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View Diary: Bill Richardson-Colin Powell-Joe Biden Target of NSA Spying (203 comments)

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  •  Madsen and reliability (4.00)
    Many here discount Madsen's article re NSA intercepts being provided to John Bolton ... based on you assessment of Madsen's reliability.  Fair enough.  It is not my intent to cheer for or defend Madsen.

    But, let's get back to the real issue, ok?  Did John Bolton receive NSA intercepts?  Yes, as evidenced Congressional requests for the intercepts provided to Bolton during the confirmation hearings.

    Did the intercepts involve communications to which one or more US persons were party?  Again, the answer is yes, provided by several sources 'off the record'.

    Did the intercepts provided to Bolton involve political figures?  That cannot be answered definitively, since the intercepts have not been released outside of the executive branch.  But, it is instructive that Bill Richardson has filed a FOIA request to learn if his name appeared on any of them.

    Did the NSA violate its own rules?  Again, the answer is yes.  Training may involve intercepts of US persons, but they (the intercepts) are to be destroyed immediately, only to be retained and distributed if and only if criminal activity is inadvertently discovered.

    Even legal intercepts which contain reference to a US person, absent a FISA warrant, are to be 'minimized', that is, the names of US persons are to be redacted.  This was not done in the case of the intercepts provided to Bolton, by Bolton's own statements.  Bolton effectively took the position that he needed the raw intercepts, with no redactions, in order to provide context.

    •  I'm with you. Madsen or no, (4.00)
      Bolton gamed the system, got what he wanted, and thwarted any oversight (see my post above on Rockefeller's letter).

      I think Bushco likely did this at State, at FBI, at DHS, etc. to do whatever they wanted to do.  As the Rockefeller letter indicates, Bolton provided the "appropriate" responses to succeed in getting the US persons IDs, but thwarted any oversight with Congress.  I'm sure FBI/DHS etc. could obtain information in the same manner: in order to better understand communications with terrorists, or to understand economic espionage, the agency could obtain intercepts of US citizens, and never reveal to Congress, nor the Courts, which US citizens were tapped.  If pressed, they'll claim executive privilege in the name of national security.  

      I think there are two issues here: one is undoubtedly that Bushco data-mining US citizens is a given; the other is that they also sought and obtained specific US intercepts to a degree not previously seen by the NSA.  


      •  You are right, of course (none)
        Dut I personally would remove any consideration of data mining from the discussions.  IMHO, it is a distraction.

        Of course the NSA uses data mining as a tool.  Just as scores upon scores of other agencies, such as NOAA.  The fact is, data mining is just that, a tool, and nothing more ... in itself benign and legally neutral.

        The issues, real issues, revolve around the legality of the authority under which the NSA collected the data to be analyzed, the limits of presidential power under the guise of commander-in-chief, and the separation of powers/usurpation of Congressional power.

        My take on it, anyway.  To even worry with data mining is a distraction ... not that it should not be discussed in a broader sense ... it should.
        Just that it is irrelevant to the real issues, here.

        •  I don't dismiss the data mining so easily. (none)
          I tend to think they've used that to target American citizens who fall into either "terrorist" profiles or more simply, those who are in contact with citizens of certain other countries.  

          Again, the issue here is properly applying the law, or seeking changes in the law to properly track threats.  Bushco's intention was to bypass all that the legislative process.  They've made that clear.

          I would expect data mining to be the norm in NSA collection.  But did Bushco use the data to intercept the US conversations of its choosing, without warrants?  

          •  My best guess is yes (none)
            "But did Bushco use the data to intercept the US conversations of its choosing, without warrants?"

            But that is not the fault of data mining, per se.  Only the fault of criminal behavior on the part of Bushco.

            My point is, when people get wrapped around the axle with the idea of data mining, they tend to lose sight of the real underlying issues.

            And data mining, itself, is (to repeat myself) only a tool that is inherently neutral.  The sources used and the use of the product (as you pointed out) are the legitimate issues, IMHO.  

            It is difficult to get the right answers if you don't ask the right questions!

            by wgard on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 03:22:02 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Total Information Awareness (none)
              This is what you call neutral? A knife is just a tool too, until you stick it somewhere it doesn't belong...
              TIA, which was blocked by Congress, was to have been a mix of high-tech voice-recognition and data-mining programs that would have made up the largest domestic-surveillance system in the United States. Using TIA, intelligence analysts and law-enforcement officials would have been able to trawl through Americans' private records -- including banking transactions, e-mail accounts and travel records, such as plane ticket information -- in order to finger terrorists. Though TIA would have been composed largely of voice-recognition surveillance programs, it was the proposal's reliance on the new science of data mining that had groups from the American Civil Liberties Union to the archconservative Free Congress Foundation up in arms.

              ...Act Locally, Think Globally, Love Universally...

              by nhwriter on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 04:45:59 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I did not say TIA was neutral (3.50)
                I said data mining per se is neutral.

                In the case of the TIA effort, the objection had mostly to do with the 'product' and the perception of that as both undesireable and dangerous... with which I agree.

                If you will notice above, I did state that I think data mining should be examined, even debated, but in a larger sense than the NSA use.

                BTW, your information is already subject to trawling, including data mining, under a whole host of guises other than TIA, and not all of them Federal programs, either.

                And data mining is NOT a new science.  In reality, it has quite a long history.  In its most rudimentary forms, most of us use it as a tool from time to time.

                I take the position that by focusing on the tool, too many people miss the important aspects of GBW's NSA 'program' ... often to the point that the forest is lost because of the trees, so to speak.

                As for your example of the knife, you are absolutely correct... it is a tool.  But in a subsequent prosecution for assault or homocide, the focus is on the illegal act, not the knife... which though it may be entered in evidence, still is only a tool... albeit one used in a harmful and illegal endeavor.  

                It is difficult to get the right answers if you don't ask the right questions!

                by wgard on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 06:06:17 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Typo correction (none)
                  "I did state that I think data mining should be examined, even debated" ... change 'that I think' to read 'that I do not think'.

                  It is difficult to get the right answers if you don't ask the right questions!

                  by wgard on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 06:17:54 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

    •  Hey wgard (none)
        Good comment and further down as well, and many other good ones in this diary as well.
         Back awhile ago we were on this same conversation and I wonder what you think now... I refered to that diary and your comment in several spots and recieved little arguement, mostly agreement...
         Perhaps if you have time, dig through my comments, but here's
      one and here's another and so forth.
       The diary was "Former NSA Intelligence Analyst Wants to Talk.."
         I took the diary and your comment to say there is an opportunity now to leverage the Patriot Act renewal to get proper and credible Civilian oversight with the tecnical expertise AND the top secret clearances.
       What do you think?

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