back to article US warrantless wiretapping predates 9/11

Fresh evidence has emerged that the US government's warrantless wiretapping program predates the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Secret surveillance operations that enabled the National Security Agency (NSA) to access telecommunications traffic data have been in place since the 1990s, according to the New York Times. In an attempt to …


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  1. Bubba
    Jobs Horns


    This surprizes you, why?

  2. Andy Bright

    United Soviet States of America

    I think that sums up the fake terrorist excuses. Apparently the US Government harbours a deep-seated envy of the old Soviet Union. No I'm not sticking the blame on one party or another, one administration or another - however it does seem the current crew in the Whitehouse are trying the hardest to emulate the Soviet Block.

    Imprisoning reporters who won't reveal sources, restricting travel, indefinite imprisonment without trial, convictions based on hearsay and torture, wiretapping at will, even going as far as to take away your right to know why you've been indefinitely imprisoned are all good, old-fashioned totalitarian ideas.

    Transporting innocent citizens of their own, as well as from neighbouring countries, to Iran so they can be tortured is something more akin to the Nazis than Soviets, however the destruction of information that should be available to the public is very much in the vein of your better communist dictators.

    You have to wonder whether Chairman Bush and his lackeys on both sides of Congress really understand the sacrifices of previous World Wars, and why previous generations would rather die than give up their rights and freedoms.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    You're starting to sound like paul foot

    I don't see what the point is.

    These guys have what I guess is the US equivalent of DV clearance. In the last 60 years, we've...

    1. turned China into a meritocracy.

    2. got the soviets out of every country from estonia to bulgaria, and turned that bunch into a feudal society from a communist one.

    So, they're now turning their hand to screwing drug dealers, and terrorists. Yes, they may laugh at my weird porn surfing habits if they've got the time, but frankly I don't care, so long as these geeky weirdoes look after my wife and kids. I'm sure I'll never bump into a single member of the NSA, let alone one who mentions solotouch's club bottomless. If this, or a converstion on femjoy's corinna ever happens, and I'm the most remote bit bothered by it, I'll write in to mention that I thing the whole Sigint community are a threat to happiness.

  4. E


    Read the title.

  5. Steve Welsh

    So Can Anybody Tell Me Why...?

    Our bloody government still wants to be the glove puppet of this lot???

  6. WTF

    @ Paul Foot

    Here's the perfect example of the *real* problem with what is going on with American's acquiescence of these ongoing governmental intrusions and violation of civil liberties --- "I don't care if they monitor my porn surfing habits, so long as they keep me and my family safe." etc.

    It's your opinion, so it's the only one that matters, right? Your opinion matters asymptotically for shit, which is to say it is exactly the inverse of the number of voters in the country (~220M). Your safety matters for shit. Because...

    Point two: There is this document called the `Constitution of the United Sates of America', it has this really nifty part called: `The Bill of Rights'. It is the best this country has to offer, and you're disregard/ignorance of it is an affront to the tens of thousands who have struggled and died to protect it.

    My humble adivice --- before you post your self-indulgent fluff on what is and is not acceptable behavior by your government, no doubt based on your vast legal, historical, and international knowledge, wisdom, and experience, I would suggest that you take a moment to actually glance over Ye Olde Parchment (cf. the First and Fourth Amendments). You may be surprised on what you find there. Then take a moment to reflect on the fact that IT is what matters, your safety does not.

  7. J

    @United Soviet States of America

    But won't you think of the children!?!? They are so "ascaird", millions are dying in terrorist hands every week!!1one!1eleven!!

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Mobile networks already provide bugging services...

    Why do you think GSM has become such a success in places like China?

    Cos the network switches all have backdoors some that most people working in the switch rooms don't even know about...

  9. Steve Browne

    Make them stop

    All Bush has done is legislate away freedoms. America, land of the free, well remember those days ? because you are not free any more. You are spied on, followed, monitored. I have refused to go to america I do not want my bank details bandied around and checked by the us gov. It is none of their business and I dont care about terrorists. There was one attack, albeit quite a nasty one, many years ago. How many have there been since ? So why is the population of the home of the brave^H^H^H^H^H shit scared introducing more and more repressive legislation, the sort of thing that Saddam did, yet it was an international crime when Saddam did it, resulting in illegal wars.

    So, someone throws a rock at you, and you lie cowering in your beds for the next 7 years. Why dont you all grow up.

  10. Edwin

    re: Mobile networks

    Presumably, most POTS switches have the same feature. In fact, if you are running a telco, and you know a wiretap warrant may appear (and AFAIK, this could happen in any country) you'd be pretty silly not to request the feature be built in to your network.

    What's important here is how you give access to law enforcement.

    Hardly a GSM-specific thing at all. Or do you work in San Diego?

  11. Chad H.

    as ben franklin said...

    he who would give up a little liberty, in exchange for a little security, shall deserve neither, and loose both.

    Proof that America did once have inteligent leaders.

  12. Darren7160

    Wonderful, You Don't Care

    How about the fact that this information, of all sorts, gets dumped into databases... it is never verified or vetted for accuracy or relevance. Instead, just tons and tons of data gets put into databases.

    A.C. You are presuming that there is some sort of filter on the intelligence gathering. Since you are a foreigner in the eyes of this country, you are considered fair game. How many degrees of separation do you have to have to be considered a "person of interest"?

    Now, your name, or your wife's name or your child's name gets into it. You don't know it is there, you have no way of ever finding out. There are so many ways to get your name into there. Similar names, recycled phone numbers, a friend of a friend in a chat room. God knows! Well, God and the NSA. You never will. However, your life can be altered because of it and you will never know why.

    Fortunately, our country was founded by braver men than we seem to have today. They believed that it was better to live with some insecurity than to give up our freedoms.

    Our leaders acted cowardly and attacked a country that had nothing to do with our being attacked on 9-11. That broad brush has killed tens of thousands, cost billions and has thrown the world into chaos and ruined our standing in the world.

    We need to be a bit more restrained and use the gifts given to us by our founding fathers to deal with challenges that confront us in a mature and legal way. They have served us well... something that this administration hasn't. Of course, there will always be cowards, even anonymous ones, that can be counted on surrendering everything that real American cherish because they can be lulled into believing that THIS ONE THING will make them safe.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Excellent argument. A very good counter to those with 'nothing to hide.'

    A pity it isn't quite so effective our side of the pond: "Constitution. No? What, seriously? Nothing!?"

  14. Shakje


    1. Not only have you 'got the soviets out of every country from estonia to bulgaria', you've also gone after plenty of leftist South American governments, resulting in fascist leaders, coups and civil wars which have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands.

    2. You also did the same to Iraq.

    3. Government agencies in your grand country (and mine) have a record of taking 'evidence' and fitting it to what they want to accuse you of. The best example I can think of is the 'terrorist cell' who visited Disneyland and filmed their trip. In their trial the evidence presented was that when the camera was pointed at the floor they were counting footsteps to strategic bombing spots, and that they caught several bins on camera because they were planning on putting bombs in them. If you came across ONE website that they deemed dangerous and started putting tabs on you, who knows what conclusions they might pull out of your lifestyle. Perhaps they might take the route you walk to work or your library as a planned terrorist attack route. All it takes for that to change to 'evidence' is for your name to be confused with a known terrorist, or for some of their data to get mixed up, or for someone to make a mistake filling something in.

    One of the reasons that people post tripe like you do is that they don't expect the random stop searches, or that they may be lifted from their home at any time just because they're Muslim with a beard. What if the primary terrorist threat changed from Islamic militants to Irish nationalists, or back to communist sleeper agents (ie could be anyone at all)? You could get on that list pretty easily, and the legislation that Bush has pushed through means that your rights vanish once they think you're a danger to the country. You might not even know why they're torturing you.

  15. Spleen

    The only news... that people think this is news. It's well known that the "emergency measures" drafted in supposèd response by the British and American governments had been on the wish lists of their respective secret policemen for years. Al-Qaeda merely played the part of Father Christmas. Ho ho ho, you've been very good little boys and... other little boys this year, have house arrest, extended detention, restrictions on air travel.

    Of course, whereas children generally get bored with their Christmas toys after about ten seconds, the security perverts have been having a grand old time torturing hapless wrong-place-wrong-time darkies - some of them British citizens - for the past six years.

  16. Chad H.

    @ Shakje

    In point 1, I think you forgot to add "Pinochet". How many lives would have not been wasted if not for the US on its damn anti-commie crusade.


  17. Jeremy

    oh and i forgot :)

    don't forget that the NSA develops the government encryption standards(including the ones that MS uses in their random number generators AES(Rijndael) encryption algorithm for .NET etc) so they probably know how to crack that too (as will our allies like the UK) :) have a great day.

  18. regadpellagru


    "Secret surveillance operations that enabled the National Security Agency (NSA) to access telecommunications traffic data have been in place since the 1990s, according to the New York Times. "

    Ah, pretty much embarassing for the bushists, then. Since it apparently didn't prevent 09/11, thus might not be called for an absolute anti-terror measure.

    "An AT&T technician at the time has provided evidence supporting the allegations. However, other AT&T technicians are due to testify that the project was confined to improving internal communications within the NSA."

    Those guys really are discussing a lot if they need dedicated circuits of this type :-) A bit too much for an intelligence service, even so.

  19. Mike Kelly

    Personal Information and Debt Collection

    The information that these people will eventually get access to as a result of scaring people into giving up their human rights is obscene.

    Economies are going to collapse badly; the credit crunch is just the start of what is to come.

    When this collapse does happen, there will be trillions of pounds worth of debt collection to do. If you have access to the information needed to collect this amount of money you can more than survive the crash, infact you can profit heavily from it..

    They want your information for a reason, and it's not to see what types of bombs you are building or porno you enjoy.

  20. The Sceptic

    The Process of Government Planning

    I don't know why we are still wasting time on this - in the real world this is how things work.

    Government decides on a course of action


    Decides on how to justify it in case the public don't agree with the bullshit reasons they use to justify that course of action.

    I.e. The Real World

  21. Shakje

    @Chad H.

    Pinochet was included under fascist dictators. Surprisingly good programme on ITV which I stumbled across a month or so ago (I think it was) called The War on Democracy covering the US campaign of terror in South America, including Chile and various others. It made me very sad.

  22. Eduard Coli
    Black Helicopters

    Not the problem

    What seems pervasive in the popular media is the spin that these systems are only for listening to conversations between US residents and "terrorists" abroad.

    The real problem is that the systems that were put in place seem to be designed for real time eavesdropping of anyone at anytime with no attempt at assigning responsibility to anyone of who is spied on and what is done with that information.

  23. Treacle

    a shot in the foot

    So of course, since warrentless wiretapping PREDATES the 9.11 attacks, then there is absolutely no argument that wiretapping should be further allowed to PREVENT such attacks, since of course they did not. QED.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    It's a Farce

    The whole thing is a farce of unimaginable proportions. Unless I'm remembering my history wrong, we had this loooong scandal called "Watergate" over this little wiretapping incident...that resulted in an impeachment and resignation of a president. Of course, the imbecile sitting in there now is too stupid to think he's doing anything wrong by dumping all of our personal conversations in a big ol' database somewhere where - and here's where I have to laugh because of the state of our country's cyber-defenses - it will probably not be encrypted, firewalled or kept secured so every Tom, Chin, and Vladimir will be able to hack it.

    Now, someone tell me again why I shouldn't be worried?

    And, maybe someone should make up some first grade level slide show explaining just what the Constitution and Bill of Rights is for the above mentioned moron? I'm sorry, I can't even bring myself to mention his name...can we have a devil icon of him? I think it would certainly fit right about here...

    Write your Senators (they are the ones who will cave to the pressure) and let them know that you DO NOT WANT THIS, and you do not want to let the telcos who cooperated off the hook. I don't know if I'm cursed or blessed in Florida: I have one Senator who stood with Dodd and threatened to Filibuster if this went through, and another who's an administrative yes man.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Who says any of this interception is necessarily unwarranted?

    It is entirely possible that warrants DO exist for these activities. Every warrant issued doesn't exactly end up in the local rag.

    Ponying up a warrant would be equal to acknowledging the existence of that particular collection capability, which would in turn cause exceptionally grave damage to the capabilitiy of the SIGINT system as a whole.

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