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Well, this is unexpected [/sarcasm]
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, October 09, 2008

After all the assurances:
Despite pledges by President George W. Bush and American intelligence officials to the contrary, hundreds of US citizens overseas have been eavesdropped on as they called friends and family back home, according to two former military intercept operators who worked at the giant National Security Agency (NSA) center in Fort Gordon, Georgia.

"These were just really everyday, average, ordinary Americans who happened to be in the Middle East, in our area of intercept and happened to be making these phone calls on satellite phones," said Adrienne Kinne, a 31-year old US Army Reserves Arab linguist assigned to a special military program at the NSA's Back Hall at Fort Gordon from November 2001 to 2003.

Kinne described the contents of the calls as "personal, private things with Americans who are not in any way, shape or form associated with anything to do with terrorism."

She said US military officers, American journalists and American aid workers were routinely intercepted and "collected on" as they called their offices or homes in the United States.
Kinne is not the only one reporting this:
Another intercept operator, former Navy Arab linguist, David Murfee Faulk, 39, said he and his fellow intercept operators listened into hundreds of Americans picked up using phones in Baghdad's Green Zone from late 2003 to November 2007.

"Calling home to the United States, talking to their spouses, sometimes their girlfriends, sometimes one phone call following another," said Faulk.
What makes this compelling and believable is this line from the story:
The accounts of the two former intercept operators, who have never met and did not know of the other's allegations ...
So you have anonymous confirmation of the story that despite all the assurances, private calls between individuals who were no terrorist threat at all we not only monitored, but recorded, collected and shared within the agency.

Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, doesn't it?
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

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Adrienne Kinne may very well be a whistleblower, but she uses all sorts of far left groups to get her message out. A quick Google search turned up TruthDig, After Downing Street, International Socialist Review, DemocracyNow!, and Iraq Veterans Against the War (and those are the results on the first two pages of the search).

So, color me skeptical about anything she has to say.
 
Written By: A fine scotch
URL: http://
And David Murfee Faulk now writes for Metro Spirit, an "independent" paper in Augusta, Georgia and is virulently anti-war.

See here.

Guess whose name just happens to pop up in that article? Adrienne Kinne.

So the "have never met" and "did not know of the others’ allegations" line becomes very circumspect.
 
Written By: A fine scotch
URL: http://
Jesus, does ABC news do journalism any more? The research I did for my prior two comments took all of five minutes! This is such crap.
 
Written By: A fine scotch
URL: http://
All that said JW (and noted and appreciated), either what they said happened did or it didn’t, and to me that’s the story - not how badly ABC screwed up that part of it.

What you’ve dug up certainly seems to give a reason to their whistle blowing - but given that, I’m more interested in the substance of the claims vs. where they are coming from.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Agreed. If there is malfeasance here, I want it prosecuted. Period, full stop.

But, this looks like agenda driven "journalism" that makes an accusation/insinuation with flimsy proof, makes the administration (or one of its programs) look bad, is headline news for a little while, and then totally disappears and is corrected on page D17 in 6 point font six weeks later, if at all.

The anti-war folks get what they want (big headlines making the administration look bad; insinuations of malfeasance to the public, no mention of their anti-war rantings), journalists get what they want (a big scoop making the administration look bad), and the public gets screwed by not having all of the relevant facts at their disposal.

My problem with this story is that were the whistleblowers Republicans in a Democrat administration, every even potentially shady connection they’ve ever had in their past would be mentioned. When it’s people the journalists agree with, such connections are not mentioned (c/f Barack Obama).
 
Written By: A fine scotch
URL: http://
The problem, to me, is that the media gets away with influencing public opinion with "news" stories like this. There’s probably way more here than is being reported and I want to know what the anti-war folks being quoted are leaving out.
 
Written By: A fine scotch
URL: http://
Plus, McQ, you seem to have missed Brian Ross’ "the accounts of the two whistleblowers, which could not be independently corroborated [my emphasis]" line. Although the rest of the sentence goes on to further Ross’ scare story about how the NSA is spying on Americans.
 
Written By: A fine scotch
URL: http://
What you’ve dug up certainly seems to give a reason to their whistle blowing - but given that, I’m more interested in the substance of the claims vs. where they are coming from.
You’re not serious, are you? The NSA’s charter has been, from day one, to collect communications intelligence on all international communications to and from the US. This is nothing new. Truman signed it. Here is one honorably discharged vet who is happy for it.
 
Written By: Arcs
URL: http://
... according to two former military intercept operators who worked at the giant National Security Agency (NSA) center in Fort Gordon, Georgia.
The thing that makes me somewhat skeptical about this (aside from JW’s additions), is that this sounds more like the Echelon Program rather than the Bush terrorist surveillance program (misnamed "domestic wiretapping"). Indeed, Fort Gordon, GA is considered as one of the likely places where the Echelon Program is carried out. In contrast, the TSP is allegedly linked to known terrorists and their associates. If the following is true:
"These were just really everyday, average, ordinary Americans who happened to be in the Middle East, in our area of intercept and happened to be making these phone calls on satellite phones," said Adrienne Kinne, a 31-year old US Army Reserves Arab linguist assigned to a special military program at the NSA’s Back Hall at Fort Gordon from November 2001 to 2003.

Kinne described the contents of the calls as "personal, private things with Americans who are not in any way, shape or form associated with anything to do with terrorism."

She said US military officers, American journalists and American aid workers were routinely intercepted and "collected on" as they called their offices or homes in the United States.
... then I think what’s being described is part of the Echelon Program (broad intercept) as opposed to the TSP (targeted intercept).

I don’t mean that this makes it any better or worse, only that the story isn’t really "news" is it? The presence, operation and begrudged legality of Echelon have been known for quite some time.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://qando.net
Also note that Bamford is quoted, at the very bottom of the piece, as saying "it is exteemely rare."

When there is a broad sweep, you’re going to pick up a lot of extraneous stuff. Once stuff is ID’d as USPERS, it is supposed to be expunged.

Were there some cases where individual OPS violated the rules, and "passed around" salacious stuff that should have been deleted? I’m sure that happens.

But these two? Who both "happen" to frequent virulent anti-war sites and surely knew each other, and have been featured together previously?

’Could not be independently verified," indeed.

Propaganda, disguised as news.
 
Written By: Dadmanly
URL: http://dadmanly.blogspot.com

Either we listen to calls from overseas or we don’t. Take your pick. It is an all or nothing proposition.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I will admit that if this story was about someone snooping while I was in the US, I would probably be upset given the direction things are moving here. But provided with the fact that the calls were intercepted in the ’belly of the beast’ (which shall of course remain nameless because, hey, it might offend someone) that spawned the scum who killed 3,000 people on our own soil, I can’t get worked up about it at all.

Besides that, such an operation has three distinct phases: 1)collection (or ’sweeping’), 2)analysis and 3)dissemination. It is not entirely clear to me exactly what part the former "listeners" are objecting to. Was the data gathered and misinterpreted or misused in some way? If so, state how and why. If they are simply whining about someone having a call monitored because they were calling from the Green Zone—-well too bad, so sad. Don’t go to the whore house if you don’t want to be seen.
 
Written By: Unscripted Thoughts
URL: http://
"These were just really everyday, average, ordinary Americans who happened to be in the Middle East, in our area of intercept and happened to be making these phone calls on satellite phones," said Adrienne Kinne[.]
Aren’t satellite phones outside the realm of FISA? (Remember, it was via satellite communications that we were able to keep track of bin Laden prior to Sen. Pat Leahy blabbing.) And if so,
"Both of them felt that what they were doing was illegal and improper, and immoral, and it shouldn’t be done..."
it is not illegal. In fact, it almost seems like your average worker accessing porn on an office computer. Sounds like more a problem with middle management than policy.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
I’m kind of OK with the idea of the government inspecting anything that crosses the boarder. Cargo, people, wireless tranmissions, computers, etc. In point of fact, I think it is the only time its OK.
 
Written By: John
URL: http://
I’m kind of OK with the idea of the government inspecting anything that crosses the boarder.
I think most are missing the point here - monitoring calls is one thing. Recording calls that have absolutely nothing to do with their charter (to monitor calls between terrorists or terrorist suspects) and passing them around is not within the charter, is abuse of their charter and should be investigated and those who’ve engaged in this prosecuted.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
No, McQ, we are not missing the point. Both ’whistle-blowers willingly admit to engaging in improper activities (they now say illegal, but if it were just satellite transmissions, it is not). Neither suggest that their improper activities were at the behest of superiors. It is a management problem, not a policy problem.

Aahh, what the hell, let’s lynch Bush anyway.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
McQ,

As I said before, I agree with you on this. However, the only sources for the story are anti-war, anti-administration grievance mongers whose allegations cannot be independently corroborated.

There is likely no story here. There are allegations. Because there are only allegations, I am interested to know who is making them and why.
 
Written By: A fine scotch
URL: http://
No, McQ, we are not missing the point. Both ’whistle-blowers willingly admit to engaging in improper activities (they now say illegal, but if it were just satellite transmissions, it is not). Neither suggest that their improper activities were at the behest of superiors. It is a management problem, not a policy problem.
Yes, you are missing the point.

I don’t care if it is a management problem or a systemic problem, it is an abuse of the charter with which they’ve been invested.

If it is true, it is unacceptable behavior. However it came about (management or policy) should be investigated, those who’ve violated the privacy of others prosecuted and managers who had no idea this was going on, replaced.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
There is likely no story here. There are allegations. Because there are only allegations, I am interested to know who is making them and why.
That may be true, JW - but investigating the allegations won’t hurt a bit, will it?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
re: missing the point.

McQ, we are not missing your point. Investigate and prosecute by all constitutional means.

We refuse to buy into the implicit suggestion of your initial post that this is the fault of Bush policy.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
Who made the assurances, bains?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
"There is likely no story here."

How the hell are you going to know?
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Politicians make assurances every day Bruce. I have no problem taking to task the idiots that abuse the privileges afforded them. I am unwilling, however, to pull a David Brooks and vaporize the baby and bathwater just because I dont like the fart bubbles.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
"Recording calls that have absolutely nothing to do with their charter "

I am a little puzzled. You have never heard of the Echelon program? What do you think the NSA does? Are foreign communications off limits to the NSA? Do you think, perhaps, that the US govt. knows where every US citizen is and what phone they are using? Do you think that the NSA, or anyone other than G*d, has the ability to listen to all these calls in real time?

All I can figure is that you object to the US gov’t. eavesdropping on any phone calls, domestic or foreign, without a warrant.

 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I didn’t read all the way through the article to page 4 last time but having read a CNN.com article, I went back.

Did anyone else notice that the 2 linguists/analysts who are the basis for the story also happen to be the basis for a book being sold? Wow!

Create a controversy about the NSA and bam! Instant interest in a book about the very same subject!

Call me jaded but this smells more like a publicity stunt for a book than anything else.
 
Written By: A fine scotch
URL: http://
Scott Beauchamp anyone?
And if not, why not?

Let’s not have a John Murtha Haditha moment.
Both ’whistle-blowers willingly admit to engaging in improper activities
Assume for the moment that’s true and think about it.

It’s one thing to SEE an illegal activity and blow the whistle while it’s happening, even if you’re forced to participate once to blow the whistle, it’s another to participate in it, repeatedly, say nothing, and THEN blow the whistle when you think you’re out of harms way, and can make a buck too!

In the first case you’re a whistleblower -
in the second, you’re a criminal.

Investigate it and wait for the investigation to produce it’s findings, otherwise we’re no different than Murtha.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
But provided with the fact that the calls were intercepted in the ’belly of the beast’ (which shall of course remain nameless because, hey, it might offend someone) that spawned the scum who killed 3,000 people on our own soil, I can’t get worked up about it at all.
You mean Saudi Arabia, right?

 
Written By: jon
URL: http://
Just another brick in the surveillance state. Welcome - four years too late - to the party.

This isn’t even as bad as the programs leaked by the NYT - it’s low-level illegal employee behavior, rather than illegal behavior directed by the POTUS himself.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
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URL: http://tiffanys.schadez.info

 
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