phone infrastructure where there were only a few potential customers, but We The People decided that infrastructure was important enough that it should be built anyway.

I'd rather have a gov't stagnated and unable to do much than one that felt it had the mandate of heaven, even when literally killing their own citizens en masse.
Hey, so would I. No one likes mass murder.

On the other hand, I'd rather have a government that does good things, like make medical care and education available to people who can't afford to pay for it, than one that's stagnant and unable to do anything.

Re:And the loyal opposition, the Democrats, will.. (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658190)

I'll tell you why: it's because the Democrats are no better than Bush.

Re:And the loyal opposition, the Democrats, will.. (4, Insightful)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 6 years ago | (#22659192)

Do you seriously believe that President Gore or President Kerry would have initiated/continued the kind of blatant attacks on the rule of law & accountability that are so characteristic of the Bush administration? Would they have debased our ability to claim any moral high ground by condoning and supporting torture? Would they have used "national security" as a cover to try and build a corporate-sponsored surveillance state? Would they madly cling to policies under the banner of "stay the course," no matter how horribly and obviously wrong those policies were or turned out to be? Name the last Democratic president who said in an interview that this would be a lot easier in a dictatorship if he were the dictator.

The Democrats are no better than Bush? Then why is it Bush, and the party which routinely condemns "tax-and-spend liberals" and trumpets itself as the bringer of small government and fiscal responsibility, the one which has in 8 years saddled us and our children with more debt than every other president combined, and doubled the size of the federal budget whose cancerous growth he and the Republicans so vehemently denounce?

Neither party is at all better than the other? Since when have the Democrats proclaimed themselves to be the sole beacon of light, Moral Decency, and the Traditional American Family in the smothering night of evil secularism, only for one Democrat after another to turn out to be those gays or adulterers whom they so ardently and stridently insist are going to be the downfall of America?

What Democratic or Republican president before Bush has taken that fabled shining city upon a hill, and desecrated it such that his supporter's defense in a debate is no longer "Because we are better than they are," but "We aren't the worst human rights violator on Earth?"

No, the Democrats have a very long way to go before they are as bad as Bush has been, for both his party and the nation.

Re:And the loyal opposition, the Democrats, will.. (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#22659286)

Yes, I do. I trust all politicians equally: zero trust, until proven otherwise. No exceptions.

Re:And the loyal opposition, the Democrats, will.. (2, Insightful)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 6 years ago | (#22659496)

You didn't answer any of my questions, but reiterated that you refuse to admit to the existence of a continuum of gray between black and white.

To every complex question, there is an answer that is simple, concise, and wrong - paraphrase of H.L. Mencken.

Re:And the loyal opposition, the Democrats, will.. (1, Interesting)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658226)

Why is it that in 8 years, I have never, EVER heard of a major Democrat standing up and saying outright, without analogy, subtlety or tact, that thanks to Bush the terrorists have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams?


Because thanks to him, the Democrats have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Literally. As in, they were criticizing the prescription drug boondoggle as going to far. When is that supposed to kick in, anyway?

And they got their education bill: "No Child Left Behind" was co-written by senator Edward "water under the bridge" Kennedy.

Technically, Bush got his tax cuts through, I guess, but taxes are an merely an inflation-control measure. Spending is where the real problems start, and he didn't get any cuts at all on that front. In fact, he presided over the largest expansion of the federal government since FDR!

And do you really think that Democrats were opposed to federalizing airport security screeners? More fodder for the government employees' union.

I do wonder, though, what Gore would've done post 9/11. I imagine that domestically, it would be very similar to what Bush has done. Only difference I'd guess is that Gore would probably have bombed afghanistan right away, and then considered that the end of it on the foreign agenda side.

Re:And the loyal opposition, the Democrats, will.. (1)

buravirgil (137856) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658332)

>Make a roaring bluster about this and then fold like wet paper tigers when it comes time to put up or shut up..

a pretty big assumption there,
as many have made blusters and never folded, and you've never heard of them;
but, rage on because rage is appropriate, though clouded

i read in your words an unproven faith in your own discernment of those you describe in words as possessed with a courage and the dismissable mad person on the street

Re:And the loyal opposition, the Democrats, will.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22658416)

Right on.

Re:And the loyal opposition, the Democrats, will.. (1)

VoiceOfDarkness (915213) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658434)

Go read "1984" and get the hell off my lawn!

Re:And the loyal opposition, the Democrats, will.. (1, Funny)

tsotha (720379) | more than 6 years ago | (#22659046)

None of the laws in place that force carriers to play ball with the FBI were passed without the support of the Democrats. And I think it's quite reasonable. Whether or not you believe they always do so legitimately, the FBI needs the capability installing wiretaps as part of its mission. If they do so too often, the remedy is legislative, not technical.

And demonizing Bush is wrong and counterproductive. He isn't "evil", and he's not stupid. The guy is focused on preventing the next 9/11. Legitimate arguments can be made over policy, over whether the government ought to be doing this or that, but there are truly evil people in the world, and Bush isn't one of them.

Re:And the loyal opposition, the Democrats, will.. (1)

taskiss (94652) | more than 6 years ago | (#22659090)

Have fun storming the castle!

What have you done for freedom today except post expletives and blame outgoing administration?

Why are people surprised by this? (4, Insightful)

slashname3 (739398) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658164)

I don't understand why people in general, and specifically the /. crowd, are surprised to learn about such accommodations? Anyone that knows even a little bit about networking should realize that unless they are encrypting their connections they are open to anyone along the line. What would be more interesting would be if there was a claim that they were breaking AES encryption in real time. That would be of interest. But since that is not the case there is nothing of real interest here. Nothing to see. Move along folks.

HIGH SPEED BACK DOOR. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22658174)

You know what that that means.

who's in trouble (2, Interesting)

jameseyjamesey (949408) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658284)

Has anyone here had an experience where they were busted by federal wire-tapping? Does anyone personally know anyone who has been busted by federal wire tapping?

You know I don't ever care anymore (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658330)

Just give me a rebate. At least don't make me pay so much for being raped. Thanks.

And this is news? (1)

thorkyl (739500) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658376)

Big brother has been doing this for ever!

What about the weather? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22658384)

They should definitely check the weather [wunderground.com] there before they do anything else.

everyones an expert (1, Flamebait)

zebra987 (1251600) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658636)

I love how everyone on slashdot is an expert. Everyone on Slashdot has setup private circuits from government agencies to telecommuncations companies, and do it fulltime. The fact that a noted security professional has seen unfettered access to a communications carrier is news. Congress thinks so. But I am glad I share slashdot with other people who know everything about everything.

Re:everyones an expert (4, Insightful)

nyet (19118) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658684)

You are user # 1,251,600.

You don't think that out of that 1.2 MILLION of mostly geeks many of us don't work in the datacom industry?

And that out of those, many of us see the stupid games the government plays with the second biggest near monopoly/cartel on the planet?

Re:everyones an expert (1)

zebra987 (1251600) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658782)

No - I do work in the datacom industry though. I think its common for people who read this website. I think maybe 100 people who read this website know about these circuits, and those that do wouldn't be commenting about them here.

Re:everyones an expert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22659400)

"I think it is common...I think maybe 100 people..."

Yeah, well I think you pulled that number out of your ass.

Really, at the very least, offer up _some_ kind of explanation for how you arrived at such a number. Just being employed in that industry doesn't substantiate what you _think_ . We're nerds. We need logic, reasoning and data.

What's that? You say you did pull it out of your ass? OK, no need for explanation. Move along.

I say this as a privacy advocate, but (1, Interesting)

markass530 (870112) | more than 6 years ago | (#22658922)

I Download a metric FUCKTON of pirated material. I Get drunk and download a lot of porn off limewire. Even though I Check through the stuff, I have found porn that is legally "questionable" that being said, as long as they only prosecute terrorists and their ilk, wtf do I give if they Look at my Shit???

It doesn't add up (4, Interesting)

Derling Whirvish (636322) | more than 6 years ago | (#22659092)

My BS detector is pinging.

the transmission line provided the Quantico recipient direct access to all content and all information concerning the origin and termination of telephone calls placed on the Verizon Wireless network as well as the actual content of calls.
The contents of my cell phone calls made locally intracity west of the Mississippi DO NOT get routed through a single line on the east coast that terminates at Quantico. It's absurd to think that all of Verizon's cell calls are routed to that link. Occam's razor.

So it's a DS3 (1)

kilodelta (843627) | more than 6 years ago | (#22659178)

Which means in all likelihood it's carried on optical fiber. Someone should chop that fiber into a million little pieces. And then lets litigate the current incumbents into non-existence and have companies that understand the rule of law take over.

Do the math (3, Informative)

thegameiam (671961) | more than 6 years ago | (#22659590)

A GSM half-rate channel is 5.6Kbps (a fullrate channel is twice that, but let's look at the most extreme case). A DS3 = 45 Mbps. 45Mbps = 45000Kbps

45000Kbps / 5.6Kbps = 8037 simultaneous calls supported on a DS3, assuming 0% overhead, protocol, encryption, and that all calls are half-rate.

VZW and ATTW have subscriber counts in the millions.

Whatever the legality or circumstance of this, a single DS3 is hardly wholesale snooping.

It probably costs $1 billion a day. (1)

heroine (1220) | more than 6 years ago | (#22659718)

That plan is probably $1 billion a day, not including supplimental spending packages.

frost phist (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22659798)

of FreeBSD Usenet my efforts were in ratio of 5 to guests. Some people revel in our gay this verY moment, it's going, transfer, Netscape If you answered Be 'very poorly

DS-3 = high bandwidth? (2, Insightful)

phirst (683939) | more than 6 years ago | (#22659948)

A whopping 45Mbit/s... Sure, that wouldn't be bad for a home internet connection, but in the grand scheme of the FBI connecting to comms companies, surely this counts as comparable to wet string?

Going to Prison now? (1)

SpyPlane (733043) | more than 6 years ago | (#22659986)

How is this guy saying these things and not already on his way to prison? I have a TS clearance and agreed to not disclose anything I know or worked on while in a TS position. If this guys statements are even mildly true, he should be on his way to prison for breaking his end of the deal. Whether you think it is right or not, he signed on to a job that had requirements, and he broke those requirements by talking about it.
   
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