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#52 Jun 14 2013 at 8:52 AM Rating: Good
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Yeah, we're starting this sh*t again.
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#53 Jun 14 2013 at 9:37 AM Rating: Excellent
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gbaji wrote:
In case you failed to grasp what I was getting at, I was joking about the absurdity of Alma's statement given that the *only* thing we know from Snowden is his claims. So if he's "full of BS" from our perspective it can only possibly be because we don't believe his claims are true. Which makes one very relevant to the other. Thought it was pretty obvious really.

Thing to do, in my mind at least, is to separate what he actually provided documented proof of from what he's claiming goes on. Since with the former you have some reason to believe it, the latter you have no way to verify.

How much information does the government give 3rd parties access to anyway? I imagine there's a point you need outside expertise, but I can't imagine you'd reveal everything you know to the lowest bidder (as I write that part of me guesses it's no-bid...).
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#54 Jun 14 2013 at 4:24 PM Rating: Decent
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Smasharoo wrote:
The reality of modern intel analysis is that almost all of it isn't "we carried out a complicated deep analysis of a lot of information and determined that the raised level of keyword chatter indicates a large event possibly occurring on Wednesday"...it's almost always "Bob called Jim and said 'hey we're still going to bomb that things on Wednesday, right." So, that's why I laugh when you claim to "know" someone's "full of it".


That would be a great point if I were talking about some analysis Snowden made. It's a terrible point in response to me saying that his self aggrandizing claims of being able to read the presidents email, or spy on anyone, anywhere, "if he wanted to" is complete and utter BS. That's what I was talking about.
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#55 Jun 14 2013 at 4:29 PM Rating: Decent
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someproteinguy wrote:
gbaji wrote:
In case you failed to grasp what I was getting at, I was joking about the absurdity of Alma's statement given that the *only* thing we know from Snowden is his claims. So if he's "full of BS" from our perspective it can only possibly be because we don't believe his claims are true. Which makes one very relevant to the other. Thought it was pretty obvious really.

Thing to do, in my mind at least, is to separate what he actually provided documented proof of from what he's claiming goes on.


My understanding is that he hasn't actually provided documented proof of anything. He's just made wild broad claims about the NSA (and by extension himself) being able to do a bunch of bad things and specifically speaks of gathering phone records. Um... Which is low hanging fruit given that pretty much everyone had already assumed that the NSA does that. So nothing really. So far, his shocking claims could have been made by anyone at all with zero access to any actually intelligence data or procedures.

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How much information does the government give 3rd parties access to anyway? I imagine there's a point you need outside expertise, but I can't imagine you'd reveal everything you know to the lowest bidder (as I write that part of me guesses it's no-bid...).


I actually suspect his job was to mop the floors. He's a nobody. But he does make a great distraction though.
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#56 Jun 14 2013 at 4:38 PM Rating: Excellent
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gbaji wrote:
My understanding is that he hasn't actually provided documented proof of anything. He's just made wild broad claims about the NSA (and by extension himself) being able to do a bunch of bad things and specifically speaks of gathering phone records. Um... Which is low hanging fruit given that pretty much everyone had already assumed that the NSA does that. So nothing really. So far, his shocking claims could have been made by anyone at all with zero access to any actually intelligence data or procedures.


CNN wrote:
The briefing stemmed from revelations over the weekend that the National Security Agency had secret programs to collect records of domestic telephone calls in the United States and the Internet activity of overseas residents. Edward Snowden, 29, a former employee of government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, provided documents about the programs to newspapers The Guardian and The Washington Post.


CNN wrote:
What do you think of Edward Snowden? By leaking classified documents to the media and revealing that the National Security Agency has been monitoring our phone and Internet usage, is he a traitor or a hero? Could he simply be a narcissist looking to get famous? Or do you not care about either him or the NSA surveillance programs?


Just from a couple of recent CNN articles I read, though I've seen it written other places, so I'm assuming those documents that they say have details actually do have details. I have no idea what's in them, but it was my understanding it was more than just "we do bad things, take my word for it," though he seems undeterred from venturing into that territory during interviews.

Edited, Jun 14th 2013 3:49pm by someproteinguy
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#57 Jun 14 2013 at 4:51 PM Rating: Good
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Smasharoo wrote:

I've spent the better part of my professional life judging the confidence of reported information, and a good part of my academic life studying how well people can predict outcomes. I'll let you in on a dirty little secret of my former profession. People are fucking terrible at predictive analysis. I mean BAD. Human instincts in this regard are almost unerringly wrong. It's a significant problem in the intelligence community, and always has been. Current best practice is to aggregate opinions of highly skilled (well educated predictors you constantly require to be retrained in the most effective techniques) predictors. You know what? It still sucks.


Have you read any Taleb (black swan, antifragile)? Cause you pretty much summed up his thesis there. Reading antifragile right now, I am really enjoying it.
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#58 Jun 14 2013 at 5:19 PM Rating: Decent
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someproteinguy wrote:
Just from a couple of recent CNN articles I read, though I've seen it written other places, so I'm assuming those documents that they say have details actually do have details. I have no idea what's in them, but it was my understanding it was more than just "we do bad things, take my word for it," though he seems undeterred from venturing into that territory during interviews.


Maybe. Call me skeptical though. Here's an article by the Guardian (which is the outlet Snowden leaked this stuff to) containing a page from a power point that is part of this top secret document about PRISM. Seriously? A power point? With the logos of the companies they're tapping into on top? And a "go/prism" web link to follow for more information?

It's like someone hired the worst screenwriter in Hollywood to come up with this. It's laughable.


Doesn't preclude at all the possibility that there is some actual information being leaked here, but please god tell me the NSA doesn't actually have documents that look like that detailing how their super secret data collection programs work to new employees.
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#59 Jun 14 2013 at 5:22 PM Rating: Good
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gbaji wrote:

please god tell me the NSA doesn't actually have documents that look like that


Does the idea of a bunch of old people making hideous powerpoints really seem that far fetched? I mean, I doubt they are going to hand info around just to improve the graphic design.

Edited, Jun 14th 2013 4:23pm by Olorinus
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#60 Jun 14 2013 at 5:40 PM Rating: Decent
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Olorinus the Ludicrous wrote:
gbaji wrote:

please god tell me the NSA doesn't actually have documents that look like that


Does the idea of a bunch of old people making hideous powerpoints really seem that far fetched? I mean, I doubt they are going to hand info around just to improve the graphic design.


Age of who made it is irrelevant. My issue is the extras on there. If we were just talking about the graphic in the middle, fine. I could see that. But the logos up top? Who does that? You *only* do that for trademark purposes, so as to "give credit" to the companies you're partnered with and/or whose product you're using. Not something I'd expect on a document listing the companies my secret agency is tapping into for data, and certainly not on a document that isn't intended to be spread around. And the "go" link at the bottom? Really?

I may not be an expert on top secret organizations, but I do not a fair amount about how to secure data on a network. There's no way that slide isn't a mock up or joke.
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#61 Jun 14 2013 at 6:52 PM Rating: Decent
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For those curious, I was specifically talking about the last slide, but all of them are ridiculous for a number of reasons. They look like some ignorant conspiracy theorists idea of what secret documents detailing some nefarious scheme would look like. While I suppose it's possible that the NSA is just that silly about how it disseminates information about its super secret programs to new employees, it seems more likely that Snowden and/or Greenwald are engaged in a hoax.

Or the whole thing is a honeypot. Suppose that's a possibility too. Snowden may just have spectacularly failed his entrance exam.
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#62 Jun 15 2013 at 8:22 AM Rating: Decent
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For those curious, I was specifically talking about the last slide, but all of them are ridiculous for a number of reasons. They look like some ignorant conspiracy theorists idea of what secret documents detailing some nefarious scheme would look like. While I suppose it's possible that the NSA is just that silly about how it disseminates information about its super secret programs to new employees, it seems more likely that Snowden and/or Greenwald are engaged in a hoax.


More likely? I think you mean "remotely possible". I've seen 1000 PowerPoint decks that look worse than this. Try to keep in mind resource allocation here. Who do you think puts together these slides? The highly skilled grizzled veteran NSA lifer or the 22 year old douchebag son of a large donaer intern living out his James Bond power fantasy? I'll give you hint, there's a not a lot of PowerPoint running in the rooms at Ft Meade where interesting useful work happens.

As to the "conspiracy theory" part of this, what the fuck is it you think the NSA does? It's endlessly amazing to me that people hold this idea that somehow only the privacy of evil doers will be invaded regularly by government sources. FISA is a joke. It's a rubber stamp process that's trivial to completely ignore without consequence if needed. EVERY company you have sensitive data with has the same reaction to any government request for access: "Here you go!". Low level workers have access to broad capabilities.

The check against abuse is that you completely destroy people who maliciously overreach. If they go public, you admit to the least damaging information that can be otherwise easily confirmed and then deny more damaging pieces. Why would anyone believe the denials? You paint the leaker as unstable and untrustworthy. You possibly leak your own misinformation and attribute it to him, then demonstrate it to be false. Normal FUD SOP. You trust that morons will say "I dunno, this guy seems sketchy to me..."

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#63 Jun 15 2013 at 2:07 PM Rating: Good
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For the record, Back when SIVAM was still a secret program, it had much sh*ttier internal presentation materials. I have no earthly idea how gbaji concocted this "poor presentation means non-govt" idea.
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#64 Jun 16 2013 at 2:33 PM Rating: Decent
You know, I am going to regret wandering into this thread.

Look, let's take Snowden at his word. First, it's not exactly like this is the first domestic spying. Hell, no one really thinks about it, and it isn't even just the US. The government has always, in some respect, collected your information. In fact, many companies collect your information. Part of Google's income comes from indirectly selling your search data. I get it, it's jarring to realize that those emails you thought were private, really aren't, even if they never were. The freedom we have is an illusion. Just like the rule of law. Just like the concept of morality.

We want to believe in these illusions because it helps society run. But the reality is that any of these things can just vanish in a heartbeat. They are just pieces of paper, they will not stop the government from violating your supposed rights. So they collect data, and store data. I can say I don't give a flying @#%^ if the government has that data on me. The government doesn't give a @#%^ about me, realistically, unless I run break a rule in their book. If the government wanted me to be gone, they don't need my history. Look at Guantanamo Bay. You think you could never be put there? Gee, even that wasn't a first.

So I don't care if you believe Snowden. He's definitely not lying about one thing, your data is in some file, somewhere. And if it isn't, it can be in no time at all. The reality is that I do not worry about the government, I worry about the people. I worry that, if Snowden is telling the truth, he left the NSA with classified information. I worry that someone else could too. I worry that someone's cheese slips off their cracker, and they use that data in the NSA to harm someone. I worry about that data being leaked. That's my only stake in this story.
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#65 Jun 16 2013 at 7:49 PM Rating: Good
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No one would ever misuse classified data like that to settle personal grudges or to consolidate power.

Not even Hoover would be that bold.
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#66 Jun 17 2013 at 7:09 AM Rating: Good
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Timelordwho wrote:
I have no earthly idea how gbaji concocted this "poor presentation means non-govt" idea.
Well, the government aren't really people.
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#67 Jun 17 2013 at 7:17 AM Rating: Good
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Yeah, has he never seen a government website in his life?

Informal in house materials often get worse the higher up the chain you go, because the people making them are older.
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#68 Jun 17 2013 at 10:13 AM Rating: Good
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This is from a presentation they actually took public.

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#69 Jun 17 2013 at 11:13 AM Rating: Excellent
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Every Monday morning I'm welcomed back to work with a recruitment numbers power point presentation for local, state, region, etc etc and it is, without a doubt, the biggest reason why military recruiters commit suicide.
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#70 Jun 17 2013 at 11:46 AM Rating: Excellent
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Part of me would like to say if the files were fake they would have just stuck to that line instead of admitting to these programs' existence and trying to defend them.

Either that or they just got seriously trolled.

Edited, Jun 17th 2013 10:52am by someproteinguy
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#71 Jun 17 2013 at 4:04 PM Rating: Default
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Smasharoo wrote:
More likely? I think you mean "remotely possible". I've seen 1000 PowerPoint decks that look worse than this. Try to keep in mind resource allocation here. Who do you think puts together these slides? The highly skilled grizzled veteran NSA lifer or the 22 year old douchebag son of a large donaer intern living out his James Bond power fantasy? I'll give you hint, there's a not a lot of PowerPoint running in the rooms at Ft Meade where interesting useful work happens.


That's kinda the point though. Nobody uses this method of information transfer where "interesting useful work happens". The kind of presentation those slides appear to convey is that of a marketing or "project progress" presentation (you're trying to impress someone with what you're doing basically). I just find it amazingly strange that a secret (frankly any) organization would create slides like that revealing in an almost backhanded (and conspiracy theorists wet dream) way how they obtain the data they're analyzing to random new employees consulting with them.

What possible training purpose can that serve? And if it's marketing, who are they marketing *to*? It makes zero sense. Hell, when I do presentations for an engineering group, I focus on the parts of whatever process is in place that actually affects them. So when I tell them about some new software program we want them to use for doing some part of their job, I don't include background information about how we developed the software, what milestones we hit along the way, or what vendors were involved. I present the information they need to know to use the program.

Unless Snowden's job was to go out to companies like google and recruit them into providing data access to the NSA, there's no value to including any of the stuff on those slides as part of any training he'd have received. That's what I find odd about those slides. They just dont fit with regard to the content itself. You only create slides like that if you're intentionally highlighting to someone (or group of someones) how you're getting that data, and how your project to obtain said data has grown over time. But who would your target audience for such a thing be? Not some new guy you just hired, right? So what? Members of the intelligence committees in congress? Even that is a stretch (although I could almost see it). Some political officers within NSA itself? Maybe.

It's just too perfectly designed to reveal that the NSA is doing these "bad things" that it's hard to think of any reason for anyone to have constructed such slides unless their purpose was specifically to reveal those things, not to someone already working inside and with appropriate clearance, but to a public which would be alarmed at the revelation. Which is why I'm having a hard time believing that these are legitimate. The apparent target audience of such a presentation is the public. So why would anyone actually create them in the first place?

Edited, Jun 17th 2013 3:30pm by gbaji
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#72 Jun 18 2013 at 6:54 AM Rating: Decent
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That's kinda the point though. Nobody uses this method of information transfer where "interesting useful work happens". The kind of presentation those slides appear to convey is that of a marketing or "project progress" presentation (you're trying to impress someone with what you're doing basically). I just find it amazingly strange that a secret (frankly any) organization would create slides like that revealing in an almost backhanded (and conspiracy theorists wet dream) way how they obtain the data they're analyzing to random new employees consulting with them.

They're training slides for warm bodies with GEDs who are going to do the mindless grunt work of paring down the fire hose of information to things someone who has any idea what they are doing should look at later. Probably a safe assumption that this isn't the first iteration of this document, and that things like "You should use both!" and the names of actual service providers were added because there were issues with incomplete reporting prior. "Tell them they should use both" and "Dumb this down" seem like likely statements that might have been made about prior versions. Training documents should be aimed at the least competent trainee. For instance if you were preparing one for a sh*tty law school, you might include" Rape, there don't need to be bruises! Even though it's hard to believe anyone would be stupid enough to think otherwise.

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#73 Jun 18 2013 at 7:32 PM Rating: Default
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Smasharoo wrote:
They're training slides for warm bodies with GEDs who are going to do the mindless grunt work of paring down the fire hose of information to things someone who has any idea what they are doing should look at later.


Given that at least the slides we've seen so far don't contain any information at all about what to do *with* the information, but has an orgy of damning information about where it comes from, that seems somewhat absurd. The guys paring down the data don't need to know where it comes from, or how it was obtained. So why put that on a slide as part of their training?

Quote:
Probably a safe assumption that this isn't the first iteration of this document, and that things like "You should use both!" and the names of actual service providers were added because there were issues with incomplete reporting prior.


Incomplete reporting of what though? I mean, unless the sole purpose of the document is to maximize the number of people who know that you're secretly doing something you've kinda been trying not to reveal directly for over a decade, there's no reason to do this. While I wont absolutely rule out the possibility of complete incompetence on the part of the NSA at doing what is pretty much the only thing it does (this is government, after all), the whole thing just looks like a mock up of what someone would want to see if they were looking for "proof" of some wrongdoing. It's just way too pat. If you were asking me to come up with a document to ensure that anyone reading it couldn't fail to realize that it spelled out how the NSA was siphoning data about everyone, I'm still not sure I could come up with something this blatant (I'm not a graphical design guy after all). It's just "hit you over the head" obvious. It's like someone thought "Hey. Folks reading this might not get that this list of company names are places that store data about them, so lets make sure to plaster the logos on the pages too!".


Too obvious. Over the top obvious.
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#74 Jun 19 2013 at 7:37 AM Rating: Decent
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Too obvious. Over the top obvious.

I know, like Obama's birth certificate going to SCOTUS, Romney surging on election day, polls being oversampled, gay marriage being a drain on the economy, etc. All of that other over the top obvious stuff.

You've seen 0 government training presentations. I've seen approximately 20,000. Nothing about this indicates it's anything but what is claimed. Might turn out not to be, I can't authenticate this specific thing. If that turns out to be the case, let us be clear that you will not have "known it must be fake" or anything of the sort, just to try and head off any furthering of your completely @#%^ing broken reality engine. Your "gut instinct" has been documented as being worse than chance as a prediction tool, in your own posts. You should go back and read them sometime.
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#75 Jun 19 2013 at 9:49 AM Rating: Excellent
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gbaji wrote:
While I wont absolutely rule out the possibility of complete incompetence on the part of the NSA at doing what is pretty much the only thing it does (this is government, after all), the whole thing just looks like a mock up of what someone would want to see if they were looking for "proof" of some wrongdoing. It's just way too pat. If you were asking me to come up with a document to ensure that anyone reading it couldn't fail to realize that it spelled out how the NSA was siphoning data about everyone, I'm still not sure I could come up with something this blatant (I'm not a graphical design guy after all). It's just "hit you over the head" obvious. It's like someone thought "Hey. Folks reading this might not get that this list of company names are places that store data about them, so lets make sure to plaster the logos on the pages too!".

What about the other documents? Like this one. There's like a half dozen different documents he leaked or something? Finding links to these things hasn't been easy.

Edited, Jun 19th 2013 8:58am by someproteinguy
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#76 Jun 19 2013 at 10:20 AM Rating: Good
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Smasharoo wrote:
You've seen 0 government training presentations.
The closest he's gotten to any government presentations of any type was that he did TiVo that one debate.
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#77 Jun 19 2013 at 10:31 AM Rating: Good
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Power point, no matter if a government presentation or some other, is always a let down. It's all shiny bells and lilting whistles - but never any meaningful content.

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#78 Jun 19 2013 at 10:35 AM Rating: Good
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I think Gbaji is maybe mixing up the public and private sector. The public sector is where you would expect to see serious talent and caretaking in the protection of company secrets. I've worked on both sides of the fence, and the private sector is definitely better-funded at the "people" level who put together informational documents like this.

Whether this particular document is official or not I don't know - but there's definitely no correlation between "government" and "quality".
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