For warrantless wiretap proponents, a question: is the government psychic? (See below)?

psychic government

You claim that the government isn't listening to conversations that aren't about terrorism.

How does the government know, before it listens in on your phone call, what the call is going to be about? Crystal ball? Tarot cards? Dionne Warwick?
dez: And how do they hear those key words and phrases if they aren't listening?
coragryph: Exactly my point. People who claim that the government somehow only listens to conversations where terrorist acts are being contemplated or discussed are delusional. They know these conversations are taking place to begin with because, as Bush admitted, they are RANDOMLY spying on American citizens without a warrant.


  1. jeremiah

    The government isn’t psychic. But they are wiretapping (spying on) individuals. Bush even admitted to abusing the power.

    Wasn’t spying the cause for the Nixon scandal???

  2. rich e rich

    You know, I’ve actually thought of that too. Why in the hell hasn’t the news media picked up on that obvious bit of insight? idk
    oops, we both just made the terror watch-list, see ya there!

  3. plezurgui

    You seem to think on the same level as most conspiracy theorists. There are 300,000,000 of us and how many people listening?
    Good lord, if some government agent wants to listen to my phone, I will gladly give him the permission and the number. Read my email? Give me his email address and I will CC him on ALL my email.
    How many phone conversations could be listened to? It would take another 300 million agents to listen to the first 300 million, so I suppose 1/2 is listening to the other 1/2. Didn’t your school teach you simple arithmetic?

  4. coragryph

    According to the text of the laws (specifically, Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control Act which governs all wiretapping) — the govt originally had a “duty to minimize” during any wiretapping.

    That meant, as soon as the govt determined that a conversation was not about criminal activity, they had to stop listening.

    Recently, that concept has been largely discarded — because the govt can now convict people based purely on allegations that they are speaking in some sort of code — meaning that conversations about purely social activities can be considered evidence of criminal conspiracy.

    So, while the duty to minimize is still on the books, it is largely ignored in the terrorism context — meaning that there are few (if any) practical limits on how much the govt can monitor — even without a warrant.

    EDIT: As for keywords and phrases, most taps are initially monitored by automated systems which can do voice recognition for certain keywords and phrases — actual content is only reviewed after the fact.

    But given that data storage is cheap, it’s possible to record many more times the amount that actually gets listened to immediately — based on the fact that it can be used later.

  5. darren m

    no. though NSA and other agencies did monitor communications overseas have for a long time. Spy satellites as well tracking satellites though people not connected to the government can spy with a computer snooping device and companies can call people up and bother them by trying to sell them something. There are Hackers a person reads about or hears about from time to time and people hacking into phones though not sure how this managed unless computerised or bugged.It is accepted that phones might be bugged soon it will be accepted that computers are bugged in movies and the NSA will continue to say things like ”we only spy on people we do not kill them or send assassins after them”. Maybe but National Security implies someone might be killed at somepoint and sometimes not always for National Security purposes. Like people who do not follow the political line of the time or do not like it when the facts are molded to an agenda purely political.

  6. sagacious_ness

    Good question! I can understand how scanning emails would be easier since it’s not necessarily real time, but scanning for ‘hot button words’ off a server. Since verbal communication is real time, I can only guess that voice recognition software is used real time or that recordings are made then scanned. Maybe these will help:
    — Here’s an article about ECHELON, a global system:

    And a more recent article about the Digital Collection System Network (DCSNet), being used by the FBI. Yes, FBI as in domestic program:
    — Point, Click … Eavesdrop: How the FBI Wiretap Net Operates

  7. wondermom

    Well of course~~ After all Republicans believe in less government and in less government involvement.
    Using the Crystal ball and tarot card or even Dionne Warwick means smaller government. If people were actually listening in on the phone lines then that would mean Bigger government and more government involvement then ever before.

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