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I'm going to make a guess here.

I doubt the NSA and its leadership know what data it has, where it came from, who has accessed it and whether or not it has been -- or is being -- stolen by other parties for nefarious purposes.

I'm getting some weird signals watching the excuses train come in and out of the station.

And I'm glad to see I'm not the only one.

It started to strike me as strange a few days ago how the NSA leadership, its spokespeople and members of the Obama Administration were all having a hard time describing the scope and application of domestic surveillance, and the policies that determined how the information gleaned from it were being used by the agency, by other security agencies and by law enforcement.

Yet at the same time, we're being told that it's all totally under very tight control and there is just, like, tons of total oversight and accountability everywhere when it comes to the whole operation.

These two things are in essential conflict. How do they know if oversight is adequate when they can't actually grasp how much surveillance is going on?

Moreover, quotes from senior NSA leadership about the kind of access rights that Edward Snowden enjoyed seemed curiouser and curiouser to me everytime someone spoke. Maybe it's just not something that the public NSA folks understand -- but the way they were describing their security policies raised my eyebrows a bit.

Going even further, I read that the NSA hired the former security chief of Facebook a while back to take over their internal data security function and I though, whoa! First of all, Facebook does not have a good reputation for security. Second, I wondered what was going on behind the scenes that would make them seek out a new, high-profile administrator for the IT security role.

We're accustomed to thinking of the NSA as a shadowy agency -- shadowy to us.

But I'm guessing that the domestic surveillance operation at the NSA has gotten so huge that it is shadowy even to the NSA leadership. There is little effective oversight because the policy system surrounding it is as vague as the operation's scope.

Plus, I'm guessing that the whole operation is insecure -- with data being passed around willy-nilly between Federal IT systems, military/security contractors, telecom companies, Internet service providers and Internet companies, as well as the various law enforcement agencies that use it ...

What a huge freaking mess. Vaguely-scoped, with unclear policies for access and application, and insecure. Just my guess! But I've got a weird feeling about this.

No wonder the U.S. military is pulling out of the commercial communications network entirely and building its own 4G infrastructure for voice and data.

If what I suspect is true, calls and e-mails recorded by the NSA in the morning are probably read by Chinese hackers by sundown.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (134+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    George3, eru, inclusiveheart, CwV, nils o, chrississippi, corvo, teresahill, One Pissed Off Liberal, Youffraita, DRo, graycat13, Rosaura, elwior, lunachickie, Jbearlaw, TracieLynn, smiley7, sceptical observer, Mary Mike, DeadHead, Kristina40, jeff in nyc, ctsteve, lgmcp, reflectionsv37, slowbutsure, Ozymandius, muddy boots, shopkeeper, some other george, Enzo Valenzetti, Mimikatz, Jim P, Ashaman, WisePiper, JDWolverton, Demeter Rising, CitizenOfEarth, KenBee, Kentucky Kid, PhilJD, CroneWit, AoT, agincour, congenitalefty, MarkInSanFran, berko, Mogolori, QuoVadis, xxdr zombiexx, Nailbanger, Farugia, pat bunny, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, koNko, old wobbly, kck, SherwoodB, kurious, lcrp, Hastur, wasatch, Anima, wu ming, Square Knot, Simplify, midwesterner, Publius2008, shigeru, psnyder, JosephK74, RFK Lives, OldDragon, bmaples, MJ via Chicago, Egalitare, socal altvibe, Wolf10, Cory Bantic, Aunt Martha, No one gets out alive, Patate, Aunt Pat, SadieSue, jamess, PALiberal1, zerone, kbman, Executive Odor, bibble, radical simplicity, triv33, pontechango, flowerfarmer, 3goldens, JML9999, Norm in Chicago, terabytes, polecat, white blitz, TealTerror, lotlizard, greengemini, wader, Liberal Thinking, Shockwave, LynChi, Dumbo, mrkvica, VTCC73, TiaRachel, anana, barbwires, middleagedhousewife, Lost and Found, cloudbustingkid, slapshoe, Bluesee, david78209, boadicea, grover, expatjourno, NonnyO, joanneleon, greycat, xynz, mofembot, Ender, Onomastic, Creosote, HiKa, Funkygal, FarWestGirl

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

    by bink on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 02:27:19 PM PDT

  •  That would square with my experience in government (23+ / 0-)

    What people interpret as government secrecy and nefarious behavior is generally just the result of human laziness and corner cutting.

    Money doesn't talk it swears.

    by Coss on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 02:35:20 PM PDT

    •  Most of the time (17+ / 0-)

      Most of the time, they can't find their ass with both hands and a mirror.  

      But, the NSA is going to find that 1 needle in a 1,000,000,000 phone call per day haystack.  That worked out well in Boston and one of the brothers was on a watch list.  

      •  What's taking the Chinese so long? (6+ / 0-)
        If what I suspect is true, calls and e-mails recorded by the NSA in the morning are probably read by Chinese hackers by sundown.
      •  The nature of IP packets allows complete tracking (22+ / 0-)

        The NSA isn't sucking up your messages.
        They're sucking up your packet stream as part of the Net traffic they are monitoring and storing. Here's how the monitoring and recording system works:

        1. The basics of packets:
        All IP traffic--phone calls, messaging, email, web searches, data access and attachments--all of it using the magic of standardized IP packets.
        What happens is that packets come into a router, which unwraps the packet and notes the source and destination addresses of the packet. The router then looks up the next "hop" router (the next router along the path to your destination), rewraps the packet, and sends it off to that router...and so on until the packet gets to it's final destination address.

        2. Monitoring (intercepting) the packet stream:
        The packets come from the Big 'Ol Net (public and private) on fiber 'cables' that come and go to/from large data centers and network backbone providers. The laws regarding "lawful intercept" allow the NSA to "request" access to this incoming stream of packets, where a splitter is installed, giving the NSA free and total access to the packet stream. No provider may deny lawful intercept requests.

        3. Why the NSA knows what data it has and where it came from: All your packets belong to us.
        Every single packet that has been intercepted has the original IP source and destination address--and all the content--intact. If the NSA wants to search for traffic between you and your aunt Marge, they just enter those addresses into the data base query and -poof- there you and aunt Marge are. A simple command and everything they've ever recorded that aunt Marge has sent is available for key word searches or even Real Person analysis. And of course today's machines can do real-time data stream analysis to search for key words or suspect addresses.

        Now it's possible that maybe--note the word "maybe"--the NSA Big Gov'ment isn't actually capable of building, installing, and analyzing the packet stream and the data they've intercepted and stored "for future use".

        But as some folks have noted in this thread, the NSA Big Gov'ment didn't do any of this. Contractors did. Big contractors, who do this sort of thing for a living, with off-the-shelf and custom equipment from serious commercial companies like Cisco. I'm betting the system works, pretty much.

        (Note: I totally simplified the above description, so don't shoot me 'cause I didn't get deep into protocols.)

        •  Would this be happening without government? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Aunt Pat, middleagedhousewife

          Meaning, are these packets stored regardless, or is the government mandating that something which would otherwise disappear be retained?

          This is what I don't understand. Is the government creating these packets for the purpose of starring data, or do the packets exists anyway and the government is merely guilty of accessing them?

          Money doesn't talk it swears.

          by Coss on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 06:40:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  OK, let's start again (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            anana

            Think of packets as packages that come with a little gift card, telling you how to open it. These have been around since even before the internet, using various network technologies. It it just how networks transport data. So, yes, they have always been there and no, the government did not create them.

            Now imagine that there is an evil Internet Grinch who sits just outside the doors of Santa's workshop, waiting to intercept, open, and copy all these little packages before letting them go on to their destinations.

            Does that help you see how it works a little bit better?

            •  Obviously I understand that. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              middleagedhousewife, Ted Hitler

              I'm asking whether these packets stick around for preservation because of the NSA?

              Would this information have been permanently stored somewhere regardless of the government? Or would it vanish after some point in time?

              I don't really follow the concept of "destinations" with this sort of data. Its not like a letter where's there's one paper copy sent from point a to point b and you'd have to go intercept it to read it. I've always assumed once it's disseminated, it's permanently out there.  And that some day years from now someone would be able to access it.

              Money doesn't talk it swears.

              by Coss on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 08:02:41 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  good question (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Coss

                There's not a definitive answer unfortunately.  I have email sitting out on servers that's a decade old. I suspect this comment may stick around for at least as long.

                But phone calls? Texts? My browsing history? Once upon a time I assumed such things had a short shelf life.

                In the early days of the internet you downloaded your email automatically when you opened and it was then gone from the server.We were mostly using analog phones back then too. The point being that we as a people never explicitly said it was okay to keep or  capture our data...we just assumed the same rules applied as they did before technology changed.

                •  It's a new world huh? (0+ / 0-)

                  I can't imagine phone conversations exist (at least not yet), but I just assume a record of all my calls exist. As well as the actual content of my texts and emails. And so I always assumed every republican administration would be accessing this info to catch common criminals from now on. Maybe the only way to change that is to put them into the shoes of us America haters. You know, if they aren't doing anything wrong... They never seem to understand until it's a threat to them.

                  And frankly Obama having this power doesn't worry me. So it's a good time to be having this debate. With a president actually willing to argue he shouldn't have this power.

                  Money doesn't talk it swears.

                  by Coss on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 09:02:29 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Also I'm pretty sure (0+ / 0-)

                  we hand over ownership of our personal content to sites like Facebook and Google when we hit that little 'agree' button.

                  Money doesn't talk it swears.

                  by Coss on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 09:05:32 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Well, no, the packets don't stick around (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                DeadHead, Onomastic, marksb

                unless they're copied (and we don't know if they're copied).

                Here's an analogy. Let's say I mail a regular letter through the postal service to my Aunt Sylvia. On the outside of the envelope is my name (Dbug) and my address and the name and address of my aunt. Plus there's a stamp that's postmarked with the date.

                The outside of the envelope is the metadata (Dbug sent something to Sylvia on July 1). If someone photocopies that envelope, they know that I sent her something. But in between the sending and the receipt, let's say a dozen people handle the envelope (or the bag containing the envelope). There's the guy who picks up the mail from the mailbox, the guy who sorts the outgoing mail, maybe a couple of truck drivers or airplane pilots, and so on. At any point along the line, one of those people could open the envelope and look inside (and make a copy). But they probably don't.

                --

                Emails are similar. If I send an email to Sylvia (who lives on the other side of the country), all that matters is her email address. So my email goes to my local ISP, then bounces around to a few other computers, and eventually it ends up in her email inbox. The message is attached (so it's easier to look inside to see the message), but the idea is the same. At some point along the way, some computer could record the information that Dbug sent a message to Sylvia.

                --

                Cell phone companies have to keep detailed records of metadata. They can't just say that you went over your limit of 400 minutes without explaining every single minute (6 minutes to order pizza from Antonio's, 10 minutes to Aunt Sylvia, 45 minutes to your brother, etc.). The cell phone companies don't record your conversations. They just keep track of who you called or who called you (metadata).

                "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

                by Dbug on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 10:28:31 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  This is correct (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Dbug

                  In the Good Old Days you sent the packet stream for your message (or web communication or any other data transaction) and once it was received, it went into the Bit Bucket (deleted). Metadata, content, everything. It's like you took the mail from Aunt Marge and after reading it, put it into the fireplace, note and envelope, and warmed your hands as it all burned.

                  Nobody stored the content or metadata because, frankly, hard drives to store the data were too expensive. That's why your email client used to ask you "are you sure you want to delete this message?" after you clicked delete. (The exception that you point out on cell phone metadata is a good one.)

                  But the world of cheap drives and massive security budgets has changed that equation. Today's Tech allows the wholesale sweep of all network traffic. I'm guessing that much of the swept-up data is dumped if it doesn't fit any search criteria (key words, known suspect addresses, etc), but it could be stored, all of it.

                  •  Yes (0+ / 0-)

                    You're right. They can sweep up all the details. And they could hire a million people to read all the emails (or listen to all the phone messages). Although I think it might take more like 5 million or 10 million. Or more.

                    Imagine some teenager in Little Rock is sending text messages about homework to another teenager. Yeah, the message might be stored in some computer underneath a mountain, but nobody is ever going to listen to (or read) that message. And somebody is calling some store, asking what time do you close? And somebody is calling a drugstore for a refill. And someone is leaving a message that says "I might want  to buy your truck." Someone is calling social security about something and they're on hold for 20 minutes. Someone's calling their credit card company to complain about a late fee.

                    No one is ever gonna know (or care about) the mundane details of your life unless you're considered to be a terrorist or a criminal.

                    Suppose I walk into a 7-11 and buy a candy bar and walk out and I get videotaped. Nobody cares about some guy who bought something. But if I walk in and pull out a gun and rob them, my face is on the videotape. That's useful information for the cops. I don't worry about cameras taping me in convenience stores. Or at ATMs.

                    And, you know what? In the old days (before video cameras and computers), your neighbors across the street or the people in church would tell your parents or your wife what they heard you were doing. They used to call it "gossip." Which was an invasion of privacy.

                    "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

                    by Dbug on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 12:14:50 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  Sipping from a firehose. /nt (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              DavidMS

              Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
              I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
              —Spike Milligan

              by polecat on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 08:11:43 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Yes. But to what end? (0+ / 0-)

            A corporation or group could hack the packet stream. But they can be caught using the information they steal, it's illegal.

            The govt made it legal for them. And government power is a better target for blackmail.

          •  The packets are communication (0+ / 0-)

            between entities (like your browser and your bank). Or me, here, typing in my browser, and DailyKos when I submit this post.

            Or your bank and your wife's bank. Or ...

            No doubt this is the tip of the iceberg. It is not unlikely they're also buying up or otherwise obtaining full data dumps from VISA (all your credit card purchases) and banks (and all your financial transactions). Integrating these with phone records can provide scary-complete data about people.

            Who you are, who you live with, where you work, what your hobbies are, your phone numbers, your e-mail, facebook, ... accounts, how many and what kind of vehicles you own, your financial health, ...

        •  That's probably just the tip (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          polecat, marksb

          If these programs had been subject to the audits they SHOULD have been subject to...PCI, SAS70, ISO, HIPAA, etc., there would be very clear documentation about access and oversight. Wanna bet they haven't been bothered overmuch in that regard?

          One thing you might want to add for those at home who care. Most phones these days also use TCP/IP and so when you mention they are just siphoning off copies of packets to be reviewed later...that is how they are getting phone calls too.

          Data mining this stuff will only work if they have a complete set of data from all types of packets (i.e., email, phone, sites visited,texts, etc.) You can't do effective matching on partial sets of data. The metadata is important because it is more efficient to match on but there's no doubt in my mind that the actual call content is being stored somewhere, too.

          I am almost jealous of the freedom those geeks must have. It probably all started with a vendor who did a kick ass demo using Hadoop and Wireshark. ;)

        •  Bad information. (0+ / 0-)

          I can say with absolute certainty that I am not within thousands of miles of where my IP address indicates.

          The IP address is not a valid indicator of location OR source, and by source I mean a person siting at a computer or using some kind of device.

          Unfortunately it sounds like the NSA filters based on IP address, so from a technical standpoint what they're claiming is completely bogus.

          They have no reliable means to determine if they're spying on a real American or not. It's smoke and mirrors in every way.

          •  They also have the MAC address (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            snoopydawg, Ender

            of the communication device you are using--Ethernet card, router, cell phone, etc.

            That tells them you were using a particular laptop in a Starbucks and you also use it at home.   The ISP can also map your IP address directly to your account with the MAC address of your router.

            A MAC address could also be traced to where you bought the laptop/router.

            Once you input anything through the internet with your real identity on a particular communication device, they have a match to track you.  A reason why library and public computers are so popular.

            That's where face recognition comes in.  Your driver's license photo is very high resolution in their database.  Everyone is photographed coming through immigration. Voter ID laws aside from the added benefit of stopping democrats and minorities from voting, feed the database with photos of the seniors, city dwellers, and others that don't have driver's licenses and don't travel outside the country.   Facial recognition has come a long way.  

            Check out the anti terrorism cameras and AI the DHS has installed in NYC.  They now let the police use it to fight crime.  

            Technology is bringing all the pieces together.  For now it sounds like they are storing everything.  

            Whoever has access to that data, will soon own us. The database should not exist, the temptation to misuse it is too great.  

            •  Your MAC address is available (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              marksb

              only on the same LAN. A MAC address doesn't leave your router. It is available from your device to the next connection in the process only.

              What this means is that your ISP is mapping to the address of your router ... not your machine. Again, this does not identify a person.

              More importantly, a MAC can be spoofed far easier than an IP address can be spoofed. It's not illegal, and can be done with pretty simple programs available.

              What I'm trying to say is that if IP addresses or even MAC addresses are used as part of locating the origination of data, PRISM itself is extremely faulty.

              It also sets up a bad precedence, because it's trivial to find out someone's MAC address, and if a bad person's done that they're on the same network and therefore have the same IP address. You can connect the dots from there.

              Jesus! So many arm chair aficionados.

              And then you trail off into photographing in public, AI and facial recognition. Holy christ! Seriously, PRISM is not too hard to thwart. Maybe I should diary this.

              •  Good idea (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ted Hitler

                I am so glad you know how to spoof IP addr or use a VPN. Most of this community--and our country--do not have that knowledge.

                My simplified thoughts on packet collection and analysis is meant to bring awareness of how the system works so folks can understand that every single thing they do with their phones, devices, and computers are able to be collected and tracked. As an engineer you could contribute to this discussion by helping the community understand how to defeat the NSA's top-level tracking and ID capability.

                We don't know exactly what equipment the NSA is using, how they are using it, and what criteria they are (or will be) using to decide what packet streams to follow, store, and analyze. That's the point.

                Back in 2001, when Lawful Intercept was passed by international treaty, the telecom equipment company I worked for implemented that feature into all of it's systems--and we did business in 140 countries. We knew then what that meant: it was just a matter of time and advancing circuit design until the governments of the world had the capability to suck up all traffic. And then it was just a matter of time until a Bad Actor government was willing to use this capability for political purposes.

                Are we there yet?

                •  It's not a great big deal (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  marksb

                  just turn of your router, and turn it back on. More than likely you'll have have a new IP address.

                  I wasn't upset at you. I'm pissed off that our government is using this type of tracking whose only basis for continued success is the belief in the ignorance of its populace. Because that is the only way it will continue working the way it does, and that is not a characteristic of a robust program.

                  ----

                  With a lot of VPN's, the traffic can be passed via AES algorithm. It may not mean a lot to most people, but it's basically uncrackable. That means the NSA can suck up all the data they want, and it doesn't matter.

                  For reference, top secret information is currently encrypted using AES 256. Secret information is at AES 192. I might be concerned once the US government moves to a different algorithm, because that indicates they've broken AES.

                  And to reiterate, I am completely opposed to this program. They essentially are saying they're breaking into everyone's house, copying all their property and putting it into a box. But don't worry, they'll never open the box.

      •  I love it how they're defending the program (12+ / 0-)

        by claiming that if it was in place, we could have prevented the bombings, except that it WAS in place, and we didn't prevent them!

        Are they this stupid, or do they think we are (and what's the difference?)?

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 06:21:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  DING DING DING!!! ^^^^ RIGHT THERE ^^^ (4+ / 0-)

        What is the fucking point of all this if they couldn't figure that out?

        There IS a point to it.  It just ISN'T that.


        The Fail will continue until actual torches and pitchforks are set in motion. - Pangolin@kunstler.com

        by No one gets out alive on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 06:42:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think they're building evidence (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nchristine, Ted Hitler

          And I trust them to use any and every tool given to them to do so. The Executive Branch is not going to be guilted into not using these tools, we need to have congress take them away.

          But I'm sure they are finding suspects and various crime rings. Whether this is limited to terrorism however is doubtful to me. These are long time wish lists from law enforcement. Bush gave them everything they wanted. Frankly I'm angry Obama is getting saddled with this. If only Republican Presidents are going to oversee this stuff, where's the consequences to conservatives for approving this in the first place?

          I want Obama haters to demand congress take this power away from the Executive Branch period. I want conservatives to admit they were wrong about the Patriot Act instead of just whining that Obama is doing what they gave him the power to do

          Money doesn't talk it swears.

          by Coss on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 06:52:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  What good is evidence without action? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            greengemini

            I don't get you point.

            We spent a fortune, and something pretty damned obvious gets by.

            And then there's that whole 'shitting on the constitution' thing, which I take you don't have a problem with so much.

            I agree with you that it must end.

            It doesn't look like Obama is going to take point on that, though - does it?


            The Fail will continue until actual torches and pitchforks are set in motion. - Pangolin@kunstler.com

            by No one gets out alive on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 06:58:17 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I wouldn't assume they aren't gathering (0+ / 0-)

              crucial data.

              Congress shit on the constitution, what does it matter what Obama does if the next president still has the authority to do all this?

              Why do you think this data collection would have thwarted a couple of crazy dicks from bombing the Boston Marathon?

              Do you actually believe they're listening to all our phone calls and reading all of out emails?!

              Money doesn't talk it swears.

              by Coss on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 07:04:12 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes I do believe that (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                greengemini, coconutjones

                But they were probably too busy reading the emails and listening to the phone calls of OWS "leaders" to bother with a couple of troublemaking brothers in Boston.

                •  The brothers didn't announce themselves (0+ / 0-)

                  as leaders of any group or organization. Particularly not one threatening the establishment or corporate structure. I really don't find it shocking that the government would look into leaders or key players of anti government groups. They'd be fairly harshly criticized if they didn't and something happened later.

                  I understand the frustration here, but logic has to prevail.

                  Money doesn't talk it swears.

                  by Coss on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 08:23:18 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Coss, it wasn't (0+ / 0-)

            just Bush and the conservaties overseeing AND funding it.
            It is also the Dems too.
            This has nothing to do with hating Obama.
            It might be hating his betrayals of all the campaign promises he made.
            It is also the increasing police state we are living in.
            I wish people could see this is not all about Obama.
            However, HE is in charge of these programs now.
            And he ran on reining in these abuses that happened under Bush.
            Watch his vids.
            He said that.
            And yes, we will get right on demanding Congress to take away this power.
            And again, it wasn't just conservatives that passed all the heinous ACTS.
            In fact, Obama wanted the NDAA.
            I would like people to dtop giving the Dems a pass for all the things the thugs do or did.
            Whete were the holds or filibusters from the Dems?
            Or is it just the thugs that get to play those games?  

            Gitmo is a Concentration Camp. Not a Detention Center. Torture happens at Concentration Camps. Torture happens at Gitmo. How much further will US values fall? Where is YOUR outrage at what the United States does in OUR names?

            by snoopydawg on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 12:41:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  All I'm saying (0+ / 0-)

              is call right wingers on their bluff and make them take this power away from the Executive Branch. This is about politics. They want to have their cake and eat it to. Obama deciding to tell the NSA not to use the tools given to them will simply end when his presidency ends. What is the point of that?

              And if you don't remember why some dems went along with this stuff after 911, ask Max Cleland.

              Money doesn't talk it swears.

              by Coss on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 12:01:44 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  It's also about shoveling boatloads of money... (24+ / 0-)

      ... to favorite contractors without having to worry too much about oversight.

      I deal in facts. My friends are few but fast.

      by Farugia on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 05:15:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Me too (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Coss, greengemini

      The way I put it is that our liberty and security are pretty safe because of the ethics and commitment of some - a critical mass of decent people fairly evenly distributed everywhere - and the vast incompetence and uncontrollability of the nation due to our sheer size and scale, a supersystem with a momentum of its own.

    •  That and over-reliance on polygraphs. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greengemini

      You can work on whatever as long as you don't feel guilty about stuff.

      And I'm not clear on the "security" threshold applied to contractors.

      Really freakin' strange that they outsource the IT part.

      Must be why he chose Booz...

      ...and then pulled the trigger when he did.  Bet a polygraph was coming up.

      Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
      I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
      —Spike Milligan

      by polecat on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 08:10:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yes, how can you make something that's so big, (19+ / 0-)

    and NOT have it grow to the point where effective oversight is impossible?

    •  And yet it's all necessary and crucial (17+ / 0-)

      because TERRORISM!!!!! . . .

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 02:45:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't see how the government could even store (8+ / 0-)

      that much information, much less have it in a searchable form that would do anyone any good.

      This is the government that can't process veteran's benefits for a year, because one agency's computer doesn't talk to another one's.

      The government that has or had air traffic controllers using horribly outdated and dangerous computers because it seemed incapable of upgrading its system in a timely fashion.

      We're supposed to believe that very quickly, this government managed to store all our phone call info? And our web browsing and e-mails? In a form that makes it searchable? So it does them any good?

      Really?

      Sounds outlandish to me.

      (I'm not arguing the government might try to do this or want to do this or the rightness of it, just the effectiveness of the government's efforts.

      Surely it would be much simpler, more cost-effective, more effective to only get a bit of that info. and only have to deal with a bit of it.)

      Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

      by teresahill on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 02:50:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There's probably a lot of this going on: (19+ / 0-)
        one agency's computer doesn't talk to another one's
        but there's some really good info on the size and scope of the capacity for data housing in Utah (among other places). They can do all this stuff. It's just a matter of "to what degree is it dangerous?"  

        (and if you've ever been in politics, you wouldn't even ask)

         

        Surely it would be much simpler, more cost-effective, more effective to only get a bit of that info. and only have to deal with a bit of it
        Right, but since Darth Cheney was on top of things, they decided to take the lazy route and just get everything, Constitution be damned. Right?

        Whether they can do anything with the info or not (and they really can)--they aren't supposed to be doing this kind of snooping.

        Let's try not to make excuses for this, please?

        •  Yes, I can imagine Cheney saying, Let's just get (6+ / 0-)

          it all, and the we'll decide what we need.

          Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

          by teresahill on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 04:15:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not trying to excuse them. I'm saying I doubt (0+ / 0-)

          their effectiveness. Not as a compliment or an excuse, just that it sounds like a huge amount of data to get, to store, to be able to search effectively.

          Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

          by teresahill on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 04:16:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Data searching (8+ / 0-)

            is something else that's come a long way in the last decade. There's plenty of software available (search on 'data analytics', that might help).

            "Effectively" is in the eye of the beholder. In this case, if the NSA says it's "effective", then as far as they are concerned, it is.

            In practical application, however, one of the biggest things it would boil down to is some schlub analyst running complex queries from his "workstation", using his "analytical skills" to decide which words you use (and how you use them) makes you a "credible threat". And yes, that can be done. Easily. Regardless of the seeming "mountains" of information, it can.

             

            •  The idea is not to find targets within the data (6+ / 0-)

              It is to be able to track back a target's activities after the fact.  And really, the prime use of such a system is not anti terrorism, it is control of the populace.
              Speak up, and they search the data for you and your internet browsing history, your search history, phone calls, bank statements, etc area all collected for an instant dossier.

              These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert to fleece the people, and now that they have got into a quarrel with themselves, we are called upon to appropriate the people's money to settle the quarrel. Abraham Lincoln

              by Nailbanger on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 05:20:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  The analysts are probably only (0+ / 0-)

              for real time analysis.

              There's plenty of cutting edge software (ok, it's been around for at least 5ish years) that automates the analysis of call data AND content. This software can identify if a credit card number is given (and redact it), it can flag conversations where one of the parties got upset or used a cuss word, it can tell you what language the conversation was in...all they have to do it plug in what they want.

              Can you imagine generals and directors saying NO to such technology?? It's sexy even to non-techies, isn't it?

      •  The searchable format... (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lgmcp, elwior, c0wfunk, wu ming, saluda

        Is the key.  It's great that you have a disk full of data - but without any way to categorize it and search on it - it's useless.  Unless some enterprising contractor decides to take a closer look.

        'Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost' - Ronald Reagan, Communist

        by RichM on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 03:22:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  NSA has more money than Veterans' Affairs does. (10+ / 0-)

        They have more money that most of all of the agencies combined.  I don't think the claim that they can store all of that data is farfetched at all.  Google stores a tremendous amount of data - we have the technology to do so and for the moment we have the real estate upon which to build the facilities for the servers and data storage systems.

        •  Okay, but do you think the government would be (0+ / 0-)

          as good as Google at storing and being able to use the info?

          I'm just saying I think it's a big mistake to take all that data and store it. It costs more. It takes more time. You have to store it. You have to search so much more.

          It seems like it would make a search in the ocean instead of a search in a pond. Figure out who you need to follow. Get their info. That gives you more suspects. Get their data. Build the pattern that way.

          Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

          by teresahill on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 04:19:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think that the concept of capturing all (6+ / 0-)

            bits of data is freaking stupid and arguably distracting.

            The US Government had complete dossiers on 18 of the 19 September 11, 2001 hijackers without this spying apparatus being in place.  They had numerous opportunities to stop them - not the least of which was preventing them from being allowed on any transport into the United States, but they let them in.

            But what I am saying is that the technology is there to collect and store it.  There are no obstacles and I honestly do not believe that the government are going to be any more or less successful at managing it than the private sector has been.  Please keep in mind that corporations' data systems are hacked on a pretty regular basis.  That is the nature of the beast.  It is way more difficult to break into a building and comb through filing cabinets than it is to hack a computer system.

            In fact, I think that the risk of data being stolen from the government may well start to take center stage as the issue that inspires both private citizens and business entities to call for an end to the practice of data mining and collecting tomes of data by the US Government - it also seems like the likely scenario under which elected officials would begin to shy away from their support of the practice.  

            A Presidential candidate who wants to dig into Pfizer's internal communications with the security apparatus might find him or herself without that all important campaign money if that company or its competitors started to think that the government was risking their trade secrets - or worse giving Chinese or Taiwanese competitors free access.

            Aside from the Constitutional and important principles of innocent until proven guilty that this spying apparatus threatens, they have the potential to inadvertently destroy corporate secrecy that is stock and trade in competing nationally and internationally.

            The question that has troubled me all along about the government data collection has been why the government hasn't simply mandated that the companies keep their data archived for "x" number of years in case they need it.  That would keep the government harmless of accidentally losing the data; and it would silo the data so that it would not be "one stop shopping" for data hackers.  That is crazy, imo.

      •  Getting and storing the information would be no (4+ / 0-)

        problem at all. All you need is enough storage and a big enough pipe running to that storage. The NSA could easily do that despite what a lot of people want to say. Storage scales easily. Sorting it wouldn't have to be that hard either. The internet is basically a giant sorting mechanism, everything they need is there already. And given the number of people who have access to this info it breaks down to about 3-600 people in the country per person working for the NSA. Watching the activity of that many people with the help of sorting software wouldn't be terribly difficult. I'd bet they could use a sorting algorithm similar to what facebook uses.

        If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

        by AoT on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 04:39:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  DId you compare the VA Budget to the NSA budget? (0+ / 0-)

        kinda sorta did.

        .................expect us......................... FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 05:37:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was saying the government's been ineffective (0+ / 0-)

          in handling lots of data on computers and having the most up-to-date stuff before.

          Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

          by teresahill on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 06:29:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Gov. or contractor? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SadieSue

            A Contractor with a big assed dollar contract.

            .................expect us......................... FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

            by Roger Fox on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 06:45:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Just because the VA (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            3goldens, middleagedhousewife

            isn't competent enough to do data collection and analysis doesn't mean the NSA also isn't.  Besides, the vast majority of the information that the NSA collects can be sorted and cataloged by computers.  I doubt aunt Martha's cookie recipe is tripping over any key-words that would cause it to need further analysis.  The VA on the other hand has to not only collect the data but each file actually has to have a person review it, more than once.  Could they automate some of that, yes.  But for now they don't.  

            Now, as to whether or not the NSA is effective at sorting and cataloging that data is still a pending question, but technically speaking capture and storage of the data is easy.  Your telecom company is doing much of the ground work for them so they can bill you.

      •  The Intelligence budget "Continues to balloon..." (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LeftOverAmerica, 3goldens

        hardly anyone in Congress has a good handle on intelligence spending.

        ...Intelligence programs span 16 federal agencies. Most of the budget figures are classified, except for a top-line number for the National Intelligence Program that doesn’t include many military-intelligence programs..

        With some of that money, the NSA is building the Country's Biggest Spy Center:

        ...
        ...a $1.5 billion... project that will feature up to 1 million square feet of facilities....

        Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013...

        But “this is more than just a data center...”  It is also critical, he says, for breaking codes...

        For the NSA, overflowing with tens of billions of dollars in post-9/11 budget awards, the cryptanalysis breakthrough came at a time of explosive growth, in size as well as in power...

        (Why the NSA put a data center in Utah)

        And, NSA Building $860 Million "High Capacity" Data Center in Maryland..

        As its current data collection makes headlines, the National Security Agency is continuing to expand its data storage and processing capabilities. The agency recently broke ground on an $860 million data center at Fort Meade, Maryland that will span more than 600,000 square feet, including 70,000 square feet of technical space...
        More about the new data centers:  NSA's New Data Center And Supercomputer Aim To Crack World's Strongest Encryption.
        Using what will likely be the world’s fastest supercomputer and the world’s largest data storage and analysis facility, the NSA plans to comb unimaginably voluminous troves of messages for patterns they could use to crack AES and weaker encryption schemes...
        New NSA data centers will store decades’ worth of electronic communication..

        While other, less secretive government agencies suffer cutbacks, the intelligence community, especially the NSA seems to be expanding--building new facilities, and hiring new employees.  

      •  It's all about priorities.... where there is the (0+ / 0-)

        will, there is the money.

        Storage wise.... not a problem in the slightest.  Here's a couple of diaries on the subject of data storage.

        http://www.dailykos.com/...

        http://www.dailykos.com/...

      •  The data doesn't need to be sorted (0+ / 0-)

        Sorting it putting data in order in memory.  All they have to do is enter the data into a database and all the information to do this is contained within the data.

        Take e-mail for example.  The account sending and account(s) receiving is included in the data of the e-mail.  You just have to read and store those values along with the content of the e-mail and you can search for all e-mail sent and received by an account.

        Sorting the database would make searches faster but with the amount of data that they are collecting vs the amount that they are interested in they probably don't.

        Doing some basic analysis of all the e-mails would also likely be easy.  They probably detect and flag encryption.  They also probably have an algorithm to look through the content of the e-mail to find keywords and flag the e-mail according to what is found.

        "It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said." "The War Prayer" by Mark Twain

        by Quanta on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 07:14:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Someone else described it as building ever more (23+ / 0-)

      and larger haystacks in order to find a needle.

      And the sys admins has to have the root password (access to every file on the system) or they can't be the sys admin. The President is not going to be a sys admin. The head of the CIA is not going to be a sys admin.

      Some twenty or thirty year old Comp.Sci. graduate is going to be the sys admin. Who knows what's going to happen to the data? That's what Eric Snowden was trying to tell us.

      Reaganomics noun pl: belief that government is bad, that it can increase revenue by decreasing revenue, and unregulated capitalism can provide unlimited goods for unlimited people on a planet with finite resources.

      by FrY10cK on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 03:09:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Why does it seem that if you're 'Too big too fail' (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CroneWit, Hastur, Egalitare

      It's inevitable that you will?

      I'm no philosopher, I am no poet, I'm just trying to help you out - Gomez (from the song Hamoa Beach)

      by jhecht on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 03:59:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Frankenstein? (0+ / 0-)

      Create something that takes on a life of its own and comes back pissed off at you....

      Or SkyNet for the younger generation...

  •  As we should remember, this started out under W (17+ / 0-)

    The very same guy whose dimbulb adminstration had 20-somethings setting up the Iraq economy and was handing out palettes of hundred dollar bills.

    How could we be surprised to learn that this multi-zillion dollar Curtain is missing it's Man Behind The?  

  •  I suspect you are right. (9+ / 0-)

    It's one of the things that sort of makes me not panic about NSA spying, they just aren't competent enough or efficient enough to effect most of us.
    The way I heard it put: They didn't hire better needle-finders, they hired bigger-haystack-builders.
    They now have every shred of information in the world but no index. Good luck with that.
    Eventually the entire system will collapse under it's own bulk and they'll start over.
    And another several billion dollars will be scraped right down the scupper.
    Remember a while ago the FBI spent something like $100 Million on an integrated computer system that failed right out of the box after 6 years of work, was scrapped and a new vendor with a new solution was brought in?
    I take this as a good thing for us because if they can't get all these systems working together, they can't turn them on us effectively.

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 02:49:30 PM PDT

  •  Your last line is funny because that's (30+ / 0-)

    why I think that neither Russia nor China are particularly interested in Snowden as a source.  My guess is that they already knew about much/all of what he disclosed and probably know much more.  

    In addition, my suspicion is that with all of the private contractors involved it is just unbelievable to think that there is any clear chain of command so to speak that would allow anyone to really monitor and provide meaningful oversight of the activities.

    Finally, it is hard for me to believe that many people who sit on the intelligence committees in Congress have a freaking clue about data systems; how they work or what these data collection programs are capable of doing.

    There was that one Congressman whose name I do not remember who said that he went to the official briefings, but couldn't understand most of what they were talking about.  I give him credit for admitting that.  Most Members of Congress aren't elected on the basis of being IT geniuses.  Given Clapper's track record of lying openly in front of cameras, one can only wonder what he and his people are saying to unwitting Congressional audiences in their secret briefings - things that those Members are barred from talking about with anyone, at all.  There is no way for the Members to independently verify the data and information they are being given which is pretty terrifying since they are being briefed by trained spies whose two leading tactics tend to be lying and manipulation - just as a basic job requirement.

    I don't even want to think about what those judges at FISC must be hearing and whether or not that's being accurately described to them...

  •  Hilarious, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, CroneWit, 3goldens

    Brooklyn Bridge sale...

    U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, the Michigan Republican who chairs the House Intelligence Committee described Snowden as a smash-and-grab bandit without any credibility and as a man who is “in the loving arms of the Russian intelligence services.”

    “He’s clearly trying to work a deal with the Russians right now,” Rogers said

    Rogers said much of the information Snowden has leaked so far has been “wildly inaccurate,” but said Americans should not be surprised U.S. intelligence services are engaged overseas in trying to collect information that helps America’s national security footprint and makes sure “we are reading the world correctly.”
    Wildly inaccurate? Whatever you say congressman.

    http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/...

    "Lets show the rascals what Citizens United really means."

    by smiley7 on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 03:14:43 PM PDT

  •  how could they? (9+ / 0-)

    As one who deals with data and integration on a daily basis, I know all too well how little most people understand on even the most basic level how computers and networks work. Politicians and administrators will never understand what's happening in a technological web like this.

    This is a hard cold fact of the world we live in now - In many situations technical people have to make decisions for non technical people because of a matter of basic understanding.

    The notion that some analyst like Snowden is making decisions on metadata gathering never surprised or bothered me that much because in reality, these technical analysts are the only one actually in a position to make these decisions!

    If you have ever been to a meeting and tried to present metadata, analytics, or technical options to general decision maker types (administrators, politicians), you'll know just what I mean.

    With very little actual technical information out there about what is going on behind the scenes, paranoia will rule. (remember, most of what we know is from a powerpoint presentation shared with a reporter).

    Knowing more about what is in fact possible and what is in fact likely tends to calm down the paranoia a bit, in my experience.

    He who throws mud only loses ground -- Fat Albert

    by c0wfunk on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 03:19:33 PM PDT

  •  Here's the problem (23+ / 0-)

    Seventy percent of the NSA budget is being spent on private contractors whose number one priority is their own bottom line.  When there are a half million persons with top security clearance and working for private companies, there is no way that the data being collected by the NSA is even remotely secure.  And I am not talking about the Ed Snowden types, but corporations appropriating it for their own purposes.

    I do not believe that myriad of excuses have anything to do with the top officials of the NSA not knowing what data they have collected. They know exactly how much spying has been going on.  But this is like any scandal in which they are trying to cover up just enough even as new information is being released.  It is always the coverup that gets them and it is being done very poorly in an effort to stop the bleeding.

    For Americans, the scandal is that we no longer have Fourth Amendment rights with our first and fifth Amendment rights being severely compromised.  For EU, the reason they are so angry is that it appears that the spying is mostly of the industrial espionage variety.  

    No matter how we look at it, the US has bungled this very badly and Mr. Snowden has done us all a great favor by shining light on it.

    "Growing up is for those who don't have the guts not to. Grow wise, grow loving, grow compassionate, but why grow up?" - Fiddlegirl

    by gulfgal98 on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 03:20:10 PM PDT

  •  Add to it... (13+ / 0-)

    The outsourcing.  That data goes through private company hands via contacts to the NSA.  How is the data categorized and classified if at all?  Is it only classified and handled through existing channels once the data is analyzed and becomes interesting?  I'm sure if they captured real data on real terrorist activity, there is a well worked chain of handling for that - but what about personal transactions?  I bet that data has no classification and no security around it.

    'Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost' - Ronald Reagan, Communist

    by RichM on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 03:20:44 PM PDT

  •  The Wash. Post did a series: Top Secret America, (21+ / 0-)

    and one of the more startling facts was that no one knows how many private contractors they have working on intelligence.

    http://projects.washingtonpost.com/...

    "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." Richard K. Morgan

    by sceptical observer on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 03:21:27 PM PDT

  •  NSA, CIA, Homeland Security and all (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, KenBee, Roger Fox

    should wake up.

    They don't need the contractors or special staffs anymore.

    We the people, social media, can be the HUMIT and SIGNET of the future.

    Need something ... simply crowd-source it.

    "Lets show the rascals what Citizens United really means."

    by smiley7 on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 03:23:31 PM PDT

  •  I would guess that it's intentional (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CroneWit

    Not that I'm holding my breath waiting, but I'd wager they don't even want to know what they have, but just want it all for future searches.

    “liberals are the people who think that cruelty is the worst thing that we do” --Richard Rorty Also, I moved from NYC, so my username is inaccurate.

    by jeff in nyc on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 03:26:01 PM PDT

  •  I've been thinking that too. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    c0wfunk, CroneWit, Hastur, nchristine, grover

    Knowing just how half-assed and lazy most human beings are, it often amazes me that the lights come on every morning, let alone the Internet.

    Just because they know how to grab and store data, and how to run analytical software against it, doesn't really mean that anyone is making sense of it or sees the big picture.  Let alone along policing its use.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 03:26:32 PM PDT

    •  Sit around and talk to friends, doesn't matter (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lgmcp

      where they work  -- heck, ask total strangers for their opinions and most will say the same thing.  

      This is the essence of government and most of the private sector. Everyone assumes competence. And where they see mystery, they assume there is mastery.

      But the banking collapse should have proven to us once and for all, there generally is no mastery there. It's smoke and mirrors -- and a whole heck a lot of assumptions.

      Corporations and government run because many people work pretty hard and are rather competent. But that, really, is about it.

      Americans are repeatedly shocked when we hear of balls being dropped, mistakes being made, products being defective, and recalls being instituted. The fact is, what shocks me is that we don't hear about this stuff more frequently.

      Even people who really like their jobs can easily outline all the ways in which their companies fail to complete their primary mission day after day after day.

      So the diarist's conclusion is one I arrived at (after having some details of the technology explained to me a little by BruinKid). NSA is in the data-gathering business. I really don't know that it's in the data analyzing business.

      © grover


      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 11:12:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Supreme clusterfuckery (13+ / 0-)

    Meanwhile, as the NSA/government drowns itself in data at massive cost to taxpayers, for our protection, our country is rotting away domestically.

    Swell.




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

    by DeadHead on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 03:26:46 PM PDT

  •  I think you are on to something (11+ / 0-)

    I have worked for and with some organizations who had very large IT infrastructures, and invariably the larger the IT infrastructure the more cumbersome, unwieldy, inflexible, and buggy it was.

    (This will not be at all surprising to anyone who has tried to get anything done, IT or otherwise, in any sort of large organization.)

    Now add to this the well known truth that the more people who have access to a secret the less likely it will remain secret.

    Bottom line? The most likely thing here is, it's a mess, it's uncontrollable and unmanageable, and it is structurally incapable of doing anything other than leaking like a sieve.

  •  To find the "dirty hands" in any agency (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KenBee, CroneWit

    (assuming someone actually would WANT to find them), look for anyone whose rise to the top has been exceptionally fast.  It's usually a tipoff that the person is being rewarded for taking on a "challenge"  --as in doing things that aren't legal.

  •  Except None of that Matters. the only Important (5+ / 0-)

    thing is that the "correct" people are being paid enough Money.

    Notice: This Comment © 2013 ROGNM

    by ROGNM on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 03:38:09 PM PDT

  •  Which is why I've been saying for a while (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roger Fox

    that if Snowden knew anything of value, the Chinese never would have let him go to Russia.

    I'm no philosopher, I am no poet, I'm just trying to help you out - Gomez (from the song Hamoa Beach)

    by jhecht on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 03:54:46 PM PDT

    •  value *to whom* is the key (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, coconutjones

      snowden's information is of serious value to the unwashed masses.

      •  I think that Snowden's info (0+ / 0-)

        has been very valuable in starting discussion about what the Government does in the name of national security among the populous.  But, I doubt the information released had been any kind of surprise for foreign governments.  To paraphrase Obama "everybody is doing it."  I would dare say that if they aren't doing it they are being negligent to their own national security interests.  the value to a foreign state is the propaganda value, everyone else gets to point a finger and say, "see how bad they are."

  •  I'm pretty sure the military is building its own (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Square Knot, SadieSue, nchristine

    communications network so that it will function at all times.  Ever tried to make a call when hundreds of others are trying to do it at the same time in your area:  After a game or concert, in a major event (tornado), or something similar?  The network doesn't function because it's overloaded.  It's one of reasons I have my ham radio license.

    "Harass us, because we really do pay attention. Look at who's on the ballot, and vote for the candidate you agree with the most. The next time, you get better choices." - Barney Frank

    by anonevent on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 04:03:54 PM PDT

  •  Great job of getting straight to... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roger Fox

    ...the most logical explanation. Which is usually right.
    I'm sure there are lots of shocking and outrageous facts yet to come out, but I think this analysis is basically sound and correct.

  •  Fusion centers...don't forget the Fusioin centers (4+ / 0-)

    where the locals access it..

    This machine kills Fascists.

    by KenBee on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 04:14:17 PM PDT

  •  You are exactly right (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nchristine

    In a weird way it's like the beginning of Skynet. The system does what it's programmed to do, but the original programmers are long gone and no one knows anything about the big picture any more.

  •  Very well stated bink (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grover

    The sheer magnitude of data and mismanagement thrown together and tossed like a giant salad staggers the imagination. but yeah.... we should just trust them (snark)

  •  My data will get merged with somebody (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    old wobbly, SadieSue, lotlizard, grover

    of a very similar name and THEY'LL be bad people and I'LL get the trouble....

    Although, little different than drugwar cowboys raiding the wrong house....

  •  Great, just great. which makes me now think... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hastur, UTLiberal

    ...that it's highly likely that, given (1) the NSA's penchant for gathering just incredible amounts of data, and (2) it's apparent inability to understand all of its systems (and provide security for said systems), foreign entities (governments, militaries, whataver) are, or are planning to, break into the NSA's systems to find out what goodies they have in there.

    The road to Hell is paved with pragmatism.

    by TheOrchid on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 05:22:01 PM PDT

  •  yup (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nchristine, 3goldens, lotlizard

    that being said, that big assed pile of data undoubtedly has a lot of stuff on it that would be very useful for blackmail, character assassination, espionage, industrial espionage, or insider trading, if someone had the ability to zoom in on a single person or set of people. now that they privatized access to the intelligence sector, i fully expect several entrepreneurial-minded corrupt black ops jerkface types to make use of it for their own ends.

  •  I keep seeing the image at the end of (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SadieSue, nchristine

    Raiders of the Lost Ark,

    except as a metaphor for vast piles of digital data.

  •  You probably are at least partially correct. (0+ / 0-)

    However, this is probably not due to intent. I.e. the stated goal of the NSA in the late 60's and early 70's was to get hold of every conversation and electronic communication that they could.

    "Oh, I am heartily tired of hearing about what Lee is going to do..... Go back to your command, and try to think what are we going to do ourselves, instead of what Lee is going to do." Grant

    by shigeru on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 06:02:31 PM PDT

  •  Not knowing the full capacity of Big Data... (0+ / 0-)

    ...is a reasonable justification to consider making its enormous cost. The potential can't be known because the atomic elements aggregate and intersect in ways that create new information which aggregates and intersects unto new previously unknown knowledge. The thing itself is valuable because it creates objects and opportunities not discernible otherwise. It's a fucking ontological tautology. Consultants and companies make a lot of money selling a very sexy vapor the US gov't is uniquely sized and wealthy to actually build. But to use? That's another question entirely. To protect? So far we've not been so adept as asymmetric national defense as it is...

  •  Eventually James Risen will reveal (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JML9999, 3goldens, Dumbo

    that that FB "security expert" the NSA hired to handle its own security was actually a Chinese spy who's just been put in charge of China's spy agency. And then we'll discover that he's defected to Iran where he intends to become the world's richest man by blackmailing everyone on the planet. And then we'll find out that he's actually Mark Zuckerberg's cousin Yakov.

    This is like a 21st century Catch-22.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 06:20:29 PM PDT

  •  They can't get their story straight because... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SadieSue, 3goldens, Dumbo, bink

    ... They can't keep their lies straight.

    It seems a pretty safe bet that there's so much more going on that they don't want to have found out.

    So they just heap on the evasions and outright lies.

    It must be exhausting- poor dears!

    They just might drop fucking dead from exhaustion.

    So sad...


    The Fail will continue until actual torches and pitchforks are set in motion. - Pangolin@kunstler.com

    by No one gets out alive on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 06:41:06 PM PDT

    •  Oh, what webs we weave, when we first choose (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grover

      to spy on the phone calls and emails and text messages and cell phone GPS of everybody on the planet.

      •  I had no idea that Sir Walter Scott was a critic (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dumbo

        of the NSA.

        That guy was one forward thinker, eh?

        © grover


        So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

        by grover on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 11:15:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  how secure can it be when u outsource it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo

    to contractors?  that should speak volumes.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 07:29:13 PM PDT

  •  Best diary on a difficult topic here. Kudos! n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grover, ladybug53
  •  You Expected Competence? (0+ / 0-)

    After spending hundreds of billions of dollars building the most extensive spying apparatus in the world?

    I didn't.

  •  I don't know if the scope is unknown, but (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo

    I do believe this wholeheartedly

    If what I suspect is true, calls and e-mails recorded by the NSA in the morning are probably read by Chinese hackers by sundown.
    Any group of hackers, from random 14 year old children to Russian institutional hackers most definitely gets data from the contractors.

    You don't have to be supportive of Snowden or opposed to spying in general to be completely opposed to the way they've gone about it. National security and the type of data being collected should stay in government hands at all times.

  •  Lost in their own "Fog of Disinformation"? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo

    The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ☮ ♥ ☺

    by lotlizard on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 08:49:17 PM PDT

  •  Bink, I was busy today reading all about TOR. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DeadHead

    Tor Project: Anonymity Online.

    It's a freeware opensource package that's been around a while and has become seasoned, the purpose of which is to increase Internet security by tunneling IP and DNS requests through a cloud of other Tor users, in a P2P point-to-point method, like Bittorrent.

    The Tor Overview points out those people for whom Tor might be particularly useful, like corporate security specialists, journalists and whistleblowers.  I first saw Tor mentioned in some of Julius Assange's emails we were discussing last night and became curious.  Tor is also used by THE US NAVY:

    A branch of the U.S. Navy uses Tor for open source intelligence gathering, and one of its teams used Tor while deployed in the Middle East recently. Law enforcement uses Tor for visiting or surveilling web sites without leaving government IP addresses in their web logs, and for security during sting operations.
    ... And that's why I brought this up.  Because, as you say, the military is rightfully worried about letting the clowns at NSA spy on their stuff.  If they've resorted to using open source freeware like Tor to increase their security, odds are they're worried not just about the enemy but about the NSA fucking up.

    So it's just a natural part of the arms race, I guess, except it's an arms race within the US between the NSA and the Navy.  These same software tools, like Tor, are very likely used by the same people that the NSA is most likely to target and who are the most paranoid.  Really, it's only us dumbfucks like you and me whose privacy is infringed upon.

    I'm thinking about installing Tor on my system tonight.  Maybe.  Another site pointed out that the more computers there are in the Tor cloud, the better it is for every Tor user's security, because a bigger cloud is a more obscure cloud.

    •  It's slower (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dumbo

      Due to the mechanics of how it operates, things take longer.

      Some search engines, Google for one, don't play nicely with it, either. DuckDuckGo does work, however.

      I'm by no means an expert on it, just my limited observations from having played with it a bit on my Android based device.

       




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

      by DeadHead on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 11:41:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Just a word of caution about Tor. (0+ / 0-)

      If you ever use it for anything to ensure secrecy, don't get too complacent about what level of secrecy it provides you.

      An analogy: I had a friend (now deceased) who, back during the Cold War worked in military intelligence.  The US was very confused as to how the USSR was cracking US messages during US war games; it made no sense, as they were encrypted and there should have been no way that the Soviets could have possibly broken the encryption.

      Eventually they found out what was going on.  They weren't breaking the encryption - they just noticed that certain encrypted messages that meant certain things tended to be certain sizes, certain ones were sent at certain times relatives to others, and so on, and so were simply looking at the sizes and timings of messages to figure out what was being discussed.

      The risks of Tor are similar and numerous, and it's easy to get lulled into a false sense of security.  There are lots of documents out there documenting various attacks on user privacy that can be done in Tor - how your browser can give you away, how your browsing habits can, how you write, your computer's latency, all kinds of things.  And that's all assuming that Tor remains unbroken.  There's only 100-200k users on Tor at any given point in time.  It wouldn't exactly be hard for a national government to flood the network with enough malicious peers to figure out the IPs of nearly everyone using it and what they're doing.  Heck, I wouldn't be shocked if China at least wasn't doing this already.

      That said, it's still a great tool.  Just make yourself aware of its limitations.

      •  That may be true. (0+ / 0-)

        I don't have that much to hide, though, I suspect, and those things I might want to hide I don't have the time or skill to hide them with 100% efficiency.

        But I'm captured by the suggestion that increasing the size of the TOR cloud by participating improves the coverage for everybody else in the TOR cloud.  Messages are propagated from point to point in the cloud with new encryption keys each time.  It's like having a police lineup with millions instead of a half dozen.  The idea that by participating I might improve other people's security and aggravate the NSA appeals to me.

  •  I'd bet you're right. (0+ / 0-)
    If what I suspect is true, calls and e-mails recorded by the NSA in the morning are probably read by Chinese hackers by sundown.
    The only reason not to bet is we may never get enough information we could trust to know who won.  But this sounds just like how the government gets computers "working" for it.
    Currently at work we're trying to get set up to submit information to the FDA on their web site.  We've been trying for 11 months, and we don't seem close to getting it working.

    We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

    by david78209 on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 10:16:51 PM PDT

  •  I think you're right. (0+ / 0-)

    And that's ONE of the problems with their vacuuming up everything.

    But only one of them...

    Before you win, you have to fight. Come fight along with us at Texas Kaos.

    by boadicea on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 10:42:50 PM PDT

  •  Nice diary, Bink. (0+ / 0-)

    I had come to the same conclusion. But I rather liked the idea of my own little netminder, following me around the internet, reading my emails, texts, listening to my phone calls, tracking my navigation system, credit card purchases and my dogs' RFID microchips.

    He was like my imaginary friend from when I was 3 years old, but a lot creepier.

    I figured he might be useful at some point.  

    ;)

    © grover


    So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

    by grover on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 11:21:00 PM PDT

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