Monday, May 22, 2006

NSA Access to the Net

I saw this linked at SayUncle. I'm kinda thinking most of the invective regarding the illegality of this is just so much hot air, considering that there still has been no call for the NSA wiretaps. Unless the writer is stating that this is something more, and fails to detail exactly what that is and why it's illegal.
I wrote the following document in 2004 when it became clear to me that AT&T, at the behest of the National Security Agency, had illegally installed secret computer gear designed to spy on internet traffic. At the time I thought this was an outgrowth of the notorious Total Information Awareness program, which was attacked by defenders of civil liberties. But now it's been revealed by The New York Times that the spying program is vastly bigger and was directly authorized by President Bush, as he himself has now admitted, in flagrant violation of specific statutes and constitutional protections for civil liberties. I am presenting this information to facilitate the dismantling of this dangerous Orwellian project.
The normal work force of unionized technicians in the office are forbidden to enter the "secret room," which has a special combination lock on the main door. The telltale sign of an illicit government spy operation is the fact that only people with security clearance from the National Security Agency can enter this room. In practice this has meant that only one management-level technician works in there. Ironically, the one who set up the room was laid off in late 2003 in one of the company's endless "downsizings," but he was quickly replaced by another.
I'm thinking he's pretty certain of himself, though I still haven't found anything in the article stating what law was broken or what exactly the facility in place does.

If the system is as he describes, it's a fairly powerful TIA remanent system that can draw line rate content information. That could be. I'm not certain that that information provides any relevant data as to the actual activities of the NSA. Just because I have a truck that can haul half a ton of material doesn't mean that I always haul half a ton of material. There are also a couple of laws that could legally use this type of traffic. Remember FISA and CALEA?

I'm not the fond of the fact that the government has these systems in place. But, making the assumption that the people running the systems, the legislative oversight groups, and all other people involved are willingly committing a crime strikes me as a bit paranoid.

The technical description is interesting. Though I doubt that anyone with any technical knowledge couldn't have conjectured as to what was being done.

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