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  1. #201  
    Quote Originally Posted by HobbesIsReal
    Bush reverses stand on spy program oversight

    Just curious, what do you think the motivation for this is?
  2. #202  
    Quote Originally Posted by samkim
    So people complain when they don't like something? Keen insight there...
    Just watching your posts. :-)

    Quote Originally Posted by samkim
    .....And finally - here's the kicker - the article explains that this survey was combined with a Bush approval poll. Why would you do that??? If you ask about the NSA right after you ask about whether they approve of Bush, you'll get vastly different results from if you have a survey asking about the NSA only. Could they have asked about the NSA first? Not likely. Since they are tracking the Bush approval numbers over time, they'll want to keep those figures clean, and so they would probably ask that first.

    So - and I'm hypothesizing here - after they asked about Bush approval (and nearly 2/3 said they don't approve of Bush's performance), they asked whether the NSA went too far. (Did they mention Bush's name in the NSA question? Who knows?) Any surprise that Newsweek got very different numbers from the Washington Post?
    Why this, why that. Do you watch movies and wonder the deep meaning of the crooked picture hanging in the background of a scene. Maybe it's just crooked because the prop guy didn't straighten it. But then again, maybe not? lol

    If I have any facts to make me question the wording of poll questions, I'd be happy to cast shadows of doubt. Please share with me the facts of proven bias by major polls.

    I understand your hypothesizing. I could just as easily come up with observations that would imply that they tried to slant things better than they are. Maybe we need a whistle-blower for the polling agencies?

    Just remember all of this rhetoric when polls and news stories reflect positively, the things that you support and agree with. Following this logic, there's no way that there could ever be a valid poll. I could always find some connection to an outside factor that could account to swaying responses. We can blow the polls off, it's a great way to ensure that average people are not heard. The history of this country demonstrates that opinions of the masses aren't wanted. Every year I see evidence of that. I really don't get worked up about polls. I take them for what they are, one piece of information among many, needed to make an informed decision. I do take it and use it, whether it's good or bad. I suspect that many simply dismiss things that they do not agree with. Most everyone here has a valid point of view. I don't subscribe to all of them, but most of the time I see, understand, and accept where they're coming from.
  3. #203  
    Quote Originally Posted by HobbesIsReal
    What new or other ways do you have in mind?
    I've posted ideas on other boards. It's a pretty amazing process when you try to create with a new idea, only to watch everyone tear it apart and judge you for it. I've never claimed that my ideas were great, or even necessarily feasible. But the point is, I've done more than talk, complain and hold others back.

    It's not for me to demonstrate my ideas here, it's for everyone here to come up with an idea. It's for everyone here to ask that their political representatives to come up with ideas. Taking away peoples liberties to protect them is a simple solution. Finding a better smarter way to protect them is hard.

    Keep my lousy $90 tax break and fund a smarter way to fight terrorism, and protect my civil liberties.
  4. #204  
    NSA REPORTS INCREASED PHONE USAGE ON MOTHER’S DAY

    Heightened Levels of Chatter Trouble Intelligence Officials

    The National Security Agency reported a sharp increase in long distance telephone usage yesterday, causing high-ranking intelligence officers in the Bush administration to fear that al-Qaeda might be planning a terror plot to coincide with Mother’s Day.

    Beginning Sunday morning and continuing throughout the day, Americans’ long distance usage surged well beyond normal levels, sparking concerns that a terrorist event was either being planned or moving into an operational phase.

    At the White House, national security adviser Stephen Hadley said that the troubling increase in chatter was “the strongest argument possible” for the Bush administration’s policy of eavesdropping on millions of Americans.

    “If we were not listening in on everyone’s conversations, when there is a sudden increase in phone usage such as we have seen today we would totally miss it,” Mr. Hadley said.

    In addition to what he called “frighteningly normal-sounding phone calls to terrorists posing as mothers,” Mr. Hadley reported that al Qaeda members or affiliates placed thousands of phone calls to florists in order to mask their terror plot.

    When asked by a reporter why no terrorist event ultimately occurred on Sunday, Mr. Hadley replied, “I chalk that up to the success of our eavesdropping program.”

    In response to another reporter who asked if the increase in long distance usage could have been due to Mother’s Day itself, the security adviser said, “That’s exactly what the terrorists want us to think.”

    Elsewhere, Johnny Depp is the celebrity best at signing autographs, according to Autograph Collector magazine, while Russell Crowe is the best at throwing phones, according to Injured Hotel Clerk magazine.
    Palm m505 -> Treo600 (GSM ATT) -> Treo650 (Cingular) -> BB8700g -> BB Pearl
    "The point of living and of being an optimist, is to be foolish enough to believe the best is yet to come."
  5. #205  
    Quote Originally Posted by gaffa
    Just curious, what do you think the motivation for this is?
    Obviously political pressure. If he feels he really does have nothing to hide, let's face it, it can't hurt his approval ratings much.
  6. #206  
    Quote Originally Posted by HobbesIsReal
    Obviously political pressure. If he feels he really does have nothing to hide, let's face it, it can't hurt his approval ratings much.
    Tough to take someone seriously who would play politics with any aspect of National Security. I'm not saying this administration is any different than any other, but quit talking about the need for secrecy as you expand the communication loop.
  7. #207  
    It is funny. Bush is damned if he doesn't because he is hiding something, and he is damned if does because now he is playing politics with National Security. Playing both sides of the fence for political gain with little regard to the subject at hand is one of my major pet peeves with politicians.

    They are politicians. To think that political motivates does not drive nearly any decision is naive. Major Dems are just as guilty with playing politics with national security. The Dems demanded more access to these records and it was granted to them. The Dems shouted that heads should roll with the leak about Plume but stood up and cheered about the the leak about the prisons.
  8. #208  
    Quote Originally Posted by chillig35
    NSA REPORTS INCREASED PHONE USAGE ON MOTHER’S DAY

    Heightened Levels of Chatter Trouble Intelligence Officials

    The National Security Agency reported a sharp increase in long distance telephone usage yesterday, causing high-ranking intelligence officers in the Bush administration to fear that al-Qaeda might be planning a terror plot to coincide with Mother’s Day.

    Beginning Sunday morning and continuing throughout the day, Americans’ long distance usage surged well beyond normal levels, sparking concerns that a terrorist event was either being planned or moving into an operational phase.

    At the White House, national security adviser Stephen Hadley said that the troubling increase in chatter was “the strongest argument possible” for the Bush administration’s policy of eavesdropping on millions of Americans.

    “If we were not listening in on everyone’s conversations, when there is a sudden increase in phone usage such as we have seen today we would totally miss it,” Mr. Hadley said.

    In addition to what he called “frighteningly normal-sounding phone calls to terrorists posing as mothers,” Mr. Hadley reported that al Qaeda members or affiliates placed thousands of phone calls to florists in order to mask their terror plot.

    When asked by a reporter why no terrorist event ultimately occurred on Sunday, Mr. Hadley replied, “I chalk that up to the success of our eavesdropping program.”

    In response to another reporter who asked if the increase in long distance usage could have been due to Mother’s Day itself, the security adviser said, “That’s exactly what the terrorists want us to think.”

    Elsewhere, Johnny Depp is the celebrity best at signing autographs, according to Autograph Collector magazine, while Russell Crowe is the best at throwing phones, according to Injured Hotel Clerk magazine.
    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
  9. #209  
    Quote Originally Posted by HobbesIsReal
    It is funny. Bush is damned if he doesn't because he is hiding something, and he is damned if does because now he is playing politics with National Security. Playing both sides of the fence for political gain with little regard to the subject at hand is one of my major pet peeves with politicians.

    They are politicians. To think that political motivates does not drive nearly any decision is naive. Major Dems are just as guilty with playing politics with national security. The Dems demanded more access to these records and it was granted to them. The Dems shouted that heads should roll with the leak about Plume but stood up and cheered about the the leak about the prisons.
    Why are you making this a Dem vs Rep thread? I've never said the Dems are any better. I'm not naive. But I refuse to lower my standard. Too many people accept substandard attributes and just say, all politicians are that way.
  10. #210  
    Quote Originally Posted by daThomas
    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
    That article reminds me of the many sitcoms where leaders just didn't have a clue!

    MASH
    Spin City
    WKRP in Cincinnati
    24

    That guy was like the Police Chief in Die Hard!
    We sure can pick 'em!
  11. #211  
    Quote Originally Posted by gaffa
    Why are you making this a Dem vs Rep thread? I've never said the Dems are any better. I'm not naive. But I refuse to lower my standard. Too many people accept substandard attributes and just say, all politicians are that way.
    I was not attacking you....but mostly thinking of stuff triggered by your comment that I have heard on the news, commentaries, etc... over this issue.

    I was also not defending the actions by the argument that if one does it, it is okay for another. I was only agreeing that it is not just a rep or a dem issue, both are at fault. Both are inexcusable when playing politics with security matters. And pointing out that both sides are playing politics with this issue.
  12. #212  
    Quote Originally Posted by gaffa
    Why are you making this a Dem vs Rep thread? I've never said the Dems are any better. I'm not naive. But I refuse to lower my standard. Too many people accept substandard attributes and just say, all politicians are that way.
    I agree - I despise both parties almost equally - it's just that my ire is mostly directed at the Repugnicans for now because they're running the gov't and are answerable to me. Once they leave (after all, they truly believe in "natural cycles" don't they? ), then I'll have to start pointing out the stupidity of the Damncats (of course, one doesn't have to wait till they're in power - they're perfectly capable of making fools of themselves as it is!).
    Palm m505 -> Treo600 (GSM ATT) -> Treo650 (Cingular) -> BB8700g -> BB Pearl
    "The point of living and of being an optimist, is to be foolish enough to believe the best is yet to come."
  13. #213  
    Not that I have a lot of presidents to pick from, but it seems to me that Carter tried to play it fairly straight. However, he suffered the same ratings that Bush has now. With Carter, you could have made the case that people want to be lied to? But Bush has proven that wrong. Of course, being up-front and honest didn't mean that the right decisions were being made.

    I guess I'm just a little burned because I know a lot of people seem to vote out of fear of what the other guy might do. They really don't like their candidate, but they've bought into the negative ads and now they're scared of the other guy winning.

    Maybe politics is religion. Most people seem to vote out of belief of what will be done. And when it doesn't happen, we still believe that something different will happen, even if we don't call or write a representative to let him/her know how we feel. Even if we don't try things a different way. How long have health care and social security been on the table? Or maybe we expect magic to happen? :-)
    Last edited by gaffa; 05/17/2006 at 02:39 PM.
  14. #214  
    I have have this to say about this NSA story in USA today...
    I'm not even slightly surprised. What do you think the NSA does? That's what they do, they harvest every kind of domestic digital data they can get their hands on.

    Everyone acts all surprised like "Oh, we had no idea the NSA was doing this." If you were the NSA wouldn't it be the first thing you'd try to do?

    At leat with wireless transmissions they don't need anyone's cooperation. They just capture it all. With landline they had to get the telco's cooperation.

    (regarding internet traffic) Do you know why SSL 128-bit wasn't legal for export for a long time? Because the NSA didn't have the CPU power to hack it fast enough to make it worthwhile. What I mean by that is that they wanted to monitor the traffic and be able to decrypt the data quickly enough to harvest a lot of it. So until they did have the efficiency down they limited it to 40 bit. They told Netscape they could export 128 if they gave them a skeleton key to decrypt it (this was '98 I believe.) Of course a skeleton key would have made the security worthless so that wasn't done.
  15. #215  
    Because it's been done, does that make it right? Do you believe that the Fourth Amendment was just ment to keep you off of mailing lists?
  16. #216  
    It does not make it right.
  17. #217  
    Quote Originally Posted by taylorh
    (regarding internet traffic) Do you know why SSL 128-bit wasn't legal for export for a long time? Because the NSA didn't have the CPU power to hack it fast enough to make it worthwhile. What I mean by that is that they wanted to monitor the traffic and be able to decrypt the data quickly enough to harvest a lot of it. So until they did have the efficiency down they limited it to 40 bit. They told Netscape they could export 128 if they gave them a skeleton key to decrypt it (this was '98 I believe.) Of course a skeleton key would have made the security worthless so that wasn't done.
    The gov't (read NSA) did try for a while to limit export of SSL 128-bit security for a while - but they realized it was futile when other foreign companies were able to develop similar security systems and NSA realized that they simply didn't have the computing power to keep up. In fact NSA has been quite a bit behind the tech development curve in recent years (GAO report) and have not yet figured out how to switch from spying on govt's (such as Russia, China) versus tracking much more smaller and nimbler terrorist groups such as AQ. Even today they persist in old fashioned brute-force methods such as massive database collection without a clue about to mine it effectively.

    Here is an interesting article on data mining:
    In the post-9/11 world, there's much focus on connecting the dots. Many believe data mining is the crystal ball that will enable us to uncover future terrorist plots. But even in the most wildly optimistic projections, data mining isn't tenable for that purpose. We're not trading privacy for security; we're giving up privacy and getting no security in return.


    Most people first learned about data mining in November 2002, when news broke about a massive government data mining program called Total Information Awareness. The basic idea was as audacious as it was repellent: suck up as much data as possible about everyone, sift through it with massive computers, and investigate patterns that might indicate terrorist plots.

    Americans across the political spectrum denounced the program, and in September 2003, Congress eliminated its funding and closed its offices.

    But TIA didn't die. According to The National Journal, it just changed its name and moved inside the Defense Department.

    This shouldn't be a surprise. In May 2004, the General Accounting Office published a report (.pdf) listing 122 different federal government data-mining programs that used people's personal information. This list didn't include classified programs, like the NSA's eavesdropping effort or state-run programs like MATRIX.

    The promise of data mining is compelling, and convinces many. But it's wrong. We're not going to find terrorist plots through systems like this, and we're going to waste valuable resources chasing down false alarms. To understand why, we have to look at the economics of the system.

    Security is always a trade-off, and for a system to be worthwhile, the advantages have to be greater than the disadvantages. A national security data-mining program is going to find some percentage of real attacks and some percentage of false alarms. If the benefits of finding and stopping those attacks outweigh the cost -- in money, liberties, etc. -- then the system is a good one. If not, you'd be better off spending that capital elsewhere.

    Data mining works best when you're searching for a well-defined profile, a reasonable number of attacks per year and a low cost of false alarms. Credit-card fraud is one of data mining's success stories: all credit-card companies mine their transaction databases for data for spending patterns that indicate a stolen card.

    Many credit-card thieves share a pattern -- purchase expensive luxury goods, purchase things that can be easily fenced, etc. -- and data mining systems can minimize the losses in many cases by shutting down the card. In addition, the cost of false alarms is only a phone call to the cardholder asking him to verify a couple of purchases. The cardholders don't even resent these phone calls -- as long as they're infrequent -- so the cost is just a few minutes of operator time.

    Terrorist plots are different. There is no well-defined profile and attacks are very rare. Taken together, these facts mean that data-mining systems won't uncover any terrorist plots until they are very accurate, and that even very accurate systems will be so flooded with false alarms that they will be useless.

    All data-mining systems fail in two different ways: false positives and false negatives. A false positive is when the system identifies a terrorist plot that really isn't one. A false negative is when the system misses an actual terrorist plot. Depending on how you "tune" your detection algorithms, you can err on one side or the other: you can increase the number of false positives to ensure you are less likely to miss an actual terrorist plot, or you can reduce the number of false positives at the expense of missing terrorist plots.

    To reduce both those numbers, you need a well-defined profile. And that's a problem when it comes to terrorism. In hindsight, it was really easy to connect the 9/11 dots and point to the warning signs, but it's much harder before the fact. Certainly, many terrorist plots share common warning signs, but each is unique, as well. The better you can define what you're looking for, the better your results will be. Data mining for terrorist plots will be sloppy, and it'll be hard to find anything useful.

    Data mining is like searching for a needle in a haystack. There are 900 million credit cards in circulation in the United States. According to the FTC September 2003 Identity Theft Survey Report, about 1 percent (10 million) cards are stolen and fraudulently used each year.

    When it comes to terrorism, however, trillions of connections exist between people and events -- things that the data-mining system will have to "look at" -- and very few plots. This rarity makes even accurate identification systems useless.

    Let's look at some numbers. We'll be optimistic -- we'll assume the system has a one in 100 false-positive rate (99 percent accurate), and a one in 1,000 false-negative rate (99.9 percent accurate). Assume 1 trillion possible indicators to sift through: that's about 10 events -- e-mails, phone calls, purchases, web destinations, whatever -- per person in the United States per day. Also assume that 10 of them are actually terrorists plotting.

    This unrealistically accurate system will generate 1 billion false alarms for every real terrorist plot it uncovers. Every day of every year, the police will have to investigate 27 million potential plots in order to find the one real terrorist plot per month. Raise that false-positive accuracy to an absurd 99.9999 percent and you're still chasing 2,750 false alarms per day -- but that will inevitably raise your false negatives, and you're going to miss some of those 10 real plots.

    This isn't anything new. In statistics, it's called the "base rate fallacy," and it applies in other domains as well. For example, even highly accurate medical tests are useless as diagnostic tools if the incidence of the disease is rare in the general population. Terrorist attacks are also rare, any "test" is going to result in an endless stream of false alarms.

    This is exactly the sort of thing we saw with the NSA's eavesdropping program: the New York Times reported that the computers spat out thousands of tips per month. Every one of them turned out to be a false alarm.

    And the cost was enormous -- not just for the FBI agents running around chasing dead-end leads instead of doing things that might actually make us safer, but also the cost in civil liberties. The fundamental freedoms that make our country the envy of the world are valuable, and not something that we should throw away lightly.

    Data mining can work. It helps Visa keep the costs of fraud down, just as it helps Amazon alert me to books I might want to buy and Google show me advertising I'm more likely to be interested in. But these are all instances where the cost of false positives is low (a phone call from a Visa operator or an uninteresting ad) in systems that have value even if there is a high number of false negatives.

    Finding terrorism plots is not a problem that lends itself to data mining. It's a needle-in-a-haystack problem, and throwing more hay on the pile doesn't make that problem any easier. We'd be far better off putting people in charge of investigating potential plots and letting them direct the computers, instead of putting the computers in charge and letting them decide who should be investigated.
    Palm m505 -> Treo600 (GSM ATT) -> Treo650 (Cingular) -> BB8700g -> BB Pearl
    "The point of living and of being an optimist, is to be foolish enough to believe the best is yet to come."
  18. #218  
    Something else to note is the company ChoicePoint. They have contracts to support information to the government. Choicepoint databases contain medical facts, license info (gun, drivers), voting party affiliations, name, address, phone, etc. They have also been building a DNA db. This is a company who was caught faking DNA information in rape cases in Illinois.

    They have contracts with homeland security to supply them with information on people. Choicepoint has been sued and employees have been arrested in other countries because they were collecting data on that countries citizens.

    The U.S. government does not have this data because it's illegal. However, it is not illegal for them to request that Choicepoint to run a search for the NSA. This is how government agencies are able to say that they are not breaking the law. Basically, intelligence is being privatized.
  19. #219  
    Quote Originally Posted by gaffa
    Why this, why that. Do you watch movies and wonder the deep meaning of the crooked picture hanging in the background of a scene.
    No, I don't. But if I see someone running out of a store with a big object under his coat, I'll wonder why. If I see a husband refusing to answer police questions after his wife is murdered, I'll wonder why.

    Since polls are so easily subject to bias, hiding the phrasing of one answer but not the other is very suspicious behavior. This isn't a high school newspaper, where you might brush it off as an innocent mistake. No professional users of polls would find that acceptable in the least, and consumers shouldn't either.

    If I have any facts to make me question the wording of poll questions, I'd be happy to cast shadows of doubt. Please share with me the facts of proven bias by major polls.
    1. Since Newsweek doesn't disclose the wording of most of its questions, you can't check for bias.
    2. Forcing respondents to choose between two extreme positions distorts reality, and allows Newsweek to make a sensational claim in its story.

    According to the latest NEWSWEEK poll, 53 percent of Americans think the NSA’s surveillance program “goes too far in invading people’s privacy,”...

    Either one of these problems alone should be enough to doubt the survey.

    I understand your hypothesizing. I could just as easily come up with observations that would imply that they tried to slant things better than they are.
    The Newsweek poll? Go ahead and try.

    Just remember all of this rhetoric when polls and news stories reflect positively, the things that you support and agree with. Following this logic, there's no way that there could ever be a valid poll.
    The fact that there's sometimes bias the other way doesn't make bias either way acceptable or credible.

    There's subjectivity in every poll, but full disclosure solves a lot of problems. Take a look at how the Washington Post presents the poll data to support its article:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv...nsa_051206.htm

    They give the exact wording used in each question, including the introductory context. They point out the limitations of the survey. They even point out where the wording changed for one of the questions tracked over time. The questions themselves are neutral in tone. And for the NSA-related questions, they allow respondents to indicate how strongly they feel without forcing them to take strong positions one way or the other. This is the minimum level of disclosure for a credible poll.

    There are certainly several things I could complain about, but overall, I have more confidence in the Washington Post survey. It appears that they don't have an agenda and they go out of their way to avoid bias.

    And if they conduct the survey again, and the numbers shift, I would accept those results as credible.
  20. #220  
    Quote Originally Posted by gaffa
    Tough to take someone seriously who would play politics with any aspect of National Security. I'm not saying this administration is any different than any other, but quit talking about the need for secrecy as you expand the communication loop.
    This is a President giving in to Congressional pressure because he's not an autocrat (despite what those who despise him think) and can't govern without the support of Congress. Not an admirable decision at all, but I'm not sure I'd call that "playing politics."

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