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View Diary: WTF?? EVERY Phone Call in the U.S. is Recorded? (357 comments)

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  •  No Idea What the the Aims of Government Are (10+ / 0-)

    But I strongly doubt that it has the access to the computing power to record and store this kind of data, much less to analyze it and extract anything meaningful from it. This would require vast arrays of equipment, huge allocations of electricty and employment of hundreds if not thousands of engineers writing the software that manages it.

    Google has published some information about the massive hardware infrastructure it uses to satisfy its computing needs:

    http://www.google.com/...

    And it's not attempting anything on the scale that is being suggested here. It runs a search engine, e-mail and several other popular Internet products. It's not trying to record, store and analyze the entire voice and data communications traffic of an entire country.

    If the U.S. were actually successfully doing this, I would expect its footprint to be a lot bigger.

    The desire might be there, but I doubt they are successfully doing this.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Sat May 04, 2013 at 06:33:29 PM PDT

    •  There's a Pretty Big Footprint (22+ / 0-)
      * Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.

      * An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.

      * In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings - about 17 million square feet of space.

      ...

      Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications.

      Link

      Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.

      by The Baculum King on Sat May 04, 2013 at 06:44:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks (6+ / 0-)

        I did not realize that this building effort was going yet. This is the kind of footprint that I would expect such a large-scale surveillance effort to leave.

        "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

        by bink on Sat May 04, 2013 at 06:49:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •   probably only a fraction of those of us (0+ / 0-)

        who work in this industry are involved in the particular kind of surveillance  you're talking about.  That doesn't mean, however, that the other projects  are all  unquestionably good. Some of  the projects I've worked on might be regarded as "security theater". In my experience, the government has been questioning these projects more in the last few years, which may be good, even if it  makes the jobs of people like me less secure.

        Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

        by AaronInSanDiego on Sun May 05, 2013 at 09:56:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They don't seem to be questioning them (0+ / 0-)

          as regards "airport security."

          Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

          by MichaelNY on Sun May 05, 2013 at 04:46:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not sure about that, since (0+ / 0-)

            I haven't worked on projects in that area for many years, but they might not be asking all the questions you would ask, or they might reach different conclusions. What I have seen in the past is that not all the potential incidents which may have been prevented in part by some of these technologies have been publicized, even though you might think they would be. But most my memory of that sort of thing was from before 9/11/01.

            Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

            by AaronInSanDiego on Sun May 05, 2013 at 05:03:32 PM PDT

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            •  I think you know that (0+ / 0-)

              "Airport security" is mostly pure theatrics and ineffective. I could pretty easily find articles that document this in detail.

              Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

              by MichaelNY on Sun May 05, 2013 at 05:11:30 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm familiar with that argument, but (0+ / 0-)

                I'm not convinced.

                Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

                by AaronInSanDiego on Sun May 05, 2013 at 05:30:12 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  However, I am interested in (0+ / 0-)

                reading more on the subject.

                Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

                by AaronInSanDiego on Sun May 05, 2013 at 05:31:27 PM PDT

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                •  If you haven't been reading Bruce Schneier, (0+ / 0-)

                  you should.

                  Here's his latest on airline security.
                  And here's a slew of search results from his site.

                  While the latest result focuses on the harm what passes for "airport security" causes, many of the earlier results focus on how ineffective and costly it is.

                  Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

                  by MichaelNY on Sun May 05, 2013 at 06:10:26 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I've read some of what he's written. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    MichaelNY

                    I'm not sure I agree with his conclusions, but I'll read more.

                    Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

                    by AaronInSanDiego on Sun May 05, 2013 at 06:20:16 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  An open mind is all anyone should ask for (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      AaronInSanDiego

                      And if I could read a convincing rebuttal of all his points, I'd look at it, too.

                      Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

                      by MichaelNY on Sun May 05, 2013 at 06:53:44 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Well, I don't have that. (0+ / 0-)

                        Some of my reaction is just a difference in interpreting the available information. My position isn't that airport security has been demonstrated to be effective, just that I'm not convinced that it has been demonstrated to be ineffective. I think either position is difficult to prove.

                        Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

                        by AaronInSanDiego on Sun May 05, 2013 at 07:24:37 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  There's plenty of evidence of ineffectiveness (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          AaronInSanDiego

                          Sorry about the source, but here's a recent example.

                          Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

                          by MichaelNY on Sun May 05, 2013 at 07:31:33 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I can certainly accept that there have been (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            MichaelNY

                            many failures and problems with the system, and that it has often fallen short. I also don't dispute that there are aspects of it that are not effective, and that there is a lot of room for improvement. I'm not sure that it is fundamentally ineffective and a complete waste of resources though, as some have said. But I am not entirely unbiased in my judgment of the issue, because of the work I do and have done.

                            Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

                            by AaronInSanDiego on Sun May 05, 2013 at 07:39:39 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I understand that it's hard to be unbiased (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            AaronInSanDiego

                            when your job is at stake. That's why people in coal-mining regions hate environmental regulations and clean energy. But unlike you, most of them don't admit that valuing their job over the general interest could be what's driving their politics.

                            Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

                            by MichaelNY on Sun May 05, 2013 at 07:49:18 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  It doesn't drive my politics, but (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            MichaelNY

                            it does influence it. My job isn't directly at stake, since I don't do work for the TSA, but I've worked on similar projects aimed at countering terrorism, and I and others I'm close to have worked in the past on airport security projects. It's more about examining the work I've done and whether it was beneficial. I've seen some evidence that suggested to me that it was of some utility, but I've also seen evidence such as that you link to. It's not entirely a matter of bias, but also of experience, and sorting these issues out isn't simple.

                            Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

                            by AaronInSanDiego on Sun May 05, 2013 at 08:10:23 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  My feeling is that the US government is getting (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            AaronInSanDiego

                            addicted to spying by technical means, over-relying on dubious intelligence by foreigners with some different interests and loyalties than ours (such as the ISI) for want of really good humint, and blowing people up by remote control, and that what's been lost (or never properly gained) is a really good humint capacity, which would focus with a finer grain on actual threats to security and truly understanding the world.

                            Technology can be very useful, of course, but it's a tool that has to be used intelligently by imaginative people, not pervasively by dull-witted people.`I haven't forgotten that there have been several disastrous intelligence failures in the last 25 years or so, and not all of them led to attacks on the US. There was a failure to recognize what was actually happening in the USSR during the early years of the Gorbachev period; there was a failure to heed warnings that could have prevented the atrocities in 2001; there was a failure to correctly evaluate the state of Saddam's nuclear and chemical weapons programs before the aggression against Iraq; there was a failure to anticipate the Arab Spring; there was a failure to stop the underwear bomber, despite his father having warned the CIA three times - and those are just uppermost in my mind.

                            Israel has terrific airport and airplane security. They also have prevented numerous acts of terrorism within Israel. That's not an accident, and it has a hell of a lot to do with a reliable humint presence. They probably monitor all communications, too, but I feel sure that's not what they're spending most of their time on, and they're certainly not focusing on ordinary people's telephone calls in lieu of using genuine, specifically targeted humint.

                            I'm drawing conclusions based only on stuff that's been reported, of course. That's all that anyone without a security clearance can do, because though they know everything about us, we can't know the details of how they're spying on us, because national security is all about the pervasive violation of privacy being secret and not at all about the government being accountable for explaining why it's using a 10-ton bomb in the wrong place instead of a scalpel in the right place.

                            It's clear that some acts of terrorism have been prevented, but none of the prevention has had anything to do with "airport security," as far as anyone has documented. Instead, it's been traditional police and FBI work that's snagged the suspects.

                            Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

                            by MichaelNY on Sun May 05, 2013 at 08:32:15 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Israel also, if I'm not mistaken, (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            MichaelNY

                            makes more extensive use of the kinds of profiling most of us would reject. But I agree with a lot of what you say. Technology is certainly not a panacea nor a substitute for intelligence. One issue, in my view, is inadequate screening, training, and compensation of security workers. For some reason it's easier to spend money on hardware than on labor.

                            I don't have a security clearance, although I'm not sure all the information I've been exposed to over the years has been made publicly available. I might try to see if I can dig up any evidence of airport security successes. If nothing else, it will be a useful exercise.

                            Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

                            by AaronInSanDiego on Sun May 05, 2013 at 08:54:47 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I'd be interested (0+ / 0-)

                            Yes, Israelis definitely accept violations of privacy that Americans don't accept (in theory). But at least their anti-terror efforts are quite good. The difficulty is that ultimately, some policy decisions have to be made, and that's something the Shin Bet and Mossad can't do.

                            Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

                            by MichaelNY on Sun May 05, 2013 at 09:37:10 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

    •  NSA facility in Utah. (9+ / 0-)

      Is not exactly your average data center. They are indeed working towards this, from what I understand.

      To what degree they can or have achieved this goal, no one knows for sure. That in itself is troubling to me.




      Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
      ~ Jerry Garcia

      by DeadHead on Sat May 04, 2013 at 06:47:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  they can buy the (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Just Bob, MichaelNY, Dirtandiron, rlochow

      biggest, fastest computers they want. They've been doing that for the Department of Energy for decades. CDC6600s, Crays, Big Blue, you name it. Computing power isn't a problem.

      (Is it time for the pitchforks and torches yet?)

      by PJEvans on Sat May 04, 2013 at 07:48:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's not just equipment in their wheelhouse. (4+ / 0-)

      It's equipment made by other companies, integrated into the core of the primary routers and switches in the phone system.

      Example: The technology owned & operated by companies like Gryphon Networks is hardware, software and firmware that lives (from my understanding, following a conversation with high-level exec core member) within the high speed phone switches and routers in order to process do-not-call lists. This includes capturing the origination number, the destination number, referencing and verifying the do-not-call status, and capturing aspects of each call to verify that the do-not-call parameters were satisfied.

      They're looking at call recording (*entire calls; not sure if already implemented by now or now) for expanded use & utility.

      Technology like this exists. Has existed for a while. And is quite easily adaptable to the NSA's purposes.

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