NSA and the numbers of the beast
BY GARY S. BEKKUM — Founder & Contributing Writer
“The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post.” — The Washington Post, U.S., British intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program
(Spies, Lies and Polygraph Tape) — Have you ever wondered how many hops it would take between contacts to get the attention of the NSA metadata mining revealed by whistle-blower Edward Snowden? If you come under the watchful eye of the American National Security Agency surveillance beast it is reported that your contacts are potentially guilty by association at least two points of contact or degrees of separation away from you.
To collect on a suspected spy or foreign terrorist means, at minimum, that everyone in the suspect’s inbox or outbox is swept in. Intelligence analysts are typically taught to chain through contacts two “hops” out from their target, which increases “incidental collection” exponentially. The same math explains the aphorism, from the John Guare play, that no one is more than “six degrees of separation” from any other person.
It would appear that the number of the beast is two, at least where NSA is concerned. Is that anything to worry about? And what happens when a hop or two begins to look interesting? Are they willing to stretch to three?
Taking myself here as a case example, consider the number of hops it would take for me to be potentially guilty by association to Russian Premier (and former President) Dimitri Medvedev.
Timeline of NSA Domestic Spying
All of the evidence found in this timeline can also be found in the Summary of Evidence we submitted to the court in Jewel v. NSA. It is intended to recall all the credible accounts and information of the NSA’s domestic spying program found in the media, congressional testimony, books, and court actions. For a short description of the people involved in the spying you can look at our Profiles page, which includes many of the key characters from the NSA Domestic Spying program.