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  (Source: Nation of Change)
"Interesting" auto-flagged emails are stored in "Trafficthief" and other DBs for five years or more

"I, sitting at my desk, wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email," declared former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp. (BAH) leaker Edward Snowden.

I. Lies Politicians Told Me

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who recently shot down an effort to trim back NSA spying, was one mouthpiece in the Obama administration's vocal denial of that statement.  

Rep. Rogers took a rather personal angle in challenging Mr. Snowden's veracity, attacking, "He's lying. It's impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do.  I hope that we don't decide that our national security interests are going to be determined by a high-school dropout who had a whole series of both academic troubles and employment troubles."

Likewise, President Barack Hussein Obama (D) himself commented in a PBS interview with Charlie Rose:

We're going to have to find ways where the public has an assurance that there are checks and balances in place ... that their phone calls aren't being listened into; their text messages aren't being monitored, their emails are not being read by some big brother somewhere.


He argued that the data gathering was "transparent" and "that’s why we set up the FISA court", a rather interesting claim given that the FISA is the secret PATRIOT Act court whose orders are sealed and whose actions are not allowed to be known by the public.

The President's motivations for the spying, however, appear fairly straightforward.  An estimated 70 percent ($33.7B USD) of the request fiscal 2014 funding for intelligence/spying activities is scheduled to go to private contractors, the biggest of which are BAH, Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC), Honeywell Int'l Inc. (HON) (via is Science Applications Int'l Corp. subsidiary), Raytheon Comp. (RTN), and Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT).  

These companies were among the president's top campaign donors, pouring nearly twice as much money over him as they did to Mitt Romney (Booz Allen Hamilton gave $176,000 + $281,700 USD to supporting PACs; Lockheed Martin gave $285,600 + $854,300 USD to supporting PACs; Honeywell Int'l  gave $93,600 USD + ~$100,000 USD to supporting PACs; Raytheon  gave $155,800 + $522,300 USD to supporting PACs; and Northrop Grumman gave $251,500 + $323,300 USD to supporting PACs. 

II. Sweeping Warrantless Email, Chat Surveillance Program Gets Outed

On Wednesday, though The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald published a report that reveals that the NSA is monitoring millions of people's emails and chats via a program called "XKeyscore".  Internal training documents call the program the "widest-reaching" data collection effort in world history.  

NSA XKeyscore
[Image Source: The Guardian]

Presentations on the tool describe a "Digital Network Intelligence (DNI)" which scrapes countless bytes of data from ISPs, telecommunications backbones, and more under the PATRIOT Act.  One slide brags, "nearly everything a typical user does on the internet [is captured]."

NSA email
[Image Source: The Guardian]

In other words compressed, searchable collections of everything you do online, every word you type and send are being compiled at secret NSA facilities, and you're paying the bill -- a "modest encroachment" of privacy in the President's mind.

Without any warrants an NSA analyst can mine databases at will and view communications, with only a small on-screen form to be filled in justifying the reason for the search.  Agents can find and track your online actions via a number of search options including name, telephone number, IP address, keywords, the language in which the internet activity was conducted, or the type of browser used.

NSA Email spying

NSA Email spying
[Image Source: The Guardian]

Under the PATRIOT Act's FISA court federal agents need a warrant to get an "all you can eat" pass to your digital life -- officially.  But the XKeyscore appears to offer agents the ability to view without warrant "real-time" database logs of emails/chats associated with specific accounts of U.S. citizens -- even if they're not technically supposed to be doing that.

NSA email spying
[Image Source: The Guardian]

In fact, the program allows NSA agents to in some cases not even have to write a justification, simply click-and-picking one from a drop-down menu of canned justifications.

NSA monitoring
[Image Source: The Guardian]

A December 2012 slide entitled "plug-ins" suggests the tools are especially good at monitoring your contacts, including:
  • "every email address seen in a session by both username and domain"
  • "every phone number seen in a session [eg address book entries or signature block]"
  • "the webmail and chat activity to include username, buddylist, machine specific cookies etc"
When searching, the NSA tool taps a series of databases that include data intercepted directly from email services, data from "contact us" email forms on webpages, and online documents.  The search then returns a list of emails that an NSA agent can click to read.

III. Facebook, Google Chats are Mined

As with the previous monitoring, the NSA -- who is supposed to be monitoring foreign communications -- seems primarily interested in monitoring interactions of U.S. citizens.  One slide states, "communications that transit the United States and communications that terminate in the United States" are the primary purpose of XKeyscore.

Facebook.com, Inc. (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg insisted that his social network's users weren't being monitored by the feds, commenting:

Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the US or any other government direct access to our servers. We have never received a blanket request or court order from any government agency asking for information or metadata in bulk, like the one Verizon reportedly received. And if we did, we would fight it aggressively.

Whoops, that sounds like another lie, whether or not the Zucks realizes it.  Slides show that an agent can enter a Facebook user name and date range and get a full transcript of your chat logs.

NSA Facebook

NSA Facebook
[Image Source: The Guardian]

Another slide indicates that the feds may have similar open access to Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Gmail and Yahoo! Inc.'s (YHOO) Mail.  The only limitation is storage space.  Documents indicate that full records (email, chat logs, etc.) are captured and stored 3 to 5 days, while the associated metadata (email headers, etc.) are stored 30 days.  Comments one slide "At some sites, the amount of data we receive per day (20+ terabytes) can only be stored for as little as 24 hours."

Forum traffic was also targeted.

NSA Forum monitoring
[Image Source: The Guardian]

These monitoring facilities aren't cheap.  William Binney, a former NSA mathematician, estimated in 2012 that the NSA and affiliate agencies have captured and stored 20 trillion pieces of data (e.g. emails, call metadata records, etc.) of U.S. citizens communicating with fellow Americans.  A 2010 article in The Washington Post describes, "Every day, collection systems at the [NSA] intercept and store 1.7bn emails, phone calls and other type of communications."

NSA Email Storage
[Image Source: The Guardian]

But that doesn't mean your older records are safe.  The NSA has developed tiered-storage solutions that use automated scripts to flag and cache potentially "interesting" information in databases for long term storage.  These databases include "MARINA", "Pinwale", and "Trafficthief".

IV. Abuse in Similar Programs Have Been Shown to be Rampant

So how much are those "justifications" the agents fill out checked for legality and ethical use?  According to Mr. Snowden, "It's very rare to be questioned on our searches and even when we are, it's usually along the lines of: 'let's bulk up the justification.'"

The Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, acknowledges in Congressional testimony that there have been "a number of compliance problems", but insisted these illegal actions weren't in "bad faith".  Instead they were due to "human error" or "highly sophisticated technology issues", he says.

In similar PATRIOT Act monitoring programs audit by the U.S. Department of Justice's Inspector General (IG) it was found that "Documentation was missing or inadequate in 60 percent of the files the Inspector General looked at."

PATRIOT Act spying
Similar programs have been plagued by rampant abuses. [Image Source: Nation of Change]

Furthermore, the full documents associated with approximately "70 percent" of the seizures that were logged in a database could not be found, meaning there was no way of telling whether they were valid or something entirely inappropriate (e.g. an administration official spying on political rivals, a man stalking his ex-girlfriend, etc.).  The "voluntary self-reporting" used to log offenses produced only 26 hits out of 146,000 requests (0.0178%), but the audit found 17 out of 77 inspected letters (22.1%) were blatant violations while 46 of them (59.7%) had missing records that made them impossible to verify.

Former federal officials have claimed that U.S. spying agencies target U.S. citizens based on their religion and political views.

In other words if XKeyscore is anything like other audited programs, there's lots of abuse, little documentation, and a totally broken system of self-policing that sweeps all that mess under the rug.

V. The Old "But We Caught a Few Terrorists" Excuse

The payoff for this loss of freedom?  The NSA slides brag that by 2008 300 terrorists were caught globally using XKeyscore.

The NSA writes in a statement to the Guardian:

NSA's activities are focused and specifically deployed against – and only against – legitimate foreign intelligence targets in response to requirements that our leaders need for information necessary to protect our nation and its interests.

XKeyscore is used as a part of NSA's lawful foreign signals intelligence collection system.

Allegations of widespread, unchecked analyst access to NSA collection data are simply not true. Access to XKeyscore, as well as all of NSA's analytic tools, is limited to only those personnel who require access for their assigned tasks … In addition, there are multiple technical, manual and supervisory checks and balances within the system to prevent deliberate misuse from occurring.

Every search by an NSA analyst is fully auditable, to ensure that they are proper and within the law.

These types of programs allow us to collect the information that enables us to perform our missions successfully – to defend the nation and to protect US and allied troops abroad

Note the key word is "auditable", meaning audits of the request have not necessary occurred.  The NSA also does not explain why if the programs purpose was to be "deployed against – and only against – legitimate foreign intelligence targets" why it would brag in its own words of the ability to track "communications that transit the United States and communications that terminate in the United States."

NSA Unchained
[Image Source: ACLU]
 
The sad thing is that the U.S. has long condemned nations like Russia and China for their internet surveillance, particularly in annual U.S. Department of State (DoS) reports on attacks on freedom in China, Russia, and elsewhere.  Perhaps a look in a mirror is now in order.

Clearly a "fool me once" principle applies to this one, as the NSA spins yet another layer in its tangled web of revisionist promises and denials.

Source: Guardian UK



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: .
By BZDTemp on 7/31/2013 7:33:02 PM , Rating: 2
Just wait. Next on the agenda will the introduction of thought crime.

Not as peoples minds actually being read, but profiling being used to decide who may be thinking of something criminal and then data fabricated to prove the individual is guilty of something.

It is like the most scary SciFi novels coming to life and we are already living them.


RE: .
By Lord 666 on 7/31/13, Rating: 0
RE: .
By Reclaimer77 on 7/31/2013 8:36:19 PM , Rating: 4
You're an idiot. Not using things and hiding from the Government should never have to be the answer.


RE: .
By Samus on 7/31/13, Rating: -1
RE: .
By Reclaimer77 on 7/31/2013 9:29:03 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
If you are making something completely public, why is it bad for the government to have that information but ok for a civilian (who could be a stalker, potential rapist, etc) to have it?


Do you want the Government collecting that kind of data on everyone? For what purpose? Why?

Plus I'm having trouble finding in the Constitution where it's the Government's mandate to monitor and collect data on it's citizens.

Also the bureaucracy and hardware to run and maintain such a ubiquitous surveillance apparatus can't be cheap. Is it really worth it all so the Government can know that some guy is upset at Obama (who isn't these days) on Facebook? Or some blogger used the word "bomb" or whatever?

And please, don't give me that "national security" nonsense.

quote:
Governments are inherently weak.


?????

Government's are the most powerful, potentially destructive, construct of mankind. Nearly every single war, mass slaughter, and large-scale injustice has been performed by Government of some form.

quote:
Look what is going on all over the world.


I have been. What world are you looking at? On this one Government's are running rampant. Plunging entire regions into wars, financial chaos, spying on each other etc etc.

quote:
The people control the government


That's an inherently Western view of Government. You'll find there aren't many other places, historically, where "the people" control their Governments.

Over a billion Chinese, and I don't think the Government they're under is something they are controlling. Or chose.

25 million North Koreans are basically being starved and forced into poverty by their Government.

About 20 million Russian's under Stalin died from starvation, forced labor camps, and political assassinations. Yeah man, they really had the power on their side.

And those are just a few examples from the 20'th century on. The historical record of Government's oppressing and controlling their populations, with little to no recourse, is stunning!

We have all these Americans who think they're so special it can't happen to them. Hey, we're the guys with Paul Revere and George Washington and Ronald f'ing Reagan right!!?? That stuff will never happen here!

Well wake up. It's happening!


RE: .
By xti on 8/1/13, Rating: -1
RE: .
By Reclaimer77 on 8/1/2013 11:36:47 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
I am not doing anything wrong


I'm just blown away at the apathy and ignorance on display...

You're right, you aren't doing anything wrong. So why does the Government need to spy on you in the first place?

quote:
if this is so bad, can someone give me something substantial that has changed in your life? something that isnt all mushy and comfort. im not a wuss, so unless my couch is missing from my house or something, nothing has changed.


WOW!!! Just...unbelievable.


RE: .
By xti on 8/1/2013 12:49:35 PM , Rating: 2
again...how has your life been affected? just a question....


RE: .
By MrBlastman on 8/1/2013 12:51:37 PM , Rating: 4
Perhaps instead of asking "how" you should instead ask "will?"

To understand the full rammifications of any action, you must not only observe the present, you must also study the past and pontificate the future.


RE: .
By xti on 8/1/13, Rating: -1
RE: .
By ClownPuncher on 8/1/2013 2:34:40 PM , Rating: 5
NDAA. The ability for the govenrment to detain citizens indefinitely without due process. 8 whistleblowers being held for exposing government corruption. The ability for the government to kill US citizens without trial. The erosion of the 1st and 4th amendments.

Basically, you're a turd.


RE: .
By xti on 8/2/13, Rating: 0
RE: .
By ClownPuncher on 8/2/2013 11:19:42 AM , Rating: 2
Give up. There is no shame in admitting you were wrong and poorly educated. Just use it as an opportunity to learn and not make the same mistakes again.


RE: .
By xti on 8/2/2013 6:37:04 PM , Rating: 1
sounds like you cant think of anything that applies to you so you just ignore the question.

thats cool...


RE: .
By sorry dog on 8/2/2013 12:49:53 PM , Rating: 2
I'll tell ya what's happen to him, me, and most everyone else around here. Recently millions of man hours of time and money (billions in that case) have been spent on the collection of this gross data and on the justification of the collection. In addition to that, similar amounts of effort have been spent on the study of the collection, efforts observe and report the collection, and efforts to reverse the collection. The costs are not just government/taxpayer expenses, but many other budgets as well. Personally I'd rather see journalists of the world working on things like financial meltdown (which I see as waaay underreported). And these costs only apply to the DIRECT activity costs of data collections.

The bigger problem I see is the opportunity cost that these distractions are causing. This nation is facing some of the largest fiscal challenges in its history and instead of our leaders (and those that report on them) being solely focused on these issues, they are spending time and money on these black hole government programs that have minuscule benefits.

So what has happened is his quality of life and my quality of life is being diminished by our government not doing its job and spending public money on it when it can be least afforded.


RE: .
By xti on 8/2/13, Rating: 0
RE: .
By M'n'M on 8/1/2013 6:04:53 PM , Rating: 2
Too young to recall McCarthy and what happened then ? How many people's lives and careers were ruined ? Would you want your conversations with your lawyer to be listened to ? With your accountant ? Got no problem with every snail mail letter being opened and recorded ? Can you imagine how MLK would have fared under a Nixonian administration ? It's isn't just private "bad" facts that you might want to keep private, it's also facts that can be twisted and spun by politicians to mute opposing views because humans still can't separate the message from the messenger. You or I may never be important enough in the public viewpoint but other, imperfect humans will be. It'll be a crap shoot as to whether a Govt that opposes their views will use this type of power to silence or obfuscate them.

I don't understand why people who oppose this kind of warrantless spying are thought to "hate" their Govt. It's not hate but a healthy distrust of the powers granted to fallible people who implement the Govt. A distrust that goes back to the formation of this country and the type of govt we have. We have what we have not because it's the most efficient form of govt but because it's the one most likely not to ignore our rights.


RE: .
By EricMartello on 8/3/2013 4:14:19 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
more wussy paranoia.


Paranoia implies an unreasonable or unrealistic fear; this surveillance buffet is quite real and is part of the gradual erosion of Americans' civil and constitutional rights.

quote:
give me an example where it isn't a needle in the haystack (like that kid who killed himself because he got caught uploading things he KNEW he shouldn't have) or a drop in the well (an extra 10 second body scan at the airport...no one wants to look at your fatas in an xray...)


Let's see...one example you can view every day - mass media:

It's not coincidence that most of the mass-media is heavily biased toward the expansion of government power and authority. They always vilify anyone right of center, because people on the right fundamentally OPPOSE government.

So what does the spying have to do with this?

Much of this seemingly "harmless" and "not personally identifiable" information is processed and used to generate the narratives you hear repeatedly on TV, newspapers, magazines, blogs and even so-called "grass roots" movements.

By tracking and monitoring Americans' activities and habits online, the government and companies in the data mining industry, are able to manipulate public perceptions and opinions to suit their agenda, which is NOT an agenda that looks out for the best interests of US Citizens.

Both of the Obama campaigns made heavy use of this type of technology.

The companies that provide this technology typically refuse to do so with an party that is not pro-government (i.e. far left).

People like you who believe that anything beyond a 3 foot radius of themselves is irrelevant enable this type of abuse to happen.

Why don't you tell us why we need this type of surveillance?

How is rampant spying on Americans things better for the US as a whole?

How is having your fat-a55 scanned at the airport making it safer to fly?


RE: .
By Reclaimer77 on 8/1/2013 2:12:46 PM , Rating: 4
So as long as it doesn't personally impact me and me alone, the Government has unlimited authority to do anything it wants?

Get out of here! Your comments are completely unacceptable.

Why don't you ask Conservative groups and individuals that were targeted and intimidated by the IRS how their lives were affected? How did the IRS know who to target anyway? Massive Government databases like these who monitor citizens and collect data.

You're sitting here asking "how does it affect" us, and we have proof positive that it can and DOES! While you're at it, look up the 4'th Amendment.


RE: .
By Piiman on 8/3/2013 11:34:14 AM , Rating: 3
"Why don't you ask Conservative groups and individuals that were targeted and intimidated by the IRS how their lives were affected? How did the IRS know who to target anyway? Massive Government databases like these who monitor citizens and collect data."

Ahh no that is not how they knew. Those groups had to file for a certain tax status and fill out paper work and send it to the IRS. Sorry no secret database needed.


RE: .
By kerpwnt on 8/1/2013 4:29:29 PM , Rating: 2
Are all of the facilities, equipment, and staff used to run this program free?

I would rather that the tax money was used for something that actually made the U.S. a better nation. That, or lower the deficit, or maybe don't collect the money in the first place...

Every U.S. taxpayer (or person who benefits from a tax-funded program) has been affected. Imagine what else we could do with the money that was instead spent cataloging our emails, personal conversations, logins, credit card numbers, online purchases, GPS locations, and whatever else we transmit (private or not) over the internet?


RE: .
By wookie1 on 8/1/2013 12:10:23 PM , Rating: 2
Good for you. Aside from the fact that the criminal code is thousands of pages, so you almost certainly commit felonies every day, not everyone may agree with you. Do you want everything you do online to potentially be used against you? Do you think it would be a great tool for a president to use to retain power and crush dissent? In a "free society", shouldn't we be able to have legal activity online and in e-mail without being subjected to the prying eyes of government? It isn't just about you, it's about others whose freedom may be abused. You'll be fine as long as you don't rock the boat, but if you object publicly to what those in power are doing, this is just one more tool to neutralize you in addition to the IRS and FEC.


RE: .
By MrBlastman on 8/1/2013 12:18:50 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
I am not doing anything wrong, so I really dont care who hears about my weekend plans. What are they going to do...let the cat out of the bag about our family members surprise party?


Have you gone mad?

The 4th Amendment is clear! NSA spying on even your weekend plans is a violation of it!

Go ahead. Turn your head away. Don't care. That's just what they want you to do. They're counting on it.

Not to sound cliche, but, if you give the Government an inch, they'll take a mile. If everyone here were like you, what will happen when they take even more of our rights away? What if you happen to look at a camera wrong? What if they see you whispering in someone's ear? What will you do when armed police grab you and haul you away to a secret detention facility while they interrogate you--forcing you to reveal what that whisper was?

You argue--well, there's nothing for me to hide so who cares? Would you care then if they inconvenienced your pathetic little day by dragging you from your friends into their clutches to discern your intent?

Maybe that's what it takes. Maybe people have to be accosted to the point of losing their physical liberties before they care? Even then they probably won't. Nobody seems to care about this guy:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/30/justice/california-d...

He did win a settlement but he almost died. Yes, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong things under the eyes of the law. That doesn't make what happened to him right. His liberties were violated but your average American will never hear nor care about it.

So, so what if they hear about your weekend plans. Maybe you're going camping? Did you happen to buy some propane, tools, rope and other items for your trip? What if some nutcase inside the NSA thinks you're planning on accosting or committing a terrorist act based on your purchases and show up on your trip to question or imprison you? Will you care then? Odds are they won't do this but the chance is remote.

The point is--none of this is any of their business without a warrant. They are completely sidestepping the most important branch of our Government--the Judicial branch! Remember that thing called checks and balances? Rock/paper/scissors? The Executive/Legsilative/Judicial branches? They are all supposed to balance and check each other. If you remove one of them from the loop, is it happening anymore?

Ignorance is bliss I suppose.


RE: .
By xti on 8/1/2013 12:51:45 PM , Rating: 2
the difference is, everyone who gets all bent out of shape has this "feeling" that the government is going to purposely ruin your life, take away your rights, shut down mcdonalds just cuz they can.

in other words, they expect the worst, have no trust, etc.


RE: .
By MrBlastman on 8/1/2013 12:55:59 PM , Rating: 2
So wait, you trust our government?


RE: .
By ClownPuncher on 8/1/2013 1:33:03 PM , Rating: 2
So, giving them the ability to do so doesn't invite problems? If you don't expect the worst from your government, you give them the freedom to be the worst.


RE: .
By xti on 8/1/2013 2:10:17 PM , Rating: 2
sorry, just not gonna worry about that BS. Its people like you and me that the majority of our peers elected to do the job for us.

if you dont like it, u run for office next time.

THOUGHT SO.


RE: .
By Reclaimer77 on 8/1/2013 2:17:01 PM , Rating: 2
You and your idiot peers voting is WHY we're in this mess.

Though I'm starting to doubt you're even of voting age based on your moronic posts here.


RE: .
By MrBlastman on 8/1/2013 2:43:27 PM , Rating: 2
I doubt he is by how he says things.


RE: .
By ClownPuncher on 8/1/2013 2:57:04 PM , Rating: 2
sez u. u don't know him, YO


RE: .
By ClownPuncher on 8/1/2013 2:30:17 PM , Rating: 2
The Constitution and Bill of Rights sole purpose is to protect citizens from the government. You'll learn these things once you're out of your teens.


RE: .
By xti on 8/2/2013 12:21:43 AM , Rating: 2
yeah yeah, enjoy worrying and stressing over nothin


RE: .
By japlha on 8/2/2013 2:24:59 PM , Rating: 2
It's not a "feeling". The government (politicians) will only limit your rights to the point that they still remain in power. If they felt that closing down McDonalds would allow them to stay in power you can be sure they would do that. However, they can't flaunt their power that openly or people like you might actually get a clue. For now it's in their best interests to keep McDonalds open.
I don't trust people that use coercive bully tactics or threaten me at gunpoint for my own "good".


RE: .
By Schrag4 on 8/1/2013 1:11:45 PM , Rating: 2
Ah, the old "I have nothing to hide" argument again. I'm going to go out on a limb when I guess that occassionally you express some frustration or distrust of either politicians, their parties, or even simply government programs or agencies. There's nothing wrong with that, just free speech, right? What happens tomorrow when our govt decides it doesn't like that and starts locking people up who dissent? Ask the Chinese people if they appreciate the fact that they can't communicate without being listened in on. I don't think I have anything to hide either, but that doesn't mean I want all of my past emails, forum posts, etc to be used against me in the event that the state decides to single someone like me out for some type of politically motivated trial. If you think it can't happen here, you're fooling yourself because it already is.


RE: .
By kerpwnt on 8/1/2013 4:39:41 PM , Rating: 2
These people had nothing to hide. Another fine example of our tax dollars at work:
http://goo.gl/AX922Q

If the authorities caught on to their search a day later, they probably would have kicked in their door and shot their dog...


RE: .
By Iaiken on 8/1/2013 2:46:04 PM , Rating: 4
If you ever need a reason why this is such a profoundly stupid position to take, you need only look as far as Mukhtar al-Bakri and the Lackawanna Six.

These were six men who attended terrorist training in afghanistan, but were so frightened by the entire ordeal that they did everything they could to try and get out early, including faking injuries. Whey they returned to America early they were kept under round-the-clock surveillance for two years and during that time they did nothing, not even so much as discussing an attack.

Then one of the men went to Bahrain and sent an email back to his friends saying that he was getting married and that he wouldn't be seeing them for a while. The FBI thought that this was a coded message and that he was going to be carrying out a terrorist attack against targets in Bahrain.

The next morning, a group of Bahraini commandos stormed his hotel room, but instead of finding a cache of explosives and weapons, commandos found two snoozing honeymooners and leftover wedding cake. He was whisked back to America all the same and brought up on terrorism charges.

The Lackawanna Six were proudly paraded around by Washington as another sleeper cell plotting an attack, but it soon became clear that there was no evidence for this at all, other than the E-mail. The government quietly dropped the terrorism charges and prosecuted them simply for having gone to the training camp and for having bought uniforms there, found guilty and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Since his release in 2011, Mr. al-Bakri has attempted to revisit the visa application he filed for his wife back in 2003, but has been told that the application was stuck in review due to "matters of national security".

Therein lay the problem when you allow groups of paranoid people (CIA/NSA) who are under huge pressure to deliver to run dragnet style surveillance on Americans. Sure the government had a legitimate concern in the beginning, but then they turned that concern into a conclusion and then supported it with assumptions. The imprisonment of these men was the end product of the need to show Americans that these security agencies were actively thwarting terrorists.


RE: .
By MrBlastman on 8/1/2013 3:20:49 PM , Rating: 2
Great post and sums things up nicely.

The NSA completely sidesteps the Judicial branch and not only that, the Executive and Legislative are ignoring and coercing it to take their side through many methods including obfuscation.

Those in power have lots to lose. Only the ignorant believe they'll go quietly if caught.


RE: .
By roykahn on 8/1/2013 5:26:22 PM , Rating: 2
Many so-called terrorists and terrorist plots are fabricated by the CIA like the one you described. There are also many cases of FBI informants providing encouragement, plans and (fake) bombs to people who harbor some hatred towards a group of people/agencies/government so that the FBI can create pseudo terrorists and "catch" them in the act. Thus, the FBI can claim that they stopped all these "terrorists" and continue justifying their militarization, funding, and increased powers.


RE: .
By M'n'M on 8/1/2013 6:21:51 PM , Rating: 2
Or an even sillier (or more stupid) case ... the 2 Brit tourists who joked on Twitter that they were going on vacation in the US and were going to destroy it (slang in England for getting drunk) and dig up Marilyn Monroe's grave (I believe they actually mentioned the wrong city).

They were detained and questioned for 5 hours and then sent back home, their vacation plans and $$s now gone.

The problem is you've got people whose sole purpose is to stop terrorism w/o any need to balance that with commonsense (and I'm being kind). Think about that next time you're joking about the policies of any administration in the future.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16810312


RE: .
By japlha on 8/2/2013 1:57:26 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
I am not doing anything wrong, so I really dont care who hears about my weekend plans. What are they going to do...let the cat out of the bag about our family members surprise party?

if this is so bad, can someone give me something substantial that has changed in your life? something that isnt all mushy and comfort. im not a wuss, so unless my couch is missing from my house or something, nothing has changed.

So in your view whatever the government does, even if it violates laws that we voters presumed our elected officials would follow, is ok? Provided you get to keep your couch of course? You may not have lost your couch but you have lost some of your privacy. Maybe that's ok for you but I value my privacy more than my couch. I want to have the option of either letting people know my weekend plans or not.

I have no problem if a person voluntarily permits the government to collect any and all data on their activities. But we're not given the choice.

The US government (and governments in general) grow in power and control over time. It's inevitable. Are you this naive to think it will stop here? We have history books documenting this stuff. It's ignorant people like you that is the real problem.


RE: .
By Makaveli on 8/1/2013 11:08:15 AM , Rating: 1
That sounds nice in theory.

Until the government shows up at your house and SWAT kicks your door down.

The only one that will look inherently weak will be you in the back cruiser.

They have all the money(our money) and all the weapons and a license to do whatever they want as they write the law.


RE: .
By MrBlastman on 8/1/2013 12:08:17 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Governments are inherently weak.


Correction: Governments are only as weak as the powers you limit them to.

Our Constitution limits their powers. Our Department of Justice, Executive and Legislative Branches are turning their eyes away as they violate these limits and pretend they don't exist. Our PEOPLE are also living in ignorant bliss, not caring about any of it.

We are the ones at fault for all of this and the hate for our government is completely justified. Make no mistake though, while we might hate our government, we still love our Constitution. We just wish it were obeyed as written.

Oh, and since you mention weakness... you forget the large Military controlled by them. Hmm... Maybe there is a reason that our current executive branch wants to do everything they can to limit people's access to firearms... you think?


RE: .
By ritualm on 7/31/2013 8:42:40 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Fixed that for you. Simple solution to all of this if you are concerned about privacy... stop using social media.

Wrong, the solution is anything but simple. It requires you to become an enemy of USA.


RE: .
By Omega215D on 7/31/2013 8:51:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Wrong, the solution is anything but simple. It requires you to become a true patriot.


Fixed.


RE: .
By spaced_ on 7/31/2013 8:57:57 PM , Rating: 2
Treason!

He's a communist! Hang him!

Burn the witch!


RE: .
By TerranMagistrate on 7/31/2013 11:16:57 PM , Rating: 2
Most asinine comment posted on here in a good while.


RE: .
By MrBlastman on 8/1/2013 12:20:45 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately it is all we can do at the moment to protect what limited privacy we have. That is, until more people care enough to do something about it.


RE: .
By wookie1 on 8/1/2013 3:09:45 PM , Rating: 2
" Simple solution to all of this if you are concerned about privacy... stop using social media."

And the internet, and e-mail, and your telephone. Other than that, you're free to communicate however you want. Watch out for the FBI surveillance drones, though.


RE: .
By wookie1 on 8/1/2013 12:13:32 PM , Rating: 3
It will be slightly different, they will use algorithms to determine how likely you are to commit a crime. If you cross some threshold, they will say that it's in the interest of public safety to remove you from society as you are likely to commit a crime. Those who want to argue against this will be quickly identified based on their communications with others, and of course the algorithm will determine that they are a menace to society.


"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA














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