As You Were

Devin Coughlin's blog.
Styles: Serious Spare

December 19, 2005

There's No Such Agency

Given the Bush administration's disproportionate, bizzare, and totally confusing response to the New York Times' expose that the NSA is illegally spying on US citizens, it must be that something else is going on here.

I think it is now safe to assume that the NSA can intercept all internet traffic coming in and out of the United States. It doesn't seem likely that they would be able to store, let alone process all of that data, but I would imagine that they could store everything on, say, port 25 indefinitely. Storing all HTTP traffic would be a horse of a different color, of course, but maybe you wouldn't need to — in some cases just knowing the IP addresses of the endpoints of every open socket between the US and the outside would yield enough data points to make John Poindexter's socks roll up and down.

Of course the NSA can do this all legally by tapping undersea cables — but this is expensive, and they would need some way of getting the data from the taps to where it could be processed, which would be even more expensive.

My guess is they're getting the data from the service providers, on US soil, presumably with their cooperation (although I suppose that wouldn't necessarily be needed). This would be illegal, but the argument would be made that they could do it legally, it would just be more expensive.

I don't think they can intercept arbitrary traffic within the United States — to get full coverage they would need to tap so many different traffic bottlenecks that someone would surely notice. Right?

It will be interesting to see if we ever learn what the fuck is really going on here. It's times like these that illustrate why subpoena power is so important.

Also see why Dianne Feinstein is so pissed off. It's worth your time, I promise.

Update: Bruce Schnier (Of Applied Cryptography fame) has a piece in Salon.

Posted by coughlin at 10:39 PM

December 16, 2005

Is it wrong to watch a DVD before giving it as a Christmas gift?

Yes, yes it is. But I'm gonna do it anyway.
Posted by coughlin at 5:58 PM

December 15, 2005

Senator William Proxmire Has Died

William Proxmire, the maverick senator who represented Wisconsin from 1957 to 1989, died today.

The press insists on emphasizing his ineffectual attempt to curb wasteful federal spending, but I think Proxmire should be remembered more for his tireless campaign to get the United States to ratify the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Every day that the Senate was in session for nineteen years Senator Proxmire gave a freshly prepared speech, all too often to an empty chamber, calling for the ratification of the Convention on Genocide. The Senate finally ratified the treaty in 1986, 38 years after it had been adopted by the UN General Assembly. Of all the politicians in Samantha Power's book A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, Proxmire is the only one who was unafraid to assert our responsibility to act in the face of genocide.

So it is, I think, much better to remember Senator Proxmire as the hero who finally shamed us into doing one big thing that was right, than as the gadfly who couldn't keep us from doing all the small things we knew were wrong.

Posted by coughlin at 9:18 PM

December 14, 2005

Camera Phone

Collin and Coffee
Collin and Coffee

Rock with Lonely Tree on Top
Umbrella Tree

Lauren Goes Bouldering
Lauren Goes Bouldering

Flatirons from Flagstaff
Flatirons

Dave Flicks Me Off and Marco Looks Bemused
I Love You Too, Dave

King Kong Atop the Empire State Building
Kong
Posted by coughlin at 10:14 PM