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NSA monitors millions of American e-mails
Intelligence Daily ^ | 6/19/09

Posted on 06/20/2009 7:25:08 AM PDT by FromLori

(WSWS) -- Several current and former agents within the National Security Agency (NSA), speaking on condition of anonymity, have told the New York Times that the spy agency likely monitors millions of e-mail communications and telephone calls made by Americans. The new revelations follow the disclosure in April that the NSA’s monitoring of domestic e-mail traffic broke the law in 2008 and 2009.

Last year, Congress passed legislation providing the NSA greater latitude to spy on the communications of Americans, so long as it resulted inadvertently from the agency’s efforts to spy on foreigners or those it “reasonably believed” to be outside US borders. This authorized the NSA to intercept tens of millions of e-mail and phone communications that pass through American telecommunication “gateways.” The measure was attached to a congressional law granting immunity to telecommunications companies that turned over private phone records to federal authorities.

Among those voting for the bill was then-Senator Barack Obama of Illinois. In all, 293 members of the House and 69 senators voted to pass the bill.

To launch investigations specifically targeting American “terror suspects,” the legislation requires that the NSA first gain a warrant from the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). In fact, this is a mere formality. The FISC almost never turns down a government request for a warrant.

Yet the NSA’s activities have gone beyond even this pseudo-legal system specifically constructed in order to allow domestic spying. It is not known how many Americans have been spied upon, but the Times’s sources report that in 8 of 10 warrants issued by the FISC, the NSA “is believed to have gone beyond legal boundaries.” Further, “Because each order could single out hundreds or even thousands of phone numbers or e-mail addresses, the number of individual communications that were improperly collected could number in the millions,” the Times reported.

A former agent said the NSA’s illegal domestic spying operations have been underway for years. In 2005, the agent said he was trained to use a secret database called Pinwale, which allows agents “to read large volumes of e-mail messages to and from Americans.” The agent said he believes that American e-mail messages culled by the program could amount to as much as 30 percent of the total. Two current NSA agents confirmed that the program continues today.

Sources confirmed to the Times that spying on the domestic e-mail of Americans was at the heart of a bitter feud within the Bush administration in 2004 involving former Attorney General John Ashcroft and top Justice Department officials who “staged a near revolt over what they viewed as possibly illegal aspects of the NSA’s surveillance operations.” The crisis unfolded at the hospital bedside of Ashcroft, who was recovering from pancreatitis. Ashcroft and acting Attorney General James Comey refused to sign an order reauthorizing a domestic electronic surveillance program they believed to be in violation of 1978’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

“The controversy was mostly about that issue,” a former Bush administration official with knowledge of the dispute told the Times. At the time, Comey expressed concern over “the collection of ‘meta-data’ “ on Americans’ communications, which could be used to build a database that identifies both broad communication patterns as well as to map out communication links among individuals and groups. The Bush administration went ahead with the program without Justice Department authorization. (see “Former Justice Department official describes illegal actions by Bush administration in defense of domestic spying”)

The NSA has evidently told lawmakers that the known instances in which it broke legally established domestic spying guidelines were inadvertent cases of “overcollection.” While the NSA refused comment for the Times story, a spokeswoman for National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair claimed that due to legal and logistical complications, “technical and inadvertent errors can occur,” and that “when such errors are identified, they are reported to the appropriate officials, and corrective measures are taken”

The chairman of the House Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, Rush Holt (Democrat, New Jersey), cast doubt upon this vague explanation. “Some actions are so flagrant that they can’t be accidental,” he told the Times.

This is an extraordinary declaration. The leading member of the House committee tasked with overseeing US spy agencies is saying, in effect, that the NSA is deliberately breaking the law in order to spy on large number of Americans without warrants or any other form of legal justification. Taken together with the revelations from the Times’s anonymous sources, it paints a portrait of an intelligence apparatus that operates with impunity, unaccountable to the legislative and judicial branches of government—much less to the American people, who in the last three national elections have repudiated the anti-democratic policies of the Bush administration.

The Times followed its investigative article with an editorial that correctly points out that the NSA abuses underway were prepared by last year’s congressional revisions of FISA. The editorial notes that “President George W. Bush started violating that law shortly after 9/11 when he authorized the NSA to conduct domestic wiretapping without first getting the required warrant. When that program was exposed by The Times in late 2004, the Bush team began pressuring Congress to give retroactive legal cover to the eavesdropping operation and to the telecommunications companies that participated in it.”

The reference to the Times exposing the article in late 2004 is rather self-serving. In fact, the Times shielded the evidence of NSA domestic spying from the American public until after the 2004 election, at the behest of the Bush administration. (See, “A damning admission: New York Times concealed NSA spying until after 2004 election”)

Congressmen have not revealed to the American public details of their concerns over the NSA domestic spying program, and Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, on Wednesday rushed to deny the implications of the Times story. “Everything that I know so far indicates that the thrust of the story—that there are flagrant actions essentially to collect content of [American e-mails]—is just simply not true, to the best of my knowledge,” she claimed.

In fact, the Obama administration and leading Democrats are fully committed to advancing the power of the police state built up during the Bush years.

In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder refused to state that warrantless wiretapping of Americans’ phone conversations is illegal, a position both he and President Barack Obama advocated before Obama’s inauguration. He also refused to say whether or not the Justice Department would rescind a 2006 Bush administration White Paper that attempted to provide a legal rationale for the warrantless wiretapping program.

The revelations also serve as another indication of the powerful domestic role of the military-intelligence apparatus—a power increasingly independent of the nation’s political institutions and laws.

In April, after voices within or close to the “national security community” launched high-decibel criticism of President Barack Obama’s decision to comply with a court order and release Bush administration legal memorandum that sought to create a pseudo-legal basis for torture, Obama responded by promising that there would be no investigation of those who ordered or carried out torture.

This only emboldened the military-intelligence apparatus and the Republican right. Top generals supported Obama when he reversed his earlier acceptance of a court order to release dozens of photos depicting US soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners. Then, buckling under pressure from the military-intelligence apparatus, Obama also backtracked on campaign promises to end the military tribunal system for trying alleged terrorists held at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

Indeed, the congressmen ostensibly tasked with overseeing the nation’s spy agencies are themselves the subjects of its espionage. It is openly acknowledged that the NSA carries out spying operations on members of the US Congress and prominent political figures. In April, it came to light that the NSA had been wiretapping the conversations of Rep. Jane Harman, a California Democrat and then the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, as she promised to intervene on behalf of two indicted pro-Israeli lobbyists in return for political favors. Harman had herself been an outspoken advocate of the NSA’s warrantless spying operations.

The former agent interviewed by the Times also confirmed that Pinwale had been used by an agent to access the e-mail account of former President Bill Clinton. He indicated that the agent who had done so was investigated, but not whether or not he was dismissed.

In a related development, within days the military is expected to release details of a new “Cyber Command” that would oversee and develop the military’s espionage and war-making capabilities on computer systems. The NSA, which controls most of the functions that would be associated with cyberwarfare, will figure prominently in the new command.


TOPICS: Government
KEYWORDS: bho44; bhonsa; commentary; fisa; internet; nsa
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1 posted on 06/20/2009 7:25:08 AM PDT by FromLori
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To: FromLori
PGP, or does Uncle Sam have a backdoor key to it?
2 posted on 06/20/2009 7:31:03 AM PDT by rvoitier
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To: FromLori

All I can see is that they are monitoring a lot of spam.


3 posted on 06/20/2009 7:32:56 AM PDT by montomike (Politics should be about service and not a lucrative, money-making opportunity!)
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To: rvoitier

Good question I wonder bet they do.


4 posted on 06/20/2009 7:33:48 AM PDT by FromLori (FromLori)
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To: FromLori

Of course, now that the DemocRATs are in charge, it’s okey-dokey...


5 posted on 06/20/2009 7:37:21 AM PDT by COBOL2Java (Obamanation: an imploding administration headed by a clueless schmuck)
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To: FromLori

First time I’ve posted this statement - but isn’t this Bush’s fault??

I thought with BO at the helm, this invasive intrusion into our privacy would be unthinkable, with only a passing memory of the evil days of Bush remaining.

Hmmm... perhaps it was just campaign rhetoric...


6 posted on 06/20/2009 7:40:18 AM PDT by jonno (Having an opinion is not the same as having the answer...)
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To: FromLori
much less to the American people, who in the last three national elections have repudiated the anti-democratic policies of the Bush administration.

The last 3 national elections? Was the Bush administration "repudiated" in 2004?

7 posted on 06/20/2009 7:42:29 AM PDT by Bahbah
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To: FromLori

NSA -Read This ! FU!!


8 posted on 06/20/2009 7:48:57 AM PDT by Renegade (You go tell my buddies)
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To: FromLori

NOT just “millions”

ALL . . .

Such has been deliberate in terms of all electronic/electric communications for AT LEAST 39 years.


9 posted on 06/20/2009 8:10:40 AM PDT by Quix (POL Ldrs quotes fm1900 2 presnt: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/religion/2130557/posts?page=81#81)
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To: jonno

I think all BO’s regime has done is add a few new “hate words” to the filter used to catch posters of interest

like “conservative” “tea party” “Christian” “free republic”


10 posted on 06/20/2009 8:13:12 AM PDT by silverleaf ("Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal ( Martin Luther King))
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To: FromLori

Wasn’t this originally a Clinton program in response to the “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy” ? Anyhow, that would be my guess.


11 posted on 06/20/2009 8:14:32 AM PDT by GOPJ (Chubby people live longer - by years! Liberals should put a tax on tofu and sprouts.)
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To: silverleaf

I’ll bet they get bored reading us...


12 posted on 06/20/2009 8:15:03 AM PDT by GOPJ (Chubby people live longer - by years! Liberals should put a tax on tofu and sprouts.)
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To: GOPJ

And irritated that we don’t use spell check
when we talk about hugh and series issues and the maroons running the White House and congress


13 posted on 06/20/2009 8:18:36 AM PDT by silverleaf ("Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal ( Martin Luther King))
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To: FromLori

I am more concerned about “former agents within the National Security Agency (NSA), speaking on condition of anonymity, (to) the New York Times” than I am about the NSA monitoring the US side of international communications.


14 posted on 06/20/2009 8:20:59 AM PDT by spodefly (This is my tag line. There are many like it, but this one is mine.)
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To: FromLori

The 0bama administration; islamism is no longer the enemy. The American people are.


15 posted on 06/20/2009 8:22:07 AM PDT by onedoug (SARAH!)
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To: FromLori
the spy agency likely monitors millions of e-mail communications and telephone calls

No facts, just conjecture?

16 posted on 06/20/2009 8:24:47 AM PDT by DJ MacWoW (Make yourselves sheep and the wolves will eat you. Ben Franklin)
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To: montomike
I pity the poor schmuck who has to monitor my emails: genealogy factoids, family and friends gossip (mostly about who is getting married, who is reproducing and whose babies are starting to walk), religious inspirational content, jokes, Neiman Marcus sale offers, successful Ebay bids, Marco Rubio campaign news, City of Alexandria environmental warnings, more gossip. It must drive my spy mad with boredom.

Seriously, I have to think that this is targeted surveillance of people they know are up to no good. They simply don't have enough people/staff to monitor everyone, and any kind of automated monitoring would still have to be reviewed by a human in order for them to learn anything interesting.

17 posted on 06/20/2009 8:25:41 AM PDT by La Lydia (.)
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To: COBOL2Java
" Of course, now that the DemocRATs are in charge, it’s okey-dokey... "

You got that right....
And we can be assured that they will not have a problem of spying on average American's without even a warrant....
18 posted on 06/20/2009 8:27:02 AM PDT by Prophet in the wilderness (PSALM .53 : 1 The FOOL hath said in his heart, there is no GOD.)
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To: jonno
With the Democrats in charge, this will be pursued with even more zeal then ever.
19 posted on 06/20/2009 8:28:22 AM PDT by Prophet in the wilderness (PSALM .53 : 1 The FOOL hath said in his heart, there is no GOD.)
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To: FromLori

Only millions? If they’re monitoring 5k individuals who generate a thousand emails apiece, that’s 5M emails.

Maybe I’ll get on their list. Here’s some keywords: Allah akbar, bomb, nuclear, centrifuge, bioweapon, package delivered, jihad, down with America, Israel off the map, kill jews, whatever dude.


20 posted on 06/20/2009 8:32:43 AM PDT by Kevmo (So America gets what America deserves - the destruction of its Constitution. ~Leo Donofrio, 6/1/09)
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To: jonno

It’s the fault of whoever was president at the time of Marconi. :)


21 posted on 06/20/2009 8:42:43 AM PDT by rvoitier
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To: Bahbah

...”the anti-democratic policies of the Bush administration...” We currently have a true, fascist thug in the White House and this clown accuses the BUSH administration of being anti-democracy! Glad there are no hypocrisy or shamelessness in the MSM.


22 posted on 06/20/2009 8:55:59 AM PDT by Oldpuppymax (AGENDA OF THE LEFT EXPOSED)
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To: Bahbah

...”the anti-democratic policies of the Bush administration...” We currently have a true, fascist thug in the White House and this clown accuses the BUSH administration of being anti-democracy! Glad there are no hypocrisy or shamelessness in the MSM.


23 posted on 06/20/2009 8:56:13 AM PDT by Oldpuppymax (AGENDA OF THE LEFT EXPOSED)
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To: FromLori

You read it here, but won’t see it on the 6 o’clock news because Bush is no longer president.


24 posted on 06/20/2009 9:03:12 AM PDT by Leftism is Mentally Deranged (leftism is morally and ethically corrupt.)
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To: FromLori

The Rats that screamed about Bush was doing this to US citizens. Now they do it with glee....


25 posted on 06/20/2009 9:19:17 AM PDT by Sprite518
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To: FromLori; rvoitier
>> PGP, or does Uncle Sam have a backdoor key to it?

> Good question I wonder bet they do.

Nope, ain't no "back doors" to PGP.

The PGP algorithms and software are all open-source and available to the entire world to examine. They've been public for 15+ years. If there was any hint of a backdoor, it would have been closed long ago.

That's the point of open-source, of course.

I use PGP daily. Of course one wants to use a strong key length (2048+ length), because the only mechanism for cracking the encryption is brute force, and long keys will keep that out of reach for decades of CPU advances.

Great stuff.

26 posted on 06/20/2009 9:27:46 AM PDT by dayglored (Listen, strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government!)
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To: Renegade

Right!

Home of the free-—pffft!


27 posted on 06/20/2009 9:34:20 AM PDT by WKUHilltopper
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To: dayglored; FromLori; rvoitier
Slight correction:

> The PGP algorithms and software are all open-source and available to the entire world to examine.

The software products incorporating the PGP algorithms, that are produced and sold by PGP Corporation (e.g. PGP Desktop), are proprietary to PGP Corp.

The software distributed by Free Software Foundation (e.g. GnuPG) and numerous others are entirely open source.

PGP, GPG, etc. follow the OpenPGP standard (RFC 4880).

28 posted on 06/20/2009 9:35:56 AM PDT by dayglored (Listen, strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government!)
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To: FromLori

Just millions?

A drop in the bucket.


29 posted on 06/20/2009 9:37:16 AM PDT by Glenn (Free Venezuela!)
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To: montomike

“Spam” might be a good way to hide coded messages.


30 posted on 06/20/2009 9:53:18 AM PDT by BenLurkin
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To: FromLori
"Several current and former agents within the National Security Agency (NSA), speaking on condition of anonymity, have told the New York Times that the spy agency likely monitors millions of e-mail communications and telephone calls made by Americans"
31 posted on 06/20/2009 9:57:46 AM PDT by verity ("Lord, what fools we mortals be!")
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To: rvoitier

“PGP, or does Uncle Sam have a backdoor key to it?”

Crack it like it doesn’t exist.


32 posted on 06/20/2009 10:03:02 AM PDT by CodeToad (If it weren't for physics and law enforcement I'd be unstoppable!)
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To: FromLori

I know they probably look at mine and get tired of looking at Maxine cartoons. I’m aware I have an FBI file.

Does NSA actually think we are so stupid and ignorant to use the internet to plan a caper? Or even use our regular cell phones? We watch CSI and NCIS and we take notes. (Just Funning With You, FBI/CIA/HuS.)

The only people who use electronics are those who have a desire to be caught before they do anything. But does that help the FBI, CIA, and Homeland-UnSecurity to stop them? NO, they like to wait until AFTER people are dead before they admit to “following” the perpetrator. Does the FBI, CIA, and HuS have a secret hope that the Perp will kill off some “dissenting patriot terrorists?”

And THEN the MSM try to portray the Perp as some Bible-beating, Constitution-defending, Gun-owning Conservative. BUT THEY NEVER RUN AN APOLOGY when the Perp turns out to be a Marxist Porno-loving Swastika-tattooed Fascist Liberal OR a Muzlem jihadist.

So as far as I’m concerned “bring it on.” They can look at all my emails and my various forum posts and the letters I have sent to Congress. And all they’ll see is a Concerned Christian Citizen who doesn’t want her beloved Nation to become Zimbabwe-lite or Muzlem-ruled.

FUBO
Wolverines!


33 posted on 06/20/2009 10:19:07 AM PDT by HighlyOpinionated (Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann in 2012. With Liz Cheney as Secretary of State.)
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To: CodeToad
Re-phrase your statement into English form.

It sounds like you're telling me to crack the cryptography
OR
are you saying US can crack PGP's cryptography easily (which I don't believe. The only way US is getting in is to have a backdoor)?

34 posted on 06/20/2009 10:19:46 AM PDT by rvoitier
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To: La Lydia

There is no individual ‘person’sitting there monitoring your email. There is a super computer that is integrated into the main gateways/piplines that all communication travels through. This super computer absorbs all data that pass through it. Telephone, email, fax, EVERYTHING. The NSA can simply type in keywords and , bada bing, they get 1.5 million hits with that keyword. The only thin that is remotely secure is a registered mail letter, sealed with a wax stamp/seal, and wrapped in aluminum foil.

And to another poster about PGP. No, there is no backdoor, but that is not how they get you. These guys can easily hack past any security you may have on your internet through vulnerabilities or through ‘secret’ backdoors. They then can monitor anyones PC in real time. They don’t hack PGP (even though they can unless you put in a 68+ randomly generated character. they can brute force it in a matter of weeks), they just watch what you put in for a password, intercept a copy of the file and they gain access. If you are being watched, they will get what they need / want.
You want next level info? It is my belief that they can even monitor PC’s that are NOT on the internet. I am not sure exactly how this is being accomplished, but it is either some kind of Spectrum analyzer that can read electronic impulses from the keyboard and monitor, and make a graphic map of what you are doing, or some kind of micro transmitter that can be fitted into monitor or motherboard and transmit said data. My guess is both are active. They just need to sit somewhere with an antennae within transmit range. It has already been proven that keystrokes can be read remotely from PC’s not ‘wired’ in.


35 posted on 06/20/2009 10:44:56 AM PDT by Bayonet
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To: FromLori
NSA monitors millions of American e-mails

Every bit that travels the internet travels through channels that the NSA is able to monitor and record; whether they do it or not is a matter of writs and/or whims.

36 posted on 06/20/2009 10:53:56 AM PDT by snarks_when_bored
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To: rvoitier

I have it bookmarked and will get around to getting at some point. Thanks!


37 posted on 06/20/2009 11:23:57 AM PDT by wally_bert (My doctor says that I have a malformed public-duty gland and a natural deficiency in moral fibre)
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To: FromLori
NSA monitors millions of American e-mails

And has since Clinton. When I lurked here back then, there were some really good threads about it. Then, when Bush won, it became "if you're not doing anything wrong...." Glad to see FReepers noticing this unConstitutional encroachment on our liberties again.
38 posted on 06/20/2009 11:26:07 AM PDT by mysterio
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To: silverleaf
...the maroons running the White House

That's funny - I haven't seen "maroons" yet... but I wouldn't be surprised to find it.

39 posted on 06/20/2009 12:08:57 PM PDT by GOPJ (Chubby people live longer - by years! Liberals should put a tax on tofu and sprouts.)
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To: Bayonet

Rats. I liked the idea of some poor low-level GS-5 schmuck sitting in a windowless room tracking my gossipy, shopping, inspirational, recipes, etc. emails on a cheap Dell computer, bored out of his gourd, and only allowed to eat lunch when I turn off my computer. Only he and all 37 of my immediate and secondary female relatives would have the real scoop on who had to get married and who didn’t.


40 posted on 06/20/2009 3:27:56 PM PDT by La Lydia (.)
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To: FromLori

Does anyone possibly believe that the NSA has the people, resources or time to read every email? This is absurd. Keyword and keyphrase scanning has been going on for a long time. They don’t give a rat’s ass about your email to granny or to your mistress; they care about terrorists and espionage and I mean the foreign terrorists, not BO Plenty’s definition of terrorists.


41 posted on 06/20/2009 3:41:34 PM PDT by RJS1950 (The democrats are the "enemies foreign and domestic" cited in the federal oath)
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To: rvoitier

“Re-phrase your statement into English form.”

Learn to speak proper English and you might find it was.


42 posted on 06/20/2009 4:34:47 PM PDT by CodeToad (If it weren't for physics and law enforcement I'd be unstoppable!)
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To: rvoitier

“which I don’t believe”

Of course, you don’t. You are probably just another nitwit who thinks they know everything and the NSA couldn’t possibly have technologies you haven’t heard of.

Arrogance is the leading cause of our nation’s downfall.


43 posted on 06/20/2009 4:37:20 PM PDT by CodeToad (If it weren't for physics and law enforcement I'd be unstoppable!)
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Comment #44 Removed by Moderator

To: Quix
ALL . . .

Such has been deliberate in terms of all electronic/electric communications for AT LEAST 39 years.

I find it surprising that people don't understand they have been eavesdropping on us for as long as the technology was available to them and will continue

45 posted on 06/20/2009 6:49:08 PM PDT by Popman (Joe Biden REALLY can't be Vice President, can he ?)
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To: Popman

Indeed.

And they’ve had acres of computers to do it with for AT LEAST 39 years.


46 posted on 06/20/2009 8:29:17 PM PDT by Quix (POL Ldrs quotes fm1900 2 presnt: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/religion/2130557/posts?page=81#81)
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To: RJS1950

Wellllllllllllll from my TS-crypto years . . . I know otherwise.

Sure it’s automated.

Sure there’s a massive keyword list that everything is screened with.

Sure, you don’t know ever word on that keyword list.

Sure, silly comments can occasionally be amusing . . . when they are not sad or uninformed.


47 posted on 06/20/2009 8:31:59 PM PDT by Quix (POL Ldrs quotes fm1900 2 presnt: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/religion/2130557/posts?page=81#81)
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To: Bayonet

You are undoubtedly quite correct.


48 posted on 06/20/2009 8:34:03 PM PDT by Quix (POL Ldrs quotes fm1900 2 presnt: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/religion/2130557/posts?page=81#81)
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To: Quix

Well, based on my time dealing and working with TS-crypto as well as on the consumer end of a lot of data above TS I can say again, there are not the people, time and resources to have someone listen to every call or read every email. If there were or if the all of the lists of keyword phrases were that mundane there would be a lot more people being looked at and tracked. The ones that are tagged are id’d and correllated and some read but among the billions of emails and phone calls that occur almost all eventually fall into the bit-bucket.


49 posted on 06/21/2009 12:43:27 PM PDT by RJS1950 (The democrats are the "enemies foreign and domestic" cited in the federal oath)
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To: RJS1950

Of course.

However, THE CAPACITY is there . . . and any target, phone number, addy, key words suddenly deemed worth a closer scrutiny . . . can certainly get it.

I assume you’d agree.


50 posted on 06/21/2009 7:06:20 PM PDT by Quix (POL Ldrs quotes fm1900 2 presnt: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/religion/2130557/posts?page=81#81)
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