Thursday, February 02, 2006

Eavesdropping 101: What Can The NSA Do?

Image source: ACLU
Click for larger image

Via The ACLU.

The recent revelations about illegal eavesdropping on American citizens by the U.S. National Security Agency have raised many questions about just what the agency is doing. Although the facts are just beginning to emerge, information that has come to light about the NSA's activities and capabilities over the years, as well as the recent reporting by the New York Times and others, allows us to discern the outlines of what they are likely doing and how they are doing it.

The NSA is not only the world's largest spy agency (far larger than the CIA, for example), but it possesses the most advanced technology for intercepting communications. We know it has long had the ability to focus powerful surveillance capabilities on particular individuals or communications. But the current scandal has indicated two new and significant elements of the agency's eavesdropping:

  1. The NSA has gained direct access to the telecommunications infrastructure through some of America's largest companies
  2. The agency appears to be not only targeting individuals, but also using broad "data mining" systems that allow them to intercept and evaluate the communications of millions of people within the United States.

Much, much more here.


At Thu Feb 02, 06:01:00 PM PST, Blogger antimedia said...

First of all, it's not been proven that the NSA program is illegal. In fact, a number of very experienced lawyers who were asked to review the program pronounced it legal. So the ACLU is making a false claim at the very beginning of their article.

Second, much of what they write about so confidently is nothing more than speculation and innuendo. For example, General Hayden has said that the much-ballyhooed "Echelon" program was "a false accusation". Hayden also used the word "alleged" referring to the supposed "keyword searches" that the NSA is accused of doing, claiming they do not do that.

So, thousands of words later we know much about what the ACLU thinks and precious little about what is really going on. Yet they can confidently pronounce the program "illegal" in the first sentence?

I'd say there's a lack of objectivity clouding their judgment.


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