Thursday, December 22, 2005

Is the Wiretap Fracus About a High Tech Breakthrough or a Fiasco?

Why would the president authorize warrantless wiretaps of U.S. citizens is a timely question? The conventional press (and many politicians) are reacting as if the president is thumbing his nose at the courts and congress. Maybe the situation makes a warrant in advance impossible, as this Ars Technica article suggests.

It is a fact that the U.S. has captured laptops and cell phones from terrorists. Let's hypothesize that is one of the captured e-mail contacts. Nobody knows who he (or she) is nor where in the world they are. It seems to me that the gist of what is happening is that the NSA puts a flag on and waits and watches. The e-mail may be retrieved from anywhere in the world. Ditto on cell phone calls. The monitoring starts when the contact picks up the phone or retrieves the e-mail. At that point, it's too late to run down a judge.

In a separate Ars Technica article, the author suggests that the technology to do voice matching in real time on a large portion of the U.S. telephone traffic is not only technologically possible with today's computer power but is likely in place. Is hunting for the bad guy's voice a technology needle in a haystack? I suspect the answer is no, it's not impossible at all.


  1. Didn't I hear about a search engine (Google is my first guess) being able to search an audio file by typed word???

  2. the FISA act gives the NSA 72 hours after the fact to apply for a warrant.They can pick up the phone and ask for one. Its not hard to get a FISA warrant . The curious thing is why, given the ease of obtaining a warrant the administration has chosen not to.



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