back to article Latest Snowden leak claims NSA bugged ALL mobile calls in the Bahamas

A fresh dossier of documents apparently from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden claims that the NSA is running a telephone-tapping system that records the metadata and content of all mobile phone calls of two countries, including the island paradise of the Bahamas. The documents, published in The Intercept, state that the system …

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  1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Big Brother

    The gift that keeps on giving

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Will Godfrey

      "The gift that keeps on giving". Yeah, and - yet again - right after the Chinese have been accused of cyber spying! What a co incidence.....

      1. dan1980

        Re: Will Godfrey

        @Matt

        Is it not equally possible that the US's increased noise about Chinese spying/'hacking' is a reaction to the bad publicity they are getting - a 'look over there' tactic?

        Is it not equally possible that the US, with their vast spying and data collection efforts, found out that there was going to be a new release of information and pre-empted it with their naming of the 5 Chinese 'hackers'?

        Or, seeing as it has been established many, many times that Snowden passed all his information over to the press and they choose what to release and when, is it nor equally possible that, though the timing was deliberate, it was done for effect by the press and not by the Chinese government? (Which seems to be what you are implying.)

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: dan1980 Re: Will Godfrey

          "Is it not equally possible that the US's increased noise about Chinese spying/'hacking' is a reaction to the bad publicity they are getting - a 'look over there' tactic?...." No, because the US was complaining about Chinese state-sponsored hacking long before Snowjob even started contracting for the NSA.

          "....Is it not equally possible that the US, with their vast spying and data collection efforts, found out that there was going to be a new release of information and pre-empted it with their naming of the 5 Chinese 'hackers'?....." So you want to fall back on the standard sheeple paranoid delusion about the All Seeing All Omnipotent Big Brother? Puh-lease, if that was the case then Snowjob would never have even got hired and the Chinese would have been facing the naming of their hackers years ago.

          "....Snowden passed all his information over to the press...." Apart from the fact Snowjob handed (or more likely sold) his data to Greenwald and Poitras, he has made intimations in interviews that there is 'other stuff' he did not pass on. Hence his need to hide behind Putin's skirts.

          ".....and they choose what to release......" Having seen the type of loon that Poitras and Greenwald associate with, I would not be surprised if the Chinese government is being kept well-informed of their plans, even if we want to be generous and say not intentionally by Greenwald and Poitras. Personally, I would say that I think Greenwald and Poitras have a monetary interest in keeping the focus on the NSA, and it's not like China and the old Soviet Russia didn't regularly pay such 'dissident voices' to shout when required. Greenwald's income depends on maintaining the myth that the NSA is a unique and pernicious threat to all mankind, something he cannot do unless he also tries to smother other information sources exposing the good work the NSA does. So, no, I don't think it a con-incidence at all.

          1. BlueGreen

            Re: dan1980 Will Godfrey @Plump & Bleaty

            Hi plumps,

            > tries to smother other information sources exposing the good work the NSA does

            Sounds interesting. What good work is this?

            1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: Boring green Re: dan1980 Will Godfrey @Plump & Bleaty

              "......What good work is this?" Go read the article and the links included, it states the authorities were very pleased with the intelligence they received which helped them investigating such gangs. Oh, sorry, you never read the article, you just rush to bleat what you have been told to bleat.

              1. BlueGreen

                Re: Boring green dan1980 Will Godfrey @Plump & Bleaty

                Sorry plumps, I must have missed it. All I can see is <https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1164088-somalget.html> which is a 2 page puff-piece that brags about technical capabilities and makes claims without verification. Could you repost please?

                1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                  Facepalm

                  Re: Boring green dan1980 Will Godfrey @Plump & Bleaty

                  ".....makes claims without verification. Could you repost please?" I forgot your lot don't view drug smugglers and the like as criminals, just as suppliers.

                  1. BlueGreen

                    Re: Boring green dan1980 Will Godfrey @Plump & Bleaty

                    > I forgot your lot don't view drug smugglers and the like as criminals, just as suppliers.

                    With verifiable claims, please plumpo. Verifiable, not 'cos we say so'. And when you've done that we can discuss proprortionality ie. are their efforts producing an ROI that is justifiable against the cost.

                    Those links please, lambchop.

                    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  2. Christoph Silver badge

    it follows procedures to "protect the privacy of U.S. persons"

    The US has constitutional rights to protect 'real' people - US citizens. Everybody else is considered sub-human and doesn't have those rights.

    Europe has human rights legislation. Everyone has rights, whoever and wherever they are.

    Until the ConDems take us out of that system of course. Complaining that the Human Rights legislation stops them doing whatever they want, which is the whole bloody point!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Trollface

      @Christoph - "The US has constitutional rights to protect 'real' people - US citizens. Everybody else is considered sub-human and doesn't have those rights."

      And your point is??

    2. Captain Hogwash
      FAIL

      Re: "Until the ConDems take us out of that system"

      The Cons are split between the leadership who want to stay in, subject to some reforms they want to push for, and some on the back benches who want to take us out. The Dems want to stay in.

    3. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Christoph

      ".....Complaining that the Human Rights legislation stops them doing whatever they want, which is the whole bloody point!" Yeah, Abu Hamza would so agree with you. And so would his lawyers, the people who are really raking it in with the eight-year legal delays caused by such 'rights'.

      1. John Hughes

        Abu Hamza

        It's always easy to claim that "bad people" shouldn't be protected by the law.

        Just hope they never decide you're a bad person.

      2. Graham Marsden
        Boffin

        @Matt Bryant - Re: Christoph

        Here's a quote from "A Man for All Seasons" that you might like to think about...

        * * * * *

        Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

        More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

        Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

        More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down (and you're just the man to do it!), do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

        * * * * *

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: Marsbarbrain Re: @Matt Bryant - Christoph

          ".....now you give the Devil the benefit of law!...." Nothing illustrates the extent of poor Graham's paranoid delusions than his insistence that the NSA is The Devil. For sheeple like him it really is a religion, based on faith and unquestioning belief in The Cause. So sad.

          1. Graham Marsden
            FAIL

            Re: Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - Christoph

            Oh look, once again Matt Bryant goes for the ad hominem, attacking the poster rather than addressing the argument.

            Yawn.

            1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - Christoph

              ".... attacking the poster rather than addressing the argument." You didn't post any form of argument whatsoever, get over yourself.

          2. BlueGreen

            Re: Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - Christoph @Plump'n'Bleaty

            Hi plumps,

            Graham's point was allegorical. He's not actually saying the NSA is the devil.

            BTW mangling names into slightly derogatory forms like Marsbarbrain - how do you think it makes you look to other people? Wildean-clever or a peurile dick?

            ("Plump'n'Bleaty" - good name for a barbecue-themed restaurant chain, dontcha reckon, lambchop?)

            1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: Boring Green Re: Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - Christoph @Plump'n'Bleaty

              And another fact-free and argument-free post from Boring Green. Not really a surprise. We really need a yawn icon for his bleating.

              1. BlueGreen

                Re: Boring Green Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - Christoph @Plump'n'Bleaty

                Graham's point was allegorical. This is A Fact.

                Also there was a question there that you missed, something about your practice of name munging. Please answer it.

                1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                  FAIL

                  Re: Boring Green Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - Christoph @Plump'n'Bleaty

                  "Graham's point was allegorical......" Marsbarbrain's non-point was a vacuous attempt to sound smart whilst implying the NSA are 'evil'. Still, whilst it might only hit a one-out-of-a-hundred on the relevance scale, compared to your contributions it was a pearl of wisdom.

                  Go waste electricity elsewhere, you have again failed to add anything to the discussion other than your transparent attempts to suppress a viewpoint that does not match the one you have been spoonfed. We all know dissent in the flock is verboten, but please realise we're not all sheeple like you.

                  1. BlueGreen

                    Re: Boring Green Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - Christoph @Plump'n'Bleaty

                    > compared to your contributions it was a pearl of wisdom.

                    well, giving us credit due, that's something!

                    > your transparent attempts to suppress a viewpoint that does not match the one you have been spoonfed

                    My posts here didn't try to supress anything, or address anything but your behaviour and responses.

                    Okay. Now, on that front: That question you seem to be avoiding about name stuff. Could you answer it please.

                    1. BlueGreen

                      Re: Boring Green Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - Christoph @Plump'n'Bleaty

                      Could you answer that question please, lambchop.

                      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                        FAIL

                        Re: Boring Green Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - Christoph @Plump'n'Bleaty

                        "Could you answer that question....." Post a question or argument related to the thread rather than another desperate attempt at diversion and suppression of dissenting thought and I will.

                        1. BlueGreen

                          Re: Boring Green Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - Christoph

                          Hi Matt, I think I already laid out my position above, to recap, then, that claims be verifiable, which tends to imply that the NSA's work be accountable to somebody, not necessarily public, but some trustworthy independent other party. Then, rather importantly we can judge whether all this spying is producing a proportionately useful result, or is effectively a waste of money.

                          Once someone's credibility is blown, it's very hard to regain, and the NSA do not appear to have been very truthful. I don't find them trustworthy as they've already lied:

                          "

                          Pressed by the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at an oversight hearing, Gen. Keith B. Alexander admitted that the number of terrorist plots foiled by the NSA’s huge database of every phone call made in or to America was only one or perhaps two — far smaller than the 54 originally claimed by the administration.

                          "

                          <http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/oct/2/nsa-chief-figures-foiled-terror-plots-misleading/>

                          more here: <http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/politics/item/15756-doubt-surrounds-claims-of-nsa-success-in-foiling-terrorist-attacks>

                          Another interesting question would be the overall effect on the image of the United States, and whether it was doing more damage overall in the long-term than any short-term gain.

                          To be honest, Matt, we've gone over this a hundred times so I don't know why you keep asking for more.

                          Now, as you said you would, please answer the question of that name munging, thank you.

                          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                            FAIL

                            Re: Boring Green Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - Christoph

                            ".....Then, rather importantly we can judge whether all this spying is producing a proportionately useful result, or is effectively a waste of money...." But you and the rest of the sheeple already made it very clear that you have no interest in weighing up the results. You are far too happy living your paranoid delusions about being individually spied on.

                            "....Once someone's credibility is blown, it's very hard to regain, and the NSA do not appear to have been very truthful....." So first you say the NSA is an Uber Big Brother organisation with superhuman eavesdropping capabilities, but then you try and say that they are totally ineffective. You can't have it both ways, either they are harmless and you can quit whining about it, or they really are über and therefore excellent value for money in securing us against criminals and terrorists.

                            ".....To be honest, Matt, we've gone over this a hundred times so I don't know why you keep asking for more....." You mean you have made boring and repetitive evasions a hundred times when you can't answer the simplest of questions. Here's a simple one you always run away from - show how this exercise harmed any actual innocents. Don't get in too much of a fluster trying to think of an evasion, I honestly don't expect you to even try a straight answer.

                            /seriously need a 'Yawn' icon for use with this member of the flock.

                            1. BlueGreen

                              Re: Boring Green Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - Christoph

                              You asked for a thread-related comment, I gave one in good faith. You may disagree with my views but that's not the point. I knew you were going to duck the question I specifically asked by addressing the comments you asked for. Well, on this we're just going to have to disagree for the moment. Me -> NSA bad, you -> NSA good. Ok. Whatever.

                              My views on the NSA were not relevant because the question wasn't about the NSA/spying/etc. but about your ... shall we say, 'modification' ... of other poster's names, and how you think it makes you look to others.

                              That was the question. I've asked 3 or 4 times, you explicitly said you would answer it, now please honour your side of the agreement, Matt.

                              1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                                FAIL

                                Re: Boring Green Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - Christoph

                                "You asked for a thread-related comment, I gave one in good faith......" Yawn. Apart from the fact there is no good faith in your attempts to obscure and divert from the actual topic of the article, you did not post any such comment other than whining about names. That has nothing to do with the thread and all to do with your bruised ego. And I note - as expected - you again ran and hid from the challenge of providing any evidence of any innocent being harmed in any way by this NSA action.

                                ".....My views on the NSA were not relevant....." You stated you and the rest of the sheeple needed to know the extent of the NSA's activities in this operation and the intelligence so you could form an opinion on the merits of the operation, whereas the truth is you have already been spoonfed an opinion and actually only want the information in a mindless desire to limit the activities of the NSA, regardless of the actual value they provide. Your actual statement in this thread was: '.....I think I already laid out my position above, to recap, then, that claims be verifiable, which tends to imply that the NSA's work be accountable to somebody, not necessarily public, but some trustworthy independent other party. Then, rather importantly we can judge whether all this spying is producing a proportionately useful result, or is effectively a waste of money.....' But you clearly already have a strongly-held position which denies any other viewpoint, so your demand for more information to form an opinion is simply a lie. So, yes, exposing your hypocritical statements and views is relevant to the topic, much more so than your bruised ego and evasions.

                                ".....That was the question. I've asked 3 or 4 times...." That was the irrelevance you attempted to use as diversion and evasion of the real subject matter. After all, in numerous threads, I have asked many more than three or four times for you to provide proof of harm to innocents, of the supposed blackmail and intrusion you lot in the flock insist must have been going on for years, and yet you always avoid answering. Surely, if the Big Bad NSA is so evil and intent on controlling us all there should be some proof of such oppressive activity? But there's none, and you hide from any discussion of that lack of proof because it neatly implodes your paranoid-driven fantasies. Face it, all you do is bleat male bovine manure because you are too uncomfortable with actually answering real questions that challenge the 'views' you have been spoonfed.

                                1. BlueGreen

                                  Re: Boring Green Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - Christoph

                                  Nice duck & dive matt.

                                  Here's what you said "Post a question or argument related to the thread rather than another desperate attempt at diversion and suppression of dissenting thought and I will."

                                  And I did. You said you'd answer the question if I contributed to the thread, I did, as best I could. You may not like what I said but I tried. Let's agree to differ for the moment.

                                  Now about your name mangling, please answer that one AS YOU SAID YOU WOULD. Thanks.

                                  1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                                    FAIL

                                    Re: Boring Green Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - Christoph

                                    "....And I did...." No you didn't. And you're still avoiding the question about providing proof of any harm to innocents. Double yawn.

                                    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

                                      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                                        FAIL

                                        Re: Boring Green Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - Christoph @Plump & Bleaty

                                        "....my question was possible abuse of power, and proportionality...." But that is the crux of your denial - you have no evidence of harm and therefore no evidence of abuse of power, and your hysterical, paranoid-delusional state means you have SFA chance of judging proportionality, even though you must know you have no evidence of harm since you are so desperate to avoid the question. And the reason you don't want to acknowledge the lack of harm is because to do so massively undermines your whole, bleated non-argument. You need to insist on the inevitability of abuse of power because you want to baaaah-lieve it must happen, otherwise you would have to acknowledge your whole worldview is based on groundless paranoia. Once again, your failure is simply yawn-inducing.

                                        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                                          Happy

                                          Re: Boring Green Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - Christoph @Plump & Bleaty

                                          "....my question was possible abuse of power, and proportionality...." Since Boring Green is so keen to deny the effectiveness of the NSA and other authorities actively looking for crims on the Internet, I'm betting he really won't want anyone to read this article about Sabu's trial (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-27579765). The really interesting bit is the Lultwatz seem to have formed in May 2011 and only a month later the FBI arrested Sabu, supposedly a 'leeet haxor', which points to a pretty slick investigation. It also mentions how turning Sabu saved millions in defeating or preventing 300-odd cyber attacks from him and his Anonyputz chums. Chalk another one up for The Man and have a good laugh at Boring's inevitable attempts at denial!

                                          1. BlueGreen

                                            Re: Boring Green Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - Christoph @Plump & Bleaty

                                            > and only a month later the FBI arrested Sabu, supposedly a 'leeet haxor', which points to a pretty slick investigation

                                            Hmm? "leet haxor'? But Plump & Bleaty says here <http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/containing/2076519>

                                            "Yeah, it's kinda hard to understand some of the silly things Sabu and his dummy chummies got up to, but have an account with "mujahideen" in the name when you're trying to avoid the attention of the NSA and FBI!?!?!? Duh!"

                                            So leet, or a dummy? Which version of reality does lambchop prefer today?

                                            But that's not all! Plumpo also says in <http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/containing/2170974>

                                            "Sabu and his chums were already career criminals"

                                            So already a career criminal (your words) that took the entire might of NSA spying to get him. But if he was already a career criminal, The Man must have been doing a great job, eh?

                                            > It also mentions how turning Sabu saved millions in defeating or preventing 300-odd cyber attacks from him and his Anonyputz chums

                                            Well, so it's claimed. But let's accept for the moment those 300 hacks prevented and millions of dollars saved! Hooray for The Man. Oh, wait,

                                            "NSA Spying Scandal Could Cost U.S. Cloud Computing Firms $35 Billion" - from <http://www.dailyfinance.com/on/nsa-spying-scandal-cloud-computing-lost-business/>.

                                            Hooray for Plumpness!

                                            "Insight: How U.S. spying cost Boeing multibillion-dollar jet contract" - from <http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/20/us-boeing-brazil-insight-idUSBRE9BJ10P20131220>

                                            Hooray for His Bleatings!

                                            Save millions at the cost of billions! Hooray for the soft scuttly one! Hooray for Farmer! Hooray for human stupidity (ours, lambchop, never yours)!

                                            1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                                              FAIL

                                              Re: Boring Green Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - Christoph @Plump & Bleaty

                                              ".....So leet, or a dummy? Which version of reality does lambchop prefer today?...." I made it very obvious what I thought of Sabu's 'skills' with the 'supposedly' bit. Try a bit of reading and comprehension before your next bout of rabid tryping, moron. It is you and the other Faithful that bleated on and on about how the Lulztwatz were 'so cool' and 'uncatchable'.

                                              ".....Save millions at the cost of billions!....." With just one case, and there are plenty more out there. Who knows how many millions in profits to US businesses and those of other Western allies by defeating Chinese hacking, let alone the dumbarsed Anonyputzs and their Low IQ Cannon and other DDoS attacks. Then there's the costs of terror attacks diverted, let alone the unquanitifiable saving of human lives. Or the costs in human lives and prevented crimes in tracking drug and people smugglers in the Bahamas. Oh, sorry, I forgot, you don't have the ability to think that through.

                                              1. BlueGreen

                                                Re: Boring Green Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - Christoph @Plump & Bleaty

                                                Ewe boring me, plumpo.

                                                TTFN

                                                ~ World 8, lambchop nil ~

                                                1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                                                  Happy

                                                  Re: Boring Green Marsbarbrain @Matt Bryant - Christoph @Plump & Bleaty

                                                  "Ewe boring me, plumpo...." Well, you are the nil, TBH.

                                                  Once again, Boring Green signals his surrender with another counter-free post. Because, once again, Boring Green has reached the limits of the poorly-conceived 'arguments' he has swallowed as gospel, only to find that cursory examination has exposed them as just more hype and fanfare.

                                                  And, yet again, again, show me the harm or quit bleating.

                                                  1. Anonymous Coward
                                                    Anonymous Coward

                                                    Waste of time

                                                    Never argue with an idiot, they will only reduce you to their level and then beat you with experience.

  3. gerdesj Silver badge

    Who gets to pay for that

    To be able to record metadata and content implies, in simplistic terms, that twice the capacity was provisioned for telephony than was/is actually required.

    Who on earth paid for the extra bit? I presume the US tax payer. Hope they get value for money on this massive investment. Perhaps the locals paid for it directly - I bet they would be a little annoyed about that.

    I wonder how much extra ahem "necessary overhead" capacity we get to pay for in the UK infrastructure?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who gets to pay for that

      its worse than that... it means the intrrnational bandwidth must be at least equal the in country simultaneous capacity. But that can probably go down a single fibre such is their capacity.

  4. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Just the beginning

    I suspect that USA isn't the country only guilty of this type of snooping on a massive scale. I suppose, though, we'd need a Russian, Chinese, EU, and maybe a Brit or an Aussie Snowden type to bring the point home that no place is safe or private. The so-called Electronic Age has brought its blessings and its curses. The curses part hasn't yet been fully explored, though I'm sure that there's more revelations due to come out.

    Having said that, there's a disclaimer: Just because everyone is or might be doing it, doesn't make it right. It just makes it insidious.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Mark 85 Re: Just the beginning

      ".....no place is safe or private....." If you're a drug-dealer or smuggler, it would seem. I'm sure you paranoid sheeple will skip right past that bit of the article, though.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        re: Matt Bryant Re: Mark 85 Just the beginning

        Cherry-picked that one, didn't you.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: re: Matt Bryant Mark 85 Just the beginning

          "Cherry-picked that one, didn't you." It is so often the one very obvious and simple point that demonstrates the stupidity of the sheeple's bleating, and the fact the exercise was done under a legal warrant and with the strict intention of assisting in prosecuting drug gangs totally undermines the shrieking, melodramatic insistence that 'They are watching ME' as bleated by so many sheep here.

          But to take the dismantling of their paranoid fantasies a step further, how many of them made a call from the Bahamas in the period mentioned? Probably none. Did they stop to think a 100m calls a day is actually not that much, the daily average for the US is well over 3bn calls? Or that the average mobile user spends about half-an-hour a day on calls, so extrapolate by the population of mobe users and you have an inkling of how much actual airtime would have to be listened to, well beyond the capabilities of the staff involved, which is why the majority of the Bahamas sweep would NEVER get listened to by a human being.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: re: Matt Bryant Mark 85 Just the beginning

            > Did they stop to think a 100m calls a day is actually not that much, the daily average for the US is well over 3bn calls?

            Who is to say what is not much?

            To record details of phone calls indiscriminately is either right or it is wrong.

            Is stabbing OK, as long as you only stab a very small number of people?

            Is theft OK as long as you don't get too greedy?

            Is it OK as long as the government is doing it?

            It never fails to amaze me how quickly and completely people like Matt are willing to give up the freedom and privacy of others.

            1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: skelband Re: re: Matt Bryant Mark 85 Just the beginning

              ".....Who is to say what is not much?...." I suppose it was a bit much to ask you sheeple to stop hysterically bleating long enough to actually do the maths. I apologise for thinking you might be capable of such mental exercise and I promise to try and not suggest further strain on your obviously over-stretched brain.

              ".....To record details of phone calls indiscriminately is either right or it is wrong....." And once again we're back to the insistence that it must be wrong because ALL the calls just must have been listened to by a human, when the reality is they were not. The vast majority were deleted without ever having been heard by a human ear, but don't let that simple fact get in the way of your melodramatic shrieking.

              ".....Is stabbing OK, as long as you only stab a very small number of people? Is theft OK as long as you don't get too greedy?....." Both criminal acts with a direct effect on the victims, whereas this was legal and warranted activity in the pursuit of criminals. In other words, stop spouting male bovine manure. Instead, please show how anyone other than criminals were actually impacted by this exercise? Oh, you can't, because there was ZERO impact for anyone other than the crims. The only impact to the general public was more earache from the over-loud and automatic bleating of the sheeple.

              ".....It never fails to amaze me how quickly and completely people like Matt are willing to give up the freedom and privacy of others." It never fails to amuse me how complete nonentities like skelband insist anyone would be interested in either their public or private communications. Get over yourself, you're just a paranoid delusional sheeple.

              1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

                Re: skelband re: Matt Bryant Mark 85 Just the beginning

                Matt, for fucks sake can you just stop with the 'sheeple' and accusations of paranoia please, you sound like a stuck record.

                Are you completely incapable of making your arguments without derisory comments to all and sundry?

                Your posts, more often than not, attack the messenger rather than the message. It just makes you look like a complete stoolie

                1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                  Facepalm

                  Re: Sir Runcibke Loon Re: skelband re: Matt Bryant Mark 85 Just the beginning

                  Start thinking for yourselves for a change then.

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Mark 85 Just the beginning

        Methinks you presume too much. I caught that part you referenced. In the physical world, probable cause must be established before your home, computer, etc. can be searched. In the cyber world, this seems to have been tossed out. If they were screening select calls because they "suspected" something, that's one thing. To cast a fishing net and see what they find is something else.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Mark 85 Just the beginning

          ".....probable cause must be established....." And yet you ignore the fact that a warrant was issued, i.e., that this was not some uncontrolled over-reach by the NSA, but a proper and legal investigation under careful control and legal oversight. I bet you also would like to deny the successes the SOMALGET program brought to the law enforcement agencies fighting drug and people smugglers in the region? Maybe you should read some of the actual memos (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1164088-somalget.html) before going off on autobleat.

          1. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: Mark 85 Just the beginning

            You are persistent in your picking of nits.... Yes a warrant was issued. Yes there are successes. How some ever, I think it's the "all mobile calls" part that is the issue. That's a fishing net even with a warrant. It would be like having a warrant to search all white vans or all green houses.

            1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: Mark 85 Just the beginning

              "You are persistent in your picking of nits.... " And you lot are very persistent in ignoring the realities that you don't want to see.

              "......Yes a warrant was issued. Yes there are successes......" Waiting for the 'but'..... Of course, I'm sure the fact this action helped stop criminals floated right past your sense of moral outrage.

              "....I think it's the "all mobile calls" part that is the issue....." And why, because you like the idea of all-encompassing surveillance? Because it feeds your paranoid delusions? Once again, you are ignoring the reality you don't want to see, namely that the vast majority if the calls were NEVER listened to by a human being.

              ".... It would be like having a warrant to search all white vans or all green houses." No it wouldn't, it would be more like knowing who owned all the white vans but only stopping and searching the ones actually linked to criminals. Are you going to insist the traffic cops drive around blindfolded, just in case they see some innocent driving a vehicle other than a white van? So your melodramatic comparison is just as flawed as the rest of your blathering.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Mark 85 Just the beginning

                Sorry, Matt. You're like that drunken old man at the party that nobody knows who invited who just won't shut up, regardless of the sh*te that he's talking.

                I'll put it into simple terms for you:

                We, as the common people, don't want the government to track our mail, monitor our web activity, listen to our phone calls. That's basically what it comes down to. We allow limited ability for the police to do this as a necessary evil in order for criminality to be detected. That limit must be adjudicated in public by someone who is *not* the police, because human nature being what it is, it will be abused. It must be focused specifically on that intent and in the smallest possible way to achieve that end.

                It really doesn't matter what *you* think. The rest of us want this. We live in a democracy so we win, you lose.

                You've made your point. You have nothing to say that convinces anyone else of your opinion.

                1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                  Happy

                  Re: skelband Re: Mark 85 Just the beginning

                  "......We, as the common people, don't want the government to track our mail, monitor our web activity, listen to our phone calls...." Oh, so you want to claim you are the '99%' again? News flash for skelband - the majority are actually on the side of law and order. The majority are sick of Internet scams and e-crime, and they don't see why crims and terrorists should be allowed to hide away on the Internet or any other form of electronic communication. They realise that your Internet playground is used by criminals and terrorists and want them found and stopped. They want more legal oversight, not the lawless Wild West Internet that you and the rest of the skiddies and hippies dream of. This fact is demonstrated in the US by the complete inaction of Obambi on the issue.

                  Obambi is the typical popularist politician, super-sensitive to public opinion. If he thought it was going to cost him real votes he'd be tearing down the NSA and rushing to affirm a 'free Internet'. So what has he done? Apart from a bit of window-dressing, Obambi has done SFA to reign in the NSA, because he knows you lot are just a very vocal minority, and that the NSA and their work are tools that the US needs. This very SOMALGET program has happened under Obambi's administration so you lot can also stop trying to blame Bush for every NSA operation.

                  On our side of the pond, Cameron has likewise done nothing to impinge on the work of the GCHQ. Merkel has shrieked for a few votes in Europe but has also done nothing to stop the BND working with the NSA or GCHQ. Same goes for France, Holland, Italy, Spain, etc., etc., etc. Face it, your cause célèbre is just bleating into the wind, because the majority actually WANT it. If it were not so you would see a rush of democratic politicians racing to implement vote-winning restrictions on the spooks.

                  And that's what really upsets you, which is why you and the rest of the sheeple huddle together and bleat so loudly, because deep down you know you are actually the 1%, you just hate to admit it. Enjoy!

              2. Jamie Jones Silver badge
                Facepalm

                Re: Mark 85 Just the beginning

                It's ironic how Matt 'terrorists under the bed' Bryant bleats about others being 'paranoid sheeple' when he's the most paranoid here, but so far to the other direction that he's an NSA/GCHQ operatives wet dream

                1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                  FAIL

                  Re: Jamie Jones Re: Mark 85 Just the beginning

                  It's ironic how you are unable to argue the fact that you are the minority so instead just trot our childish blathering. Actually, it's not ironic, it's just sad. If you want to be taken seriously post an actual argument or counter or leave the discussion to the adults, mmmkay?

                  1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
                    Happy

                    Re: Jamie Jones Mark 85 Just the beginning

                    Matty boy, it's all been said here, by me, and others, and you always choose to ignore it.

                    As I've said before, I actually agree that a lot of people are overly paranoid that anyone gives a rats arse about their stuff.

                    However, that's missing the point. If I told you I was going go monitor all your communications to protect everyone from terrorists, then you'd probably be pissed off. So why do you trust 'some random civil servant' over 'some random internet user'?

                    As you probably expect, I couldn't give a rats arse over your personal shit either, so it's fine for me to rifle through it?

                    As for 'childish insults', I'll continue on this theme: "You started it". You called me all sorts of things once when I just asked an honest question you assumed to be stupid.

                    But then, I tend not to troll the innocent, and hide behide a fake name, 'Matt'.

                    Nope, it's been obvious for quite some time that you are either a troll or a shill. Neither deserves (or can deal with) a constructive response, and when you do get one, you throw personal insults, and act all high and mighty when on the receiving end.

                    Classic troll/shill/shithead response. You decide.

                    So, you're right. Just as with religious fundamentalists and people with extreme political views, I've long since given up bothering to have a rational debate with you. It's just pointless.

                    I'll just continue to ignore your rantings mostly, and throw in the odd 'childish insult' now and then when I see your obsessive use of the unclever non-word 'sheeple' and your failure to grasp the concept of paragraphs.

                    It's just my way of coping with someone with as much hate as you, who can rarely make a single post without insulting someone, and then plays the poor picked-upon princess when the shoe is on the other foot.

                    Have a nice day, for a change, 'Matt'. Your bitterness ultimately hurts no-one but you.

                    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                      FAIL

                      Re: Jamie Jones Mark 85 Just the beginning

                      ".....why do you trust 'some random civil servant' over 'some random internet user'?...." What a stupid question. Because the 'civil servant' will have been screened, trained, told the legal ramifications of dicking about, and then monitored during their work, whilst 'some random internet user' will just be doing what he likes. A direct comparison would be the extensive training a policeman goes through before being allowed to police the streets - you don't just let any moron play vigilante. If you really can't see the difference then you are as monumentally stupid as your posts make out.

                      ".....when I just asked an honest question you assumed to be stupid...." The bleating naïveté of your posts is not doing anything to reduce that assumption.

                      ".....Neither deserves (or can deal with) a constructive response....." How would you know when you never post any constructive responses? Your whole, dribbling, whining post goes on for paragraph after paragraph but has no content relevant to the topic of the thread. Get over yourself, stop whining and try a lot harder.

  5. Mephistro Silver badge
    Happy

    The guy only spoke the truth!

    "the implication that NSA's foreign intelligence collection is arbitrary AND unconstrained is false,"

    Obviously, it's not arbitrary. Their final target is spying on everyone, always.

    The unconstrained part, on the other hand...

    It should have been an OR instead of an AND.

  6. Eguro
    Alien

    " "special-interest alien smugglers." "

    I can not possibly be the only one, who really hopes this should be taken at face value.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ref. "special-interest alien smugglers"

      I can assure you sir (madam / it), that in this find land of the free (Great Britain, short of Scotland), we did once have a "face value" institution called "Alien Registration Centre", situated, if I remember correctly, somewhere in north-central London. There, on plastic chairs we all sat, eyeball to eyeball, stalk to stalk, tentacle to tentacle, all waiting to be registered and receive our green alien registration books, and nobody would dare smirk at the face value of the alien because BIG BAD HUMAN might come up and throw you through the cargo bay doo out through into the deep, dark space (where nobody can hear you scream).

  7. Sanctimonious Prick
    Big Brother

    Testing Time

    adding that it follows procedures to "protect the privacy of U.S. persons" when communications are "incidentally collected."

    How to test this?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Testing Time

      "We playback the call, when we identify it as involving US citizens we immediately delete it from any and all our drives, thus ensuring citizen privacy. As is procedure, all information about such operations are stored in our mission logs."

  8. Tank boy
    Holmes

    Not quite sure if Snowden the traitor should get the coveted "No Shit Sherlock" award or get promoted to Captain Fucking Obvious. When Putin tires of him, he has no more secrets to sell the Soviets, and as all he's pedaling is so unactionable intelligence-wise because it's past it's sell by date, he'll be either on a diplomatic flight back to the states, or, a fast train for his tour of Siberia.

    1. Omniaural
      Megaphone

      You realise that the Ukraine is Russia's payoff for eventually releasing Snowden to the US, hence the 'sanctions'?

      It's obvious! isn't it?

      ISN'T IT????

    2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      WTF?

      "he has no more secrets to sell the Soviets, and as all he's pedaling is so unactionable intelligence-wise because it's past it's sell by date"

      Are you simply unaware that Snowden handed all the data over to The Guardian newspaper or are you trolling?

    3. Gav

      You do appreciate the difference between "they're spying on you" and "here's proof they're spying on you"? Whether you consider the proof obvious or not, it is still proof. Despite the abundance of opinion, speculation and hysteria you can find on the interwebs, proof still has a value that far outweighs the lot.

      Speaking of which; you have proof that Snowdon is selling secrets to Putin?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Speaking of which; you have proof that Snowdon is selling secrets to Putin?"

        Who needs proof when swivel-eyed backwoods prejudice will do just fine.

  9. Gray
    Meh

    oorah!! for the Job Creators!!

    "... data processing for such information has been outsourced to US firm General Dynamics, which signed an eight-year, $51m contract with the NSA for the job."

    There is hope yet for the lackluster recovery of the U.S. economy ... there's hundreds of new jobs there, and think of all the new construction jobs in the Utah desert when NSA finds themselves obliged to increase the size of their new mammoth data storage site. Yes, dear, we'll need those new jobs to pay the taxes to pay for those ginormous new data-harvesting contracts ... but that's not the point, is it?

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: oorah!! for the Job Creators!!

      For $51m over 8 years, at normal contractor rates, General Dynamics really will not be doing all that much. By my crude reckoningthat will rent a staff of no more than about 75 people, on the unlikely assumption that they don't have to supply any equipment, space, or office supplies.

      The number sounds a lot bigger than it is.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: oorah!! for the Job Creators!!

      There is hope yet for the lackluster recovery of the U.S. economy ... there's hundreds of new jobs there, and think of all the new construction jobs in the Utah desert when NSA finds themselves obliged to increase the size of their new mammoth data storage site.

      That is robbing Peter to pay Paul: it simply means that this creates a place to go to for all those Silicon Valley people put out of a job because US law making it provably impossible for any US based company to offer services that come even close to comply with EU data protection directives. That is the real battle: not the NSA doing for the US what other nations have their own equivalent of, but keeping Silicon Valley alive after they screwed over probably cause, due process and transparency.

      Did Lavabit and Silent Circle close shop because the NSA hacked them? Nah. They closed because they were legally required to end the protection for their users - and this can be done to ANY company with US headquarters. That, dear gents, is what they are desperate not to talk about. It's actually quite entertaining to ask US CEOs to comment on this when they're on some event stage talking up their company and taking questions. You end up with some epic squirming twerking and evasive language that makes politicians look like amateurs.

      Well, expect no pity from me. They made their bed, they can now jolly well lie in it too.

  10. MrRtd
    WTF?

    But I read today the US Government is charging some Chinese officials for spying? Do as I say, and not as I do. That's must be the US Government motto these days.

  11. tom dial Silver badge

    Nothing much to see hers.

    I can't see the article really tells us much beyond that the foreign intelligence services, exemplified by the NSA (with a brief nod to the Australian DSD) are doing pretty much what we would expect of them, pretty much what they were (and still are) doing with radio signals before the explosion of undersea fiber, and with no indication at all that the results are being used politically.

    On a quick first read the abominably formatted Presidential Policy Directive referenced here appears to add no significant constraints on the collection or management of communication to those that are already required and about which there is much agitation.

  12. TopOnePercent Silver badge
    Alert

    Pointless

    The initial Snowden leaks were certainly an eye opener, revealing the sheer scale and success of electronic surveillance to be every bit as comprehensive as your favourite spy movie/series would suggest.

    Fast forward to today though, and its all beginning to look a little pointless. The general populace either didn't grasp the extent of the monitoring to which they are subjected, or they didn't care. Change isn't coming, because too few people are demanding it. So what is the point in these continuous revelations of diminishing scale? What's the agenda? What's the end game?

    The NSA aren't embarrassed because they view their actions as being what they're paid to do. Any embarrasment stems only from the ease with which Snowden ripped them off.

    1. Omniaural

      Re: Pointless

      Snowden has become a line in the sand with which you can measure people's ideologies on issues like patriotism, freedom and democracy.

      The majority of the US has a strange love/hate relationship with it's institutions. It's okay for them to hate and mistrust them for their own reasons, but if anyone outside the US dares to point the finger then they will defend it to the end.

      I think the average person is not really interested in these matters because they don't feel the effects until it's too late. They are pragmatic about the need for the NSA as long as they are doing it to someone else and not them.

      Snowden has been effectively isolated by the US administration and they've done a good job of scaring anyone else with access to come out in the open and corroborate or expand with further evidence any of the revelations that have come from him.

      The public find it easy to dismiss Snowden because the US have pushed him into the arms of the 'enemy' which makes the traitor story easier to sell, when any objective viewer would see that he has just sought refuge in one of the few places where the US gov has no sway or bargaining power. He may well have had to sell a little bit of his soul to guarantee that safety but it doesn't diminish what he kicked off.

      In 20-30 years time I sure this will be looked back upon by history as a dark period for the US, hopefully contrasted by the change necessary to restore a confident democracy, not afraid to be accountable for its mistakes.

    2. NoneSuch

      Re: Pointless

      What you fail to grasp is what Snowden talked about is what he knew about. He was not privy to everything and the shadows go a lot deeper than what our brief glimpse into the secret world reveals.

      "So what is the point in these continuous revelations of diminishing scale? What's the agenda? What's the end game?"

      To answer your question, liberty and freedom from tyranny. Ironically the same ideal that the USA itself was formed on.

      1. Anomalous Cowturd
        Unhappy

        @NoneSuch

        That hits the nail squarely on the head.

        They have a "legal warrant" to listen to every call? So they have evidence against every caller? Smells like bullshit to me.

        If you're not for us, you're against us.

        Unfortunately for us, they have a total disrespect for the law if they think can get away with it, and the money to change the law if they can't, on their side.

  13. Steve Medway
    Joke

    NSA paying for info in Bitcoins

    The NSA didn't actually bug the Bahamas Telecom Company.

    They paid for every call in BTC :)

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Snowden pah

    Way too many people give this guy way too much credit. In the mean time I'm still waiting for a revelation we didn't know about or couldn't imagine. Until such unlikely time, duh boring.

    1. phil dude
      FAIL

      Re: Snowden pah

      yeah, and that's why you're A/C, right?

      P.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Snowden pah

      Supposition isn't proof. A year ago, anyone who even hinted darkly at half of what Snowden's provided evidence of was shovelled conveniently into the same 'nutter' category as alien abductees and those who think Elvis is deep frozen somewhere to be revived for a comeback tour. It's a lot easier to have a conversation and argue for change when you know they really were breaking the rules.

      In case you missed it, the debate, such as it is, is not about whether Snowden is a hero, a celebrity or an attention seeker, but, in some quarters at least about how best to use what he's provided to try to effect change for the better. Boring? No.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Snowden pah

        those who think Elvis is deep frozen somewhere to be revived for a comeback tour

        What? He isn't? Noooooo!

        Sorry, small reality outage. Normal service has been resumed.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Snowden pah

          ... And down south, there's this rumour,

          they say he didn't die,

          Just sitting in an icebox,

          like Grandma's Apple pie,

          while a man dressed all in Army green,

          with a phone right by the door,

          just waiting for an urgent call, about that nuclear war,

          We're going to raise, the bones of Elvis,

          We're going to raise, the bones of Elvis,

          E- Everlasting,

          L- Life,

          V- Via,

          I- Induced,

          S-Suspended animation,

          Nik Turners Inner City Unit - a classic if you like Hawkwind spinoffs.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XslNMymKM4g

          1. kryptonaut

            Re: Snowden pah

            Blimey, that's a blast from the past - thanks! :)

    3. Omniaural

      Re: Snowden pah

      @OP Until Snowden revealed the extent of the NSA's hitherto speculative actions, that's all it was, educated guesswork or rumour-mongering by those who had caught a glimpse behind the curtain.

      The files that are now in the open, and most likely more still to come, show an agency that has taken full advantage of the FUD around their activities, which were previously in the shadows, to paint a picture of a department drunk on its own power and a government unwilling to ask hard questions at best, or perpetuating the situation in full knowledge at worst.

      Of course, you wouldn't expect them to volunteer information on their practices, but they have shown themselves to be totally unaccountable and stretching the law to its limit and this has infected those in power who were supposed to be overseeing them, who feel that their association with the agency makes them bulletproof too.

      Quite apart from the worrying evidence that Snowden has imparted, the behaviour of those he has challenged since then have proven what kind of people are in charge of this indiscriminate, limitless surveillance and intelligence gathering and it doesn't fill me with confidence that the right people are in place there.

      The government's response shouldn't have been to shoot the messenger, it should have been to take the NSA to task and ask it to do what it does, but do it better. The USA (and the rest of the 'five eyes' for that matter) may well be playing tit for tat with the chinese, but as has been proven with the charging of chinese spies, the US's authority has lost it's credibility because it felt it had to be as unscrupulous as those it thought it was defending itself against. The US government is sinking into a pit of it's own making since 9/11 and it needs to do something drastic to stop the rot.

      Whichever way you look at it the US is still a world leader. Where it goes others will follow. It's time for them to take a different path that reinstates real democracy as it's guiding principle.

      1. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: Snowden pah

        The government is seriously interested in prosecuting Edward Snowden because his unauthorized release of large quantities of highly classified documents, which I expect they find damaging to programs they think important, not to mention that it was a major embarrassment. They - the executive branch and much of the legislative branch - have little interest in cutting these programs, as Presidential Policy Directive PPD-28 shows rather clearly.

        There is no evidence that the NSA or its other Five Eyes counterparts operated without controls; indeed, many of the documents released describe the controls in great detail and indicate that the NSA had internal controls and reporting procedures that raised instances of questionable behavior to the Attorney General or FISC.

        Those who, for whatever reason, wish to delude themselves that we are seeing a malevolent out-of-control secret government "drunk on its own power" that "infected those in power who were supposed to be overseeing them" certainly may do so. The problem, however, is either much more or much less serious. Either the government, with the help of the DHS, FBI, CIA, NSA, and assorted other military and civilian agencies is bent on enslaving us all using the laws the Congress passed and programs over which it exercises general supervision; or it is not. Given the fact that somewhere between most and all of the programs disclosed have been running for years to decades with no noticeable evidence of an emerging tyranny, I am cautiously optimistic. We are right to be concerned about potential misuse of government surveillance and right to try to install controls that we think will keep it from being misused. In the end, however, it is not the surveillance that will oppress but those we authorize to use force to maintain order; and if they go wrong they will have little need of mass surveillance, however useful they might find it.

    4. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: Snowden pah

      " a revelation we didn't know about or couldn't imagine" or that wasn't reported, in many cases by name, by about the beginning of 2011.

      Upvoted.

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