Notebook, 9 May 2015: Information Really Is Power

Just to state the obvious, the power of information (as opposed to what amounts to the “noise” of op-eds, punditry, “research” emanating from pre-ordained conclusions and the like), it’s useful to note what the Information Age has recently wrought. This seemingly “DUH” title Citizen videos of police misconduct are eroding the presumption that police do not commit misconduct ought to be understood as a given, but the underlying assumption needs to be made explicit: people are hungry—starving—for real information (in a format they understand).
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Updated 2X: Notebook, 8 June 2013: I Have Nothing To Hide Either, But . . .

A guy sits at a bank of computer screens at the NSA. On one screen is a list of the target’s contacts. Who placed the call, which calls got returned, the date the calls were made, the time and duration of each call. He doesn’t know who his target is? Of course he does. He has the phone number, which he cleverly enough matched up to a name he found in a phone book. (Lets just assume for the sake of argument that the NSA’s phone books are both a lot more comprehensive and more up to date than something you or I might buy on Amazon.) Both the target’s and the party (or parties – this could be a conference call) on the other end of the line(s) appear on another screen.

Which brings up a good point.

Just because the only FISA court order we know about is supposedly restrictive (just phone call meta data) doesn’t mean that the NSA doesn’t already have all the data they need to fill in the blanks, including content. After all, there’s always the much rumored, but never confirmed ECHELON Program. As far as I know, nobody has yet asked what the phone call meta data is being matched up with.

So this NSA analyst gets a request to keep tabs on the target, and being sufficiently “sound” to pass the clearance hurdles necessary to actually sit at this desk, he’s not only more prone than just about everybody else to follow orders that he knows are wrong, but he’s far more likely to embrace a world view in which the threat is routinely exaggerated. So he got his orders, and now he’s found what he’s looking for. His target has repeatedly made contact with an “anti-American” element.

This needs to be reported!
Continue reading “Updated 2X: Notebook, 8 June 2013: I Have Nothing To Hide Either, But . . .”