From the Captain's Quarters:
The issue of Internet monitoring has some in the US uncomfortable about breaches of privacy. However, the terrorists use that as a decentralized communication method, and a willful refusal to investigate these communications is sheer folly, as this raid attests. Should the Canadians have eschewed their investigation — and waited until this group killed hundreds or thousands of people before knowing anything about them? The Internet is not a private network, as some could argue the phone systems provide. Communications are not point-to-point but broadcast, and the expectation of privacy in Internet communications should have disappeared long ago.
There are still people out there screaming about how invasive it is to have the NSA or any Nation's version of the NSA spy on its own citizens. First off, I suppose I would ask you how long you feel like living.
Here in the US, there is no right to privacy. It is not enumerated in the Bill of Rights. Anyone who claims that there is a right to privacy clearly has not read the Bill of Rights, or has not read it closely enough.
Secondly, how do you build a case to monitor someone's telecommunications or electronic signals (Signal Intelligence, or SIG-INT) when you can change your email address, your phone number, your IP, and your screen name more often than some people shower?
In an era of disposable "pre-paid" cell phones you can have any number of phone numbers at your fingertips. You can use Internet Cafe's or Wi-Fi hotspots to access the internet. You can change your screen name at your whimsy. You can use as many; Hotmail, Gmail, or Yahoo mail addresses as you can remember passwords for. There are programs that can change your IP to appear to be from somewhere else.
As white hat, how do you track down the communications? How do you track that Jihad Joe is sending mail from Gmail, and getting replies back from who he emailed from Hotmail to a Hotmail account?
There are enough "convenience" resources out there where Jihad Joe could never be caught, even under a very loose set of rules for "terror surveillance”.
I would bet we are only catching the sloppy terrorists, the ones who are still using landlines as their main communication medium, or the ones who are using the same email provider and address on a regular basis.
The terrorists that scare me are the ones who never use the same email address for more than a day or two, or never use a phone for more than one or two conversations, and that may evade capture.
No matter how good our "spooks" are, they are on defense. As long as we are on defense you can't afford to ever be wrong or to ever miss something. They miss something, and we end up with 9/11.
Our men and women at the NSA have a seemingly impossible task. The SIG-INT they have to muddle through in order to catch the real perps must be mind-boggling.
Give our men and women a break and let them do their job. Believe me, they have bigger fish to fry, and more important things to worry about than whether or not you like anchovies on your pizza.