Friday, February 10, 2006

Why Does This Guy Have a Job?

An acquaintance sent me a link to the most thorough ball-licking defense of the extra-legal NSA warrantless eavesdropping program that I have yet seen. (Not being a reader of wing-nut blogs has it's advantages.)

The piece is from a mainstream source, the online edition of Newsweek magazine, and purports to be a technical examination of the NSA's capabilities. The stenographer, Michael Hirsh, carries a small lake of water for his contacts in the intelligence community.

I would usually relish demolishing this tool's arguments, but it is not worth spending that much time on. Some snippets can't be left unremarked upon, however:

It all sounds frighteningly Orwellian. But the truth is that, for all the hue and cry over American civil liberties, we are a long way from Big Brother today. In fact, we could probably use a little more Big Brother about now.

Yes, he actually had the nerve to emerge from the barrel long enough to commit this line to posterity.

On Sept. 10, 2001, (according to former NSA senior director Philip Bobbitt), the NSA intercepted two messages: ''The match begins tomorrow'' and ''Tomorrow is zero hour.'' They were picked up from random monitoring of pay phones in areas of Afghanistan where Al Qaeda was active. No one knew what to make of them, and in any case they were not translated or disseminated until Sept. 12.

The utter impossibility of this long-known story being true is lost on our stenographer. As outrageous as it seems, the NSA may have been "randomly" monitoring pay phones in "areas of Afghanistan where Al Qaeda was active." What did not occur is that by Sept 12, the very limited number of Arabic speakers at NSA and those available to be attached to NSA on an emergency basis could not have possibly extracted, translated, and connected those two innocuous phrases to the hijacking plot without already having specifically targeted the speakers for intercepts.

The dropping of the ball on Al-Qaeda is not a secret, and argues against accepting Hirsh's hypothesis that more data-mining and expanded eavesdropping authority is needed.

The tool is still not finished (Hirsh, either ;-):

Ironically, one of the most hopeful new intelligence surveillance programs is one that is still demonized in the media and on Capitol Hill. This is the Pentagon'’s Total Information Awareness (TIA) project, which was canceled after the last big civil-liberties scandal in late 2002.

Those fussy civil-libertarians always make trouble for our heroes.

What'’s needed is a fundamental rethinking that would put some of those billions of dollars that go into NSA's global surveillance into more human intelligence and Internet surveillance instead. But that's not happening.

Non-sequitur time, Hirsh spends the dividend of an NSA agenda-dominated article by calling for NSA money to be transferred to CIA, and to a lesser extent DIA (HUMINT).

And what makes him think that NSA and other DOD agencies are not all over the internet already? He must mean that more money should be devoted to this effort.

Nice.

3 Comments:

Blogger Meatball One said...

More deception. Of what species of deception...I will leave uncommented. But hey, retards with great IQs and jobs abound - apparently. And Newsweek...only one thing gets me more rarin' to go than 911 and that's mongo bongo Newsweek. Only Discovery channel has been more thoroughly penetrated by boyz & gurlz from da intel world.

(Can a Meatball be any more non-PC than I have just been here?)

2/10/2006 12:03 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...

Meatball One:

Deception indeed.

What else would anybody expect from a Post/Newsweek rag.

Ole Kate Graham sure knew where her bread was buttered.

PS: I thought that you would comment on the "barrel" reference. My humor is sometimes too juvenile for even a meatball.

2/10/2006 12:44 PM  
Blogger Meatball One said...

No, not juvenile at all. When you delve into my ongoing toilet training...well, then you might be going a bit too far and could be due for a few sessions of sensitivity training. But this is now that would be then.

P.S. Did you date yourself on your Magic Bullet-Specter post? I can almost confirm for my handlers that there's 2 generations between you and DrewL. Maybe even active duty in VN.

2/11/2006 3:22 AM  

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