Congress will appreciate spending less for Cessnas

It’s the sort of thing that makes you want to hide in a cave with a tin foil hat: a new report reveals that the Justice Department is using airplanes to scan the cell phone data of suspected criminals, and anyone who might be standing near them.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the surveillance system works by strapping a two-foot-square device to Cessna planes operating out of at least five metropolitan airports around the country. As the planes fly overhead, they lock onto the cellphones of suspects and innocent people alike.

The devices, known colloquially as “dirtboxes,” work by imitating cell phone towers and tricking telephones into connecting to them, which in turns provides the location of the phone user. The devices are even capable of collecting call and data information from the phones, according to the Journal. This technique allows investigators to by-pass the slower process of working with phone carriers to collect information via their towers…

While the U.S. reportedly uses airplanes to capture cell phone signals on overseas battlefields, the use of this technique over American cities represents a further expansion of persistent surveillance tactics, such as PRISM or the NSA’s collection of data from phone carriers that was reported in 2013 by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The government appears to believe the aerial program surveillance is legitimate, according to the Journal, because, while bystanders’ phone data is ingested, investigators “let go” of phones not belonging to suspects. It’s unclear what exactly this means, or whether the program retains the data of innocent people.

Keep on rocking in the Free World!



  1. Tim says:

    Just out of curiosity, I wonder how those systems would react if phones had a ‘derping off mode’ whereby they broadcast a bunch of malformed packets when not in use otherwise — I’d *suspect* such a thing would be interpreted as suspicious unrecognized protocol and give it higher priority attempting to dick around with it…

    A little fungus in the ingested haystack, hmm??

  2. bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and Student of Real Politik says:

    Its a process of slow erosion. You start free and each step seems reasonable and justifiable………but you wake up a few years later in a Police State.

    HEY!!!! Speaking of Police State, I caught Russel Brand on Democracy Now this morning. Interesting side point regarding Ferguson and the 4.1 Billion in Military Gear that has been transferred to local Police Departments: it amounts to an end run of the Posse Comitatus limitation on the Federal Gubment…..just another advance of the slow erosion.

    I know most of you are sleeping peacefullly, but my context is…slowly waking up. Got to focus on the Big Picture, the trend, the asymptotic point being reached for. Much to much process oriented until….sometime recently.

    I think it is smart or even unavoidable in an increasingly dense populated world to give up some freedom for security………..the rub being…….its “obvious” we can’t trust our elected leaders.

    Makes a bitch of Democracy. I don’t like it….but what is a pragmatist to do?

    • Obama's revenge on America has begun says:

      I think your fears are unfounded, Obama never violates the constitution, he up holds all laws passed by congress.

      • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and Student of Real Politik says:

        Focus—that is my very fear.

        Just look.

        • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and Student of Real Politik says:

          Let me correct that for proper orientation: this is not my fear.

          It is my recognition…..available to all who will:

          Just Look.

    • MikeN says:

      So do you still support TSA, the use of XRay machines at airports, and expanding its presence to bus stops, trains, highways, and public venues like games and concerts?

      • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and Student of Real Politik says:

        Oh Mickey—that is rather disappointing. I don’t mind that we don’t “know” who each of us here is but that is way different than simply making shit up.

        I have been RESOLUTE from the beginning that the best response was simply to lock the cockpit door, perhaps arm the crew and accept the possibility of losing a 1 billion dollar building every 10 years.

        Yours pants are on the ground. Is it always BS with you?

        • MikeN says:

          Hmm, I remember it as saying that if you don’t like the TSA, then don’t fly a plane.

          • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and Student of Real Politik says:

            Good for you Mickey. I “almost” recall the detail of that discussion where I did say something like that.

            Not inconsistent at all with why “my” remedy would have been at the time standing separate from how to best deal with what our Gubment did instead.

            Two different issues.

            CONFLATION. Scurge of the hooman brain.

  3. Cap'n Kangaroo says:

    “the surveillance system works by strapping a two-foot-square device to Cessna planes operating out of at least five metropolitan airports around the country”

    I’m confident the marketing departments of Boeing, Lockheed, and Northrop will be creating presentations on how their drones could easily and cheaply cover 200 metropolitan areas instead of just 5.

  4. Phydeau says:

    Is anything not Obama’s fault in wingnut world???

    • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and Student of Real Politik says:

      The extent of erosion of civil liberties is DIRECTLY the result of Obama’s personal decisions.

      Bush is a Retard.

      ………..and it turns out that with 2-3 exceptions, Obama is to the Right of BushtheRetard.

      Thats what happens when the biggest determiner of Politics is……………………………………….$$$$$.

      Again………just look.

      • ± says:

                                        bobbo?

        • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and Student of Real Politik says:

          Yep. I have lost most of my hope for change with Obama. He’s too laid back, too political, too right wing, …………….not black at all.

          STILL===BETTER than Romney and every other Puke Alternative though. ………. and when I say better, I mean not as horribly bad.

          I weep for my country.

          Elizabeth Warren–will be too old after Hilary.

          Our Polictics: Damn, crap, shit, f*ck. “*” for the pron filter.

          VOTE ALL INCUMBENTS OUT OF OFFICE.

          • MikeN says:

            Yet you say better than Romney. How can you say vote Obama the Incumbent out but then not support voting for Romney?

            Liz Warren is about the same age as Hillary.

          • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and Student of Real Politik says:

            Mickey==you raise the salient issue: almost everyone running for office is an incumbent. One day even ± might recognize that. Like the voters, like hoomans. politicians are all more the same than they are different.

            I’ll say it for you: Yes, that is a bitch. But its the truth we must deal with to have any insight at all. A small minority.

            xxxxxxxxx

            Could be. New ideas/better ideas make her seem younger. Not as used up and crusty old whore of the system.

            Ha, ha. HOW TO CHOOSE between incumbents then? So many cross purposed pro’s and con’s there. Id say: Vote the most connected incumbent out of office.

            Its all worse than macro economics. Even makes me feel “stupid” in view of the opaqueness of gubment policy.

            Know what I mean?

          • dade0 says:

            Why not protest vote by writing in whatever? Vote for Spongebob or Bugs Bunny..or yourself. Even better – what if they held a sElection and no one came? Not voting is better than electing the lesser of two evils. D or R? what’s the difference? The letters are even similar – the R is just a D with bad legs. :p

          • ± says:

            to Dadeo:

            You need to vote. But it is totally OK to vote a write-in even tho you know that will lose. You now are innocent. If you don’t vote, you are part of the problem just as much as people who hire R/Ds.

  5. Freedom Lover says:

    This is just one more reason to SUPPORT THE SECOND AMENDMENT!

    Wait… WTF?!!! You ask?

    YES! Because if you don’t support the SECOND amendment (right to keep and bear arms) then you also don’t support any other amendment like the FOURTH (right to privacy and warrant-LESS searches)! In fact, you might as well not support the FIRST AMENDMENT too when you place LIMITS on any fucking one of them.

    Can I say that again? RIGHTS SHOULD HAVE NO FUCKING LIMITS!!! But violate someone ELSE’S right and harm them or kill them and there should be hell to pay — not a revolving door at your local neighborhood PRISON!

    Pay attention here too. Because NO ONE has a right to NOT be offended — that’s what “merica” is all about in case you forgot!

    Think it’s not happening? Think again!!! Just look at your TSA asking people for their papers and then looking them up on a state maintained list. Look at your local state colleges that have “free speech zones” and possibly even where those zones are. Hell! Look at your militarized police asking people for ID!!! And now, this crap?! When will we have enough of it? Because I see damn few people protesting.

    Here’s the thing. If you allow ANY part of the CONSTITUTION to be violated then you might as well wad the whole thing up and learn to start goose stepping. Hitler and Stalin would be PROUD!

    • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and Student of Real Politik says:

      Idiot. All rights are limited.

      Its Physics as we know it in this Universe: unlimited = occupying all space. Only “one” item/concept than do that.

      In reality for those over 8 years old: all rights are balanced off the other rights.

      Silly doorstop.

  6. charl says:

    I recall the good old days, when a bowl of soup was good enough for the day…..

    You Americans!!

  7. Captain Obvious says:

    Americans still have a 4th Amendment, right?

    • MikeN says:

      It has been misinterpreted for a long time. Used to be, cops would just seize your possessions and give them back to you. They couldn’t immediately look thru them just because they arrested you.

  8. dade0 says:

    In the govt’s mind we aren’t US citizens but adversaries.

    • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and Student of Real Politik says:

      Ha, ha………….I wish we (the votes) were that. Adversaries that is.

      Failing to recognize the truth………..never bodes well.

      VOTE THE MORE INTERCONNECTED INCUMBENT OUT OF OFFICE!!!!

      • dade0 says:

        VOTE THE MORE INTERCONNECTED INCUMBENT OUT OF OFFICE!!!!

        You aren’t serious, right? We the People barely bother voting, even fewer will do any research to decide if the one is more connected than the other. We vote by who’s prettier or Red/Blue -er or what some negative ad told us not to do.

        Why look? Same old BS, different millennium.

        Vote for me…It’ll do you good.

  9. bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and Student of Real Politik says:

    dade0 aiming at serious discourse but falling short says:
    11/15/2014 at 7:43 am

    Why not protest vote by writing in whatever? // The small residue remaining of wanting to ACTUALLY make change to the gubment thru the ballot box. Throwing a vote away on yourself, bugs bunny, or 99% of the third party candidates sends no message at all to the political class except that the voters are idiots.

    Vote for Spongebob or Bugs Bunny..or yourself. /// Oh! See Above.

    Even better – what if they held a sElection and no one came? // As you note yourself, that is happening now. Not a good strategy as that raises the power and influence of the single issue nut bag voter base. See the current Pukes for such a result.

    Not voting is better than electing the lesser of two evils. D or R? what’s the difference? /// No. Look up and apply the definition of “lesser of.” Third Party voters expose their own stupidity just as they cut their own throats. Stupid.

    The letters are even similar – the R is just a D with bad legs. :p /// First time I’ve read that. Nice blend of metaphor and reality. Makes me fear for O bama.

  10. bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and Student of Real Politik says:

    Voting all incumbents out of office makes sense. Its bi-partisan in its impact telling both parties and their financial backers that they are understood for what they are and their influence is being lessened while waiting for true revolutionaries to finally see their message and true action may be timely.

    When only 37% vote or even more but on a basically 50/50 basis with a gradual decline to the Dumbo Party==what “is” the will of the people? Certain issues are clear: background check for gun license for instance. Others.

    The rub of course is that it would take several cycles to have any impact. The Super Rich would still have their way funding their hendchmen every two years……..but with a few cycles, it would get very expensive AND more contentious.

    But voting. The basic weakness that our Fathers Knew: democracy doesn’t work…whether it is of the poor, or of the Rich.

    Hmmm…and that brings us back to the issue of a stupid voter class and opaque gubment.

    Very much deserved by a people who don’t believe in Science.

    Silly Hoomans.


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