Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Need for Intelligence Databases

Cookie over to The Cook Shack sent me a flash media cartoon that is extremely funny and well done. Judging from the editorial artist's other cartoons, Walt Handelsman is a clever liberal commentator but at least he does take shots at both parties. My take on it is that this cartoon, though amusing, is more informative as a view into the liberal mindset.

Liberals may think that the folks over to the National Security Agency (NSA) eavesdrop (that's what it is called) on every conversation that takes place via electronic media. This is patently ridiculous.

And impossible. There are literally millions and millions of phone calls placed everyday within the United States and to overseas destinations. The NSA would need to employ virtually every American citizen (and outsource to quite a few Indian companies) to accomplish this.

What NSA does is collect phone records from various providers (Verizon, AT&T, etc) that show the date and time and where a call was placed, not the content of the conversation. I have examined records like this. They consist of columns of numbers from a phone number listing. It does not indicate who made the call or who answered it (it can't under current technology available to commercial interests).

What this information does is provide an opportunity for data mining, for information specialists to obtain data derivatives from millions and millions of telephone calls to see if there are patterns, networks involving possible terrorists. A phone may eventually be identified as belonging to a terrorist, therefore all historical records pertaining to the use of that phone number are important.

And this is why terrorist operatives will buy thousands of cheap cellphones at Walmart's and other discount stores all over the country and throw away the batteries and chargers. You see, they only need a few. One or two batteries and a single charger will provide a terrorist the means to make literally hundreds of calls without a chance that the records of calls made from these phones can be used against him. Just keep a few batteries that can be used in multiple phones (they're all the same phones) and a charger. Cell phones calling other cell phones once, twice maybe even three times and then being thrown away will be of little use in terrorist call analysis.

There are other indications also, but I'll not go into them.

In order to show that tracking telephone usage in the US is a monumental task, let me present the following statistics from the FCC's November 7, 2005, STATISTICS OF COMMUNICATIONS COMMON CARRIERS.

In 2004 there were 55 local exchange carriers that handled 381,069,716 local calls (page 137). These calls were transacted over 131,575,428 billable access lines (page 104). The usage of these access lines in transacting local calls has decreased by 31% from a high of 553,853,237 in 1999 (page 137).

In contrast, there has been a 435% increase in the number of mobile wireless subscribers in the same period (page 142). In 1995 there were 33,786,000 subscribers; by 2004 there were 182,140,000.

I wonder how many of these subscribers are terrorists?

No comments: