The FISA debate as an example of rightward drift in American politics

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Tiassa, Mar 3, 2008.

  1. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    I have asserted no "massive campaign" of any kind, or any conspiracy of that kind. I have specifically denied such a campaign in this argument. This is the third time you have attempted to reframe like that. I know you find it difficult to refrain from reworking other people's arguments to suit your rebuttals, but I do not believe you incapable of such restraint, with careful attention.
    Risen has no way of knowing whether the program was abused or not.

    You have no way of checking on Risen's claims.

    Without warrants, there are no records available for oversight. That's the whole point: no accountability in fact. No reassurances are possible. And the government can hold that threat over its enemies from then on.
    If you take the government agency word, that may even be true for at least a majority of the people involved. Why they needed to hide and refuse to get warrants for something like that is a mystery, though.

    But regardless of their original motives, sincerity, etc, what they set up was a program of warrantless wiretap and email monitoring of anyone they wanted to surveil. They committed a federal crime, a felony. The system is inherently abusive - no one needs to demonstrate abuse of it: the program itself is abuse. It threatens.
    There already is, and was, "something like that". It's called a warrant. It's the Constitutionally required and FISA law mandated next step after this one:
    The reason for requiring warrants was the Founders' experience and knowledge of how governments, all governments, every single government that has ever existed on this planet, will eventually act given certain opportunities. That is not a conspiracy theory, that is simple prudence. Rove and his kind will do what they can get away with. The NSA will experience mission creep (the national defense does involve Halliburton's security, Chevron's needs). The best intentions are not proof against anything.

    There has never been a problem with any arrangement that includes warrants, available retroactively and 24/7/365 from a dedicated FISA court. Why did they refuse to get warrants ?

    Or why did that man just pull that ski mask over his face ?

    And are we seriously arguing about whether an executive branch executed warrantless wiretapping operation, kept secret from Congress and hidden from the Judiciary, under the protection of classification and with no oversight outside that same Executive Branch, capable of monitoring the phones and emails of any American citizen - including the political enemies of its instigators - deserves immediate and severe legal attention as soon as it is discovered ?
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  3. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

    "Mutual" does not mean "with consent" (in fact, there is the phrase "mutual consent" which would be redundant if mutual implied consent) Buy a dictionary, unless you are afraid the CIA will track the sale and arrest you (surely your tin foil hat can fool their scanners).

    In any event, if you are American then you "consented" to the programs in exactly the same way you consented to any action of the government, by implication as part of the polity. In fact, you never issued any formal, legal and affirmative "consent" to the Bill of Rights, since it passed before you were born, and you plainly do rely on that in your argument. Clearly then, in your own argument, consent is not a material issue.

    You like to throw words like "cowardice" around, I notice, likely because you think the ad hominem attack is something that will make me feel bad. In fact, it just confirms my impression that you don't have many logical arrows in your quiver, so you throw fallacy grenades instead.

    I was happy to have a nice little debate, but you launched the ad homs first, so lets go down that route, I guess. On second thought, nah, you are not worthy of my time.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2008
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  5. Cazzo Registered Senior Member

    I bet if the dems take the presidents office, they'll keep some if not all of FISA. Why ?, because it makes sense to spy on terrorists, especially when they're looking for any way possible to terrorize the U.S., the dems and leftists bitching about FISA know this. Some leftists are against FISA because they WANT the U.S. to be attacked; the terrorists do the dirty work for left-wing radicals (the likes of Ward Churchill and his followers). Other leftists bitch about FISA just to try make GWB look bad, spinning it for political advantage. But like I say, in the end, if the dems win, they'll keep parts or all of FISA; especially if there's another terrorist attack in the U.S.

    Don't get me wrong, there are people who truely are against FISA because they fear for Consitutional Rights. But when it comes to dems in congress, I'm pretty sure many of them against it now, won't be if they get the presidential office.

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  7. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Nor does it mean "unilateral". Nor, in the phrase "mutual surrender", does it mean by someone else's executive order against one's will and opposition.

    No American has - or even can have - consented to someone else secretly abrogating their Constitutional rights. I did not consent to whatever the hell some government agent decides to do. I consented to the rule of law, not submission to arbitrary impositions.

    No. I use that word for its direct meaning, to remind offensively self-justifying people like you who are behaving like a nonswimmer fallen off the dock, that the flailings of panic are not patriotism and not effective response and not commendable in any way.

    Quit grabbing your Constitution by the neck and trying to push it under - it's here to help you in exactly this kind of situation.
    You take for granted the privilege of insulting others, not even noticing what your "nice little discussion" involves in the way of ad hominum. I am not willing to cut that kind of slack for the people who are throwing away the US Constitution and the rule of law in my country, out of a pandered fear.

    A "nice little debate" with people who have just caught the President of the United States installing and concealing a warrantless wiretapping operation in the central email and telephone switchboards of the US, and are now defending this on the grounds that terrorists exist, is an absurdity.

    When the Executive Branch jumps the shark like that, any response other than emergency reassertion of law and order is extraordinarily risky. Justifying the tolerance of such Executive behavior on the grounds that one fears terrorists is not even respectable.
    Actually, as Tiassa started this whole thread to emphasize, the entire debate has shifted: the leftists and some Dems are now defending FISA, and W&Co are trying to gut it after having violated it in secret for several years.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2008
  8. countezero Registered Senior Member

    Sure, Ice. Whatever. Shift whenever it suits you.

    Let's see, you wrote, "US government installing wiretap access to anyone's phone and email without a warrant - the setup was an installed tap on the phone line and email server of every US citizen contracting service with those companies."

    You also wrote about intelligence agencies being supplied "with feed of every single call routed through those centers." (Something my sources dispute).

    But yeah, you're not not suggesting here, to say nothing of your significant history on this issue, that this problem is more massive than it really is. Right. Whatever, Ice. Argue about arguing, because at the end of the day, that's really all you're good at, right?

    No, he doesn't. Neither do you; and neither do I. But the point is, I'm basing my position on the best reporting that is available on the subject. I'm not just pulling positions out my ass based on speculation.

    And yes, I have no way of checking Risen's claims. His book is sourced anonymously and there is no supporting documentation. But again, it, along with other media reports, paint the best picture we have about what's going on with the program. So I'll base my opinion on that and leave the endless speculation and paranoia, based on ... what? Your opinion? Your bias? Your crystal ball? I'll leave that sort of thing to you...

    You've made this point about a dozen times, and I've not argued it. I've said I'm in favor of oversight. I just doubt we agree on what constitutes oversight. I mean, after all, you're somehow who routinely disparages the intelligence agencies and makes noise about doing away with them and their functions altogether.

    I do take their word for it, largely because there are numerous accounts that back it up. The reasons for hiding the program, albeit apparently very poorly, as we're talking about it, have been described in this thread. You can choose to believe those reasons or disregard them.

    Not according to the data I have published in this thread. They don't want to monitor "anyone". The program is specific and focussed.

    FISA is woefully outdated. It was created before cell phones even existed.

    Nor are accusations that rely on inference, bias and opinion. Haliburton? Rove? You're putting me to sleep with this drudgery. Again, at least latch onto something slightly original...

    And let's leave the founders, with their flintlocks and whigs, out of this. We're talking about an agency that they could not understand doing things that they could not understand. Referring to the Founders is often the intellectual equivalent of asking "What would Jesus do?" It is, in other words, just silly.

    If you're going to ask yes/no questions, don't laden them with your biased opinion and ask someone to agree. That's a childish debating tactic.

    First of all, I've shown in other threads (and this one, I think) that the program was created and instituted by Gen. Hayden, not your bogeymen George Bush or Karl Rove.

    Secondly, I refuse to enter this dark conundrum of endlessly asserting the nefarious and seizing on the conspiratorial, especially without proof OF ANY KIND, from Risen or otherwise. You're just talking out of your endlessly drippy cloaca, Ice. Political enemies? Instigators? Every American? Didn't your response start out arguing that you weren't alleging a "massive" effort? I guess in your zeal, you've forgotten that?
  9. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    It doesn't matter what your position is based on, you aren't following the argument. Warrantless wiretapping is impossible to account for, oversee, supervise, or control. It is therefore an instrument of threat merely by existing, an instrument of tyranny if used, unavoidably and inevitably. That, not your personal backpatting, is the point.
    We don't have to agree. It's in the Constitution. It's called getting a warrant. Not getting one is then a deliberate avoidance of oversight, for some reason.
    There is no data available on the subject of who they monitored and why. Regardless of what somebody said they wanted, regardless of the truth of that statement, the physical reality of what they set up is as I described - and as you described, when you weren't passing on presumptions of universal intent based on what is at best - even if honest - partially informed hearsay.
    The Constitution was created before typewriters. It's the law anyway, and there's a reason for that. You may be bored with little things like the Bill of Rights, but the President swore an oath to uphold it. He broke that oath.
    Those aren't accusations. The only specific conspiracy asserted by me has been one of deliberate, organized, concealed wiretapping of hones and emails without warrants.

    All conspiracy theories assigned to me by you are bullshit, and I deny them.

    The stuff you seem to be having comprehension trouble with this time is examples, illustrations, possibilities, hypotheticals, etc, of why warrantless wiretapping is bad, why it is forbidden by the US Constitution and not permitted by sensible men to this or any government, why it cannot be safely allowed regardless of the alleged motives of said government.

    The fact that I considered it necessary to illustrate a no brainer like that is borderline comical, and reveals my deep contempt for you, but it is in response to a poster who seems to think a warrantless wiretapping operation installed in the central routing servers of major telephone exchanges with access to every phone call and email they handle

    is excused by the self-alleged fine motives of the spying agency, without evidence, on their word.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2008
  10. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    I'm just curious: If we're supposed to give the Bush administration and its agencies the benefit of the doubt, why are they lying?

    Seriously. If, for instance, Iceaura's concerns are so out of line—if the administration and its agencies are so trustworthy—what's up with Mukasey's tears and bullshit in San Francisco last month?

    I mean, perhaps the lies don't matter as much to people who imagine themselves patriotic in the jingoistic sense. But they matter to the people who consider themselves patriotic dissenters, and also to those of us who think patriotism is a scam. Because we're two groups of people who aren't just going to roll over. And the government need not be drowning in information in order to abuse us or our neighbors.

    And what is it with this sudden trust the American people are suddenly expected to show politicians, toward whom we've been cynical since the beginning.

    Seriously, dishonest leaders with dishonest motives want us to trust them as they dishonestly attempt to expand the prosecutory power of the federal government, and just because we don't know specifically what they're doing with the information they gather, we're supposed to trust them?

    No. If Mukasey is anything close to accurate, then it would be internal policies of the executive branch that held the government back, and not FISA.
  11. countezero Registered Senior Member

    I'm following your argument just fine, such that it is. It's the fact that I fail to agree with all of it, and in doing so, adopt your paranoia and your suspicion that seems to bother you so.

    Warrantless wiretapping is indeed a threat, and I've acknowledged this several times. However, it's only tyranny if it is misused. That is, I have no problem with the way it's been used — or the way it's described as being used. None.

    My problem is that it was used without first obtaining legal permission — or that such permission wasn't sough sooner — and that it continues to be used without any real oversight.

    No, we don't have to agree — and I'm not surprised we don't. But what you fail to recognize is that until a massive amount of people come to share your outrage or my irritation, then the policy makers will do nothing about it. But you can continue to foam at the mouth about it, asserting that what other people think doesn't matter. See how far that gets you.

    There is plenty of data available. You and I just don't have access to it. There is also, as I have shown here, information that has found it's way to the public. You've chosen to ignore that information, which is your right. What I have a problem with is your continued insistence on absolute positions that are little more than your own creations.

    Let's just forget for a moment that you question the information we have about the program and then base your argument on your interpretation of that information. The program, which you claim we can't know all that much about while at the same time claiming to know about, has, to my knowledge, not been practiced on the scale you allege, not functioned in a manner you've asserted.

    You can prattle on, beating your chest and saying it's so because you know it's so, but that doesn't impress me. I've read numerous stories about this issues and a few books. Your opinions, while vehement, are unimpressive. You have, for example, posted little more than subjective assessments in this thread. To contrast, I've quote sources that have been vetted, to some degree, for accuracy.

    So again, who has a foundation for what they are saying and who is just commenting on the color of the drivel dripping from their ass?

    So you claim. I'm sure he, his lawyers and the vast array of intelligence officials who supported this program think a little differently about it.

    And please, climb down from your high horse and sheath your defender of the Constitution sword. I'm sure it makes you feel good to puff your chest out and act like you're the only one in this thread who cares about the Constitution, but that's not the actual reality on the ground, so to speak. Nobody here is "bored" with the Bill of Rights. Nobody here is advocating trampling a founding document, despite your hysterical allegations to the contrary.

    LOL. Yes, they are. You're speaking in legal terms, which means everything you say is nothing more than an accusation until it is proven in a court of law. Your blindness to this is just plain amusing...

    That's fine, but I posted your own words, buddy. I mean, you can deny earlier remarks all you like, but I should warn you that you look fairly stupid doing so...

    And in case that's not already clear, you launch into the following...

    "...illustrations, possibilities, hypotheticals..." Hold on a second... Two of those three words are pretty much synonyms for the word "theory." Now perhaps my using the term "conspircacy" is a subjective whim on my part, but don't insult my intelligence — and anyone else's who has bothered to read this largely useless thread — by pretending that I am describing your behavior in illusionary terms. Especially when your denial offers more evidence of the obvious!


    That's why I've said, perhaps four or five times now, that I am in favor of oversight? Are you really in such a rush to be an asshole that you choose to overlook a simple point we actually agree on?

    If so, grow up.

    If not, act grown up.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2008
  12. pjdude1219 screw watergate i want to know about zaragate Valued Senior Member

    an att employee stated that at the behest of the government att had him route all fibers going into the hub where he worked to one room where they were connected to a device that monitered calls. we talking about the abilty to acess phonecalls of anyone call who went through at will. millions of phone calls
  13. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Threats are how tyranny works. The threat of misuse is inherent in the setup.

    And besides, neither you nor anyone else besides the perps (if them, even) has any idea whether it's already been misused (apart from the abusive nature of its setup, of course) - over the years of its operation, in secret, denied by its instigators - and cannot find out. That situation is inevitable with warrantless wiretapping. That's why its forbidden in the Constitution, and why sensible people jail perps who commit that crime.

    You take the word of known (self-evident) liars for what they have deliberately concealed from you, and excuse flagrant crime on the basis of no known harm in a situation in which knowledge of harm has been made (by them) impossible to obtain.

    And you excuse the criminal setup - you have no problem with warrantless wiretapping - on the word of the perpetrators that they meant no harm by their own lights, in their own opinion.
    LOL! And you accuse me of conspiracy theory? We have to take to the streets to get the Constitution back as the law of the land ? We've fallen that far ?
    Parody, thy arena has vanished.
    Like I said, reading comprehension problems. Not my fault. I deny all conspiracy theories you attribute to me, now, past, and future.
  14. pjdude1219 screw watergate i want to know about zaragate Valued Senior Member

    appartently people don't seem to understand what the government is doing. they are not taping into single phone lines. They are tapping into the main fibers that carry the calls. Huge difference between the 2.
  15. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

    So, who ever said that phone calls were any more private than e-mail? Operators used to listen in on phone calls all the time, though I assume that's been stopped.

    I understand that the government may be listening, why I do not care is that: (a) I do not believe they are using the surveillance for anything more than terrorist surveillance...even when they hear of other criminal activity (at least, I have yet to hear of a criminal case predicated on warrantless wiretap evidence) and (b) I am about 10,000 times more likely to be saved by such a system than to be accidentally mistaken for a terrorist as a result of such a tap.

    The only people who seem to have any reason to be upset are the terrorists and those people who feel that any invasion of their privacy must be fought (even the invasions that (i) they do not and will never know about specifically, (ii) that will never hurt them in any way and (iii) may actually benefit them, by saving their lives).

    It's the equivalent of getting upset because two men you never met and never will may be having sex in a private where you will never see them, except even less rational. It "feels" like it hurts you, even though there is no practical harm involved.

    The only argument against it is that it *might* be abused, save that there is Congressional oversight and press oversight and the American people can and have voted people out of office over stuff like this. As such, it seems like there are some checks involved.

    Now, perhaps those checks are insufficient, but the only alternative offered so far is "let the terrorists go" since the existing system is apparently too cumbersome to actively police the terrorists. If someone wants to devise a new system that answers the goal of saving lives, while protecting these highly hypothetical privacy rights, that would be great. So far there is no broad agreement on what that system might be. (Merely stating that there is no problem under the present system, is not entirely compelling as arguments go, though many do believe that to be the case).
  16. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

    False choice. Why would terrorists talk openly about terrorist actions on the phone? Besides, the right to privacy is not hypothetical, it's in the constitution.
  17. pjdude1219 screw watergate i want to know about zaragate Valued Senior Member

    they are looking at millions of phonecalls most of them unrelated to terrorism
  18. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

    The right to privacy on a third-party's telephone line is certainly not in the Constitution, any more than the "right" to e-mail privacy is. You have the right to be secure in your person and papers, not necessarily in communications you entrust to a third-party (in fact, business owners are subject to all sorts of searches of their papers and premises, as is anyone who drives...see below).

    Besides, the terrorists (a) may not be actively and openly discussing plots, they may be contacting associates on relatively mundane matters (including fund raising and money management), yet knowing who they are contacting is still useful and (b) may have no other options. The internet is not secure, mailing letters is slow, that said I do agree that they likely avoid the phone as much as possible.

    Personally, though, I rather expect that discovering the web of connections between those overseas and those within the country is more likely than hearing an explicit plot.

    The right to privacy is not hypothetical, you are correct; but anyone's individual belief that his particular rights have ever been violated by this sort of program...that is hypothetical. The only way an individual would ever know is if the government used the information against him. Unless he is a terrorist, I find it rather unlikely that that would happen, and if he is then I do not see why we care.

    Yes, though I doubt they actively "listen" to millions of calls, I suspect they use programs to filter millions of calls into thousands of calls, and then listen to those. But I agree, of course, that they cast a wide net. How could they not?

    Think of the FDA. The FDA inspects many tens of thousands of food processing facilities and maybe finds only a tiny fraction have serious would you have them stop inspections? Taking time out your day to lead the FDA inspector around is far more of a burden and far more intrusive than someone listening to your phone calls in a way and at times that you will never even be aware of. They operate on the theory that you you have to check everyone to ensure that the bad ones get caught, and that means a wide net.

    Now think of random traffic stops to check for drunk drivers. Same thing. You stop everyone because a small number might be drunk. Again also, that is far more intrusive and far more inconvenient, but because we are "used to it" and because no one thinks the "right to privacy while driving" is fundamental no one pitches a constitutional fit. But the "right to privacy while on a third-party phone line" *that's* fundamental...for some reason.

    When 9/11 occurred they shut down allof U.S. airspace. A wide net. Would you have argued "Fuck that,I got places to be and they are grounding too many flights in the hopes of stopping one or two that might be on a suicide run!"? (I will assume you would not argue that.)

    The point is all-points-bulletins, traffic stops, randomized searches in airports, audits by the IRS, inspections by any government agency you can name, they are all "wide nets" because that's they only way to find the bad apples.

    Sure, if they knew in advance which calls were the terrorist calls,then they should limit surveillance to just those, but they don't so that advice isn't terrible useful. So is the answer, "well,just let a few people die then, because my weekly call to grandma is top secret, even though I'd never know if they listened in or not"?

    It seems to me that there needs to be more flexibility than that. Again, though, a lot of people are long on criticisms and short on useful alternatives other than the old "You have to let a few Americans die to have a free society."

    I actually agree with sentiment, but when the "intrusion" is for all practical purposes costless to me—how many people should be willing to let die to avoid it? Liberty doesn't require maximum selfishness. If it did, then who needs government at all? Let'sdisband the government and abolish the laws, so that we all have maximum hypothetical freedoms. Sure, we would be insecure and wary of one another as the total anarchy began, and those with the most guns would likely be able to take all our stuff, but after all, he who gives up liberty for security deserves neither!
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2008
  19. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Of course not. You probably never will, regardless.

    Even if, for example, Eliot Spitzer's crimes were first spotted by warrantless tap, you would never hear about that.

    And if the recent 7/1 ratio of Dems to Reps, in the election-timed legal troubles of local officials by the Federal attorney's general, were related to the fact that a Republican federal adminsitration was running this wiretap operation, you would never know.
    There is no such oversight without warrants. That's why warrants were invented, and why the writers of the Constitution mandated them - so there could be oversight.

    That's the whole point here - without warrants, no oversight. No accountability. No checks and no balances.

    The only thing you can check without warrants is the fact of a warrantless wiretapping program - and we've done that. Nobody's been impeached for it yet, so that level of oversight is obviously insufficient.
    The existing system worked just about like this one except with warrants.
    Unless the Constitution is discarded, there is agreement on one thing: the government has to obtain warrants to tap its citizens' phones and read their mail. We live in the USA, not some kleptocratic authoritarian banana republic.

    And it's the lives saved by discarding warrants that are hypothetical guesswork by cowards. You might hope to gain a little more security somehow in some way I cannot figure out, but you will never know. Meanwhile, the privacy rights are very real - you'll miss them, when they're gone. Almost everybody who has lost them does, sooner of later.
    And Our Leader will make sure that, for the first time in history, powers of warrantless search will not be abused by an unchecked and unsupervised central government's secret police. Because all Our Leader wants to do is keep everyone safe by catching the Very Bad People.
    I don't. In all of history no government has ever failed to abuse warrantless search. It's been a major tool of tyrants and police states since the first tyrant and the dawn of the state.

    The pattern is the opposite - lots of government abuse, very few terrorists caught. We've seen it in this country, even, such as when the FBI has exceeded its powers - but we were saved,in part, by a Constitution that could be used to check such practices.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2008
  20. countezero Registered Senior Member

    So far as we can tell, that's abject bullshit, as I've documented in this thread.
  21. countezero Registered Senior Member

    No, it's not. That's purely your subjective take on it. I, for example, don't feel threatened at all. Nor do I see my fellow Americans, other than people who want to make political hay of this, gabbing about feeling threatened. This is why, for all their hemming and hawing, the Democrats have made about zero traction with their faux outrage. The program, as I've discussed here, is focussed on particular calls and e-mails, and that focus is narrow and specific.

    I've done nothing of the sort. And are you really alleging that everyone, in all these various sources, are lying? If that's the case, then perhaps the program doesn't even exist at all? I mean, it was the same reporting — based on the same liars — that exposed it, right?

    Ice, seriously. CAN YOU FUCKING READ? I've said about half a dozen times now that I want oversight on this program. I've excused nothing. I've explained it, put it in to context and tried to talk, rationally, about what we know about the program. For you, this is not enough. Quit being intentionally obtuse, and quit trying to paint me as some kind of apologist because I'm not as kooky as you. It's dishonest.

    Yes, I do. You've done little more — and let me use your own words here — than talk about "illustrations, possibilities, hypotheticals" in this thread, many of which stand in stark contrast to what we actually know about the program. So again, you have little or no foundation for anything you write here, beyond your own opinion, bias and paranoia. Now, I know that's enough to convince you, but forgive the rest of us if we're a little more skeptical.

    The point I was making, or rather the point I was trying to use to pop your self-imposed bubble of solipsism, is that there are plenty of people that do not share your dark vision, and as such, don't think you're ridiculous call to crusade is necessary. But I have little hope that you will ever understand this: You seem incapable of truly comprehending that it's possible to reach conclusions that you do not share.

    And the point I was trying to make here is that you scream about nobody knowing anything, when, in fact, plenty of people know plenty of things. The fact you aren't one of them makes no difference. This is a covert program with covert aims, it will never be shared with fully with the American public. Sorry.

    Deny all you like, but you still look like a total ass when you say things and then deny them — and their tone and tenor — later.
  22. pjdude1219 screw watergate i want to know about zaragate Valued Senior Member

    so far as we can tell you know jack shit of how phone calls are transimited. its not bullshit its basic understanding on phone call transmittion. if you hook up to a fiber above a single phone line you get access to lots of phone calls. thousands per a fiber they are going into multiple fibers. there are fibers out there than can carry couple hundred thousand calls by them selves saying they have access to millions of phone calls is the simple truth.
  23. countezero Registered Senior Member

    Sure, PJ. Beat your angry, little fists and hope that the adults take you seriously.

    You said the following: "they are looking at millions of phonecalls most of them unrelated to terrorism."

    I'm not quite sure how one "looks" at a phone call, but let's just leave that OK?

    There is a lengthy passage in Risen's book which describes, in detail, the the technical arrangements you are attempting to discuss, based on what?. I don't know. Anyway, I don't have the book here at work, but essentially the access involves the switches used to route calls. That is, the telecoms gave the agency access to those switches so that certain types of calls could be flagged. Among those calls, the agency has a procedure for flagging the sort of communications it is after, because again, this program is focussed and specific and has no interest in wasting its resources randomly listening to a bunch of people call their mother. Now yes, having access to those switches means having potential access to millions — if not billions or trillions — more calls, but nobody has shown this has happened. In fact, the same sources that informed of the access in the first place also say this HASN'T happened.

    Common sense would also seem to demand that NSA isn't interested spending its days wallowing in banal phone calls. The Agency has the capability to listen in and record billions of calls per day, but at some point, even with all its AI and filters, a human being has to listen to the material, transcribe it and translate it for analysts.

    The numbers discussed for this program, which I posted on previous pages, involve about 7,000 people overseas and about 500 people in the US being listened to. Now, following the calls and connections made from these people invariably draws others in, but that does not equal the sort of "unrelated to terrorism" claim you make without even a scintilla of evidence.

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