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Subject: Phone records and searching




Hi Bart,
You have to wonder where people have been since 2000.  There never was and has not been any "secret"
about NSA checking phone logs and web search logs, its been known that they've been doing that since
at least 2003, I've read dozens of stories since then about how they are collecting data and data mining, etc. 
And then there are things like this:
Which discusses how and what and how to do it on a fairly simple level - and note the date on the story. 
There are literally dozens or more of such stories at that time, plus news stories about the warrants, court orders,
legal vs illegal, and so on ad infinitum.  The only difference now is that we've got a Democrat in the White House,
so he didn't order the news to STFU about it.
And a lot of people have some crazy ideas about what's being put in the databases. 
From what I've seen in media I trust, it's who called whom, and a location. 
That's about it for the general phone searching.
The claims about "warrantless search" is equally nonsensical, there were warrants and they were issued by a court. 
They simply aren't public warrants placed on an open docket.
So what use is all this?  It's used for what we in IT call "data mining".  This is geekspeak for a program that runs
a lot of searches across the data looking for matches with known patterns of behavior.  For instance, anyone
making more than three phone calls to a madrassa that is home to pro terrorist Mullahs would undoubtedly be
flagged as someone to watch.  Persons making multiple phone calls from foreign locations would get checked.
But the real gold in data mining is in associative indexing.  You start collecting data and then you catch a terrorist
by whatever means.  You then go through his record, and flag everyone he called often, and then watch to see
their pattern of connections.  The ones that pop up often enough get flagged, and you then watch their connections. 
Eventually a network forms of people who connect to each other, and that's a network of people to track, in particular
those who suddenly pop up using throwaway phones in the US or Europe.  Those guys you want to maybe have
a talk with.  Unless you are a Democrat, or so it would seem.
(Have some more links/quotes.  
There is really no shortage.  Googling "data mining terrorism" gets about 2.7 million links and a LOT of them
are pre 2009.  Probably most of them.)
So there was really little or no secret about this program in any real sense, it was pretty much a known entity. 
Honestly, look at these:
Even on wikipedia, they note this:  "On January 17, 2007, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales informed U.S.
Senate leaders by letter [6] that the program would not be reauthorized by the president, but would be subjected
to judicial oversight. "Any electronic surveillance that was occurring as part of the Terrorist Surveillance Program
will now be conducted subject to the approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court," according to his letter."
FFS people, are you that dense?  What do you think that means?  It means they went to this court:
And got the freaking warrants!  They have warrants!  That means the searches are legal. 
There is NOTHING WHATSOEVER in the US Constitution or in our body of law that says a federal warrant
to a company has to be made public.  Anyone who read that, and I read it the day after Gonzales released it,
KNEW what it meant.  Hell, Congress has been briefed on the program repeatedly, or so the Administration says,
and I believe it.
People, if you did not know this was going on, IT IS YOUR OWN DAMN FAULT!  It's certainly been discussed
multiple times on the Bartcop forums.  Maybe you folks that missed out on all that should at least start lurking,
you might learn something.
Then there is the whole "reasonable search" claim.  Here's the nub of that, phone call records DO NOT BELONG
TO ANYONE BUT THE PHONE COMPANY.  PERIOD.  These are not medical records, you have no right of
control over phone call data - only over the content of the call.  This seems to have a lot of armchair lawyers confused. 
Who you called and when you called are records that belong to the phone company and no one else.  It is entirely
reasonable to conclude that among the millions of call records hosted by Verizon (for example) there are some calls
to terrorist groups or organizations, or other illegal or violent groups.
So a warrant for the entire group of records is not an unreasonable request, given that those records are essentially
a single ledger or database.  It's rare indeed for government warrants to be limited to a single line in a ledger.
LISTENING to phone calls is another matter entirely.  We are discussing call records here, not the CONTENT
of call records.  That's like the difference between a list of email addresses and the content of someone's email folders. 
One of those is legal for sale or trade, the other is not, and can get you put in jail.  However, in light of that,
apparently a lot of people never heard of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.  Really.
So the program is legal and is conducted legally.  I'm going to consider that point settled.
Now, should the government be doing this?  In a perfect world, probably not. 
Unhappily, we do not live in a perfect world.  We live in a world where people plant bombs at public events,
try to gas subways with sarin and mail ricin to public officials.  In that world, it would seem to be a logical precaution.
If you think that's just too much intrusion, or that there is potential for misuse (and there certainly is)  then what do
you want to replace it with?  And what guarantee do I have that your replacement won't be even more subject to
potential misuse than PRISM?  And why aren't you writing your Congressperson about it, given the current program
is being conducted legally, you'd have to change the law to stop it.  Just whining isn't going to change anything.
Democrats (and Republicans) who are howling about privacy don't seem to have any answer for those questions. 
And I don't see them introducing any legislation to provide ownership of phone call records to the individual making
the call, as medical records are treated under HIPPA.  They are just taking advantage to stab Obama in the back,
because he's not their "perfect" President.
So here's a couple of questions for them.  Given the heat Obama got over a simple move to close the prison in Cuba
and move the prisoners to the US, do you really think there was any possibility he could have shut down this program? 
And just what do YOU want to do to monitor terrorists?  And are you going to announce this program loudly so
terrorists will know how to avoid it, or will it be secret?
Just wondering.

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