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NSA Data Mining And Why You Should Care

First of all, this is totally worthless for espionage cases. This is not about terrorists and never was, if you think it through. The companies involved are the big telcos, with the exception of Qwest, and they are the “wired” world.

Logically, does a terrorist move into an apartment and call the local telco to have a telephone line installed, or does s/he stop by Target and buy a pre-paid cell phone with cash? Does a terrorist call the local cable company to have broadband installed, or does s/he go to the local library or use free WiFi at a coffee shop?

Muslims believe that interest on money is immoral [a reasonable response to Capital One credit card offers] and don’t use the banking system the way a Westerner would. A lot of money is saved in the form of gold jewelry rather than savings accounts, CD, or bonds. They don’t leave the trail of financial records that Westerners do.

Most of their business would be conducted in and around mosques. That’s where the British bombers met and devised their plot. Joining the group is based on personal recommendation, clan membership, family relationships, and important business is conducted face-to-face, not over communication lines.

They use the ‘Net to post propaganda, not to teleconference. They aren’t in a hurry. They don’t have to make “quarterly numbers” or file annual reports. They don’t need instant communication and they don’t use it. They don’t depend on over-night shipments, because it doesn’t happen in their world. If it takes years for what is necessary to come together, then it takes years.

What the data mining operation is designed to do is build contact networks. You put in a phone number and the system provides you with the numbers associated. You build the next layer, and so on. If something strikes your interest, you run the numbers against a reverse telephone book to put names and addresses with the numbers. This is a standard part of criminal investigation and why you apply for warrants to get this information from the phone company. This is why we know there was a White House connection to the Republican phone slamming in New Hampshire.

Now, given that this is worthless for the terrorists, what do they want with the information? Anybody want to bet on the number of nanoseconds after they got this up and running that they waited before they conducted searches based on media phone numbers? Then they ran government phone numbers and the home numbers of government employees.

Would anyone care to guess how long it is going to take defense attorneys to suppress any evidence based on telephone records? This pollutes the evidence gathering process. They have made the telcos agents of the government.

The lousy record keeping on White House entries, the careless attitude about itineraries, the lack of port security, the White House leaks, etc. should convince people that the “war on terror” is a campaign slogan, not a government policy. This is about seizing power for its own sake, and punishing anyone who complains. People need to understand that they are getting nothing in return for acquiescing to having their rights violated.

2 comments

1 Steve Bates { 05.11.06 at 11:40 pm }

I’ve received about a hundred phone calls or more for a fellow whose name matches mine up to the “Bates, Ste*” level. I have discovered that he either lives or once lived in my apartment complex, a big 300+ unit affair. And I have learned that he is deeply in arrears on his debts, something I most certainly am not. (If that ever happened, my late parents would come back to haunt me, in a most disapproving manner.)

What will the NSA make of the “pattern” of calls to me by debt collectors? I have a total debt equal to the price of this laptop and a wireless router, and that debt was incurred yesterday, and I am not in arrears on anything at all… period. But what will those spying on my phone calls assume?

A friend of mine contrived a worse hypothetical example. My phone number contains two pairs of double digits, and I get a lot of legitimate wrong numbers. What if a child pornographer were to misdial and reach my number?

If any of this information ever reaches law enforcement… and who is to say it won’t, given how little concern has been given to the legality of its collection… what conclusions will the police draw about me?

(OT, I’m soooo glad to see the “Preview” button… especially given how new I am to this keyboard.)

2 Bryan { 05.12.06 at 12:28 am }

I have the same last seven digits as a Federal bankruptcy court in Florida. At some point a directory came out with the wrong area code and for a month I was receiving calls from all over for the court, and still occasionally get them. It is also one digit off from a company that makes prosthetic devices and I get calls for them all the time.

That’s what makes this a waste of time as an investigative tool. They are just adding more hay, instead of more people to find the needle. This is stupid and wasteful.

The police will want to prosecute which is why they don’t want anything to do with this kind of operation. This is the kind of thing that can destroy a case because judges tend to take an expansive view of what is tainted.

OT: it took me a while to find a preview that would work without messing around and making changes.