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The Agency That Could Be Big Brother
December 26, 2005 11:17 AM   Subscribe

The Agency That Could Be Big Brother [when this guy talks about NSA, he is authoritative] "DEEP in a remote, fog-layered hollow near Sugar Grove, W.Va., hidden by fortress-like mountains, sits the country's largest eavesdropping bug. Located in a "radio quiet" zone, the station's large parabolic dishes secretly and silently sweep in millions of private telephone calls and e-mail messages an hour"...
posted by Postroad (100 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I used to ride by this facility all the time on my mountain bike - US Forest Service land directly abuts it. There are several hiker/biker accessible spots near Reddish Knob, VA in the George Washington National Forest that overlook Sugar Grove.

All it looks like from the outside is a bunch of HUGE white spheres, inside of which are (presumably) some very large dish antennas.

It's widely known that the facility is used for NSA SIGINT purposes, so I don't see what's novel in the NY Times article.
posted by killdevil at 11:27 AM on December 26, 2005


If you would read the article you would note that What that group has been doing in the past and what they seem now to be doing is outside what the law had till now allowed them to do. That you spotted their equipment means next to nothing. They do not try to conceal equipment. How and why the equipmenbt is used is the essence of the article. And this author has two books out on this group.
posted by Postroad at 11:37 AM on December 26, 2005


Postroad: which law? (he asks knowningly...)
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:40 AM on December 26, 2005


BoingBoingFilter
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:47 AM on December 26, 2005


This is a weekend backgrounder, not news, although the fact that it's written by Bamford raises it above the dross.
posted by dhartung at 11:53 AM on December 26, 2005


How, exactly, is a parabolic dish supposed to "sweep in millions of... e-mail messages an hour?" The vast majority of messages are passed over fiber and copper; intercepting them requires an entirely different approach. Not that I have any doubt such approaches are being used and email being read, but it seems rather odd to suggest that through some magical, fictional power, a dish is reading your email.
posted by majick at 11:55 AM on December 26, 2005


We're about to be taken to a dream world of magic!
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 12:01 PM on December 26, 2005


It can hAxx0r your unsecured Wifi network and use it to surf for porn...
posted by Artw at 12:03 PM on December 26, 2005


Of course, the full quote is "millions of private telephone calls and e-mail messages an hour." (Omitted text emphasized.) So the vast majority of the traffic he's talking about is voice.

Aside: I wonder what percentage of total email traffic -- in number of messages -- is now sent phone-to-phone?
posted by lodurr at 12:08 PM on December 26, 2005


If only there were some sort of a device that could send signals from a copper or fiber line to a satellite.
posted by trondant at 12:08 PM on December 26, 2005


This article is two paragraphs about a publicly-known NSA facility that may or may not have anything at all to do with all the recent news (and the article certainly doesn't make the link) followed by 20 paragraphs rehashing the same stuff we've been hearing for the last week.
posted by event at 12:10 PM on December 26, 2005


"millions of private telephone calls and e-mail messages an hour"
This makes NSA the world's largest repository of Viagra and Cialis spam.
posted by rolypolyman at 12:19 PM on December 26, 2005


rolypolyman: ...the world's largest repository of Viagra and Cialis spam.
Some years back -- early 90s -- I was thinking about how you could go about using the 'net to communicate with a very high degree of security and as close to zero visibility. (Research for a novel i was working on at the time.) It occurred to me that you could do something like a book code using Usenet messages and some kind of digital one-time pad. You wouldn't even have to create the messages -- you could just refer to existing messages. Build in some redundancy to ensure that the message gets through, but then again, if it doesn't, it's no worse than radio.

Years later, I saw Val Kilmer's character doing more or less exactly that in that dreary remake of The Saint.

It occurs to me now that there is probably a way of doing something similar with spam: Broadcast it to a broad spectrum of users, to alleviate suspicion from yoru target; the message itself, once retrieved, could be encrypted; it would be hard to know you'd even retrieved the cyphertext.

Then again, I suppose you could just send it all as bad packets or something...
posted by lodurr at 12:38 PM on December 26, 2005


Just a reminder -- most of the laws in the US that restrict law enforcement's use of wire taps and related technologies, don't restrict that activity per se; rather, they limit the ways information so gathered may be used in court. It's an important distinction. "Unreasonable search" etc. doesn't really matter if the spooks aren't planning on taking it to court.
posted by yesster at 12:43 PM on December 26, 2005


>How, exactly, is a parabolic dish supposed to "sweep in millions of... e-mail messages an hour?"

I don't think those big listening facilities are only dishes. I wouldn't be surprised if they were literally part of the telecom infrastructure in the US and constantly sniffing/recording traffic flying down the fiber.

One of the oddest things about the whole information revolution is that everything is pretty much done in plain-text. You'd think emails and sensitive files would have been all encrypted by now.

Everytime I send anything through the net unencrypted I assumed its been sniffed or recorded by at least one other party.
posted by skallas at 12:56 PM on December 26, 2005


Postroad, on reading the full article I'd have to say that it doesn't really cover any new ground. Also, I'd agree with other posters that a lot of the agency's monitoring of comms traffic is probably now via equipment in major Internet peering and telecom switching points. Better technology allows for more sophisticated, subtle and pervasive monitoring -- obvious installations like Sugar Grove are Cold War remnants.
posted by killdevil at 1:08 PM on December 26, 2005


"Unreasonable search" etc. doesn't really matter if the spooks aren't planning on taking it to court.

FISA criminalizes it:

"A person is guilty of an offense if he intentionally—
(1) engages in electronic surveillance under color of law except as authorized by statute; or
(2) discloses or uses information obtained under color of law by electronic surveillance, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through electronic surveillance not authorized by statute.
...
An offense described in this section is punishable by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than five years, or both."

I'd agree with other posters that a lot of the agency's monitoring of comms traffic is probably now via equipment in major Internet peering and telecom switching points

oops... again from FISA:

“Electronic surveillance” means—
(2) the acquisition ... of the contents of any wire communication to or from a person in the United States, without the consent of any party thereto, if such acquisition occurs in the United States..."

so tapping that would require a search warrant from the FISA court.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:26 PM on December 26, 2005


How does a parabolic dish help you in a "radio quiet" zone? Seems silly to put radio snooping in a spot with no radio. Unless I'm not understanding something.
posted by obfusciatrist at 1:37 PM on December 26, 2005


Well, I agree it doesn't cover much new ground, but it does keep the information fresh in everyone's mind, and who better to do so than the official/unofficial biographer of the NSA? He's written three books about them now. I think that when he closes the article with this message from Senator Rockefeller it says a lot about where this country, and perhaps this world is headed . . . and ominously so.
--------------------------------------------

After he was briefed on President Bush's secret operation in 2003, Senator Jay Rockefeller, the Democratic vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, sent a letter to Vice President Dick Cheney.

"As I reflected on the meeting today and the future we face," he wrote, "John Poindexter's T.I.A. project sprung to mind, exacerbating my concern regarding the direction the administration is moving with regard to security, technology, and surveillance."

Senator Rockefeller sounds a lot like Senator Frank Church.

"I don't want to see this country ever go across the bridge," Senator Church said. "I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return."
posted by mk1gti at 1:37 PM on December 26, 2005


... and yet, we know that the FBI -- not the NSA, of course -- has put sniffer boxes at hospting providers. So tapping that apparently does not require a search warrant from the FISA court.
posted by lodurr at 1:38 PM on December 26, 2005


How does a parabolic dish help you in a "radio quiet" zone? Seems silly to put radio snooping in a spot with no radio. Unless I'm not understanding something.

This is just an semi-educated guess, but the surveillance dishes may be somewhat off of the sweetspot in the commsat downlink's ground footprints. You'd want a quieter EM spectrum to pick out the weaker sat signal in this case, perhaps.

FBI has put sniffer boxes at hosting providers.

I think the FBI obtained just regular search warrants for carnivore, though of course carnivore was a black box and could acquire everything should it be programmed to.

AFAIK the state can sniff & retain address headers without a warrant. This power comes from "pen register" jurisprudence.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:48 PM on December 26, 2005


ah, wikipedia about pen registers:

"In order for law enforcement agencies to get a pen register approved for surveillance, they must get a court order from a judge. However, they need only certify to the judge that the information likely to be obtained is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation, at which point the judge 'shall' issue the order."

So while the SCOTUS says we don't have an expected right of privacy of address headers, Congress says law enforcement still needs to get a court order OKing their collection.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:55 PM on December 26, 2005


The fact that Bamford is "authoritative" implies that there is a body of work on this subject from which he gains his "authority." Doesn't that also imply that this is old news?

This is a cyclical rehashed fear that gets publicized when the publicizer doesn't care for the current administration. Is it the capability to eavesdrop that you're just now against, or the wielder of that capability? Just wondering. I guess that was a rhetorical question.
posted by BrandonAbell at 1:57 PM on December 26, 2005


This is a cyclical rehashed fear that gets publicized when the publicizer doesn't care for the current administration.
-----------------------------------
painting with a rather broad brush, aren't we? Perhaps you should read some of his books before trotting that one out.
posted by mk1gti at 2:02 PM on December 26, 2005


So in other words, this has been going on for decades, but because the NYT is liberal shit, and George Bush is President, it sees fit to create a news story...
posted by ParisParamus at 2:07 PM on December 26, 2005


Is it the capability to eavesdrop that you're just now against, or the wielder of that capability? Just wondering.

This is not a partisan issue. Basically the extremes of the Left-liberals who fear Oppression from the Man, Cato/Goldwater minarchists who detest violations of their natural rights, and even the corporate suits who don't want their routine comms cracked by unscrupulous people in gov't are opposed to the USG snooping into their private affairs.

hmm. DOD surveils everyone in the US. DOD gets Congress to give it $500B/yr of money we don't have. Connection? That's how Hoover stayed in power for 40 years...
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 2:14 PM on December 26, 2005


lodurr: "Then again, I suppose you could just send it all as bad packets or something..."

Or you could just use a simple, innocuous ping that almost no firewall blocks:

On host1: ping -c 1 -p facedead12349876 host2

On host2: tcpdump -x ip proto \\icmp and src host host1
11:41:51.646216 IP host1 > host2: icmp 64: echo request seq 0
0x0000: 4500 0054 0000 4000 4001 1af7 8752 0886 E..T..@.@....R..
0x0010: 8752 0888 0800 4550 242d 0000 cf6c 7743 .R....EP$-...lwC
0x0020: 25e5 0900 face dead 1234 9876 face dead %........4.v....
0x0030: 1234 9876 face dead 1234 9876 face dead .4.v.....4.v....
0x0040: 1234 9876 face dead 1234 9876 face dead .4.v.....4.v....
0x0050: 1234

Disclaimer: not my idea, found that somewhere.

And as for Spam encryption: check out this site.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 2:21 PM on December 26, 2005


Let us see if we can clear up some of this.
1. the guy who wrote this article is an authority because he has devoted many years of his life studying the NSA. He has written extensively on it and what it has been allowed to do legally--that is, its mission and mandate. He is not here giving you a full picture of the agency but this is a good summary if you have not read his books. He is not a political hack trying to belittle the Republicans for doing that which the Democrats do.
2. What the author is suggesting is that NSA like any itel agency could be abused and used for political purposes but that FISA was instituted to prevent this from happening.
3. What the NY Times is saying, and what theWhite House is admitting, is that FISA is no longer a consideration. And thus this is not a rehash of what has been going on in our country but a new use of intel that may, possibly, have consequences that are serious, political, and illegal--since FISA is now circumvented.
4. as for what the agency is capable of technically, I suggest you read the last work by Bamford.
posted by Postroad at 2:22 PM on December 26, 2005


Thoughts on that "liberal shit" Barron's magazine, PP?

"If we don't discuss the program and lack of authority of it," wrote Barron's editorial-page editor, Thomas Donlan, "we are meeting the enemy--in the mirror.”
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 2:23 PM on December 26, 2005


Hmm, no mention of foreign countries with sites inside the USA and doing the same damn thing. ;-P
posted by mischief at 2:51 PM on December 26, 2005


Im just not impressed with the invasion of privacy the NSA implicates. My biggest concern is that trying to sift some much data for intelligence is a waste of time and money.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:20 PM on December 26, 2005


I think that part of the problem is that this country's intelligence services are looking in all the wrong haystacks with all the wrong methods, all on the country's dime without any real value returned for it's investment.
I have no problem with this nation's intelligence services doing their jobs, but there are real limits on what should and should not be allowed. When those intelligence services are violating national or international laws then there needs to be some consideration of letting the fox into the henhouse a little to freely, and with far too little oversight. See senator Rockefeller's statement above. Also reference all the conservatives who have finally blinked and realized that they might have very well opened up a Pandora's box they may have no means to control.
These kinds of nefarious freedom-defeating actions have been going on for years within the intelligence community and it's time that the monster is put back into the box for the good of all.
posted by mk1gti at 3:40 PM on December 26, 2005 [1 favorite]


I can't wait until Hillary has this power!
posted by dhartung at 3:57 PM on December 26, 2005


Here's hoping that sometime soon that no one, no matter what their political stripe has this power. . . Ever again.
posted by mk1gti at 4:10 PM on December 26, 2005


Just a reminder -- most of the laws in the US that restrict law enforcement's use of wire taps and related technologies, don't restrict that activity per se; rather, they limit the ways information so gathered may be used in court. It's an important distinction. "Unreasonable search" etc. doesn't really matter if the spooks aren't planning on taking it to court.

Sure, and after they detain and torture you for ten years, they won't be able to use that information in court either. SWANK.
posted by delmoi at 4:33 PM on December 26, 2005


For the terminally forgetful: that "liberal shit" of a newspaper, the NYTimes, sat on the whole spying story for over a year, choosing not to publish it during the election months. So, ironically, the dumbshit troll(s) here should be thanking the NYTimes for helping keep Bush in power rather than disparaging it...
posted by solipse at 4:43 PM on December 26, 2005


Well, in the first place, you assume that running these stories during the election wouldn't have helped President Bush; I suspect most Americans, even the sane liberals are glad his administration is doing this.

Second, thank you for engaging the "trolls"--it makes Metafilter a better, more sane place.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:26 PM on December 26, 2005


Send in the trolls...
posted by ParisParamus at 5:27 PM on December 26, 2005


Send in the trolls...

You're already here.

Okay Matt, we get it. Trolls get you traffic, and that makes you money. How much do we have to pony up for you to get rid of ParisParamus?
posted by I Love Tacos at 5:34 PM on December 26, 2005


And secondarily, Paris, how much do I have to pay you for you to stop claiming you're a Republican? You Bush is always right jackasses are an embarassment to the party.
posted by I Love Tacos at 5:37 PM on December 26, 2005


I'd pony up at least $50 if I never had to read another fucking retarded ParisParamus post. He is dumber than a brick and just about as sociable.
posted by wakko at 5:48 PM on December 26, 2005


parisparamus: fapfapfap

mefi'ers: FAPFAPFAP

Everyone: FAPFAPFAPFAPFAPFAPFAPFAP! ! !

Paris Paramus: "Look mommie! I gotta 'nuther 'pearl necklace'!!!

Everyone: yeeeeeaaaarrrrggggghhhhhh ! ! !

What was the topic again?
posted by mk1gti at 5:53 PM on December 26, 2005


I'd pony up at least $50 if I never had to read another fucking retarded ParisParamus post. He is dumber than a brick and just about as sociable.

Well said.

ParisParamus just noise, designed to anger people who hold more moderate positions. If he actually believed anything he says, he'd put it very differently.

As much as I dislike political posts by dios and matteo, they're at least making posts that indicate a legitimately held position. If ParisParamus holds any of his stated opinions dear, then I can't think of a worse possible way to express them.

The only conclusion I can come up with, that doesn't involve Asperger's Syndrome, is that ParisParamus posts solely to watch liberals get excited, and that mathowie likes page hits. Sadly, ParisParamus makes life hell for the legitimate conservatives, and for the times that a Republican policy is a legitimately good idea.
posted by I Love Tacos at 5:55 PM on December 26, 2005


mk1gti: I'm not really engaging ParisParamus here. I'm attempting to engage mathowie, since he clearly prefers the trainwreck to actual conversation. I know the site is a business, but I have to believe there's a business model for MeFi that doesn't require manufactured controversy.
posted by I Love Tacos at 5:58 PM on December 26, 2005


MetaFilter: manufactured controversy
posted by mischief at 6:04 PM on December 26, 2005


It would also be nice to have a serious conversation about an actual topic that affects real people without him shitting all over the discussion just for kicks. I honestly just never want to see him again (and I don't want to have to run Firefox just to do it.)

Get rid of ParisParamus, please, mathowie. Or, at the very least, for God's sake, explain to me what he brings to the table that makes him a worthwhile member of this site.
posted by wakko at 6:08 PM on December 26, 2005


I Love Tacos
I'm not making fun of you or my fellow me-fiers, just the situation as it is. . . I just wish we could all just put Paris Paramus away once and for all as much as anyone else. It wouldn't be so bad if he had something significant to contribute, but he never does. Just all this 'listen to me 'cause my penis is bigger', then he whips it out and it's the size of a thimble. . .
And yes I know I've been a 'penisator' at times, but I try to moderate it these days. I'm just tired of all the yelling and finger pointing. I just wanna tawk . . .
posted by mk1gti at 6:13 PM on December 26, 2005


How does a parabolic dish help you in a "radio quiet" zone? Seems silly to put radio snooping in a spot with no radio. Unless I'm not understanding something.

The facility is actually in the quiet zone for the radio telescope at Green Bank, West Virginia. It also happens to be "over the hill" from a large COMSAT downlink located at Etam, West Virginia (which I assume also exploits the quiet zone).
posted by QuestionableSwami at 6:15 PM on December 26, 2005


I agree with wakko mat, what does Paris bring to the table? If anything, just change his tag to 'ThreadCrapper' so everyone knows what he's all about everytime he posts.
posted by mk1gti at 6:15 PM on December 26, 2005


mk1gti: yeah, in an ideal world everybody would ignore him. But the reality is that it's a hell of a lot simpler for Matt to ban him from the blue than it is for every single new user to be forced to learn that ParisParamus is just trying to get knee-jerk reactions.

PP does a disservice not only to this community, but to the legitimate ideas that Republicans and other conservatives may sometimes put forth.

MeFi is a business, so I'm assuming that Matt has analyzed advertising profits, signups, or site popularity stats of some sort, and realized that the manufactured controversy is a financial positive. As a member of the community, I'd like the opportunity to bid direct cash payments to offset the lost troll-based revenue.
posted by I Love Tacos at 6:32 PM on December 26, 2005


Oh, and I realize that this is all wildly off-topic. My sincere apologies for that.

On the actual subject of the link, I didn't see anything particularly new there. It's somewhat spookier when framed with the recently discovered, unilaterally-authorized expansion of scope, but I'm not averse to the general concept of the NSA.
posted by I Love Tacos at 6:36 PM on December 26, 2005


I don't really see the financial benefit of allowing trolls to thrive here, after awhile some (perhaps most?) get tired of it and go elsewhere. I know of at least a couple of friends who no longer 'visit the blue' because of the trolls. Paris Paramus being one that was brought up more than a few times in conversation.
I don't mind conservatives posting here and commenting.
dios, as much as I don't agree with his positions at least he argues his viewpoint with facts and figures, not pulling facts out of his poopchute.
So matt, if you're thinking PP is a revenue-generator, uh-uh, he's a revenue dissuader.
posted by mk1gti at 6:38 PM on December 26, 2005


And yeah, I would pay a fee to ban ParisParamus once and for all.
posted by mk1gti at 6:38 PM on December 26, 2005


I'm not averse to the general concept of the NSA
---------------------------
I agree with you on that, but there does need to be more oversight than there is now. At this point it seems to be very much a 'intelligence community free for all'.

My father spent most of his life in detached service to the NSA through the Navy. I didn't really know much about his true function until he got out of the service, and reading Bamford's books was a great way for me and my father to talk about topics he never talked about before.
For what it's worth, my father wasn't James Bond, just some guy sitting in a radio room twisting some dials listening to conversations in countries half a world away. Mostly russian, then while in Japan, vietnamese.
I encourage everyone to pick up some of Bamford's books, they really give a good 'behind the scenes' look at a side of the U.S. few people will ever get to see.
I also know that very few people in the NSA at that time would have approved of the way the intelligence apparatus is being used now. It is there to protect freedoms, not intimidate others from using them.
posted by mk1gti at 6:46 PM on December 26, 2005


An abandoned NSA facility in another "quiet zone" that you can now visit. It was suddenly and mysteriously abandoned by the NSA. Located near Asheville, NC.
posted by nofundy at 6:51 PM on December 26, 2005


Nice article, nofundy. What mysteries lurk out there? Read Bamford's books for more info. . .
posted by mk1gti at 7:01 PM on December 26, 2005


I Love Tacos, I'm actually a moderate Democrat.

Not sure what that has to do with the manufactured controversy which is the current/same as it ever was practices of the NSA, neither of which seem to have had much real impact on actual privacy rights.

Do you really think the NSA cares about you? There are much bigger, more dangerous fish out there to catch.

I really think this is just the latest tantrum by the loserLeft, and our Left-leaning media. The left can't get any political traction (haven't, really since Vietnam; the country has move slightly rightward since then), so, every few weeks, it tries again to scaremonger the nation.

Sorry, it ain't scaring anyone. It just makes the Left look stupid and desperate.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:09 PM on December 26, 2005


Sorry PP, I don't think anyone thinks you are a moderate anything. As for me, I come from a military family that has a sold WWII heroic track record. You wouldn't pass muster with any of them.
The only losers are those that try to convince someone they represent something they clearly do not.
The 'loser left' as you put it, as well as the left-leaning media are just smoke and mirrors put up to distract people from the true issue at hand which is a well-funded right wing propaganda machine using techniques learned from Machiavelli, Goebbels and Leninism, Stalanism and Maoism.
Doesn't sound like 'murica to me and it has nothing to do with your false truth of a non-existent 'loser left'.
Get a grip son, you're just a rube and everyone knows it. No one believes your nonsense, and something tells me you don't believe it either. So why don't you just grow up and knock it off?
posted by mk1gti at 7:16 PM on December 26, 2005


ParisParamus: thank you for yet another post that proves that you don't actually have any interest in anything other than getting people's panties in a knot. You're a moderate democrat who hates the "loserLeft" Got it.

Eventually mathowie will realize that there's a reason that nearly every user on the site considers you a troll, and that it isn't a legitimate difference of opinion. Until that day comes, you (and the people who try to discuss politics with you) will be an endless source of eye-rolling.

mathowie, what does parisparamus need to do to prove to you that his beliefs are insincere, and that he just takes pleasure watching people get upset? As it stands, I'm pretty sure he could rape puppies, and you'd claim he's a legitimate animal lover who lacks social skills.
posted by I Love Tacos at 7:23 PM on December 26, 2005


No thanks. I will not be intimidated by the Left. A common sense approach to security issues must prevail, and thankfully, it is. We're not leaving Iraq; Bush isn't being impeached; the NSA will keep looking for terrorists; and, alas, people here will continue to insist the sky is falling. AGAIN.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:25 PM on December 26, 2005


PP = poopiepants

Perhaps some good will come of this after all, after the NSA has invaded enough private citizens lives and found nothing, perhaps they will all die of shame and embarassment from becoming so wrapped up in their paranoid delusions at the expense of freedom and democracy for all.
Perhaps the perpetrators of fraud and deception will just rot away from within and do away with themselves by and of their own ends.
Perhaps PP will be banned from MeFi once and for all.
posted by mk1gti at 7:33 PM on December 26, 2005


No thanks. I will not be intimidated by the Left
--------------------------
But PP, you just said you were 'one of us' (a moderate democrat) why would you fear those you identify with?

Are you not 'One of us, one of us, one of us'?

Or are you just full of bullshit?
posted by mk1gti at 7:35 PM on December 26, 2005


Moderate democrat /= The Left. John Kerry = The Left. Howard Dean = The Left. The real Democrats are either in a coma or hiding. That's why President Bush won times.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:54 PM on December 26, 2005


(both times)
posted by ParisParamus at 7:55 PM on December 26, 2005


The Paranoid Style in American Liberalism
posted by ParisParamus at 8:00 PM on December 26, 2005


I Love Tacos, I'm actually a moderate Democrat.

ParisParamus is about as much of a "moderate Democrat" as Jenleigh was "Scottish."
posted by the_bone at 8:00 PM on December 26, 2005


Love the linkage to those lefty liberal sources there, PP. Long haired pot smoking hippies each and every one.

Bush stole the past two elections, by the way. No election won by theft is an election won with honor.

But you go ahead and shove your head up dear leader's poop chute, I hear that if you keep it up there long enough you'll become enlightened. Or die of asphyxiation. . .
posted by mk1gti at 8:14 PM on December 26, 2005


"Bush stole the past two elections, by the way. No election won by theft is an election won with honor."

That proves you're in the Leftist Intellectual Bankruptcy Realm. End of "debate" with you.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:15 PM on December 26, 2005


(you've proven my point perfectly)
posted by ParisParamus at 8:16 PM on December 26, 2005


PP, with you there is no debate. You're just ThreadCrapper. Nothing more. No point in engaging in any kind of dialogue with that kind of mindset.
So what do you have to contribute to the conversation du jour regarding the NSA and the abuse of this countrie's intelligence network? Could you stay on topic or leave the thread?
posted by mk1gti at 8:20 PM on December 26, 2005


mk1gti, you are now banned.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:24 PM on December 26, 2005


This is interesting:

George W. Bush and US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales claim that domestic spying in manifest violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was authorized by Congress in broad language in the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) regarding persons responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Similar claims have been made in a December 22 letter from Assistant Attorney General William Moschella to the leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. The claims are patently false.
posted by mk1gti at 8:25 PM on December 26, 2005


walk away little threadcrapper, just walk away.
posted by mk1gti at 8:26 PM on December 26, 2005


"If only there were some sort of a device that could send signals from a copper or fiber line to a satellite."

Like, oh, maybe those round antenna things they got pointing up at the sky? What percentage of phone, Net or even cable traffic spends some time as microwaves anyway?

By the way, how did THIS thread get to be all about ParisParamus TOO? Are y'all Liberal Warriors that easily distracted and obsessed with trivia? If so it's no wonder Dubya could steal two elections in a row.
posted by davy at 9:29 PM on December 26, 2005


I know, I feel so. . . so used . . . I, I need a shower to wash off the foul stench of threadcrapper . . .

From what I remember reading in Bamford's most recent book, the NSA was worried that a lot of it's sigint had large holes in it because most of the communications that was being sent was by fiber optics, a medium that was much more difficult to penetrate than microwave or satellite communications. If they have indeed found out a way to gain access to fiber optics communications at the source and filter it out into meaningful data, I wonder how they did it? Or are they still relying on gathering most of their information from a medium that has largely been bypassed worldwide? In spite of tools like Echelon, the message communicated from the most recent book on NSA was that they had fallen behind the times from a technology standpoint and needed to do some drastic catch-up to be effective.
posted by mk1gti at 9:44 PM on December 26, 2005


If they have indeed found out a way to gain access to fiber optics communications at the source and filter it out into meaningful data, I wonder how they did it?

Tapping undersea fibre optic cables is now a reality thanks to the nuclear-powered submarine USS Jummy Carter.
posted by Meridian at 10:10 PM on December 26, 2005


Take your ParisParamusHateFest derailment to Metatalk, if you must continue, please. It'll be fun, if nothing else.

Or, better, just ignore him.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:12 PM on December 26, 2005


wakko: "I'd pony up at least $50 if I never had to read another fucking retarded ParisParamus post. He is dumber than a brick and just about as sociable."

If you're using firefox as a browser (and there's no reason not to) you could install the Greasemonkey extension and the MeFi blacklist script, which creates a cancel button after every post that you can use to block out the comments of the poster. And while you were at it, you could also download the MeFi quote script, which allows for easy replies.

All for free. ;)
I've got a single user blacklisted. Guess who?
posted by PontifexPrimus at 10:48 PM on December 26, 2005


Take your ParisParamusHateFest derailment to Metatalk

Heh. We should flag his posts too, right?
posted by wakko at 11:18 PM on December 26, 2005


MetaTalk.
posted by loquacious at 11:41 PM on December 26, 2005


I think PP continues on because he so consistently embarrasses himself.

His argument basically is this:

"Left."

Wonderful isn't it. Again, and again. Bring up a point. It's not valid because guess what, it's from the "left." Man alive, count me persuaded and dazzled all at once!

Then of course there's calling something European. That is, I must say, a debate tactic and a point that cannot be countered.

Taking it to MetaTalk will only get the MetaTalk thread deleted. PP is officially not a troll. He just presents a different view point. It's not from the left, right, or central, which is obviously so close to meaningless anyway.

His viewpoint is usually ludicrous, intellectually dishonest, and embarassing. The very leftist nonsense he supposedly despises and dismisses, that of tolerance, keeps him around and indeed, helps him to thrive. That he bites the hand that feeds him is clear.

MeFi is the stage he performs on. Any sort of community standards rarely apply. Though I imagine he's been given a time out or two. You can't get banned for failing to engage in honest debate 90% of the time. That others try to engage him in honest debate is admirable, but ultimately, futile.
posted by juiceCake at 11:53 PM on December 26, 2005


well said, juiceCake.
posted by slater at 1:35 AM on December 27, 2005


that was a lot of crap to scroll through just so I could get to this box to say that I hadn't heard of Bamford and am going to look into getting his books so that I can educate myself further before jumping into this discussion.
posted by PossumCowboy at 2:15 AM on December 27, 2005


PossumCowboy
I think you'll enjoy his books, start with his most recent one and go back from there, I think it will provide good insight into how things are now vs. how they used to be.
posted by mk1gti at 4:21 AM on December 27, 2005


BrandonAbell: The fact that Bamford is "authoritative" implies that there is a body of work on this subject from which he gains his "authority." Doesn't that also imply that this is old news?
First: Depen ds on what you mean by "body of work." Bamford is probably dealing in "humint" as much as "sigint" -- i.e., his knowledge is probably as much based on interviews as on published works.

Second: You could ask your question about any field -- once someone, anyone, can be said to be "authoritative", then it's by this definition "old news."
posted by lodurr at 4:29 AM on December 27, 2005


mischief: Hmm, no mention of foreign countries with sites inside the USA and doing the same damn thing. ;-P
Spill it, man! (You can use the regular mail drop at the Dulles Galleria -- you know, the one by the taco stand in the food court....)
posted by lodurr at 4:33 AM on December 27, 2005


ParisParamus: mk1gti, you are now banned.
(Hmm....wonder how he thinks he's gonna pull that off....)
posted by lodurr at 4:37 AM on December 27, 2005



Tapping undersea fibre optic cables is now a reality thanks to the nuclear-powered submarine USS Jummy Carter
---------------------------------
So, any thoughts on what countries an optic cable tapping submarine might be deployed against?
posted by mk1gti at 4:44 AM on December 27, 2005


ParisParamus: mk1gti, you are now banned.
-----------------------------
Yeah, I had to laugh . . .
posted by mk1gti at 4:45 AM on December 27, 2005


I think the Republic of BP might be a start. Or maybe Sonystan.

PP is right about one thing: The NSA does have bigger fish to fry than all of us. Unfortunately, it has a very big spatula and we're in the same pool of grease as the big fish. (OK, metaphor needs work, but y'all get the idea.)
posted by lodurr at 4:47 AM on December 27, 2005


From April, 2005. Just who exactly would the NSA spy on? Political "friends" and enemies it seems. Seemed tin foil territory back 9 months ago, now it seems exactly correct.

Cheney, Bolton, and their neocon pals wanted to make sure Powell wasn't going off the reservation it looks like. Can't trust them field hands around the dining room silverware!

Think they hesistated to spy on "enemies" of oil companies or Halliburton? No wonder the FBI considers environmentalists and animal rights activists to be terrorists. Nice how they ignore abortion clinic bombers and racist hate groups though, huh?

Big Brother really is watching you.

An excerpt:

Possible affected individuals include: Secretary of State Colin Powell and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and their conversations with their counterparts and officials around the world; Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs William Burns and his telephone conversations with International Atomic Energy Agency director general Mohammed el Baradei and Britain's top non-proliferation official William Ehrman (Bolton was frozen out of negotiations between Burns, Britain, and Libya over the stand-down of the Libyan weapons of mass destruction program) (also Burns's conversations with Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq al Shara over charges by Bolton that Syria possessed WMD, and conversations between Burns and former chief UN Iraq weapons inspector Hans Blix); various phone calls made by Chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board Brent Scowcroft;
posted by nofundy at 5:28 AM on December 27, 2005


Do you really think the NSA cares about you?

Yet, illegal snooping has a history of hurting citizens who have money in the stock market.

Having the ability to listen to 'money parties' means a disadvantage for the average investor.

If you aren't being snooped on, your money is subject to being jerked about.


From INSIGHT MAGAZINE.

Published in Washington, D.C.. . . . . . . . Vol. 13, No. 35 -- Sept 15, 1997 . . . . . . . . www.insightmag.com
Did Clinton Bug Conclave for Cash?


And the lead paragraph:

A presidential conference with Asian leaders was bugged by U.S. intelligence agencies, say high-level sources, and information was passed from the White House to big Democratic corporate donors.


Such listening power DOES effect you. Unless, of course, you want to argue that EVERY person in the Signal Intel business wouldn't pass on 'investing tips'.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:05 AM on December 27, 2005


Such listening power DOES effect you. Unless, of course, you want to argue that EVERY person in the Signal Intel business wouldn't pass on 'investing tips'.
-------------------------------
The history of the CIA is notorious for this, wall street bankers migrate back and forth throughout it's history. The Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner to the CIA had a nickname 'Oh So Social' for the amount of 'landed gentry' within it's ranks from prominent upper east coast families. Harvard, Yale? You're in the CIA!
posted by mk1gti at 6:14 AM on December 27, 2005


Here is an update and expl;anation why Bush circumvented FISA--
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/253334_nsaspying24.html?source=mypi
posted by Postroad at 7:33 AM on December 27, 2005


>The facility is actually in the quiet zone for the radio
> telescope at Green Bank, West Virginia. It also happens
> to be "over the hill" from a large COMSAT downlink
> located at Etam, West Virginia (which I assume also
> exploits the quiet zone).
> posted by QuestionableSwami

Those who haven't read Bamford's original book "Puzzle Palace" should. When most telecom links were line of sight microwave systems, the government had an a building next to the main relay points, presumably picking up everything going past them. As ground relays were replaced by comm satellites, they'd have to try shadowing each comsat or move "over the hill" from each groundlink site.

Or put some kind of reflector into the beam and read off the reflection, I suppose. There's probably enough "space junk" up now, even if none of it is intentional, that looking carefully at exactly the right angle can pick up signal scattered just by the crap floating out there.

Once upon a time there was a satellite sent up meant to deploy a load of fine wire fragments to make a ring around the planet as a radio reflector. Wiser heads prevailed, it wasn't deployed.

It appears nowadays you don't even need a fixed ground location and big dish, it looks like it can be done using a phased array:
"...the architecture being studied is capable of rapidly and electronically controlled reconfiguration, to enable fast switching from one satellite to another within the same constellation or simultaneous communication with multiple satellites..."
(PDF) (HTML):
posted by hank at 8:53 AM on December 27, 2005


This is why you should read Bamford's books: Irrelevant as he may seem to some, he is still relevant to those who know. Dare to learn.
posted by mk1gti at 7:14 PM on December 27, 2005


The agency that could be Big Brother if it grew 1000x and wasn't, clearly a great institution of our republic
posted by ParisParamus at 4:52 AM on December 28, 2005


What's that smell?
posted by nofundy at 5:44 AM on December 28, 2005


obfusciatrist: How does a parabolic dish help you in a "radio quiet" zone? Seems silly to put radio snooping in a spot with no radio. Unless I'm not understanding something.

The National Radio Quiet Zone was set up in 1958 as an area where electronic signals would be minimized so stray emissions wouldn't interfere with radio astronomy (and incidentally, intelligence collection). Wired did an interesting article on The Quiet Zone last year, it's remarkable how every little bit of unauthorized electrical static within the zone is tracked down and alleviated, down to remote smoke-detector alarms, malfunctioning heating pads and RFID-tagged squirrels: "Cell phones, pagers, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth - the wireless revolution is everywhere. Except here. Radio stations point their antennas away and operate at reduced power. Cell phone base stations are few and far between, and entirely absent deep in the Zone. Even incidental electromagnetic emitters are regulated: Power lines must be buried 4 feet belowground. The wireless LAN card in your laptop? Forget about it."
posted by SenshiNeko at 8:06 PM on December 28, 2005


Is this why West Virginia is a backwater? Wow....
posted by ParisParamus at 8:13 PM on December 28, 2005


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