Sunday, June 16, 2013

Burying the lede

David Henderson provides a link to a 2008 ABC News story on NSA surveillance of international telephone calls that hides the most important fact until deep within;
Some times, Kinne and Faulk said, the intercepts helped identify possible terror planning in Iraq and saved American lives.
"IED's were disarmed before they exploded, that people who were intending to harm US forces were captured ahead of time," Faulk said.
Instead, ABC peddled the line that the NSA was listening in to the conversations of ordinary Americans back then--which begs the question of why the latest revelations by Edward Snowden are getting any attention at all NOW:
"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."
Which, if true, wouldn't have resulted in IEDs being discovered and disarmed before killing and maiming Americans. The 'everyday, average, ordinary Americans' were speaking Arabic and calling into, or receiving from, a war zone. The 'Kinne and Faulk' pair were Arabic trained for that purpose, not for what ABC was trying to sell;
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.
 Crazy indeed; pillow talk on an international phone call.  Almost makes one suspicious it was designed to mislead anyone who might have been listening, or been in code.  Even if the 'whistle blowers' ABC is promoting, were correct that these were innocent people with no connection to terrorism (and how would they know that?), it seems a low cost--how many Americans even speak Arabic?--for the benefits to the Americans whose lives were saved as a result of the program.

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