NSA

Remember That Time the NSA Listened to U.S. Troops Have Phone Sex With Loved Ones Back Home?

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Some movie

Spend enough time online, and you'll find someone who believes that because the National Security Agency exists solely to keep Americans safe, it would never do anything it absolutely didn't need to do in order to fulfill its mission. "Even if it did," argue defenders of government spying, "I have nothing to hide." 

If you believe that's really the case, recall that shortly before Sen. Obama was elected president, ABC News reported that military interceptors working for the NSA listened to troops' private conversations with loved ones back home, and would gather as a group to listen to especially salacious calls: 

[F]ormer 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.

Faulk says he and others in his section of the NSA facility at Fort Gordon routinely shared salacious or tantalizing phone calls that had been intercepted, alerting office mates to certain time codes of "cuts" that were available on each operator's computer.

"Hey, check this out," Faulk says he would be told, "there's good phone sex or there's some pillow talk, pull up this call, it's really funny, go check it out. It would be some colonel making pillow talk and we would say, 'Wow, this was crazy'," Faulk told ABC News.

Faulk said he joined in to listen, and talk about it during breaks in Back Hall's "smoke pit," but ended up feeling badly about his actions.

Read the whole thing here, via The Atlantic Wire. And remember, so long as there's a potential for abuse, abuse will happen. 

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  1. The REAL scandal is no alt-text

    1. At least there is an amusing photo credit.

      1. I’m guessing The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming.

    2. Except there is alt-text on this article so what the fuck are you complaining about.

      1. CB has lost all credibility!

        1. …on this issue.

        2. Did he ever even have any credibility?

          1. ouch

      2. How come the staff has the ability to fix its mistakes, yet there is no way in hell Hugh will ever get to replace that period with a questionmark?

        1. You assume the period was a mistake.

        2. THIS^^^

    3. Perhaps the alt-text was added later.

      1. A cover up then…….

        1. Riggs is trying to make me look worse than I am…a difficult goal to be sure.

      2. Or maybe just an attempt to discredit Hugh. 😛

        Srsly, maybe Hugh just shamed Riggsy into adding some, and then he decided to have a bit of fun with it.

        1. Or maybe Hugh is the space reptile who secretly runs H&R, and Mike knows what’s good for him, right Mike?

          1. Everyone knows the reptiles who run the world are Lizard People from the Earth’s core.

            1. +1 Silurian

            2. Are these lizard people related to Sleestaks or are they more the V variety?

          2. You’re obviously Mike Rigg’s sockpuppet, trying to gin up pageviews. /SIV

  2. Oh ZaSu….

  3. Only worthless government scum would listen in groups to people talking to loved ones.

    However, I used the provided phones in Saudi Arabia in 90-91 to call home. I had absolutely no expectation of privacy on those phones. We were told they could be monitored and to watch what we said in terms of security and our movements.

    I do expect privacy on my home and cell phones.

    1. “Only worthless government scum would listen in groups to people talking to loved ones.”

      I’d be willing to bet that there are a lot of people with nothing to do with government who would do that given the opportunity.

      1. and we call those people bureaucrats in waiting.

        1. Or voyeurs. I think it is an impulse much broader than the impulse to rule.

    2. East Germany’s Stasi maintained extensive files on approximately a third of its population — a number which even critics of the regime didn’t come close to guessing, and which was only confirmed when the regime fell and the West German government allowed East German citizens access to their own files.

      I can’t help but wonder what the numbers are for the NSA and our other intelligence gathering agencies.

      1. A car in every garage, a chicken in every pot, and a file for every citizen!”

      2. If you haven’t seen it, “The Lives of Others” is well worth the time.

        1. I’ll look it up.

      3. The Stasi kept people safe. I don’t know what the big deal is.

        1. best way I’ve found to shut down the left when it defends the administration’s use of the same tactics that were so bad under the evil Boosh is to point out how the Soviets never had a terror problem and neither do the Chinese; which would they prefer we emulate?

          1. A lot of people on the Left admire the USSR and PRC. Seriously.

            1. Only because the world is flat.

        2. Yeah, I don’t remember any terrorist attacks in East Germany. If Obama wants to keep us 100 percent safe, as he claims, what better society to emulate?

      4. You know who else kept tabs on citizens?

        1. Coca-Cola?

          1. “Listen, Major Batguano (if that is your name)…”

            1. You don’t think I’d go into combat with loose change in my pocket?

              1. “If you don’t get the President on the line, do you know what will happen to you?”

        2. Google, which, according to HuffPo commenters, makes anything the government does a-ok. Because Corpurashunz!!!

  4. Most of the people who work for NSA are like GS9s. They make it sound like everyone who works there is some steely eyed James Bond type. Nothing could be further from the truth. A lot of them are just average joes who went intel after joining the military out of high school and became translators and such. The ones who are not that tend to be serious computer nerds. The idea that that bunch wouldn’t abuse these powers for fun and profit is laughable.

  5. “I do expect privacy on my home and cell phones”

    I am interested in your drug of choice sir. I need something to keep the rage and disillusionment down.

    1. I’m free-basing wishful thinking right now.

      1. Mmmmm. Smooth.

    2. Drug of choice?

      Liberty!

      1. Weak. You should try MDMA.

        1. Well, I’m having a real hard time finding any Liberty out there, maybe I’ll have to switch to something easy to find, like crack.

          1. Maybe if we get them to ban liberty, there’ll be a thriving black market for it. I think they’re pretty close.

            1. I wish this were a joke…

      2. Sadly, that one’s increasingly hard to score.

  6. Reminds me of my teenage years when a shortwave radio could get you the neighbor’s wireless phone chats with his girlfriend.

    Of all the violations they could perpetrate, this is one of the least. However, it demonstrates the ease with which private conversations can be monitored and recorded, offering all sorts of illicit purposes to which the recordings can be applied.

    The Stasi would have loved this.

  7. I believe that government employees should be able to listen to other government employees without a warrant.

    1. Hey now. We all know the Administration can’t do the people’s business unless privacy for the consulting parties is maintained.

    2. Still waiting for Senator Feinstein’s phone and email metadata to be made public. I assume she has nothing to hide…

  8. Barack Obama’s suggestion that we have nothing to worry about becasue the NSA isn’t doing anything with the data it collects is ridiculous on its face.

    Even if they’re only doing what the president said they’re doing, he said they only keep track of who you talk to and for how long–and that they’re using that information to prevent bad things from happening?

    That means they’re siccing the feds on people because of who they talk to and for how long.

    I appreciate that there will be all sorts of abuses, but let’s keep in mind that what the president has already admitted to is so very not okay. Let’s not help Barack Obama hide his horrible misdeeds in plain sight.

    1. What they have is what every lifer politician dreams of. A permanent database of information on any possible opponent that might threaten their power. The temptation to use it will be incredible. Even if the politicians don’t use it, the bureaucratic apparatus will most definitely use it in order to protect their existence from politicians or others who might threaten their existence.

      J. Edgar Hoover couldn’t have dreamed of this. An excerpt from “Enemies: A History of the FBI”

      “It left a lifelong imprint on Hoover,” says Weiner. “If he was going to attack the enemies of the United States, better that it be done in secret and not under law. Because to convict people in court, you have to [reveal] your evidence, [but] when you’re doing secret intelligence operations, you just have to sabotage and subvert them and steal their secrets ? you don’t have to produce evidence capable of discovery by the other side. That could embarrass you or get the case thrown out ? because you had gone outside the law to enforce the law.”

      1. Winner, winner, chicken dinner. There is a reason that the KGB and the Stasi, and not the Red Army, were the emblematic representations of Warsaw Pact oppression.

        1. Pshaw comrade they kept the proletariat safe from fascist Yanquis capitalist aggression.

      2. “The temptation to use it will be incredible.”

        Remember when those FBI files miraculously appeared in, then, First Lady Hillary Clinton’s desk?

        Those were just files on fellow politicians, and that alone proved to be irresistible.

        If they can justify creating the database by saying it’s used to prevent terrorism, then they can justify “abusing”* the database by saying it was done to prevent terrorism, too.

        *I put “abusing” the database in scare quotes becasue any use of the database is abuse.

  9. when Obama came out last week and talked about no one caring about my phone calls and emails, I wondered what David Petraeus thought of that given the convenient release of emails between him and Jill Kelly on the eve of his testimony. On occasion, it is worth remembering that POTUS is the same guy who won his Senate seat by leaking sealed divorce records of two different opponents.

    1. It’s always worth remembering what a vile person Obama is.

  10. What really annoys me here is that two Chechen idiots with known connections to violent Islamists bombed the Boston Marathon a couple of months ago. What the hell is the point of all this crap, then?

    1. But think of how many incidents like that we’d have if our brave NSA warriors weren’t doing this. Sheesh.

      /alarmist

      1. I have this tiger repellant rock for sale.

        1. finally, this reference

    2. The like it when things like the Boston bombing happen. Gives them an excuse for more power and information gathering.

      1. This. The fact they failed to stop will be used to justify more surveillance.

        1. If they fail to uncover a plot, well that means they don’t have sufficient funding.

          If they do uncover a plot, well that means they deserve more funding.

          Heads they win, tails we lose.

    3. What really annoys me here is that two Chechen idiots with known connections to violent Islamists bombed the Boston Marathon a couple of months ago. What the hell is the point of all this crap, then?

      The point is to build a database of potentially embarrasing info on potential rivals and political movements as mentioned upthread. Stopping terrorism or crime is secondary if considered at all.

      1. Just like the USA PATRIOT Act requirements for financial transactions were designed first and foremost to stop tax evasion, under the pretense of stopping terrorist funding.

    4. If they can save just one life, don’t they owe it to us to try!

      *facepalm*

  11. I think that’s a still from It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.

    1. Yeah, I was wondering that.

      1. As I mentioned at the top of the thread I’m pretty sure that’s ZaSu Pitts.

        1. Looks like Jonathan Winters just goosed her.

    2. BTW, did you catch the big “W” of palms as the camera panned down during one installment opening of Lost to Mr. Fox as he entered with a spade asking if he could help?

  12. “Remember That Time the NSA Listened to U.S. Troops Have Phone Sex With Loved Ones Back Home?”

    Yeah, that was under the BUSHPIGS, when the government was engaged in simplistic, unilateral electronic surveillance. Now we have a more sophisticated president who only does electronic surveillance for nuanced, multilateral, multicultural reasons. It’s totally different, and you should be ashamed for trying to draw some form of moral equivalence out of it.

    1. Don’t forget Bush was doing the bidding of the KKKORASHUNS whereas Obama is doing it for TEH PEEPULZ.

    2. I can’t believe Republicans are upset by this. When the benevolent dictator BOOOOSH was tapping phones without warrants, they were all for it. After all, he had good intentions, unlike these disgusting Democrats.

      1. Rush Limbaugh used the “right people” argument, verbatum, on his show today. No joke. That dude has lost ALL credibility…much like myself I guess.

  13. This is why I am opposed to all this surveillance crap. Well, this is just a tip of it. Even if I have nothing ILLEGAL to hide (but how will I know anymore about what’s legal or not, considering the billions of laws out there), I don’t want everything out there. Suppose a pastor and his wife were part of some swingers’ club, and some government spook found out about it. The spook may or may not do anything with that particular information, but the government hires a lot of shady people. That could easily become a money making scam for them, and they would blackmail the pastor and his wife, because parishioners may not like those sort of behavior from their pastors.

    And I am sure the spooks are also snooping on each other. Rivals in an office could find out about secret affairs and blackmail each other. Maybe someone famous does not want their proclivities for certain weird (but legal) behavior that they don’t want out in the public.

    These whistleblowers have proven that not everyone with security clearances can be trusted not to expose to the public these privacy and liberty undermining tactics by various agencies. How, then, can we expect these same agencies to protect us from unscrupulous members of their own agencies to not use this information for personal gain?

    1. And I am sure the spooks are also snooping on each other. Rivals in an office could find out about secret affairs and blackmail each other.

      David Petraeus on line two…

  14. I think your photo is from “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” 1963 The lady is Gertie – Switchboard Operator for the Santa Rosita Police Dept. played by Zasu Pitts. Notice the map of San Diego County in the background, it was used a number of times in the movie. Love that movie.

  15. Pay very close attention to the politicians who alledgedly are against this type of NSA activity. Many of them have tacitly approved these activities with either direct voting or funding request approvals.

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