Drowning in Haystacks

The NYT and Guardian have similar stories out today describing the sheer breadth of NSA’s spying. The Guardian describes how NSA gleefully embraced change because it presented more opportunities for SIGINT collection.

n one of the leaked ‘State of the Enterprise’ documents from 2007, an NSA staff member says: “The constant change in the world provides fertile ground for discovering new targets, technologies and networks that enable production of Sigint.”

The official happily embraces this: “It’s becoming a cliché that a permanent state of change is the new standard. It is the world we live in – navigating through continuous whitewater.”

It’s an environment in which the NSA thrives, the official says. And adds: “Lucky for us.”

And both present the plight of someone analyzing Lashkar-e-Taiba who couldn’t read the intelligence because it was all Farsi and Arabic.

One N.S.A. officer on the Lashkar-e-Taiba beat let slip that some of his eavesdropping turned out to be largely pointless, perhaps because of the agency’s chronic shortage of skilled linguists. He “ran some queries” to read intercepted communications of certain Lashkar-e-Taiba members, he wrote in the wiki, but added: “Most of it is in Arabic or Farsi, so I can’t make much of it.”

Both, too, present how detailed our intelligence from Afghanistan has been — though the NYT noted, it doesn’t seem to have brought us success.

We are collecting enormous amounts of data, but it’s not clear what good it’s doing us.

Meanwhile, remember this. The intelligence community keeps missing Congress’ mandated deadlines to install insider detection software — including in the Hawaii location from which Snowden took his files. Given Snowden’s success, it’s safe to assume paid assets of foreign governments have gotten some of it as well. The reason we’re not protecting all this intelligence is because we don’t have the bandwidth to run the software.

Collecting all this data — particularly if we can’t even analyze much of it — has costs. One cost is in the tradeoff we’ve made in keeping it secure.

Our haystacks our drowning us.

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17 Responses to Drowning in Haystacks

Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @MiracMagntism Absolutely, but most of ones from the right that will come already are. Don't dispirit left by trying harder to please right.
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bmaz @SunsetGunShot Yeah, but I kind of like the premise!
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bmaz Hillary is more concerned with swimming right than left and here are the @Democrats doing what they do https://t.co/ppBJe088OP
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bmaz RT @GinnyLaRoe: some sad truth right here https://t.co/hT9diSEB3N
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bmaz RT @dannowicki: The Arizona Republic's Steve Benson on @realDonaldTrump's call for GOP unity. More cartoons: https://t.co/pslz4r1IZF https:…
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emptywheel @superwuster I studied 19th C stuff that was called camp-before-its-time. And he snots always said no, it can't be good before camp is cool
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emptywheel @superwuster No. They're usually only good in a camp sense.
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emptywheel @margibb I was a civ kid! Tho so late in the Duck and Cover era it was mostly rote performance.
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bmaz Hey @ryanlcooper you picked a fine day to connect to Verizon https://t.co/ksNjRurhic
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bmaz RT @billmon1: I thought by now Clintons understood that they (and Wall Street Dem backers) ARE the Rockefeller Republicans. https://t.co/V
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bmaz @ddayen Yeah, well if you make it to Phoenix, call #Grumpr
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bmaz RT @Gaius_Publius: Instd of just rounding up Jeb donors, she shld run w him. Would totally corral the Establishment vote. #ShesWithThem htt…
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