how many friends do we really have? the NSA does the math for us now!


(here’s the link to the Mainway program slide at the Times.  If you press Control and + a few times on your Cafe page, usually you can get the page to enlarge.  You can see at the bottom ‘Secret/s to USA and FVEY’, which would like mean ‘Five Eyes’.  This is a heavily redacted ‘contact-chaining‘ one.)

Laura Poitras and James Risen have teamed up for the story published in the New York Times yesterday, using documents provided by Edward Snowden.  Turns out that ol’ Keith Alexander lied to Congress again, what ho?

As Emptywheel says, the NSA really is compiling dossiers on anyone they care to, and it’s gathering a whale of a lot of communication data.  As of 2010, they were given the green light by BushCo to gather phone calls and email logs as long as the worker drones can believe that a foreign source is involved in the communication.  How many belief hops make a case?

Well, now we know that they make some cool graphs with the connections-metadata dots, and when they look crowded enough, the dossiers can be ‘augmented’.

The agency can augment the communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents. They do not indicate any restrictions on the use of such “enrichment” data, and several former senior Obama administration officials said the agency drew on it for both Americans and foreigners.”

Ay yi yi!   How many ‘event records’ (calls, emails, etc.) are they handling?  Well, almost 20 billion a month, according to the NSA’s last budget.  Hence, the acute need for the new facility in Bluff dale, Utah, which officials have declined to say whether or not it’s open for business…

“The spy agency, led by Gen. Keith B. Alexander, an unabashed advocate for more weapons in the hunt for information about the nation’s adversaries, clearly views its collections of metadata as one of its most powerful resources. N.S.A. analysts can exploit that information to develop a portrait of an individual, one that is perhaps more complete and predictive of behavior than could be obtained by listening to phone conversations or reading e-mails, experts say.

Phone and e-mail logs, for example, allow analysts to identify people’s friends and associates, detect where they were at a certain time, acquire clues to religious or political affiliations, and pick up sensitive information like regular calls to a psychiatrist’s office, late-night messages to an extramarital partner or exchanges with a fellow plotter. “

The heretofore provision in the FISA Court’s rulings that once a foreign ‘suspect’s’ communication chain reached Usian soil, analysts weren’t allowed to follow it further was hamstringing the agency, so the rules needed to change, and make the past illegal wire-tapping magically legal.  So, enter some Notable Snoop Worthies:

“A new policy that year, detailed in “Defense Supplemental Procedures Governing Communications Metadata Analysis,” authorized by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, said that since the Supreme Court had ruled that metadata was not constitutionally protected, N.S.A. analysts could use such information “without regard to the nationality or location of the communicants,” according to an internal N.S.A. description of the policy.

After that decision, which was previously reported by The Guardian, the N.S.A. performed the social network graphing in a pilot project for 1 ½ years “to great benefit,” according to the 2011 memo. It was put in place in November 2010 in “Sigint Management Directive 424” (sigint refers to signals intelligence).

In the 2011 memo explaining the shift, N.S.A. analysts were told that they could trace the contacts of Americans as long as they cited a foreign intelligence justification. That could include anything from ties to terrorism, weapons proliferation or international drug smuggling to spying on conversations of foreign politicians, business figures or activists.

By now there’s so much metadata, and it can be processed so quickly…that the NSA’s spending about $400 million a year taking good care of it all.  It can be stored for up to ten or fifteen years, heh.  But one program’s name is so great I have to share it with you.

“A top-secret document titled “Better Person Centric Analysis” describes how the agency looks for 94 “entity types,” including phone numbers, e-mail addresses and IP addresses. In addition, the N.S.A. correlates 164 “relationship types” to build social networks and what the agency calls “community of interest” profiles, using queries like “travelsWith, hasFather, sentForumMessage, employs.”

So, see?  They’re just doing all this in aid of making any of they deem worthy of surveilling Better Persons, and chart our popularity and Friend Counts.  Capiche?

25 responses to “how many friends do we really have? the NSA does the math for us now!

  1. OR, another ObaMammon Custerfluck EPITOMIZED!

  2. and yet the good citizens of this nation continue to behave, believe like the LOBOTOMIZED. Such a quandary…. (ObaMammon is very nice.)

    i tried to answer your ‘sweet charlotte‘, but failed. i might not be cut out for this stuff. but then, i make everything easy: i blog under my own name, for crissakes. or do i? heh.

    gotta couple links to add soon. but i do love this program!

  3. Rio de Janeiro:

    “Jeremy Scahill, a contributor to The Nation magazine and the New York Times best-selling author of “Dirty Wars,” said he will be working with Glenn Greenwald, the Rio-based journalist who has written stories about U.S. surveillance programs based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

    “The connections between war and surveillance are clear. I don’t want to give too much away but Glenn and I are working on a project right now that has at its center how the National Security Agency plays a significant, central role in the U.S. assassination program,” said Scahill, speaking to moviegoers in Rio de Janeiro, where the documentary based on his book made its Latin American debut at the Rio Film Festival.

    “There are so many stories that are yet to be published that we hope will produce ‘actionable intelligence,’ or information that ordinary citizens across the world can use to try to fight for change, to try to confront those in power,” said Scahill.”

    “Seymour Hersh on Obama, NSA and the ‘pathetic’ American media

    Pulitzer Prize winner explains how to fix journalism, saying press should ‘fire 90% of editors and promote ones you can’t control’

    He is angry about the timidity of journalists in America, their failure to challenge the White House and be an unpopular messenger of truth.

    Don’t even get him started on the New York Times which, he says, spends “so much more time carrying water for Obama than I ever thought they would” – or the death of Osama bin Laden. “Nothing’s been done about that story, it’s one big lie, not one word of it is true,” he says of the dramatic US Navy Seals raid in 2011.

    Hersh is writing a book about national security and has devoted a chapter to the bin Laden killing. He says a recent report put out by an “independent” Pakistani commission about life in the Abottabad compound in which Bin Laden was holed up would not stand up to scrutiny. “The Pakistanis put out a report, don’t get me going on it. Let’s put it this way, it was done with considerable American input. It’s a bullshit report,” he says hinting of revelations to come in his book.

    The Obama administration lies systematically, he claims, yet none of the leviathans of American media, the TV networks or big print titles, challenge him.”

  4. Guess no one gets the h o o k a h up.

  5. i did get the note by answering da water pipe query, but it disappeared soon, couldn’t be copy-pasted for a later look, and when i tried to respond, it all went higgledy-piggledy. my fault, i yam sure, but i even created a pass phrase and everything!

    garsh, mickey; what’s a gurl luddite to do?

    i may try again, but you aren’t jacob? or llona? or my dead mothah? nah, she wasn’t all that funnee… ;)

  6. OK; but none of the above, nor Stewart.

  7. not q, either, but every now and again your phrasing will remind me of someone. not my dead mothah, you’re sure though? maybe she got funnier in the Afterlife? ;~) okay, i’ll stop askin’, give ya a song. let’s see….yeah. amerika.

  8. Haven’t heard such a wonderful melody tempered with such woeful lyrics since Saunders Ferry Lane:

    Semper fidelity.

  9. poignant, i might have gone with, but ‘woeful’, yes.

  10. And equally sadly; where are today’s denizens from the Gilleys, a-Go-Go’s, Caverns and Matrices, for Musical PROGRESS?

  11. i dunno, my friend. i’ve spent most of my online time over the past few days reading background material for a piece on the easy acceptance of the many forms of propaganda that has become the almost total zietgeist in our nation, save for a few seekers of truth (whatever that elusive term might mean). followed leads galore, from philosophy to psychological theories on how ‘self’ is constructed, (conscience i’ll leave alone, that’s soooo complicated and disputed), all the way to the brilliant and irrascible arthur silber’s house.

    and right now i am just swept with sadness, and wondering seriously about ways to bust through the nonsense that is state control (including education as one of the biggest purveyors) in order that we might actually massively rise up in dissent, and demand our country back. and to create zillions of intentional communities, towns, cities, businesses (h/t: chePasa) in order to live, thrive and survive in truly democratic, just and sustainable ways. celebrate art, uniqueness, puddle-lusciousness, and Light…

    and i’m feeling that no words i can ever clack out on my keyboards can make one bit of difference, and how queerly silly that it’s all that i can offer any longer. no, i don’t mean i’m drowning in self-pity, just trying to adjust myself to accommodate *what is*.

    well, fuck, i’ve deleted the rest as far too meta, depressing, self-indulgent. but i love lucinda williams, and her guitarist gurf morlix. went to youtube to find her new stuff, and it kinda sucks, to say the truth. she could channel pain just fine, and now and again exuberant and giddy joy, of course. but listen to this; see if you can feel where she is….

    plus, there’s almost no one at my.fdl any more, and it seems like craziness to work on posts no one reads, no one comments on. oopsie: hold the meta, wendydavis… ;)

  12. Well, we always know what happens if we don’t try. “Legendary” ‘linguist’ Noam Chomsky once said he keeps searching for the words with which to convince; which is one of the reasons my Johnny Acronym spirit keeps prodding me to develop “free frames of reference” for US to counter the
    1%ers’ media monopoly on “framing” vocabulary.
    As far as L.W. goes off the side of the road; we all need to now and again, and (thankfully) know of a few places still like that. But as for puddle-lusciousness, for an old marine biologist “Captain Sunshine”, one must increasingly carry one’s own liquid immersant*

    (*since here in the land of congressional “hero” Alan Grayson, between the earth and the surrounding sea, it’s assaulted in the Gulf with BP (Big Petroleum) and on “the Pond” side by pathogens of blooming algae, cannibal bacteria and zombifying amebae). But as Grayson always closes with: “Courage”. For OUR posterity.

  13. ah, the grape you must mean. you are in florida, or do you mean this nation as ‘the land’. if you’re being ironic about grayson, i will agree. i find him to be a self-serving prick, to say the truth. fine words, no show. like reading some chapters of the ttp language, raising money from that singular ‘get’, then claiming ‘prosecution!’ as a reason to not go public with the info. sorry to be a beyotch, but he irks me beyond measure by now.

    oopsie, one love….

    and now BP is asking for their fines to be set aside *again*. but what the hell, obomba made a grand bargain for bp to put eleventy million in an escrow account to cover the damages; it’s all good, barack baby…. but remember, one day:

  14. Well, hoping to avoid meta-stasizing to the Pacific, I didn’t carry the analogy to the Alyeska reduction of its (Exxon) Valdez eco-catastrophe’s “fine” from $5B to < $1B; nor the plume of water-carried FukUShima radionuclide contamination approaching the US northwest coast. But Grayson-applicable cutting-edge irony, indeed; OUR Heads UP, theirs down.

  15. glad your grayson comments were by way of irony. ;~)

    i had posted this on one pf the past open threads; scary stuff. “West Coast of North America to Be Hit Hard by Fukushima Radiation”, Aug. 20, 2013

  16. fdlake is down in comments, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t reading your articles. I expect they are.

  17. ah, sorry for all the whingeing, but thank you for the encouragement. i was just depressed, so i’ve been having trouble motivating myself to actually write up the diary on propaganda and ‘the empty self’ theory. feelin’ empty, i guess, lol. although, i’ve gotten a hell of a lot of harvest chores completed, and lots of food stuck away for winter. ‘squirrels R us’. and the bears won’t be back no mo’. :)

    but how nice to see you, mafr. i swear i was considering emailing you today to give you the message in the most recent open thread, but i wasn’t quite sure as to admin etiquette. at my last site, folks did ask for my address, but most of it was by way of helping them figure out how to blog, which was different.

    anyhoo, i reckon you’ve seen the (new?) IPPC report, and while i have only read some big headlines, was wondering if it seems about right to you…or not.

  18. oh, bugger. i’d also noticed your avatar-less. here’s the Contact Us wordpress support page. if you type in your question, say no answer was applicable, then ya can send your problem to the Hug Team (really). they then give you a link to the help via forum-messaging.

    good luck if you choose to accept this mission….

    the first time my partner and i performed this song, i went into the ozone, and on the final line sang (very boldly): “now we all are frozen ones…”

  19. HI

    I found this radio stream it’s blues, seems pretty good… hope this works.

    I didn’t read the IPCC report, just the summary at climateprogress by Joe Romm, who makes it easy to understand. Since they are always on the low side, it’s grim. Alberta got nailed by one and a half billion dollar flood, and yet with all the coverage, nobody was able to explain how it happened, even though it’s obvious. right after that Toronto got hammered almost as badly.

    typhoon headed for Fukushima.

    I was in B.C, a few weeks ago, drove through Idaho, Washington, Oregon, great drive down that way. experienced some winds on Vancouver Island that were way too strong.

    hope you keep on with your stuff anyway…. obviously a lot of work goes into it,

    check out this kid that sang on “the voice” yesterday

    that friggin avatar follows me whereever I go on the internet, pretty annoying.

  20. trip sounds nice, mafr, and thanks for the radio station link.

    some kid, all right. yes, i’d read about the floods, have a good friend in toronto, meant to check on him and his wife. damn. here it’s been so wet, so wet. high winds, but it’s calmed down for now. but with the sun moving so far south now, the light playing through the trees is sublime, especially through a couple exotics we broke the rules by importing, planting near the house: a weeping birch and a maple. bird feeders in both, and even now the bird colors flitting through are scintillating.

    yeah, i started writin’ this one up, have several others started, lol. get side-tracked with more pressing issues. luckily none of them are the government shutdown….

    typhoon to fukushima; good night nurse. can it be made worse, or just worse more quickly? a wee antidote:

    ‘friggin’ avatar’, lol.

  21. oh, and bruce: i did get into a bit of a scrap about alan grayson and his having seen a fw chapters of ttp language and not trumpeting the content (on his pal jerry waxman’s post), but raising money over his having seen it. too cute for words. is that what prompted your comments?

    i can’t remember the timing. feelin’ old (demented) and in the way lately, lol.

  22. I saw this in your comment “and i’m feeling that no words i can ever clack out on my keyboards can make one bit of difference”

    I think it can make a difference. anyway I enjoy reading your stuff.

  23. i went upthread to see the context of that sentence, and oopsie, i was kidding myself: it was full of self-pitying ego, wasn’t it? my better self knows that writers…write, regardless of audience..or not. blogging has changed that truth, and i need to remember it. and make good on my promise to meditate more to tame my inner self-referencing Stuff. ;~)

    but i am glad you enjoy it, mafr. think i’ll dust off some old stories to post for art saturdays, publish them here as well.

    have you recorded anything new for your sound cloud? it would be cool to listen, if so. britzkrieg (aka bigchin), sent me a link to a similar audio spot, highlighting one of his recent recordings, but i couldn’t get it into the open menu thread. i might try again….

  24. OR, having the wrong road FROZEN for us! InDeed, how does one save oneself from the so enthralled (individually and collectively, I’ve found , one “CANNAE” save them from themselves or one another)? Maybe a new Millenial MANTRA : “I have (had) enough; why would I want more?”
    The Time It Is Today may personify it; but Sometime epitomizes it (couldn’t link anything but the lyrics):

  25. ‘now we all are frozen rooooooads’. did she get it right in her herr Doktorish slip?

    hmmm: are we really living, or are we a shadow of what life can be
    Is the answer inside of me…

    you remind me of the earth-slipping-out-from-under-me sensation that i get watching nova, sometimes. parallel universes, time not what we perceive it, the fabric of space stretching and resilient…so much more. it causes me to wonder anew as i did as a twelve-year-old: is what we believe the ‘reality’ we experience, and how much of it was agreed upon before i was even born? i was utterly convinced about that take in regards to god and the afterlife, somehow.

    would you like to register here? somewhere i have a post to make it less confusing than wordpress makes it.

    thank you for the song, anonymous association,

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