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View Diary: JPEN: The military is using NSA intercepts to spy on Americans (228 comments)

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  •  the scandal is about DATA STORAGE (4.00)
    It seems to me that data mining, the real time perusal of keywords in e-mail and tapped phone conversations, is far less useful in fighting terror than the ability to go back retroactively to examine a person's previous communications, who he or she was speaking with, what he or she said it to and when they said it.

    Given that the Patriot Act and other provisions already allowed for limited warrantless wiretaps and e-mail mining, provided that information be discarded after a specific limited period of time if it did not yield probable cause, why did Bush feel he had to break the law? Think about it: the agencies don't have the manpower to follow every active lead in real time based on keywords and patterns in conversation, as the NSA program has been characterized. This sounds like spin. In fact, they have no choice but to store information on persons of interest for later analysis.

    Bush's cherry-picked lawyers probably rationalized it all on the grounds that terrorist 'cells' lay dormant for long periods of time, activated again only by a call or signal of some sort. It was necessary to "have the benefit of hindsight" in order to catch such plots. So lots of persons of interest were placed on such lists, subject to the equivalent of the Total Information Awareness (TIA) program.

    The reality is different when it comes to thousands, and by extension tens or even hundreds of thousands of their friends and and acquaintances, subjected to this scrutiny. The technology is already there, and I think we have already entered the age of vast, almost unlimited, storage of everything we say and write on our computers and speak over the phone.

    That's the real dimension of this scandal. Bush just doesn't want us to know it.

    "[I]n all due respect to your profession [journalism], you do a very good job of protecting the leakers." -- George W. Bush on Oct 7, 2003

    by QuickSilver on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 07:56:18 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  With rare exception, the players (none)
      are known to law enforcement, without the need for data minig.

      Data mining may be needed occasionally, but it's primary function is to spy.

      But not on American citizens, or indiscrimantely, just because the software is all encompassing -- you have to put breaks on it, and use it according to the guidelines of the Constitution.

      The idea of creating databases simply to gather information on ordinary people is disgusting, and criminal in my opinion.

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