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Old 20th January 2009, 08:51 PM   #1
Kthulhut Fhtagn
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Does the US government monitor all phone calls and e-mails?

A persistent claim I keep hearing is that the US government monitors all of your phone calls, e-mails, text messages, et cetera in the name of counter-terrorism. All of which is recorded by a machine which then goes through your messages for keywords such as "bomb, assassinate, president" and so on. I've heard some claim that this is "common knowledge" but I can't seem to find any info verifying it outside of a few articles in late 2008 about the UK implementing such a plan. So can anyone tell me if this is factual or simple woo? Sources would be appreciated.
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Old 20th January 2009, 08:54 PM   #2
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i guess no.
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Old 20th January 2009, 09:01 PM   #3
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What the OP hints at is warrantless wiretapping. This simply is not done. The sheer volume of voice conversations inside the United States within a given day is absolutely staggering, and there's no real way the NSA could monitor every single one of them even if they had the presidential mandate to do so.

The NSA does monitor phone conversations for those key words, but those are primarily going into and out of the United States to/from certain areas where it is believed actionable intelligence can be derived.

Sources about the NSA's procedural operations are going to be a little thin. I was a former US Navy Cryptologist, and have now pretty much reached the limit of what I can tell you about it.
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Old 20th January 2009, 09:02 PM   #4
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Well...thanks I suppose. It's annoying to keep seeing this claim made but no one having any proof to back it up.

ETA: Thanks Joey, that's kind of what I figured.
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Old 20th January 2009, 09:07 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Kthulhut Fhtagn View Post
A persistent claim I keep hearing is that the US government monitors all of your phone calls, e-mails, text messages, et cetera in the name of counter-terrorism.
Of course it does. Haven't you seen The Simpson's Movie?

Norm
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Old 20th January 2009, 10:02 PM   #6
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No.Absolutely not. (But just in case -F**k Hoover!)
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Old 20th January 2009, 10:15 PM   #7
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The story I heard is that it is illegal to spy on your own citizens but legal to spy on another nation's citizens. So two or more countries can agree to spy on each other's citizens and share the intelligence. Echelon is the name that I have heard.

No idea if it is true or not but it sounds like it would need a lot of computing power.
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Old 20th January 2009, 10:25 PM   #8
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I am not much of a conspiracy theorist. I actually enjoy what people are willing to believe. In this case though there is a bit of truth. A lot of it veiled in secrecy still but like most "real" conspiracies it became impossible to keep it a secret.

http://www.eff.org/issues/nsa-spying

The extent of the spying is still unknown because if the rewriting of FISA giving retroactive immunity to the telcos but I am sure that the details will eventually come out because unlike a lot of craziness out there this actually happened.
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Old 21st January 2009, 03:17 AM   #9
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FISA only applies to calls where at least one of the parties to the call is outside the US. Monitoring of a call between two parties within the US does require a warrant.

And, as JoeyDonuts posted above, the volume of e-mail sent in the US (billions per day) precludes any kind of dragnet surveillance. E-mail evidence is typically only used after other evidence has identified an individual as a possible terrorist.
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Old 21st January 2009, 07:20 AM   #10
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Jhunter,

Yes about not needing a warrant to monitor foreigners (I mean they aren't 'Merican so why would you?) but the NSA wirtapping went beyond the legal boundaries set by FISA. I hate to sound like Alex Jones but 'It's Admitted.'

The NSA did and may still be doing dragnet surveillance of millions of Americans but now it is supposedly legal since retroactive immunity was put into place by the latest FISA amendments.

We do know that they recorded some steamy pillow talk though.
http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=5987804
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Old 21st January 2009, 08:39 AM   #11
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jezcoe, I did not have time to check out your links, but since you mentioned "admitted" and pillow talk together, I'll assume you are referring to the same case I seen the chick on tv talking about who worked for the NSA. There have been admissions, but as far I have seen so far most have been about military overseas talking to loved ones here over satellite phones. While this is ofc terrible as are any other cases where they spy without warrants, it hardly proves what the op is asking. It is a long way from monitoring every call, email, communication on citizen to citizen talks.
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Old 21st January 2009, 09:45 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by jezcoe View Post
We do know that they recorded some steamy pillow talk though.

http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=5987804
Already a thread here on this.

http://www.internationalskeptics.com...d.php?t=126118
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Old 21st January 2009, 11:39 PM   #13
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Olbermann had a former NSA analyst on his show tonight (Wednesday) who claims they record anything they want, with or without a warrant. I didn't catch everything he had to say because I was in and out of the room, but Kieth said he'd invite back for Thursday's show.

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Old 22nd January 2009, 02:51 AM   #14
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What about Echelon?
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Old 22nd January 2009, 04:45 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by steve s View Post
Olbermann had a former NSA analyst on his show tonight (Wednesday) who claims they record anything they want, with or without a warrant. I didn't catch everything he had to say because I was in and out of the room, but Kieth said he'd invite back for Thursday's show.
This is the segment from the Olbermann show with former NSA analyst Russell Tice.

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Old 22nd January 2009, 07:00 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Kthulhut Fhtagn View Post
A persistent claim I keep hearing is that the US government monitors all of your phone calls, e-mails, text messages, et cetera in the name of counter-terrorism. All of which is recorded by a machine which then goes through your messages for keywords such as "bomb, assassinate, president" and so on. I've heard some claim that this is "common knowledge" but I can't seem to find any info verifying it outside of a few articles in late 2008 about the UK implementing such a plan. So can anyone tell me if this is factual or simple woo? Sources would be appreciated.
The concept gets mentioned in a science fiction novel called Skyripper by David Drake (Amazon Link) dating from 1983. The following edited quotation is from pages 336-337 of the 1986 edition by Tor Books.

Originally Posted by David Drake
..."Professor do you know how we - how everybody - intercepts microwave communications? I don't just mean the signal, that's just a matter of sticking up an antenna in the right place. But how you get one phone call that you want out of a million that're just garbage so far as intelligence value goes?

...

"Anyway the trick is you run everything through a computer. The computer's programmed to kick out transmissions that have key words in them 'Quadafi' for example."
Which would suggest that the concept was known at least 25 years ago and probably some years earlier.
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Old 22nd January 2009, 10:02 AM   #17
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This is why I point to the NSA wiretapping as an example of a 'real' conspiracy. It has come to light because of the size of such an operation means that someone is going to talk. Does the NSA have the ability to monitor all communication? No I don't believe that. Would they ( and by they I mean "The THEY") like that ability? Yes I think they would. Would that much information be useful to them? I don't know. I am sure there are very smart people who have made it their life's work to sift through large amounts of data to find a signal. For good or for bad.
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Old 22nd January 2009, 10:53 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Walter Ego View Post
This is the segment from the Olbermann show with former NSA analyst Russell Tice.

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Well, if what Mr. Tice is saying is true, I certainly hope the Obama administration puts stop to it.
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Old 22nd January 2009, 11:52 AM   #19
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Yes and remember the surveillance involving AT+T, the "warrantless eavesdropping" and such - thats just what we know about.

If you parse Gonzales' language in hearings before congress he was careful to phrase everything in regards to " under the program described by the President." (refferring to Bush's press conference on the NSA wiretapping program) ie, the one we eventually found about.

Comey and others were ready to resign over the continuance of another program (or maybe an earlier form of the same one), the details of which are still to be discovered by the public.

There could be more we don't know about - but I think that any program designed to dragnet all email and phone calls and IMs and the like, if ever implemented, would likely prove of marginal utility given the huge amounts of data it would need to sift through.
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Old 23rd January 2009, 05:13 AM   #20
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You might like to check out a man named Dr. Bill Deagle, watch his videos on the internet, and visit his website, Clay and Iron Ministries. He claims the government has a Cray super computer somewhere near Denver which can handle something like 100,000 times more than any other computer on Earth, and that it IS monitoring each and every one of us at all times..phone calls, e-mails, even which websites we visit and how much time we spend at each site, etc. He claims to have sources in the NSA, CIA, etc. that leak top secret info to him. I guess it could all be propaganda too.
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Old 23rd January 2009, 05:45 AM   #21
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Bill Deagle? The same moron who pushes the mini-nukes at Twin Towers garbage ("The only thing that could have done that (brought down the Twin Towers) are nukes. There is no other conclusion. It's not something that's open to discussion.")? The same imbecile who claims the US military is developing weaponized baboons? The same fool who pshaws the notion of the NWO, because that's merely a human run organization and the real conspiracy is "... run by both human and non-human entities"?

I'm sorry, but you're going to have to come up with a better source than that to convince anybody. Someone who believes a cornucopia of fantasies like he does is going to have to provide some seriously extraordinary proof for his claims, and for all that I've seen, he's yet to do so. He's certainly fallen way short on the mininukes claim, and he's yet to even provide corroboration for any aspect of his "modified attack baboons" silliness. Until the most fundamental basics of the message interception hypothesis is outlined to even just establish the possibility of it occuring, his claim is nothing more than fantasy.
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Old 23rd January 2009, 07:48 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by ElMondoHummus View Post
Awesome!
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Old 23rd January 2009, 08:26 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Cuddles View Post
Awesome!
Isn't that nuts?
Originally Posted by Bill Deagle
... weaponized animals like baboons that they have in a secret facility down near Galveston, Texas. They have them set up so that they have remote operating controls, so they have a kill mode and they have these nano-armor that can stop pretty well anything. Any 80 lb baboon can pick up a 300 lb man and tear him literally in two. They can run at 35 miles per hour, and they can jump 15-20 feet in the air. So I don't think you are going to outrun these. And their plan is to create supersoldiers.
I mean, putting aside the lunacy for a second, you have to admire the sheer entertainment value of the fantasy. Man, that guy could get work in Hollywood, if he'd only channel these creative impulses more productively.
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Old 23rd January 2009, 08:50 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by ElMondoHummus View Post
Isn't that nuts?


Originally Posted by Bill Deagle
... weaponized animals like baboons that they have in a secret facility down near Galveston, Texas. They have them set up so that they have remote operating controls, so they have a kill mode and they have these nano-armor that can stop pretty well anything. Any 80 lb baboon can pick up a 300 lb man and tear him literally in two. They can run at 35 miles per hour, and they can jump 15-20 feet in the air. So I don't think you are going to outrun these. And their plan is to create supersoldiers.


I mean, putting aside the lunacy for a second, you have to admire the sheer entertainment value of the fantasy. Man, that guy could get work in Hollywood, if he'd only channel these creative impulses more productively.

I would love to have been at the first meeting. Trying to decide whether or not to implant super chips into all our soldiers so they can kill without regret or remorse, and then moving on to what animal could possibly be the best supersoldier. I'm sure it was a hard choice between bigfoot and the baboon.
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Old 23rd January 2009, 02:10 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by bwinwright View Post
He claims to have sources in the NSA, CIA, etc. that leak top secret info to him.
Don't they all?


Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by ElMondoHummus
weaponized baboons
Awesome!
With frikkin' lasers on their heads.

Steve S.
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Old 23rd January 2009, 02:39 PM   #26
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Great thread
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Old 23rd January 2009, 02:40 PM   #27
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hah

BIG BROTHER WATCHING YOU EVERYTHING YOU SAY AND DOOO!!!,POLICE,POLICE BASTARDD!! - Doom

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Old 23rd January 2009, 03:21 PM   #28
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MONITOR THIS MOTHER F'er!!!!
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Old 23rd January 2009, 11:49 PM   #29
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Carnivore is supposedly true, but that's according to How Stuff Works, which I trust less than Wikipedia after reading their ridiculous article on the 9-11 conspiracy theories.

Deagle's definitely one step beyond crazy.

Quote:
Bill Deagle - Prophecies, Dreams and Visions

Kosovo to the New World Order
By Dr. Bill Deagle, vision received April 26 1999

On Saturday, April 24, 1999, I had a supernatural visitation with the angel Gabriel last night. Before I settled in bed to sleep last night, I was in prayer. I prayed in tongues privately, and as always, heard the immediate translation in English of the audible Voice of God.
Note that even in that short bit he can't keep things straight. Was the vision received on April 26th or April 24th? And this sounds very convenient for the conspiracy theory he was selling at the time (something about Kosovo):

Quote:
Gabriel whisked me away to a dark room at a basement meeting in the White House in Washington, D.C. As the leaders planned their strategies around the table lit with only small pot lights over the large board table, I saw President Clinton and others of the White House staff. The conversation went as the following: "Our plans to demonize Milosevic have succeeded well, and the evil now sticks to the Yugoslavian Serbs, seeing the civilians flee from our bombs and the Serbian military response to our Kosovo CIA operations. Soon the intelligence gathering will be complete and the trap set for all of NATO's forces to crush the sick man of the Balkans, Yugoslavia. Soon the body bags will be ready to receive our dead. The words of Milosevic and the verification of the deaths of civilians at the hands of NATO's air campaign will dishearten the American, British and European allies, and enrage the Russian military and communist apparatus in waiting throughout the Eastern Block. NATO will soon sing its 'swan song' and it will have no moral ground to stand. Russian negotiators will move quickly as we have planned to introduce the idea of a United Nations Occupation Force. Milosevic will seize quickly upon this idea, and smile to his people that he is again their savior, saving face and avoiding a war crimes tribunal in the deal."
Of course, in the end the body bags in Kosovo did not receive our dead, and Milosevic did not avoid the war crimes tribunal. Gabriel must have been tweaking Wild Bill with that particular vision.

Here's a classic video of Steven Jones and Bill Deagle debating the "nukes in the WTC" theory. Any notion that Jones is not a total wacko should be gone at the end of this debate, because any sane man would have walked off after a couple minutes of Deagle's bizarre ravings. It's quite amazing to watch.

Deagle claims that 50,000 people in Philadelphia were given vaccines "at gunpoint". He talks about having an International Tribunal and Treason Courts; is there even a concept of international treason? Deagle claims that by the mid 1990s there were 22 cities that were pre-wired with nukes, and not little ones but big ones that could take out 16 city blocks.

That's literally in the first two minutes. And Jones continues to talk to the guy.
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Old 24th January 2009, 09:23 AM   #30
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According to Russell Tice, the NSA spied on every single phone call, every single e-mail, anything and everything. They in addition to the regular American public, they also spent a great deal of time focusing on members of the media, and journalists.

It would seem as if they stored it all too.

To enable it to be sifted through reasonably quickly the system reacts to key words like for example if a word like 'bomb' was located in close proximity to another word and such. Key words. Those are flagged. A person then interprets them to see if there's a real threat.

The NSA is not supposed to work within the borders of the USA. The only exception (probably) is a FISA warrant.

Bush, however didn't even bother, even though the FISA court is a rubber-stamp court.

See, as The Decider, The Executive, the Commander-in-Chief and God, it would seem, he decided that he had the power inherently to just do so anyway.

After it came out, Congress now revised the FISA laws so as to legitimize what Bush did.


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Old 27th January 2009, 02:52 AM   #31
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Quote:
Does the US government monitor all phone calls and e-mails?
For the love of God, I hope not.
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Old 27th January 2009, 03:50 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by INRM View Post
According to Russell Tice, the NSA spied on every single phone call, every single e-mail, anything and everything. They in addition to the regular American public, they also spent a great deal of time focusing on members of the media, and journalists.

It would seem as if they stored it all too.

To enable it to be sifted through reasonably quickly the system reacts to key words like for example if a word like 'bomb' was located in close proximity to another word and such. Key words. Those are flagged. A person then interprets them to see if there's a real threat.

The NSA is not supposed to work within the borders of the USA. The only exception (probably) is a FISA warrant.

Bush, however didn't even bother, even though the FISA court is a rubber-stamp court.

See, as The Decider, The Executive, the Commander-in-Chief and God, it would seem, he decided that he had the power inherently to just do so anyway.

After it came out, Congress now revised the FISA laws so as to legitimize what Bush did.


INRM
I'll bet ULTIMA1 can verify this.
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Old 27th January 2009, 06:00 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Bell View Post
I'll bet ULTIMA1 can verify this.
He already broke the code by trying to impress all of us.

Prolly got tossed out of a black helicopter somewhere in the Ozarks.
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Old 27th January 2009, 04:32 PM   #34
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Yes they do. And you should be ashamed of yourself. You know very well what I'm talking about.
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Old 27th January 2009, 05:39 PM   #35
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An easy, albeit stupid, way to find out is for us all to text one of our friends, "I plan to kill the POTUS next week."

Any volunteers?

edit: actually maybe just posting this will be enough to get a knock on the door from the man.
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Old 28th January 2009, 02:08 AM   #36
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What practical utility would there be in recording every single phone call made by every single person in the whole country every single day? You'd quickly use up all the data storage space on the planet and would need a staff of millions to sort through them. It'd be far cheaper and easier to just get undercover agents to hang out wherever terrorists like to congregate.
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Old 28th January 2009, 07:00 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by Travis View Post
You'd quickly use up all the data storage space on the planet and would need a staff of millions to sort through them.
Recall that INRM wrote "... To enable it to be sifted through reasonably quickly the system reacts to key words", thus implying computer analysis of these voice calls. Not immediate human intervention, not until after "the system" supposedly "flags" them. Although the amount of human intervention at that point would of course have to be ridiculously large, since I couldn't imagine how many flags are thrown up in a day, and how many false positives there would be ("Oh MAN! That lastest song was da bomb!...").

But don't get me wrong; suggesting computer analysis doesn't make the idea any less silly. Anyone who works with computers and has witnessed voice-parsing technology well understands the problems computers have with parsing voices it has not been trained in advance to recognize. And that doesn't even begin to cover the issues in computers parsing less than quality signals, like say cell phone calls that drop and reconnect.

And as far as storage: Hell, YES. My place of work - a US state university - already has a stupid amount of storage for just email, already has a far shorter archival time than what people would think, and yet utilizes an obscene percentage of that storage. And requires frequent addition of storage capacity in spite of the short archival time. And this is just for email. For a single organization. To posit that the government is recording and analyzing all voice and data communications within its borders is to fail to understand the practical issues behind such a proposal.
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Old 28th January 2009, 05:24 PM   #38
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From what the guy said, it looks more like he was claiming that there was a combination of voice parsing and looking at who called who, and when.

So if someone gets a call from an Evil Known Terrorist, or is suddenly the focus of a lot of calls back and forth from the family of Evil Known Terrorists, or is a journalist and gets a call from someone in the White House with key words in it like "Plame", "White House emails", "torture" or whatever then they could flag them for attention.
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Old 1st February 2009, 12:25 AM   #39
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Does the US gov monitor all phone calls and emails?

All? Probably not. But for your consideration:

ECHELON

NSA

Carnivore

EFF sues U.S. over NSA surveillance program

There are some legitimate issues hiding under all that woo.

Last edited by zaphod2016; 1st February 2009 at 12:27 AM.
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Old 1st February 2009, 06:10 AM   #40
Travis
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Originally Posted by zaphod2016 View Post
There are some legitimate issues hiding under all that woo.
That's true more often than you'd think which makes the woo all the more pernicious because it then tends to assist in covering up legitimate issues.
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