Monday, June 19, 2006


Data Mining: Useless For Nabbing Terrorists, Excellent For Creating A Stalinist Police State

From the WP, via TPM Muckraker: Data Mining Still Needs a Clue to Be Effective

Details of the NSA's activities remain unclear, but data mining experts say they are puzzled about how the information might be used. . . . [T]o discern suspicious call patterns from lists of dialed numbers, they will have to dig past the raw data into callers' identities, and, in the vast majority of cases, will find they have simply tapped into networks of law-abiding people involved in daily routines. This approach, several experts said, raises privacy questions even as it wastes time.
Which is what anyone who knows anything about data mining has been saying all along. Not only is it ineffective, it wastes time and money that are better spent on other things, such as nurturing CIA overseas operative networks like the one that Valerie Plame was running in Iraq when Cheney and Rove burned her cover.* But that's not stopping the "get government out of our lives" Republicans from insisting that it be done. So odd: They want government out of their lives when it comes to helping poor people, but then they welcome it when it sniffs through their underwear drawers on alleged "terrorist searches" that don't catch terrorists but do gather up gobs of info which can be used to harrass political enemies. *Remember, it was Plame's network that was tasked with determining if Saddam still had any usable weapons of mass destruction from the huge cache given him by Rumsfeld and Cheney back during the Reagan Administration. These WMDs were the pretext Bush and Cheney gave for invading Iraq in the first place. Plame's people on the ground reported, truthfully, that everything was either used up during the Iran-Iraq War (in which we backed Saddam) or is now "harmless goo" (most chemical weapons have a shelf life of five years or less, and the stuff Reagan gave Saddam is now twenty years old; UPDATE: Sky-Ho points out in the comments thread that while the goo is no longer suitable for use as a weapon, it's still noxious stuff, especially when it's not disposed of properly). By outing Plame, the Bush Administration showed that it really didn't give a rat's ass about whether or not Saddam had usable WMD.

"harmless goo"

Not necessarily. We dumped thousands of tons of chemical weapons as late as the '70s in locations off the coasts (some locations, unknown) and these chemicals are burning the skin as well as causing repiratory problems for sea animals. No telling what other damage that "goo" is responsible for.

It is only harmless in that it cannot be used for the purpose for which it was made.

That would be like saying the chemicals causing the problems at Love Canal are "harmless goo".
So odd: They want government out of their lives when it comes to helping poor people

Or guns. The 2nd Amendment appears to be the only part of the Bill Of Rights that Republicans respect.

As for the datamining, it does sound like another one of those evil-masquerading-as-incompetence scenarios that the Republicans have patented...
How about "unweaponizable goo"? When it comes to toxic-but-not-WMD glop, I'm pretty sure we would be the world leader, or at least way way up there.
If we're going after world leaders based on producing Weapons of Mass Pollution, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue ought to be added to the Axis of Evil.

But Sky-ho is right. It's only "harmless" relative to military weapons, not relative to chemicals in general
I'm still interested to know why it is OK for the Telemarketing agencies to data mine telephone records and yet it is not ok for the government to do so.
1) Who said data mining was OK, Fist? The folks at the Electronic Frontier Foundation sure don't think so.

2) Telemarketers have much tighter restrictions on their activities than does the NSA.

3) What was this about Republicans wanting to keep government out of our lives again? They sure like to take control of every aspect of our lives, right down to what goes on in our bedrooms -- but when it comes to helping us out when we're poor and/or sick and we're not major campaign donors, they can't be found.

4) Oh, and did I mention that it's useless as an anti-terror tool?
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