[Politech logo]

Politech is the oldest Internet resource devoted to politics and technology. Launched in 1994 by Declan McCullagh, the mailing list has chronicled the growing intersection of law, culture, technology, and politics. Since 2000, so has the Politech web site.

More revelations about Bush and NSA domestic surveillance: a roundup

Tangentially-related article about judge approving cell phone monitoring 
without requiring prosecutors to show evidence of probable cause:

How extensive is NSA's spy program:

An earlier roundup of blog posts:

Articles asking whether President Bush commited an impeachable offense:

Previous Politech message:


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: HAVE YOU SEEN THIS? NY Times on NSA data mining
Date: Sat, 24 Dec 2005 00:27:35 -0800
From: Philip Merrill <veyr@earthlink.net>
To: Fred von Lohmann EFF <fred@eff.org>, Cory Doctorow <cory@eff.org>, 
       Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>

Fred, Cory, Declan,


Spy Agency Mined Vast Data Trove, Officials Report
Published: December 24, 2005


A former technology manager at a major telecommunications company said
that since the Sept. 11 attacks, the leading companies in the industry
have been storing information on calling patterns and giving it to the
federal government to aid in tracking possible terrorists.

"All that data is mined with the cooperation of the government and
shared with them, and since 9/11, there's been much more active
involvement in that area," said the former manager, a telecommunications
expert who did not want his name or that of his former company used
because of concern about revealing trade secrets.

Such information often proves just as valuable to the government as
eavesdropping on the calls themselves, the former manager said.

"If they get content, that's useful to them too, but the real plum is
going to be the transaction data and the traffic analysis," he said.
"Massive amounts of traffic analysis information - who is calling whom,
who is in Osama Bin Laden's circle of family and friends - is used to
identify lines of communication that are then given closer scrutiny."


Phil Karn, a computer engineer and technology expert at a major West
Coast telecommunications company, said access to such switches would be
significant. "If the government is gaining access to the switches like
this, what you're really talking about is the capability of an enormous
vacuum operation to sweep up data," he said.

[BY THE WAY guys, here is an e-mail I just sent about this: "This is
truly interesting and not surprising from a technical point of view. As
someone who looks at how ISPs are treated, it explains things I already
knew. In terms of any positive potential for the future, it just shows
what a different world we are now living in that this is even possible.
My MUSIC bias is to try to figure out how musicians can get paid based
on today's technology. Puts the attached-below news article in a
different light."]

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Reliability of information from telephone wiretaps
Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2005 10:09:48 -0800
From: Alan Barclay <barclay@rtda.com>
Organization: Runtime Design Automation
To: declan@well.com
CC: bankston@eff.org

Hello Declan:-

I came across a very interesting paper on wiretap evasion by
Matt Blaze (UPenn) at the following URL.

I particularly think that the legal implications on the
reliability of information obtained by phone wiretaps may
be far-reaching, and of interest to Politech readers.

Especially given the current administration's demonstrated
record of vindictiveness, I agree with Dan's conjecture
about Matt's cojones.

News article (incorrectly attributed to NY Times in above):

Summary of paper:

Full paper

Best wishes for the holiday season and for the New Year.
Thanks again for running Politech.

   Alan Barclay

--Alan Barclay--  barclay@rtda.com   (408) 492-0942 direct
   www.rtda.com   (408) 492-0940 main

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [Politech] Democrats scramble to say they didn't tacitly 
approve Bush's NSA surveillance [priv]
Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2005 12:21:27 -0800
From: Benjamin SMITH <b3smith@mac.com>
To: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
References: <43A99CEB.4010509@well.com>

      Uh, Declan, the handful of Congresspeople who were even able to 
see the Administration's plans with the NSA were barred from discussing 
it even with their staffs, and others (like Senator Graham of FL) said 
that the briefings were much less informative than what was revealed in 
Friday's article in the NYT.  Cherry-picked information, limited 
access... wait a minute, that sounds familiar...  -b3n

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [Politech] Democrats scramble to say they didn't tacitly 
approve Bush's NSA surveillance [priv]
Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2005 14:33:06 -0500
From: Eric Gasior <eric@tastysnackcracker.com>
To: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
References: <43A99CEB.4010509@well.com>

In fairness it should be pointed out that the briefings were classified
therefore the ability of Rockefeller and Pelosi to inform others was

 From Sen. Rockefeller's statement on 12/19:
"The limited members who were told of the program were prohibited by
the Administration from sharing any information about it with our
colleagues, including other members of the Intelligence Committees."

Eric Gasior

"First of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have
to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror
which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."

  -- Franklin D. Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address, Mar. 4, 1933

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [Politech] One more submission on Bush authorizing secret 
Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2005 16:02:18 EST
From: MarkKernes@aol.com
To: declan@well.com


News Analysis:
Why You Should Be Worried About Bush's Illegal Wiretaps
By Mark Kernes

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In his annual end-of-the-year speech delivered on
Saturday, President Bush admitted to having committed at least 30 
federal crimes by
having issued an executive order authorizing the National Security 
Agency to
intercept the international communications of people, including U.S. 
(known in the law as "United States persons"), with known links to Al 
Qaeda and
related terrorist organizations, and renewing that order, according to one
report, more than 36 times. Each renewal could be considered by a court to
constitute a separate crime.


Mark Kernes, AVN

"Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to have them
repeated for them." — Me

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [Politech] Two submissions on Bush authorizing secret 
surveillance by National Security Agency [priv]
Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2005 23:38:20 -0500 (EST)
From: Dean Anderson <dean@av8.com>
To: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
CC: politech@politechbot.com

FYI, its my read of the news on this issue the Whitehouse is claiming 
that the
authorization to 'use any and all means appropriate to fight terrorism'
supercedes the FISA and all other laws governing wiretapping, and indeed, I
think they interpret it to be authorization to supercede all other laws
governing anything else as well.  This interpretation, if actually the 
of the Whitehouse, is far more disturbing than tapping Americans
talking/emailing foriegners internationally.

In the case of tapping international calls and emails, there is 
ambiguity as to
whether FISA applies anyway. In 1978, tapping was done on wires. It had 
to be
done on the caller or the called. That is, in the US or outside the US.

Suppose we tapped Osama's phone, physically in Afghanistan, and an American
contact was made, FISA wouldn't apply. However, if we tapped the 
American (or
more likely, a foriegner) physically in the US, hopping a contact would 
be made,
FISA would apply.  But modern surveillance is done differently because 
is also different, now.

In the case of modern international call, the tapping is probably done from
space, using a satellite, or an undersea cable. And modern tapping can
essentially scan all calls/emails for keywords. FISA covers surveillance 
done in
the US. If the surveillance is done outside the US then FISA doesn't 
Arguably, these interceptions might occur outside the US. But---I don't 
this argument has been raised in this case. Rather, the Whitehouse seems 
to be
claiming that it has congressional authorization for carte blanch 
all prior laws incluing FISA.


Posted by Declan McCullagh on Dec 24, 2005 in category privacy

Get a Politech feed through RSS or Atom [RSS] [Atom]

The Politech general information pages and photographs are copyrighted by Declan McCullagh. Original posts distributed to the mailing list are licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Creative Commons License