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View Diary: Everything you don't want to know about the NSA & didn't ask (208 comments)

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  •  Good summary (5+ / 0-)

    Of course a lot of paranoid people ignore the total arithmetic.  If NSA has around 40,000 employees, and many of those would be monitoring "the rest of the world", some working on protecting the US government comms from hacking, some would be admin people, HR, equipment maintenance, security, etc.  

    How many NSA people are left to listen to everyone's phone calls and read e-mails?

    311,000,000 Americans (roughly), divided by about "maybe" 20,000 NSA employees.   That's about 15,500 people per employee.  That's a hell of a lot of e-mails and phone calls to go through.

    •  And if there are over a billion pieces of data (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Anna M, koNko, Onomastic

      day--websites visited, phone calls, etc.

      No way humanly possible to monitor all that.

      "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

      by zenbassoon on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 09:11:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's why machines do it. (9+ / 0-)

        That's why NSA has acres of computers worth many billions of dollars.

        Kind of like we are not using typewriters or telegraph keys to blog, only thousands of times greater in scope.

        The new NSA storage facility in Utah will be capable to store the entire contents of the internet several times over, why would they need so much storage without analytic capability?

        400ppm : what about my daughter's future?

        by koNko on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 09:37:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sure, but the NSA's storage and technological (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          koNko, Anna M

          capabilities have grown largely because the internet has grown, and not because of some vast conspiracy.

          If the NSA's explicit mandate is to analyze and report foreign intelligence, they would necessarily need ample storage and computing power.

          The reason the NSA needs this kind of computing power is simple: in order to determine what person or persons a suspected foreigner may be contacting in the US, you need a snapshot of the entire corpus of phone calls made in a given period of time. Otherwise, you can't know whether or not you've identified every possible recipient. That requires A LOT of storage and computing power.

          Now please understand, I'm not arguing the Constitutionality of this. I'm just offering a technical justification for it.

          •  Who said it was a conspiracy? (8+ / 0-)

            I sure didn't and don't cite any articles making such claims.

            I hope I was pretty clear with the statement (new emphasis):

            Then, the internet changed everything, turning a well-monitored trickle of data into a high pressure firehose surveillance organizations rushed to capitalize on but found overwhelming in volume, rapidly falling behind both in technology, capacity and funding.

            Again, 9/11 changed everything, when failing in their basic mission to intercept a threat, the organization got the argument and unquestioning compliance of the Executive and Congressional branches to fund an unprecedented expansion, including the justification to expand surveillance domestically.

            Sucking From The Hose

            As telephone systems including mobile became all digital and traffic merged with the internet, the means to tap into the data stream and store records became a more simple and automated if larger scale and more daunting task, but an irresistible one to those convinced more is better, and empowered by the Patriot Act, the wheels turned.

            This describe a situation, a problem if you will, that is one factor that has resulted in an unprecedented expansion of resources, capacity and capabilities.

            Regardless of why it came into being, we are now faced with the questions of the hazards involved  and the uses it is or could be put to.

            I think the fact that some of the chief architects of NSA technology and systems have raised the alarm speaks for itself.

            In any case, my purpose here is to inform and defang the assumption that because this is questioned, it is "CT", which obviously a lot of Daily Kos members jump to with less foundation in fact than those they criticize. This is intellectual laziness I hope we can get past.

            I have been very careful here to avoid what I personally consider to be questionable assertions, and so I suggest you actually read the articles I have linked if you have not done so because the information speaks volumes more than I can.

            Don't take my word, read and decide for yourself if there are hazards here you need to be concerned with.

            400ppm : what about my daughter's future?

            by koNko on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 10:23:22 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Why now? (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Onomastic, deep info, koNko
              Regardless of why it came into being, we are now faced with the questions of the hazards involved  and the uses it is or could be put to.
              Why haven't we always been faced with this question?

              The NSA has existed since the fifties. The FISA court has existed since the 70s. Anybody claiming (and I know you're not) that we have just now learned of this is at best woefully ignorant.

              The fact that we have the capabilities Snowden describes doesn't bother me one bit. The thing that has always bothered me is the FISA court and the fact that the government can make legal justifications in secret. That kind of secrecy is incompatible with the increasing surveillance powers the NSA has. The head of the NSA testified that they expunge data every five years. I think that that's when classified legal briefs should be declassified. We should eventually get to know how and why the government justified its surveillance of a given target.

              Thanks for the informative diary.

              •  Because we are here now? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                fou

                Not enough people have asked the questions you raise, I hope this prompts it.

                One thing about now verses the past, is the technology which enables this on an unprecedented scale, and I do think that adds to the urgency.

                400ppm : what about my daughter's future?

                by koNko on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 06:27:32 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  It's all in the algorithms-- (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Onomastic, deep info, koNko

          What are the keywords, phrases, connections, and what not that they are looking for that will raise the red flags?

          "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

          by zenbassoon on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 10:10:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Zenbasson, they use it to harass (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        koNko

        You're aboslutely right that there is no possible way to sift through all this data for signs of actual terrorist plots.

        The bosses just pick people they want to harass or otherwise cause trouble for, and then they use the data so that they can harrass those people.

        It means that the entire thing is evil, but it also won't stop actual plots against the government, because they are looking in the wrong places.

    •  Hence the IT resources (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fou, Onomastic, CroneWit, chuckvw, Mary Mike

      Which are actually quite remarkable. They are not thumbing through index cards.

      This is the new center to store data in Zetabytes, which could be all of the content of the internet several times over.

      And here are some neat analytical tools, your tax dollars at work.

      400ppm : what about my daughter's future?

      by koNko on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 09:33:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The grunt work is done by computers (5+ / 0-)
      311,000,000 Americans (roughly), divided by about "maybe" 20,000 NSA employees.   That's about 15,500 people per employee.  That's a hell of a lot of e-mails and phone calls to go through.
      Not for a building full of servers designed to flag certain communications and bring it to the attention of NSA monitors who can then examine those communications immediately.

      +++ The law is a weapon used to bludgeon us peasants into submission. It is not to be applied to the monied elite.

      by cybersaur on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 09:55:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  NSA contractors - hundreds of thousands (6+ / 0-)

      Read James Bamford's article in March 2013 Wired on Utah Data Center.

      Other online sources have said this week much higher numbers of analysts as contractors.  I'm recollecting something like 450,000 - 500,000.  And end-of-week NSA acknowledgement that any and all such analysts can access any record at will.  (Contractor companies are not held to the same standard of Constitutional compliance a Federal agencies and to not have to protect your First and Fourth Amendment rights.)

      The Guardian's 'NSA files' series is an excellent source of much of the available info on the situation.  Just go to guardian.co.uk.

      Wired, Foreign Policy, Business Insider, PCNet, CNet (and many other 'mainstream-but-niche' sites are also covering this, and offer many good insights.

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