These are self-explanatory, and would arouse rage in any but the most domesticated of subjects. These are brief excerpts. I esp recommend reading the first in full. Then doing something about it. Do something, anything. Passivity is our greatest enemy.
- “Who’s in Big Brother’s Database?“, by James Bamford, New York Review of Books, 5 November 2009 –About The Secret Sentry: The Untold History of the National Security Agency, by Matthew M. Aid.
- “Internet firms resist ministers’ plan to spy on every e-mail“, The Times, 2 August 2009
- “Data Analysis Challenges“, MIRTE Corporation, December 2008
- For More Information and Afterword
(1) “Who’s in Big Brother’s Database?“, by James Bamford, New York Review of Books, 5 November 2009 –About The Secret Sentry: The Untold History of the National Security Agency, by Matthew M. Aid. Excerpt:
On a remote edge of Utah’s dry and arid high desert, where temperatures often zoom past 100 degrees, hard-hatted construction workers with top-secret clearances are preparing to build what may become America’s equivalent of Jorge Luis Borges’s “Library of Babel,” a place where the collection of information is both infinite and at the same time monstrous, where the entire world’s knowledge is stored, but not a single word is understood. At a million square feet, the mammoth $2 billion structure will be one-third larger than the US Capitol and will use the same amount of energy as every house in Salt Lake City combined.
Unlike Borges’s “labyrinth of letters,” this library expects few visitors. It’s being built by the ultra-secret National Security Agency — which is primarily responsible for “signals intelligence,” the collection and analysis of various forms of communication — to house trillions of phone calls, e-mail messages, and data trails: Web searches, parking receipts, bookstore visits, and other digital “pocket litter.” Lacking adequate space and power at its city-sized Fort Meade, Maryland, headquarters, the NSA is also completing work on another data archive, this one in San Antonio, Texas, which will be nearly the size of the Alamodome.
… In the near decade since September 11, the tectonic plates beneath the American intelligence community have undergone a seismic shift … Not only surviving the earthquake but emerging as the most powerful chief the spy world has ever known was the director of the NSA. He is in charge of an organization three times the size of the CIA and empowered in 2008 by Congress to spy on Americans to an unprecedented degree, despite public criticism of the Bush administration’s use of the agency to conduct warrantless domestic surveillance as part of the “war on terror.” The legislation also largely freed him of the nettlesome Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA). And in another significant move, he was recently named to head the new Cyber Command, which also places him in charge of the nation’s growing force of cyber warriors.
Wasting no time, the agency has launched a building boom, doubling the size of its headquarters, expanding its listening posts, and constructing enormous data factories. One clue to the possible purpose of the highly secret megacenters comes from the agency’s British partner, Government Communications Headquarters. Last year, the British government proposed the creation of an enormous government-run central database to store details on every phone call, e-mail, and Internet search made in the United Kingdom. Click a “send” key or push an “answer” button and the details of the communication end up, perhaps forever, in the government’s data warehouse to be scrutinized and analyzed.
… Unlike the British government, which, to its great credit, allowed public debate on the idea of a central data bank, the NSA obtained the full cooperation of much of the American telecom industry in utmost secrecy after September 11. For example, the agency built secret rooms in AT&T’s major switching facilities where duplicate copies of all data are diverted, screened for key names and words by computers, and then transmitted on to the agency for analysis. Thus, these new centers in Utah, Texas, and possibly elsewhere will likely become the centralized repositories for the data intercepted by the NSA in America’s version of the “big brother database” rejected by the British.
(2) “Internet firms resist ministers’ plan to spy on every e-mail“, The Times, 2 August 2009 — Excerpt:
Internet firms have condemned the government’s “Big Brother” surveillance plans as an “unwarranted” intrusion into people’s privacy. The companies, which ministers are relying on to implement the scheme, also say the government has misled the public about how far it plans to go in monitoring internet use.
The criticism, contained in a private submission to the Home Office, threatens to derail the £2 billion project, which ministers claim is essential to combat terrorism and crime.
Despite hostility from opposition MPs and civil liberties groups, government security officials want to be able to monitor every e-mail, phone call and website visit of people in the UK. They point to the increasing use by criminals and terrorists of internet telephone calls, social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter and online chatrooms to hide their communications. The government claims it wants simply to “maintain” its capability to fight serious crime and terrorism.
However, the submission — by the London Internet Exchange, which represents more than 330 firms including BT, Virgin and Carphone Warehouse — said: “We view the description of the government’s proposals as ‘maintaining’ the capability as disingenuous: the volume of data the government now proposes [we] should collect and retain will be unprecedented, as is the overall level of intrusion into the privacy of citizenry.
“This is a purely political description that serves only to win consent by hiding the extent of the proposed extension of powers for the state.”
The rebuke is the latest blow to the plans to allow police, the intelligence services and GCHQ, the government’s eavesdropping centre in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, to monitor all web communications. Ministers have already been forced to drop plans for a central database holding records of all e-mails, phone calls and website visits.
In April Jacqui Smith, then the home secretary, tried to salvage the plans. She announced that £2 billion of public money would instead be spent helping companies retain the information for up to 12 months in separate databases.
Here is the proposal: “Protecting the public in a changing communications environment“, Home Office, 24 April 2009
(3) “Data Analysis Challenges“, MIRTE Corporation, December 2008 — Excerpt from the Executive Summary:
This section summarizes the conclusions and recommendations of a 2008 JASON summer study commissioned by the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Intelligence Community (IC) on the emerging challenges of data analysis in the face of increasing capability of DOD/IC sensors. As the amount of data captured by these sensors grows, the difficulty in storing, analyzing, and fusing the sensor data becomes increasingly significant with the challenge being further complicated by the growing ubiquity of these sensors.
… Requirements for the handling of data (particularly wide area surveillance data) will differ depending on timeliness requirements. Where time permits detailed retrospective analysis, JASON recommends the use of homogeneous data architectures, “cloud computing” (the provisioning of services from a generic cloud of servers) and the use of streaming data analysis algorithms that do not tie the data to particular data base schema or to a specific set of queries. Such approaches are currently in wide use by information providers such as Google and others.
… As the greatest challenge will come from the need to automate analysis, the most immediate need is for algorithmic advances that can help cue the analyst and trigger closer observation as well as possible fusing of other relevant data. The notion of fully automated analysis is today at best a distant reality, and for this reason, it is critical to invest in research to promote algorithmic advances; one way to effectively engage the relevant research communities is through the use of grand challenges in the area of data analysis.
Talk to your friends. Write to your representatives and the media. Get politically active, contributing time and (to the extent you can) money. For a deeper discussion of this see section 6 — Some solutions, ways to reform America — on the FM reference page America – how can we reform it?
Some advice from the past:
“Anger is easy. Anger at the right person, at the right time, for the right reason, is difficult.”
— Aristotle, in the Nicomachean Ethics, book IV, chapter 5 (lightly paraphrased)
“Telemachus, now is the time to be angry.”
— Odysseus, when the time came to deal with the Suitors. From the movie The Odyssey (1997)
For more information from the FM site
To read other articles about these things, see the following:
Reference pages about other topics appear on the right side menu bar, including About the FM website page.
Since problem recognition is the first step on the path to reform, see these posts about the American spirit, the American soul :
- Americans, now a subservient people (listen to the Founders sigh in disappointment), 20 July 2008
- de Tocqueville warns us not to become weak and servile, 21 July 2008
- A philosphical basis for the Batman saga, 23 July 2008
- The American spirit speaks: “Baa, Baa, Baa”, 5 August 2008
- We’re Americans, hear us yell: “baa, baa, baa”, 6 August 2008
- The intelligentsia takes easy steps to abandoning America, 19 August 2008
- The corruption of a nation is usually hidden, but sometimes becomes visible, 21 November 2008
- This crisis will prove that Americans are not sheep (unless we are), 8 January 2008
- About security theater, a daily demonstration that Americans are sheep, 25 January 2009
- Sources of inspiration for America’s renewal, 23 April 2009
- Are we citizens? Or peasants?, 21 May 2009
- A famous guest speaker visits the FM site to tell us that we are not weak — we are strong, 8 June 2008
- A great artist died today. We can gain inspiration from his words., 26 June 2009
- A wonderful and important speech about liberty, 23 July 2009
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