Tag: Bluffdale

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The NSA Knew I Was Going to Write This Before I Did

// Posted by on 05/26/2015 (11:13 PM)


The internet was created out of a sense of building community and sharing ideas – sharing, that important lesson our parents drill into our heads when we are little. When you consider this, Constitutionality aside,… Read more



The internet was created out of a sense of building community and sharing ideas – sharing, that important lesson our parents drill into our heads when we are little. When you consider this, Constitutionality aside, there’s just something wrong and counter-intuitive about all of the secrecy, trespassing, and stealing involved in the government’s questionable acquisition of domestic data.

I think part of the problem is that the American people are constantly bombarded with newer, greater, smaller, and faster digital media that they are led to believe that they must have, must use, and must constantly be connected to. This new media offers the user fresh ways to enter information and communicate with each other. Which, based on the numbers, the American people love! By intentionally making more data available for the government to collect, the general public offers up more of who they are to the scrutiny of the professionals employed by the NSA. The Wired Magazine article, “The NSA is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)”, states that the NSA is “sifting through billions of emails and phone data.

We give them more information, and they spend more taxpayer money on server farms to collect our information. I was shocked, especially during a time of economic crisis, as to how much money the federal government was spending on facilities, servers, satellites, and upgrades solely devoted to capturing domestic communications and data.

$100 million on a renovation

$2 billion on the Bluffdale digital storage facility

$896 million on a new supercomputer center

Beyond the money, what really sticks with me is a question that John Oliver posed to Edward Snowden, “Is it a conversation that we have the capacity to have? Because it is so complicated that we don’t fundamentally understand.” Is this a conversation that the American people are capable of starting and sustaining? I don’t know. John Oliver’s man on the street videos certainly say, perhaps not.

If speed is the most desirable quality for these super computers and data processors, is it even possible for NSA professionals to separate data prior to deciding whether or not it needs to be addressed? Is it just a big jumble data that they are constantly trying to descramble or decrypt indiscriminately, and they don’t really concern themselves with what they end up with? I feel as if I am an informed citizen, especially more so now after reading these articles, but I still struggle to fully comprehend what is happening and to what degree. You can tell me all about yottabytes, but I can’t comprehend the meaning of that. I understand it’s a lot, but it doesn’t mean anything definitive to me.

Further, I fully agree with Snowden’s comment that, regardless of what the interview context may have been, we should send whatever data, information, or ummm…pictures we would otherwise send. We shouldn’t change our behaviors because our government is doing the wrong thing. Something else I don’t understand – why keep this all secret? We already know that it’s happening? Why not come out with it and be transparent?

Also, wasn’t our government intentionally developed with a built in system of checks and balances? Whose day was it to watch the NSA when they decided to roll out all of these secret programs?

I think it’s hard to look at this situation objectively, with the exception of that whole Constitution thing. We need to maintain a watchful eye on those wishing to do harm to the United States, but, as noted in “The NSA is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)”, these people were listening into calls from anyone. Former NSA employee, Adrienne J. Kinne, said that she found the act of eavesdropping on innocent fellow citizens personally distressing. She likened it to coming upon someone’s diary and flipping through it.

As noted in the previous paragraph, this also brings up the question of the 4th Amendment and how it is interpreted. “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,[a] against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Given this, and our freedom of speech, I’d say that based on everything I’ve said, many of the NSA’s surveillance programs are unconstitutional — PRISM and FISA in particular. As many point out, how can you act on power such as this without abusing it? It must be very tempting.

Edward Snowden claims to have carried out his actions because “so that the American people can decide for themselves what kind of government they want to have.” My assumption is that he means one that spies on its own people, thus violating its citizens rights, or one that in entirely transparent and give its people the opportunity to say yes or no to proposed data collection and related expenditures. This is not at all what has happened in this case. Whether or not I think these programs should be in places, I do think that the people of the United States should have been given the opportunity to voice their opinions. As it stands, 46% of the American people favor government surveillance (Oliver). Does this means they think that they are safer, are they unaware that their privacy is also violated in the process, do the American people care?

I think back to all of the critical things I said about the second President Bush and the war in Iraq back in the early 2000s. I can’t imagine what kind of lists I’m on at this point. It’s not just the Republicans though, the Democrats aren’t any better.

“We all want perfect privacy and perfect security, but these two things cannot coexist (Oliver).” This is also a sentiment that President Obama echoes in the below YouTube video. I must say, he seems nervous doing so.

This kind of surveillance is bipartisan!

Though, this does make the point that the Internet is not democratic. Both parties are going to do whatever they want when it comes to security, or what they feel is security, not want the people vote for. How does that make everyone feel?

No matter what each person believes on this issue, this is the country that we presently live in. Are we too far in to turn around or reevaluate? We might not be able to about face, but there is certainly room for perhaps heading in a different direction. However, per the Constitution, the people should have more of a say. Information such as the information shared by Edward Snowden should be public record — to an extent. I don’t think the general populace can wrap their brains around everything that the NSA is up to, I know I certainly can’t.

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Mass Survellience

// Posted by on 05/26/2015 (10:32 PM)

Former government employees, hackers and journalist are educating American citizens who have a false since of security regarding government activities and their personal data.  Similarly to how Brand and Brilliant provided The Whole Earth Catalog and the WELL, an… Read more


Former government employees, hackers and journalist are educating American citizens who have a false since of security regarding government activities and their personal data.  Similarly to how Brand and Brilliant provided The Whole Earth Catalog and the WELL, an online meeting place for their followers (hackers, journalist and other professionals), people could log onto and obtain classified government information unattainable elsewhere.  The activities being uncovered include illegal, immoral and murderous practices, and are costing tax payers billions of dollars.

As written in the article, The NSA is building the country’s biggest spy center, billions are dollars being spent on secret facilities such as Bluffdale (a facility that will be five times the size of the US Capitol) filled with servers, computer intelligence experts, and armed guards. The author indicates “Its purpose to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the WORLD’s communication obtained from satellites, underground and over the ground wiring”.  Not just pertinent information needed for national security but all information.

Oddly enough, these informants work unaccompanied or in small groups which brings to mind the biblical story of David and Goliath with Goliath representing the bureaucracy.  Captured from the article, Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations Edward Snowden believed that the public deserved to know about the “threat to democracy” occurring with hidden government actions which included a “federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers” that exist in a “world that I love” even though he has now become a fugitive from this world. I think he felt if he did not act quickly the abuse of power would have continued its downward spiral.

Snowden understood that he will be ridiculed by the media and punished including put to death by government in the event he is caught but this martyr seems to put the good of others first when he states that “The only thing I fear is the harmful effects on my family, who I won’t be able to help any more”.  His fears were justified as he lives in isolation, fearful for his life and of his loved ones.  I have always been more of a follower than a leader and doubt I would have the same courage to antagonize a hunger lion as Snowden.  The hunger lion referenced would be the sometimes embarrassed, overly incompetent and overly zealous NSA who seemed to stand idly by during 9-11, World Trade Center and other terrorist attacks successfully executed.

United States government employees and agencies are participating in unwarranted, secretive, and illegal activity against its citizens and citizens of other countries via the internet and phone conversations which are being uncovered and share with a very naïve public under the guise of our own safety.  In the article, No Secrets Julian Assange’s mission for total transparency, Assange “shared confidential information and publish it on a Web site called and in a manner that it could not be erased”.  These illegal activities are not limited to the USA but others have threatened legal actions include unscrupulous Kenyan politicians, the Swiss banks, Russian offshore stem-cell centers, former African kleptocrats, or the Pentagon.”

Do the ends justify the means?  I think it does when the purpose is as noble and self-less as has been documented in these articles.  Especially when the end result brings about the kind of enlightenment that both Snowden and Assange’s have shared.  In the article, How digital detectives deciphered stuxnet, the most menacing malware in history the reader is introduced to how the zero-day code can infect thousands of computers in high usage countries and extracting confidential information and return this information to multiple locations.  The data stored by the worm used to track down the source and can be fixed or sold.

I get the sense that few are truly against US surveillance when it is properly regulated and those who abuse the power are quickly punished.  I am grateful to reports like Glen Greenwald who work to uncover the truth exposing the antagonist and the protagonist, all while being unafraid of the blowback. I think this type of work encourages the leaders to take positive action regardless of the cost.

Interesting links <> <>




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Hope for the best, but plan for the worst!

// Posted by on 05/26/2015 (9:08 PM)

For the past few days I have given a lot of thought to having records of my personal emails and phone calls possibly being stored in a warehousing facility in Bluffdale, Utah.  It is troubling, very troubling.  I can somewhat… Read more


For the past few days I have given a lot of thought to having records of my personal emails and phone calls possibly being stored in a warehousing facility in Bluffdale, Utah.  It is troubling, very troubling.  I can somewhat understand the idea behind such a place that according to the article in Wired, will be “…secretly capturing, storing, and analyzing vast quantities of words and images hurtling through the world’s telecommunications networks.”  It is for the greater good, right?  We should be okay with the NSA doing this as a way to protect us, shouldn’t we?  The issue I have is intent.  What is the intent of all of this data collection?  How will this information be used?  How could it possibly be used against me or someone I know?

When I was in 9th grade I had a world history teacher named Mr. Meyerholz.  He was different from any other teacher than I had ever had before.  He was different because he offered contrarian viewpoints to history.  Up until that point I had been taught that our government would take care of us and had our best interests at heart. (Over simplified for purposes of blog!) In class one day he said that many people did not mind having a dictator as they would not have to be bothered by making decisions about their own lives.  He would question us with what it would look like if we stopped paying attention and just let out leaders rule without opposition. Looking back it all makes sense.  Mr. Meyerholz was ahead of his time!

I have added a scene from the movie The American President. I think it is very appropriate in this situation.  It is the scene near the end of the movie where President Andrew Shepherd addresses some issues that his opponent has questioned him on.  I especially like his explanation of free speech and the way he explains how elections are won.  He doesn’t use the word apathy, but I will.  This seems to be a common theme to me in the articles, especially the Snowden and Assange articles.  Each of these men, in their own way, have brought information to the world and it is up to us to react or not.

In the Wired interview Snowden made an excellent point regarding NSA fatigue comparing the mass surveillance leaks to the deaths of troops during a war.  We get used to hearing it and we stop paying attention to it.  It is not news anymore, it is the new normal.  I would argue that the average person does not care that the NSA is listening in on their phone conversations or reading their emails.  I would further argue that they do not believe it is going on in the first place.  Why would our government do this to us?  I live in Hometown, USA and I have nothing to do with terrorist plots so why would the NSA worry itself over what I am doing? Why, indeed.

I have also included a 60 Minutes interview regarding the Edward Snowden data breach.  It offers a different view of Mr. Snowden than the article in Wired.   I realize the NSA has to save face and I understand the badmouthing of Snowden, but it felt odd.  I felt as though they were talking someone I knew.  I had not really paid much attention to him until taking this class.  I just figured he was a traitor pure and simple.  The article about him made his explanation sound so plausible.  This 60 Minutes interview discusses the clean up after he left the NSA.  They had no idea what he had done or even taken.

I couldn’t help but think of Mr. Meyerholz when I was reading the article about Julian Assange.  Mr. Meyerholz would say that we are allowing ourselves to be led around by our noses and that we need to question what is going on.  Julian Assange is trying to do this with WikiLeaks.   His life’s work is bringing information to the people and the people are not paying attention.  For example, he and his staff went to great lengths to edit and share the video Collateral Murder.  Once it was made public the military was able to explain its actions by saying that they had not violated any rules of engagement.

Again, I think it is difficult for the average person to think that the military would do something so criminal.  One point that Khatchadourian made in the article that I think is very important to remember is that, “Assange, despite his claims to scientific journalism, emphasized to me that his mission is to expose injustice, not to provide an even-handed record of events.”  This, I think, may cloud the information that he provides.  He may very well be putting lives in danger and there are those that do not understand that policy.

Any information can be manipulated and used for ill will.  I feel the lesson from the readings this week and Mr. Meyerholz is to question what is being done with the information.  The groundbreaking ceremony under a tent in Utah is a bit suspect!  On the other hand I also think it is funny that the article tells us where the top secret facility is!  I know I have just contradicted myself, but it is a very hard topic to form a solid opinion on.  So I will offer this.  I have heard it said before on more than one occasion that hope is not a strategy.  But I hope that the information that is being collected by the NSA is being used for good and not evil.  I hope the information gathered and leads to stopping future terrorist attacks and saves lives.  I hope, I hope, I hope.


I just saw this and thought it was interesting.  I wonder if Aaron Portnoy helped Apple out?

Apple finds bug that causes iPhones to crash|Reuters





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