An open community 
of Macintosh users,
for Macintosh users.

FineTunedMac Dashboard widget now available! Download Here

Page 1 of 2 1 2 >
Topic Options
#26056 - 06/15/13 09:37 AM Snowden
ryck Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
When the story first came out about the NSA leak my initial reaction was positive toward the whistle-blowing. Now that some data have been released I'm not so sure.

This morning's news had an item saying that Facebook, in the last half of 2012 was asked for information on 10,000 of their clients. Hmmmm. Given the vast size of the worldwide Facebook community, 10 grand is a minuscule number. Even if the request was limited to America, it hardly qualifies as little more than noise in the system.

Extrapolating that number to have the same request made of 100 organizations, and still staying within U.S. borders, it's only 1 in 3,000,000 people - hardly the picture being painted where all citizens must worry about every email and phone call.

I don't know what the figures are in terms of the number of terrorist activities thwarted as a result of the NSA spying but, even if it's just a few, it doesn't sound to me like a giant trade-off.

We all wander the web knowing that cookies are planted on our drives specifically to track us and build profiles on us, and we all sign up to various sites giving away personal information at the same time. Is it logical to think that the NSA activity is really more nefarious - particularly in light of the security objectives?
_________________________
ryck

iMac (Retina 5K, 27", 2017), 3.4 GHz Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 2400 MHz DDR4
OS High Sierra 10.13.6
Canon MX712 Printer
Epson Perfection V500 Photo Scanner
Time Machine on 320GB OWC Mercury OTG Pro
Super Duper on 500GB OWC Mercury OTG Pro

Top
#26058 - 06/15/13 12:21 PM Re: Snowden [Re: ryck]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Bad math?

100 organizations x (10,000 x 2) (to annualize) users = 2,000,000 users, i.e. 1 in about 200 Americans "spied" on...quite a bit less "benign" than 1 in 3,000,000.

Edit: And that's without subtracting x million Americans who are too young to count or don't have computers.


Edited by artie505 (06/15/13 01:45 PM)
_________________________
The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

Top
#26059 - 06/15/13 04:28 PM Re: Snowden [Re: artie505]
ryck Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: artie505
Bad math?

blush

I should have stuck with the Facebook number - 10,000 out of 1.1 billion.


Edited by ryck (06/15/13 04:45 PM)
_________________________
ryck

iMac (Retina 5K, 27", 2017), 3.4 GHz Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 2400 MHz DDR4
OS High Sierra 10.13.6
Canon MX712 Printer
Epson Perfection V500 Photo Scanner
Time Machine on 320GB OWC Mercury OTG Pro
Super Duper on 500GB OWC Mercury OTG Pro

Top
#26060 - 06/16/13 02:01 AM Re: Snowden [Re: ryck]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
And my math is spurious because it's pretty unlikely that each organization will be asked for info on different people.
_________________________
The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

Top
#26065 - 06/16/13 09:07 AM Re: Snowden [Re: ryck]
alternaut Offline

Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
I have a problem with your approach preferring 'relatively low' numbers of people subjected to blanket surveillance, as opposed to the necessary number, but with all appropriate safeguards respected. At what number would you start to have second thoughts? In this context, the often heard sentiment that 'you've got nothing to fear if you've got nothing to hide' doesn't reassure me at all, to the contrary.

I phrased that choice the way I did, because I see the biggest issue with the secrecy that surrounds the data gathering programs. It's not at all clear to me that proper oversight can and will be possible when you cannot even talk about the topic, as is so clearly the case here. We just don't know what we don't know. The more I hear, the more it sounds like a Catch-22 situation.

Think about it: the public/electorate at large depends on their political representatives, who may not be told all there is to make a balanced decision. The degree of trust necessary is hard to justify without sufficient data to base that trust on, particularly since the potential for abuse is so huge. After all, such powers are rarely rescinded, and tend to accumulate.
_________________________
alternaut moderator

Top
#26066 - 06/16/13 10:52 AM Re: Snowden [Re: alternaut]
ryck Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: alternaut
I have a problem with your approach preferring 'relatively low' numbers of people subjected to blanket surveillance, as opposed to the necessary number.

The reference to numbers was simply to point out the fallacy in what Snowden wants people to believe - that he could spy on anyone at anytime without control. He even suggested that he could spy on the President.

It seems to me that, given the possible numbers if this program was out of control, 10,000 out of 1.1 billion is sticking to the necessary number.


Originally Posted By: alternaut
It's not at all clear to me that proper oversight can and will be possible when you cannot even talk about the topic, as is so clearly the case here.

According to this morning's news, there are various government agencies, including the judiciary, who have oversight.


Originally Posted By: alternaut
....the often heard sentiment that 'you've got nothing to fear if you've got nothing to hide' doesn't reassure me at all, to the contrary.

General Michael Hayden was interviewed this morning by Fareed Zacharia and explained what they look at and how. He says that they're not listening in on everyone's phone calls or the reading the content of their emails. He referred to it as seeing the outside of the envelope (name, address et cetera) but not seeing the letter inside.

They have a large database of phone numbers (hardly a big deal IMHO - since they're available in lots of places, including where we sprinkle them around ourselves). He gave the example of capturing a terrorist in Yemen and seizing their cellphone. They then enter that number into the database to see who that phone has been contacting, and then who those phones have contacted.

I assume, at that point, greater scrutiny is employed. And, I also assume that these are likely people who do have something to hide.

So far as Snowden is concerned, I don't see him as any kind of hero the way some are trying to portray him. He is called a "whistle-blower" when, in fact, he is not. There are procedures in place for whistle-blowing that allow it do be done in a safe way where the whistle-blower is protected by law.

Instead, he flees to a foreign country with documents ( that I'm sure the Chinese are happy to have) and his only rationale is that, in his opinion, something wrong is being done and he must expose it.

Of course, his exposition reduces the safety of his fellow Americans. He seems to have an extraordinarily high opinion of his opinion.


Edited by ryck (06/16/13 10:53 AM)
_________________________
ryck

iMac (Retina 5K, 27", 2017), 3.4 GHz Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 2400 MHz DDR4
OS High Sierra 10.13.6
Canon MX712 Printer
Epson Perfection V500 Photo Scanner
Time Machine on 320GB OWC Mercury OTG Pro
Super Duper on 500GB OWC Mercury OTG Pro

Top
#26071 - 06/17/13 10:47 AM Re: Snowden [Re: ryck]
alternaut Offline

Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
First off, let me make it clear (again) that this is not a personal issue between you and me. It's a discussion about opinions, peppered with (selected) facts, you, I and Snowden are all entitled to. I don't know what Snowden could or could not do, but I wouldn't expect any official to confirm that regardless of the truth. If nothing else, the law even forbids discussion of the topic, and hence any such statements are both meaningless and disingenuous. I certainly am not impressed, let alone convinced.

Again you have to believe there is proper oversight, where critical details are off limits. Some would say 'conveniently so'. My main point is that the public at large (and to an unknown extent their representatives as well) is woefully underinformed and without means to effectively verify official statements, which are limited by law in any case. With regard to the number of people under surveillance, last time I checked quantity still didn't equal quality, except perhaps in the eye of the totalitarian. But far more important than the current focus on PRISM, however, is its context of the multitude of different programs collecting data on many if not most people, both by government agencies and commercial entities. Then there's the mutual interest of intelligence community and industry in technical information and capabilities, including backdoor access into many products. And let's not forget the activities of the various internet mafia factions and other criminals.

Many of these programs are to some degree or other let's say 'less than public', while many others are readily commercially available. Many of them tend to focus on some particular area of interest or expertise, and in and by itself may not be said to infringe much if at all on one's privacy. However, as soon as the various datasets and capabilities are linked, there is virtually no privacy left. Do you really think the use of ready-to-eat datasets acquired by government agencies from commercial or criminal suppliers is fully subject to oversight? Now again note in this context that the formal statements (conciliatory or otherwise) you're referring to are restricted to individual programs like PRISM, not to the final comprehensive intelligence overview of which there rarely if ever is any mention. And sure enough, whether readily available or quickly procurable, there you are, the Naked Citizen, in all your private glory of a full Life scan. You're free to disagree, but hopefully I've made you pause fore a moment.

Back to Snowden. A lot of the 'info' out there is premature, and quite openly ad hominem. In that respect, much of the US media coverage resembles a short course in character assassination. It tends to pique my curiosity when that happens. Snowden himself says he doesn't want to be called a hero, but on the face of it, and at considerable risk to himself, without obvious personal benefits, he disclosed information he (and many others) consider crucial for the public at large to know. That comes a lot closer to 'hero' than most people that are usually so qualified by the media for just doing their regular job, the description of which doesn't feature 'hero' anywhere.
A similar argument can be made of his qualification as whistleblower. This too he seems to deny, although I would disagree there, as with your view that because of the presence of institutional procedures for discussing issues, his behavior cannot be qualified as 'whistleblowing'. We've seen how the military handled sexual abuse in the ranks and the victims who tried to come forward. 'Nough said about those 'procedures'. But, as I said before, it's too early to make any calls, and we'll see how this turns out.


Edited by alternaut (06/18/13 11:32 AM)
Edit Reason: added link
_________________________
alternaut moderator

Top
#26072 - 06/17/13 10:50 AM Re: Snowden [Re: ryck]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
Originally Posted By: ryck
Originally Posted By: alternaut
I have a problem with your approach preferring 'relatively low' numbers of people subjected to blanket surveillance, as opposed to the necessary number.

The reference to numbers was simply to point out the fallacy in what Snowden wants people to believe - that he could spy on anyone at anytime without control. He even suggested that he could spy on the President.


The number of people who can be spied on and the number of people who are spied on are not related. It is entirely possible that the system is collecting enough data that anyone CAN be spied on.

Regardless, the law is not a numbers game. If the government is engaging in criminal activity, it scarcely matters if there are 300 victims or 3,000 or 3,000,000. Illegal activity is illegal activity.

If I embezzle money, I hardly expect to be able to tell the judge "Well, the company I stole from only has 4 employees. That's not very bad; it's not like I stole from a company with 300,000 employees!"
_________________________
Photo gallery, all about me, and more: www.xeromag.com/franklin.html

Top
#26074 - 06/17/13 12:24 PM Re: Snowden [Re: alternaut]
ryck Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: alternaut
First off, let me make it clear (again) that this is not a personal issue between you and me.

Whoa!! I'm not sure what I said that would cause you to think this was in anyway a personal issue. That was not my intention.

I've simply noticed that we haven't, for quite a while, had any of the discourses in the lounge that we used to have on various non-technical topics. Since this topic is very current and sure to have strong opinions on both sides, I thought it was a good one. I also thought it might be better kick-started if I began with the side that would likely be less popular.
_________________________
ryck

iMac (Retina 5K, 27", 2017), 3.4 GHz Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 2400 MHz DDR4
OS High Sierra 10.13.6
Canon MX712 Printer
Epson Perfection V500 Photo Scanner
Time Machine on 320GB OWC Mercury OTG Pro
Super Duper on 500GB OWC Mercury OTG Pro

Top
#26075 - 06/17/13 12:29 PM Re: Snowden [Re: tacit]
ryck Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: tacit
If the government is engaging in criminal activity, it scarcely matters if there are 300 victims or 3,000 or 3,000,000. Illegal activity is illegal activity.

Although some have speculated about criminal activity, I have not been convinced. And I am less convinced when I read that Apple only turned information over if there was a court order. I assume that that control (judicial oversight) is available to any other entity who may be asked for information.

I also note that the Apple release said: "With the thumbs up from the U.S. government, Apple was able to reveal how much info it gave up."


Edited by ryck (06/17/13 12:33 PM)
_________________________
ryck

iMac (Retina 5K, 27", 2017), 3.4 GHz Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 2400 MHz DDR4
OS High Sierra 10.13.6
Canon MX712 Printer
Epson Perfection V500 Photo Scanner
Time Machine on 320GB OWC Mercury OTG Pro
Super Duper on 500GB OWC Mercury OTG Pro

Top
#26076 - 06/17/13 12:45 PM Re: Snowden [Re: ryck]
alternaut Offline

Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: ryck
Whoa!! I'm not sure what I said that would cause you to think this was in anyway a personal issue. That was not my intention.

I've simply noticed that we haven't, for quite a while, had any of the discourses in the lounge that we used to have on various non-technical topics. Since this topic is very current and sure to have strong opinions on both sides, I thought it was a good one. I also thought it might be better kick-started if I began with the side that would likely be less popular.

Nothing in particular made me think this was a personal matter, but it could be, and I figured it wouldn't hurt to make my point explicit. I could have done a better job, though, and I'm sorry if I got to you there.

And yes, your serving of this topic is appreciated. And talking about serving, my responses above remind me of the reply I occasionally give a waiter collecting my utterly scoured-clean plate while asking 'how it was': 'I hated it, as you can plainly see!' smirk
_________________________
alternaut moderator

Top
#26173 - 07/03/13 08:36 AM Re: Snowden [Re: alternaut]
jchuzi Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: New York State
Lest we think that the Post Office respects our privacy: U.S. Postal Service Logging All Mail for Law Enforcement
_________________________
Jon

OS 10.14.2, iMac Retina 5K 27-inch, late 2014, 3.5 GHz Intel Core i5, 1 TB fusion drive, 16 GB RAM, Epson SureColor P600, Photoshop CC, Lightroom CC, MS Office 365

Top
#26175 - 07/03/13 09:47 AM Re: Snowden [Re: ryck]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
Originally Posted By: ryck

Although some have speculated about criminal activity, I have not been convinced. And I am less convinced when I read that Apple only turned information over if there was a court order. I assume that that control (judicial oversight) is available to any other entity who may be asked for information.

I also note that the Apple release said: "With the thumbs up from the U.S. government, Apple was able to reveal how much info it gave up."


There are a couple of different issues here: information Apple (and Google and others) turned over to the NSA in response to a court order, and information the NSA gathered without the help of Apple/Google/etc without a court order.

According to the docs leaked by Snowden (and later confirmed by government officials), much of the information gleaned from places like Apple and Google did not come directly from Apple and Google. Instead, the NSA had installed "interception capability" in Internet backbone facilities like Verizon.

Most of the Internet's traffic travels, at some point or another, over a few central backbone connections, run by Verizon, AT&T, Level 3 Communications, UUNet, Sprint, Genuity, and C&W. These "Tier 1" providers handle almost the entirety of Net traffic, and nearly all Net traffic to large, busy sites like Google and Facebook.

The NSA intercepted and recorded traffic going over the backbone. They did this without a warrant or court oversight, because they did not consider this to be eavesdropping. According to their internal policies, they only needed a warrant in order to retrieve something from the huge pool of data they collected.

One judge was responsible for all of these court orders. Her name is Colleen Kollar-Kotelly. She approved nearly 100% of requests, often without any supporting evidence or anything beyond a signed statement that the information was lawfully required. When she was appointed to the position by President Bush, according to an article in the Washington Post, she "expressed concern to senior officials that the president's program, if ever made public and challenged in court, ran a significant risk of being declared unconstitutional, yet believed she did not have the authority to rule on the president's power to order the eavesdropping."

The NSA is forbidden by law to gather information or to investigate anyone on US soil; its task is only to perform surveillance on suspected foreign threats abroad. Yet, as you can imagine, the vast majority of the information it collected was sourced in the US and destined for US servers.

Apple was allowed to reveal how much information it gave to the NSA directly under court order. So far, no company has been permitted to reveal how much information the NSA gathered itself by siphoning data from the backbone, not even the Tier 1 providers who allowed the NSA to tap into their data flow.
_________________________
Photo gallery, all about me, and more: www.xeromag.com/franklin.html

Top
#26180 - 07/04/13 04:45 AM Re: Snowden [Re: ryck]
dboh Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Can anyone suggest a better alternative to avoid the development of terrorist groups and stop attacks before they occur?

Top
#26181 - 07/04/13 05:03 AM Re: Snowden [Re: dboh]
ryck Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Not me....and I am quite sure that the RCMP and CSIS conduct similar monitoring in Canada. However........

In April two men were arrested in connection with a plot to derail a VIA Rail passenger train. Earlier this week a man and woman were arrested in British Columbia for planting pressure cooker bombs at a Canada Day event - which would have had the same sort of result as the Boston Marathon.

If those arrests might also mean somebody knows I talk to my daughters on a regular basis or that my wife phones her Mother daily, fine.


Edited by ryck (07/04/13 06:34 AM)
_________________________
ryck

iMac (Retina 5K, 27", 2017), 3.4 GHz Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 2400 MHz DDR4
OS High Sierra 10.13.6
Canon MX712 Printer
Epson Perfection V500 Photo Scanner
Time Machine on 320GB OWC Mercury OTG Pro
Super Duper on 500GB OWC Mercury OTG Pro

Top
#26182 - 07/04/13 10:31 AM Re: Snowden [Re: dboh]
ryck Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: dboh
Can anyone suggest a better alternative to avoid the development of terrorist groups and stop attacks before they occur?

I'm guessing there isn't. It seems to me that, while technologies like the internet and cellphones may facilitate terrorists in their planning et cetera, it is also where these people are most vulnerable. Such technologies leave "footprints" that can be tracked with the right tools.

It is only logical that those charged with the responsibility for preventing attacks would want to use the tools that provide the greatest advantage.
_________________________
ryck

iMac (Retina 5K, 27", 2017), 3.4 GHz Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 2400 MHz DDR4
OS High Sierra 10.13.6
Canon MX712 Printer
Epson Perfection V500 Photo Scanner
Time Machine on 320GB OWC Mercury OTG Pro
Super Duper on 500GB OWC Mercury OTG Pro

Top
#26183 - 07/04/13 02:51 PM Re: Snowden [Re: dboh]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
Originally Posted By: dboh
Can anyone suggest a better alternative to avoid the development of terrorist groups and stop attacks before they occur?


Well, first of all, there's no evidence that this pervasive monitoring has any value in stopping terrorists at all. The NSA claims it does, but it sure didn't stop the Boston Marathon attacks, even though the perpetrators were under FBI surveillance, and were on a State Department watch list after being under Russian surveillance, at the time of the attack. If surveillance worked, the Boston bombings should have been a great success story. It wasn't.

Second, there are a lot of ways to find a needle in a haystack, but all of them rely on one thing: Stop adding piles of hay to the stack while you're searching! It becomes much, much harder to sift through mountains of indiscriminate, random surveillance looking for suspicious activity than it is when the surveillance is more targeted. If you're looking for that one crucial bit of evidence in a database, it's a whole lot easier to find if the database has 300,000 things in it than if the database has 15,000,000,000 things in it.

Third, fear of terrorism is silly. Really, really silly. Statistically, you are far, far more likely to be struck by lightning six times in a row than you are to be a victim of a terrorist attack. Our fear of terrorism, and the things we are willing to give up to feel safe from that fear, is bizarrely overblown compared to the reality.

We're willing to spend tens of billions of dollars to stop bridges from being blown up by terrorism, when more bridges would be saved if we spent the same amount of money on repairing them in the first place! (This is of particular interest to me personally; the bridge that collapsed in Washington recently is one I drive on whenever I visit my girlfriend in Canada. I have personally driven over it many times.)

If our goal is "save American lives" and "protect American assets," our hyperactive, distorted fear of terrorism is making us waste money that would save a lot more American lives and protect a lot more American assets if it were spent in other ways...and that is a real tragedy. At the end of the day, we are giving up our rights for...nothing.
_________________________
Photo gallery, all about me, and more: www.xeromag.com/franklin.html

Top
#26184 - 07/04/13 02:54 PM Re: Snowden [Re: ryck]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
Originally Posted By: ryck

I'm guessing there isn't. It seems to me that, while technologies like the internet and cellphones may facilitate terrorists in their planning et cetera, it is also where these people are most vulnerable. Such technologies leave "footprints" that can be tracked with the right tools.

It is only logical that those charged with the responsibility for preventing attacks would want to use the tools that provide the greatest advantage.


Actually, that isn't true. The Internet and cell phones, historically, has never been where they are most vulnerable. Time after time, in case after case, it isn't surveillance that has revealed terrorist plots before they are carried out. It has been friends and family members of the would-be terrorists talking to law enforcement.

Most people are not terrorists. Most Muslims, most radicals, most people are not terrorists. When people do decide to commit acts of terror, they often talk about it with friends or family or peers first, and it is here they are by far the most vulnerable.
_________________________
Photo gallery, all about me, and more: www.xeromag.com/franklin.html

Top
#26187 - 07/05/13 04:21 AM Re: Snowden [Re: tacit]
dboh Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Quote:
Third, fear of terrorism is silly. Really, really silly. Statistically, you are far, far more likely to be struck by lightning six times in a row than you are to be a victim of a terrorist attack.


Beside the point. If you're that one person, it won't hurt any less.

I am willing to be discomforted or embarrassed by something found in one of my conversations if it will stop someone else from suffering the loss of a loved one in a terrorist attack. It seems somewhat selfish to think otherwise.

Top
#26188 - 07/05/13 07:48 AM Re: Snowden [Re: dboh]
joemikeb Online
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: dboh
I am willing to be discomforted or embarrassed by something found in one of my conversations if it will stop someone else from suffering the loss of a loved one in a terrorist attack. It seems somewhat selfish to think otherwise.
That was essentially what the German people told themselves as the Nazi party was establishing absolute control over every aspect of their lives. Personally I think Benjamin Franklin had it right when he said,
Originally Posted By: Benjamin Franklin
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety.
If fear drives us to give up essential liberties, we become indistinguishable from the terrorists and they have won.
_________________________
joemikeb • moderator

Top
#26189 - 07/05/13 07:51 AM Re: Snowden [Re: tacit]
ryck Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: tacit
[quote=dboh]Well, first of all, there's no evidence that this pervasive monitoring has any value in stopping terrorists at all. The NSA claims it does, but it sure didn't stop the Boston Marathon attacks, even though the perpetrators were under FBI surveillance, and were on a State Department watch list after being under Russian surveillance, at the time of the attack. If surveillance worked, the Boston bombings should have been a great success story. It wasn't.

I suggest the Boston Marathon bombing was less a failure of surveillance that it was a failure to act on the knowledge gained by the surveillance.

Originally Posted By: tacit
[quote=dboh]If you're looking for that one crucial bit of evidence in a database, it's a whole lot easier to find if the database has 300,000 things in it than if the database has 15,000,000,000 things in it.

I find that a bit misleading when I watch my computer (not the fastest model) conduct millions of checks in short order after a directory rebuild. If the NSA is cross-checking phone numbers from a terrorist phone to phone numbers in their database, I'm sure they have sufficient technological muscle to get their results quickly.

Originally Posted By: tacit
[quote=dboh]Third, fear of terrorism is silly. Really, really silly. Statistically, you are far, far more likely to be struck by lightning six times in a row than you are to be a victim of a terrorist attack.

I'm with dboh on this one: "I am willing to be discomforted or embarrassed by something found in one of my conversations if it will stop someone else from suffering the loss of a loved one in a terrorist attack. It seems somewhat selfish to think otherwise."

Originally Posted By: tacit
We're willing to spend tens of billions of dollars to stop bridges from being blown up by terrorism, when more bridges would be saved if we spent the same amount of money on repairing them in the first place! (This is of particular interest to me personally; the bridge that collapsed in Washington recently is one I drive on whenever I visit my girlfriend in Canada. I have personally driven over it many times.)

The truck that hit that bridge, causing the collapse, had a permit for a load measuring 15.75 feet where the bridge at its lowest point is 14.5 feet. However, there is no sign to tell truckers the lowest point because Washington state law doesn't require posting clearance heights less than 14 feet 5 inches.

That collapse could have been avoided with a few signs.

Originally Posted By: tacit
The Internet and cell phones, historically, has never been where they are most vulnerable. Time after time, in case after case, it isn't surveillance that has revealed terrorist plots before they are carried out. It has been friends and family members of the would-be terrorists talking to law enforcement.

I don't think you can make a blanket statement like that when we don't know the role of surveillance in preventing the dozens of terrorist acts that have not been made public.

Originally Posted By: tacit
Most people are not terrorists. Most Muslims, most radicals, most people are not terrorists.

We agree, and I would add that it's too bad so many people make the leap from some peoples' faith to "must be a terrorist". That leap is also an argument for secrecy so that, when a plot is quashed, the faith of the radical isn't made public.


Edited by ryck (07/05/13 08:07 AM)
_________________________
ryck

iMac (Retina 5K, 27", 2017), 3.4 GHz Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 2400 MHz DDR4
OS High Sierra 10.13.6
Canon MX712 Printer
Epson Perfection V500 Photo Scanner
Time Machine on 320GB OWC Mercury OTG Pro
Super Duper on 500GB OWC Mercury OTG Pro

Top
#26190 - 07/05/13 08:23 AM Re: Snowden [Re: joemikeb]
ryck Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: joemikeb
That was essentially what the German people told themselves as the Nazi party was establishing absolute control over every aspect of their lives.

The Nazis? Really? It seems a bit of a stretch to compare surveillance used to prevent further actual attacks against the nation with a leader (of a nation not under attack) who publicly denounced entire groups of the nation's citizens.

Originally Posted By: joemikeb
If fear drives us to give up essential liberties, we become indistinguishable from the terrorists and they have won.

So, going back to dboh's original question, what do you suggest as a better alternative to avoid the development of terrorist groups and stop attacks before they occur?


Edited by ryck (07/05/13 08:24 AM)
_________________________
ryck

iMac (Retina 5K, 27", 2017), 3.4 GHz Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 2400 MHz DDR4
OS High Sierra 10.13.6
Canon MX712 Printer
Epson Perfection V500 Photo Scanner
Time Machine on 320GB OWC Mercury OTG Pro
Super Duper on 500GB OWC Mercury OTG Pro

Top
#26191 - 07/05/13 11:40 AM Re: Snowden [Re: dboh]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
Originally Posted By: dboh
Beside the point. If you're that one person, it won't hurt any less.

I am willing to be discomforted or embarrassed by something found in one of my conversations if it will stop someone else from suffering the loss of a loved one in a terrorist attack. It seems somewhat selfish to think otherwise.


It is not beside the point, if your son or daughter or spouse or friend dies of something that could have been prevented by spending that money differently.

The total Federal budget is zero sum. Every dollar that is spent on NSA surveillance is a dollar not spent on something else.

If 1 human life is saved by spending $10,000,000 on surveillance, and 125 human lives are saved by taking that same $10,000,000 and spending it on better inspection of food or drugs, then basically what you're saying is you are so frightened of terrorists that one terror victim is worth the lives of 125 people who die of other things, and that's deeply, profoundly messed up.

Originally Posted By: dboh
I am willing to be discomforted or embarrassed by something found in one of my conversations if it will stop someone else from suffering the loss of a loved one in a terrorist attack. It seems somewhat selfish to think otherwise.


That's privilege talking.

We see, over and over again, that when surveillance becomes widespread, the damage is more than embarrassment.

I'm going to make some assumptions about you. Given the demographics here, you're probably white, you're probably male, you're probably middle class or above, and you probably have a job that gives you the money and the leisure time to discuss things like that on the Internet. That gives you a privileged position in our society; you have little to fear from surveillance.

But history shows us many examples of surveillance creep, and it is almost always people who aren't middle-class white men who suffer from it. Women thend to be uniquely vulnerable; there are many examples of law enforcement who abuse their access to law enforcement databases. The victims are disproportionately women, especially attractive women, who may be harassed or stalked by the people who do this.

The problem is even worse for people who hold unpopular religious or political ideas, even when those people are clearly no threat.

You don't see the costs of a pervasive surveillance society because you don't have to pay them. You have nothing to fear except maybe some level of temporary embarrassment. The stakes are higher for other people.

Originally Posted By: ryck
I suggest the Boston Marathon bombing was less a failure of surveillance that it was a failure to act on the knowledge gained by the surveillance.


And that's part of the zero-sum game.

Tamerlin and Dzhokar Tsarnaev were on the FBI's watch list for years, and the State Department and FBI had received warnings from the Russian government in 2011 that they had been radicalized and were likely involved in planning terrorist operations, but they were not being actively monitored...

...because the FBI said it did not have the money or manpower to follow up on the lead.

Meanwhile, the NSA has at least 40,000 employees who have access to PRISM, and a very large number of non-government-employed contractors (the exact number is classified but it's at least in the tens of thousands), all of whom are gathering and processing information on millions of people who are NOT suspected terrorists and who do NOT have any indications that they're planning terrorist activities.

That's incredibly stupid.

If we are spending so much money and manpower collecting data that we don't have the money or manpower to follow up on leads for people who we know are planning terrorist acts, then what good is this doing us?

Originally Posted By: ryck
I find that a bit misleading when I watch my computer (not the fastest model) conduct millions of checks in short order after a directory rebuild. If the NSA is cross-checking phone numbers from a terrorist phone to phone numbers in their database, I'm sure they have sufficient technological muscle to get their results quickly.


Except that isn't what they're doing.

They're accumulating enormous mountains of data--basically, everything that passes through the Internet or the phone system, including (quite likely) this forum, and archiving it, then later mining it for information of all kinds, not even necessarily related to terrorism.

A lot of people erroneously associate programs like PRISM with terrorism, but that is only part of the NSA's mandate. In addition to terrorism, the gathered intelligence is used for political spying, corporate espionage, and other purposes.

And it's important to understand that the primary use of such a database isn't preventing terrorist activities, it's putting the dots together afterward. We don't know what phone numbers belong to terrorists until after we know they're terrorists. This system doesn't tell us that; other things, like tip-offs from friends and family, do. PRISM gathers data but it can't say "this person is a terrorist." It can say "Oh, this person blew up a bridge? Well, here's a list of all the posts he made on Facebook and all the phone numbers he called." How, exactly, does that go back in time and prevent the bridge from blowing up? How does that identify other terrorists if they are, I don't know, using throw-away cell phones with numbers that aren't attached to their names?

Originally Posted By: ryck
The truck that hit that bridge, causing the collapse, had a permit for a load measuring 15.75 feet where the bridge at its lowest point is 14.5 feet. However, there is no sign to tell truckers the lowest point because Washington state law doesn't require posting clearance heights less than 14 feet 5 inches.


Yep. And the bridge collapsed because it was structurally unsound and had been known to be structurally unsound for years.

Right now, the state of Washington has 135 bridges that are classified as "structurally deficient." It has only enough budget to repair 15 of them.

This same pattern repeats throughout the nation. Our infrastructure is literally falling apart.

Originally Posted By: ryck
I don't think you can make a blanket statement like that when we don't know the role of surveillance in preventing the dozens of terrorist acts that have not been made public.


Oh, c'mon, seriously? Are you for real?

When law enforcement agencies thwart terrorist attacks or make big, splashy arrests, they put it all over the news. Remember when Faisal Shahzad tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square, or Quazi Mohammad was arrested plotting to blow up the Federal Reserve last year? Even if the intelligence that leads to the arrest is secret, the US government makes sure the arrests get plenty of air time. It's the terrorism equivalent of cops who pose on TV next to mountains of drugs they intercept.

But that's beside the point. We can not make rational risk assessments based on things we think might possibly be happening that we don't know about and actions that some government agency could possibly be doing to prevent them. That's ridiculous.

Especially when it means we all agree to be spied on without judicial oversight in violation of US law and the US constitution.

I mean, hell, I'm sure crime would go down and lives would be saved if every house had a police officer assigned to watch all the people in it all the time, but is that actually the society you want to live in?
_________________________
Photo gallery, all about me, and more: www.xeromag.com/franklin.html

Top
#26193 - 07/05/13 04:00 PM Re: Snowden [Re: tacit]
ryck Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: tacit
The total Federal budget is zero sum. Every dollar that is spent on NSA surveillance is a dollar not spent on something else.

If 1 human life is saved by spending $10,000,000 on surveillance, and 125 human lives are saved by taking that same $10,000,000 and spending it on better inspection of food or drugs, then basically what you're saying is you are so frightened of terrorists that one terror victim is worth the lives of 125 people who die of other things, and that's deeply, profoundly messed up.

How do you make the leap from the sincere suggestion that some of us don't mind a little loss of privacy, if it saves someone else's life, to the assertion that it's akin to putting a dollar value on human life?

Yes, the total Federal budget is zero sum. However, there is such huge waste elsewhere that a proper allocation of those tax dollars could achieve both the reduction in deaths from terrorism and from poor food and drug inspection.

A good place to start would be the hundreds of millions handed out in tax benefits to giant corporations. It's the tax system that's "deeply, profoundly messed up". Corporations don't need welfare.

Originally Posted By: tacit
That gives you a privileged position in our society; you have little to fear from surveillance.

I guess also you're going to tell me that J. Edgar Hoover never spied on a U.S. President.

The problem isn't about the ability to have surveillance, it's about not having sufficiently strong penalties, rigorously applied, that a person will think twice before they participate in such behavior. The same applies to your next argument.

Originally Posted By: tacit
But history shows us many examples of surveillance creep, and it is almost always people who aren't middle-class white men who suffer from it. Women thend to be uniquely vulnerable; there are many examples of law enforcement who abuse their access to law enforcement databases. The victims are disproportionately women, especially attractive women, who may be harassed or stalked by the people who do this.

No doubt about it, this is absolutely despicable and abhorrent behavior. But the answer isn't throwing out a valuable police tool because of a few renegade cops. Let's apply that logic to another area where women are vulnerable...the Doctor's office...where women continue to be seduced or assaulted. It seems to me it's best to get rid of the renegade Doctors, not the field of medicine.

Originally Posted By: tacitIf we are spending so much money and manpower collecting data that we don't have the money or manpower to follow up on leads for people who we know are planning terrorist acts, then what good is this doing us?[/quote

It's about allocation, see "Corporations don't need welfare" above.

[quote=tacit]And it's important to understand that the primary use of such a database isn't preventing terrorist activities, it's putting the dots together afterward. We don't know what phone numbers belong to terrorists until after we know they're terrorists. This system doesn't tell us that; other things, like tip-offs from friends and family, do. PRISM gathers data but it can't say "this person is a terrorist."

I'm pretty sure that, when cell phones and other items, like plans, are seized during raids in places like Yemen, it's not illogical to assume they belonged to terrorists. Therefore, when the numbers that cell phone called are in America, it's not unreasonable to start looking closely at the person(s) with those numbers.

Originally Posted By: tacit
Right now, the state of Washington has 135 bridges that are classified as "structurally deficient." It has only enough budget to repair 15 of them.

It's about allocation, see "Corporations don't need welfare" above.

Originally Posted By: tacit
We can not make rational risk assessments based on things we think might possibly be happening that we don't know about and actions that some government agency could possibly be doing to prevent them. That's ridiculous.

Especially when it means we all agree to be spied on without judicial oversight in violation of US law and the US constitution.

Who said they didn't want oversight? Isn't the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), the President's Intelligence Oversight Board, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the Department of Defense, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Department of Justice enough?

Oh, c'mon, seriously? Are you for real? (The Devil made me do that grin) But, seriously, just how much oversight did you want?


Edited by ryck (07/05/13 04:37 PM)
_________________________
ryck

iMac (Retina 5K, 27", 2017), 3.4 GHz Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 2400 MHz DDR4
OS High Sierra 10.13.6
Canon MX712 Printer
Epson Perfection V500 Photo Scanner
Time Machine on 320GB OWC Mercury OTG Pro
Super Duper on 500GB OWC Mercury OTG Pro

Top
#26196 - 07/05/13 06:38 PM Re: Snowden [Re: tacit]
dboh Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Quote:
I'm going to make some assumptions about you. Given the demographics here, you're probably white, you're probably male, you're probably middle class or above, and you probably have a job that gives you the money and the leisure time to discuss things like that on the Internet. That gives you a privileged position in our society; you have little to fear from surveillance.


You're one out of four, so much for your assumptions. I have, however, read enough history and lived long enough to have a sense of the real pain caused by terrorism.

Top
Page 1 of 2 1 2 >

Moderator:  alternaut, cyn