Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for August 3rd, 2013

Word for word

Posted by Charles II on August 3, 2013

So, the News Hour, which is usually worthless, actually had something interesting on Friday:

RUSSELL TICE: Well, two months ago, I contacted some colleagues at NSA. We had a little meeting, and the question came up, was NSA collecting everything now? Because we kind of figured that was the goal all along. And the answer came back. It was, yes, they are collecting everything, contents word for word, everything of every domestic communication in this country.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Both of you know what the government says is that we’re collecting this — we’re collecting the number of phone calls that are made, the e-mails, but we’re not listening to them.

WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, I don’t believe that for a minute. OK?

I mean, that’s why they had to build Bluffdale, that facility in Utah with that massive amount of storage that could store all these recordings and all the data being passed along the fiberoptic networks of the world. I mean, you could store 100 years of the world’s communications here. That’s for content storage. That’s not for metadata.

Metadata if you were doing it and putting it into the systems we built, you could do it in a 12-by-20-foot room for the world. That’s all the space you need. You don’t need 100,000 square feet of space that they have at Bluffdale to do that. You need that kind of storage for content.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what does that say, Russell Tice, about what the government — you’re saying — your understanding is of what the government does once these conversations take place, is it your understanding they’re recorded and kept?

RUSSELL TICE: Yes, digitized and recorded and archived in a facility that is now online. And they’re kind of fibbing about that as well, because Bluffdale is online right now.

And that’s where the information is going. Now, as far as being able to have an analyst look at all that, that’s impossible, of course. And I think, semantically, they’re trying to say that their definition of collection is having literally a physical analyst look or listen, which would be disingenuous.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But the government vehemently denies it is recording all telephone calls. Robert Litt is the general counsel in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. He recently spoke at the Brookings Institution.

ROBERT LITT, NSA general counsel: We do not indiscriminately sweep up and store the contents of the communications of Americans or of the citizenry of any country.

I’ve been looking for the specific allegation that the Obama Administration is storing phone calls. This is it.
Added: To understand that this is an important point, note Marcy Wheeler’s comment, “The Guardian has repeated Snowden and Bill Binney’s claims the NSA collects everything, without yet presenting proof that that includes US person content aside from incidental content collected on legitimate targets.”

This is what would galvanize the public and produce major change.

Posted in NSA eavesdropping, wiretapping | 4 Comments »

Security State Fan Michele Catano, Quinoa, And Pressure Cookers

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 3, 2013

Roy Edroso sums it up rather neatly:

…What Catalano described as “six agents from the joint terrorism task force” paid her husband a call: “three black SUVs in front of our house; two at the curb in front and one pulled up behind my husband’s Jeep in the driveway, as if to block him from leaving. Six gentleman in casual clothes emerged from the vehicles and spread out as they walked toward the house…” Panic in Suffolk County! “All I know is if I’m going to buy a pressure cooker in the near future, I’m not doing it online. I’m scared. And not of the right things.”

She even got this tale of woe in the Guardian. The usual suspects cried havoc: “A woman on Long Island says that her family was visited by authorities yesterday because of their Internet search history!” flashed National Review; “Yes, the federal government knows what you search for on Google,” hand-wrung Reason.

But I knew her work, and waited.

Eventually, from TechCrunch:

Catalano asserts that the visit was likely prompted by her husband searching for the term “backpacks” in close conjunction with her searching for the term “pressure cookers” and her son reading the news. Or something. 

Turns out the visit was prompted by the searches, but not in the way most speculation asserted – by a law enforcement-initiated, NSA-enabled dragnet of the couple’s web history. It turns out either Catalano or her husband were conducting these searches from a work computer. And that employer, “a Bay Shore based computer company,” called the police on their former employee…

Actually TechCrunch is being kind (or something) — the Suffolk County Police bulletin they worked from described his search terms as “pressure cooker bombs” and “backpacks.” Now, I don’t approve employers flipping out over stuff like that, even if their subject is married to an obvious nutcake like Catalano. But it’s a far cry from the Federales doing a Google-enabled home-invasion, and it’s a bit rich to hear such accusations coming from someone who once wrote, “It makes me angry to see how many people react with glee when something goes wrong with Homeland Security. These people who are wishing and hoping for Bush to fail are, in essence, wishing and hoping for another terrorist attack. Sick.”

This would be a useful thing to remember the next time you hear wingnuts working their new “libertarian populism” schtick and denouncing the national security state that 10 years ago they all huddled against for electoral warmth. Or whenever you read anything by Andrew Sullivan.

The Guardian has more:

On Thursday, the man’s wife, Michele Catalano, speculated in a blog post that the visit had been caused by her search for a new pressure cooker, her husband’s quest for a backpack, and her son’s interest in the Boston marathon bombing.

Late on Thursday, Suffolk County police said its investigation was in fact prompted by a tipoff, and not covert monitoring. “Suffolk County criminal intelligence detectives received a tip from a Bay Shore based computer company regarding suspicious computer searches conducted by a recently released employee,” Suffolk County said in a statement.

“The former employee’s computer searches took place on this employee’s workplace computer. On that computer, the employee searched the terms ‘pressure cooker bombs’ and ‘backpacks’.”

So in other words Catano’s husband’s former bosses may have been worried that he, who they had let go not long before, was either considering some explosive revenge against his former company and was inspired by the Boston bombings — or, if the searches happened before the bombings, might have feared that he was involved somehow.

That’s a lot different from The-FBI-invaded-my-home-because-I-innocently-Googled-pressure-cookers.

Oh, and the officers had “guns in their waistbands”? Really?

The computer company’s police report prompted a visit to Catalano’s home by “six gentleman in casual clothes” who “all had guns in their waistbands”, as she described the agents.

Belly bands, maybe. Waistbands, I seriously doubt. Do an internet search of “cops guns waistbands” and all will be made clear.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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