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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Phoned anyone in the USA lately? 

And did you say anything "interesting"?
Combine this story:
. . . there were no limits on the telecommunications records which the FBI sought and obtained. They just asked for whatever records they wanted, said whatever they had to say in their lawless letters to get them (even when such statements were false), and the telecom companies instantaneously provided the data to the FBI.
with what we already know about the NSA Scandal:
. . . Unlike the [National Security Agency's] longstanding practice of spying on specific individuals and communications based upon some source of suspicion, data mining involves formula-based searches through mountains of data for individuals whose behavior or profile is in some way suspiciously different from the norm.
Data mining is a broad dragnet. Instead of targeting you because you once received a telephone call from a person who received a telephone call from a person who is a suspected terrorist, you might be targeted because the NSA's computers have analyzed your communications and have determined that they contain certain words or word combinations, addressing information, or other factors with a frequency that deviates from the average, and which they have decided might be an indication of suspiciousness. The NSA has no prior reason to suspect you, and you are in no way tied to any other suspicious individuals -- you have just been plucked out of the crowd by a computer algorithm's analysis of your behavior.
and you see why I asked about what you've been saying on the phone lately.
Of course, the whole thing is a stupid waste of both the FBI's time and the NSA's time:
. . . the creation of large numbers of wasteful and distracting leads is one of the primary reasons that many security experts say data mining and other dragnet strategies are a poor way of preventing crime and terrorism. The New York Times confirmed that point, with its report that the NSA has sent the FBI a "flood" of tips generated by mass domestic eavesdropping and data mining, virtually all of which led to dead ends that wasted the FBI's resources. "We'd chase a number, find it's a schoolteacher with no indication they've ever been involved in international terrorism," one former FBI agent told the Times . "After you get a thousand numbers and not one is turning up anything, you get some frustration."
But since when did wasting time and money ever stop the Bush administration?
We also must not forget that the Bushies think that Democrats and journalists and Quakers and bloggers and peace activists and senators and George Soros and Donald Trump and Hollywood are all traitors, or at least "fellow travellers".
So does anyone wonder whose phone calls and emails they are targetting?

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