back to article US dial-a-warrant spy judge: don't trust President, feds

The judge who used to sit in charge of the American star chamber secret court issuing surveillance warrants says that his organisation should not have been sidestepped by the Bush administration in the wake of 9/11. Royce Lamberth was head of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court from 1995 to 2002. As such, he was …

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But does it scale

Obviously, the reason that the Bushies sidestepped the FISC was because they couldn't scale up.

The FISC was signing any warrant for an individual action the executive branch asked for, but they were for discreet operations.

The executive branch wanted the NSA to be able to tap all phone calls all the time if there might be a foreigner on one end. There would be millions of those a day, and obviously you can't get a judge to approve that many warrants, no matter how compliant they are.

Nobody likes what they did, and you can definitely question how effective such an operation really could have been. They couldn't find a needle in a haystack, so they got a bigger haystack.

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Freedom vs "security"

When we give up a freedom, it's gone forever. When we gain security, it's fleeting. As we give up our freedoms, the terrorists win another small victory. In the end, we will be no better than they are.

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Silver badge

C42 Quantum Control Systems

"says that the spooks and the executive branch are getting out of hand."

That would be as a result of failed head leadership in both cases? And/or a missing piece of Software in all such cases? A Lode/Node of Ore/Awe.

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Thats your problem.

Sorry to say it and I hope you won't take this

in a hostile way but this

" (Aside: Brits and other non-US readers should note that the American debate is entirely regarding the privacy rights of Americans. There isn't much doubt that the NSA can listen to our phone calls and read our emails without let or hindrance...)"

is completely your responsibility to fix you have your

own counterintelligence agencies if they don't do anything

to safeguard your privacy from foreign agents they aren't

doing their jobs. This isn't really a game any government

can afford to stay out of.

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Re: Thats your problem.

"is completely your responsibility to fix you have your own counterintelligence agencies if they don't do anything to safeguard your privacy from foreign agents they aren't doing their jobs. This isn't really a game any government can afford to stay out of."

Alan, realistically that is not going to happen. The chances of the US allies CAs daring to fight the NSA/US Govt on this is zip.. nada etc. Even if they wanted to it would be most likely stopped from above. I mean lets face it the “coalition of the willing” (such as they are) are not really likely to make much of a stink about this even if their own citizens don’t like it. Didn’t stop them before did it.

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Anonymous Coward

GHQ

You may find that before 9/11 GHQ in the UK used to monitor a lot of American overseas phone calls for the NSA et al and the NSA used to reciprocate. Who needs a warrent?

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Scale? That's one possibility...

...the other is that they were doing something so nefarious that even FISA wouldn't have approved it.

Remember, a many members of the current administration started their political careers under Nixon...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Aside

Quote : (Aside: Brits and other non-US readers should note that the American debate is entirely regarding the privacy rights of Americans. There isn't much doubt that the NSA can listen to our phone calls and read our emails without let or hindrance. It would be nice to think that our own spies were doing the same in America but, at least in the case of Brits, that's not very realistic.)

Actually, I'd heard that this was why the *RAF, sorry Royal Navy , sorry (surely not NSA?)... had established the Hunters Stones/Menwith Hill/Forest Moor 'TELINT/SIGINT/COMINT/PHOTINT' base near Harrogate in the UK - so that the "Brits" were clear to eavesdrop Sateside. Now that Menwith builds the Radomes first, THEN put up the antenna it is no longer possible - like in the good old days - to check which way the dish is pointing!

*the site has been 'changing hands' over the years and the intelligence is shared under the 1947 UKUSA agreement.

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Radomes?

>>"Now that Menwith builds the Radomes first, THEN put up the antenna it is no longer possible - like in the good old days - to check which way the dish is pointing!"

I thought the point of radomes generally being spheres was that the dishes could move inside them without being observed?

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Anonymous Coward

Radomes!

from http://www.eetimes.com/news/97/951news/space.html

"The most visible sources of critics' ire are the proliferating radomes. Menwith Hill has been an Army Security Agency base since 1954 and an NSA base since 1966, and it began installing radomes in 1974. Anne Lee, an Otley applied-physics teacher who has devoted four years to opposing Menwith Hill, said the base now constructs radomes before dish construction begins, so that critics will not know at what targets the dishes are aimed. British journalist Duncan Campbell spent the1980s trying to show that the Moonpenny series of radomes at Menwith were aimed at commercial communication satellites."

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Directions?

*Where* a dish is pointed is unknown whether or not it is constructed first. Any satellite-aimed dish would have to be able to move to switch targets.

About all you could say is that the dome first approach doesn't allow you to see the *type* of dish inside, and therefore maybe guess the technological type of target, but one parabolic dish is presumably rather like another to a distant viewer.

Even if it were possible to deduce target type from antenna characteristics (maybe easier if the antenna isn't a regular dish?), if it is possible to construct a dish inside a radome, it is presumably possible to dismantle one and replace it with something else, so even if a radome *had* been observed to be constructed last, that's no guarantee to the paranoid about what it could contain now.

Old radomes could have had their contents entirely changed, and the observers wouldn't be any the wiser.

Since radomes do protect against weather as well as observation, if it is practical to assemble dishes or antenna arrays inside them, dome-first doesn't sound like a bad idea for a location on northern English uplands.

Even if you don't trust the government[s], not everything they do need be part of a conspiracy. Some things may just be practical, even if they are open to a negative interpretation.

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Re: Freedom vs security

Good on you, Dillon.

The SF author, Larry Niven (of whose stories I am quite fond), proposed what he called "Niven's Law":

F*S=k

or

"The product of Freedom and Security is a constant"

Increase one, you decrease the other.

The USA goes on and on in the Propaganda Mill^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H Media about being "the Land of the Free" - a point probably disputed by anyone in the USA who is not a rich, white, heterosexual male - yet their "freedom" is forever being quashed by the governments eagerness to suspend the constitutional rights of the people in the interests of "security".

Not a new thing either - ask the Japanese Americans rounded up in Concentration Camps during WWII or those who lived through Senator "Are you Now or Have You Ever Been?" and "When I Hear 'Freedom of Speech', I Say 'Commie'!" McCarthy and his House UnAmerican Activities Committee's Witch Hunts.

"The Land of The Free" has been a myth for years. There is no difference between various US administrations over the years and various other dictatorships - wire taps, opening mail (a felony if done by anyone but the insanely large number of spooks the USA has), firing upon protesting students, Gestapo-like midnight arrests, interrogations etc etc etc.

The alacrity with which the Bush Administration was suggesting suspension of constitutional rights "to prevent this happening again" in the wake of the 11/9 (I use a civilised date system) disaster is a testament to how little they treasure their people and how much of a lie their "freedom" really is.

I pity the citizens of the USA, doomed to be born in a nation that has an obsession with Military Might and spooks and an unrelenting willingness to turn those forces against its own population.

While the US-gov is to be reviled and despised for its inherent filth and corruption, the good, honest citizens of the USA are to be pitied because so many of them actually believe the propaganda and believe that their right to bear arms makes them "Free" and protects them from a dictatorship.

How has the "2nd Amendment" prevented their emails, phones and mail from being opened? In what way does owning firearms protect them from being arrested at midnight by duly-appointed officers of the law (shoot back, you're a cop killer) under orders to "arrest and detain on suspicion of terrorism"?

They believe they are free, they believe they are safe from dictatorship, yet they live under one - the government may change, but the policies remain.

The only difference between Bush and McCarthy is that Bush has better toys at his disposal.

The USA is not and has not been free - not in all the 43 years I've been alive, and not for a long time prior to that.

Their Constitution might as well be burned for all the good it does them. Due Process? Innocent until proven guilty? Freedom of speech?

Yeah, right!

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