Showing posts with label Boston Marathon bombers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Boston Marathon bombers. Show all posts

Sunday, June 16, 2013

What do we know about NSA snooping?

Well, listening to the TV we don't know much.  Here is what they could do, especially after spending $1 billion on a fancy data center in Utah.
  They can capture and save the billing records of every phone call on the planet.  They call it "metadata", but it's the stuff of your phone bill, what numbers you called, how long you talked.  This allows the feds or other snoopers to go into the system with your phone number and learn all the other phone numbers you have called, going back a long time.  They claim it's just phone numbers, but that doesn't matter.  Put your own phone number into Google and Google will return your name and address.  You might have to pay a little money, but heh, the Feds have lots of money.   If the Feds have a phone number, they can get the name without much trouble.   I believe they used the system on the Boston bombers.  It fingered an old associate of Tamerlan Tsarnaev.  The FBI interviewed the associate and shot him dead during the interview.  The FBI claimed self defense, the associate pulled a knife on them, they say.
    Speaking of the Boston Bombers, the FBI had a solid tip from the Russians that the older brother was a terrorist.  FBI claims to have interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev, but they didn't bother to pass the tip on to the local police, who usually have better local connections than Washington based FBI guys.  Nor did they bother to put Tamerlan on a no-fly list, and they let him fly to Russia and back, and hobnob with Chechen terrorists without tipping off the Russians.
   The Feds can read all your email, see what websites you visit, how often and how long, and see all your Facebook, Myspace and where ever postings.  If you post anything on suspicious websites, that makes you suspicious too.   
  I don't think they can tap (listen to conversations) on every phone on the planet, yet.
  NSA must have direct electronic connections into the phone system computers, as well as all the internet backbone companies.  I heard the back bone companies on TV deny this, but I don't believe them. 
   This "FISA" court which is supposed to be "overseeing" NSA, approved all but 10 of 1824 snooping requests. That isn't a court, that's a rubber stamp.
  I don't know where I stand on the NSA thing.  One on hand, being able to drop Osama bin Laden's phone number into the system and see every one he phoned is clearly useful.  On the other hand,  dropping the phone numbers of  anyone the administration dislikes, or conservative bloggers like me, into the system is scary.  Plus Osama Bin Ladin gave up using phones after the ever patriotic New York Times revealed that NSA was tapping his satellite phone.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

FBI failed to notify Boston Police says Fox

That wouldn't have done much good.  The Tsarnaev's lived in CAMBRIDGE, not Boston.  FBI could have done some good if they had notified the Cambridge Police that the Russians thought Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a terrorist.  Notifying the Boston police wouldn't have done any good, Boston police have no jurisdiction in Cambridge.  Perhaps the FBI understands the difference between Boston and Cambridge,  Fox news surely doesn't.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Do I believe in "self radicalization"?

On TV, Obama described the Boston bombers as "self radicalized".  I suppose Obama means that the Tsarnaev brothers converted from reasonable people into terrorists merely by visiting websites.  Somehow I don't believe that.  I think some person established a relationship with the brothers and sold them the Islamist terrorist ideology.  We ought to be looking for that person. 
  If there are Islamist web sites so compelling as to "self radicalize" individuals we need to study their technique.  It could be dynamite for selling cars, or nearly anything else.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Technical assistance or radicalization?

TV news keeps talking about technical assistance in bomb making for the Boston bombers.  Interesting and all, but to my way of thinking, not all that important.
Important, is how the brothers converted from reasonably successful immigrants into terrorist bombers.  Did someone preach Jihad to them?  Is it possible for just internet websites to turn reasonable people into bombers?  Without a live person to spread the message?  Are the brothers more pliable than anyone I know?
   Anyhow, I'm more interested in motivation, what turned the brothers into bombers, than I am in how they built the bombs.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

And we caught the other one, alive

It was 10 PM last night by the time the TV declared Jokhar Tsarnaev "in custody".  Even  here,130 miles north of Boston, the relief was obvious.  Must have been enormously greater in Watertown.  The TV showed people dancing in the streets, waving American flags, and singing the national anthem. 
   Since he was taken alive, we will be able to ask him a few questions.  The number one question is how, after living in this country for ten years, getting a top flight education, having friends, winning awards, could he turn on us to maim and murder innocent strangers with bombs.  This act is abominable by anyone's standards.  Doing it after ten years living among us in Cambridge makes it treacherous as well as horrible.
   Was it Islamist propaganda?  mental illness? some affront offered him or his family?  Influence of some Svengali like religious figure?  Just asking him to tell us why ought to be instructive.
   Did anyone ever teach the brothers that murdering innocent strangers is horrible?  Where does their family stand on murder?  Do Cambridge schools teach ethics?   I haven't heard any Muslim clerics condemning the bombings yet.  Did the brothers attend a mosque?  If so,  what is taught there?
    There are plenty of clerics and websites preaching hate and violence.  Freedom of speech means we cannot censor them. But we could identify them, make them known as bad websites and bad people,  have the IRS audit them,  have the police tail their cars and ticket them, put them on no fly lists, get really difficult about visas and passports,  check their immigration status,  get difficult about credit ratings and credit cards.
   The FBI needs to let us know why they fingered the brothers.  Although the brother's drastic resistance to arrest makes them look all kinds of guilty, we need to know that there was good reason to pursue them in the first place.  Does FBI have photos of them carrying suspicious packages?  Leaving black back packs at the explosion sites?  Stashing pressure cookers in public trash cans?  If so, let's see them. It is important to convince everyone, at home and abroad, that we got the right guys.  The court that counts is the court of public opinion.
   I wonder how so many of the Tsarnaev family immigrated from Chechnya.  There is mother, father, and three children in Cambridge, an uncle and cousins in Maryland, an aunt in Toronto.  That's a lot of family members to get out of Russia, across the Atlantic, and into the US and Canada.  Where did the money come from?  Did they all get green cards? 
   At least we made it plain that if you mess with Americans we will get you.  We never give up.  Took us ten years to get Bin Ladin, but we got him.  We got the Tsarnaev brothers inside of a week.  Not a bad statement to make to the world.

Friday, April 19, 2013

One down, one yet to catch

TV news has been solid with Boston Marathon bombers.  Something broke loose last night, Suspects #1 and # 2 decided to knock over a Cambridge 7-11.  This put the cops onto them.  A car chase ended in Watertown and a shootout with police.  The older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, died of gunshot wounds and/or bomb explosions.  The younger brother, Johar Tsarnaev, escaped somehow and is still at large.  The cops are turning Boston upside down looking for him.  They have turned off the MBTA, Amtrak, and put roadblocks up everywhere.  Everything is closed.  Nobody is going to work.
   The TV has been interviewing neighbors and classmates.  The younger brother graduated from Cambridge Rindge and Latin school (top ranked Cambridge public high school)  Classmates have expressed shock and surprise to learn of his involvement.  They all recall Johar Tsarnaev as well liked, lot of friends, honor student, athlete of the year, in short, a successful high school career. 
   Neighbors describe the Tsarnaev family as Muslim, from Chechnya in Russia, but they have been living in the US for 6, maybe 10 years, a long time to carry an old world grudge against anyone or anything. 
    I lived in Cambridge for a long time, and I know most of the places making it into this story.  WMUR Channel 9's TV crew is set up in front of Webster Auto Body on Webster Ave Cambridge.  I bought a used car radio from them many years ago.  They dropped a hostage off at a gas station on Memorial drive.  I commuted on Mem Drive for years, there are two gas stations, a Shell by the BU bridge and another one under a new high rise down close to Western Ave.  I have bought gas at both of them over the years.  Wounded were taken to Mt Auburn hospital which I know fairly well.  Strange to hear these familiar places coming out in the dramatic news coverage.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Anger Management

We had a Fox News anchor interviewing a shrink about the Boston Marathon bombing.  The shrink and the anchor agreed that there is a good deal of anger in Boston, and presumably in the rest of the country.  Yeah, they got that right.  Then the anchor seemed to draw back and worried that such anger might get out of hand and lead to something bad.
   I don't worry about that.  A good old fashioned lynching might be just the right thing for that scum.  We could do it right in front of Fanuel Hall.  On live TV.