Thursday, May 11, 2006

NSA: No Strings Attached

I've recommended James Bamford's Body of Secrets before in this space. It's an exhaustive and fascinating look inside the NSA, and for me it's an important aid in understanding the recent controversy about the agency. One point from the book that really sticks with me is how taboo any type of domestic surveillance is---or at least was---for the NSA. You really need to read the book to understand this. For decades, the orientation and structure of the NSA revolved around strictly foreign surveillance. Any deviation from that amounted to a firing offense. So when I read this latest rolling disclosure, it's striking. This is not trivial stuff. 9/11 really did change everything, didn't it?

The report states that AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth cooperated with the government, and that only Qwest refused. One of those companies is about to get a service cancellation from me. And can you guess which stocks I bought and sold today out of principle?

33 Comments:

Anonymous wendy said...

That last sentence gave me a whole new level of respect for you (though you didn't need it).

Wouldn't it be wonderful if investors worked like that?

5/11/2006 9:37 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Good for you - these companies need to remember who they work for. I just hope they are liable when the program is found to be illegal.

5/11/2006 10:23 PM  
Anonymous JoeF said...

it should be noted that the feds apparently paid the 3 telcos in question for their "service"...and that qwest apparently was the only one to have the balls to say "go to FISA, get a court order, and then we'll give it all to you", only to see the NSA decide they didn't want to try and get a court order.

5/12/2006 3:06 AM  
Blogger Devang said...

The amount of knowledge and know-how gathered snoopping overseas was clearly, um... too much to not use domestically.

Building relational databases and data mining them, sadly, will only get cheaper and faster by the day.

5/12/2006 7:12 AM  
Blogger Spider said...

I bet that, as a New Yorker, you had Verizon. It's a big carrier here in NYC. It was either that or AT&T. However, that is the company I would have guessed you had stock in.

Part of me is glad I don't have a landline so I wouldn't have been part of this surveillance unless I called a landline. But then I know how easy it is for investigators, law enforcement and the government to hold of one's cell phone records.

Scary times, my friends.

Oh, and I love how Bush's soundbyte said that these leaks hurt intelligence efforts and the war on terror. Really? Where the hell is Osama Bin Laden you dimwit?!! Oh yeah, you don't reallly think too much about him.

Again, great post as usual TCR. I really enjoy reading your blog. I learn so much everytime. As I've said before. If you ever give a lecture or teach a class here in NYC, let me know. I'll be there ready to take notes.

5/12/2006 9:41 AM  
Anonymous thirdeye said...

TCR, when will you understand there is NO limit to what we will do to protect Israel?

5/12/2006 9:50 AM  
Blogger reality-based educator said...

A Wash Post/ABC News poll says 63% of Americans support the phone records database.

What's wrong with Americans?

5/12/2006 10:12 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Good for you, CR. Good for you.

Reality-based Educator. Good question. Damn good question.

5/12/2006 10:50 AM  
Blogger Otto Man said...

This is one case in which principle and profits can go hand in hand. I bet that Qwest stock is about to soar.

5/12/2006 11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Bush administration wanted to do this stuff even before 9/11. The attacks just gave them an excuse to do so and weakened the will of those who might normally have opposed them.

My favorite comment about the data mining is that now that this information is public all of the terrorists will switch to Qwest. The other is that being a Qwest customer I suspect that the only reason they didn't give the government what it asked for is because they were unable to.

5/12/2006 1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Qwest has allowed this to remain very simple. If we take the Adminstration at its word, the collecting these data from the phone companies is 1)perfectly legal and 2) vital for the protection of the US.

Well if it so vital and legal, why on earth would the NSA choose NOT to get the “vital” data from Qwest? I mean all they had to do was simply get the rulings as Qwest requested, and Qwest would have handed it over.

Ok, damn obvious question, but somehow it’s already getting lost in the arcane discussions taking place.

5/12/2006 2:18 PM  
Blogger Humbug said...

"...is how taboo any type of domestic surveillance is---or at least was---for the NSA..."

Sadly there are a lot of taboos that are falling by the wayside in this administration. Remember the taboo against torture?

I try to console myself by thinking, "Maybe this is the way things always were, but due to the taboo factor, we just didn't hear as much about them."

Maybe the media is just getting better at revealing things that were covered up in the past.


Hahahahahahahahah. Cough. Gag.

5/12/2006 2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Torture lives in this country: "Chicago's Abu Ghraib: UN Committee Against Torture Hears Report on How Police Tortured Over 135 African-American Men Inside Chicago Jails". The mirrors are just larger now.

Poindexter's Total Information Awareness lives on. I agree, they wanted to do this day one. Look at all the felons Bush brought back to our White House (and it doesn't count if his father pardoned them).

Even Newt can't defend it.

Sen. Lindsey Graham is a pretty good guy with common sense when he isn't being pushed by the radical crazy religious extreme side of the Republican party. I think one could have a reasonable intelligent conversation with him, unlike Delay, Santorum, Frist, Hastert, Keyes, Bush, Cunningham, Cheney, which would cause one to puke first.

Cafferty tells it like it is - Dictatorship.

Is there any competition/alternative for landline telecommunications?

5/12/2006 5:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The book, Corporate Governance by Rogert Monks and Nell Minow is very good. It is loaded with current corporate case studies.

Megatrends 2010 describes how we are headed towards Conscious Capitalism and spirituality.

Corporations have huge political clout, influencing the public and the politicians. These books really make you think about what we expect from corporations, and they need to be held accountable by their customers, shareholders, creditors, and suppliers.

5/12/2006 5:51 PM  
Anonymous wendy said...

I think they are mining wireless too (I could be wrong), but in any event, all they will get from my landline is TIVO ;-)

5/12/2006 7:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check out "Ground Hog Day" by Digby for information that this all is really a sequel.
When do we start to fight back??

5/12/2006 8:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don’t have a problem with any of the previous spying leaks because people (even citizens) communicating with enemies while we are at war need to be monitored. Courts have little jurisdiction when it comes to fighting a war.

That said, I don’t see how my phone records are in any way related to fighting the war and can’t understand why the government is maintaining this information. This one, I’m afraid may have crossed the line and requires some scrutiny.

5/12/2006 10:09 PM  
Anonymous Disgusted said...

They were doing this before we were At War. The War started in 2003. Oh, I forgot. We were at war with the boogyman before that. Two thirds of America needs to be slapped upside the head, the cowering punks.

5/12/2006 10:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TCR mentioned just a few ways regular citizens can make themselves heard. Email, phone calls, letters: there are many ways to regsiter your opinion on this. Take it out of their pocketbook.

5/12/2006 10:37 PM  
Anonymous junipier said...

think TOO.V, MMM.TO, GRG.V could be considered on principle...the priciple being the miss karen, who probably went to school in chicago, may only be right for the short term...

http://money.cnn.com/2006/05/09/pf/gold_investing/?cnn=yes

5/13/2006 6:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are looking for a good explanation of the middle east situation, Joel Bainerman does a good job.

I'm always amazed at how Israel handles terrorism, and if you look at literacy, GDP & GDP per capita it is amazing. Sometimes I think we are mislead in the US media on what is happening with Israel/Palenstine and the ME. Oil and terrorism go hand in hand, and then all this stuff Bush is doing to destroy our way of life in the name of terrorism.

5/13/2006 3:07 PM  
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