Reddit Reddit reviews The Shadow Factory: The NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America

We found 16 Reddit comments about The Shadow Factory: The NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America. Here are the top ones, ranked by their Reddit score.

American History
United States History
The Shadow Factory: The NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America
Anchor Books
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16 Reddit comments about The Shadow Factory: The NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America:

u/markth_wi · 208 pointsr/TrueReddit

Ok. So here are some examples, mostly whenever we would do this kind of stuff it's no more intrusive than a SCMODS type scan.

  • Largely random large cash transactions. Most citizens will never see more than a few thousand dollars at a clip as a salary payment per month structure. Anything more than that, particularly if you are "out of profile" (say a 50-60k employee who suddenly receives just under 9,999 dollars). In DEA parlance this could be "smurfing"

  • Demographic profiles - this is that set of citizens, non-citizens who fit a "desirable" set of characteristics - they earn a certain amount of money, have a particular job skill set , and who travel anywhere - particularly to "threat regions", Eastern Europe, SE Asia, Central Asia, and certain parts of South America. We would see a lot of these kinds of requests, and they would oftentimes have interesting follow up requests.

    Among the more depressing and disturbing tasks

  • Demographic & Affiliation profiles - these were "friends and family" kind of requests, where rather rapidly you could get all sorts of information about dozens of people that would be totally pieces of data but put together , you see that Mohammad Tariq (for example) has a son Aziz 18, who goes to Rutgers and is studying chemical engineering. If Dad travels and especially if Aziz travels with him, multiple times, anywhere, it's a problem.

  • Political affiliation - Similar to this and FAR more directly bad, were political affiliation reports, particularly during the Bush Administration I saw a lot of these. Where they were looking to profile or identify potential trouble-makers. I remember this particularly, only because I remember a few of my professors from college showing up on a list (both had been environmental activists back in the 1960's), and were near retirement, but they showed up on a list of persons of interest. these guys were being monitored - periodically we'd get that same list and dump any new information and send it along.

    A simple example

    So you have these "collections" of people, and now you look for events, in their lives. Good examples of events are sudden - high-cost medical expenses, a sudden change in spending habits around a subject area or area of interest, a loss or gain in employers who were "out of the curve" of probable employers. i.e.; If Aziz (our baby chemical engineer), suddenly finds himself an entrepreneur with a 200k salary, practically begs someone at FBI to want to press a button - "would you like to know more?", and we'd provide it.

    A more specific example

    Along these lines - and easily the most creepy - "Special requests" - usually foreign names - racial profiling aside, shortly after 9/11 we received short list query names - a list with say a dozen names on it - go fetch. What was fucked up about this - was at least a few times, we'd actually find a bunch of these names all "on a cruise together" or all randomly "visiting" Chicago, or something similar.

    This was the "working end of things", So by way of example, a bunch of guys showed up on a cruise - before we had even finished wrapping up one night, they started sending short lists of other names around a small group of Muslim surnames. Each time the list would get more specific, until suddenly a flurry of intense phone-calls later , we have a major cruise line suddenly reporting that a case of "food poisoning" has struck the "SS Splashfest" and the ship (at sea for the last 2 days), finds itself "unexpectedly" back at Miami or New Orleans and has to unfortunately disembark all the passengers - less a few middle-eastern looking dudes. Oh - and here's a welcome home - 1500-4000$ cruise voucher for everyone else.

    Who does this kind of stuff

    Mostly these profiles were sold to / given to law enforcement, you would also see sales to non-governmental agencies, usually firms in New York with sketchy names, for foreigners this can absolutely mean that a home government has taken an interest in their hapless ex-pat.

    Beyond that , the GOP has a hard-on for this kind of stuff, and they use it openly, against perceived , imagined and real political adversaries, I'm not saying the Democratic party doesn't use these tools, but in doing this for several years, I never saw a recognizable "conservative" name come up on our scans. I am sure I'd seen notable "liberal" names a few time. In that way - this apparatus has a heavy bias in the conservative bend..

    And this was where I think I had my professional departure from this process, Not at all long after 9/11 the processes swung around from catching real "persons of interest" like those festive sketchy "cruisers" , and paying far more attention to the math professors, and students.

    Being online, in that respects means you are being watched generating a happy if disjointed trail - almost always useless. So for example, because this conversation is publicly available, even though you and I may be using trivially anonymous names - about the only two people who don't know our real names are yourself and myself - and most everyone else on Reddit.

    But even the admins would have our IP information, and cross reference that with our cable bills (if it's an available data point, and presto - a high probability that "you" are one of 4-5 people identified in a typical "household").

    When you tie this information in with demographic information from websites, the traffic available from Comcast, and Verizon could give you a disturbingly complete picture of what was going on in someone's daily activity. Couple that with your bank, American Express or Visa and other spending pattern information, and you are "known" in practically the biblical sense.

    Pretty much I'd say the vast majority of this was what we called executive masturbation material, even when they were busing stroking themselves over the e-lint pulled on Kim Kardashian , some short list of brunette ballerinas in Cincinnati or some such, or getting in someone's life, performing a "turn your head and cough", in electronic form.

    So my "first" problem was that , in most respects, this function exists, to large extent to provide someone with executive access, an ability to perv on people with a disturbing level of anonymity and zero accountability.

    The clearest example I remember from this was, the "ballerina incident" was what we called it , when someone actually kept querying detail information and all we could determine is that the women involved (never men) were all ballerina's in some dance school near Cincinnati, after the 3rd or 4th request, we asked for some reason this was being given a priority in the queue. We never received another high level request, although low level requests did come in from time to time.

    If you want to know what really got the attention of these guys - It was when we got a short list (always a bad sign), again similar to our sketchy "cruisers", only this time , instead of a "oh everyone's in Philadelphia" at the convention center or the ball-game.

    It was everyone on this list has stopped doing a lot of their normal set of activities or worse - has "gone dark" completely - any time someone with a substantial trivial history or sudden influx of cash goes off the grid it gives these guys serious pause.

    Where you ask can do you get in on the action, well, aside from the fact that right now - you are the action - in it's most benign form I recommend some relevant links.

  • Ian Ayres` "Supercrunchers"

  • James Bamfords excellent "The Shadow Factory

  • Among many reasons, here's why technology presents a compromise of our security and it's a problem.

  • Acxiom Corporation - has become the big fish in the market space.

  • But there are little fish everywhere

    ** edit(1) minor typos
u/shade404 · 62 pointsr/news

So what? Infosec is a hard problem, when you're operating at government scale and trying to break good crypto fast then you're going to pay through the nose. If you want to get upset about government waste on tech spending, start with -- 900k is inconsequential.

I don't think Apple should in any way be beholden to turn over the keys to the kingdom to the 3-letter agencies... but I absolutely believe that if the FBI comes into possession of crypto that belonged to a mass murderer, they are 100% doing their jobs by trying to break that crypto with any tools available.

Even if 900k is accurate, it's got to be drops in the bucket as far as what the entire investigation, cleanup and aftermath cost.

edit: also, as always, fuck Diane Feinstein and everything she says or does.

u/kleinbl00 · 24 pointsr/politics

There is no crisis in the middle east. There is territoriality of the kind seen since the Babylonians, and there is extremism practiced primarily by disaffected European muslims against the rest of the West.


The way to solve the perceived crisis in the middle east is to eliminate foreign involvement in the middle east so that what are primarily local struggles can continue to be local struggles. This can be achieved by energy independence from OPEC. Which, since Saudi Arabia likely hit peak oil in 2004 or so, is an eventuality anyway.


To deal with the extremists that come to our borders, the best approach would be to ensure young, educated Muslims in Europe a place at the table and a sense of belonging within their communities so that they do not feel disenfranchised from their countrymen and do not align themselves with internet extremism.


As to religious extremism of all stripes, be it Islamic, Christian or Jewish, the solution is always to integrate, to respect, and to divorce political and economic enterprises from religious enterprises. One thing few people remember is that Osama Bin Laden became a radical when the US opened bases in Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Shield (his quote at the time was "once we let the infidel in, he will never leave). One thing even fewer people remember is that after September 11, we pulled our aircraft out of Saudi Arabia and there have been no Bin Laden-endorsed attacks against the US since.


Yes, you have to fucking read. But you know what? The Internet can't solve everything.

u/CoyoteLightning · 21 pointsr/politics

there is truth in this statement, but at the same time, there are many out there who are also doing unbelievable, excellent work right now.

For example, these people are serious ass-kickers: Matt Taibi, Jane Mayer, Glenn Greenwald, Amy Goodman, Thomas Ricks, Nicholas Kristof, Steve Coll, Seymor Hersh, Jeremy Scahill, Dana Priest, James Bamford, Thomas Frank, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Naomi Klein, Robert Sheer, Stephen Kinzer, Nir Rosen, Robert Fisk, Chris Hedges, Charles Bowden...the list goes on and on.

I think a serious case could be made that the U.S. has many of the best journalists in practice today. This is a very impressive list, as far as I'm concerned and shows that there is in fact a hell of a lot of great work being done by U.S. journalists. This is not to say that they get a fair hearing from the corporate media, however...

u/smkelly · 21 pointsr/technology

This is a really good book. I highly recommend everybody read it. Get it from Amazon here.

u/Theappunderground · 20 pointsr/AskReddit

Weve def known about it since the 70s most people just ignore it.

Heres a book that came out in 09 that describes prism is greater detail than anyone since. He doesnt call it prism in the book because that was its actual top secret name at that time, but he tells you EXACTLY how it works and what they can do with it.

The govt has released transcripts of the 9/11 terrorists phone calls that they retreived AFTER 9/11. So that basically proves they were capable of recording at least the majority of calls leaving the US in 2001.

u/underthehall · 8 pointsr/GoldandBlack

There's an excellent book on this and NSA wiretapping that I highly recommend - [The Shadow Factory: The NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America] (

It's an older book - it's still a fascinating read and still very relevant.

u/caferrell · 4 pointsr/EndlessWar

The NSA had intercepted plenty of intelligence that could have been used to stop 911. The problem was not that the NSA lacked data. The problem was that the NSA had so much data that they couldn't process it. It was therefore worthless. Read "The Shadow Factory" by James Bamford for a mountain of information about how too-much-data and too much secrecy kept the NSA from seeing the 911 hijackers during their months long stay in the USA

So, the man without a pulse is lying. What a shocker, huh?

u/TheJohnnyWombat · 3 pointsr/technology

I read the book Shadow Factory because someone in some thread like this recommended it. It's scary.

u/hb_alien · 3 pointsr/conspiracy

For any of you book readin' types, The Shadow Factory is a pretty good book about the NSA since 9/11.

u/itsfineitsgreat · 1 pointr/news

The first problem you're going to run into is that no one (with good reason) wants to tell you what "works" because as soon as that becomes public knowledge, people will craft means and methods against it. There's absolutely no value to disclosing what works aside from for public relations. So understand that.

Books like this and this are great for grasping a bit of knowledge and getting a storyline, but don't share much about the nitty gritty. I've read them both, and though I have no experience in operations in the 40s-70s, I do with what Bamford speaks of and there's quite a bit of fearmongering there. Either way, it's helpful to find the perspective of what's trying to be done. These aren't people trying to trample your friends, it's people trying to find a balance between freedom and security.

A book like this is basically just a nice story. It's a few biopics in one and the writer clearly likes the people he's writing about, so he's extremely pretty sympathetic to them. Still good for motivations and perspective, though.

These two are extremely useful because they get into that nitty-gritty that I spoke of earlier.

But as I said, it basically comes down to the balance between freedom and security. If you- like a crazy amount of redditors and young people seem to be- are way way way more interested than freedom than you are security, you're never going to like what people in the IC do. And that's your preoperative, but it seems that many people that of that cloth usually live within a secure environment and just don't really worry about. It's easy to not give a shit about heavy jackets when you live in West Maui. Moreover, the craze that I've seen in reddit is just...amazing? So many people with so little experience of education in these things that insist they know
just so much. These same people will flip shit if you wander into their area of expertise acting like you know what's up when you clearly don't but...if someone's talking about CIA/NSA/FBI/etc or even just international politics in general? Suddenly they're the expert. It's weird.

This is why I chuckle when people think the redacted portions of the 9/11 Commission Report somehow point to an inside job, letting it happen, or a vast Saudi conspiracy. The redacted portions were redacted because of classification, and things are classified to protect means and methods, 99% of the time. Sometimes technology is classified, but it's rare and I don't know much about that anyway.

u/[deleted] · 1 pointr/pics

Somehow I have a hard time believing our intelligence agency is that competent.

Watch The Spy Factory it documents how the NSA basically had the essential pieces of the puzzle regarding 9-11 but failed to act on it.

This episode of NOVA is based on the book: The Shadow Factory. Although the book is mostly about the NSA, it also shows how the CIA and FBI also dropped the ball on 9-11.

u/alachua · 1 pointr/politics

I can recommend James Bamford's The Shadow Factory.

Great book.

That is I recommend it if you actually want to know about SIGINT and the NSA.

If you just like to post endless platitudes about how Orwell predicted "todays" America and what not, forget about it...

u/mmm_burrito · 0 pointsr/books

Elements of Murder: A History of Poison

Ignore the pulpy cover, there's a lot of depth here.


The Shadow Factory

The Ayatollah Begs to Differ

Just started that last one. Seems ok so far, but the Amazon reviews are promising.

u/3058248 · -15 pointsr/news

>So what? Infosec is a hard problem, when you're operating at government scale and trying to break good crypto fast then you're going to pay through the nose. If you want to get upset about government waste on tech spending, start with -- 900k is inconsequential.


>edit: also, as always, fuck Diane Feinstein and everything she says or does.