Who to believe, revisited

First, while we did discuss legal compliance requirements with the government as reported last week, in none of these discussions did Microsoft provide or agree to provide any government with direct access to user content or the ability to break our encryption. — Microsoft MS, working with the FBI, developed a surveillance capability to deal with the new SSL. — NSA News story here, documents here, OCRed text.

If it was lutefisk, they’d have a point

Live near Minneapolis? Bush supporter? The FBI are looking for people to infiltrate sinister vegan potluck gatherings and report on any terrorist planning activities that happen there, so they can be ready for the 2008 Republican National Convention. Remember, loyal Americans eat steak!

War and chickpeas

From CQ Politics: Like Hansel and Gretel hoping to follow their bread crumbs out of the forest, the FBI sifted through customer data collected by San Francisco-area grocery stores in 2005 and 2006, hoping that sales records of Middle Eastern food would lead to Iranian terrorists. The idea was that a spike in, say, falafel sales, combined with other data, would lead to Iranian secret agents in the south San Francisco-San Jose area.


Now that we’ve all accepted torture as a legitimate tool of the US government, the question is simply when it’s appropriate. The answer seems to be: pretty much any time the government doesn’t like what you’re doing. Navy Veteran Donald Vance became aware of illegal arms sales in Iraq—land mines, rocket launchers, that sort of thing. He reported it to the FBI. In return, he was imprisoned as a “combatant” for 97 days and tortured.

Business ethics and telemarketing

InfoUSA is a list broker, a company that aggregates personal data and sells it to telemarketers and catalog sales companies. The New York Times reports: InfoUSA advertised lists of “Elderly Opportunity Seekers,” 3.3 million older people “looking for ways to make money,” and “Suffering Seniors,” 4.7 million people with cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. “Oldies but Goodies” contained 500,000 gamblers over 55 years old, for 8.5 cents apiece. One list said: “These people are gullible.


It’s really a very simple process. The FBI could declare that the ACLU is supporting terrorism—hell, Fox News already did. Then the authorities could imprison me without trial, indefinitely, and/or deport me. Even though I’m a legal permanent resident, married to a US citizen.

1 + 1 = stupid

The FBI is investigating the terrorists’ use of stolen credit cards and other ID to hide their trail, thanks to inadequate privacy protection. The FTC has abandoned plans to improve privacy protection, citing the 9/11 attacks as the reason.