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AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein to Senate: "they’re doing a huge, massive domestic dragnet on everybody in the United States"

[Welcome, InfoWorld readers. Note to Bob®: I am absolutely Pammy's biggest fan!]

[UPDATE: Comedy gold! Pravda on the Potomac's weak-chinned Fred Hiatt buries the story on D01.]

[UPDATE: SJC puts off granting the telcos immunity, because the Republicans demanded more time to consider the 26 amendments. At least they didn't go with Spector's bogus Compromise, where the Federal government--that is, you and me as taxpayers--would have assumed the liability the telcos are on the hook for. Modified rapture.]

Here's my transcript:

My name's Mark Klein; I used to be an AT&T technician for 22 years.

What I figured out when I got there [AT&'s secret room at 611 Folsom Street, SSan Francisco] is that they were copying everything flowing across the Internet cables, and the major Internet links between AT&T's network and other company's networks, and it struck me at the time that this is a massively unconstitutional, illegal operation.

It affects not only AT&T's customers, but everybody, 'cause these links went to places like Sprint, Qwest, a whole bunch of other companies, and so they're basicallly tapping into the entire Internet.

But isn't the government only monitoring suspected terrorsits and not ordinary Americans?

To perform what they say they want to do, which is look at international traffic, none of this makes any sense. These installations only make sense if they're doing a huge, massive domestic dragnet on everybody, in the United States.

Shouldn't the telecoms trust that the Bush Administration's requests are legal?

These companies know very well what's legal and what's illegal; they've been dealing with this for decades. And it's a fact that Qwest refused the NSA's approach, becuase they weren't showing any legal justificaiton for it, and they did the right thing and said No.

What I'm here for is, it looked like a few weeks ago that the Senate bill which passed the Intelligence Committee would give immunity to the telecom companies and that would probably put an end to the lawsuits. So I came here to lobby against giving retroactive immunity to the telecom companies, and let the court cases process, and Congress should not interfere in that.

As we've been saying. Nice to see the Beltway Dems stepping up on this, to preserve our Constitutional rights. Oh, wait...

Just to refresh your memories--Harry, Nance; Hillary--here's the Fourth Amendment of the United States:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the [electronically addressable] place to be searched, and the persons or [digital] things to be seized.

Back in the 1700s, “papers and effects” were letters and records, on physical media, like dead trees and parchment. This—Harry, Nance; Hillary—is three hundred years later. My email is digital paper. My web site an electronic effect. The government has no right to read them without a warrant.

NOTE Sign Chris Dodd's petition against retroactive im[p|m]munity for the telcos here.

UPDATE Via the ever-excellent FDL, the numbers to call:

Sen. Harry Reid — (202) 224-3542     FAX  202-224-7327

Senate Judiciary Committee Contact Information:

Every Senate direct dial number can be found here (including links to just about every senator’s web page, which include both DC office contact information and local office numbers as well).  You can reach your Senators toll free thanks to these numbers that katymine found:

1 (800) 828 - 0498

1 (800) 614 - 2803

1 (866) 340 - 9281

1 (866) 338 - 1015

1 (877) 851 - 6437

Also, the Senate Judiciary Committee membership and contact information is as follows:

State Name strong>Phone Fax
DE Joe Biden (202) 224-5042 (202)-224-0139
VT Patrick J. Leahy (202) 224-4242 (202) 224-3479
MA Edward M. Kennedy (202) 224-4543 (202) 224-2417
WI Herbert Kohl (202) 224-5653 (202) 224-9787
CA Dianne Feinstein (202) 224-3841 (202) 228-3954
WI Russell D. Feingold (202) 224-5323 (202) 224-2725
NY Charles E. Schumer (202) 224-6542 (202) 228-3027
IL Richard J. Durbin (202) 224-2152 (202) 228-0400
MD Benjamin Cardin (202) 224-4524 (202) 224-1651

Be polite! What's so hard about wanting Bush and the telcos to obey the law?

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Comments

Right on the whitehouse.gov website, and spoken by the war criminal, treasonous torturer himself:

Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.

Submitted by Mooser (not verified) on

They don't tap your phone to see what you are doing wrong; it's much worse. They eavesdrop to see what you are doing right!

Klein's revelations should be seen in the context of what we learned from NSA insider Russell Tice.

Tice is forbidden from speaking in detail, but as one goes over what he has said in public, one doesn't have to do much reading between the lines to see the likely grand scheme. The NSA scoops up EVERYTHING, foreign and domestic. But gathering the information is not considered a Fourth Amendment breech until human eyes have looked at it. Non-human "data-mining" techniques can narrow down the communications which may be of interest to investigators, at which point (if domestic parties are involved) warrants can be attained, to keep things within the Fourth Amendment.

I don't know for a fact that this is what is occurring, but this seems a valid interpretation of what Tice has said.

I am not at all convinced by the argument that the Fourth Amendment is satisfied when machines, not human beings, go scanning for keywords. For months, I have said that the original FISA law of 1978 needs a top-to-bottom review in light of advances in data-collection technology. We need an entirely new set of laws to deal with the new realities of electronic surveillance. And that will require hearings.

Of course, any such attempt would be useless without a President willing to A) cooperate with investigators and B) Sign new legislation.

MJS's picture
Submitted by MJS on

When the mines collapse who will save the Insect Overlords?

++++

Submitted by anonymous coward (not verified) on

Blood-runs-cold creepy. Page looks plausible but any other sites that confirm the phenomena?

hobson's picture
Submitted by hobson on

Geez, wish they'd put this much energy into protecting us from fires, hurricanes, massive black outs, huge oil spills, incompetent bank CEO's and dishonest mortgage brokers.

I hope people caught Frontline's "rendition" program last night too.

I have let Dodd and the other candidates know I was behind Dodd on this issue.

Submitted by lambert on

At best, they're using metadata to model social networks. I'd argue that violates the Fourth Amendment too. If George Washington, for example, had argued that it was OK for him to go through any citizens papers and effects because he was only writing down the addresses on the envelopes (paper-based "metadata") not opening them, the rest of the Founders would have slapped him silly. So, I'm not sure I completely agree on the technology--"it's new technology" is so often a cover for unexamined social relationships, as we saw on the cellphone thread with "Ashley."

But if all the content is archived*, even if they only look at the metadata, they can look at the content tomorrow. In an emergency. And we know there's going to be an emergency, right? There always is.

NOTE * Yes, I know that's a lot of data. And the program is so massive NSA almost ran out of electrical power, so normal considerations of the scale of what's possible do not apply.

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by lambert on

Thanks for the engadget debunking. There is such a thing as being too foily--especially when it detracts from the all-too-real problems.

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by jag (not verified) on

Another site blowing the cover on the keylogging hoax. We've enough real problems to worry about w/o making crap up. Please use your energies and resourcefulness for more constructive purposes. Making crap like this up/perpetrating the myths only makes you (and some others) look like fools. Anyway, here's the link:
http://www.snopes.com/computer/internet/...

Submitted by Looking for lig... (not verified) on

In a democratic society, the people should never fear the government, rather, the government should always fear it's people.
We are the one's who give it power and are the one's who should be able to take that power away.

Submitted by Maalox (not verified) on

There is absolutely no need to do this sort of thing in such a clumsy way. If it were to be done via hardware, it certainly would not be an outboard card. It would be embedded into the existing PROM's and memory banks already in the design. But that is still providing evidence that doesn't need to be provided.

If I were to do a keylogger, I'd probably hire some gangsters from the former Soviet states to find one of the myriad buffer overruns in MS and Mac operating systems. Once an avenue has been established have them write a virus that propagates through merely visiting a web site and plant it on an advertisement site that links to all or most of Left Blogistan.

Presto! Instant real time feed of all the dissident ranting and metadata you need to counter their influence on American public opinion. Plausible deniability, stealth and as long as the attack avenue stays open, full disclosure of your pesky dissident mobs.

Just sayin'

Submitted by lambert on

No reason whatsoever to focus on bogus what-ifs with keyloggers capturing all data, when we already know that there's a splitter in AT&Ts San Francisco office that's already capturing all internet traffic, including, yes, this fucking traffic right here, you assholes. You know who you are, but I know what you are.

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Woody--Tokin Librul's picture
Submitted by Woody--Tokin Librul on

wouldn't it be possible to make certain messages just disappear?
they're already of filtering for content. couldn't the filter just as easily divert?

Me? A Quick Study, But A Slow Learner

Me? A Quick Study, But A Slow Learner

Submitted by anonymous coward (not verified) on

Actually, killing the traffic is harder than seeing a copy of it. But, of course, with some creative reprogramming of the routers, they could do that, too.

But could not do it without being detected. Someone is, generally, waiting for those packets, and will notice when they don't get through. Even with email, eventually you'll talk with or get another email from the sender and it will become plain you didn't get it.

Remember, this is a government operation: do you think they could do it well enough to never have it detected?

Submitted by lambert on

Woody, anythings possible, given a budget and a level of effort. But please, let's just focus on what we already know. That's bad enough. We already know the Fourth Amendment is totally out the window. There's just no way that this:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the [electronically addressable] place to be searched, and the persons or [digital] things to be seized.

can be reconciled with sucking down all our email, all our web traffic, everything, and we already know they're doing that.

Rather than spin fantastic technical scenarios, why not start connecting dots that we already know about?

How can we rewrite the history of the country since 2000 in light of this new information?

For example, I would be very interested to know if this system was used to screen attendees at Partei rallies in 2004, and in the Social Security bambalooza following. Remember the court case of the Colorado activists who were mysteriously kicked out by Secret Service agents who turned out to be RNC types?

What about the blackmail scenarios on the Hill? We've all been assuming this, but can we do better than that?

Could any data have been privatized?

How about business intelligence for cronies?

And so on.

You could think of this NSA program as the largest illegal identity theft operation in the history of the planet, bar none. Surely that has ramifications we have not considered?

All we need to know is that these guys just made the Stasi look like pikers. Please, no more nonsense about keyloggers and technical arcana--reading about keyloggers in this context is like worrying about the technical specifications of the mikes that the Stasi used, or what grade of paper they used in their filing system. Focus, people, focus!

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

code everything in photos of your pets.


We can admit that we’re killers … but we’re not going to kill today. That’s all it takes! ~ Captain James T. Kirk, Stardate 3193.0

1 John 4:18

Submitted by lambert on

stegasaurus

The bass are in the lilies. Pass it on.

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

the fish are in your underwear Tuesday. Pass it on


We can admit that we’re killers … but we’re not going to kill today. That’s all it takes! ~ Captain James T. Kirk, Stardate 3193.0

1 John 4:18

Submitted by anonymous coward (not verified) on

It's a dangerous world out there and thank God someone is keeping an eye on our backs.

You kids need to wake up and smell the coffee.

BYW, drugs kill.

Submitted by lambert on

Ben Franklin said:

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Whenever Conservatives piss their pants, they trade away our liberties. And we're the ones who should grow a pair?

Ask you Mom to bring some more Cheetohs down to the basement, asshole, and try again.

NOTE * Or has been attributed to say.

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Woody--Tokin Librul's picture
Submitted by Woody--Tokin Librul on

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." --Thomas Jefferson to C. Yancey, ...

Me? A Quick Study, But A Slow Learner

Me? A Quick Study, But A Slow Learner

MJS's picture
Submitted by MJS on

Testicles? The clackanoids in the skinsack where manly halves of snowflakes are mass-produced? How come nobody ever tells Jesus that he has to grow a pair? Oh, I know why: because some believe he will paratroop out of the sky sometime soonish and kill everyone who studied for the test on Tuesday.

Pray, what is this BYW? But Yanni Wins? Begin Yanking Walter? Speaking of butts: who is it who has our "backs?" The same folks who ignored the August 6th PDB, and didn't want to listen to Richard Clark, et al, and then lied about who was responsible? Draft dodgers, draft defferers, awolers, primping pampered poseurs pretending to primacy?

So far all I'm seeing here is teabaggery & sublimated homoeroticism. Get your own back, you neocon crack sniffer!

++++

Submitted by lambert on

The original story, however, has nothing to do with keylogging, and is also well-attested.

My name’s Mark Klein; I used to be an AT&T technician for 22 years.

What I figured out when I got there [AT&’s secret room at 611 Folsom Street, SSan Francisco] is that they were copying everything flowing across the Internet cables, and the major Internet links between AT&T’s network and other company’s networks, and it struck me at the time that this is a massively unconstitutional, illegal operation.

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by anonymous cowar... (not verified) on

The monitoring of all Internet packets has been going on by AT&T (formerly SWBell) since at least 1995.

It began as early as the ISDN equipment install and was done openly by the telecoms via each CO switching center at the request of the government (then Clinton administration).

I once served on a public advisory committee that had insight into such installations.