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Posted by on Jan 5, 2006 in At TMV | 12 comments

For those unconcerned about the NSA activities…

…here is a lesson in Data Mining 101:

This is what’s possible with publicly available information, but imagine if one had access to Amazon’s entire database – which still contains every sale dating back to 1999 by the way. Under Section 251 of the Patriot Act, the FBI can require Amazon to turn over its records, without probable cause, for an “authorized investigation . . . to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.” Amazon is forbidden to disclose that they have turned over any records, so that you would never know that the government is keeping records of your book purchases. And obviously it is quite simple to crossreference this info with data available in other databases.

I suggest you read it all and do the math.

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Copyright 2006 The Moderate Voice
  • andy

    To put things in perspective remember Poindexter’s (sp?) system had the data so encrypted that it and it’s owner weren’t known until the patterns were strong enough to get a warrant.

    If the current system is as strong as some suspect it allows the watchers to scan all emails and phone calls and if they so chose look at them and possibly archived messages from the same source directly.

    It doesn’t have the safeguards built into a system rejected as too intrusive.

  • Mike Heinz

    You posted a link from *APPLEFRITTER* ?!?

    Dude – if you step up to the plate and announce that you have, in fact, built your own “Apple I” replica you will become my hero of the year.

    (Well, actually, I’d probably hate you out of a sense of furious jealousy because my soldering skills t3h suck and I’d never be able to do it…)

  • The scariest part of this tale is that this is the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Back in the 1980s the Feds were conducting Black Ops programs against American citizens, and I don’t mean in the greay aliens/X Files sense. The idea that the death of Hoover and Watergate ended domestic spying is wrong.
    There are probably hundreds of thousands of old paper files moldering in old salt mines in the Dakotas with information on citizens dead and breathing. All the computers have done is made things easier.
    To believe that Bush, or any Prez, would NOT use such info against political enemies, journalists, and the like is naive in the extreme.
    In the age of blogs I’ll bet all the major bloggers here on TMV and elsewhere have copious records of ‘subversive’ posts.

  • DougJ

    Those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear. Those who have been looking at Marxist and radical Islamic books om Amazon do have something to fear. Those who support the war effort have nothing. Those who seek to undermine to have something to fear.

  • DougJ: Why exactly was the American Revolution fought, then? Those who supported the British government of the American Colonies obviously had nothing to fear.

    Why did we fight the Cold War? Those in the Soviet Union who supported the government there had nothing to fear.

    All those who value true freedom have something to fear, DougJ, and it is equally frightening how little you understand this concept.

  • Holly in Cincinnati

    Thanks Cosmoetica! I’m sure that I’ve been on government lists since the 1970s.

    DougJ – Since when does looking at Marxist &Islamic philosophy make someone a terrorist? I once attended a lecture at a local synagogue on medieval Islamic philosophers presented by a professor from Xavier University.

  • DougJ

    Since when does looking at Marxist &Islamic philosophy make someone a terrorist?

    It doesn’t make them a terrorist, obviously. That’s not what I said, of course. Looking at certain sorts of books on-line or checking them out of a library should send off red flags, though. That doesn’t mean anything sinister — no one is suggesting that people be arrested or even questioned by the FBI for something that in most cases is perfectly innocent. But it is reasonable to make this grounds for a wire tap and monitoring of email, internet activity, etc.

  • Ryan S

    To believe that Bush, or any Prez, would NOT use such info against political enemies, journalists, and the like is naive in the extreme.

    What a truely sad state of affairs this country would become if this was the norm. Last time I checked it was considered illegal to use government surveillance for personal political gain.

    As for Doug’s comment it is only true if IF. The above is also true should it not be. Then we all have something to fear. It ultimatly boils down to are you willing to give absolute confidence in the Prez/Intel Officials.

    A piece of advice… I Would Not!

  • Jim

    DougJ, My question would be where does it stop? For instance, what if the administration believes that anyone reading 1984 is suspect, oooorrrr how about those watching the Teletubbies…super gay ya know. If someone is attempting to understand why we’re at war, it might not hurt to understand why THEY hate us and why WE should be at war with them. Some folks might read these books and think, “Hell yeah we need to blow up these whack jobs, onward Mr. President!”
    What really really bothers me though, how much money are we spending on this, and what is it truely gaining us? Is this really the best use of our best &brightest, not that I think this administration has the best and brightest mind you.

  • DougJ

    For instance, what if the administration believes that anyone reading 1984 is suspect, oooorrrr how about those watching the Teletubbies

    No one is suggesting that people be arrested or even questioned. I just don’t see what the big deal is about being put on a “watch list”. Perhaps I’ve done something that put me on a watch list — I wouldn’t care. Unless you’re doing something illegal, being on a watch list won’t make any difference to your life.

    I feel like there’s a certain paranoia here where people assume that just because people are on watch lists or suspect lists, that they’re going to lose their rights, face prosecution, etc. That just isn’t true.

  • It is a sad state of affairs that the government intrudes to the degree it does. Even scarier is when private companies buy data lists. At least the gov’t can be tossed out of office in an election. Only Big Business is worse than Big Government.
    As for watch lists being in any sense not troubling. Let’s guffaw at that one. Human nature does not change. People with any power in any competitive field will use that power. Period. Regardless of political or philosophic stripes. That’s why Stalin and Hitler, despite their supposed diffs, ran governments whose MO’s met on the dark side of humanity’s globe.
    What someone reads is of no business to anyone else. I’ve read The Turner Diaries, The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion, the Freemason’s handbook. I’ve also read Mein Kampf, The Communist Manifesto, Das Kapital, Common Sense, 1984, Animal Farm, The Grapes Of Wrath, The Bible, The Koran, The Bhagavad-Gita, the works of Charles Darwin, Carl Sagan, Stephen Jay Gould, William F. Buckley, etc. This is what inquiring and well-informed people do- they read across a rainbow of ideas and quality-levels. I’ve also watched pro wrestling, Godzilla films, soap operas, and the films of Orson Welles, Akira Kurosawa, and others. Are you troubled? Worried? If so, the source lies within, not without.
    Oddly, this recaps the problems we’ve had since before 9/11- which we now know was wholly preventble, if we’d had the will as a people to spend more on safety at airports, and had or President spent less time golfing and more time reading PDBs.

  • Perhaps the only good thing in all this spying business domestically is that the gov’t’s proved so inept at it that it’s not really worth sweating over.

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