back to article Bush-era NSA wiretap violations exposed

The New York Times has broken the latest news in the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping odyssey: that the NSA has been routinely scanning American communications at a rate far beyond what had been envisioned by Congress when the telecoms immunity and FISA wiretapping revisions passed last summer. Even more …


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  1. Darling Petunia


    The urge to sneak a listen is irresistible when you above the law. Omnipotence breeds excess. It always has and always will.

  2. Jason Hall

    one rule for all

    But if the member of congress has nothing to hide...


  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why is anyone surprised?

    If you'd read James Bamford's 'The Shadow Factory' published last year then this would be old news. The NSA's true plans have for a long time been to scoop up and analyse with ever larger and more sophisticated computers all the world's telecommunications. I doubt Obama will do much to rein this back. Indeed, his administration seems determined to keep the same sort of legal block on lawsuits. If the UK government get their way a similar scheme will soon be imposed here.

  4. trottel

    Of course algorithms can model intent...

    Quote: "As we've noted in the past, algorithms are nothing more than mathematical models and are utterly incapable of forming intent."

    You are joking?

    if ($firstname.equals("alibaba") then {

    $e = new mail("[email protected]", "found one!", "get him!");



    Is this no algorithm? There is no sensible distinction between algorithms and programs. In fact, algorithms are just abstractions from specific programming languages.

    That is why i find all claims that "algorithms are impartial/fair/etc" so utterly stupid. Anyone who claims that has obviously misunderstood that an algorithm is just a formalized idea and as such naturally able to "model" intent. The *application* of an algorithm could be fair, if applied the same way to everyone, but that of does not imply in any way that the algorithm itself is fair.

  5. Niall

    Recent Reports on Torture

    say it's ok to commit a crime provided someone tells you that what your doing is not a crime.

    So listen up, killing politicians is not murder it's perfectly legal.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    If You Have Nothing To Hide, Senator, Then Why Are You Investigating?

    I mean, it's not like anyone will ever HEAR about those calls to Ramon, the pool boy, when your husband was on those business trips...

    ...unless, of course, the investigation forces us to make our private records public...

    The thing people need to understand about the NSA, is that they are TRUE BELIEVERS. Everything they do is Right and Good, because, well, because THEY are doing it.

    These folks would instantly sell their grandmother to a cannibal for a midnight snack, if they thought the cannibal could help them to spy on an Enemy of the State.

    This isn't some movie-made-up image, either. These folks REALLY ARE like that. I've known a couple. They are batshit, howling-at-the-moon crazy, and they pride themselves on being absolutely rock-solid sane.

    Since the traditional way they try to discredit whistleblowers and spies is by declaring them insane, that is a riot.

    If they weren't so deadly serious, these folks would be more laughs than a Get Smart marathon.

  7. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    But why do members of congress complain?

    they have nothing to fear: if they are innocent, they have nothing to hide!!


  8. Anonymous Coward

    Algorithmic dragnet eh?

    That story was the bomb. It really blew open my eyes, possibly the west article ever written.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    We are currently at war

    The wiretap law allows any contact with someone outside the US to be recorded. That means if anyone within the US calls out, or receives a call, from someone outside the country, it can be recorded. All of Congress knows this, as does Obama. No one is immune. So for Burke to claim this is all "news" is beyond ridiculous.

    This is not a wiretap of anyone's conversation which stays within the US borders. The Constitution is not breached with this policy.

    You people in the UK know what it's like to be constantly monitored from within your own borders, far more than we in the US. Without a doubt, the US under the Patriot Act is still under less surveillance than the UK.

    As far as I know, the Obama Administration is continuing the same policies under the Patriot Act, but "the most open Administration in American History" isn't opening its doors to scrutiny--only opening other people's doors. The Emperor appears to have no 'nads.

    "Senator Dianne Feinstein, a fairly hawkish legislator from California, has promised hearings on the issue."

    I don't know what Burke is smoking, but liberal Democrat Dianne Feinstein is not "fairly hawkish" in any sense of the term in relation to the military. Of course, Burke can get away with such opinions when it comes to UK lads and lassies who don't know better.

    This is a trash article from a trash author.

  10. Peyton
    Black Helicopters

    Time to trade in the guns

    For a broad band connection. Right to bear arms is always sited as a need if revolt against an ill-intentioned government ever becomes necessary... sounds like a more modern/effective approach will requires citizens to flood teh nets with junk data - kind of like how spammers get by bayesian filters (and something tells me the NSA's efforts are probably just as "effective").

  11. Eduard Coli
    Black Helicopters

    Nothing to see here folks, move along...

    Its not like any information regarding statement or deed has not been available for longer than 20 years now. Now if they could make all that information storing, parsing, deleting and revising legal...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    hundreds, perhaps thousands

    Yes, something in the neighborhood of 300,000 thousands of Americans have been effectively spied on by the NSA (and yes, I know they read all the emails with their initials....duh!).

    @AC - We are Currently at War

    (1) we're NOT currently in a declared war with any legal entity in the world / universe. The only "war" is the one created by politicians (known liars) to feed their own power-mad desires.

    "Without a doubt, the US under the Patriot Act is still under less surveillance than the UK."

    You can't possibly be that stupid and still be breathing my good oxygen. Please give up, troll.

    "This is not a wiretap of anyone's conversation which stays within the US borders. The Constitution is not breached with this policy."

    Wrong, again moosebreath. With their taps directly into the telco infrastructure, they are listening / recording everything and they don't really care who it is and where it's going.

    What I want to know is how the wacqui one got a second job with the NSA to further the 'surveillance society" she craves.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Excessive secrecy

    When you have the sort of obsessive secrecy that the NSA is notorious for, you almost always see examples of abuse. That said, I have received a great deal of assistance during my career from the NSA. So, they're not all bad. All public agencies show examples of abuse of power and position. Including Congress.

    Black helicopters because after all it's the NSA.

  14. Carnifex
    Black Helicopters

    Who guards the guards

    NSA is at heart a lawless agency. They believe they have every right to break any and every law so long as it is done in 'The National Interest'. They will never accept any restrictions or oversight on their operations as those could less effective than they are now. They fully believe that the only way to beat some of the worlds worst bastards like Osama or Kim Jong Il is to be just as much of a hardcase bastard.

    As an American, I agree that's pretty messed up. But, I can only hope that they are not overly corrupt. For myself, I am sure they already know who I am, where I live, what I make, what I drive, and my favorite types of pr0n. My best and only real defense is to be boring. I'm neither a celebrity nor a millionaire so they really don't care what I read, what I smoke or who I sleep with so long as it's not anyone on their watch-lists. I can't stop them watching, but I can set things up to where any of them who do take an interest in me will be in their supervisor's office having to explain "You spent how many weeks and how many dollars on this guy to get nothing of substance?"

    So unless one of them is so corrupt as to be willing to manufacture evidence to justify persecuting me I basically ignore them. I know they are there, I know they are breaking the law routinely, but ... Just a moment, someone at the door...

  15. jake Silver badge

    @AC 13:46

    "We are currently at war"

    With whom, pray tell?

  16. Suburban Inmate

    Conspiracy nuts of the world unite!

    All together now... 1... 2... 3... "WE TOLD YOU SO!!!"

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