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NSA Wiretap and email surveillance: I think it's useless
Posted by: New.Dad
Date: December 24, 2005 10:29AM
OK, they can listen to phone calls, I understand that. They can also read most of your email, I also get that.

But if you encrypt your emails, using tools such as PGP, or simply write a test file to an encrypted disk image and email this image as an attachment, the how in the world are they gonna know what is the content of the email? and if it is that easy to use encryption methods, wouldn't the terrorists encrypt all messages, thus making email surveillance useless? I doubt the terrorists plotting another attack are that stupid to send plain-text emails.

I think the whole program is a waste of resources... what do you think?
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Re: NSA Wiretap and email surveillance: I think it's useless
Posted by: Jimmypoo
Date: December 24, 2005 10:40AM
I think that encrypted email jumps out whether it be image based or straight encryption.

And even if you've got 4096 bit encryption, why do you think they have the most powerful computers on the planet?

What is foolish - is that they didn't do what they've always done. Let the Brits get our people, and we get their people, which then maintains the "charter" of no domestic spying.
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Re: NSA Wiretap and email surveillance: I think it's useless
Posted by: MacMagus
Date: December 24, 2005 11:10AM
> I think the whole program is a waste of resources... what
> do you think?

First of all, they have the keys to the most common encryption schemes, so that is not often a deterrent.

But a terrorist doesn't need encryption. A simple substitution code is all that it takes to baffle the cops. It can take years to crack a good substitution code.

For example, if "Hi, honey, remember to bring home milk tonight" means "bomb the embassy next week" on Mondays, "target airplanes" on Wednesdays and "Get out -- they're on to us" on Fridays, the cops would have one heck of a time trying to figure it out because the context changes.

On top of that is the ability to hide code in images, both by the appearance of symbols in the image ("If Mickey's nose is red, it means we strike tonight!") and in codes embedded and encrypted within the data fork. The images may be posted on web pages, but it's just as likely that a terror cell could plaster their images as posters all over the streets of any major city... and if they did it correctly, no one would be any the wiser.

On top of THAT is the fact that the terror cells that have been discovered so far have all been low-tech. They memorize messages or send hand-written plans or send messages on tape. If they have laptops, they're not connected to the 'net. Intercepting all of the international phone calls and e-mails made from the U.S. is a long-odds bet on a terrorist doing something really stupid.

So what are the cops looking for when they read people's e-mails and intercept their phone calls?

Well, Mr. Bush mentioned in his State of the Union that 400 people had been arrested thanks to the Patriot Act. Of them precisely zero had any connection to 911 and less than 40 could actually be called terrorists under U.S. law and those few could only be called terrorists because of the greatly expanded use of the term that now covers almost any sort of criminal act done across international borders. Most of the people arrested had committed white-collar crimes and a few of them were drug dealers.

Our government is using the Patriot Act to spy on Americans looking for common crimes. By alleging that it's a national security issue and that there's some terror-connection, they don't need warrants. It bypasses all of the red tape -- all of the Constitutional protections.

It makes it easier to meet quotas.

That probably wouldn't be too awful. I mean, they are still catching *criminals* right? Except that the wiretaps are indescriminate. They may be watching one particular person, but they capture and listen to a good chunk of the broadcast spectrum. They may be listening to phone calls from a hundred people to catch just one. And thanks to the Patriot Act, the conversations captured semi-randomly can be shared among agencies.

So the FBI is watching a drug dealer and listening to his phone calls and they catch a call to an accountant talking about underpaying taxes. They forward the information to the IRS and the guy is arrested for tax evasion. Or they hear some kids talking about smoking some weed and the kids end up jailed for possession. Or you mention on the phone that you won $500 dollars in the lottery and the next week you're under arrest for defrauding the unemployment office by failing to report it.

Meanwhile, the terrorists watch with glee as they move unhindered.
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Re: NSA Wiretap and email surveillance: I think it's useless
Posted by: SteveJobs
Date: December 24, 2005 11:20AM
I think the only thing that those that oppose this wish the NSA/FBI/CIA to do is stand on street corners asking for people with ill-intent to turn themselves in.
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Re: NSA Wiretap and email surveillance: I think it's useless
Posted by: Jimmypoo
Date: December 24, 2005 11:20AM
Who's watching Lafinfil?!?
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Re: NSA Wiretap and email surveillance: I think it's useless
Posted by: sscutchen
Date: December 24, 2005 11:24AM
Jimmypoo Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Who's watching Lafinfil?!?


MacMagus... duh.





Don't ask who the bell's for, dude. It's you.
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Re: NSA Wiretap and email surveillance: I think it's useless
Posted by: New.Dad
Date: December 24, 2005 12:06PM
SteveJobs Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I think the only thing that those that oppose this
> wish the NSA/FBI/CIA to do is stand on street
> corners asking for people with ill-intent to turn
> themselves in.


I didn't mention whether or not I oppose this effort. I may very well be under surveillance myself, since I am not a US Citizen (but have legal status in the US with a work visa). The problem is that all these efforts could be better focused to infiltrate the terrorists cells and attack them from within. I think this could be more effective in the long run.
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Re: NSA Wiretap and email surveillance: I think it's useless
Posted by: Mike Johnson
Date: December 24, 2005 12:08PM
Considering they don't even have to be investigating a particular crime, I don't think this is about uncovering plots or evidence. I suspect it's more about diagramming networks of people, who's connected to whom. If Sammy send lots of email to your cousin Joe, and Joe sends lots of emails to you, and you send lots of emails to Susie, and Susie sends lots of emails to Sammy, then when something happens and Sammy's in trouble, they're going to bust your door down. Doesn't matter what was in all the emails. Doesn't even matter if they were able to read the email.
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Re: NSA Wiretap and email surveillance: I think it's useless
Posted by: Phy
Date: December 24, 2005 12:43PM
Mike Johnson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Considering they don't even have to be
> investigating a particular crime, I don't think
> this is about uncovering plots or evidence. I
> suspect it's more about diagramming networks of
> people, who's connected to whom. If Sammy send
> lots of email to your cousin Joe, and Joe sends
> lots of emails to you, and you send lots of emails
> to Susie, and Susie sends lots of emails to Sammy,
> then when something happens and Sammy's in
> trouble, they're going to bust your door down.
> Doesn't matter what was in all the emails. Doesn't
> even matter if they were able to read the email.

That is truly frightening!
And plausible...
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Re: NSA Wiretap and email surveillance: I think it's useless
Posted by: MacMagus
Date: December 24, 2005 12:59PM
BTW: The most common "terrorist" conviction these days is lying about a birthdate on a passport.

Women beware!!
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Re: NSA Wiretap and email surveillance: I think it's useless
Posted by: M A V I C
Date: December 24, 2005 03:05PM
For a second, I thought I clicked on the "Tips and Deals" board.




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Re: NSA Wiretap and email surveillance: I think it's useless
Anonymous User
Date: December 24, 2005 03:20PM
Useless, na just a step or two behind what is really going on.

MacMagus some of what you wrote reminded me of "Enemy Of The State"
[www.imdb.com]

C
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Re: NSA Wiretap and email surveillance: I think it's useless
Posted by: MacMagus
Date: December 24, 2005 05:41PM
> MacMagus some of what you wrote reminded me of "Enemy Of The
> State"

That was a fun movie. Lot's of cool gadgets.
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Re: NSA Wiretap and email surveillance: I think it's useless
Posted by: elmo3
Date: December 25, 2005 02:00PM
what deal does this have to do with?

Oh, I get it--it's another "I'll put this wherever I want to" poster.

There IS a "friendly political ranting" forum here....of course, you probably intentionally ignored it, because after all, you can do whatever you want to...
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Re: NSA Wiretap and email surveillance: I think it's useless
Posted by: RgrF
Date: December 25, 2005 03:18PM
Its clearly an internet related subject, that alone makes it apropos as a "Tip"; does it not?



"Who's more foolish - the fool or the fool that follows him?" - Obi Wan Kenobi
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