Discussion: The implications of NSA cellphone surveillance

December 5, 2013

Our Readers Who Comment are having a field day with a terrific story that details the National Security Agency’s ability to keep a close watch on us all.  Reporters Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani tell us that the NSA is “gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world.” If you’ve got a cellphone, NSA can keep track of where you are and with whom you communicate. This fact became available from the trove of documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

As Gellman and Soltani write, “The NSA does not target Americans’ location data by design, but the agency acquires a substantial amount of information on the whereabouts of domestic cellphones ‘incidentally,’ a legal term that connotes a foreseeable but not deliberate result.”

We’ll start with JackArmstrong, who said, “A headline we will never see: “Washington Post/AP Aid Terrorist Nuclear Attack in D.C. Killing Thousands”

“News Organizations Divulge National Security Surveillance Methods, Enabling Terrorists to Avoid Detection”
We’ll never see this, not because it could never happen, but rather because WaPo and the other “news” groups will never own up to their role in aiding and abetting terrorists by publishing NSA and DHS classified surveillance methodologies. Their irresponsible flaunting of First Amendment rights to knowingly compromise our national security might seem like a righteous exercise to some — until the next devastating terrorist attack makes them rail against governmental terrorist tracking “failures” that they, in fact, caused.  National security and classified information exist for a reason. Wise up, before you endanger all of us.”

Offshore wind wrote, “With every new revelation I become more convinced that Snowdon has done the American public a tremendous service. He must be very brave because it sure took balls to realize this obscene invasion of our privacy was wrong and hopefully, by revealing it, enough anger and support will grow from citizens to end it.”

To which freepeacher replied, “Endanger all of us . . . like on 9/11?  What was 9/11 anyway?  Larry’s remodeling project?  Why did he direct that WTC building 7 be collapsed on the afternoon of 9/11?  And why did the collapse of Building 7 look just like the collapses of WTC 1 and 2.

gabby2 advised, “Don’t want to be tracked . . .get rid of your cell phone.”

RonPaulWins2012 wrote, “No, you shouldn’t have to give up your freedom of association, privacy, and belongings. Instead, get rid of the peeping uncle tom Obama, and get rid of the illegally spying creeps in NSA.”

gabby2 then asked, “Privacy? Surely you’re not worried about people’s privacy for those who conduct cell phone conversations in the most public places . . . and not quietly, I might add, or worse . . . those who walk around with a blue tooth growing in their ear?”

Stan Liberman said, “Edward Snowden should be caught and imprisoned for treason.  With his actions he compromised national security by exposing tools and procedures that our national intelligence uses to protect the American people.  He is not a whistleblower. He is a spy, because he entered the agencies with agenda in mind, lying on his applications and clearance documents and violating non-disclosure agreements.”  Anything else is very much irrelevant.”

Ron Nussbeck wrote, “The Science of Future Predictability being used with the collection of metadata and biometric data from Cell, E-mail, Social and Internet provider information? Implications of these acts make person who controls it most powerful person in the world, Obama? Oh No… ”

pogo13 said, “The problem is, the NSA is tracking a device and not a human. It is assumed that the human and the device are in the same place. The only sure way to track a human is to implant the device in the palm of the hand and in the forehead. The cranial implant would have the added benefit of being scanned by the same device that uses face recognition software. The hand implant will trace all financial transactions. There would be 666 possible combinations of algorithms which would be impossible to defeat. No matter how you look at it, 666 is a lot of algorithms. (and all this time, people thought we were the crazy ones…)”

chrisbrown wrote, “I agree but not everyone knows how their movements are being monitored. This also allows people to be not only followed but to be “neutralized”. Such tracking of people and their reduction to ‘targets’ is dehumanizing and turns any person into a possible victim of an impersonal killing system.”

andrew23boyle said, “The government’s primary job is not to keep us safe. That is secondary, means to an end. And that end is the government’s most important job: to keep us free. That’s why the government will, if need be, draft young men and sacrifice their safety and even lives to defend our liberty. Liberty is to be valued more than life.   The point of National Security, then, is to secure our liberty. When we start sacrificing our liberty in the name of security, things are backwards and very wrong . . . ”

hokie92 replied, “Liberty and freedom have been under assault in America for 100 years now. Americans have been willing to surrender on liberties in a countless number of ways for the interest of security; whether it be for physical security, financial security or for the guarantee of healthcare.  We are no longer free in America. The government knows where we live, what our phone is, what our financial status is and what our personal health history is. The Patriot Act is much to blame. Now the ACA is the final brick in the wall.  It’s done now and we’re not going back . . . ”

RubberHammer said, “Hey guys, there certainly is danger to us in what the NSA is doing, but only if we totally lose control of our government. I assure you, there is much greater danger to real and potential terrorists due to this activity than to the average American citizen.  Good lord, people…! Do you want an ACTIVE anti-terrorist NSA, or a PASSIVE one? Wouldn’t it have been nice to have all these capabilities in the years leading up to September 11, 2001?. Might not have prevented the WTC episodes; but then again, it might have…”

To which Whys replied, “And we’d be safer if they did a physical search of all our homes too!”

We’ll close with hokie92, who wrote, “That is it maholly. The US military is not allowed to be used for domestic law enforcement. I trust that the good men and women working for the NSA understand that. Many of the disconnects between agencies that contributed to allowing 9/11 were actually meant to be disconnects. The fear hear is “Big Brother”. They have my phone ID. They know where I live, what I drive, what my bank account is, my mortgage, what my e-mail is, what my Washington Post web id is, which candidates I supported in the last election and now what my health history is. We accept that the government is going [to get] pieces of all of that. The fear is that the government might actually link all of that together, and use the US military to do that. The key issue seems to be what the limits are for the NSA to conduct domestic surveillance.”

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Doug Feaver | November 26, 2013