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Hepting Highlights Video Podcast

Yesterday I provided a link to the audio recording of the Hepting v. AT&T hearing held on August 15, 2007. That recording is almost two hours long, however, and many people may not be able to listen to the entire thing. Nonetheless, I wanted to make something available to give people the sense of what happened in the hearing, because the decision the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals makes about whether the Hepting v. AT&T class action lawsuit is able to go forward has the potential to alter the course of American history.

One of the issues at stake is whether the President and his lawyers have the right to stop any judicial inquiry into Executive Branch activities through an unsubstantiated claim that there is a need to protect state secrets for the sake of national security. Also at stake is the subject of the Hepting v. AT&T lawsuit itself – whether the government has the right to engage in a widespread seizure of the private electronic communciations of Americans, and then search those communications or use them otherwise as it sees fit.

hepting at&t highlights audio video total information awareness

This video features audio highlights I have selected from the Hepting v. AT&T hearing, enough to suggest to an intelligent listener why the case is so important. Please, listen, and if you want to hear more, go to the complete audio recording yourself, and decide whether you’re ready to take action.

Note: Although C-Span promised to televise the Hepting v. AT&T hearing on August 15th, and applied for the permits necessary to do so, the video of the hearing is nowhere to be found on C-Span. Before the Protect America Act was passed, the plan to televise the hearing was in place. Then, after the Protect America Act was passed, the plan went nowhere, in spite of the fact that the hearing was full of drama that any intelligent viewer would captivated by. Why did the Hepting video never come about?

5 thoughts on “Hepting Highlights Video Podcast”

  1. Tom says:

    Why does this type of video always bring to mind old Soviet era Communist propaganda adverts?

  2. J. Clifford says:

    I think it’s the blatant discrepancy between what the government claims to be true and the truth that is actually staring us in the face.

  3. Iroquois says:

    Nice choice of cuts.

    NPR had a “science Friday” special today about wiretapping. In the old days, in order to listen in on somebody they had to put up an antenna. They owned the antenna and could do whatever they wanted with it. Now communications works by optic fiber so they need a physical connection, that is to split the signal, then condition it electronically somehow before they can use it.
    some other interesting points:
    ~the recent ‘protect America’ FISA legislation did not indemnify communication companies, so ATT can still be sued for not protecting your privacy as they are supposed to do.
    ~a recent case in Greece, the government surveillance security system actually led to security being compromised. They know exactly whose official conversations were tapped and what information was taken, but they still don’t know who did it. This may be the greatest technical question the Congress needs to ask, that is what other uses can be made from this tapping and whether it can lead to serious security breaches.

  4. J. Clifford says:

    “so ATT can still be sued for not protecting your privacy as they are supposed to do.”

    – Actually, in this week’s hearing of Hepting v. AT&T, the lawyers for both the government and AT&T argued that the government will have the ability to shut such lawsuits down through the claim – without any proof necessary – that there are state secrets involved somehow.

    Your mention of official conversations being tapped is important.

    Is this a technology that the White House can use to spy on members of Congress? Or the offices of the opposition political party?

    That would make the Watergate break in look like the little leagues.

  5. Iroquois says:

    If nobody can prove ATT was doing something, because the evidence is secret, then they can’t be sued, right? Or at least the charge can’t be proved. So AT&T would be very motivated to keep the secrets. They must be sweating bullets.

    I don’t remember the Greek thing so I looked it up:
    You could make an episode of La Femme Nikita out of it, or maybe 24.

    Basically what happened was the telephone system had a routine for tapping telephones to be used by law enforcement, and someone wrote about 6500 lines of code to use the wiretapping capability to secretly tap a hundred or so cellphones.

    Here is the part that really jumped out at me:

    Nowadays, all wiretaps are carried out at the central office. In AXE exchanges a remote-control equipment subsystem, or RES, carries out the phone tap by monitoring the speech and data streams of switched calls. It is a software subsystem typically used for setting up wiretaps, which only law officers are supposed to have access to. When the wiretapped phone makes a call, the RES copies the conversation into a second data stream and diverts that copy to a phone line used by law enforcement officials.

    Ericsson optionally provides an interception management system (IMS), through which lawful call intercepts are set up and managed. When a court order is presented to the phone company, its operators initiate an intercept by filling out a dialog box in the IMS software. The optional IMS in the operator interface and the RES in the exchange each contain a list of wiretaps: wiretap requests in the case of the IMS, actual taps in the RES. Only IMS-initiated wiretaps should be active in the RES, so a wiretap in the RES without a request for a tap in the IMS is a pretty good indicator that an unauthorized tap has occurred. An audit procedure can be used to find any discrepancies between them.

    The wiretapping part of the system wasn’t being used, it was just part of the latest software upgrade. If they had really been using it and logging the requests for wiretaps against the actual wiretaps in existence, they would have caught the security breach.

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