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Debating The NSA’s Reach

More claims all over on NSA snooping. We look at the scope of American surveillance and what we need, or don’t.

Laura Murphy, Director of the Washington Legislative Office of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), speaks during a rally outside of the U.S. Capitol to demand that Congress investigate the NSA's mass surveillance programs on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, in Washington.  (AP)

Laura Murphy, Director of the Washington Legislative Office of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), speaks during a rally outside of the U.S. Capitol to demand that Congress investigate the NSA’s mass surveillance programs on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, in Washington. (AP)

In 1929, Secretary of State Henry Stimson banned American snooping on other countries’ diplomatic cables because, as he famously said, “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail.”  Oh, how far we have come.  For years now, the National Security Agency, the NSA, has been reading and listening and tapping and surveilling all over the place – up to and including German chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone.  Now the world’s in an uproar.  Defenders say everybody does it.  Critics say the NSA’s gone rogue.  Up next On Point:  drawing lines, boundaries, in the age of mega-surveillance.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Adam Entous, national security correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. (@AdamEntous)

Jesselyn Radack, attorney and National Security and Rights Human Rights Director for the Government Accountability Project. Author of “Traitor: The Whistleblower and the ‘American Taliban.’” Former ethics adviser for the U.S. Department of Justice. (@Jesselyn Raddack)

Michael Allen, founder and Managing Director of Beacon Global Strategies, LLC. Former Majority Staff Director of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Author of: Blinking Red: Crisis and Compromise in American Intelligence After 9/11.” (@BeaconGlobal)

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: Obama Unaware as U.S. Spied on World Leaders — “Officials said the internal review turned up NSA monitoring of some 35 world leaders, in the U.S. government’s first public acknowledgment that it tapped the phones of world leaders. European leaders have joined international outrage over revelations of U.S. surveillance of Ms. Merkel’s phone and of NSA’s monitoring of telephone call data in France.The White House cut off some monitoring programs after learning of them, including the one tracking Ms. Merkel and some other world leaders, a senior U.S. official said. Other programs have been slated for termination but haven’t been phased out completely yet, officials said.”

Reuters: Spain summons U.S. ambassador over spying — “El Mundo reproduced a graphic on Monday which it said was an NSA document showing the agency had spied on 60.5 million phone calls in Spain between December 10, 2012 and January 8 this year. The newspaper said it had reached a deal with Glenn Greenwald, the Brazil-based journalist who has worked with other media on information provided to him by Snowden, to get access to documents affecting Spain.”

National Journal: NSA Surveillance Back in Crosshairs on Hill — “By tightening or codifying current practices and adding transparency and accountability measures, the legislation from Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., is a response to critics who have questioned the NSA’s rationale for secretly collecting phone and Internet records of millions of Americans. The bill they plan to move through the committee protects the NSA’s power to conduct sweeping surveillance approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and is unlikely to go anywhere near appeasing reform advocates.”

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  • fun bobby

    God bless snowden

    • OnPointComments

      If it were up to me, I’d give Snowden the Nobel Peace Prize.

      • fun bobby

        him or malala. I bet if all the Europeans have found out the extent of our spying on them earlier he might have got it for this year. what’s clear is that obama needs to send his back

      • John Cedar

        As an insult to him?

      • brettearle

        Would you still give him the Prize, had he spilled sensitive information in the Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II Administrations, respectively?

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      Wait a second — Obama said all would have been revealed without Snowden. Just trust him.

      • fun bobby

        according to him this is the most transparent administration in history right?

    • brettearle

      Regardless of who’s in the White House?

      • fun bobby

        sure, who does that matter to? does that influence your assessment of the great service snowden has done?

        • brettearle

          First off, I don’t necessarily agree that Snowden has performed a great service–in every facet and aspect of what he may have divulged.

          And secondly, your own political agenda– while diffuse, if not, sometimes, abstruse– carries a decided idiosyncratic Political Bias; and it is a Slant that is surely poisoned by who’s in the White House and who isn’t.

          • fun bobby

            your capitalization is decidedly idiosyncratic. can you say specifically what you think he should not have revealed? what do you enjoy being lied to about exactly?

            you are projecting a lot of ideas about my agenda that are complete fantasy. tell me more about my “Slant that is surely poisoned by who’s in the White House and who isn’t.”

    • brettearle

      I guess you’d rather not answer my question….

      • fun bobby

        I know that people love instant gratification but I do have other things to do so you will need to be more patient

        • brettearle

          Actually, the last time we had an ongoing interaction–which covered well over 5 days–you were `ON’ my comments, almost momentarily, in some instances….considering the protracted nature of the dialogue.
          I carried this Dialogue on–because I could tell, by then, how you almost DESPERATELY always needed to HAVE THE LAST WORD….

          As if it were sinful, if you didn’t.

          What’s more, to characterize, your responses as `Slow’–with any of your answers to anyone, on this forum–would be a blatant misrepresentation of your almost incessant need to respond to those who counter you or challenge you, as soon as you see those rejoinders….which is often, considering your, so often, Swift Replies.

          It is almost as if, you simply wait to pounce–because this Forum provides for you, very possibly, a Gigantic Opportunity to Vent.

          Problem is, your waiting and pouncing– when, in obsessive sleuth, anticipating the counters of others–hardly ever turn into an effective Ambush.

          It’s quite obvious….in all of your behaviors…..how essential all of your meanings and comments and sentiments and opinions are to your controversial Constitution.

          ….Including a Full and Utter Projection–when you insulted one of the finest contributors on the Thread, recently–for having `nothing else to do’ because he seemed to have so much `spare time’.

          I would argue that it is YOU who doesn’t really “have other things to do”, My Friend.

          A Clear and Utter Projection.

          You were criticizing this genuine contributor for the very thing that you yourself do–only in your case, your contribution is highly questionable by comparison…..

          • fun bobby

            how do you decide which words to capitalize? tell me more about what I project.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    Shucks.

    I was expecting a hard hitting show on Benghazi after the 60 Minutes report.

    • Shag_Wevera

      Oh Christ.

  • Unterthurn

    The people who write the software for the spy programs, the people who collect the data and all those other background guys are still quiet. There must be thousands who know what is really going on, they are scared to say anything. Their silence is proof about how bad it is. If they were so successful in stopping violence the NSA would have strong proof of their success.

    Terrorism is once again being used as a cover up to spy on other countries for its political advantage. It’s a business advantage to know someone at the NSA and wouldn’t Goldman Sachs want to know how the Greek monetary problems will be handled before it is announced? What is Volvo doing in the east next? How are the Europeans supporting the middle east’s growing tourism industry? What about steel and cement production? etc.

    This is a beginning of a new war that the USA started. The good ol’ boys at the NSA should be monitoring themselves to see who’s bank accounts are growing.

    • Wm_James_from_Missouri

      “If they were so successful in stopping violence the NSA would have strong proof of their success.”

      You could replace the word “violence” with the word “crime”.

      Terrible crimes continue, unsolved. If “they” are not about stopping criminals from hurting the “good folk”, what are they about?

  • Shag_Wevera

    Yet another thing we can afford while insisting we can’t afford “entitlements”. I wish we’d try being good to ourselves and our friends and neighbors. A rich and powerful nation could be really good at that if it chose to. Why spy on Merkel? To what end? This country and it’s government is sick bordering on evil.

    • alsordi

      If the USA was a person, would you want it as a neighbor ?

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      Rich and Powerful? How much do we each owe on the debt now?

      How about, Broke Bully.

  • AC

    i don’t get it, people cheer on James Bond and he is a ‘spy’. and a million other examples of spy ‘heroes’, both real and fictional…
    i don’t feel this is anything new, it’s only been going on for thousands of millenia.
    i think even companies spy on one another – ‘corporate spies’, where does that expression come from then?
    and private spies, because they can. you know ‘voyeurs’…peeping toms….
    maybe it’s innate to human nature? it seems tho, if you get ‘caught’ doing it, you’re going to go down by firing squad…poor Mata Hari. it would be wise for some countries to step lightly in their criticisms, it might come back to haunt them soon…

    • Wm_James_from_Missouri

      AC, the difference between the American Constitutional concept and others’ views on spying is supposed to be about “probable cause”. Few would argue with spying on an enemy or some eminent dangerous “being”. Secondly, our systems is supposed to be based on “checks and balances”. Too much unchecked power in the hands of too few, is asking for trouble. Powers tend to evolve and morph into new, ever more powerful entities. Where does it stop? We already have individuals, such as recent and the current President(s), ordering assassinations, declaring police actions, etc.. It is a widespread human failing to think that “it” can’t happen to me, or “don’t worry, everything is under control. Everything is NOT under control. If it were, people would not perceive the need for such actions because the root causes of these problems that have led to these type of reactions would never have been created !

      • AC

        i was thinking of myself, spying on my older sister for blackmail fodder when i wanted to keep something hidden from the ‘authority’, lol. nothing quite so deep or profound…

    • Wm_James_from_Missouri

      Some people believe that something good is the same as nothing good!

      False proof that one equals zero.
      Given two non-zero numbers x and y such that

      x = y.
      Then x^2 = xy.
      Subtract y^2 from both sides:
      x^2 – y^2 = xy – y^2.
      (x + y)(x – y) = y(x – y)
      Dividing by (x – y), obtain
      x + y = y.
      Since x = y, we see that
      2 y = y.
      Thus 2 = 1, since we started with y nonzero.
      Subtracting 1 from both sides,
      1 = 0.

      • AC

        this is not a fair argument, either x=y or it does not.

        • Wm_James_from_Missouri

          While I’ve got you thinking about numbers. I would like you to consider this.

          0 = A + B + C + D …. forever.

          Then either A ,B,C, D …, are all zero or A,B,C,D are some combination of positive and negative numbers.

          Also, a fraction such as 10 / 2 can be thought of as a question that asks: How many times can I subtract 2 from the initial 10 and all of the intermediate answers before I end up with zero as the answer?

          10-2 = 8

          8-2 = 6

          6-2 = 4

          4-2 = 2

          2-2 = 0

          Answer : Five subtractions.

          So in the Riemann Zeta Equation:

          0 = 1 + 1/(2)^s + 1/(3^ s) + 1/(4^s) + 1/(5^s)…

          [ Note: you might also consider saying:

          0 = 1/ (1)^s + 1/(2)^s + 1/(3^ s) + 1/(4^s) + 1/(5^s)…]

          With s of the form a +bi , ( a complex number).

          Each term must equal zero or some mix of positive and negative numbers. But all the terms have a plus sign and the same exponent “s”. So it would seem that each term must equal Zero ! But from the sample above, each term, such as, the 1/ (2)^s must result in zero after some number of subtractions of (2)^s from the number 1, right ?

          What could it possible mean to subtract a number such as (n)^s from the number 1 ? If “subtract” is not the correct word, what word would correspond with the concept of subtraction ?

          You can add this concept to the list of possible approaches to solving or should I say slaying, “THE MONSTER” ?

          Menelaus, Lami, and now this !

          • Wm_James_from_Missouri

            What? Still no comments ?

            The key to this approach may be in recognizing that if all the terms on the right are equal to zero, then the first term must equal zero. Then “s” must be a function for a set of angles. Solve for “s” in

            0 = 1/ (1)^s .

        • Wm_James_from_Missouri

          X can equal Y, as both are just two variables that can equal any number but if they are equal, then X – Y = 0, and division by zero is not permitted. Only numbers approaching zero in the denominator are allowed. But you know this and are just toying with me !
          : D

          However, some people don’t know this and this is why I added this comment.

      • Jasoturner

        Clever, except that the subtraction leads to the identity 0=0…

      • Don_B1

        The problem with this “proof” comes with the step where both sides are divided by (x – y) which is obvious once you remember that x – y = 0.

        • TFRX

          You got further than I did.

          My proof includes the phrase “here a miracle occurs”.

          (It got me an A in Texas math.)

        • Wm_James_from_Missouri

          I said that. Now about Riemann ?

          • Don_B1

            I saw your post after I had posted my comment. Sorry that I did not read further before posting (I have the blog posts in oldest-first order).

      • Ron Pulcer

        If x=y, then (x-y)=0. Dividing by (x-y) or dividing by zero, makes your mathematical conclusion a little bit bizzare (false). If you write a computer program and divide by zero, you get a “divide by zero” exception. Nice try, though!

        • Wm_James_from_Missouri

          Did you see my disclaimer, “False Proof” ?

    • alsordi

      A spy “hero” is the brave guy or gal that gets caught behind enemy lines and then tortured and shot.

      NSA snooping on friends and CIA cocktail party bribes are not considered “brave” spying, nor heroic. Scoundrel is more like it.

    • John Cedar

      You don’t “feel” like this is anything new
      and I don’t “think” this is anything new.
      Gender difference I suppose.
      Safe to assume all countries spy on each other all the time.

  • alsordi

    Diane Feinstein is a liar.
    Now she’s showboating trying
    to save her treasonous hide.
    Its time that US citizens replace such
    vested hacks and their parasite spouses, with true representatives of
    the people.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    There’s no privacy on the Internet, only piracy.
    There’s no security on your cell phone, only tracking drones.

    Switching to face to face engagements as in live and in person on park benches or under overpasses where there’s no CCTV.

  • Jostrenz

    So it’s not about the “war on terror”, where we need to protect ourselves against “those, who want to kill us”. Or does the NSA see Angela Merkel as a potential terrorist? Or the EU embassy at the UN? The argument “everybody does it” seems rather cynical to me. Firstly no one does it at this level, especially not with friends and allies. I may be naive, but I still believe in the rights of the individual, in the US or abroad.

    And there are laws against espionage. The US are jailing spies caught, unless they can claim diplomatic immunity. Friend (Israel) or foe (Russia or China). Let’s just imagine the uproar, if it were discovered that the Europeans would be doing the same thing with the US including the gathering of all of the phone and e-mail data of 300 million Americans.

    Trust has been lost. Not only in the institutions. What are values worth, if they are just a useful rhetorical tool and only a facade, behind which everyone hides.

    And the only one, who is criminally investigated and hunted across the world is Mr. Snowden for pulling a bit of the covering vail off the face of our “intelligence” services.

  • alsordi

    The main reason that the US routinely spies on its friends and allies, is to coerce and manipulate their respective democratic processes to favor US corporate interests.

    NSA gets the goods on politicians, business-leaders and generals, then turns them over to the persuasive skills of the CIA.

  • HonestDebate1

    It’s Bush’s fault.

    • Ray in VT

      Well, he did lower the bar with his warrantless surveillance of Americans.

      • HonestDebate1

        The provision still required a warrant, but after the fact and only in cases where the calls were international and one party is known to have terrorist ties. Otherwise there was hell to pay. That is not warrantless surveillance of Americans. Now if you want to say one party was American then it’s standard procedure. For example, if a mob Don has his phone tapped then when he orders a pizza the pizza man is surveilled.

        On the other hand, Section 215 of the Patriot Act is specifically of ongoing investigations but Obama uses it on individuals not involved with anything and he’s increased it’s use 1000% in four years.

        However, none of that matters. It’s Bush’s fault.

        • Ray in VT

          Check your facts, although you seem to have little regard for them, even when it comes to basic word definitions, when they contradict your ideology. When it all blew up the Bush administration acknowledged that warrants were not being obtained, and they said that they didn’t need them. Please provide evidence as to such activities going on now.

          • HonestDebate1

            If you can dispute my facts then do it. A proclamation does not. And if you want evidence then refer to today’s show.

          • Ray in VT

            Much like your proclamations? “Otherwise there was hell to pay”? Ha. Who paid? Nobody, but that was okay, because it was a Republican administration.

            “The optimal way to achieve the speed and agility necessary to this military
            intelligence program during the present armed conflict with al Qaeda is to
            leave the decisions about particular intercepts to the judgment of professional
            intelligence officers, based on the best available intelligence information.
            These officers are best situated to make decisions quickly and accurately. If,
            however, those same intelligence officers had to navigate through the FISA
            process for each of these intercepts, that would necessarily introduce a
            significant factor of delay, and there would be critical holes in our early
            warning system. Importantly, as explained below, these intelligence officers
            apply a probable cause standard. The critical advantage offered by the
            terrorist surveillance program compared to FISA is who makes the probable cause
            determination and how many layers of review must occur before surveillance
            begins.
            Some have pointed to the provision in FISA that allows for so-called “emergency
            authorizations” of surveillance for 72 hours without a court order. There is a
            serious misconception about these emergency authorizations. We do not and
            cannot approve emergency surveillance under FISA without knowing that we meet
            FISA’s normal requirements. In order to authorize emergency surveillance under
            FISA, the Attorney General must personally “determine[] that . . . the factual
            basis for issuance of an order under [FISA] to approve such surveillance
            exists.” 50 U.S.C. § 1805(f). FISA requires the Attorney General to determine
            in advance that this condition is satisfied. That review process can, of
            necessity, take precious time. And that same process takes the decision away
            from the officers best situated to make it during an armed conflict.
            Thus, to initiate surveillance under a FISA emergency authorization, it is not
            enough to rely on the best judgment of our intelligence officers. Those
            intelligence officers would have to get the sign-off of lawyers at the NSA, and
            then lawyers in the Department of Justice would have to be satisfied that the
            statutory requirements for emergency authorization are met, and finally as
            Attorney General, I would have to be satisfied that the proposed surveillance
            meets the requirements of FISA. Finally, the emergency application must be
            filed “as soon as practicable,” but within 72 hours.” – Alberto Gonzales.

            So, there was a way to do it in an emergency situation via the FISA court, but they needed a reason, which they might not have, so they just didn’t bother.

            What evidence do you think will be presented regarding illegal activities? Surveillance of the German Chancellor may not be useful, and even very harmful to relations, but if you think that it is illegal, then please provide some information regarding that.

          • HonestDebate1

            No one paid because no American was spied on without warrant. It’s a talking point. It was challenged and went through some appeals and a Federal Judge threw it out. It is extremely shallow to boil it down, as you did, to warrantless surveillance of Americans. No the surveillance was of terrorist overseas. My pizza man/mob Don analogy is apt. The pizza man is safe and can say anything incriminating of not. There are safeguards for reverse targeting. Look up section 702 of the Patriot Act.

            Obama is the one who abused this dynamic with phone records. Section 215 was specifically written for ongoing investigations. Obama blew that right off and increased request for data 1000%.

            And you want to talk about Bush… as always.

          • Ray in VT

            Why do I want to talk about Bush? Because Bush has been the one shown to have violated the rights of citizens by conducting surveillance on them without warrants or lied to the American people in the lead up to a war that cost us nearly 4,500 dead.

            It is truly amazing the lengths to which you will go to excuse the acts of a Republican and to attempt to smear a Democrat, when currently available evidence and information does not support the contention that on this particular issue the Obama administration is violating the law. At least this administration appears to be going to the FISA court, which, apparently, the Bush administration thought was too much of a hassle.

        • jimino

          Stop blaming Bush and take responsibility yourself.

    • jimino

      I blame those who put him and his neocon fools into power and failed to recognize the obvious unconstitutional overreach justified by the ”war on terror”. “Patriots” is what I recall them calling themselves, as opposed to the “traitorous liberals” who were pointing out this problem 12 yrs. ago

      • HonestDebate1

        We didn’t have this problem 12 years ago.

        • Ray in VT

          We began down this road 12 years ago on the 26th when the government expanded surveillance powers.

        • jimino

          YOU didn’t have this problem then but WE did.

      • Ray in VT

        There was definitely a good deal of concern within my field regarding potential impacts from the PATRIOT Act and the War on Terror, relating to how it could affect issues such as privacy and civil liberties. We’re not exactly happy about having been right about some of the things that we thought could happen.

      • HonestDebate1

        The Patriot Act has met Constitutional muster.

  • William

    NSA is great a collecting data but very poor at dissemination of critical intelligence information to the war fighters in a timely manner.

    • alsordi

      “war fighters”?? I still prefer to call “sanitary engineers” “garbage men” . And you really need to take a closer look at the true role of the US military.

    • Ray in VT

      One part of the problem may be that in scooping up so much information, determining what is useful intelligence and what is background noise may just become more and more difficult. Information is easy to collect, but bringing meaning to it is often rather difficult.

      • brettearle

        Question was, aside from ignoring already discernible patterns, actual information, and signals of pre-9/11 Al Qaeda communications, how much of the issue, at the time, also had to do with not separating additional extraneous `noise’ from additional (and critical) real Intel?

        Is it crudely analogous to the Steroids Wars with athletes, where new steroids come `on the scene’ that are less detectable via metabolites–wherein, in spy venues new adversarial technology finds faster and newer ways of circumventing more and more sophisticated, and even faster, `code’ breaking?

      • iccheap

        Sounds like they’ll need to hire some newly minted mathematics PhD’s to construct extraction algorithms on the mountain of data.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Spying on Merkel? The horror!

    Spying on everyday American Citizens? Whatever……

    Take my rights, please, I don’t need them anymore….

    Obama engineers Health Insurance Company giveaway, secretly, but knowingly, forcing individuals into more bloated, more profitable plans for Industry, as long as he gets his cut for his baby. “you can keep your plan” (until its cancelled).

    A mixture of Industry subsidy and price controls…. a win-win-lose. DNC entitlement promising party wins, Health Care Companies win, everyday people who don’t embrace the a radical USSA shift, lose.

    “Automotive “black boxes” are now built into more than 90 percent of new cars, and the government is considering making them mandatory.” NPR story

    Is this all really happening?

    What are we doing to ourselves?

    Do really think this Centrally-Contolled,Technocratic Nanny State, where we all assume our subservient, ant-like roles and doled out crumbs is going to end well?

    More Soma, please.

    • OnPointComments

      Charles Krauthammer’s definition of a liberal: somebody who doesn’t care what you do as long as it’s mandatory.

      • TFRX

        More Charles (There are reasonable righties out there, trust me) Krackhammer?

        Yeah, try peddling that somewhere else.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Probable Cause? Who are you anarchic terrorists!?! That’s so……1700″s!

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Bring us Pre-Cogs, please!!! Obama could introduce the idea, and tell us not to worry, we can keep our presumed innocence if we like it.

  • toc1234

    Tom, in your above blurb, you forgot to mention “and once again President Obama says he had no idea what was going on.” Come to think about it, the only thing Obama seemed to know everything about was the assassination of Osama bin laden.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Lets please not the ACA be spun as being “privately run” in “competitive marketplaces”. Government mandates on what these “private entities” (crony capitalistic partners, state capitalism etc) can offer and how they can price it, completely destroys the Pricing Mechanisms and Signals of a free market, that are the only route to efficiencies and price/quality competition where consumers separate the wheat from the chaff. Nothing wrong with safety net for truly needy, but don’t need socialized system to do that.

    • iccheap

      Based on my Explanation of Benefits form I’d say the “pricing mechanisms” of “free market” healthcare is pretty broken.

      • Government_Banking_Serf

        that’s the point. you don’t get pricing mechanisms without a free market. You can by a flat screen TV for $200 but putting a cast on a broken arm should cost thousands?

    • Renee Engine-Bangger

      Right – we just should have what we currently have: socialism for the 1%.

      • Government_Banking_Serf

        2 wrongs make a right?

    • jimino

      So if each State sets what must be offered, which has long been the case, it doesn’t affect the “Pricing Mechanisms and Signals of a free market”?

      When and where does your market approach to providing and paying for health care currently, or at any time in the past, exist? Your hypothesis is utterly and profoundly unrealistic in the true sense of that word,

      • TFRX

        Jimino, are you prepared to play the “People can always move to another state” drinking game before 11am on a weekday?

  • SpeakTruth2

    Dear NSA Agent,
    Why don’t you return any of my calls?
    And I thought we had something special!

    Well that’s it. You are going on the Do Not Call List….
    Oh wait, I just remembered how well that works.

  • Fiscally_Responsible

    It’s too bad that the NSA didn’t bug Kathleen Sebilius’s office when they were concocting the details of Obamacare (how the website would work or not work as is the case, what the real premiums and deductibles/out of pocket costs would be vs. the crock that they came up with that “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan..period” and the other multitude of lies that Ted Cruise and others warned America about but which the public was too googlyeyed over a new out-of-control entitlement program to listen to. Then we would know the real behind the scenes discussions that took place. Then we would know whether we were lied to, is it just gross incompetence, or a combination of both.

    • Renee Engine-Bangger

      Please stop whining.

      • Fiscally_Responsible

        Don’t walk away, Renee. I was just trying to add a little levity to the discussion. Plus, I am actually upset that in order to have the same out of pocket exposure on deductibles and copays on medical insurance in January that I have now (pre-Obamacare), that my premiums are going up 47% or $5000 per year. Being a middle class guy, that is a very significant portion of my income.

  • Coastghost

    Why does Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner’s name only come up on NPR broadcasts on Tuesday, 29 Oct 2013, after all the media tumult of the past month? Why only now does her name appear? Where has her name been for the past four weeks, the past four months?

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      NPR did a story on folks changing their health insurance on “all things distorted” last night. The national health reporter neglected to once mention President Obama’s broken promise “If you like your insurance you can keep it — PERIOD”.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    It isn’t just the NSA spying on Americans.

    This story is chilling. The government violated the 1st and 4th amendment in one fell swoop.

    Homeland Security conducted a pre-dawn raid to search for a ‘potato gun’ and seized a reporter’s computer and work files (included notes on sources) related to Federal Air Marshall stories. One problem, none of the files were covered in the warrant.

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/10/28/federal-agents-pre-dawn-raid-on-reporter-home-raises-questions/

    • OnPointComments

      It’s clear that the work files related to Federal Air Marshall stories were the real target of the search. The reporter said that her house was filled with boxes and boxes of files, yet Homeland Security only took the Federal Air Marshall files.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        If this reporter worked for the NYTimes instead of the Washington Times would this story get national coverage? This is much more egregious than anything that happened with ‘fake spy’, Valerie Plame.

        • jefe68

          You know what’s egregious, you making every post into a partisan diatribe.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            This is NOT a partisan issue.

            So you think DHS was justified?
            You don’t think it should be covered in the nightly news?

            I only brought up the Valerie Plame case because it spotlights the partisan media. Valerie Plame was on the nightly news countless times. Hollywood made a movie about it. Really? Would they have made a movie if Bush wasn’t President?

  • alsordi

    The most under-reported aspect to the NSA spying is Israeli contractor’s involvement in the US surveillance network.

    In Bill Clinton’s senate deposition, he tells Monica that a certain foreign country picked up on their phone sex. And people
    wonder why Congress enjoys a shameful 5% confidence rating…most all are compromised by Wall Street and the USA’s extremely costly and bellicose little ally that is occupying Palestine.

    But the most profitable aspect in the surveillance game is the patent secrets and stock tips that even the most dedicated NSA technician or contractor can pass on to a good buddy on Wall Street.

    • Labropotes

      alsordi, Reuters reported more than a month ago that the NSA also passes its phone record meta-data unfiltered to Israel. I was surprised that the story was never taken up in the United States.

      http://in.reuters.com/article/2013/09/12/usa-security-snowden-israel-idINDEE98B06J20130912

      • alsordi

        Surprised…. really ?

      • alsordi

        Labropotes, you have to realize with the NPR crowd, Israeli is the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

        These listeners ignore the fact that Israel is a major source of the problem and the need for all this surveillance, repression, TSA, and aggressions in the middle east. This little country has been the biggest burden the USA has ever had to bare.

  • TFRX

    “Post 9/11 green light” and “For the first time in a long time, the NSA is debated”.

    I guess this is just another IOKIYAR issue we’re only going to dig into now that a Dem is in the White House.

    Can our host cue up the Beltway’s and the right’s defenses of spying overreach during the Bush II regime?

  • John_in_VT

    Congress and the White House are both being disingenuous in their hand wringing about this. Both of them authorized all this snooping. The ACLU and even some conservative groups (mostly libertarians) have been trying to find out the full scope of this. It is ONLY because of Edward Snowden that the antiseptic of sunlight is being applied to this wound on personal privacy and liberty.

  • Coastghost

    Has anyone ASKED President Obama “to make perfectly clear” what he knew about foreign heads of state phone tapping and when he knew it? Who has explicitly asked Obama and received an unambiguous answer? If he knew what was going on, he’s just another weasel: if he was in the dark, he’s a dupe and stooge to the nth degree: in either case, in both cases, a vast disappointment.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      It is worse than Obama not ‘knowing’. When he was briefed to prepare for meeting with Merkel and they disclosed information that could only be derived from direct surveillance was he completely incurious on how they received that information?

      So he either knew or he is incompetent. And if he didn’t know — is he upset that no one told him and will he FIRE the responsible person on his national security team?

  • iccheap

    The continuing fallout from the “war on terror”. Not attaching a qualitative assessment, but more than a few European gov’t officials, that didn’t act indignant, admitted they’d have done the same monitoring if they’d had the capability.

  • HLB

    Obama wants to know what Merkel is going to say or do at the next economic summit – pick up the desk phone and call her. It’s even a “secure” line.* That’s what a mentally stable, fully functional individual would do.

    Gee, how hard is that? Put the damn putter down and do some office work, dude.

    Thanks much. Citizen Skeptic

    * Only the NSA would be listening in. After all, what do you think the $Bs of dollars spent on White House communications was for.

  • Ray in VT

    I thought that the House’s Committee on Oversight and Government Reform was supposed to holding hearings on this this fall, but I don’t see it on the calendar. There was a hearing back in July, and the Senate Judiciary committee was supposed to have a hearing October 2nd, but I’m not sure if that happened or not.

    • northeaster17

      1) I’m not sure that the members really want to know about what is happening. At least publicly. If they did they’d have to act.. 2) If it aint Benghazi it aint gonna fly in the house.

  • PithHelmut

    Privacy shouldn’t only go to leaders of the world. What are the rest of us, chopped liver? This surveillance fest is not about terrorism, it’s about control. Data can predict the actions of people by knowing their patterns. And if agencies know our actions before we do them, then they essentially control us. And they know it. That is what this is all about. And sales. If they want our data, they should have to pay for it!

  • HLB

    We’re the NSA: the only government agency that actually listens.
    –National Security Agency press officer

    If the NSA had run the Obamacare rollout, the online information and registration system would have been working two years ahead of time. But $800B over budget.

    Thanks much. Veteran/Old School Liberal

    • hypocracy1

      If the NSA had run the rollout, you wouldn’t have to register because they already have your information…

  • James Patrick Dwyer Jr.

    We are starting to learn how to live in a police state. A lot of similarities between the NSA AND KGB.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      And the Stasi…

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    What is the purpose of all of this spying?

    Does collecting *everything* actually help? The haystack is a *lot* bigger…

    Who is accountable for the added risk of all this spying? Jesselyn Radack makes this point well.

  • MrNutso

    Iraq? Really? If the US did not have a hard on for Saddam and Iraq, the idea of invading Iraq would never have come up, and there never would have been an intelligence failure.

    The only intelligence failure is in the minds of the people who came up with the idea in the first place.

    • TFRX

      Yep.

      In science we have a phrase for what Shrub, Dead-Eye and Rumstud did with the data: “Draw the curve, then plot the points”.

  • rich4321

    The NSA is way over its head, abuse its power. And the President claims he was unaware of it?
    I will be very concern if the CEO of a company has no clue what goes on with his/her subordinates.

  • terry7

    To get a full picture of the vast national security complex created in Washington following 9/11 refer to the extensively researched “Top Secret America” by Dana Priest.

  • HLB

    Obama was briefed on the Merkel Messaging back in the summer. The House Judiciary Committee* should put forward the query:

    What did the president ignore?
    And when did the president ignore it?

    Thanks much. Hoober Doober

    * Shades of Peter Rodino, Sam Ervin, and John Dean {who’s still living}

  • Coastghost

    Oh come on, Tom Ashbrook: at this point no one outside of the Administration can even know whether Edward Snowden is an NSA plant, an NSA rogue, or a paid Russian agent.

  • anon

    If everyone’s phone calls are being monitored and the data collected, then it’s all being stored and can be searched later. When the guy says that everyone’s phone calls are not being simultaneously translated, that’s not the point. And what should we assume from the fact that the NSA has a huge new facility to store data?

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      it’s all just a google away. The NSA tech eating a honeybun with his coffee at 9:13pm, taking it out for a spin. Let alone political blackmail etc….

  • Andy

    Industrial Espionage: could that be an unmentioned key to all of this. Is Mercedes Benz going to Paris, France with a new plant rather than Versailles, Kentucky? Is Airbus going to consider GE jet engines rather than Euro sourcing! Governments are always wanting to cut ribbons for new industrial development for jobs and money, and conduct recruiting in secret.

  • http://twitter.com/_sequoia Sequoia M.

    Tom: ‘You assert that the NSA isn’t recording tons of phone calls but you don’t KNOW that to be true.’
    Guest: ‘…that would be very difficult to do.’

    What is your point? The NSA has staggeringly vast data collection capabilities, ostensibly the most advanced the world has ever seen. Just because this particular bit of information hasn’t been explicitly leaked yet we’re going to assume this strategy isn’t being employed? The executive & the NSA are proven liars with no regard for privacy or freedom from unreasonable search, why would you assume such a thing beyond them?

    • jpolock

      Right on! It is the same as if the Gov took a photo of the front and back of EVERY piece of mail you’ve ever received in your life…whether you instigated the mail or not.
      This is what Snowden was saying about how the NSA could GO BACK at any time to GENERATE a “narrative” on anyone and everyone. Could blackmail or “make a case”
      I presume nobody would accept the Post Office keeping a copy of all one’s mail “just in case” or “just for records”…

      • Government_Banking_Serf

        isn’t something like that actually happening with the post office? more harmless metadata?

        • jpolock

          D’oh…probably shouldn’t have ordered those hemp products….

          D’oh! Now the NSA saw I just used the words “hemp products”
          arrrgh!

  • HLB

    I saw Mama kissing Santa Claus. So I took a picture and hid it away. In case I needed to blackmail one or both later on. Better secure than sorry.
    –from the journal of 7 year old Barry Obama {code name: Golf Ball}

    Above to be released in the next Snowden data dump.

    Thanks much. HLB

  • hennorama

    What hasn’t been discussed is why German Chancellor Angela Merkel was using a device that COULD be monitored. This seems very irresponsible for a head of state.

    Reports indicate that she had both an official phone as well as a second phone that was not classified as tamper-proof, making it a relatively easy target.

    • Labropotes

      Hennorama, isn’t that like asking why a woman would wear a short skirt if she doesn’t want to be “monitored?”

      Now we know why Obama’s staff was so adamant about taking away his blackberry early in his presidency.

      • hennorama

        Labropotes — no, of course not.

        Heads of state are obvious and automatic surveillance targets. It’s irresponsible for a head of state to not take precautions to ensure that all of their electronic communications are as secure as possible.

        Imagine the uproar if President Obama’s was found to be using devices that were not secured.

    • brettearle

      Henn, see far below.

      There’s a sequel to the Salieri imbroglio…

      • hennorama

        brettearle — regarding your message hidden in plain sight:

        Mad Flop Pops Scurvy Guff

  • JasonB

    The President didn’t “know” about this surveillance for one reason: plausible deniability. He likely had a standing order to alert him when something serious was found and wanted to remain in the dark unless that was the case. They never expected Snowden to leak all of this.

  • TFRX

    Tom, when callers talk about privacy, please ask them what they were saying ten years ago.

    Don’t chime in with “Don’t Tread On Me” (as with the female caller at 33 mins) and give us the feeling that all these privacy geeks are Tea Party types.

    The ACLU was on this when we all needed it, when the media didn’t hardly give a damn, and when Fox News was in the “Why aren’t other newsreaders wearing flag pins?” phase.

    • jefe68

      9/11 let this gene out the bag so to speak. The lines were crossed after that horrific event. And now it’s becoming harder and harder to get this under control.
      GW Bush and Cheney (I would add he’s one of the main architects) expanded all of this. anyone who thinks if the Republicans were in the White Hose these past six years that anything would have been different is chasing a fools errand.

      • TFRX

        “Gene out of the bag?” You mean they’re splicing DNA too? The horror…

        But seriously, if we’re gonna talk about de-accruing power from the executive branch, the talk had better be had before the next Republican prez.

        • jefe68

          Sorry, I meant genie.
          The idea of the executive branch having more power came out of Cheney’s distrust of Congress and his years in the Nixon and Ford White House. We have a historically dysfunctional Congress and there does not seem to be an end game here. At least not for years. If the GOP does gain the White House, which at this point seems unlikely, it might not matter as we are already in an age of constant surveillance.

  • http://twitter.com/_sequoia Sequoia M.

    Tom: ‘If we gave up all of our privacy we could have stopped 9/11′

    Tom, either prove this or stop asserting it. What if torturing children could have [hypothetically] somehow prevented 9/11? Should we start torturing children? The ends don’t always justify the means & when it’s not even clear the means will deliver the “ends”, it’s a very poor justification.

    • TFRX

      Good catch. The question to the caller really did have a “24″ vibe to it.

    • jefe68

      Here, here. He’s really hyperbolic today. I dare say he’s like that most days.

      • nlpnt

        Whenever he gets that high-pitched pleading tone, he’s getting too into the role of devil’s advocate.

    • fun bobby

      when did we stop torturing children

  • alsordi

    Perhaps the 80,000 or so taxpayer-paid people working in the surveillance business, should be engaged in more productive endeavors that contribute to society.

    • fun bobby

      add a zero to that

  • John_in_VT

    Tom – ‘tut, tut’ “too late to stop 9/11.” Both Richard Clark and Senate testimony established that the intelligence community, without the carte blanche snooping, had all the pieces of the 9/11 plot. What was lacking was an engaged and alert White House intelligence staff and chief.

  • M S

    I hope Merkel and her intelligence officers can put in a good word for us Americans…we don’t care to be spied on either…

  • DeJay79

    Tom, please stop with the fear mongering. 911 is not a hammer to be used to crush our Liberty!

    It should be used as a shield to defend it. Look at the world without our cherished freedom and see what it produces.

    Very wise men throughout history have already settled this issue. It is a non-issue for Americans.

    “Give me Liberty or Give me Death.”

    -P. Henry

    “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
    -B. Franklin

    • Labropotes

      “You can’t have 100% security, and also then have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience.”

      B. Obama

    • fun bobby

      noun verb 911.
      -rudy Giuliani

  • William A. McLaughlin

    The comment that NSA spying might have prevented 9-11 is sophomoric. The Intelligence community had all the information necessary to prevent 9-11 without spying on phone and internet traffic. They just didn’t connect the dots. It was a complete failure of our Intelligence system.

    • jpolock

      Exactly, and Bin Laden was captured with old fashioned gum shoe detective work.
      There has ALWAYS been various forms of terrorism and their opposites. (Cuban Five or Brotherhood Flyers, Arab League or Jewish Defense, KKK or Abolitionists, Che Guevara or Sandinistas etc…curious just how some are taken more “seriously” than others…which are the “good guys”)

    • ThirdWayForward

      We agree. But there were people connecting the dots, it’s just that the people in a position to do something did not listen. Intelligence data is useless without intelligent decision-making processes at the highest level.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/11/opinion/the-bush-white-house-was-deaf-to-9-11-warnings.html?_r=0

      The Deafness Before the Storm
      By KURT EICHENWALD

      Published: September 10, 2012 On Aug. 6, 2001, President George W. Bush received a classified review of the threats posed by Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network, Al Qaeda. That morning’s “presidential daily brief” — the top-secret document prepared by America’s intelligence agencies — featured the now-infamous heading: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” A few weeks later, on 9/11, Al Qaeda accomplished that goal.

      The direct warnings to Mr. Bush about the possibility of a Qaeda attack began in the spring of 2001. By May 1, the Central Intelligence Agency told the White House of a report that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist operation. Weeks later, on June 22, the daily brief reported that Qaeda strikes could be “imminent,” although intelligence suggested the time frame was flexible.

      • OnPointComments

        Everyone knew that Bin Laden was determined to strike in the U.S.; the memo contained no specific plan. Specific, actionable intelligence about Bin Laden occurred during the Clinton administration in 1998, and Clinton did nothing.

  • jpolock

    What everyone should be concerned about here is the obvious slippery slope that we are currently half way sliding down today…into a Stazi-like police state, with pre crime and all. I point to the cases of “pre-crime” roundups of green groups, Quakers, etc before RNC convention, Economic summits and such. And this goes for the Tea Party people too.
    Militarization of the Police, in tactics and equipment…(a guy was questioned by Police for knitting in a Starbucks the other day for goodness sakes!)
    This is a typical paranoid state reaction going into overdrive to “protect” itself and “the people”. Always starts with “security” inevitably evolves into dissent….who are inevitably described as “terrorists”….

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      What’s good for the health care goose is good for the intelligence gander. Sadly, most don’t understand that Constitutionalism does’t work a la carte.

      • jpolock

        Not certain of your meaning via health care?
        But I of course agree with the fact that the constitution is not a la carte.
        i.e. freedom of speech or the second amendment is of no higher status than say the 14th amendment or freedom of peaceable assembly. my comment referred to several ongoing types of un-constitutional actions being taken by the Gov…

        • Government_Banking_Serf

          The intelligence stuff with blatant disregard for law on warrants etc is self-evident, but the health care part I was thinking of the gymnastics that John Roberts went through to give the administration its Health Care law, claiming that the Federal Government has the power to tell us to buy something. Administration screamed it wasn’t a tax, Roberts gave it to him by calling it a tax.

          A fine for not going along with coercion is a tax?

          • jpolock

            This is where it gets complicated and where democracy comes in.
            I’m sure we all have various issues with various ways our tax dollars are spent, which could quite easily be labeled “coercion”.
            I guess its an inevitable price of living together in a modern civilized society. For example I think a strong safety net so we don’t have people living and dying on our streets (which are hopefully paved) is a price I’m willing to pay (I’m gathering based on some of your comments you might disagree with that quote “free stuff”). However I’d rather not pay for this crazy NSA, nor Nuke tipped ICBMs!
            On healthcare I want single payer for all. I’m a MA resident, business owner..and have NO insurance. I had a meager catastrophic plan which I could afford. Now I have nothing because I make “too much” for subsidy…and can’t find an extra 7.5k a year for a qualifying plan, and catastrophic plans are banned. Altogether my wife & I pay over 2k a month in tax/ss/med etc….
            So you can imagine some things:
            A) I’m Liberal
            B) I can certainly agree with you on some things
            C) I’d rather get along in the meantime and change the LAWS thru democratic means rather than blowing it all up like the Tea Party
            sorry so long…

          • Government_Banking_Serf

            I’m all for states as laboratories and places of choice (Drink TFRX!), but I believe we need that final buffer of Constitutionally Limited Federal Government between the people and the Fed Gov, because if we give them full power, its only a matter of time before the “wrong” people get it and its game over for relative freedom, if not already too late (Fed and Banking, NSA, Wars etc.)

  • Jostrenz

    From abroad the US these days appear as the big “digital” occupying force. We do as we please, as long as it is in our interest, we don’t care about the law. Spying illegal? Only within the US. And then only for some.
    Who needs friends, anyway?

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      A Rule of Law society, Constitutional with Free Markets and individual opportunity is what American Exceptionalism meant. Sadly, we’ve let that concept be re-defined and smeared by the technocratic and central planning sympathizers.

      That was what made people respect, and want to come here. Now its just a rush on getting free stuff before the Fed printing presses run dry, and the American Experiment is finally shuttered.

  • ThirdWayForward

    Tom, you keep claiming that had we had information prior to 911, it would have made a difference. WE DID HAVE PLENTY OF INFORMATION PRIOR TO 911, BUT IT WAS IGNORED (BY THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION, AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS). Don’t spread misinformation about this — we need to remember the history accurately.

    It is quite apparent that there is no effective oversight of these mass surveillance systems — absolutely no transparency, no accountability. It is a false choice to imply that we either have these systems without oversight, or nothing at all.

    We cannot have secret laws, nor secret programs.
    In the current situation, we have absolutely no guarantees that the NSA is not listening in on the contents of phone calls as well as the metadata. What they say cannot be trusted at all.

    It is dangerous for a secret agency to compile files on every member of the population (here and in other countries). Sooner or later that information will be misused in a big way. We have a long history of helping extremely repressive regimes maintain power.

    • fun bobby

      I agree with you.you don’t think its equally likely that the bush administration paid very close attention to the threat and did nothing?

      • ThirdWayForward

        Although I still have my doubts about the October, 1980 “October Surprise” deal with the iranians to withhold the embassy hostages in exchange for weapons (Iran-Contra), and the elder Bush’s role in that, it would be really hard to believe that even people as cynical as Bush and Cheney would sanction or deliberately fail to prevent the 911 terrorist attack

        (although they certainly did manufacture the evidence for WMDs in Iraq, and were willing to start a war on that basis that resulted in more American lives lost than 911, not to mention Iraqi ones).

        But in any case, I don’t think that the evidence I have heard that is cited for the 911 conspiracy theories is compelling. I think that nobody, including bin Laden and the WTC building architects, would have expected beforehand the World Trade Centers to pancake the way that they did. If the buildings had not failed in this way, many fewer people would have died.

        Skyscrapers need to be built as lattices — during WWII a B-25 bomber flew into the Empire State Building, but because of the sturdier design, it did little damage.

        • tired_of_gov_crap

          Of course they didn’t expect them to pancake the way they did. That’s because they weren’t expecting them to be taken down by explosives from the inside in a controlled demolition. Remember, building 7 pancaked down and was never hit by a plane. NIST claims it was from office fires. However, building 7 accelerated down at freefall speed. The laws of physics don’t change. This would not be possible without a coordinated destruction of the columns. See this website to try to understand what over 2,000 Architects and Engineers are trying to say and the evidence behind it. http://www.ae911truth.org/. This is not conspiracy theory, or finger pointing, or speculation about who did it. This is a group of educated individuals asking for a new investigation to understand what really happened. Because story the government is telling is obviously a lie.

          • fun bobby

            You can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.

          • ThirdWayForward

            This is a complicated issue, the business of the rate of fall of the buildings, one that I can’t judge on the basis of what I know. But if the top part of the building is falling, and it is massive compared to each successive floor, my intuition would be that it will fall at almost 32 ft/s/s.

            I also don’t see why whoever did it would go through the trouble of hijacking planes if they could simply destroy the buildings from the inside. That doesn’t seem to make any sense.

            I do agree with ae911truth that ALL of the documents need to be made public, and there needs to be a full disclosure, if only to dispel all these doubts. The 911 commission did seem to do a rather shoddy job. The only reason not to disclose would be to keep information about building vulnerabilities out of the hands of potential future terrorists.

          • tired_of_gov_crap

            As an engineer, I can tell you that if there were ANY obstruction, any columns in the way, any floors to impact before continuing to the ground, then there would be a measurable change in acceleration that simply wasn’t there. And how do you explain the evidence of thermite in the rubble? And the reports of explosions by many eye-witnesses, including firefighters? Just watch the falling of building 7 and convince yourself that it was from office fires.
            Why go to the trouble of crashing the planes? To divert the attention of what is really happening, I suppose.

        • fun bobby

          Rumsfeld has no compunction about sacrificing American lives to enrich his friends. look into his involvement with NutraSweet and see if you still disagree. whether it was incompetence or Machiavellian is not really important anyways and I don’t think we could ever really know for sure. either way at the end of the day it was used to justify the demolition of our rights and perpetual war

  • http://saultannenbaum.org/ Saul Tannenbaum

    Doesn’t anyone remember “plausible deniability”? – Plausible deniability is a term coined by the CIA during the Kennedy administration to describe the withholding of information from senior officials in order to protect them from repercussions in the event that illegal or unpopular activities by the CIA became public knowledge. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plausible_deniability

    You don’t tell the President you’re bugging leaders phones. And you fall on your sword when it leaks.

    • Zenplatypus

      Read the front page of today’s LA Times. This White House is in neck deep: http://lat.ms/1g9JZBa

  • Jostrenz

    here is a huge difference between “gathering intelligence” and spying.When I prepare for a business meeting I try to gather as many facts about the position of my opposite, but I doN’t break into his office to get that information.

    • hennorama

      Jostrenz — out of curiosity: If you overheard your ‘opposite’ reveal something pertinent and useful, would you use it?

      • brettearle

        Henn, I’ve had further word on Salieri….

        see far below for the sequel

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          Sorry for the intrusion … but just the mention of Salieri brings back fond memories of F. Murray’s wonderful portrayal … thank you.

          • brettearle

            Even Republicans know good performances.

        • hennorama

          brettearle — your comments are appreciated.

          One’s patience and good nature get tested at times, and often the best response is no response. One vital aspect of freedom of speech is that we suffer fools. A few we choose to suffer silently but not gladly.

          (Conservation of resources and all, yanno.)

          • brettearle

            All the other possible titles he was never given, but THAT he was(‘t) born with….

      • Jostrenz

        Of course I would not be able to block knowledge in my brain. Yet on the other hand with my increasing paranoia I wonder if I would not consider this info to have been planted deliberately. So quite frankly, I don’t know how I would react.

        • hennorama

          Jostrenz — Thanks for your interesting and candid response.

          Expanding the idea a bit:

          You’re coincidentally sitting in the next booth at a diner, and you overhear your ‘opposite’ blabbing away, revealing pertinent and useful info. This info would be fair game, because you the info was “in the open,” right?

          However, it would have been irresponsible on the part of your ‘opposite’ to be blabbing away in public, putting potentially sensitive info out into the open.

          That’s my point about the uproar over Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was reportedly using a second, non-official device that COULD be monitored.

          It’s not exactly analogous to the example above, but if the reports are accurate, then Chancellor Merkel acted unwisely.

          Thanks again for your candid reply.

          • Jostrenz

            Again I don’t know how I would react. I can easily imagine (or better remember), where with fascination I would listenon a train to some big shot banker or trader yell at his secretary or assistant or broker, yelling “sell” or “buy” or chewing people out . Very often – especially in the early days of cell phones – they just wanted to convince people of their own importance.Sometimes you just ask them to please shut up. Sometimes you don’t want to listen but you can’t help it. Sometimes it’s just embarrassing.

            In any event, the Angela Merkel case is different. I am pretty sure she did not use her un-secure phone for matters of great importance, realizing that the Russians and Chinese were at least trying to listen in. But your closest ally? You must remember her personal life’s story: She spent more than half of her life in the GDR, probably the most sophisticated and ruthless (at its time) state in the world outside of North Korea, that tried to surveil its citizens even by hiring or blackmailing spouses to give information to the Stasi. The wall falls, the West in general and the US in particular have been the beacons of hope for individual liberty and openness. That’s her proper understanding of democracy. She goes through a democratic process and by being the first one to courage sly and publicly speaking out against Helmut Kohl’s secret re-election coffers and donations becomes head of the conservative party and eventually chancellor.
            And to add a little ironic twist, at the time, when she was still leader of the opposition in Germany (Schroeder was chancellor then) she pointed to the hypocrisy of the German government who for the wrong reasons (elections) but nevertheless rightfully refused to join Bush/Cheney in the Iraq war (after joining the Afghanistan war against Al Khaida mentors, because as Schroeder very convincingly said on 9.11. “Today we are all Americans”. But I digress. I do indeed believe that Angela Merkel believes, that Americans and Germans (and their governments) are friends especially in view of the German history after WW II, which no.one in Germany has forgotten. And you just don’t spy on friends and hug them, when you get together.

            Sorry for this long response, but complex matters sometimes take more than 150 characters.

            jost

          • hennorama

            Jostrenz — TY again for your thoughtful reply.

            As to lengthy responses, no worries at all. (I am probably the undisputed champion of lengthy comments in this forum.)

            Chancellor Merkel’s past cuts both ways. As she personally experienced the surveillance state, she has no excuse for communicating on an unsecured device (Again, assuming reports in the German press and elsewhere are true.)

            Chancellor Merkel and other officials are responding to their upset citizens, putting on a dog and pony show for public consumption. The reality is that this monitoring of heads of state and high officials is business as usual, and the officials recognize this.

            Ultimately, there will be some pullback, and the “shocked” officials will point to this as a victory for their citizens.

            Very soon thereafter, things will go back to normal, with everyone trying to spy on everyone else, with varying degrees of success.

            [PS] As to your past listening in on the train, one hopes you saw this tweet, which was included in the On Point forum from last Friday:

            “Tom Matzzie @tommatzzie
            On Acela listening to former NSA spy boss Michael Hayden give “off record” interviews. I feel like I’m in the NSA. Except I’m in public. 1:34 PM – 24 Oct 2013″

            See:
            http://onpoint.wbur.org/2013/10/25/news-drones-obamacare

          • Jostrenz

            Henorama:

            I agree. There is a lot of hypocrisy. And there is a lot of glee in Germany like “Hey, she just discovered, she is one of us, we have been and are being spied upon, and the government had just some meek comments, but now it has become personal for her. As it has become for me. I was an exchange student from Germany in the mid-sixties to the US, and what I learned about democracy and freedom was very much formed in my US High-School education and with everyday life. And I am not too naive to still admit, I believe in those values and truths, I learned and experienced in those days.

            i can still recite without missing a beat a poem by Archibald McLeish:

            Freedom, when men freedom’s use but love its useful name
            has cause and cause enough for fear
            and cause for shame.

            and

            Freedom, that was a thing to use
            they have made a thing to save

            and staked it in
            and fenced it ’round
            like a dead man’s grave.

            I don’t know, if Angela Merkel had ever the opportunity to live such a great experience in Russia. So her disappointment with the Russians would probably be very limited, if she found out that they were spying on her, which they definitely are with all available means.

            All that said, it goes a lot deeper: It started off with terror prevention, the goal one should the means one might not agree with. It then goes to the “no exceptions made” surveillance. You, as a US citizen, or you as a citizen in the “rest” of the world, are not to be trusted. You are suspect to trying to do us (?) harm. Turning our values on their heads (and the US have been the heralds of these values) undermines all credibility in our efforts to spread those values.

            An acquaintance of mine (and he is not the only one) was just denied an entrance visa not because of his danger as a potential terrorist, but because of his opinion. He is a writer, who admittedly is very critical of US policies.

            Before this becomes to self righteous, I should quote Gustav Heinemann, German President in the late 60s (just a figure head like the Queen in the UK):

            Always remember, when your pointing a finger at someone, always remember that three fingers of the same hand point back at you.

            I enjoyed the exchange. Let’s just keep listening ti each other without bugging each other.

            jost

          • hennorama

            Jostrenz — thanks again for your thoughtful response, and especially for the Archibald MacLeish stanzas.

            Others would no doubt enjoy his poem ‘Brave New World,’ written in 1948, and which still rings true today. I found it here:

            http://vanishingamerican.blogspot.com/2010/10/brave-new-world.html

            Implicit in your commentary is that you have adopted the U.S. as your home. Have we also adopted you as a citizen? Sorry to hear about the immigration issues you described. One hopes U.S. immigration policy is improved apace.

            I enjoyed our exchange as well, and will endeavor to do as you suggest — to listen without bugging.

            As an aside, one of my friends in Germany calls me “chicken margarine,” based on my [hennorama] moniker.

            Thanks again for your thoughtful comments, and for acquainting me with Mr. MacLeish’s work.

          • Chris Durant

            I believe this simply serves to push the NSA’s actions back to the United States and our citizens. I certainly understand the need for foreign and even domestic intelligence, however with the mass collection methods currently being discussed there is a total absence of due process.

            Basically I see this collection as an absolute invasion of my privacy and a violation of my Constitutional rights.

            But then of course, I don’t have all the “intelligence”. ;)

          • hennorama

            Chris Durant — thank you for your response.

            I understand and respect your views, and there certainly is a case to be made for them. On the other hand, it’s a difficult thing for governments to balance the legitimate privacy expectations/rights of its citizens with the legitimate need for national security. What we have seen over the last dozen years is the pendulum swinging toward the end of the “better safe than sorry” end of the arc.

            The following is a repetition of a post from February 2013, on the topic of the use of UAVs (drones), that largely fits this topic, especially the last two paragraphs:

            “The US has a long history of interfering in the affairs of other countries when our leaders perceive an outside threat to national security or others societal aspects (such as business interests and safety of US citizens abroad). There is also a long history of other countries (most notably Great Britain) trying to interfere in our internal affairs.

            “The pendulum bob of US interventionism and isolationism is certainly on the interventionism side of the arc, but has moved away from the maximum amplitude reached under Pres. Bush II. The precedents set under that administration can be viewed as dangerous, especially when considering how they might be used as justification for actions taken by other countries. The current administration has largely continued the same policies, except for reducing overseas troop levels and areas of military occupation.

            “The consequences of recent US foreign interventions are only now becoming clear. The removal of various rulers in multiple countries has resulted in significant instability in the Middle East and North Africa, which will take years or even decades to settle out. US invasions, continued occupations and ongoing offensive military actions in various countries will definitely have repercussions for decades.

            “On the other hand, and more important to US domestic politics, we have largely been safe on our own soil. This is the ultimate consideration for all Presidential administrations, and is the primary reason that the executive branch wants to retain ultimate authority for the implementation of various policies designed to keep the US safe.

            “It’s quite difficult to balance all aspects of these policies, but all administrations can be expected to err on the side of actions that enhance US safety, regardless of the morality or legality of the actions. And when questionable actions come to light, there will be great scurrying about to justify these actions, or to show how legal considerations had been taken into account. That’s largely what we’re seeing now …”

            Thanks again for your response.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    What is with the open ended questions about how should we try and regulate the power of the NSA?

    I know the Constitution is out of vogue with modern Democratic Socialists and Establishment War Monger Republicans, but come on.

    Probable Cause? No General Warrants?

    We have the capacity, so let them just use it?

    Are you kidding me?

    • jefe68

      Are you kidding me? Lets pull out all the regressive right wing memes about “freedom” and the Constitution and blame Social Democrats. You even managed to add the word Socialist.

      • Government_Banking_Serf

        Sorry, I’m only supposed to call out the Republicans who don’t support Rule of Law Constitutionalism?

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Also, does anyone believe for a minute that anyone in Washington actually took the “bad” Iraq intelligence as being real? Give me a break. But we talk for whole segments with that naive presumption and ignore the bigger concerns of how lawless the DC establishment is.

    Rule of Law, Not Men. I know, I know, its too……1700′s!

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Where was all of the outrage when 15% of all Internet traffic in the World was rerouted through China back in 2010?

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/…/internet-tra...
    Nov 15, 2010 – Nearly 15 percent of the world’s Internet traffic, including that of many U.S. government …

  • jimino

    I’m just glad the so-called conservatives are finally paying attention like liberals were telling them to do 12 years ago. Of course that’s the usual course for how most things eventually work out. We don’t even care of the so-called conservatives claim the idea as theirs as long as it gets addressed.

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      you have a myopic view of the political spectrum.

      Libertarian type Constitutional Conservatives have been saying this longer than anyone. Just like the Financial Disaster/Scandal.

      If people could look up from there loving the DNC and hating the establishment GOP, they would find there are other views out there that have been empirically on the right side of many big issues today.

      Many like to snicker at the idea of trying to find the common ground between Ron Paul and Ralph Nader, but if we ever do the hard work of finding it, and at least implementing what they can agree on, we will much better off for it.

      But 2-party ping-pong supported by talk show hosts on TV and radio is so much more entertaining and self-satisfying, and less work!

      • jpolock

        I appreciate a LOT of your freedom ideas, however you seem to have fallen to the same old false equivalency going around these days.
        Also, I do wish we could have viable multiple parties, as in an actually democratic country like France (which has dozens of parties ranging from actual socialist and communist to centrist and Le Pen nationalist right wingers…quite similar to the current Tea Party actually…)

        • Government_Banking_Serf

          The problem is, compare Venn diagrams of the DNC and the GOP, and of say Ron Paul and Ralph Nader.

          Which set of overlapping principles would you rather go forward with? (or back to)

          • jpolock

            More Occupy, Less Tea at my party!

          • fun bobby

            in Worcester the tea party and occupy would hold joint rallys

          • Government_Banking_Serf

            That will be the only way forward if you at all believe that there is such thing as an institutional status quo that puts its own perpetuation ahead of the right of the people to govern themselves in a Constitutional Republic.

            TPers educating Occupiers about the value of the Constitution for the little guy, vs. Rule of technocratic well-intentioned men, and the occupiers hopefully softening some of hard social issue edges of the TPers could be productive.

            Could make personally tolerant, Constitutionalists out of all of them!

            Live and Let Live within a Constitutional Rule of Law.

          • fun bobby

            what I meant to say is that that has happened in worcester

          • jimino

            My problem with the tea party is that they claim to have been inspired to action by the crony capitalism best exemplified by the bailout and ongoing propping up of the financial sector, but all the candidates and elected officials who wear the tea party mantle talk about is dismantling Social
            Security, Medicare, SNAP, etc., and are outright hostile to any government oversight of the crony capitalists. What am I missing? Are there any REAL tea party candidates?

          • fun bobby

            you are right. both movements were inspired by bailouts but then quickly denigrated.

          • Government_Banking_Serf

            “dismantling Social
            Security, Medicare, SNAP, etc., and are outright hostile to any government oversight of the crony capitalists.”

            Well, as I’m sure you would admit, “dismantling SS, Med etc” is an exaggeration of real concerns people have about the mathematical reality of our debt.

            And “Government oversight of crony capitalists” misses the point, as it is the cronyism- the misplaced belief in a government-corporate hybrid to function without the inevitable corruption and lack of accountability. We shouldn’t oversee crony capitalism, we should get rid of it. Then we use good old fashioned Rule of Law to police the marketplace to punish actual lawbreakers. Let them compete, let them thrive, let them FAIL. Throw the cheaters and riggers in jail.

            The “can’t beat em join em” mentality will lead to nothing but inefficient socialism or some kind of fascism.

          • jimino

            So what entity determines exactly what “the law” and “the rules” are and enforces compliance therewith in your world?

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    As Ben Franklin stated, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

    Too quaint for you?

    What is with the historical blinders?

    Why do we suddenly trust massive accumulated power?

    Obama is hip? So every little thing is gonna be alright?

    Of course it is mass ignorance, mass lack of historical/political/governance knowledge, and mass hypnosis by gadgetry and false comfort from the Fed printing press.

    Self-governance. You would think that is self explanatory. Not today.

    • Davesix6

      Well said G_B_F!

    • jefe68

      So this self-governance thing works how exactly?
      If you need to build a bridge or a hospital how do you do it? If you need a fire department or a police force do you just get your friends together and make your own rules up and enforce them?

      You allude to the Founders and it seems that for someone who references history you seem to leave out large portions of who and what all those men were and their differences in context to what government should and should not do. By the way the Constitution was not meant to be forever laid to rest as some kind of stone tablets.
      The idea was it could be amended, and as history has shown us it has.

      • fun bobby

        jefe from the nature of your questions sounds like you understand exactly how this “self-governance thing” works.

        • jefe68

          I do from my perspective. I was trying to parse his.

          Anyway the idea of”self-governance” contradicts the idea of the rule of law, does it not? If you are a defining “self-governance” as centered on the individual, then how does that work if that individual disagrees with a set of laws that a group of other individuals have agreed on? Do they take the law into their own hands?

          • fun bobby

            interesting conundrum, if they have no laws how can they take the law into their own hands?

          • jefe68

            HAve you ever watched the film the Ox Bow Incident? It explains some of what I’m talking about. While you’re at it I recommend making it a Henry Fonda double feature and watch Twelve Angry Men as well.

          • fun bobby

            it sounds like you are trying to conflate self governance and anarchy

          • Government_Banking_Serf

            Exactly. If Harry Reid says it, it must be true.

            The difference between Constitutional protection of Freedom in a Rule of Law framework and Anarchy, is completely, and I suspect very knowingly (I hope so, or terrible thinking), lost on many commenters here.

            Thus we are stuck with the false choice of Democratic Socialism and establishment Republican State Capitalism/War mongering.

            The fact that there are peace-loving, War-protesting, Crony business-detesting, and Financial sector corruption-hating people who see that the Constitution, and Rule of Law, and respecting individual liberty is the way to confront those abuses of power, by what is really very simple, and empirically supported logic, is sadly lost.

            Here is where people try and say, “We tried that and it failed!” as if the last 50 years have not been a Federal Reserve, Washington, Banking collusive free for all, to benefit Finanicial sector and promise-making pandering Politicians spending printed money and surfing bubbles.

          • jefe68

            Democratic socialism? When you make comments such as this, as well as the rest of your diatribe, one can not take you seriously. The regressive right wing clown show continues.

          • fun bobby

            drink!

          • jefe68

            Be my guest. You regressive frat boys are a hoot.

          • fun bobby

            drink! you won’t be laughing when I send you the bill for all this booze

          • jefe68

            Nope. But if your world view defined through the lens of being a Libertarian then I can see how you would come to that conclusion.

          • fun bobby

            I am just trying to figure out what you mean by your movie references. feel free to elaborate on your position or go watch easy rider

          • Government_Banking_Serf

            you need to read more. As usual when I try to honestly engage you, it quickly becomes clear that you really don’t know what Rule of Law or Self Governance mean, to many many people, including our founders, not just me. I don’t understand why. Either you choose not to read the most basic things on the subject, or let your particular world view- which you a free to hold, but which may be a great odds to the overall America as a Constitutional Republic based on historical wisdom of Rule of Law- prevent you from at least understanding the point, whether you then want to agree or not.

            Good day fine sir or madam.

          • TFRX

            “Self” government fails again in Texas.

            What’s the count? A million married lady Texans who can’t vote because their birth and married surnames are different?
            Some laboratory you got there, Texas.

          • Government_Banking_Serf

            if you’re right, they will fail, or the ideas be discredited, and people will vote or move for change. Just let it happen. Stop pining for benevolent dictator solutions.

            Did you arrive at all your wisdom by having other people who know better cram it down your throat? Or have you thought, observed, learned lessons, etc. etc. and been able to come to your own conclusions, and now act and vote accordingly?

            Everyone deserves that freedom of self-realization or enlightenment or trial and error experience not just you.

      • jimino

        Don’t clutter up GBF’s mind with details. He’s strictly an idea guy.

      • Government_Banking_Serf

        Self governance, i.e. our representatives represent us and legislate accordingly, with the president executing the laws and supreme court making sure they are constitutional.

        As opposed to handing most of our power over to unelected technocrats who get blank check legislation we have to pass before we can see, and cabinet appointments filling in the blanks as they see fit. (Financial Crisis set up, Bailouts, Obamacare etc)

        Pretty black and white, as it the historical wisdom of erring on the side of Rule of Law vs. Discretionary Rule by Men.

        We used to learn that in grade school.

        Its not very complicated or controversial.

        • jefe68

          Your entire comment seems skewed in defined by a libertarian mindset.
          I’m not inclined to agree with the black and white notion. Laws can be unjust, such as slavery and laws that made women property.

          THe other thing about the president having a blank check is hogwash. But that seems to be in keeping with your right wing regressive outlook.

          • Government_Banking_Serf

            “Laws can be unjust, such as slavery and laws that made women property.”

            News Flash!

            Those things were found Unconstitutional, in an uncontroversial, straightforward reading of the Constitution. No twisted logic or discretionary judgement needed to right those wrongs.

            The only folks who should be afraid to compete in a free market of ideas and state experimentation (within Constitutional bounds), are those with bad ideas, which we be selected against by the peoples free choices.

            Its only the Know-better, dictatorial types who think we should cut out the People, and just have bureaucrats tell us what we should choose from on high.

            Again, this is not radical, its America 101

  • I. Spoke Umbra

    The NSA has a characterologically disordered culture: It is institutionally paranoid, schizophrenic, and psychopathic. You don’t stay in unless you are also see yourself as “uber-patriotic, ” thus able to justify any horror by wrapping oneself in the flag and thumping ones chest about national security.

    It was that way 45 years ago when I checked out, and it hasn’t changed. Way too many things were too secret then and those problems remain hidden now.

    Attempting to set operational boundaries is completely misguided as a permanent solution. All rules morph. There will never be any way to “control” any secret government organization without giving those with a moral conscience a protected way to reach our democratically elected representatives.

    • fun bobby

      well said, thank you for your contribution

  • Che Bianchi

    The professionals at NSA are far more trust worthy than those who apply laws
    to others they do not obey themselves and stick us with $17 TRILLION in debt.
    Keep watching the dog and Pony show folks, panem
    et circenses.

    • fun bobby

      who do you think is in charge of the “professionals” at NSA? you know snowden was one such professional right?

    • Agnostic58

      And you know this how?

  • Labropotes

    In his first inaugural speech Obama said that America had been in much greater peril than what it faced in 2008 due to terrorism and we hadn’t needed to abandon our principles to persevere. That was then. He could make your proposal anytime but has instead used the Fear of Terror as an excuse to redirect the institutions of government away from protecting America’s freedom.

  • jefe68

    By the way, if you use Cloud it’s not private. Any lawyer or government agency can subpoena this information.
    The idea of the right to privacy as it pertains to ones home does not transfer to the use of digital media. In other words the 4th Amendment does not apply to the use of Cloud technology.

    • fun bobby

      are you saying you have not taken advantage of free backup of your system?

      • jefe68

        I don’t use cloud. I have a backup drive.

    • hennorama

      jefe68 — indeed.

      That’s only one reason to think long and hard about using devices and applications that rely on cloud storage, cloud computing services, and cloud service providers.

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      I can’t believe we have become so clueless/spineless that we don’t demand that OUR information, if in a contract with another private entity, is protected as OUR private information, and can only be accessed via Warrant and Probable Cause by the third party Government. The idea is simple and seems very uncontroversial. If cloud data can be snooped without warrant, that is complete BS and we deserve what we get for being so supine.

  • fun bobby

    its a secret

  • Agnostic58

    It’s secret government. It’s rogue. It’s unaccountable. It’s undoubtedly unconstitutional if it could ever get the light of day in a real court. And it’s a policy every bit as menacing to essential personal liberties and rights as the threat it purports to be saving us from. If we truly believe security hypes all other consideration why not order ankle bracelets and national id cards for every citizen and be done with it? We’d no doubt be far safer. We also know better (or at least once upon a time, we did).

  • Agnostic58

    911 was preventable with the security measures that were in place at that time. The agencies didn’t work together and ignored the warnings they were given. The recent Boston Marathon bombing had warnings about the individuals involved from Russia which was also pushed aside. We don’t know how to handle the targetted intelligence we already have without these exotic mass collection, fishing expedition means. The idea that every phone call, every email, every IM ever posted or made becomes a permanent record of someone’s archive is more than the compromising of some personal privacy. It’s laying the foundation of a tyranny where everything you ever said or did becomes part of some government’s permanent record about you.

  • hypocracy1

    The NSA and intelligence agencies just need to work on their branding.. Once they figure this out people will be more than willing to provide every detail of private life. Just ask Facebook, Twitter, Apple, ect…

    • Agnostic58

      We’re just Facebook Supersized. The best part is: you don’t have to do any posting yourself on your profile – we do all that for you! NSA – Facebooking the easy way.

      • Wm_James_from_Missouri

        It would seem that there is only one solution to this problem. We will have to eliminate all faces and identities, and all independent thinking. Become the Universal blob.

  • hennorama

    The Washington Post did an excellent investigative series in 2010, titled “Top Secret America.”

    From the highly interactive, data-filled, very informative website:

    “Top Secret America” is a project nearly two years in the making that describes the huge national security buildup in the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.”

    It’s worth a look, despite being completed three years ago.

    See:
    http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-secret-america/

  • HonestDebate1
  • Sy2502

    Everybody getting up in arms because the NSA was spying foreign governments, which is it’s job, and nobody saying a peep about the NSA spying on American citizens, which is definitely NOT it’s job. People have their priorities on backwards.

  • Don Dunklee

    I wonder if we are spending too much time on government spying on us…..I think I fear the spying we let big business do with our daily lives more than I fear our government spying. We don’t complain about business snooping into every aspect of our lives and they make money at our expense with the data they glean about us…..our government, collectively, can not even tie a shoelace……big business, corporate america, the info they collect about us……now that scares me because they know how t ouse it against us.

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      You can use Google or not. Shop at Amazon or not. Use a credit card or not.

      Its not up to you to be snooped on by NSA or not.

      That we don’t appreciate these differences, and the threats of tyranny or big brother or whatever you want to call it, ignoring history, is deeply disturbing.

      I’m all for strengthening the privacy of our information that is given to companies, we just have to define the problem and abuse, and make it happen. Selling personal data is BS, and who has let it happen within our crony capitalistic system?

      The same legislative and executive branches that bring us NSA defiance of the Constitution.

    • ExcellentNews

      Lies, Banking Serf. The laws that permit the abuse and sale of personal data by corporations were enacted by TomDeLay Republican Congress, at the request of cronies of his, such as Texas’ Experian or Axciom. Putting any legislation to protect personal data (such as those in the EU) is a non-starter in a political environment paid for by billionaires. Most Americans don’t even know the names of the giant private corporations that specialize in data brokering, and that suck hundreds of billions in private service fees and taxpayer money as crony contractors.

  • jefe68

    Well that would depend on the crime.
    This has come up more in civil cases.
    Most people are not aware that the law does not protect their info if it’s stored on a drive outside of their home.

  • Ray in VT
  • ExcellentNews

    Our country has gone insane.

    We are treating our natural allies (the social democracies of Western Europe) like enemies.

    We are treating our natural enemies (slave-labor dictatorships, fundamentalist monarchies) like allies, sending trillions of dollars to their treasuries under the pretext of “free trade” and “cheap energy”.

    Our government is also giving trillions to crony contractors and service corporations faster it can print the money (Did you think the 17 trillion in US debt is in the mattresses of welfare moms?). And that money goes in numbered offshore accounts faster than you can say “tax cuts for job creators”.

    And we the voters are still electing the shills of the global oligarchy, so that this insanity can continue.

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