Monday, December 19, 2005

FISA, NSA and TIA

There have been rumblings on the internets that the reason FISA was bypassed was that the request process takes too long. I can think of a scenario where this actually makes sense, and President Bush’s language at the press conference this morning reinforces the idea.

TIA. Total Information Awareness was a program that was started sometime after 9/11 and headed by Admiral Poindexter. The goal was to gather all data in order to predict patterns and the like. The President said that they were still using FISA, but they also went around FISA to “detect” communications. The choice of the word “detect” puts a new spin on what may be going on.

If you are data mining for patterns that are trying to map out terrorist networks, you may not need to necessarily eavesdrop on the communication itself. What you can do is come up with some statistical probability that a series of communications fits a terrorist pattern. The President was clear to say that we need the ability to move faster than the FISA process allows. If you are mapping where the communications are going, in this instance from the US to someplace that is not the US, but you are not actually monitoring the contents of the communication, it makes no sense applying for a FISA warrant.

In fact, considering the amount of data that would need to be gathered to create something statistically significant, FISA warrants would be a hinderance due to the massive number that would need to be applied for.

Linkage after more research.

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