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WikiLeaks: NSA Recording All Telephone Calls In Afghanistan 241

Posted by Soulskill
from the stirring-the-pot dept.
On Monday, The Intercept reported that the NSA is recording the content of every cell phone call in the Bahamas. At the time of publication, The Intercept said there was another country in which the NSA was doing this, but declined to name it because of "specific, credible concerns that doing so could lead to increased violence." Now, reader Advocatus Diaboli points out that WikiLeaks has spilled the beans: the country being fully monitored by the NSA is Afghanistan. Julian Assange wrote, "Such censorship strips a nation of its right to self-determination on a matter which affects its whole population. An ongoing crime of mass espionage is being committed against the victim state and its population. By denying an entire population the knowledge of its own victimization, this act of censorship denies each individual in that country the opportunity to seek an effective remedy, whether in international courts, or elsewhere. Pre-notification to the perpetrating authorities also permits the erasure of evidence which could be used in a successful criminal prosecution, civil claim, or other investigations. ... We do not believe it is the place of media to 'aid and abet' a state in escaping detection and prosecution for a serious crime against a population. Consequently WikiLeaks cannot be complicit in the censorship of victim state X. The country in question is Afghanistan."
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WikiLeaks: NSA Recording All Telephone Calls In Afghanistan

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  • by sandbagger (654585) on Friday May 23, 2014 @08:53AM (#47073487)

    After all, we were at war there. I am wondering as we get to what is being promised as the biggest story of the Snowden documents, what the final scoop will be.

    • by wjcofkc (964165)

      I am wondering as we get to what is being promised as the biggest story of the Snowden documents, what the final scoop will be.

      Regardless of what the content of that document will be, by the time it's all said and done, the sum total will probably be something like, "99% of the entire human race is a slave species."

    • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Friday May 23, 2014 @09:44AM (#47073821)

      After all, we were at war there.

      No we're not. No war was ever declared and the majority of our troops have left. At best our troops are in an advisory role now. We're training and supporting the afghan military. Once again we invade a country under the pretense of protecting the innocent citizens of that country... but what we really end up doing is victimizing those very citizens. I wont even bother with "if it's legal"... our government clearly doesn't care... but it's immoral, unjust and completely ineffectual. Despite having every phone in the country tapped it took us how long to catch Bin Laden?

      • To be fair, the Taleban are quite a worthwile enemy. These people stone comic writers to death and attack young school girls with acid.

        The real scandal is right now going on in Egypt, though, where the US and to a lesser extent also Europe chose to deliberately ignore democracy, are actively supporting a "new" (=old) military dictatorship and take away from the people the fruits of their revolution. As usual, the result will be the exact opposite of what the US and Europe were hoping for, namely more radica

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Greenwald has been dropping hints in interviews that it's specific groups of Americans being targeted, for non-obvious (i.e."terror") reasons. I'm guessing it will also describe some of the uglier uses of NSA info by say the DEA and FBI, like illegal wiretaps and backfeeding cases against criminal but non-terrorist Americans to agents.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Maybe the UK should record every telephone call in the US, because were were at war there once.

      • by russotto (537200)

        Maybe the UK should record every telephone call in the US, because were were at war there once.

        Since the NSA isn't allowed to do that, chances are the UK (GCHQ) DOES do it, and then shares the take with the NSA.

  • Now they have to hire thousands of Afghan translators. It will give all the liberal arts graduates something to do.
    • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jythie (914043) on Friday May 23, 2014 @09:02AM (#47073565)
      Translators? Why bother, the data probably just ends up poorly filed in some tape farm. Data collection is sexy, data processing is dull.
    • Re:Good (Score:4, Informative)

      by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Friday May 23, 2014 @09:37AM (#47073771) Homepage

      Now they have to hire thousands of Afghan translators. It will give all the liberal arts graduates something to do.

      A great deal of linguistic support for the NSA comes from the branches of the military, where enlisted people are sent to Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California to train in the language if skills-testing shows they have linguistic aptitude. A prior university degree -- let alone a liberal arts one -- is not necessary.

      • by Wookact (2804191)
        If you get a good score on your ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) they send you to take the DLAB (Defense Language Aptitude Battery) if you do well on that you are pulled from your assigned MOS and sent to be a translator. They wanted to send me, but I had 0 interest in learning a middle eastern language. They made me take the DLAB twice because I was only a couple of points from passing the first time. By that time I had found out what it was for, so the second one got christmas treed,
        • by CRCulver (715279)

          They wanted to send me, but I had 0 interest in learning a middle eastern language.

          I don't know how much things have changed in the decade-plus since I trained as a military linguist, but I was allowed to choose from among the languages that my DLAB score qualified me for. I said I wanted to learn Chinese and that's where they put me; they didn't try to decide for me e.g. Arabic or Korean instead.

          • by Wookact (2804191)
            It very well might have changed. When I joined in 03 I was told I would most likely be sent to learn some form of arabic, or pashtu, or some other regional dialects.
  • Unreliable source (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I'm sorry, but there is just no source that is possibly less reliable than this. The asshole has no credibility.

    • by NotDrWho (3543773)

      If the NSA is willing to collect the phones calls, emails, and web browsing history of every American (as Snowden proved), you think they would hesitate for even a micro-second to do the same for some Muslim foreign country where we're at war??

      What color is the sky in your world?

  • by NotDrWho (3543773) on Friday May 23, 2014 @08:58AM (#47073517)

    The only democracy that the U.S. ever intended to bring to Afghanistan and Iraq was of the "You can choose pro-U.S. candidate number 1, or pro-U.S. candidate number 2" variety.

    • Jamming a constitution down the throats of Japan and Germany worked pretty well. We should do more of that, not less, and certainly disallow building religion into a constitution. Proof? We didn't do that and see the results.

      • it does not matter if we disallow relgion in a written document.

        in the USA of jesusland, we don't have a form religion here but in all practical aspects, we ARE a religiously-goverened country. most of the contentious laws in the last 20 yrs were ALL based on someone's view of religion and how it should be forced down everyone else's throat.

      • Japan and Germany turned out "pretty well" because of the Japanese and the Germans, not because of foreigners.

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Friday May 23, 2014 @09:05AM (#47073585)

    All 15 of them? Wow!

    • by arth1 (260657)

      While phone proliferation in Afghanistan might be lower than in the US, it's higher than several of its neighbors. In addition to land lines, that 16% of Afghans own a cell phone is rather impressive, given how their infrastructure has been bombed, over and over again, for decades.

      The same cannot be said for USA - USA and France are the only Western countries that has fewer active cell phones than people.
      And the geographical coverage is still far less than 50%, even when only considering the contiguous 48!

      • by lfourrier (209630)
        " USA and France are the only Western countries that has fewer active cell phones than people "

        false for both, according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_number_of_mobile_phones_in_use
      • by Immerman (2627577)

        >Russia can call the US a third world country when it comes to mobile phone penetration - with good reason.

        Seriously? You expect me to believe that all the vast unlit Siberian, etc. wastes have cell coverage?

    • by rvw (755107)

      All 15 of them? Wow!

      So where did you learn to count in base 1 million?

  • by bemenaker (852000) on Friday May 23, 2014 @09:12AM (#47073625)
    This part of the Snowden leaks is the part I have a problem with. This is EXACTLY what the NSA is supposed to be doing. Making this part public record does do damage to the US and is part of being a traitor. I have zero problems with Snowden leaking information about the NSA spying on Americans, not because it effects me, but because it's a violation of the Constitution and the NSA does NOT have that authority, regardless of what laws Congress passes. If the SCOTUS wasn't such pussies they would have taken this on years ago and stopped it, but instead they are 100% complicit in this as well. If Snowden has a problem with these actions from the NSA, why did he take a job there in the first place?
    • Isn't this supposed to be the job of the CIA?
      I thought the NSA were only supposed to operate locally

      • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Friday May 23, 2014 @09:50AM (#47073871) Homepage Journal

        I thought the NSA were only supposed to operate locally

        Not sure if this is tongue in cheek or not, but I'll answer it. The NSA is specifically barred from domestic spying. They and the CIA are supposed to be focused on foreign intelligence. The agency that would operate locally is the FBI.

        • thanks for the info
          it wasn't tongue in cheek it was just something I remember off sneakers
          I just got it the wrong way round
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
          setec astronomy

        • by rahvin112 (446269)

          Those stateside operation limits were removed as part of the patriot act and the removal IIRC was made permanent during the bush admin. Though I can't recall if it was both the NSA or CIA or only the NSA.

          The patriot act was one scary jumble of stuff that these agencies had wanted for a very long time. It shouldn't surprise you that those limits were waved when it was passed.

    • by Kardos (1348077)

      So from the other side, if an Afghani intelligence agency was recording every call in America, that's OK too because it's their job?

      • by c (8461)

        So from the other side, if an Afghani intelligence agency was recording every call in America, that's OK too because it's their job?

        Under Afghani law, probably.

        Granted, Afghan law has perhaps recently had a lot of outside fingers in it, so that might actually be illegal.

        I don't doubt that it's legal for the NSA to be doing this under American law, seeing how foreign signals interception is largely their main function. With American troops in a foreign country with a history of militant extremist activity, i

      • So from the other side, if an Afghani intelligence agency was recording every call in America, that's OK too because it's their job?

        I fairly certain I recall Obama stating in the past that he would consider it an act of war if any country did that sort of thing to the US. (Unless of course it is one of the five eyes countries, who share what they record in the US back to the NSA to create a nice little bypass of the rule which does not allow the NSA to spy domestically).

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      "It isn't illegal by the laws of my country" is not a particularly helpful answer when dealing with international relations.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sockatume (732728)

      I'd like to point out that:

      1) It's perfectly legal for the NSA to spy on Britons, which it is documented as doing
      2) It's perfectly legal for the NSA to give that information to GCHQ, which it is documented as doing
      3) It's perfectly legal for GCHQ to spy on Americans, which it is documented as doing
      4) It's perfectly legal for GCHQ to give that information to the NSA.

      • by Xest (935314)

        Actually it depends who they're spying on. Both countries are signatories to and have ratified the covenants stemming from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the UK the European Declaration of Human Rights also. This means both nations are bound by law to respect article 12, specifically:

        "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against su

        • by Sockatume (732728)

          Oh, it's hella illegal on a human rights basis, but most of the signatories of those conventions take enormous liberties in their interpretation of what's permitted where it applies to their own people, much less another nation's.

      • It's perfectly legal ...

        No, none of that is legal - it's specifically barred by the US Constitution which authorized the current government (as Amended by the 4th Amendment).

        You may imagine that the US Constitution says, " ... of US Citizens ... " but it doesn't because that would never have occurred to those trying to establish a Natural Rights Republic.

    • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Friday May 23, 2014 @09:57AM (#47073931)

      What the NSA is doing to foreigners IS harming Americans. It's destroying our reputation, destroying our business contracts, and alienating the entire world. How would you feel if China or Russia developed some new technology that allowed them to listen to all of your phone calls and then they went about doing just that?

      Just because something doesn't implicitly violate the constitution doesn't mean it's right and just. How many foreigners are you willing to sacrifice for your own safety? How many dictators are we going to install? People are we going to torture? Freedoms are we going to crush? The whole of the nightmare in the middle east right now is the fault of the united states. Every dictator in recent memory was a product of the CIA/NSA's attempts to secure the low price of oil. All the misery you see there now was to make it cheaper for you to get to work in the morning, not to protect you from "terrorists". We're murdering hundreds of thousands of people, men, women and children, all in some insane game of simcity, trying to fix the mess we created. At some point we need to just back away and let these people live their lives. WE are the problem. Not them. If some of their crazies manage to knock down a few of our buildings well... we deserve it.

      • by Immerman (2627577)

        >all in some insane game of simcity, trying to fix the mess we created.

        You had e up until that point. But what on earth makes you think we're trying to fix the mess? We're still over there to secure low oil prices, our old puppet dictators just got to uppity so we replaced them. And since we had to do it in a big public frontal assault we've got to install a mock-"democracy" to save face - plenty of your citizens can remain willfully ignorant to the cloak-and-dagger coup that displaced the pre-existin

      • How would you feel if China or Russia developed some new technology that allowed them to listen to all of your phone calls and then they went about doing just that?

        If it would get my country to stop monitoring me, meh; I'd take the trade-off. The heck is Russia or China going to care about my life?

      • by emil (695)

        The whole of the nightmare in the middle east right now is the fault of the united states.

        The British Mandate and the Balfour Declaration [wikipedia.org] had far more influence upon the nationalities, peoples, and borders of the Middle East than did any influence of the United States.

        • The whole of the nightmare in the middle east right now is the fault of the united states.

          The British Mandate and the Balfour Declaration [wikipedia.org] had far more influence upon the nationalities, peoples, and borders of the Middle East than did any influence of the United States.

          Yes, they're mad about Israel. I think we're all quite aware of that. I'm not even talking that far back. I'm talking about what we did in Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Afghanistan in the 70s and 80s. The very governments we fight to day were installed by us, or a result of our policies.

      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        The whole of the nightmare in the middle east right now is the fault of the united states.

        The USA inherited a dysfunctional situation in the Middle East.
        The British and French were happy to leave the problem to someone else, as their empires were waning.

        But the main reason the Middle East is so ungovernable is a direct results of the British and French drawing arbitrary lines on a map and declaring "these are the borders of the countries."

        This article is relatively short and explains what happened 100 years ago and the consequences since:
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-25299553 [bbc.co.uk]

        • Inherited? Are we the babysitters of the world now? Why did anyone have to inherit anything? It's none of our business. If we want to be responsible for the peoples of the middle east, we need to invade and annex them. If they're not part of the united states then we need to leave them alone. Simple as that. We can't unilaterally determine that we're in charge of how their government operates while at the same time deny them the constitutional freedoms we long ago decided the governed deserve! If they have

    • by Jahoda (2715225)
      The right to privacy is a human right. The rights in the constitution are not "because you're american", they are "because you are human and born with them".
      • by bemenaker (852000)
        The rights of the Constitution only apply to US citizens. It is US law, it's not natural law.
        • by Jahoda (2715225)
          Um, the constitution is only there to protect the rights you naturally have. You are born with those rights as a human, not as a US citizen. I strongly suggest you revisit the document and what the purpose of the US government is. Thanks.
  • by nimbius (983462) on Friday May 23, 2014 @09:55AM (#47073911) Homepage
    in order to win hearts and minds, one must know what secrets lie within them. Our series of sponsored elections in iraq failed ultimately because we assumed our liberation theology was a mutually shared concern. Hamid Karzai's relations with NATO countries is strong, especially with the United States seeing as during the elections we sponsored, he was the candidate we placed the most effort behind to win. we labelled the opposition "terrorists" and regardless of how moderate their islamic platform was, branded them outlaws and sentenced them to summary execution by drone. The fact that the NSA is monitoring the entire country is reason enough to assume the united states does not have enough confidence in the afghani people to rest assured they will continue to vote for one of "our" guys. We can have democracy in Afghanistan, so long as its the democracy we select. religious or islamic candidates are flatly forbidden regardless of how conservative or progressive they may be as we fear a nationalist element to their political aspirations that would preclude us from installing military bases at will, or outsourcing the country to make tshirts and sweatpants as we did in cambodia and viet nam once the democracy we wanted was had.

    If you think this is morally wrong, it is. In american elections we're routinely given to elect fundamentalist christian leaders without so much as questioning the idea they believe in say, the death penalty as is biblically prescribed. We elect leaders at all levels of government in part based on their religion, as would islamic citizens.
  • Most of us can live with the fact that our security and secret agencies sustain our way of life, maintain our security and liberties, preserve our freedoms and protect our and values by denying others (often in far flung lands) of the same as long as we are not forced to confront the morality of that reality or explain to those whose rights, freedoms and liberties the preservation of our own tramples upon why they are not worthy of the very values, liberties and freedoms that we are willing to go to such le

    • by DM9290 (797337)

      Here is a reality check for all of us: our freedom, liberties and way of life often come at at the cost of denying someone else of their freedom, liberty and sometimes their life.

      So what you are saying is that it is Our Way of Life that is evil?

  • We were at war with Afghanistan, and it used to be run by a totalitarian regime. Monitoring their phones for a decade or two as part of attempting to transition them to democracy doesn't seem unreasonable. We did the same in Germany after WWII, and also limited German democracy in some ways.

  • Just curiosity... The bandwidth required to do this should be enormous, how did they implement it? Are the trunk switches compromised and they locally record every conversation, and later send it to the USA? Did they install dedicated fibers to do this? TFA lacks any details.

    Thanks.

  • But notice how they were framed.
    Can we stop the bullshit and quit pretending like releasing this information isdangerous?
    The delay is what's dangerous. The longer the information is kept under wraps and the less willing they are to take the hard shots, the more FUCKED UP BULLSHIT will be perpetrated by these government organizations.
  • While it is very probably true, where is the proof that Wikileaks is right about it being Afghanistan? Show me ole' JA isn't just pulling this out of his ass to get a little limelight back from an honorable man that *has* vetted documentation.

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