Russell Tice: Warrantless Wiretaps and The Total Information Awareness Program
In a way I feel we are back in the 70’s with Nixon all over again. Russell Tice, former NSA analyst, has come forth with more information post W leaving office. His revelation of merit is that one of the targeted groups were and are (as the programs are still running) is that Journalists were a target group.
I am sure that there were enemies lists, but I think that this ranges far further than the journalists. Tice makes it clear in a vague way, that TIA’s data mining program that was “officially” killed (meaning that it went black instead and changed names) is being used to data mine to put metadata to individuals and create virtual dossiers and behavioral profiles vis a vis their phone/bank/web search/email data.
It has been pretty much proven out that the use of data mining is somewhat dubious in the war on terror. Many of the “terrorists” are not using the internet to order their pizza’s from the local “terror hut” So, really, who’s records are they getting? Ours. Yours, mine, anyone on the internet doing their Googling. Anyone making calls perhaps to persons of interest that the computer spit out because of some arcane percieved connection via TIA. Or, those who were directly targeted like the journalists.
I am sure that more will come out of these programs as people begin to get their sense of right and wrong back, but, remember this. The world of SIGINT/ELINT/INTEL is a world of grey areas. Sure there is the intent of guarding the people and the constitution, but, many times the lines are a bit more subtle once you are on the inside. So people may be misled by their peers, or, they may take that light grey line and traverse across it in the idea that it’s for the “greater good”
What we have found though, is that in this case the events of 9/11, shocking us all, allowed for all of us to let someone like W and Cheney take that grey line and just erase it altogether. They obliterated it with the use of their own form of terror. The terrorist boogey man of color coded threatcons. They used these and other perceived threats to play upon all of our memories of that day and the days after to manipulate us into complacency. A complacency that we as a people were really just too stunned and afraid to do anything else but let “daddy” take care of us… And that is what they were claiming to be doing. Perhaps they were thinking at first that they were protecting us, but it soon becomes apparent that they were doing much more and in a methodical and deliberate manner. Acts of self interest.
All too soon the methods of protection have become methods of control. Control of information, control of “The People” and most of us were ill equipped to understand or recognize that it was happening. Truly, in many ways this last president became the embodiment of “Big Brother” than any who came before. This is mainly because of the technology at his and their disposal. Technology mind you, that we all as citizens LOVE to have and play with but, few truly understand the capabilities of.
As an information security professional, I understand many of these possibilities and still I too can find myself doing things at times that maybe I should not. Perhaps even this journal and its predecessor on LJ might have been a bad idea because I am willing to make my mind known in an unfiltered fasion on the internet. How many lists must I be on, even though I work within the system and am known to certain entities? Perhaps more because of that… Who knows without a FOIA request huh? Which, BTW thank you Big O for already making it easier to get a FOIA request done. Perhaps there will be finally some more transparency in our government? It would be nice.
To conclude, don’t get me wrong, I still believe that the only security that you, I, any one of us, has is that which we make for ourselves. Using encryption, writing letters by hand, speaking in soft language, are the only way to truly engage in “private” conversation unless you are in front of that other person in the cone of silence somewhere. The technology, no matter the administration, has outstripped the ability of the good guys stopping its use for ill intent. We now live in the surveillance world… Whether it is the government, foreign or domestic, or non state actors, we all can and likely will be “surveilled” from here on in.
It’s just a matter of what we choose to let them see….