Monday, July 30, 2007

Eavesdropping vs. data mining

via the Washington Post:

A fierce dispute within the Bush administration in early 2004 over a National Security Agency warrantless surveillance program was related to concerns about the NSA's searches of huge computer databases, the New York Times reported today.

Wired blogger Ryan Singel breaks it down:

All the clues and prior reporting point to a widespread data mining program that seems to have involved:

  • real-time computer analysis of the content of phone and internet traffic massive data-mining of the domestic and overseas phone records of nearly every American
  • NSA operators listening in, without warrants, to purely domestic phone calls, using the data-mining and computer sifting to figure out which calls seem suspicious
  • a continual stream of mostly useless leads being fed to FBI counter-terrorism agents

How does this factor into allegations that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales committed the impeachable offense of perjury in his testimony on the surveillance program?

A former administration official says that while the 2004 dispute over the NSA program focused on data-mining, not eavesdropping, the distinction is not sufficient to justify Gonzales’ statements to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) will introduce a resolution calling on the Judiciary Committee to begin impeachment proceedings tomorrow.

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