Skip to main content

View Diary: Fmr. CIA Deputy Dir. Morell In Sen. Judiciary Cmte. Testimony: NSA's “Metadata” Is “Content” (118 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  And went on to say.......... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Loge, Hey338Too
    Morrell added that the bulk collection of domestic phone data “has not played a significant role in preventing any terrorist attacks to this point,” further undercutting a major rationale offered by the NSA since the Guardian first revealed the bulk phone-data collection in June, thanks to leaks by Edward Snowden.

    But, Morell added, “that is a different statement than saying the program has not been important.” Morrell said that bulk collection can provide a reassurance that there is no domestic nexus to foreign terrorist plots detected by other NSA efforts.

    “It is absolutely true that 215 has not by itself disrupted prevented terrorist attacks in the United States, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important going forward, said Morell, using a shorthand for the bulk phone metadata collection. “Many of us have never suffered a fire in our homes but many of us have homeowners insurance.”

    From your link.

    I don't know what Morell meant by saying metadata is content.  But we know that in fact, it isn't content by any definition we've been using, that is, metadata doesn't tell us what is said or written.  If "what is said or written" is what we mean by content, then his statement doesn't make sense.

    Christie: "I'm going to find the real bullies!"

    by Inland on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 08:17:23 AM PST

    •  When I posted this, I asked myself... (11+ / 0-)

      ...what fool--you know, what person among the couple of dozen people in this community that regularly troll my posts--would be obnoxious enough to even attempt to discredit this reality? For real and for the record, your screen name was the first one that came to mind.

      "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

      by bobswern on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 08:33:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, bob, you flatterer. (0+ / 1-)
        Recommended by:
        Hidden by:
        ApostleOfCarlin

        Always trying to make me feel special, when you in fact have the same hysterical reaction to anyone who doesn't suck up to your version of "facts" and "reality", even by quoting your own links.  That's the record, in black and white: you're hardly choosy in  your attempts to stifle dissent.      

        Christie: "I'm going to find the real bullies!"

        by Inland on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 08:38:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  the only thing obnoxious is this reply. (0+ / 0-)

        structurally, it could have been appended to anyone who didn't accept the inferences Bobby drew from the links, not just Inland.   The sooner people recognize nobody has a monopoly on "reality," the better.

        Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

        by Loge on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 08:59:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Who are you kidding? n/t (9+ / 0-)

          "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

          by bobswern on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 09:05:02 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Inferences? (8+ / 0-)

          You mean the inferences that the guy literally said that there is content in the metadata?

          If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

          by AoT on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 09:13:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The inference that (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Inland

            Morrell's statement about metadata plus reports of access to fibre optic networks entails that Morrell's really saying that the NSA reads everyone's e-mails and listening to everyone's phone calls, per the last sentence of the diary.  Morrell said nothing of the sort.  If I call a pizza delivery service at 7:30 pm, you can draw a reasonable guess as to why.  If I get a call from an Afghani training camp and then call a student in a flight school, same thing.  But where's the encroachment on legally protected privacy interest in either case?

            Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

            by Loge on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 09:23:38 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  So you and inland are infering (6+ / 0-)

              that he can't mean that they get access to content in metadata even though he said that. You're literally inferring the exact opposite of what he said.

              If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

              by AoT on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 09:26:14 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Inland and I are actually different people, (0+ / 0-)

                just to clarify, but Morrell is not saying "get access to content," he's saying metadata is, itself, information, which is linguistically true.  I don't know that he can't have meant it, but it seems extremely unlikely.

                Ok, bored now.

                Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

                by Loge on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 09:34:35 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  He said that metadata is content (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  TheMomCat, cybrestrike, angel d

                  in many cases. There is content in what the NSA calls metadata, I've bee saying this for a while. I can guarantee they, or some other agency, is also collecting content, they just don't "collect" content. They promise. They gather it up and then swear not to read the stuff from Americans.

                  I realize you are different people, you're much to reasonable to be the same person:) I only grouped the two of you because I thought you were making the same inference. Thanks for the clarification.

                  If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

                  by AoT on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 09:44:38 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  i just wanted to be extra clear :) (0+ / 0-)

                    I'm supposedly in a "crew" with him or her, despite not being convinced her or she is even real.  You might not be real either :)

                    The trouble with the "nobody follows the law 100% of the time anyway," is it overdetermines the issue.  What should the law be for the 60% of the time (deliberately low number)  the agency does?  Whether or not metadata are "content" doesn't add up to an admission that the NSA is collecting and analyzing all content, including of the type they disavow the legal right to collect sans warrant.

                    Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

                    by Loge on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 10:13:26 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I'm definitely not real! (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      angel d

                      I don't even believe in real, reality is socially constructed;)

                      And my point wasn't that nobody follows the law 100% of the time, it was that the NSA is telling us that no one broke that law, and that's simply unbelievable. Similarly, they are saying they don't collect content, except now they do. It's just a drip drop of new lies.

                      And no, it isn't an admission that they are collecting all content. But they are collecting all content, they just use a different definition of collect so that they can claim they aren't collecting it. But they get the data.

                      If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

                      by AoT on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 10:42:18 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

      •  And he willfully ignores (0+ / 0-)

        what metadata is.

        Let's say on the surface  data you have the name "Jarrayy" and this name is visible for all eyes to see. But beneath that name there is the metadata and this contains loads of other info: Social security, debit card pin number, records of purchases, etc. That is metadata.

        A NYC subway MetroCard contains metadata. As does an E-Z Pass. The same goes for any picture you take with a smart phone.

        Health insurance is not health care.

        by Jarrayy on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 09:17:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Right, he's saying metadata collection (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Don midwest, Hey338Too, Inland

      conveys information, which nobody disputes.  If it doesn't, no sense collecting it.  And if it doesn't, the privacy interest is nil.  It's important to distinguish, however, metadata in electronic communications which may be broader than metadata in phone call logs.  As data about data, metadata are data, writing that was fun, but it's not a concession that there is no legal distinction between learning of the fact of a conversation and what was said in the conversation.  

      As for the other stuff about radio waves and ethernet cables, the key question is whether the NSA believes itself to have authorization to use domestically.  Other than Secs. 215 and 702, the answer is no.  Nobody's gutting the 4th amendment to the extent of putting shit on your computer.

      The reforms proposed seem reasonable, except to the extent people don't want to look at the NSA in the particular but as part of larger fights or conspiracies.

      Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

      by Loge on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 08:55:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That would be what I would guess: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Hey338Too, Loge

        metadata is information, useful information, but not what was said in the conversation.  

        The distinction is the fourth amendment law as it was articulated in Smith v. Maryland, and I believe it's the difference between a politically acceptable and unacceptable program.  

        As for the reforms, I don't think that they make much difference and might be useful as tweeks, except for the proposal that bulk data collections are saved by a private contractor.  That makes zero sense.  

        Christie: "I'm going to find the real bullies!"

        by Inland on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 09:03:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Whether smith "should" be the law, (0+ / 0-)

          is a tougher question.  I don't think all metadata should be regarded equally or have identical privacy interests associated with them.  I'd rather keep the collection as is but have tighter limits and transparency on when the database may be queried, which is what I think is properly the "search" to begin with.  My focus would be on internal processes within the agency, role of private contractors, and things like that.  

          I am hesitant to draw particularly political inferences from any action or inaction.  What does this tell us about Obama as the standard bearer of the party, that he adopted this program against this legal backdrop and this security situation?  Relief I'm not in his position.  A position I might not share isn't by virtue of that an unreasonable or unconscionable one, and that's what Dear Diarist misses, persistently.

          Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

          by Loge on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 09:17:29 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  If you refuse to look at issues except (6+ / 0-)

        on their own then you fail to have any sort of complete picture. The dude explicitly said it didn't help stop terrorism. The NSA and the government swore again and again and again that they weren't spying on Americans. None of the reforms stop that. They're still mass collecting information, they just swear they won't look at it and will keep it safe.

        The "other stuff" is a distraction in my eyes. Unless this is much, much worse than we're being told. I wouldn't be terribly surprised if it happened, but I don't see why the government would bother when they have other outfits that can do the same thing. The spying on foreign leader is a distraction too. That's what the NSA is for.

        If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

        by AoT on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 09:17:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  he said it hadn't stopped it, to his knowledge, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AoT

          but was not prepared to say it wouldn't in the future.  That is the big picture.  

          I agree with the rest, though I don't see anything wrong with collection + more formalization of the current practice of infrequent use of bulk collection.  The main issue, as best as I can tell, is (a) cost, and (b) whether it creates a false sense of complacency.  I'm willing to abide with the recommendations of the board given limits on personal expertise as to running of security agencies, provided their process really did consider a range of views, as seems the case.  

          Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

          by Loge on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 09:31:37 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The big picture is that we have a very privatized (4+ / 0-)

            security apparatus where hundreds of thousands of people, if not a million, potentially have access to a metric shit ton of information about everyone in the country, and have for more than a decade. We also know that all organizations have motivation to abuse a program if said abuse will make them more powerful. So big picture is we have absolutely no clue as to what sort of abuse is going on.

            The NSA is telling us that this data has literally never been used for any sort of black mail. That right there is a guaranteed lie. No way there is zero abuse of a data set like this. No way at all. So they're either lying and they know better, or they're so inept that they just haven't caught anyone doing it. Based on the past I'm assuming they're lying. They've been doing it for years now, why stop.

            It's also good to remember the role the NSA played in getting us into the Vietnam war, ginning up false evidence of the Gulf of Tonkin incident. If we want to look t the big picture. Now we've got massive corporations that are closely bound to the organization. That's not reassuring at all.

            If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

            by AoT on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 09:40:32 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  I assume that he meant that metadata is content (8+ / 0-)

      Since that's what he said.

      We know that text messages are considered metadata, so there's one piece of the puzzle.

      If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

      by AoT on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 09:12:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  He may have meant that, by his definition, but (0+ / 0-)

        not by anyone else's.  By anyone else's, there is a distinction between metadata and content.

        Christie: "I'm going to find the real bullies!"

        by Inland on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 09:15:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Right. He has a special definition of content (5+ / 0-)

          and metadata that no one else has. He uses a different definition than everyone who has been in his line of work. You are seriously twisting to avoid the obvious.

          If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

          by AoT on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 09:22:03 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You seem to understand him pretty well, so (0+ / 0-)

            Are you saying he's confessing that the metadata collection program includes what's said and what's written?  Ready...go.

            Christie: "I'm going to find the real bullies!"

            by Inland on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 09:46:55 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Some of it, yes (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              DeadHead, angel d

              Otherwise what does "content" mean?

              It's pretty clear you're trying to twist definitions to suit your view of the world. The NSA should hire you for this kind of stuff. Maybe you can explain how collecting isn't really collecting like they tried to do.

              If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

              by AoT on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 10:34:26 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  What do you mean, "some of it"? (0+ / 0-)

                Some of what?  Which some?

                Golly, it's almost as if it's not clear what he's saying.

                Huh.  

                Christie: "I'm going to find the real bullies!"

                by Inland on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 11:27:24 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Well lets look at the question you asked (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  bobswern, DeadHead

                  and use basic English skill to decipher my answer.

                  Are you saying he's confessing that the metadata collection program includes what's said and what's written?
                  Now, given that you asked whether the collection program includes "what's said and what's written" what do you think "some of it" might mean in that context? Extra credit for reading my other responses where I point out what content would be included. Like text messages, which are metadata.

                  If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

                  by AoT on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 11:33:57 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I think "some of it" shows (0+ / 0-)

                    that you are far from sure what he meant.  Which is sorta my point all along, and not surprising, given that it's one cherrypicked phrase during congressional testimony.

                    Now watch someone complain that I'm mindreading after you told me to go fish for your opinions.

                     

                    Christie: "I'm going to find the real bullies!"

                    by Inland on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 12:44:02 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  So you have no idea what he meant (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      DeadHead

                      But you're determined to give it the most charitable possible reading. Because that's what I'm reading from you right now. I'm not claiming to know everything that he meant, but I can firmly say that there are instances of content and metadata both being collected. Text messages is one of those. I don't claim to know where else this is the case because it's all secret. I'd imagine subject lines of emails would be another example.

                      The key thing here is that the NSA is lying and they have been shown to have been lying yet again. "Only metadata" is a lie and this is yet another piece of evidence of that fact. You can infer and spin all you want about what he really meant, that doesn't change the facts.

                      If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

                      by AoT on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 02:30:22 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

      •  It is not really the actual (0+ / 0-)

        text message, the contents of, that is the metadata. The time the message was sent, the location it was sent from, and all that -- that is the metadata.

        Health insurance is not health care.

        by Jarrayy on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 09:19:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, text messages are sent (4+ / 0-)

          as metadata. Metadata is whatever the people who programmed the system call metadata, and this includes text messages, SMS to be specific.

          If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

          by AoT on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 09:23:17 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes but that is not the (0+ / 0-)

            actual "hey, AoT, what are you doing?" part of the message.

            Health insurance is not health care.

            by Jarrayy on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 09:25:00 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, it is that part of the message (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bobswern, lunachickie, cybrestrike

              Text messages are metadata. That's how they work. If the government has a legal right to metadata then they have access to text messages. It in the same data set as metadata.

              If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

              by AoT on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 09:27:29 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, it is. (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bobswern, AoT, lunachickie, cybrestrike

              Text messages are piggybacked on communications the phone would already be making with the cell phone towers. That's why there's such a profound limit on the number of characters and why phones that allow longer text messages often have them show up at the recipient's phone as multiple texts of traditional length.

              It's approximately the same thing so far as metadata goes as the old commercial where someone calls collect and says their name is "Wehadababy Itzaboy" so the recipient doesn't have to pay for a full phone call to know that the caller has a newborn son, only in a way that isn't actually cheating the phone system.

              •  Ugh (0+ / 0-)

                After I send this message I am going to go get a cup of coffee and come back to my desk and open a Content Management System. I am going to look at a number of records (bot image/text, image only and text only) and then add to these records various types of info, from info such as dates and place names, to "guideposts" that link  to the top level data. Those who use our service never see he metadata, and I doubt the majority even know it exists.

                As someone who has been a metadata analyst since 2007 I think I know what I am talking about. Metadata is data that is not visible on the surface. So the actual content the text message in question is not meta. But all the other stuff beneath it is the metadata.

                BTW in case anyone thinks I am talking about anything nefarious, I am in academics -- which may be nefarious in other ways. Ha.

                Health insurance is not health care.

                by Jarrayy on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 10:05:41 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Text messages are sent as metadata (0+ / 0-)

                  and as such can legally be considered metadata. I realize that a normal definition of metadata would not include them, but this isn't a normal definition, it's a government definition. So yes, text messages shouldn't be considered metadata, but they are.

                  If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

                  by AoT on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 10:44:48 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  What part of "metadata IS content" don't... (7+ / 0-)

            ...people understand? It's NOT just the information about the communication (whether it's Internet, text messaging, video, or a phone call). It's the CONTENT of the message, itself.

            Metadata is the spin word that's been used by the government for the past year, to dance around (lie about) the reality that it's the content of the communication, as well.

            This has been self-evident to virtually anyone that has been following this sideshow (and, for over a decade prior to when anyone first heard the name, Edward Snowden, too), except for those in denial. Queue trolls: "He's linking to his own diary!" As opposed to acknowledging the fact that the diary/post maintains roughly a DOZEN, extremely credible sources/links that have been telling us/reporting this very thing for many, many years!

            "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

            by bobswern on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 09:33:59 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site