Matt Does Math

Matt Yglesias breaks down a hypothetical algorithm to explain why the NSA datamining could be problematic.






148 replies
  1. 1
    demimondian says:

    In my opinion, Matt shuld have given a hat trick to _Conned Again, Watson_ which is a whole book about Bayes’ Law (from which I think the numbers Matt uses could actually be drawn, although I expect unintentionally). I think it’s chapter three which talks about con games and observations…

    No matter. Yes, this is why trolling through the swamp of all data is a bad idea, as I’ve said a bunch of times. Couple this with the fact that the total connectedness graph in the United States has been measured to a[[arently be of diameter less than ten, and probably less than seven (hence six degrees of Kevin Bacon making sense), and you’ve got a recipe for witch hunts if you use data mining to find bad guys if you allow indirect associations.

  2. 2
    Darrell says:

    Too bad Yglesias didn’t balance his article with the costs of not performing such datamining

  3. 3
    Darrell says:

    Yes, this is why trolling through the swamp of all data is a bad idea, as I’ve said a bunch of times.

    Incredible

  4. 4
    demimondian says:

    Incredible

    Why? Because statistical pattern recognition and machine and animal learning are things I’ve published scholarly papers about? Telling me about limitations in Bayes law is a little like telling number theoris about how cryptography works.

  5. 5

    I saw the Yglesias post, and was a bit mystified as to what he’s claiming (maybe that’s patially explained by the fact that I found following his math tedious). I think he was basically making the case that the NSA surveillance program could lead to “false positives”. But I think that’s where Matt’s critique is off the mark. I think it would be more accurate to say the NSA program will inevitably lead to its share of “leads that go nowhere”. Well, no duh! Obviously no software or algorythm is likely to be perfect. I think the point is, rather than haul all 300 million odd denizens of the USA (or the millions of foreigners who communicate with America) in for questioning, the government is well-advised to use sifting techniques to look for possibilities of nefarious activities. Will all such “possibilities” prove fruitful? Of course not — but that’s where due process and warrants and all the rest should come in. That is, once the government finds a “lead” focusing on an actual person, they should AT THAT POINT AND NOT BEFORE be required to get a warrant to conduct the further, detailed, individual-centric suveillance that will enable them to hone in on the facts.

    Does this mean that Congress needs to get together with the White House and carefully and thoughtfully craft some rules and regulations for electronic monitoring? I would say so. But there’s no way — thankfully — that government is going to get out of the business of monitoring electronic communications for security threats.

  6. 6
    Darrell says:

    Telling me about limitations in Bayes law is a little like telling number theoris about how cryptography works

    Except that no one told you about ‘limitations in Bayes law’ which makes your comment a bit weird. What you do say is that any sort of data mining, foreign or otherwise, is a ‘bad idea’.. I believe that to be a quite extreme position, and I think most Americans would agree

    PB sums it up well in pointing out that no system will be ‘perfect’, and that make Yglesias’ post rather nonsensical. What is Yglesias suggesting we do? abandon all data mining? He doesn’t even suggest an alternative.

  7. 7
    ppGaz says:

    Six posts to the thread, three Darrell, for 50%. Off to a great start.

    Darrell absolutely cannot stand having this topic discussed without stepping on the conversation.

    So far in the NSA threads where I’ve kept a count, Darrell’s averages have been between 33 and 66 percent of all posts to the threads.

  8. 8
    ppGaz says:

    Correction, the 66% figure was from a streak over several hours, not to that entire thread.

  9. 9
    Richard Bottoms says:

    Too bad Yglesias didn’t balance his article with the costs of not performing such datamining

    As usual, critical analysis of how the clown car administration does business is reduced to an either or proposition.

    Either we listen in to everything or we abandon listening completely. Perhaps there’s an option in between. Hmmm??

  10. 10
    Darrell says:

    Either we listen in to everything or we abandon listening completely.

    Your words, not mine. At least one poster has stated that he believes in total abandonment

    Perhaps there’s an option in between

    Sure, but if the Prez has authority to monitor foreign enemies without warrant, what limitations do you have in mind?

  11. 11
    Steve S says:

    Too bad Yglesias didn’t balance his article with the costs of not performing such datamining

    Just out of curiousity, Darrell.

    Would you be willing to sit idly by as the state executed you, because you know that their planning was for the good of the country?

    It’s a hypothetical question, and no more hyperbolic than your assertions.

  12. 12
    Steve S says:

    I think the point is, rather than haul all 300 million odd denizens of the USA (or the millions of foreigners who communicate with America) in for questioning, the government is well-advised to use sifting techniques to look for possibilities of nefarious activities. Will all such “possibilities” prove fruitful? Of course not—but that’s where due process and warrants and all the rest should come in. That is, once the government finds a “lead” focusing on an actual person, they should AT THAT POINT AND NOT BEFORE be required to get a warrant to conduct the further, detailed, individual-centric suveillance that will enable them to hone in on the facts.

    And we shall walk around saying to one another… “The walls have ears”.

  13. 13
    Darrell says:

    Just out of curiousity, Darrell.

    Would you be willing to sit idly by as the state executed you, because you know that their planning was for the good of the country?

    Just out of curiosity Steve S, would you sacrifice your life and that of your family because you hate George Bush so much that you oppose even sensible data mining of foreign terrorists? See how fun that was making up nonsensical hypotheticals?

    It’s a hypothetical question, and no more hyperbolic than your assertions

    Which of my assertions do you find soo “hyperbolic”? that I disagreed with the statement that all data mining was ‘bad’? How extreme of me. You really know how to advance a solid argument Steve

  14. 14
    jg says:

    What is Yglesias suggesting we do? abandon all data mining?

    If you don’t understand what he’s saying how do you know you’re against it?

  15. 15

    what Demimondian said.

    If you are looking for a small enough needle in a big enough haystack, even very good pattern-matching algorithms generate vast amounts of noise.

    Humans are eventually needed to sift through the results the computer found. If the computer is bringing back large piles of false positives, you always need to make tradeoffs about whether that’s the best use of human resources.

    Not to mention the civil liberties costs of investigating lots and lots of people whose the causal connection to terrorism is exceedingly tenuous.

    Data mining is good when you’re dealing with fairly high probabilities, such as the likelihood that an individual with low income and late payments is a poor credit risk. But when you’re dealing with low probabilities — a very small needle in a big haystack — the noise starts to outweigh the signal.

  16. 16

    Too bad Yglesias didn’t balance his article with the costs of not performing such datamining

    What a bunch of nonsense, Darrell. This is a question of resources. Since far less than 0.001% of Americans are terrorists, that means that for every good lead, there are going to be thousands or tens of thousands of “bad leads” as you put it. We simply don’t have the resources to rule out all those bad leads; it’s literally finding a needle in a haystack. That’s why large-scale datamining to find terrorists is worthless. The number of terrorists is so small to begin with, if you do nothing to winnow down the population you are examining, the best algorithm in the world is worthless.

    We need a lot more human intelligence and less of this “total eavesdropping” crap. But hey, that might show weakness or let the terrorists win or something like that.

  17. 17
    Darrell says:

    What a bunch of nonsense, Darrell. This is a question of resources.

    Exactly my point. As we can’t interview and watch all 400 million+ foreign muslims, it makes sense to use data mining to help sift through the data.

    But you actually suggest that more human intelligence alone is what we need to offset that useless data mining. Only we could never get enough people to do all what is needed. So instead, we deal with a concept called the ‘reality’ of balancing resources which includes data mining

  18. 18
    Pooh says:

    Shorter Darrell: If you assume nothing bad happened, then nothing bad has happened.

  19. 19
    Zifnab says:

    This depends heavily on if and how Eschalon is used. Let us take the top down approach with Eschalon – we will look for terrorists with successful ‘hits’ on an Eschalon terrorist algorithm search. If Eschalon is our starting point for our search, then yes, we’ll generate thousands of false positives for every successful interception.

    Now let’s assume that the NSA and the CIA work together. The CIA gets a lead that there is a terrorist cell in Wyoming and wants to narrow their search. They call up the NSA and ask them if Eschalon has been getting any big pings out of the state.

    Even with a few thousand false positives for every valuable hit, this still narrows down the field considerably. The CIA has an easier job of sifting the field and hopefully there are more feeds of information than JUST Eschalon.

    I suspect that the NSA/CIA/FBI/Secret Service/etc had this conversation long before any widescale interception technology was ever built. I suspect that the systems in place work, if not perfectly, then at least adequetely well. We haven’t had a terror attack since 9/11 and I don’t think it’s because terrorists felt they made their point and packed it up to go home.

    But there is a deep and critical question of faith in how a truly effective system is being used. You can wiretap Democrats and terrorists with equal ease, and while some may claim that the two are one and the same, others feel that we’re just looking at – quite literally – another Watergate, phonetapping and all. The only difference is that this time Bush is claiming executive priviledge to do what Nixon tried to cover up.

    This isn’t about whether the NSA’s style of wiretapping works. The NSA is the largest employer of mathematicans in the US (maybe the world, I’m not sure). I have a great deal of faith in systems the NSA has had in place for decades. I don’t have a great deal of faith in how our current WH prefers to use them.

  20. 20
    Darrell says:

    Pooh Says:

    Shorter Darrell: If you assume nothing bad happened, then nothing bad has happened.

    Shorter Pooh: I have nothing substantive to say so I snark as if I’m so above it all.. oh, and did you know that I’m a constitutional law expert?

  21. 21
    tbrosz says:

    The NSA program has already resulted in at least two publicized cases of terrorists being detected. This was in the very first NTY article on this. One assumes there could be others that were not publicized. Other sources have said that the program hit pay dirt more than once, but there were no specific cases cited.

    So we aren’t completely talking theory, here. These operations have detected terrorists. So the program has already proven that it isn’t a complete waste of time, and we can look at Able Danger to see the potential of similar things. As with other issues like this, a balance needs to be struck.

    The trick with data mining, as some have pointed out already, is what’s done, or not done, with the final results.

  22. 22
    Zifnab says:

    http://www.nsa.gov/techtrans/techt00003.cfm

    Currently, we are the largest employer of mathematicians in the country

    In the NSA’s techniques, I generally have total faith.

  23. 23
    Darrell says:

    The only difference is that this time Bush is claiming executive priviledge to do what Nixon tried to cover up

    This sums up well the mentality of the left.

    Pooh, since you’re a constitutional scholar as you have reminded us several times before, what is your take on the El-Hage case in which a US citizen was caught in the ‘surveillance net’ and then searched without warrant? the federal District court held that although El-Hage, a US citizen, was not the initial ‘target’ of warrantless surveillance of foreign terrorists, they ruled that nonetheless it was justified to monitor him and physically search his house without warrant.

    Or do you hold the position that FascistBush(TM) is engaging in Watergate-like surveillance on political enemies?

  24. 24

    In the NSA’s techniques, I generally have total faith.

    There surely is some reason that NSA officers are risking their careers to speak publicly. Clearly more oversight is needed than has been going on.

  25. 25
    eric smith says:

    The following is taken from Wikipedia, I have adapted to the terrorist problem,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B.....dical_test

    Suppose that a NSA computer test for being a terrorist has a very high success rate: When a person is tested, the test accurately reports this, a ‘positive’, 99% of the time (or, with probability 0.99), and if a tested person is not a terrorist, the test accurately reports that, a ‘negative’, 95% of the time (i.e. with probability 0.95).

    Suppose also, however, that only 0.1% of the population is a terrorist (i.e. with probability 0.001). We now have all the information required to use Bayes’ theorem to calculate the probability that, given the test was positive, that it is a false positive.

    Now for a bit of math, let T be the event that the Able is a terrorist, and D be the event that the test returns a positive result.

    P(T|D)= (.99*.0001)/((0.99*0.001)+(0.05*0.999))

    This is equal to 11/556 or a false positive rate of around 98%.

    Despite the apparent high accuracy of the test, the incidence of being a terrorist is so low (one in a thousand) that the vast majority of people who test positive (98 in a hundred) are not terrorists.

    And that is why such large data mining just don’t work.

  26. 26
    eric smith says:

    P(T|D)= (.99*.0001)/((0.99*0.001)+(0.05*0.999))

    Should be:

    P(T|D)= (.99*.001)/((0.99*0.001)+(0.05*0.999))

    One too many zero’s the conclusion remains the same.

  27. 27
    DougJ says:

    Except that no one told you about ‘limitations in Bayes law’ which makes your comment a bit weird.

    Hahahahahah!

    Sorry, the whole idea of Darrell discussing statistical theories makes me laugh.

  28. 28
    Pooh says:

    Darrell, I snarked you because every argument you make assumes the conclusion thata only proper targets have been snooped. My major disagreement with that assumption is that A) you have nothing to back it up. B) It doesn’t address the underlying issue regarding seperation of powers and oversight which you try to assume away. As for the Al-Hage case, let me read it…

  29. 29
    Pooh says:

    Well it took me til the end of the first paragraph of EL-Hage to figure out what that case has to do with the presnet one: nothing.

    Presently before the Court are Defendant El-Hage’s motions which seeke the following; suppression of evidence seized from the search of his residence in Nairobi, Kenya in August 1997 and sup9resion of evidence obtained from electronic surveillance, conducted from August 1996 to August 1997, of four telephone lines in Nairobi, Kenya

    (emphasis mine) Seems analogous to warrantless surveilance U.S. soil to me. Good point.

  30. 30
    demimondian says:

    Hold on, Seth. I haven’t read El-Hage, but I was under the impression that El-Hage was an expatriot US citizen. If so, then he’d be a US person for the purposes of the act, right?

  31. 31
    Paddy O'Shea says:

    Pooh: Exactly. We really have no idea who it is the Bushies were snooping on! Personally, the idea that we should take Shrub’s word that only known Al Qaeda operatives were being snooped is laughable. If they were known, why weren’t they arrested? And why was he afraid to take these targets to the usually quite subserviant FISA court? Maybe they weren’t always Al Qaeda related targets? Maybe the net was being cast so wide nobody knew exactly who it was that was being spied upon until after the fact?

    Lots of questions. And that us why the Senate will be holding bipartisan investigations on these matters in January. Something about having their powers usurped by this most arrogant of pipsqueaks even has Republicans seeing red.

    Intersting piece from Barron’s via The Huffington Post. From the article:

    “It is important to be clear than an impeachment case, if it comes to that, would not be about wiretapping, or about a possible Consitutional right not to be wiretapped. It would be about the power of Congress to set wiretapping rules by law, and it is about the obligation of the president to follow the rules in the Acts that he and his presecessors signed into law …”

    Yep. In the end it is all about possible presidential lawbreaking. The unquiet ghost of Dick Nixon paces the halls of the White House once again.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....12841.html

  32. 32
    demimondian says:

    Sorry, the whole idea of Darrell discussing statistical theories makes me laugh.

    I’m looking forward to his contributions to the theory of adaptive systems in time. After watching non-specialists reinvent the wheel, having a non-specialist reinvent the square wheel with five corners will provide comic relief, if nothing else.

  33. 33
    eric smith says:

    Couple of notes on my post, I presumed that is one terrorist for every 1000 persons in the USA a fact much to high, I also presumed that the NSA systems are really good at testing positive and almost as really good to checking for false positives. This I think is wrong.

    I strongly doubt that there are many terrorists in the USA, if there were more than 5000 I would be surprised, actually if there are more than 500 I would be surprised. Let say 1 in 100000 persons in the USA, roughly. So the first number to put into my formula is not .001 but .00001. So then according to my formula the chance of any positive test of any one person of being a false positive is not 98% but 99.9802%.

    It is arguable true that the noise found in the data stream is so large that the NSA will find nothing of use.

    Now what they will find is stuff not related to terrorism that may be used ageist persons in the united states. And that does seem problematic.

    As a political note, I thought that conservatives wished to have a government that was not looking into everyones lives without probable cause. A system that makes mistakes 99.9802% of the time seems to be a system that we should not rely on in establishing probable cause.

  34. 34
    Zifnab says:

    You all make the most grevious error of assuming that the NSA, with billions in funding and thousands of employees somehow has failed to consider Baye’s Formula.

    Legal issues aside, is having the NSA do some kind of wide-net surveillance for the purposes of counterterrorist data mining a good idea? Arguably, yes, but it’s very hard to know without knowing more about the program.

    Here is the crux of the issue. We don’t know how the program works or for what purposes it is employeed. So you can spout Baye’s Forumla till you are blue in the face, but you prove only that your own personal method of datamining and massive survalliance is fatally flawed. I would therefore not suggest any of you work for the NSA.

    But I have seen no evidence, other than rudementary conjecture, that the NSA takes such a bull-headed approach to their business.

  35. 35
    Darrell says:

    Darrell, I snarked you because every argument you make assumes the conclusion thata only proper targets have been snooped

    If that is in fact the case, what did I write on this thread which could be construed as assuming ‘only proper targets’ have been spyed upon? Show me the argument here which made such an apparent ‘assumption’ you pompous ass

    Thanks for your legal opinion on the El-Hage case… I wasn’t aware of limitations to your argument, or others who disagree with the legality of Bush’s executive order, that the US citizens had to be on US soil. My understanding is that you and others are asserting that no surveillance of US citizens, whether they are in the US or abroad should be permitted without warrant, irregardless of their location. So your emphasis on the fact that the US citizen resided in Kenya has nothing to do with it, no?

  36. 36
    worm eater says:

    This is a much better article about the technical problems of using datamining in this way with today’s technology.

    The conclusion:

    Government money invested in much less intrusive and much less defense contractor-friendly programs like training more Arabists and developing more “human assets” in the field will be orders of magnitude more effective than mass surveillance could ever be. Blunt instruments like airport facial recognition software and random subway bag searches produce much more noise than they do signal, and any engineer or computer scientist worth his or her salt will tell you that an intelligent, targeted, low-tech approach beats a brute-force high-tech approach every time.

  37. 37
    eric smith says:

    Hey Zifnab

    Math is math and looking for a needle in the haystack is a well definded problem in which it does not matter if you work for the NSA or the University of California in a genome project. If the NSA has some manner of making the haystack smaller, say through human intelligence before you mine your data mining then ya plugs in the new numbers and get better results. But the question I thought being discussed is this, is it useful for full scale sweeping of all signals to look for that needle to create new leads which make your haystack smaller and does that seem to be a good idea?

    For the reasons above it is not a good idea to do a sweep without constraining, in some manner, your data. Accordingly wide scale sweeps will not do the job that the politicians want and so are not a good idea

    I also presume that the NSA knows it stuff, but I don’t presume that the politicians who guide policy know how Baye’s theories effects noise in data acquisition. It is not the NSA I question but the politicians who create policy, I wonder if they have any idea what they are doing?

  38. 38
    Darrell says:

    demimondian Says:

    Hold on, Seth. I haven’t read El-Hage, but I was under the impression that El-Hage was an expatriot US citizen. If so, then he’d be a US person for the purposes of the act, right?

    Exactly.. only Seth appears to be dishonest, which is why he intentionally misled in his comment, emphasizing the fact that the US citizen lived in Kenya, as if that changes anything. Why John Cole has cited him as if he’s some sort of fair minded legal ‘authority’ is beyond me. Seth has reminded us of his background in constitutional law like John Kerry reminded us that he fought in Vietnam

    Again, a US citizen was caught in a warrantless intelligence net searching for foreign terrorists. The info from that warrantless surveillance was then used as justification to search his house and run electronic surveillance on him.. all WITHOUT warrant. A federal court upheld this. What has George Bush done which is so different from the federal court upheld in the case of El-Hage?

  39. 39
    Pooh says:

    Dem,

    That was based on just a cursory reading of the case, and how I would distinguish it on the facts. Unsurprisingly the President has greater power and leeway to conduct foreign intelligence operations in, er, foreign places. As such, I would view the application of El-Hage as exceptionally limited in discussing surveillance of U.S. persons on U.S. soil. Some of the reasoning may have some persuasive application, but I’d have to give it a closer read.

    Darrell, no one is seriously suggesting that the President does not possess great powers over ‘Foreign Intelligence Operations’. The issue with the NSA program is the ‘foreign’ bit (or absence thereof), not the ‘intelligence’ bit. You seem to be jumping to the conclusion that everything done is legitimately ‘foreign intelligence gathering’. If I’m wrong in that reading of your position, I apologize, but I don’t think I’m the only one.

    As far as this

    I wasn’t aware of limitations to your argument, or others who disagree with the legality of Bush’s executive order, that the US citizens had to be on US soil. My understanding is that you and others are asserting that no surveillance of US citizens, whether they are in the US or abroad should be permitted without warrant, irregardless of their location.

    er, no. The issue of surveiling communications coming into to country (or a fortiori, outside of the country all together), while creepy, is not the same as monitoring of wholly intranational calls. (To the extent the ‘border search’ doctrine applies to digital communications, this should be clear). The thing that gets people up in arms is calls withing the U.S.

    As for me being a pompous ass, it’s taken you this long to figure it out?

  40. 40
    demimondian says:

    Quick point of order: the good Reverend Bayes is the man after whom Bayes’ Theorem (which relates the marginal probabilities of multiple events) is named. The apostrophe comes after the s, not before.

    (Demi, as a pedant of the widest stripe)

  41. 41
    eric smith says:

    Bayes’

    My bad…

  42. 42
    Darrell says:

    As for me being a pompous ass, it’s taken you this long to figure it out?

    touche

    But on the issue of running warrantless surveillance on US citizens (persons), it has nothing to do with the location of the US citizen:

    notwithstanding paragraphs (1), (2), and (3), with respect to any electronic surveillance approved pursuant to section 1802 (a) of this title, procedures that require that no contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party shall be disclosed, disseminated, or used for any purpose or retained for longer than 72 hours unless a court order under section 1805 of this title is obtained or unless the Attorney General determines that the information indicates a threat of death or serious bodily harm to any person.

    Where is this caveat you are telling us about that the US ‘person’ has to be in the US for these rules to be in effect?

  43. 43
    Pooh says:

    Exactly.. only Seth appears to be dishonest, which is why he intentionally misled in his comment, emphasizing the fact that the US citizen lived in Kenya, as if that changes anything. Why John Cole has cited him as if he’s some sort of fair minded legal ‘authority’ is beyond me. Seth has reminded us of his background in constitutional law like John Kerry reminded us that he fought in Vietnam

    Now that’s offsides. But if I’m being Swift-Boated, I must have arrived. Happy days. I never claimed extensive expertise, merely legal training and some familiarity with the legal subject-matter by way of personal interest rather than professional experience.

    As for my first comment, you are correct in that I should probably have explained more thoroughly why I thought the Kenyan bit makes a difference – the issue here is calls made wholly within the U.S. As foreign intelligence activities which take place in a foreign place (Kenya) aren’t subject to the same rules and constraints, I’m not sure how much application El-Hage has to the present situation. Especially since El-Hage primarily deals with 4th amendment issues, and per Orin Kerr, I’m not sure that the NSA probe is best viewed as a 4th amendment problem, (and El-Hage represents one approach to the 4th Amend issues rather than settled law – see here for an quick summary) rather is is a ‘seperation of powers’/’executive immunity’ problem.

  44. 44
    Barbar says:

    Jesus Christ this Darrell guy is a moron. Behold the power of the internet — if people were having a face-to-face group discussion where idiots say amazingly dumb things, the collective dismay of a large number of decent rational people would work to drive the lunatics out of the conversation. But in an online forum, stupidity really pays off, as long as the idiot is willing to repeatedly type stupid things and then push “Submit Comment.”

    Anyway, the problem is not that the NSA doesn’t understand Bayes’ formula. The problem is that we shouldn’t necessarily assume that the erosion of our civil liberties is necessary because these programs are essential for our security. In fact, it is quite likely that such a program is not essential, because it is not very effective.

    Of course this won’t matter to all the people insisting in 2004 that “We have to re-elect Bush, because Kerry will weaken our government and take it out of our lives, and we need the government to be very involved with us if we are to survive…” wait wha?

  45. 45

    Ezra Klein just posted a very nice piece about the questions that an investigation ought to consider, including this:

    I’m not necessarily against a program of this sort if properly executed, but why is it such high priority? Bush keeps mentioning how we needed to “connect the dots.” Only problem is, he doesn’t seem to understand the phrase. Pre 9/11, the NSA, the FBI, the CIA, the FAA, and a variety of other groups had collected isolated bits of information and surveillance that, if laid out on the same desk, would’ve laid out the 9/11 plot in considerable detail. We had FBI officials noticing the Al-Qaeda members in flight school, NSA intercepts calling 9/11 “zero day,” agents theorizing that hijacked planes would be turned to missiles, and so forth. But none of that mattered. Because while we had the dots, we lacked the ability to connect them.

    At best, this NSA program collects tons more dots, but are we connecting them? Do we have the ability to process this much information? Or are we dangerously decreasing the signal-to-noise ratio? In short, why is this program necessary? We had the intelligence under the old protocols, we just didn’t process it. Why is the answer more data and why should we be confident that the government has the resources to sift through it?

  46. 46
    demimondian says:

    Zifnab — you’re going to have to trust me here. For the appropriate payment, I’ll be glad to teach you a senior level course in probability theory, but, really Bayes’ Theorem is Bayes’ Theorem, and it really does relate marginals in the way Yglesias describes them.

    The NSA fishes because it has to, not because it wants to. It’s one of the reasons that there’s a minimization procesure in place for data which touches US persons.

    (And, hey, if you don’t trust me, I’ll bet you that DougJ or Andrew Lazarus could teach you the same course.)

  47. 47
    Pooh says:

    Darrell,

    50 U.S.C. Sec. 1801

    (f) “Electronic surveillance” means—
    (1) the acquisition by an electronic, mechanical, or other surveillance device of the contents of any wire or radio communication sent by or intended to be received by a particular, known United States person who is in the United States, if the contents are acquired by intentionally targeting that United States person, under circumstances in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and a warrant would be required for law enforcement purposes;
    (2) the acquisition by an electronic, mechanical, or other surveillance device of the contents of any wire communication to or from a person in the United States, without the consent of any party thereto, if such acquisition occurs in the United States, but does not include the acquisition of those communications of computer trespassers that would be permissible under section 2511 (2)(i) of title 18;
    (3) the intentional acquisition by an electronic, mechanical, or other surveillance device of the contents of any radio communication, under circumstances in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and a warrant would be required for law enforcement purposes, and if both the sender and all intended recipients are located within the United States; or
    (4) the installation or use of an electronic, mechanical, or other surveillance device in the United States for monitoring to acquire information, other than from a wire or radio communication, under circumstances in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and a warrant would be required for law enforcement purposes.

    (emphasis mine) First, the relevant portion of El Hage appears to have been slightly abridged so they could have discussed FISA at greater lenght. Second – that court acknowledged that FISA had no application because FISA is self-limited to stuff within the U.S. (See above and

    On the other hand, neither Keith nor FISA addresses the particular difficulties attendant to overseas foreign intelligence collection. In fact, as mentioned previously, it was precisely these peculiarities which caused Congress to restrain the reach of FISA to domestic searches.

    El Hage at 4.)

  48. 48
    Pooh says:

    Dem,

    In response to your earlier question about El Hage, see my 10:48 response, not the ‘me pissed of at Darrell for getting called a liar by a moron’ post of 10:29.

    At risk of belaboring the point (too late) it’s worth noting that the El Hage opinion was in the context of an evidence suppression hearing, not an appellate review of said evidence’s admission or his indictiment or his conviction.

  49. 49
    demimondian says:

    Ah. Thanks, Pooh. I didn’t know that 1801 restriction was in place. (Yeah, I know. Should’a read the whole thing.)

    No, as long as FISA chooses to be silent about US persons outside of the country, I can’t see how El Hage has any bearing on the question of communications within the country or across the border.

  50. 50
    demimondian says:

    Oh, and Darrell? Re: minimization procedures? From 50 U.S.C. Sec. 1801

    (h) “Minimization procedures”, with respect to electronic surveillance, means—
    (1) specific procedures, which shall be adopted by the Attorney General, that are reasonably designed in light of the purpose and technique of the particular surveillance, to minimize the acquisition and retention, and prohibit the dissemination, of nonpublicly available information concerning unconsenting United States persons consistent with the need of the United States to obtain, produce, and disseminate foreign intelligence information;
    (2) procedures that require that nonpublicly available information, which is not foreign intelligence information, as defined in subsection (e)(1) of this section, shall not be disseminated in a manner that identifies any United States person, without such person’s consent, unless such person’s identity is necessary to understand foreign intelligence information or assess its importance;
    (3) notwithstanding paragraphs (1) and (2), procedures that allow for the retention and dissemination of information that is evidence of a crime which has been, is being, or is about to be committed and that is to be retained or disseminated for law enforcement purposes; and
    (4) notwithstanding paragraphs (1), (2), and (3), with respect to any electronic surveillance approved pursuant to section 1802 (a) of this title, procedures that require that no contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party shall be disclosed, disseminated, or used for any purpose or retained for longer than 72 hours unless a court order under section 1805 of this title is obtained or unless the Attorney General determines that the information indicates a threat of death or serious bodily harm to any person.

    So, to my surprise, the NSA minimization procedures don’t actually appear to meet the FISA requirements. I must not understand them correctly.

  51. 51
    Pooh says:

    Ah. Thanks, Pooh. I didn’t know that 1801 restriction was in place. (Yeah, I know. Should’a read the whole thing.)

    Clearly I should have too. Measure twice, cut once, etc…

  52. 52
    p.lukasiak says:

    One other factor that is seldom considered — exactly who are the “false positives”. My guess is that the vast majority of them will be “dissenters” — those who are critical of the administration and its policies, and perhaps even sympathetic to the goals of al Qaeda without actually being terrorists or ever contemplating them.

    In other words, the administration would be listening in to the conversations of people that it would be sorely tempted to persecute for political reasons. Dissent becomes a luxury that only the most “pure” and law-abiding citizen will be able to afford.

    And given that we already know that John Bolton used his access to NSA intercepts to search for dirt on his political enemies, such fears are not paranoia where this administration is concerned….

  53. 53
    Charlie (Colorado) says:

    Folks, come on — you’re making a hundred gallons of stew and you don’t have a single oyster, just a second hand description of one.

    Yglesias starts with an assumption that the NSA program is somehow able to “listen” to a conversation and determine if the person involved is a terrorist. What reason does he have to start with that assumption? For all the good reasons people have mentioned, that kind of program is sensitive to all kinds of false positives and negatives, and as he correctly computes, that leads to lots and lots of innocent people being picked up and questioned.

    Thousands and thousands of them.

    In fact, Yglesias suggests that they’re being picked up and tortured. Thousands and thousands of people. Tortured, and then I assume detained, since they aren’t appearing on the TV shows complaining of being tortured. And probably detailed overseas — not in Gitmo, though, since there are US press there regularly, someone would have noticed. So they’re being evacuated to Eastern Europe I suppose.

    Okay, I could carry this on, but it’s obviously ludicrous. NSA, and CIA, and DIA, and DoD, don’t have the resources to follow up on a program like that; there would be too many suspects to handle. Far more likely the initial assumption is incorrect.

    And rightly so, because it’s far more likely the program is a traffic analysis program instead of a content analysis program. Then, instead of looking at the conent of the calls and emails, the system would be looking at who originates them and who receives them, starting with whatever key numbers and addresses they get from other sources and methods. Even then, though, they’re not going to use a simple one-connection map; even a little thought will show that you’d potentially include every phone number in Dearborn and every email address in Europe and the US. They’re much more likely to use something like social network analysis to identify “close” connections. They must — there simply aren’t enough resources to do anything else. No matter what technical approach they’re taking, there are only a few thousand, or maybe ten thousand, people able to follow up. Even then that’s only the start of the investigation, because you’re still going to find yourself identifying every falafel stand and pizza hut in Michigan; you have to look further, look for additional connections (say, Saudi nationals who live in Dearborn, work in a pizza hut that got a lot of calls, attend a particular mosque, and who travel back and forth through Manchester and Hamburg.)

    But as soon as we start thinking about what a reasonable, practical use of the information would be, we almost immediately end up a thousand miles from Yglesias’ all-encompasing net of false positives. It’s just a straw man, gussied up with some poor arithmetic.

  54. 54
    susan says:

    No wonder we were attacked twice by the same enemy, we give them the keys to the santuary while our lawyers defend their right to kill us.

    Thanks alot.

  55. 55

    The discussion is based on this New York Times article which reports that the warrantless NSA surveillance is based on analysis of an enormous data pool.

    The National Security Agency has traced and analyzed large volumes of telephone and Internet communications flowing into and out of the United States as part of the eavesdropping program that President Bush approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to hunt for evidence of terrorist activity, according to current and former government officials.

    The volume of information harvested from telecommunication data and voice networks, without court-approved warrants, is much larger than the White House has acknowledged, the officials said. It was collected by tapping directly into some of the American telecommunication system’s main arteries, they said.

  56. 56

    Susan, what part of “warrant” don’t you understand?

  57. 57
    demimondian says:

    Charlie — there are two separate issues here: (1) was the project legal (which depends on the kinds of analysis employed, and none of us knows what was used) and (2) was the project mathematically sensible. The problem is that the two questions move in opposite directions: the more likely the program was to be legal, the less likely it was to be useful, and vice versa. That’s what one can’t avoid reading our of Yglesias’ piece. His discussion of torture is a bit of a red herring.

    (For what it’s worth, people should go and read the part about torture, too. Charlie misrepresents ir egreiously. I think it’s over the top, but he’s not telling the truth about what Yglesias concludes or assumes.)

  58. 58
    The Other Steve says:

    Darrell,

    You didn’t answer my question. Are you willing to allow yourself to be mistakenly executed because it is for the good of the country as a whole.

    That’s what this is all about… Don’t believe me, I’ve got a good number of Russian friends who will tell you how things were under the soviets.

  59. 59
    Perry Como says:

    And now for the elephant in the room: Guv fears calls monitored

    Gov. Bill Richardson is concerned that some of his phone calls were monitored by a U.S. spy agency and transcripts of them were given to the president’s nominee for ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton.

    Whoops.

  60. 60
    Pooh says:

    Rush agrees that this is a bad thing (or at least his Lawyer does)

    BLITZER: If Rush Limbaugh has nothing to hide and has done nothing wrong, what’s the problem with letting the prosecutor speak to the doctors and go through all the records?

    BLACK: Well, Wolf, that’s an excellent question. A lot of people ask this all the time. You know what? We have a right of privacy in this country that I think is important for us to hold onto. I mean, we could let prosecutors and police into our bedrooms, search our computers, watch us having sex. We could let them do all these things, but then we would have a police state. We would no longer have a democracy. I think it’s very important to fight these privacy battles — and Rush Limbaugh has taken on this battle of privacy with your doctor, and I think it has really been a public service for him. Not only for himself but everybody else who wants their medical records and medical treatment kept private and not to be disclosed in the press or with the police or prosecutors or anyone else who has no business being there.

    (Full disclosure. this interview is from Dec. 15, so Rush hadn’t received his talking points yet)

  61. 61
    searp says:

    The real difference is that the politicians don’t care about the false positive rate. The administration has defined its job as protecting us from terrorists, period. As long as the program is secret, so that there is no political cost for the surveillance, a politician has the upside of “better” security and no downside.

    The apologists for the administration define matters in this way. The job of protecting us is supreme. It is an authoritarian, statist outlook that seems to sell politically. Hence a time-tested political strategy: (1) scare us and keep on scaring us, (2) continually demonstrate to the public that you will do anything, absolutely anything, to catch or kill anyone who may be a threat, (3) call your opponents soft on terrorism.

    It stops selling when people stop being afraid. That time may be approaching. I personally have never had nightmares about terrorists, and I live in a target area. Sure, it could happen, but so can avian flu. I don’t vote for a steward of the country based on my fears, I vote based on my hopes and my values.

  62. 62
    Al Maviva says:

    Two thoughts: first, unless there are more facts forthcoming about exactly what was done, to whom, and how, this debate can be deemed educational, but probably not useful. It’s like arguing about whether the 27 Yankees could beat the 2004 Sox, without ever having seen baseball. If Judiciary decides to hold its hearings closed door, which is probable considering the national defense sensitivity of NSA capabilities, we may never know the answers – in which case we’ll be reduced to taking Ted Kennedy, Pat Leahy, Arlen Spector and Lindsay Graham’s word in the matter. I’m feeling queasy about this, I don’t trust any of them to be straight with us. Hopefully the FISA court is willing to issue a rare – I believe unprecedented – published advisory opinion on the program. I trust that en banc panel to give a reasonably unbiased and clear opinion.

    Second, what exactly is datamining? My understanding of the term is that it starts with sifting information from a very large pool of data, defines criteria thought to be correlated to some sought after characteristic that isn’t contained in the data set (e.g. member of terrorist group, or more commonly “has lots of disposable income”), and then spits out likely candidates, hopefully ranked in some way. This is a “larger to smaller” sorting process. My understanding of the program in question, based on WH statements, is that it went in the opposite direction, starting from the phones of 500 or so known overseas AQ operatives over three years and looking at their web of contacts in the U.S., going from “smaller to larger”. I’m not sure that really counts as datamining, depending on how large the scope eventually got. If the scope was limited to the contacts – or as the NSA director stated last week after the initial incoming phone call or email warrants were obtained, it strikes me more as an investigative model used in conspiracy investigations, rather than as datamining in the sense I understand it.

    Thoughts?

  63. 63
    susan says:

    I understand ‘warrants’, what I don’t understand is the utter insanity of attacking the President’s Consititutional duty to protect and defend We the People during a time of War yet nothing was said when a President spied upon US citizens, collected some 900 files without the wartime authority to do so.

    In addition, please explain the legal authority to spy upon US citizens within the United States using programs like ECHELON and ABLE DANGER when the President had no such authority to do so since he was hiding his cowardness behind the concept of law-enforcement.

    Liberalism has become a fraudulent cause diseased by it’s own twisted need to prove itself righteous.

  64. 64
    searp says:

    Al – agreed on the characterization, the two are different. A tree model kind of gets at the differences. NSA may have started at a root (500 known AQ operatives) and followed the branches to some (unknown) depth. The other is to begin at the lowest level of the tree and work your way to the root.

    However, in either case there must be associative criteria that define the tree itself.

    Seems to me that in either case the question of whether it is legal to incorporate US persons in the tree is the real issue.

    Finally, if we were intercepting overseas comms that were routed through the US, that sounds a lot more like classic vacuuming to me.

  65. 65
    searp says:

    Susan:

    You may believe the president is properly exercising his constitutional responsibilities, but others representing a broad spectrum of political opinions do not.

    Your characterization of liberalism doesn’t follow from anything you said in your post, so I will take it as a kind of prayer. Faith-based reasoning.

  66. 66
    Ancient Purple says:

    I understand ‘warrants’,

    You may understand them, but it is clear you find them quite inconvenient.

  67. 67
    Steve S says:

    Liberalism has become a fraudulent cause diseased by it’s own twisted need to prove itself righteous.

    Sounds to me like someone needs to come to grips with reality.

  68. 68
    Sojourner says:

    No wonder we were attacked twice by the same enemy, we give them the keys to the santuary while our lawyers defend their right to kill us.

    Oh lord. Here comes another one of those chicken shit Repubs begging for the government to take their rights in return for fake promises of being protected.

    A lot of us are much more concerned about not selling out the Constitution. Ironically, many of these people are east and west coasters who are more likely to be the target of a terrorist threat. They happen to be the real patriots, not cowards like you.

    Grow up.

  69. 69
    John S. says:

    Oh lord. Here comes another one of those chicken shit Repubs begging for the government to take their rights in return for fake promises of being protected.

    This sounds like the perfect cue for the immortal words of Benjamin Franklin:

    They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

  70. 70
    Steve S says:

    It’s interesting. Our soldiers are willing to give their lives to protect the very Freedoms that we hold so dear.

    But some of our civilians are willing to give up the very Freedoms we hold so dear to create a false sense of security for their own asses.

    It’s no big question as to which group is doing more for their country.

  71. 71
    Darrell says:

    Pooh wrote:

    I never claimed extensive expertise, merely legal training and some familiarity with the legal subject-matter by way of personal interest rather than professional experience.

    Is that so? Nah, you weren’t claiming authortiy to silence those who reasonably disagreed with you or anything like here, here and here for example:
    Pooh wrote:

    But what do I know? I’ve graduated law school and passed the bar, yet somehow missed the part about the supra-constitutionality of the President. The whole ‘oath’ to ‘protect’ the Constitution, that part doesn’t count. [Darrell – as if I ever asserted differently]

    Pooh wrote again

    And please, more learned arguments from your trove of consitutional scholarship! [Darrell – Shorter Pooh: did I tell you that I’m a lawyer so STFU if you disagree?]

    and yet again:

    ..Darrell, the whole “inherent plenary authority” argument is in fact a sweeping reinterpretation. But then, I didn’t go to law school and learn Con Law…no wait… [Darrell – Strawman alert as I never claimed “inherent plenary authority”. And such a solid case our resident BJ constitutional scholar makes on the claim of “sweeping” reinterpretation]

    Sweeping I tell you. Pooh reminds us of his legal ‘expertise’ like John Kerry reminds us of his service in Vietnam. If you had a solid argument that Bush made such a “sweeping” reinterpretation, then you wouldn’t have had to remind us so many times of your legal ‘expertise’ now would you?

  72. 72
    Darrell says:

    But some of our civilians are willing to give up the very Freedoms we hold so dear to create a false sense of security for their own asses

    Explain for us Steve, which freedoms and liberties we are ‘sacrificing’ under FascistBush(TM) to have warrantless surveillance of Al Queda and other foreign enemies?

  73. 73

    The NSA Algorithm….

    Seems to be a hot topic in the Blogspere right now. Most of us are just not smart enough to “do the math,” but this whole story has disturbed me since the first time I read about it. Maybe it’s…

  74. 74
    Darrell says:

    Ok, we seem to have agreement that the President can monitor foreign enemies without warrant. Now we have Pooh acknowledging that the President can monitor foreign enemies and US citizens without warrant, including warrantless physical searches of their home, as long as the US citizen does not live within the US.

    How then does one go from there, to characterizing the President’s executive order as a “sweeping reinterpretation”?

  75. 75
    John S. says:

    Ok, we seem to have agreement that the President can monitor foreign enemies without warrant. Now we have Pooh acknowledging that the President can monitor foreign enemies and US citizens without warrant, including warrantless physical searches of their home, as long as the US citizen does not live within the US.

    Emphasis mine. So of course when Duhrrell asks:

    How then does one go from there, to characterizing the President’s executive order as a “sweeping reinterpretation”?

    I guess it would be too obvious to point out the difference between monitoring FOREIGN activity without a warrant versus monitoring DOMESTIC activity without a warrant. Especially when the law provided for a 72-hour warrant-free domestic monitoring period in which a warrant could easily be obtained by the FISA court. And yet, Bush still chose not to follow the law.

    So what I want to know is Duhrrell really this stupid, or is he just DougJ on another level?

  76. 76
    Perry Como says:

    Explain for us Steve, which freedoms and liberties we are ‘sacrificing’ under FascistBush™ to have warrantless surveillance of Al Queda and other foreign enemies?

    Is the governor of New Mexico an al Qaeda member now?

  77. 77
    Darrell says:

    Is the governor of New Mexico an al Qaeda member now?
    Was he wiretapped or monitored under the President’s special program we are discussing? No?

  78. 78
    Darrell says:

    I guess it would be too obvious to point out the difference between monitoring FOREIGN activity without a warrant versus monitoring DOMESTIC activity without a warrant

    Yes, that point is obvious. But how ‘obvious’ is your point if suspected foreign enemies in Yemen are being monitored, and they suddenly receive calls from Boston and Philadelphia?

    Of course, it’s all so open and shut obvious. I mean, FascistBush is trampling our rights which means the terrorists have won, right?

  79. 79
    searp says:

    Darrell: we do not know who was wiretapped, we didn’t even know that the wiretapping existed until about a week ago.

    I am more than willing to see the facts come out and then have a legal review of the program, are you?

    I think this program was highly classified to avoid testing its legality. That’s right: I do not believe its classification had anything to do with national security. The facts that have been released do not seem to me to damage our security one bit.

    Again: are you willing to subject this program to a reasonable legal review, or do you hold that no review is warranted?

  80. 80
    Darrell says:

    ”Electronic surveillance” means –

    (1)

    the acquisition by an electronic, mechanical, or other surveillance device of the contents of any wire or radio communication sent by or intended to be received by a particular, known United States person who is in the United States, if the contents are acquired by intentionally targeting that United States person

    But the Bush admin specifically argued that they have a right to use intel gathered from warrantless surveillance, ONLY IF the ‘target’ is a suspected foreign enemy, not a US citizen (‘person)..

    But it’s all so ‘obvious’ to you Bush hating leftists that Bush has trampled the constitution, stripping us of our liberties. And the noble, ever so patriotic leftists are the only ones who are defending our freedom and liberty against FascistBush(TM) attempts to shred the constitution

  81. 81
    Perry Como says:

    Was he wiretapped or monitored under the President’s special program we are discussing? No?

    I don’t know. Do you? But you seem to think that domestic surveillance by the NSA is okay, or at least ECHELON has been doing it for years, so it’s grandfathered into being okay. So is it okay for the administration to use the NSA to spy on state governors?

  82. 82
    Darrell says:

    I am more than willing to see the facts come out and then have a legal review of the program, are you?

    I am not the one making definitive statements as to how “obviously” illegal the Bush admin’s program was. It’s your side doing that

    Again: are you willing to subject this program to a reasonable legal review, or do you hold that no review is warranted?

    Isn’t that what the Select Senate Intelligence committee is supposed to be doing? As well as the past judicial reviews and oversight this program has received. Let’s not pretend that this program has not been subjected to some amount of ‘reasonable legal review’ already

  83. 83
    searp says:

    Darrell: Your incessant ad-hominem attacks make you sound silly. Again: do you believe this program should be reviewed in the courts?

  84. 84
    dorkafork says:

    Wow, so I take it the NSA algorithm just sends automated e-mails out to CIA kidnapping squads? Amazing. If only there was some way for humans to check on that. We should get Yglesias to maybe meet with the senior NSA officials who run the program, and tell them what a waste of time it is. And have him talk to NSA mathematicians, too, and teach them basic math.

  85. 85
    Darrell says:

    I don’t know. Do you?

    You’re the one who suggested it was. Why did you do that if you didn’t know?

    So is it okay for the administration to use the NSA to spy on state governors?

    If they make phone calls to Al Queda terrorists overseas, hell yes it would be ok

  86. 86
    searp says:

    I didn’t say the program was illegal, I don’t know if it is illegal or not.

    What transpired with the Select Senate Intelligence committee is not a legal review. A worthwhile legal review requires the ability to make a legal determination, that is, courts.

  87. 87
    Darrell says:

    searp Says:

    Darrell: Your incessant ad-hominem attacks make you sound silly.

    Hold on a minute, I didn’t make any ad-hominem attacks against you. Show me where I did.

    You are the one suggesting that the Bush admin program was not already subjected to legal reviews. You are either mistaken about that point of fact, or you lied, as Bush’s program not only obtained judicial review and oversight, but also bi-partisan oversight from Congress. So let’s cut the crap pretending that this program was not already subjected to legal review and oversight

  88. 88
    Perry Como says:

    You’re the one who suggested it was. Why did you do that if you didn’t know?

    I suggested that the NSA has been used to spy on a state governor. It may or may not be related to the NSA program under discussion. It seems to fall under the “warrantless wiretaps on US citizens are okay” attitude that you present.

    If they make phone calls to Al Queda terrorists overseas, hell yes it would be ok

    Heh. Right. Avoid the issue. Which scenario is more likely:

    a) Gov. Richardson, a Democrat and a potential presidential candidate, is being spied on by the NSA for talking to al Qaeda operatives.

    b) Gov. Richardson, a Democrat and a potential presidential candidate, is being spied on by the NSA for political purposes.

    I’m interested in your duck and weave.

  89. 89
    searp says:

    It has not been judicially reviewed. AP:

    “The official said that since October 2001, the program has been renewed more than three dozen times. Each time, the White House counsel and the attorney general certified the lawfulness of the program, the official said. Bush then signed the authorization.”

    This is review by in-house counsel. Darrell, if you think this program had judicial review, can you point me to a link documenting this review?

    The bi-partisan oversight is a joke, for well documented reasons, like not being able to discuss the briefings with ANYONE.

    This was kept secret because the president knew it was legally dicy, and he did cya by getting the AG, his employee, to declare it within bounds. I am simply advocating a review by a judge, a real judge, with real power to pass on its legality. What do you think?

  90. 90
    Perry Como says:

    This is review by in-house counsel. Darrell, if you think this program had judicial review, can you point me to a link documenting this review?

    NSA judges.

  91. 91
    Darrell says:

    a) Gov. Richardson, a Democrat and a potential presidential candidate, is being spied on by the NSA for talking to al Qaeda operatives.

    Has it been demonstrated that it the NSA who wiretapped the governor?. or do just have a “feeling” that it was the NSA, so you say it anyway without any evidence whatsoever?

  92. 92
    searp says:

    If this is what you are talking about, it would seem they need some more information:

    Thursday, December 22, 2005

    FISC judges to be briefed on NSA warrantless eavesdropping tactics

  93. 93
    Darrell says:

    If this is what you are talking about, it would seem they need some more information:

    Thursday, December 22, 2005

    FISC judges to be briefed on NSA warrantless eavesdropping tactics

    Being briefed, does not = Seek permission as you suggest. The Bush admin executive order, as I understand it, sought the right to operate outside the FISA framework whenever running surveillance which targeted foreign suspects

  94. 94
    Perry Como says:

    Has it been demonstrated that it the NSA who wiretapped the governor?. or do just have a “feeling” that it was the NSA, so you say it anyway without any evidence whatsoever?

    Gov. Richardson said it was the NSA. Of course he’s a Democrat, so he’s probably lying.

  95. 95
    searp says:

    OK, third time: do you believe that this program should be reviewed by the judiciary for legality or not? Yes or no answer to start with.

  96. 96
    searp says:

    Darrell:

    An executive order doesn’t seek a right, it orders something to be done. Let’s not dance around here. The prez ordered this on what he believes to be his own authority, confirmed for him by his counsel and the AG. That is the sum total of the “review”, “permission-seeking” what have you.

  97. 97
    Darrell says:

    Oh, and Perry/DougJ, remember how often you brought up the case of that UMass Dartmouth student who claimed to be hassled by the feds for requesting library material? Remember how even after doubts surfaced, how you defended it as true?. How you aggressively mocked John cole for suggesting otherwise? Well looks like, as with Dan Rather, that case turned out to be a 100% fraud (fake, but accurate?)

    The UMass Dartmouth student who claimed to have been visited by Homeland Security agents over his request for “The Little Red Book” by Mao Zedong has admitted to making up the entire story.

    I realize you wanted so badly for this story to be true Perry/Doug, which is why you defended the story even after holes started apprearing.. but ya know, just wanting something to be true doesn’t make it so, no matter how much you wish otherwise. Kind of like with your Gov. Richardson / NSA wiretap claims

  98. 98
    Darrell says:

    searp Says:

    Darrell:

    An executive order doesn’t seek a right, it orders something to be done

    Not quite searp. To make it legal, he had to seek and obtain NSA and AG legal approvals which he did. Just thought you might want to know

  99. 99
    Darrell says:

    Gov. Richardson said it was the NSA. Of course he’s a Democrat, so he’s probably lying

    State governors are briefed regularly on the details of classified national security programs, right?

  100. 100
    John S. says:

    Yes, that point is obvious. But how ‘obvious’ is your point if suspected foreign enemies in Yemen are being monitored, and they suddenly receive calls from Boston and Philadelphia?

    Wow, you sure do like to complicate things. As has already been stated mant, many times, the law has always allowed for monitoring of foreign calls placed INTO the United States and even calls placed OUT of the United States. The issue is whether Bush broke the law in the following two scenarios:

    1) Calls that are domestic ONLY, and originate and terminate within the United States cannot be legally monitored without a warrant pursuant to
    2) Calls may be monitored for a period of 72 hours without a warrant, but a warrant (which is really a rubber stamp) must be obtained prior to the end of that period

    If etiher of these two scenarios occurred, Bush broke the law for no good reason. If the 72 hours wasn’t enough time for immediate action, then Bush should have sought to have the law changed – which he didn’t. So the point is rather obvious: There is enough information to warrant (no pun intended) an independent investigation to determine whether or not the law was broken.

    If you aren’t willing to see whether or not the executive branch needlessly made a power grab and sacrificed our Constitution in the process, then just say so and stop being obtuse.

  101. 101
    searp says:

    I said that he had gotten legal approvals from his own staff.

    Fourth time: should this program be reviewed for legality by a judge?

  102. 102
    Darrell says:

    searp Says:

    OK, third time: do you believe that this program should be reviewed by the judiciary for legality or not?

    I fully expect and have no problem with Judiciary committee investigations on the legality of this program.

  103. 103
    searp says:

    Judiciary committees are composed of senators, so I am assuming that your answer is that no review by the judiciary is required. I disagree.

  104. 104
    Darrell says:

    I disagree.

    On what basis?

  105. 105
    John S. says:

    OK, third time: do you believe that this program should be reviewed by the judiciary for legality or not? Yes or no answer to start with.

    I think Duhrrell’s unwillingness to answer this question confirms my conclusion: He doesn’t care what Bush did. This is why he persists in being obtuse and conflating the issue, because the bottom line is he just doesn’t give a shit what Bush does because he loves him so, and he will defend him at all costs – regardless of whether his defense has any merit.

  106. 106
    demimondian says:

    Tim F has a fascinating article on Bloom’s Taxonomy which is relevant to the current flame war.

    Most of the posters here are genuinely interested, however minimally, in getting past just the facts to the understanding. Look at the questions from Al Maviva and Pooh, if you want examples from both sides of the spectrum. Darrell, on the other hand, really doesn’t want to understand. He acts as if he does, but, when confronted with evidence that his preconceptions are inconsistent with the facts, ignores the facts.

    People who deal with him need to recognize this behavior. You aren’t going to change his mind, and that’s final. However, that doesn’t mean discussing things with him is useless — you just need to realize that the person who’ll benefit from your effort is not Darrell, but you, and possibly your readers.

  107. 107
    Darrell says:

    As has already been stated mant, many times, the law has always allowed for monitoring of foreign calls placed INTO the United States and even calls placed OUT of the United States

    You are the first on this thread or any other NSA thread here at BJ who has made such an assertion. It was always pointed out that even if the target was a foreigner in another country, we did not have the right to monitor communications without a warrant when the foreign suspect communicated back and forth to US citizens in the US

  108. 108
    John S. says:

    I fully expect and have no problem with Judiciary committee investigations on the legality of this program.

    Translation: I don’t mind if the majority Republican Senators whitewash an investigation into what Bush did.

    Of course, this is a far cry from a legal review by the JUDICIARY, which is a seperate branch of government than the LEGISLATURE that comprises a Judiciary committee.

  109. 109
    Darrell says:

    He acts as if he does, but, when confronted with evidence that his preconceptions are inconsistent with the facts, ignores the facts

    That’s referred to as “projecting” in psychological terms

  110. 110
    John S. says:

    You are the first on this thread or any other NSA thread here at BJ who has made such an assertion.

    Reading comprehension. Try some.

    I never claimed warrantless searches WERE legal. I said they required a warrant following a 72 hour period, which is exactly what everyone else has been saying.

    Jesus, man.

  111. 111
    jg says:

    To make it legal, he had to seek and obtain NSA and AG legal approvals which he did.

    Consulting the AG makes it legal?

  112. 112
    Darrell says:

    I never claimed warrantless searches WERE legal

    Didn’t you just claim a couple of posts back that such warrantless surveillance was legal if

    As has already been stated mant, many times, the law has always allowed for monitoring of foreign calls placed INTO the United States and even calls placed OUT of the United States. The issue is whether Bush broke the law in the following two scenarios:

  113. 113
    searp says:

    Darrell: I am not sure I understand the question, but let me give it a shot.

    Committees of senators do not determine legality of anything.

    The senate, acting as a whole, in conjunction with the house and the president can pass laws, and so in that sense the government can define what is legal with open actions in which a quorum of senators, congresspeople and a presidential signature are required. I digress only to try to remmind you why a senatorial committee does not have the same function as the judiciary.

    As a citizen, I’d like a judge to tell me that the president’s actions were lawful; senators are too likely to be swayed by political considerations.

    I am simply taking the position that a legal review by a judge seems entirely warranted here, and that a hearing by a committee of senators is not an adequate substitute. That is why I asked you if you thought the program should be subjected to judicial review, as opposed to senatorial review.

  114. 114
    Darrell says:

    Consulting the AG makes it legal?

    He obtained the required legal approvals. That does not necessarily make his program legal. I think all indications are that Bush acted well within his legal constitutional rights. Nothing that has been presented suggests, as Pooh has decreed, that Bush is guilty of “sweeping reinterpretations” or so many other leftists who assert that Bush is trampling the constitution, etc

  115. 115
    John S. says:

    Didn’t you just claim a couple of posts back that such warrantless surveillance was legal if

    No you asshat, learn how to fucking read:

    2) Calls may be monitored for a period of 72 hours without a warrant, but a warrant (which is really a rubber stamp) must be obtained prior to the end of that period

    But of course, you only selectively bolded the portion of my comment and ommitted the caveats. What a shock.

    Bottom line: THEY HAVE 72 HOURS TO GET A WARRANT. Period.

  116. 116
    Perry Como says:

    Oh, and Perry/DougJ

    We’re two different people. Nice try though.

    Kind of like with your Gov. Richardson / NSA wiretap claims

    So… Richardson is a liar.

    State governors are briefed regularly on the details of classified national security programs, right?

    He was a former UN ambassador, Secretary of Energy, Staff for the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Staff for the US Department of State, and the Chief Deputy Whip in the US House, so he might have some contacts in the Federal government that could have seen intercepts with his name on them.

    But he’s a Democrat, so he’s lying.

  117. 117
    Darrell says:

    I am simply taking the position that a legal review by a judge seems entirely warranted here, and that a hearing by a committee of senators is not an adequate substitute.

    What judge(s)? Bush asserts that he is acting within his constitutional powers. The facts as they stand now seem to support his position. If the Select Senate Intelligence committee feels differently, they can press the issue with the courts. That is the purpose of the Select senate intelligence committee, to monitor exactly these types of classified programs

  118. 118
    searp says:

    Darrell: You have your opinion as to the legality of the president’s actions. As an opinion, it isn’t really open to dispute. I hope, though, that you can understand my desire to get a more authoritative opinion, from a judge.

  119. 119
    demimondian says:

    That’s referred to as “projecting” in psychological terms

    You are using “projection” as a term of art, intending to be snide and derogatory, but do you actually know what it means, and where its domain of applicability arises? I suspect not, but I’m willing to be educated. Please, explain to me why I’m projecting.

  120. 120
    John S. says:

    I give up.

    The rest of you enjoy talking to a brick wall Duhrrell.

  121. 121
    searp says:

    There will be enough information soon enough so that court actions will become possible, and I expect them regardless of what the judiciary committee does.

    I was simply interested in your opinion as to the desirability of judicial review, and I think I have my answer.

  122. 122
    ppGaz says:

    He acts as if he does, but, when confronted with evidence that his preconceptions are inconsistent with the facts, ignores the facts

    referred to as “projecting” in psychological terms

    Fuck you, Darrell. That description IS you, it’s what you are about. You suck. Your thickheaded and relentless repetition of whatever you think and spamming of threads, IMO, are destructive to any process. In fact, incompatible with any process whatever.

    Why John and Tim even let you post here is beyond me. As I said over the weekend, maybe it’s because they are worried about the lefty imbalance in the commentary. Yes, there is a left imbalance in this commentary, no doubt about it. But countering it with you … that’s a big mistake. All you do is cement the imbalance. You discredit any sentient righty commentary just by being here. You embarass. You’re a disgrace with your thick skull and your tin ear. If I were into conservative commentary … and I could be, in the right context where “conservative” means restraint, not backwardness … I wouldn’t want to be seen in the same room with you, lest somebody associate me with you.

    You’ve steadily maintained a 30-40% slice of all posts to NSA-FISA threads in the last week or so, demonstrating that you cannot let a single statement or assertion contrary to your own opinion go unchallenged. You’ve mounted the same challenges over and over again, often with the same exact verbiage. Any personal slams against your precious persona are labeled “projection” (see above) so often that it’s become your signature response now.

    You have mounted a shrill and rigid defense to this NSA business that makes one wonder if it is YOU who is being accused of fucking over our civil liberties. Are you Karl Rove posting in drag?

  123. 123
    Darrell says:

    Bottom line: THEY HAVE 72 HOURS TO GET A WARRANT. Period.

    We don’t know the scope of technology involved here. The scope of this volume of data would appear to make the 72 hour warrant rule impractical. And as federal courts have already ruled

    It has been asserted that the judicial branch is ill-suited to the task of overseeing foreign intelligence collection. Foreign affairs decisions, it has been said, are often particularly complex. See Chicago & Southern Air Lines, 333 U.S. at 111 (explaining that foreign affairs decisions are “of a kind for which the Judiciary has neither aptitude, facilities nor responsibility”). These arguments have, to some extent, been undercut by both the Supreme Court, in Keith, and Congress, in FISA. On the other hand, neither Keith nor FISA addresses the particular difficulties attendant to overseas foreign intelligence collection.

  124. 124
    Darrell says:

    But countering it with you … that’s a big mistake.

    John and Tim are not “countering” with me. I post of my own free will without their encouragement or advice as long as they permit me to do so

    Fuck you, Darrell. That description IS you, it’s what you are about. You suck.

    More deep thoughts from the left side of the political spectrum

  125. 125
    Pooh says:

    Darrell, you’re a funny guy, you paste the exact same language as I do, yet by highlighting a different area, you think the inconvenient part just goes away. But for giggles, let’s parse the statute:

    ’Electronic surveillance’’ means –
    (1)

    the acquisition by an electronic, mechanical, or other surveillance device of the contents of any wire or radio communication

    Ok this part is pretty clear.

    sent by or intended to be received by a particular, known United States person

    U.S. Person is essentially citizen or resident alien.

    who is in the United States,

    Not, say, Nairobi

    if the contents are acquired by intentionally targeting that United States person

    It’s an open question as to whether listening to everything would qualify as ‘intentionally targetting’, but my guess is that a judge would rule tha it is – a wider net can’t make the illegal legal. (A key rule of statutory construction is to avoid ‘absurd’ results.)

    Al, excellent points. Darrell, pay attention to Al.

  126. 126
    demimondian says:

    ppG — what good does getting frustrated do? None.

    If you want to handle the Darrell’s of this world, you need to not try to fight them. Let them argue with you, because defending a position against a meaningless attack is good practice, but don’t become emotionally involved. Instead, read what other people have posted in response to him or her — and respond to them instead of him. I’m hoping that intelligent righties will get involved in the debate, too — otherwise, this place will turn into an echo chamber, and there are already plenty of those.

  127. 127
    Darrell says:

    Wading past all the ad-hominems being thrown at me as usual by the left, so far we have:

    1. No dispute that the President has the right to run warrantless surveillance on foreign enemies

    2. A federal court ruling permitting warrantless wiretapping and physical searches of the house of US citizens who are outside the US

    I believe that federal court ruling advances the argument several steps beyond what those on the left believed was the case a few days ago

  128. 128
    Pooh says:

    Darrell,

    A) That’s (his link is El-Hage, which we’ve beaten to death already) a District Court opinion, so has limited precedential value. It also deals with 4th amendment issues, not FISA.

    B) Because FISA self-evidently doesn’t apply, as we’ve discussed above.

    C) As usual, you zoom right by the point – the question is whether something is properly determined as foreign intelligence – the scope of the Executives powers hinges on that determination.

    I’m close to done with you.

  129. 129
    demimondian says:

    Hey, Pooh, I wanted to go back to something that you wrote earlier. You mentioned that the ruling was in an evidentiary hearing, not an appellate. Were you talking about precedential value? From a FISA standpoint/Fourth amendment, the admissability of the collected data would seem to be critically important.

  130. 130
    Darrell says:

    Pooh Says:

    Darrell,

    A) That’s (his link is El-Hage, which we’ve beaten to death already) a District Court opinion, so has limited precedential value. It also deals with 4th amendment issues, not FISA.

    Actually Pooh, the primary objections from those on the left are the 4th amendment in case you hadn’t noticed. And contrary to your statement, the court opinion comments directly to the problems with FISA as with this example

    On the other hand, neither Keith nor FISA addresses the particular difficulties attendant to overseas foreign intelligence collection.

    C) As usual, you zoom right by the point – the question is whether something is properly determined as foreign intelligence – the scope of the Executives powers hinges on that determination.

    I have stated from day 1 that the question revolves around a power squabble between Executive powers and Congress, but keep those straw men coming.

    You are the one making extreme, and thus far unsubstantiated, claims that the President made a “sweeping reinterpretation” of the law in this instance

  131. 131
    capelza says:

    Okay, stop….I have been trying to understand what is going on with this whole thing (is what Bush did legal or not) and here AGAIN, another Darrell thread. “The Left”, The Left, the left, the left….for frick’s sake, Darrell…it isn’t about the NSA for you, it is about “the left”. You don’t want honest answers or dialog, you just want to spam the commenters into submission.

  132. 132
    demimondian says:

    Darrell — nobody’s listening to you. We’re simply trying to make sure that you don’t get the last word, because otherwise you’ll claim that we agree with you.

    For what it is worth, Darrell is simply wrong here. El Hage does not bear on FISA, because FISA is explicitly silent on intercepts which do not touch American soil. El Hage is a red herring, no matter how often people repeat the talking point. The intersting questions are Al’s, right now:

    (1) Is any of this anything except an educational exercise? (I believe not, but I’m certainly willing to be wrong.)
    (2) What does this have to do with data mining? (I’m working on a longer set of thoughts about that, but…they don’t fit in the space available.)

  133. 133
    demimondian says:

    So, capelza, what do you think? Were Bush’s actions legal or not?

    I’m thinking seriously about sitting down and writing a greasemonkey plug in to filter balloon juice. That will only help if everybody uses Firefox, though — who does, and who doesn’t?

  134. 134
    Darrell says:

    You don’t want honest answers or dialog, you just want to spam the commenters into submission.

    Re-read this thread again. Check out the number of ad-hominems, insults and abuse hurled my way for sincere arguments, and then come back and tell us who is being honest

  135. 135
    capelza says:

    demimondian, you know, I think he did not have the authority. I would like to see some kind of judicial oversight or review, or oprn Congressional hearings, yeah, I said open.

    I’m not a very good wonk and though I have gone all over the web, the mintue it descends into legal technicalities and definitions of technology, my eyes glaze over to my unending shame.

    I DO believe that this admin has a history of obfuscation and imperial tendencies (led by Cheney) that would, sadly, make it entirely possible for them to have figured “screw you, we’ll do it anyway”. I notice that others have had the same thought occur to them about NSA intercepts and John Bolton. That right there tells me that it isn’t just about foreign earsdropping. And 72 hours (3 days) to get a retroactive warrant, what is the problem?

    I do find the reaction of many Bush defenders very sad. While our soldiers are over there fighting for our “freedoms”, the Bush apologists are semmingly bending over backwards to excuse the lessening of those very freedoms. It must be nice to be free of the irony gene.

  136. 136
    Darrell says:

    For what it is worth, Darrell is simply wrong here. El Hage does not bear on FISA, because FISA is explicitly silent on intercepts which do not touch American soil.

    I don’t disagree. However, the federal court did comment on FISA’s shortcomings in monitoring foreign intelligence. As the entire controversy has revolved around FISA statutes involving monitoring of US citizens without warrant, I believe the court’s opinion to be worth noting, rather than dismissing it outright as you have done

    El Hage is a red herring

    El-Hage is federal court ruling which upheld not only the warrantless surveillance of a US citizen, but the physical search of his house w/o warrant.. all based upon info obtained from warrantless surveillance of suspected foreign terrorists. That seems to me to be a big f*cking deal. Not a “red herring” as you suggest without basis

    2) What does this have to do with data mining? (I’m working on a longer set of thoughts about that, but…they don’t fit in the space available.)

    Such ‘thoughts’ would presume knowledge of the type of technology involved, which I seriously doubt you or anyone else posting on BJ has any meaningful understanding of. But don’t let your complete lack of understanding stop you from posting on it anyway. It’s the type of person you are

  137. 137
    Darrell says:

    oprn Congressional hearings, yeah, I said open

    Sensitive technology and data collection methods aired for our nation’s enemies to see and hear. I hope your side runs with that. Make it your 2006 campaign issue. I know your side is stupid enough to do exactly what you are advocating.

  138. 138
    capelza says:

    My side? Really Darrell, you are too much. An open hearing that discusses the legalities, not the specifics. Why is that is so hard? Anyone that doesn’t agree with you is automatically “the left” or “stupid”…really, you are offensive even by blog standards. And yes, you are a spammer.

    But don’t let your complete lack of understanding stop you from posting on it anyway. It’s the type of person you are

  139. 139
    Perry Como says:

    demimondian Says:

    I’m thinking seriously about sitting down and writing a greasemonkey plug in to filter balloon juice. That will only help if everybody uses Firefox, though—who does, and who doesn’t?

    How about this quick and dirty script? You can go to about:config and adjust your anti-troll preferences with a comma delimited string in greasemonkey.scriptvals :)

  140. 140
    Pooh says:

    Darrell,

    If I say the 4th ammendment isn’t the issue for the tenth time, will you listen? (not holding my breath).

    El Hage is a red herring because it A) is a District Court opinion – not binding on anybody save the parties in that case (tough luck for Mr. El Hage, but TFB for him), though some may find it’s reasoning persuasive (I, and some other courts, do not) B) dealing with 4th amendment issue; and C) It involved actions that would (IMO) break a law if said law applies, which it doesn’t. (The Hamdi ‘neccesary incident of war’ argument would also be much stronger in a fact pattern such as El Hage)

    It’s like taking a case overturning a speeding ticket for a guy caught doing 58 in a 60 MPH zone and then trying to apply to a guy caught doing 58 in a 40.

  141. 141
    John S. says:

    Check out the number of ad-hominems, insults and abuse hurled my way for sincere arguments, and then come back and tell us who is being honest

    Time to check the dictionary, Duhrrell.

    An ad-hominem attack is when someone uses ridicule and insults to dismiss another’s argument.

    Your arguments have been thoroughly shredded based on their lack of merit – not because someone said you were stupid and that’s why your argument is wrong.

    Insults do not an ad-hominem make.

  142. 142
    ppGaz says:

    Let them argue with you, because defending a position against a meaningless attack is good practice

    Let’s review the Meme of Fours: Four Things I Hate:

    1. People who wait until their grocery order is totalled to get out their checkbook and begin writing a check

    2. People who constantly (not sometimes, which is okay) treat everyone who disagrees with them as a homogenous bloc with some sinister agenda (aka, Darrell)

    3. People who treat other people or animals as disposable

    4. Being lectured

    Let’s talk about Number Four. I’m a guy who will walk on a busy freeway to rescue a cat, but who would gladly back over somebody in the driveway if they KEEP LECTURING ME.

    It’s number 4 that I want you to focus on.

    But all seriousness aside, I have no use for Darrell. If he wants to put down his shitty condescending attitude and act like a human being, then we’ll talk. Until then, fuck him and the horse he rode in on. And if I were a righty, I’d be out to drown him in the pool … he is making all responsible conservatives look like idiots. That’s quite an accomplishment.

    Darrell has one and only one position: Nobody gets to criticize George Bush for anything, unless Darrell approves the criticism. Otherwise he will spam you and the thread into oblivion to have the last word.

    If that’s okay with you, fine. Great. I don’t like it, and will say so as the inclination strikes me.

    I once got blasted by John for making about 10% of the posts to a long thread. Darrell has been averaging 30-40% of all posts to NSA threads.

    I count 39 Darrell posts out of the 140 total posts to this thread for a Darrell rate of 28%. That’s more than one out of every four posts, slightly below his NSA thread rate of more than one out of every three posts.

  143. 143
    demimondian says:

    Hmm. Yeah, Perry, that looks like a good stab. I particularly loved the comment about “setting the flag is you want the abuse”.

    Lemme play with it for a while and see if I can break it.

  144. 144
    demimondian says:

    Hey, Perry, I *like* that script. I’d like to pass it on to John and Tim — what do you think?

  145. 145
    Pooh says:

    Dem

    Hey, Pooh, I wanted to go back to something that you wrote earlier. You mentioned that the ruling was in an evidentiary hearing, not an appellate. Were you talking about precedential value? From a FISA standpoint/Fourth amendment, the admissability of the collected data would seem to be critically important.

    Well the fact that it is an evidentiary hearing means that it has little, if any, precedential value. It is also limited in scope to claims advanced in support of suppression by El Hage. From reading the opinion, it’s basically a standard 4th Amendment challenge (with an unusual fact pattern to be sure). Basically it’s self-limited to the particular case and the particular issue (i.e. 4th amendment), so it’s of limited relevance unless we are talking about 4th amendment aspects (and even then, it’s easily distibguishable on the facts do to the fairly unique scenario).

    Is that what you are asking?

  146. 146
    Perry Como says:

    demimondian Says:

    Hey, Perry, I like that script. I’d like to pass it on to John and Tim—what do you think?

    Glad it’s useful. I just did a second version that’s a bit easier to use. It prompts on the first load to enter the names you want to filter, then appends the filtered user’s name to the toggle area (so you can tell who made the comment). I love greasemonkey.

    Feel free to pass it on to John and Tim.

  147. 147
    Bruce Moomaw says:

    P.B. Almeida: “Does this mean that Congress needs to get together with the White House and carefully and thoughtfully craft some rules and regulations for electronic monitoring? I would say so.”

    Fine. The trouble, of course, is precisely that that’s what Bush and his lackeys are NOT saying.

  148. 148
    searp says:

    I want a court review of Padilla and this program, because they strike me as probably illegal.

    It just seems to me that indefinite incarceration of an American citizen without charge and long-term warrantless wiretapping of people on US soil are illegal, but I am not a judge.

    I want a judge to look at these actions because the review that I see as necessary is a legal review, not the resolution of a political question.

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