Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

The NSA Is Recording Every Cell Phone Call In the Bahamas

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the listen-up dept.

United States 205

Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes "The National Security Agency is secretly intercepting, recording, and archiving the audio of virtually every cell phone conversation on the island nation of the Bahamas. According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the surveillance is part of a top-secret system – code-named SOMALGET – that was implemented without the knowledge or consent of the Bahamian government. Instead, the agency appears to have used access legally obtained in cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to open a backdoor to the country's cellular telephone network, enabling it to covertly record and store the 'full-take audio' of every mobile call made to, from and within the Bahamas – and to replay those calls for up to a month."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

the question is (5, Interesting)

fche (36607) | about 5 months ago | (#47041559)

.. what will the Bahama government/people do - will they sue the US for the presumable crime of breaking into their phone system?

and the answer is (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041783)

turn off / deny all US based access to your countries infrastructure. Can't trust them to do the right thing, then we just won't trust them at all.
See how well their intelligence systems work without backdoor co-operation from the rest of the world.

On the Bahamas, TOO. (2, Insightful)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 5 months ago | (#47042017)

Yeahhhh... No.

Everyone who's anyone is using electronic eavesdropping to supplement their Country's intelligence agenda.

If the United States took the high ground and refused to engage this, it would be to the detriment of the West, likely including the Country you've posted from.

This technology is already out there for everyone to exploit.... Once the toothpaste is out of the tube, it's hard to get back in.

Re:and the answer is (5, Interesting)

JMJimmy (2036122) | about 5 months ago | (#47042147)

As if a country like the Bahamas can do anything like that. The US is the only country they could hook into for internet infrastructure without running a cable to South America or Mexico.

The US also flies unmarked helos in Bahamas airspace - the DEA would do low level flights up and down the island of Eleuthera looking for crops and attempting to follow drug mules. The mules would drop the drugs off on the south end of the island, transfer from boat to a truck, drive up to the north end of the island and dump them on another boat to get around satellite surveillance. It's scary seeing an unmarked Apache 30 feet off the deck fly over as you're laying on the beach.

Re:and the answer is (3, Insightful)

AHuxley (892839) | about 5 months ago | (#47042257)

The problem is in some parts of the world is the domestic cost of telco interconnects. It can be cheaper to connect domestic calls via an international peering loop that goes way out past a few other nations and their shared facilities. Kind of hard to re build a decades of contracts and local hardware thats all about reducing costs.

Re:and the answer is (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 5 months ago | (#47042307)

Don't think they wont still manage. It'll just cost more.

Re:the question is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041791)

Kick the DEA out of the country?

Arrest the local DEA agents for crimes against the Bahamas?

They would certainly be within their rights to do both of these.

Re:the question is (2)

amiga3D (567632) | about 5 months ago | (#47042325)

Wonder what the repercussions would be of that? Maybe a ban on US tourists visiting the Bahamas? Wonder how many dollars that'll cost?

Re:the question is (4, Informative)

Rich0 (548339) | about 5 months ago | (#47041813)

.. what will the Bahama government/people do - will they sue the US for the presumable crime of breaking into their phone system?

In what court would they do this? You can't sue the US government in a US court without the permission of the US government, and the US will just ignore the ruling of just about any other court.

And yes, many (most?) other countries work the same way...

Re:the question is (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about 5 months ago | (#47042131)

Considering how quite a bit of money is stowed in the general area, and not from the poor people of this planet, turning off access to those accounts from the US just might cause a few owners of senators to prod their whores.

Re:the question is (3, Interesting)

swb (14022) | about 5 months ago | (#47042625)

That worked once in Cuba. After the Dominican Republic, Panama and Grenada the track record of that kind of strategy looks like poking the wrong end of the 82nd Airborne.

Re:the question is (0)

PrimaryConsult (1546585) | about 5 months ago | (#47042741)

Except the Bahamas has a pretty big ally, unlike those other areas. The U.S. attacking the Bahamas could start WWIII, since the British would have to intervene. It would be as politically viable as attacking Canada.

Re:the question is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041873)

Of course the Bahaman Government wouldn't know.
The Question is did Obama know.

Re:the question is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041931)

Of course the Bahaman Government wouldn't know. The Question is did Obama know.

Who cares if Obama knew? There's no law against spying on other countries and I pretty sure the majority of Americans have no problem with spying on other countries. I do, but Obama doesn't care.

Re:the question is (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 5 months ago | (#47042081)

The majority of Americans may have no problem with 'spying on other countries' in the sense of collecting a fairly wide swath of individuals reasonably close to known or suspected criminals, but I'm not sure they are as keen on 'spying on other countries' in the sense of spying on the all telephone communications for the entire fucking country.

Re:the question is (2)

amiga3D (567632) | about 5 months ago | (#47042337)

I bet they're more pissed off about AT&T buying up DirectTV.

Re:the question is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47042435)

Since the Bahamas do not pose any terror threat to the US, I'd hazard a guess that this is a test run which they're using to practice on before expanding their recording operation to other countries...

Re:the question is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47042479)

Meta data only eh? Right...Mr. President. Here catch this grenade! "Opps! Did I do that?"

Strength through Unity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041573)

and Unity through Faith.

Re:Strength through Unity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041801)

Worst. UI. Evar.

Cayman Islands? (5, Insightful)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 5 months ago | (#47041583)

Had they done this with Cayman Islands they could have possible nabbed some real criminals, and probably made the world a better/safer place.

congress (5, Funny)

p51d007 (656414) | about 5 months ago | (#47041639)

Oh no, can't have them monitor the Cayman islands...they would net about 90% of our congress, senate and 3/4 of the power brokers in DC...can't have that ya know ;)

Re:Cayman Islands? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 5 months ago | (#47041719)

Had they done this with Cayman Islands they could have possible nabbed some real criminals,

Uh, you mean like themselves?

Yea, funny how that never happened... natch.

Re:Cayman Islands? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041917)

That would be outstanding!

Just imagine all of the Illinois politicians freaking out.

Re:Cayman Islands? (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | about 5 months ago | (#47042035)

look up ARCOS-1

Re:Cayman Islands? (1)

NettiWelho (1147351) | about 5 months ago | (#47042067)

Had they done this with Cayman Islands they could have possible nabbed some real criminals, and probably made the world a better/safer place.

Why exactly would have they gone after their own bosses? They know who butters their bread.

Re:Cayman Islands? (5, Interesting)

Jahoda (2715225) | about 5 months ago | (#47042329)

1) It seems much more likely they do monitor the Cayman Islands in a similar fashion than them not monitoring them.

2) What you say is indeed humorous, but what isn't funny is that we know that the purpose has never been to catch criminals, it is to catch people doing things contrary to the interests of the state, conduct corporate espionage, and/or gather useful blackmail-worthy information for use at a future time.

Re:Cayman Islands? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47042539)

1) It seems much more likely they do monitor the Cayman Islands in a similar fashion than them not monitoring them.

2) What you say is indeed humorous, but what isn't funny is that we know that the purpose has never been to catch criminals, it is to catch people doing things contrary to the interests of the state, conduct corporate espionage, and/or gather useful blackmail-worthy information for use at a future time.

If a federal agent tried threatening me with blackmail the agent would get a Spider knife to the neck and bleed out in under a minute.

Re:Cayman Islands? (1)

zr (19885) | about 5 months ago | (#47042455)

shh.. thats in the next episode!

To serve and protect (4, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | about 5 months ago | (#47041589)

Surely there is a branch of al-quaeda there to have that kind of surveillance. When they will start to send the killer drones?

Re:To serve and protect (4, Funny)

funwithBSD (245349) | about 5 months ago | (#47041595)

Send in the drones... there ought to be drones....

Re:To serve and protect (1)

ubrgeek (679399) | about 5 months ago | (#47041769)

Damn for a lack of mod points. Very funny :)

Re:To serve and protect (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 5 months ago | (#47041829)

They'll drone you when you're trying to be so good
They'll drone you just like they said they would
They'll drone you when you're trying to go home
They'll drone you when you're there all alone
But I would not feel so all alone
Everybody must get droned.

Re:To serve and protect (1)

funwithBSD (245349) | about 5 months ago | (#47042347)

Gives an ominous note to

"I smoked two joints before I smoked two joints, then I smoked two more."

Re:To serve and protect (2)

BancBoy (578080) | about 5 months ago | (#47042033)

Don't bother...they're here!

Re:To serve and protect (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 5 months ago | (#47041723)

I volunteer for the foot-search.

Favoritism. (5, Insightful)

Forbo (3035827) | about 5 months ago | (#47041591)

"The U.S. Department of Treasury estimated that in 2011 the Caribbean Banking Centers, which include Bahamas ...held almost $2 trillion dollars in United States debt." - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

I bet there were some pretty juicy tidbits swept up in that massive dragnet. I certainly believe that tax evaders are a lot more of an actual threat to the US than the terrorism "boogeyman". So where are our prosecutions on this crap?

The answer is that there never will be. All this mass-surveillance will never actually be used to our benefit, only as a means enforcing the status quo for the powers that be.

Re:Favoritism. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47042293)

That is really the catch-22 in all of this

For the most part secret surveillance cannot be used to support prosecutions, and even if you did want to use it surreptitiously, you can't because it would reveal your methods

Sometimes you can make use of it IF there are plausible multiple sources of the same information

Oh, and the people who have the most to loose in this situation are the big money tax evaders and money launderers, all of whom already own a congress person or two

I am starting to wonder if the whole greenwald scandal (TM) is just to pressure the US government to give up its capabilities to go after the big-fish tax evaders

Re:Favoritism. (5, Interesting)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 5 months ago | (#47042401)

The US has aggressively been targeting tax evaders since about 2008. They've collected billions in back taxes, penalties and interest. Most haven't gone to jail because they are using the government's amnesty program that grants amnesty from criminal charges and partial penalty relief (but still typically takes better than 50% of the value of the accounts often far more than the taxes and interest).

The interesting bit is each year you don't come forward the amount of penalties they reduce goes down. If you took them up in 2008 you got a pretty decent deal, not so in 2014. With the steady decrease in what they will forgive they are setting the stage for genuine criminal prosecutions once the amnesty programs winds down in a few more years. IIRC the IRS has estimated they've discovered and taxed better than 50% of the hidden accounts and the people coming forward goes up each year because of the agreements the US is striking with other nations is revealing the tax cheats. Fact is you either come forward using the amnesty program and take your lumps or in a few years you could be looking at jail time.

Legally speaking... (1, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | about 5 months ago | (#47041605)

Anyone at NSA who is participating in this is committing an act of war against a sovereign nation without any declaration of war.

-jcr

Re:Legally speaking... (4, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about 5 months ago | (#47041687)

Anyone at NSA who is participating in this is committing an act of war against a sovereign nation without any declaration of war.

Under what theory of international law? This behavior is clearly bad and is the sort of thing a country has a right to be pissed off about, but there's no coherent, conventional theory that makes this an act of war. The situation is bad enough without exaggerating.

Re:Legally speaking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041747)

I'm not defending the OP, but didn't Washington define a cyber attack as an act of war? Not that an act of war is a legal phrase in the first place though...

Re:Legally speaking... (0, Troll)

jcr (53032) | about 5 months ago | (#47041763)

didn't Washington define a cyber attack as an act of war?

Yes, they did. Never mind that they do it routinely.

-jcr

Re:Legally speaking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041861)

didn't Washington define a cyber attack as an act of war?

Yes, they did. Never mind that they do it routinely.

-jcr

Espionage is not an attack.

If espionage is an act of war, did Snowden commit an act of war against the United States or not?

If what Snowden did is NOT an act of war, why would the NSA collecting data from a foreign nation's phone system be an act of war?

Gonna answer that this time?

Re:Legally speaking... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041913)

Espionage: the practice of spying or of using spies, typically by governments to obtain political and military information.

So, Edward Snowden is not only a foreign government of himself, but also was spying or using spies against the US government? And here I thought he was just some guy that had access to some government secrets and went to the press with it after the superiors he tried to remedy the situation with had turned him down. How silly of me!

Or... maybe you're just an idiot or a shill. Seriously, the amount of stupidity that I hear to justify our government's corrupt ways is astounding. But I guess the king can do no wrong, isn't that so?

Oh, and while we're on the subject, Obama himself has called this type of behavior an act of war. Funny how when he's caught perpetrating it, it is just "national security." Oops!

Re:Legally speaking... (2, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | about 5 months ago | (#47042611)

maybe you're just an idiot or a shill.

That's where the smart money is betting. NSA has a number of minions tasked with bad-mouthing the man who exposed their billions of felony wiretapping crimes. There are also a few knee-jerk bootlickers who will do likewise.

-jcr

Re:Legally speaking... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041947)

They never defined it that way! If the cyber attack has physical damage then it's treated as an act of war.

"If the physical consequences of a cyberattack [washingtonpost.com] work the kind of physical damage that dropping a bomb or firing a missile would, that cyberattack should equally be considered a use of force.”

Re:Legally speaking... (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 5 months ago | (#47041849)

To be fair - an act of war is whatever somebody wants it to be.

If I'm a dictator of some country and you're the dictator of another country and you sneeze and I don't like it and I order my military to kill all your citizens, then you basically started a war with your sneeze. Or maybe I started it with my craziness. Either way there were some acts and a war, so figure it out however you like.

There are just some particular actions that people think of as crossing a line. The US never really went to war with Cuba and the Soviet Union, though the US did a naval blockade (sorry, quarantine) of Cuba which was clearly an act of war. Basically countries do stuff to each other all the time, and when one calculates that will make out better with bloodshed than diplomacy you have a war.

Re:Legally speaking... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041699)

Anyone at NSA who is participating in this is committing an act of war against a sovereign nation without any declaration of war.

-jcr

If espionage is an act of war, then Snowden committed an act of war against the United States, and, because he's a U.S. citizen, that make him - by definition - a traitor.

You might want to rethink your claim that espionage is an act of war. Your claim is false to begin with, but YOU might want to think about it some more.

Re:Legally speaking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041945)

It isn't HIS claim, it is what the US government have claimed it to be and they have clearly labelled cyber attacks and espionage an act of war.

Re:Legally speaking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47042171)

It isn't HIS claim, it is what the US government have claimed it to be and they have clearly labelled cyber attacks and espionage an act of war.

A cyberattack isn't the same as intercepting data off a network, you fucking MORON.

Re:Legally speaking... (3, Insightful)

AHuxley (892839) | about 5 months ago | (#47042409)

Try and think of what "intercepting data off a network" is really about into todays digitally connected world.
Thats every private call, legal documents as a fax or junk crypto, every electronic court document, banking records protected with international junk crypto, local contracts been discussed between gov departments before been offered, international contracts been discussed between gov departments, the expensive needs of education, science wrt to costly upgrades, mil and police needs, health, energy policy, food exports, trade with other nations.... Any nation thats opened itself up to that kind of constant "intercepting" is really sinking into colony status with every act, law, deal, contract been seen and fully understood by a few other nations (5++ other nations).
International tenders become a costly joke with a full understanding of the gov position, needs and price range.
A digital banana republic, as Argentina had the the English Octopus over rail. Once another nation is in your domestic infrastructure they get to understand and shape policy.

Re:Legally speaking... (2)

bobbied (2522392) | about 5 months ago | (#47041825)

Anyone at NSA who is participating in this is committing an act of war against a sovereign nation without any declaration of war.

-jcr

Slow down cowboy and holster that side arm... The Article is a bit conflicting on this.. It says EVERY cell call, *then* it clarifies that it's only international calls, which is certainly NOT every cell call. So, this might not be what you suspect and before you start a shooting war we need to think about this.

Seems this is NOT an act of war, it's simply monitoring traffic coming over international trunks and that they simply have the ability to intercept the signaling, and both sides of the conversation. This requires no *in country* equipment or invasion of territory to do. This is NOT new information, we've know about this for years, even before Snowden did his document dump. Now if they set this tap up IN the Bahamas, you *might* have an argument, but I don't think that's what happened here.

Now, if they really are monitoring ALL cell calls, then it would be necessary to have assets in country and you MIGHT have your "act of war" but then again, you might not. At any rate, even if the NSA invaded the Bahamas to do this, I seriously doubt they'd be incensed enough to do much more than protest. What you going to do? Throw out all the rich American tourists or start a shooting war and watch them run? I don't think so.

Re:Legally speaking... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47042039)

It says EVERY cell call, *then* it clarifies that it's only international calls, which is certainly NOT every cell call. So, this might not be what you suspect and before you start a shooting war we need to think about this.

Seems this is NOT an act of war, it's simply monitoring traffic coming over international trunks and that they simply have the ability to intercept the signaling, and both sides of the conversation. This requires no *in country* equipment or invasion of territory to do. This is NOT new information, we've know about this for years, even before Snowden did his document dump. Now if they set this tap up IN the Bahamas, you *might* have an argument, but I don't think that's what happened here.

Did you even read the article? It clearly says that they are intercepting every cell call in the Bahamas and that it was based on exploiting legal access arranged with the Bahamas police for a specific case in order to install a blanket tap of all calls. If it was about tapping international cables, why would it only be picking up cell phones? The article also discusses broader programs which involve more countries and in many of those the scope of interception is more limited, but in the Bahamas it is everything - not just stuff that passes over international trunks.

When U.S. drug agents need to tap a phone of a suspected drug kingpin in another country, they call up their counterparts and ask them set up an intercept. To facilitate those taps, many nations – including the Bahamas – have hired contractors who install and maintain so-called lawful intercept equipment on their telecommunications. With SOMALGET, it appears that the NSA has used the access those contractors developed to secretly mine the country’s entire phone system for “signals intelligence” –recording every mobile call in the country. “Host countries,” the document notes, “are not aware of NSA’s SIGINT collection.”

In the Bahamas, the documents say, the NSA intercepts GSM data that is transmitted over what is known as the “A link”–or “A interface”–a core component of many mobile networks. The A link transfers data between two crucial parts of GSM networks – the base station subsystem, where phones in the field communicate with cell towers, and the network subsystem, which routes calls and text messages to the appropriate destination. “It’s where all of the telephone traffic goes,” says the former engineer.

Re:Legally speaking... (1)

c (8461) | about 5 months ago | (#47042013)

Anyone at NSA who is participating in this is committing an act of war against a sovereign nation without any declaration of war.

Actually, since it's interception of communications of a foreign country, this may be one of the few recently reported instances of the NSA actually doing their job.

Re:Legally speaking... (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 5 months ago | (#47042447)

Getting caught spying on another nation is embarassing. It is not however an act of war. It is a crime but you have to be caught by the country you're spying on to get punished for it. Mostly spies just get held for trading to get back your own spies. I'd guess the Bahamas probably have a very limited espionage program though.

the NSA reply? (1)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | about 5 months ago | (#47041607)

No we didn't, that's a glitch.

Foreign Signals Intelligence (1, Troll)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 5 months ago | (#47041617)

The NSA's mandate...listening in on foreigners is why they were created back in the day.

In other words, this is a non-issue. Almost as silly as an article that accused the FBI of arresting kidnappers in Pennsylvania....

Re: Foreign Signals Intelligence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041659)

Right and there was not american to american phone calls from the Bahamas.

Re: Foreign Signals Intelligence (2)

bobbied (2522392) | about 5 months ago | (#47041885)

Right and there was not american to american phone calls from the Bahamas.

This doesn't matter, or so the courts say. You step off sovereign US territory and the legal assumption that you are a US citizen no longer applies. So, where they cannot TARGET you knowing you are a citizen (without a warrant), they can intercept your phone calls in their quest for intelligence information when you are on foreign soil. The rules are literally different OUTSIDE the country, and you need to get used to that because it's been this way for decades.

What's changed though is the *sharing* of intelligence information gathered by the NSA with law enforcement.... But that's not what this article is about..

Re:Foreign Signals Intelligence (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041721)

Except that getting caught at it is a major embarrassment and is going to destroy the relationships with Bahamas and most likely erode even further that of other countries. And given the breach of trust involved in this specific instance, is going to have a negative effect in the war against terror and drug cooperation. Not to mention that indiscriminate eavesdropping in an entire population is both overkill an unnecessary for gathering relevant intelligence of any kind.

Re:Foreign Signals Intelligence (2)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 5 months ago | (#47042207)

Right... and the Germans have cut off trade relations after the revelations regarding NSA funny business with the Chancellor's personal cell phone.

All the major players do it, and all the major players know the other Countries do it.

Hell, Enemy of the State is a 1998 movie and the tinfoil hatters have been right about this one for years.

Since the time of Kings, he who spies best, has the attention of the rest.

Re:Foreign Signals Intelligence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041727)

The NSA's mandate...listening in on foreigners is why they were created back in the day.

In other words, this is a non-issue. Almost as silly as an article that accused the FBI of arresting kidnappers in Pennsylvania....

I was thinking the same thing.

Note that the NSA signals can't be used to build a case against someone. Before 9/11, it could never be used. After 9/11, the lead would have to go to a FISA court first. If the FISA court approves, then it can go to the FBI so that they can gather evidence for a case.

Re:Foreign Signals Intelligence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041831)

You've not been following the news.

The NSA can and does use their intelligence to build cases against people. They're just
careful to hide the sources, and to collect alternate evidence to prosecute the case with.

Re:Foreign Signals Intelligence (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 5 months ago | (#47042253)

Yes, in exactly the same fashion your local police department might gather alternative evidence to protect a valuable confidential informant.

Regression analysis.

It makes proving a suspect guilty so much easier when you work backward from a known outcome.

Re:Foreign Signals Intelligence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041767)

Except that this was done under an agreement with the gov't there put together by the DEA.
I doubt the Bahamian gov't deliberately authorized this mandate, and it might be a little
amazed/annoyed by the apparent, undisclosed mission creep.

Given the number of DEA offices overseas, the fallout from this might be considerable,
at least in terms of getting foreign gov'ts to cooperate with the DEA.

Re:Foreign Signals Intelligence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041975)

I know you dont care what your Government does in the rest of the world. But guess what, the rest of the world cares what your Government does to us

What goood exactly has the NSA done for us? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041637)

It is a serious question. I'm beginning to think that collectively the NSA (and CIA too for that matter) is just ... dumb. At best, a bunch of careerists milking the govt gravy train.

What goood exactly has the NSA done for us? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041689)

They can't tell you because it would help the terrorists. For the children.

Re:What goood exactly has the NSA done for us? (2)

duke_cheetah2003 (862933) | about 5 months ago | (#47041815)

It is a serious question. I'm beginning to think that collectively the NSA (and CIA too for that matter) is just ... dumb. At best, a bunch of careerists milking the govt gravy train.

Unlike all their activities... the good they're doing is top secret!

Re:What goood exactly has the NSA done for us? (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 5 months ago | (#47042483)

The NSA is a lot like government in general. A necessary evil. It's handy to have an idea what your enemies are up to. The problem is that they try to do too much so they get stretched too thin. Instead of concentrating on real threats they just watch everyone then filter it. They've substituted technology for spycraft and we suffer for it.

Re:What goood exactly has the NSA done for us? (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about 5 months ago | (#47042585)

During Vietnam their skilled teams did try and save a lot of US lives by predicting and tracking the enemy.
They also tried to help with complex flight paths around layers SAM.
They did great work tracking Soviet weapons tests and digging under embassy foundations to get near telco equipment.
re "milking the govt gravy train", think of it as a leadership table and a set number can vote.
You want to be at the table voting and setting policy with the budget that reflects that role.
You do not want to be called in for tech support and then sent out of the room as in decades past.

Time for some Navajo! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041663)

You think the evil people who hide their money in the Bahamas aren't like two steps ahead? They probably use old-style couriers to distribute one-time-pad code phrases or use a made-up language to communicate with each other...

Of course you can use metadata to guess at what was said, but by then it's too late.

As much as I abhor the capitalist leeches that use off-shore "financial services", I think I hate government surveillance even more...

Re:Time for some Navajo! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041895)

Offshore accounts in the Bahamas? I thought that was the Caimans?

AMERICA - F YEAH (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041715)

There's a new Sheriff in town, and he ain't got no juris-stinkin-diction to worry about.

Re:AMERICA - F YEAH (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47042635)

There's a new Sheriff in town, and he ain't got no juris-stinkin-diction to worry about.

You've just quoted Michelle Obama saying "Lawyer smelly cock" to Barack during their nightly foreplay.

Correction (1)

duke_cheetah2003 (862933) | about 5 months ago | (#47041797)

The National Security Agency is secretly intercepting, recording, and archiving the audio...

The National Security Agency was secretly intercepting, recording, and archiving the audio...

FTFY.

Storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041805)

So, the NSA must have like a shitload of hard drives. I wonder if they are the ones that have been driving the industry forward at breakneck speeds.

Re:Storage (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 5 months ago | (#47042707)

You don't need a lot of "hard drives" - you just keep the records of call made, time, a voice print and all connections to known and new people.
If the person uses a webcam you keep a few select frames showing - useful for facial recognition.
Every call is sorted in realtime, the small portions of unique data kept and the 'hops' sorted.
Classically you had the above based on spoken words by known people or known people to new people or the use of spoken words or digital data.
Now you just keep every call as a small amount of code and look back over all calls as needed.
In the past it was sort, translate, drop most, store and index.
Now with todays cheap storage you translate, sort, store and index everything and then look back..
The only issue now is the US domestic legal setting and US legal teams in open court. The hard drives needed issue was understood and solved over decades.
Recall what a telco could offer for parallel construction - many years of call data. https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/... [eff.org]
http://www.reuters.com/article... [reuters.com]

Congressional hearing transcript (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041839)

Q. Does NSA totally own contents of all voice communications of hundreds of thousands of Bahamans?

A. No, sir.

Q. It does not?

A. Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps own the Bahamas but not wittingly.

I feel sorry for those of you who think this is ok because it was done against another flag.

A Bahamian jail cell (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | about 5 months ago | (#47041853)

Is calling Eric and Barack.

RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041879)

A very well written main article. I suggest breaking with Slashdot tradition and actually reading it in full.

Too bad the EOs were written by the Shrub... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041889)

in a way that our leader can't undo them. I know he's been fighting for years against this thing, but the Republicans still rule in effect.

Still less troubling than Sterling (3, Insightful)

Triklyn (2455072) | about 5 months ago | (#47041905)

I'm still much less troubled about NSA surveillance than about what what a forced sale of the clippers means for privacy. And what Brendan Eich's ousting means for free speech. I wish Hitchens were still alive, just to see what his take would be on the current trend of popular suppression.

It is certainly legal, and proper for popular opinion to move against unpopular ideas in the private arena, so long as government holds itself apart from this censure... but it does not feel good. it does not feel right.

The NSA can wire-tap the crap out of me, because I don't think they'd do something so capricious as out me to the public. And the public doesn't work through proper channels. Judge, jury, executioner through mob rule.

Orwell would weep, punishing people for what they think.

Reaction guestimations... (4, Interesting)

mythosaz (572040) | about 5 months ago | (#47041921)

Based on the number of proportional font memos with a blacked out second country name, it shouldn't be too hard to narrow down the other country (in addition to the Bahamas) for which "full retrieval" was possible.

I mean, it's not Laos, and it's not Nagorno-Karabakh, but with a known font, you could narrow it down pretty quickly based on the redacted images.

Here:
https://prod01-cdn00.cdn.first... [firstlook.org]
And here:
https://prod01-cdn02.cdn.first... [firstlook.org]

Re:Reaction guestimations... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 5 months ago | (#47042201)

Identify the font, write out every country of the planet, take measurements.

Re:Reaction guestimations... (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 5 months ago | (#47042647)

How long does it take to cut-and-paste a list of countries in that font and see how many fit the width?

Then repeat the process against the other documents in other fonts?

Then compare the two lists? How many countries will be left?

[Leading or trailing whitespace is a non-issue, since you know where the next word starts.]

Live 100 miles from US border? No rights for you. (1)

Trachman (3499895) | about 5 months ago | (#47041927)

Next thing you will hear that all the Americans who live within 100 miles from the US Border, including west and east seashores, do not have constitutional 4th and 5th amendment. At least that what DHS is trying to project by setting border checkpoints. Probably 80% of US population live within 100 miles from US borders. Guess that the next revelation will be that American's calls are getting intercepted, recorded and archived, but never kept for more than 5 years, unless NSA is involved in lawsuit. We know that all calls recorded in UK, Bahamas, Bermuda, Cayman islands, Iraq so far.

Re:Live 100 miles from US border? No rights for yo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47042189)

don't forget 100 miles from any international airport

the other country (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47041955)

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX and the Bahamas)

What do you think is the other country?

Pakistan, Afghanistan ?

Re:the other country (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 5 months ago | (#47042169)

If you're really interested, check what technology the named countries used for phone calls, check who maintains them, check who audits them, check who operates them, look for a connection between them...

Re:the other country (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47042371)

mebbe
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
thecaimanislands

Enemy of the state... 1998... (1)

Rooked_One (591287) | about 5 months ago | (#47041985)

And look where we are now. Insanity...

NSA is a DEA Branch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47042023)

So this seems to make it official - the NSA is nothing more than the Intelligence branch of the DEA.

On main junction box (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47042095)

I remember, years ago, some friends moved there for a few years. One of the big things about the apartment they got is it came with a land line. You see it could take years to get new phone service. During their stay a disgruntled employee cut the phone lines for the whole country. Apparently there is or was one main junction for the whole island, and nothing was labeled right, so it took months to piece the wires back. My friends got reconnected, but got someone elses line, and the locals just handled that as situation normal. Once they found out their new number (from people calling them) they just started using it.

It makes sense if everything is still through a single point, that they can all be tapped easily.

Re:On main junction box (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 5 months ago | (#47042743)

Yes that one hub idea seems to be useful.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
"2000, 95% of intra-German Internet communications was routed via the DE-CIX Internet exchange point in Frankfurt, Germany"

They do this everywhere. (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 5 months ago | (#47042175)

I don't know why it's taking people so long to realize this. The NSA records everything they can get their hands on. And thanks to the USS Jimmy Carter [wikipedia.org] they can get their hands on all terrestrial communications.

Yet Another Snowden post? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47042285)

Enough already. Last year's news is last years news. Everyone knows the NSA is a vacuum cleaner that gathers everything it can. Been that way from the beginning.

Uhm.. (2)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 5 months ago | (#47042557)

The Bahamas already knew about it?
How else did the DEA have access?

There's an app for that. (1)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | about 5 months ago | (#47042695)

I guess we have to accept that we can't trust The Powers That Be to respect our right to privacy. Fortunately there are options.

I reckon more folks should be installing Open Whisper Systems RedPhone for encrypting their own calls. https://whispersystems.org/ [whispersystems.org]

Then there's always the Blackphone handset for more serious business too. https://www.blackphone.ch/phone/ [blackphone.ch]

I supposed if you were really paranoid you could run RedPhone on your Blackphone...

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?