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NSA chief: ‘We’re the only ones not spying on the American people’ (washingtonpost.com)
219 points by tigger on June 7, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 30 comments

There's a discussion to be had here. If you're a foreign intelligence agency looking to commit espionage, how hard would it be to get someone inside a Verizon or AT&T? Imagine what type of pervasive data a potential adversary could gather via these means?

Something any major business with foreign competitors should consider before using cloud services or trusting telecom vendors.

I would be very surprised if at least one foreign agency at least has not already hacked into both Verizon and AT&T ... one could argue that the US govt has at least been trying to do it (semi) legitimately just to keep up.

maybe they should attack the perpetrators instead??

Maybe indeed, but what was easier?

But what good does it do?

"Oh look, the bad guys are spying on our people, what can we do?"

"Stop them!"

"We can't!"

"Ok, let's spy on them too then!"

If this seems like a logical conversation then change "spy on" to "rape" and see if it still makes sense.

they could label them as terrorists and it becomes alot easier...

They're doing that now... bit too late.. But who's going to believe they needed a nuke to blast a few flies?

Or impersonate the NSA and divert their data to your servers.

One way of interpreting his comments: We suck up all the data and then apply filters to remove domestic information. Although the NSA has access to information on the American people, it does not specifically target Americans and discards purely domestic information. As such, it is not "spying on the American people" so much as inflicting collateral damage on the privacy of the American people.

To a certain extent, this is understandable. The NSA may not trust Verizon's judgment on who a foreign national is. And the nature of a more specific request may reveal classified information -- e.g. if the NSA asked for "all calls to Libya" just prior to the bombing campaign, that may have revealed something was up.

That's not to say any of this is justified, or that the attempts to filter out domestic information are effective. Apparently, you have to be 49% foreign or less to be filtered out, whatever that means (http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/06/bombsh...).

But it's the explanation I would give if I were him.

I hear the argument, but I'm just worried about this: what happens in the future if a future politician can change the definition of "terrorist" to include "hacker" or "dissident" or "activist"?

I know this is reductio at hitlerum, but about 70 years ago, you had to be 49% foreign or less not to be filtered out...

The standards were actually stricter.

There's two things here: a lie by omission if they are receiving the data via other agencies; and he's also saying that every other agency is spying on the American people. Someone might want to look into that last part, because I'm fine for taking the flashlight off of the NSA if every other agency is participating in this activity.

Sen. Feinstein, are you there?

The "everybody does it" defense? OMG.

Keith Alexander, NSA Chief, once blamed his late arrival at a Washington event to a DDoS (distributed denial of service) hacking attack on city street lights.... Wow.

That was a joke, as the article points out. As in, all the lights happened to be timed such that he was denied from moving.

more like a "serial denial of service"

but who's counting among friends, huh?

Got a source? That sounds so incredible I almost want it to be true.

thats just good marketing / social engineering :]

Hmmm. What's a juicier target than Apple, Google, Micrsoft? And they've all been compromised by Chinese hackers before.

I wonder how well they background check all the people working on their new data facility in Utah.


Ham-handed references are the text equivalent to meme images.

It's the wrong "meme", too, at least I don't see the doublespeak. I'm calling Big Lie instead.

Of course its doublespeak. Knowingly stating the exact opposite of what is true as fact. The only way it would be more obviously doublespeak is to say "Spying is privacy".

> doublespeak. Knowingly stating the exact opposite of what is true as fact

I don't think so. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doublespeak

> The only way it would be more obviously doublespeak is to say "Spying is privacy".

That's where it would begin to be doublespeak, at least as far as I understand it.

Regardless of wether it's doublespeak, it surely is a Big Lie: Nobody spies more on American citizens than American intelligence agencies. Let's just assume that as fact. Now,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Lie : "a lie so "colossal" that no one would believe that someone "could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously."

To say "We’re the only ones not spying on the American people" when nobody else does it more, that's oh so very clearly a Big Lie to me.

When Winston Smith finds Goldstein's book, in that is written the principles of doublethink (The term doublespeak is not actually used in the book). The famous lines "Ignorance is Strength" etc. But the Ministry of Truth does not broadcast these to the people. The Ministry of Peace does not broadcast "War is peace". It broadcasts "We have always been at war with Eastasia." A big lie.

My point is it doesn't have to be the principles of doublespeak as outlined in Goldstein's book to be doublespeak. The Ministries application of the principles of doublespeak appear to the populace as a big lie.

"But it means also the ability to BELIEVE that black is white, and more, to KNOW that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as DOUBLETHINK." -- George Orwell


It appears in caps in the original book. So it's excusable here as it's a contextual quote.

I guess you're right. Still seems out of place here.

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