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February 05, 2006



Aren't they quoting Gonzalez's words?


"Interception' may well be a matter of 'Perception'. When in the drifting of the net, is the attention focussed such that a communication could be described as 'intercepted'?


I gotta Rock. And go see Addled Jay hawks. Rock is chalk, dusk to dawk, he mocks himself each time he talks. The flock, fed on fumbling steelheads, will plop smart bombs where they 'just can't steel themselves'.

Other Tom

Anybody notice--I think it was on Hugh Hewitt's blog--that Jed Babbin is asserting unequivocally that Jay Rockefeller was one of the leakers to the NY Times, that the White House knows it, and that they are uncertain how to proceed? I eagerly await the first time a reporter asks Rockefeller point-blank about this.

Charlie (Colorado)

Gen Hayden just said point blank and in so many words that the WaPo article is wrong, on Fox News Sunday.

John Thacker

Actually, the primary way that the conversations of Americans are "intercepted" is in purely foreign conversations. There are machines which regularly intercept purely foreign conversations. It's not until they're decoded that the NSA has any idea what's on many of those conversations. Once they are able to determine that the communication is by a US person, then the NSA has to discard it if it doesn't have a warrant. Domestic communications are not routinely intercepted in the same way as foreign communications, but certainly many US persons travel outside the country.

No communications are intercepted unless first it is determined that one end of the call is outside of the country and professional intelligence experts have probable cause (that is, ‘reasonable grounds to believe') that a party to the communication is a member or agent of al-Qaeda or an affiliated terrorist organization."

This has long been one of my private theories about the program. It answers the "why no FISA" question question, as well as why it's a change in policy that required special justification. The previous interpretation was that if a US person was a party to the conversation (which includes any legal immigrant non-citizen on US soil), then a FISA warrant was needed in order to intercept. However, what if a known Al Qaeda member, whose communications we're generally intercepting (and who is outside the country and not a US person, hence we don't have a FISA warrant for him nor the information necessary to get one), calls someone inside in the US whom we don't know? The person we don't know is the US person who requires a warrant, but since we haven't been tracking him we don't have a warrant for him.

The NSA and others have apparently taken the position that the authorization of force against Al Qaeda justifies intercepting all communications from a known Al Qaeda member, regardless of whether the other party is a US person or not.

Soylent Red

The more I read the less interested I become in the justifications. It all seems legit to me, since it is, by definition, not domestic surveillance when one end is outside the country.

What becomes more interesting to me is the "how" aspect, which I will of course never, ever know. This doesn't stop me from suspecting a few things...

They've GOT to be siphoning off suspect telecomm at the gateway into/out of the domestic system. That then could be run down against some kind of database to determine which ones to flag for inspection.

If that is in fact the case, two things immediately spring to mind. First, the operators of these international switches may or may not know that it is happening. Second, with the millions of transmissions going international each year, how did they originally get the database information to cross check the transmissions to?

For my money, the only conclusion I can come to on the whole thing (other than that it is legal) is "COOL!" Finally I'm getting some value out of the tax dollars I've been paying into the intelligence community.

I'd better quit speculating. Big Brother might send double-oh-Valerie out to kill me with her special ninja thumb...


I don't know if it is available online but there is a big article by Cass Sunstein, a lefty Constitutional law rofessor at the U of Chicago defending the program in the Mercury News.


John Thacker, good post. I've been thinking the same theory, and am aware of no uncovered facts that have refuted it so far, nor any statements from Bush, anyone in the Administration, or any knowledgeable members of Congress. Unfortunately, if it's really something that simple (and innocuous), the motives of the leakers and NYT become even more insidious.


Or let's just say "suspect."


Varifrank gets scoop:

NSA Releases transcript of warrant-less wiretap

The NSA has released a transcript of an intercepted phone call from possible al-queda operative and a domestic phone number. I think this transcript makes clear why some people are so hesitant to have any sort of NSA wiretaps in the US.


Click here: Varifrank: NSA Releases transcript of warrant-less wiretap

****Needless to say he was not
following the comments at
JOM's "Take the Money and Run"
beginning Jan 28 after 6:39PM


The American public wants the President/NSA to listen in so NEWSWEEK ups the ante:
(tks MacsMind for link)

Exclusive: Can the President Order a Killing on U.S. Soil?

Feb. 13, 2006 issue - In the latest twist in the debate over presidential powers, a Justice Department official suggested that in certain circumstances, the president might have the power to order the killing of terrorist suspects inside the United States. Steven Bradbury, acting head of the department's Office of Legal Counsel, went to a closed-door Senate intelligence committee meeting last week to defend President George W. Bush's surveillance program. During the briefing, said administration and Capitol Hill officials (who declined to be identified because the session was private), California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked Bradbury questions about the extent of presidential powers to fight Al Qaeda; could Bush, for instance, order the killing of a Qaeda suspect known to be on U.S. soil? Bradbury replied that he believed Bush could indeed do this, at least in certain circumstances.

Click here: Exclusive: Can the President Order a Killing on U.S. Soil? - Newsweek Politics - MSNBC.com



Why isn't Jack Bauer quarterbacking?

JM Hanes

Chris Wallace interviewed Hayden this morning on Fox News Sunday. Hayden explicitly denied the massive date mining meme. As the NSA is forced to get ever more specific about what it is and isn't doing, I've become increasingly convinced that the leaking about this operation does, indeed, represent serious damage. From the transcript:

WALLACE: But let me ask you about this, because I think it speaks to the larger issue, General, as to how wide a net you are casting. Just recently, you denied that the NSA puts out an electronic net that intercepts thousands of phone calls looking for key words.

But I want to put up what The Washington Post said in the article today. Take a look if you will, sir. "Computer-controlled systems collect and sift basic information about hundreds of thousands of faxes, e-mails and telephone calls into and out of the United States before selecting the ones for scrutiny by human eyes and ears."

Without getting into the numbers, is there a broad, wide-scale electronic net that you put out that means that you intercept lots of phone calls or communications involving Americans, or is there not?

HAYDEN: Chris, I'm glad you asked, and I've tried to point this out in the past. Let me try to make this very, very clear. About the last third of the Post article is an excursion along the lines that you just described, that we somehow grab the content of communications and then use the content of the communications to determine which of the communications we really want to listen to. That is not true.

When NSA goes after the content of a communication under this authorization from the president, the NSA has already established its reasons for being interested in that specific communication. I've said in other places this isn't a drift net over Lackawanna or Freemont or Dearborn, grabbing all communications and then sifting them out.

This is very specific and very targeted when it comes to the collection of the content of communications entering or leaving the United States.

WALLACE: I just want to ask this a slightly different way. Do you have a specific reason to believe that there is an Al Qaeda connection to every communication involving an American that you intercept?

HAYDEN: Under this program, that's the only justification we can use to target a specific communication, that a reasonable person -- in this case, an analyst -- with all the facts available to him or her at the time, has cause to believe that one or both of these communicants are Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda affiliates.



GroupIntel 's = Intelligence?Sold!
EXCERPT (TK AbleDangerBlog for link)
But what about that other data-hungry group that seeks to vacuum up your information and monitor your activities for purposes that might run contrary to your personal welfare? Unlike the intelligence community these organizations have mastered the technology necessary to know exactly how to most effectively gather and exploit your personal data.

When any of the tens of millions of Capital One credit card customers call the company, the firm’s computers correlate the data they have on their buying patterns and recent purchase activity to predict why they are calling. The call is routed to just the right customer service representative who knows with near certainty what he needs to do to solve their problem and what additional products or services to offer that their likely to buy. All of this happens in a fraction of a second.

Click here: GroupIntel » Intelligence? Sold!



your link the the wapo article goes to thenexthurrah.



February 05, 2006

Blogosphere Addictive Disorder

Since it is Superbowl Sunday, one of America's national holidays, I thought it would be a good time to "lighten up" and describe a new faux-problem.

As most people realize, the Psychiatric profession is always looking for more people who are victims of serious mental disorders. In order to assist the American Psychiatric Association in their noble quest of finding at least one DSM diagnosis for everyone, I would like to describe the diagnostic criteria for a new Psychiatric problem that is already prevalent and threatening to become an epidemic. I am, of course, speaking, with tongue held firmly in cheek, of Blogosphere Addictive Disorder or BAD

Click here: ShrinkWrapped: Blogosphere Addictive Disorder


Now how does Time know what Gonzales is planning for tomorrow? These guys need to clean house, it seems.


Is he going to tell us Jack Bauer
is real?

as their fellow moonbats at Newsweek suggest:
Exclusive: Can the President Order a Killing on U.S. Soil? - Newsweek Politics - MSNBC.com


Heh, heh, we already knew that
at JOM!

ON TO THE 2ND UP 11!!!!!!

John Thacker

Domestic communications, or foreign/domestic ones that pass through US switches, can be individually tapped with the cooperation of US companies, after serving a warrant. Purely foreign communications can't; the companies don't cooperate and the warrants don't help. Thus, the NSA intercepts widely using other techniques. Of course this incidentally picks up lots of communications the NSA doesn't care about, but importantly for the legal concerns it intercepts the communications of US persons who are abroad. All that mass of data then has to be decoded to identify who's talking.

Talk about how lots of computers intercept US person communications is generally about this. Communications that involve US switches and domestic communications can be more narrowly targeted, but also generally require warrants.


Just remember as you watch the hearings that Congress is a player in this too. They want the power.

Comparing Nixon surveilling anti-war protesters with Bush surveilling Islamic terrorists is ridiculous.

Besides, Hillary will do what she wants anyway...all those FBI files were illegal too.

Corruption is bound to happen in any administration at various levels. What we do is find it and prosecute it. We can't prosecute corruption if we're dead. And if we're dead, corruption doesn't matter anyway.

I heard Gergen the other day just SURE, absolutely POSITIVE, that domestic spying will commence on political opponents and be used for smears. How unserious is that? He's continuing the overreaction Congress delivered in the '70's.

There's all kinds of domestic spying done by political operatives. They don't need the NSA to do it. The internet, financial institutions, legal papers, and a good PI are all that are necessary.


Powerline has this:

That's the title of Debra Burlingame's op-ed in this morning's New York Post. Debra defends the NSA terrorist surveillance program, on which hearings are getting underway today in the Senate. She notes an NBC report that I didn't know about:

Missing in the debate over the program to eavesdrop on suspected terrorists without a warrant is the question of whether or not it works. A 2004 NBC report graphically illustrated what not having this program cost us 41/2 years ago. In 1999, the NSA began monitoring a known al Qaeda "switchboard" in Yemen that relayed calls from Osama bin Laden to operatives all over world. The surveillance picked up the phone number of a "Khalid" in the United States — but the NSA didn't intercept those calls, fearing it would be accused of "domestic spying."


Watching the hearings now - AG Gonzales to appear again tomorrow
for second day.

Giving the Dems all they want to hang themselves.

Leahy keeps throwing in praise of
the NYT's for telling the American
blah, blah, blah.....



Gonzales did very well today and stood toe to toe with Feingold when he accused him of lying to get confirmed last year. Dems continue to get stuck on stupid with their lying theme a defense of last resort.


Paul mirengoff evidently had Kennedy and Durbin flummoxed with some of his hard-driving questions in the NSA hearings today. Go powerline; keep our politicians honest!


One wonders how many Republican solons are not aware of the Kos Dancers.

Pajama Line, cha cha cha.

Gamer girl

I am more and more bored with this story. Ok, so the government is listening in on suspicious characters. Good.


The Dems are creating imaginary victims again.

Soylent Red

Pajama Line?

My memory is a little hazy on the subject, but I think I saw one of those in Vegas once.

The opening act was something with Quakers and nuns.

Cost me $25 and a two drink minimum...

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