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What To Do With The NSA?

NSA spying. After all the leaks and revelations, does it get reined in?

Protesters hold posters of former National Security Agency member Edward Snowden in front of the German parliament building, the Reichstag, prior to a special meeting of the parliament on US-German relationships, in Berlin, Monday, Nov. 18, 2013. (AP)

Protesters hold posters of former National Security Agency member Edward Snowden in front of the German parliament building, the Reichstag, prior to a special meeting of the parliament on US-German relationships, in Berlin, Monday, Nov. 18, 2013. (AP)

When Edward Snowden went public with his trove of leaks on NSA spying last summer, he said his one big fear was that Americans would learn of the spy agency’s vast reach – overreach, he said – and do nothing to rein it in.  The world has learned a lot in the months since.  Astonishing leaks about astonishing data collection.  So now what?  Yesterday, the Supreme Court declined a request to get involved.  And the NSA itself released hundreds of pages of internal documents, trying to head off Congressional action to restrain.  Up next On Point:  after all the revelations, what should, what will happen with the NSA?

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Adam Liptak, covers the Supreme Court for The New York Times. (@adamliptak)

Orin Kerr, professor at George Washington University Law School. (@OrinKerr)

Jonathan Hafetz, professor at the Seton Hall Law School. (@JonathanHafetz)

Siobhan Gorman, terrorism, counter-terrorism and intelligence reporter for The Wall Street Journal. (@Gorman_Siobhan)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Congress and Courts Weigh Restraints on N.S.A. Spying — “The intensifying push against the N.S.A. on both the legal and legislative fronts reflected new pressure being put on the extensive surveillance effort in the wake of the revelations by Edward J. Snowden, pressure that is running into stiff resistance from congressional leaders of both parties, as well as the Obama administration.”

SCOTUSBlog: NSA spying challenge turned aside — “The EPIC plea was filed directly in the Court, without prior lower court action.  The group requested that the Justices direct a judge of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to vacate an order he issued in April requiring a branch of the telephone giant Verizon to turn over to the government a vast array of data, including sweeps of U.S. telephone calls and Internet exchanges.  The Court very rarely grants such a ‘writ of mandamus or prohibition.’ EPIC had contended that no other court was open to hear a challenge to orders of the FIS Court, so the Supreme Court should consider its case now.  The Justice Department had answered that EPIC could attempt to pursue its case in lower courts first, although the government has attempted to thwart review of previous challenges.”

The Guardian: Yahoo to add encryption to all services in wake of NSA spying revelations – “Yahoo will add encryption to all its products by spring 2014, chief Marissa Mayer has announced, in a bid to tackle users’ privacy fears in the wake of reports that the National Security Agency had accessed the tech firm’s data centers. In a blogpost on Monday, Mayer said: ‘We’ve worked hard over the years to earn our users’ trust and we fight hard to preserve it. As you know, there have been a number of reports over the last six months about the US government secretly accessing user data without the knowledge of tech companies, including Yahoo.’”

150th Anniversary Of The Gettysburg Address

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln’s speech on the Civil War battlefield that would come to symbolize his presidency.  Filmmaker Ken Burns — whose forthcoming film highlights the address — has created a website, Learn the Address,where people can post videos of their own recitations of the address.

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  • Wahoo_wa

    Snowden is about as much an American hero as Benedict Arnold was.

    • Libris Fidelis

      You are as much a US patriot as the people portrayed in Brave New World.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJbmB9k2Y88

      • lobstahbisque

        I’ve tried quoting from 1984 and Brave New World and unfortunately no one has read them. You are really too pneumatic…

        • TFRX

          I thought one can’t call someone pneumatic unless on’e’s seen a photo of them.

          • lobstahbisque

            Sorry. I was on Soma when I wrote the above.

          • TFRX

            Hey, at least nobody spiked your in-utero test tube with rubbing alcohol. I understand that has nasty side effects.

          • lobstahbisque

            Yup. Turns ya’ right into a Republican.

          • fun bobby

            we call it “social networking” or xanex

        • fun bobby

          If you did that I would give you upvotes

      • Wahoo_wa

        I think you are enormously naive.

    • Don_B1

      Clearly, even those who favor the highest levels of transparency should agree that the broad release of the NSA documents has created harm in our foreign relations.

      But also it has revealed the possible lack of oversight of this body with possibly even more damage to individual freedom without any or much gain in security for that individual.

      Scattershot actions by potential whistleblowers can be devastating while being even necessary when not done appropriately. The likelihood of such actions becomes much more likely when there is no strong provision for individuals to make the concerns about wrongdoing in an institution, public or private.

      There are reports that Mr. Snowden embarked on his one-man release barrage when his tentative explorations of how to change what was happening were not met with a reasonable process and his view of the harsh examples of how Prvt. Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks head Julian Assange were treated.

      • Wahoo_wa

        But was it his right or responsibility to do that? Was it his right or responsibility to put many people in danger because of his individual sense of what was right even though he probably only had a small piece of the context for what was being done? Snowden is no hero. He is an egomaniac. He does not deserve American citizenship.

        • J__o__h__n

          He should have just continued to follow orders.

          • Wahoo_wa

            If he had a strong objection he should have pursued them until there was action. There is always a way to be heard without committing treason. Always.

          • J__o__h__n

            We are finally having the debate that Obama claimed he wanted (but didn’t mention until he got caught).

          • Bluejay2fly

            You have probably heard of the My Lai massacre. Colin Powell investigated it and concluded that Vietnamese and US relations were good. That is the same man we trusted to years later investigate WMD in Iraq. I do not have much faith in the system. Seeing he was incredibly wrong twice!!!

          • lobstahbisque

            Actually no. NPR has talked with other whistleblowers in nearly the same position as Snowden. They were stymied at every turn even though they eventually contacted members of congress. That said, technically he did violate the law—- and he should have.

          • Wahoo_wa

            No he should not have. He committed treason – pure and simple. Contact more members of Congress, contact the Judicial branch, contact the Executive branch….throwing one’s hands up and committing an act against all American citizens is never the answer.

          • lobstahbisque

            i can’t quote the exact program but these people did all those things except for the executive option which was probably denied them. If you had heard the program you would change your stance. Or not perhaps. That said I agree he broke the law….. so did Jesus, look what they did to him for his whistle blowing.

          • Wahoo_wa

            Snowden is no Jesus.

          • lobstahbisque

            Nowadays. Jesus is no Jesus.
            I just think you are missing the nuances of the situation by stubbornly insisting on seeing the subject in black and white terms. I’m not interested in having a war of words when the subtext of the dialogue is merely, “I’m right and y’all is wrong.” If you bellow louder it doesn’t make you more right!

          • fun bobby

            how have you been harmed by knowing what has been done to you and your family?

          • Wahoo_wa

            Is that really a question? Do you understand international relations?

          • fun bobby

            seemed like a simple one but I guess it was too difficult to asnwer

          • fun bobby

            I feel like being spied on is an act against me, not telling me about it

          • fun bobby

            in gitmo no one can hear you scream. same with the place they kept manning in isolation for a year

          • Wahoo_wa

            Well at least you are grouping him together with other criminals…that’s a start…LOL

          • fun bobby

            lots of people we keep in gitmo have actually been cleared of what we charged them with even in the secret tribunals. they keep them there anyways. sounds like you have little concern for due process and cruel and unusual treatment of people who are presumed innocent.

        • Don_B1

          It seems quite clear that Mr. Snowden acted illegally in making documents public, if only technically (in relation to those documents classified but which should not have been).

          That was the reason that I included the need to have a better process for people wanting to protest potentially illegal actions by the institution for which they work.

        • disqus_qwehVZOt5U

          What ego-babble is this danger you refer to? You’re repeating the propaganda you’ve been fed by the government and the media. The one and only person Snowden placed in danger was himself by revealing the truth – which wasn’t pretty.

    • disqus_qwehVZOt5U

      It’s apparent you have no ability to comprehend you have been enslaved to the corrupt system that panders to the few. Snowden is my hero!

      • Wahoo_wa

        Governing people is inherently cumbersome. Our Constitution was based on the few leading the many. That is why we are a republic and not a democracy, that is why the Constitution provides for an electoral college and not direct elections.

        • fun bobby

          and we have a bill of rights that specifically limits the governments ability to search us and spy on us

          • Wahoo_wa

            and if you listened to the broadcast you would know that the broad data collection the NSA has been doing does not violate the Constitution because it does not specifically listen in on conversations. The NSA only collected phone records indicated who was called and who called.

          • fun bobby

            yeah right. that must be why angela merkel is so upset

    • truegangsteroflove

      Rhetoric, no substance. Name calling in lieu of logic or evidence, such as evidence of treason. This is the method of the intellectually and emotionally weak.

      Here’s some substance. Snowden revealed the National Security Agency’s massive and illegal spying on the American people. He also revealed secrets of government activity that were classified in order to prevent scrutiny by the public and accountability for wrongdoing.

      I don’t think it is necessary to think of Edward Snowden as a hero or not a hero. He did something heroic. I’m grateful. That doesn’t make him a hero for life. We are culturally obsessed and programmed to exalt people to hero status, when what they do, while heroic, are not done for the purpose of becoming heroes. Once we start calling them heroes, some resentful and malcontented people are going to come along and compare them to Benedict Arnold.

      • Wahoo_wa

        All of the things you cite are the exact reasons he is a traitor. So spare me the “holier-than-thou” bullshit.

      • Wahoo_wa

        Pure holier-than-thou nonsense.

  • Libris Fidelis

    “You cannot take the NSA down, most people have no idea what the NSA is… the NSA cannot be “fixed”. It is a violation of federal law to fix it. Our only hope is that when “the” U.S. Supreme Court membership “stacked-deck” is unstacked over time, that a court case can be brought to “the” Supreme Court to declare the anti-Constitutional 1947, 1949 and 1959 National Security Agency Acts to be unconstitutional, and then to UN-DO the whole ball of wax, and then start over with a CONSTITUTIONAL National Security ADMINISTRATION — which it is, but which is no longer immune to Congressional and Presidential oversight and control.

    An “agency” is a department, like the Internal Revenue dis-Service is a spy agency for the Department of the Treasury. HOWEVER… the NSA from its semi-Top Secret creation has ALWAYS been independent from and of our government, but AFTER the initial 1947 NSA Act, the additional 1949 and 1959 NSA Acts ALSO BLATANTLY made the NSA become a legal MILITARY spy on the public !!!! — Libris Fidelis July 9, 2013 posted to Newser”

    “Overwhelmingly, of course, almost everybody knows almost nothing about the NSA, but the NSA records every kind of seemingly-insignificant data just to record it for future potential use no matter how innocent that data is. That was how NSA was set up, to clandestinely operate domestically — and — beyond Top Secretly to acquire data on EVERYONE — including on the President of our United States!

    Obviously for people who have not read my previous postings, they almost certainly know nothing about The Black Closet prior to World War 2, or how Over-Seas Services interfaced itself with domestic spying with the FBI, and illegally domestically with U.S. military intelligence, to seek discovery of foreign spies and domestic traitors of our wartime country.

    I have already revealed many times in my news commentary and Facebook postings that the scope of NSA data acquisition runs from our elementary school records to our commercial credit and financial and employment history, and anything else that might come up under the realm of “identifying information of all natizens”, including pastime activities. This data acquisition process has NOTHING to do with any President or with Congress, since BY LEGISLATED LAW neither the President nor Congress has any control or authority over the NSA, and parts of the three NSA Acts that give the NSA this immunity are Top Secret — with the caveat that ONLY the NSA can determine if a person who has a Top Secret Clearance can even READ the Top Secret portions of the three NSA Acts — BASED upon NSA’s sole judgement as to whether the person with the Top Secret Clearance “has a need to know” what is in the Acts. You should NOT think that I am making any of this up… the sources I have found this information from are chiefly no longer available to the public… like the SIX DOUBLE-SIDE PAGE WITHOUT-ADVERTISEMENTS-EXPOSE OF THE N.S.A. written in the Los Angeles Herald Examiner in June of 1982. Daniel Ellsberg also revealed some of this information in his previous broadcasts and interviews and lectures, but many of his revealing writings and broadcasts have largely by court order been apprehended or deleted from the internet by guess who…? And every time Daniel Ellsberg tries to re-post this information on the internet, it is promptly either BLOCKED or is DELETED immediately after he re-posts this information… and by whom is anyone’s guess!!!

    Everything I am saying is at a very primary level, so there is MUCH more for everyone to learn about this clandestine anti-public espionage system, that our nation uses against our own people WITHOUT the public’s permission — but with CONGRESS’ FULL APPROVAL — THOUGH IT IS BOTH UN-CONSTITUTIONAL AND ANTI-CONSTITUTIONAL just like the unPatriot Act and the National Defense Authorization Act. — Libris Fidelis July 28, 2013″

    • Wahoo_wa

      You do have the option to live elsewhere.

      • Bluejay2fly

        NO, YOU DON”T. Moving to another country means naturalizing in that country which for most countries ( at least the livable ones) is very difficult. They have very stringent work requirements, language requirements, and other bureaucratic impediments. You do not get to walk into Ireland and say “Hey, I’m an American and I have decided to live here” because after your travel visa expires they will throw your ass out. My wife is Greek and the only way I can live over there with her is to prove I am independently wealthy, promise not to work, and not to use their healthcare ,and that only grants me a conditional long term visa. Also, with that visa you are still a US citizen living abroad and are subject to US law including paying federal taxes.

        • Wahoo_wa

          Oh…so you’re saying there are certain political norms in every country that govern the lives of the people who live there? Shocker!

          • Bluejay2fly

            NO, what I am saying is voting with your feet is considerably more difficult when it requires crossing national borders. You may want to improve your reading comprehension before making such flippant remarks.

          • Wahoo_wa

            So you’re saying it’s not worth the effort to be naturalized in another country to avoid something you disagree with even though you have no idea of what that something may or may not be? For you it’s better to complain about national security measures and invent conspiracy theories? Perfectly sane and logical!

          • Bluejay2fly

            I did make a passing comment about the previous persons post which did contain some extreme views but that should not be conflated as my overall approval of every solitary word in that post. I do believe we have had a gross erosion of personal liberty in this nation and that trend will most likely get worse rather than better. Primarily because that trend has been on a constant upward arc over the last one hundred years and nobody in that timeframe has sounded any audible alarm. While many tea party patriots and conspiracy theorists seem to hold on to many insane ideas they are at least acknowledging a real problem that exists which most other people are oblivious to. In this sense they are a truer friend than many of your other fellow citizens who are sane but are complacent. Our economic success has created a distracted citizenry which is more concerned about playing HALO and getting a new Iphone than learning the critical thinking skills necessary to properly critique government.

          • David

            It’s good that you’ve come to terms with the chains your masters suggest you should wear for your own safety ;)

          • disqus_qwehVZOt5U

            Complaining and bitching is hopefully what will move people to instituting a third political party that is not in the pockets of the one percent. If a third party were to be truly elected by the people for the people we might eventually develop hope of gaining protection against the slavery to the big corporations and the 1%.

          • Wahoo_wa

            I can agree with you on the third party since both parties are pretty repugnant but I do not believe whining brings about much change.

          • fun bobby

            agreed. what is your suggestion on how to disband the NSA?

        • fun bobby

          actually if you have any Irish heritage they will grant you citizenship there.

          • Bluejay2fly

            Grandparents or parents only.

      • J__o__h__n

        The last time I checked Angela Merkel lived in Germany.

        • Wahoo_wa

          But at least the guy could live in another country and wouldn’t have to whine about the security measures keeping him safe. Oh wait he would because the United States has considerable influence in protecting the free world.

          • Don_B1

            It is not clear that all the current NSA policies are necessary to protect the U.S. Consider how much safety was provided by listening to the conversations over German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone. Was there any likely positive benefit of doing that given that it would almost certainly come out sometime?

          • fun bobby

            wow can you believe they are so ungrateful?

      • Ray in VT

        Is that a sort of love it or leave it approach/statement?

        • Bluejay2fly

          Slaves had the option to escape north, jews had the option to run away from Hitler, and battered women can just get a divorce. Sounds easy to me.

          • Ray in VT

            If that was meant as a love it or leave it comment, then I don’t care for it. I have never cared for that position. I was once told that if I wanted to moan about the President then I should just move to another country. I am guessing that that person did not follow that advice starting in 2008.

          • Bluejay2fly

            Exactly

        • fun bobby

          and it wont work anyways they will still spy on you if you leave

      • disqus_qwehVZOt5U

        There are a lot of places to live in this world that is far better than the U.S.A.

        • Wahoo_wa

          Different yes. Better depends on the person I think. There are many places in the world I would like to live but I happen to live in the United States myself.

      • fun bobby

        yeah and? the NSA will still spy on you

    • Bluejay2fly

      God, I hope you typed that on some else’s computer. Very true.

  • John_in_Amherst

    Take down the NSA? But what would defend us from totalitarian regimes and terrorists and their snooping and intrusions into our private lives?

  • Molo

    What the NSA is doing is plainly unconstitutional. FISA is irrelevant. The data that they search, including the metadata that they play down, is the modern equivalent of “personal papers and effects” mentioned in the 4th Amendment. The agencies need a warrant for each instance of information gathering on US citizens that they perform. To assert that any search of the entire population of the US (or world) is “reasonable” (under the 4th Amendment) is to imply there is nothing that is unreasonable. That means the 4th Amendment would have no meaning whatsoever. Since the amendment exists, the only conclusion is that the spying program is unconstitutional. We shouldn’t need lawyers to explain this. Yet we have federal judges trying to lend cover to administrations of both parties to flagrantly violate the law. These are impeachable offenses and people should be imprisoned for this behavior. However, no one will be. Once the rule of law is ignored, the entire democracy and faith in government begins to crumble, and that is what has happened. This is to say nothing of the very real possibility that all of this information will be used at some point, whether by an overreaching president, a rogue agency, or a spy, for nefarious purposes. It is end times for American democracy.

  • creaker

    Given how wealth and power likes to leverage government for its own purposes, you have to wonder how this would apply to the NSA – whether using it to spy on competitors, or on environmental and labor activists that might impact the bottom line.

    On the flip side, some corporations are already receiving sizable amounts of money to provide their information on you to the government – and I expect those payments will only increase, regardless of the “worth” of that data.

    Whatever can be used, can be misused. And government is better at that than most.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Of course, Obama should expand and deepen his police state. Isn’t East Germany the model now for every successful nation: both in domestic stability/tranquility and foreign affairs proficiency? And who doesn’t admire its staggering economic growth?

    Could Honecker have achieved such happiness in his realm without the able assistance of his STASI? Heavens, no. Its contemporary, the NSA, will be the trigger that opens up the full potential of our divine inheritance flooding the earth with the riches and goodness we Americans truly deserve.

    Ein Volk ein Reich ein Führer!

    Thanks much. HLB

    In the words of the poet: freedom’s just another word for nothing.

    • adks12020

      “freedom’s just another word for nothing” … Do you mean songwriter? Isn’t that quote from the lyrics to the Kris Kristofferson song “Me and Bobby McGee”?…… “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”.

    • Michael Bristol

      it’s high time to update the slogans,
      to the right here at home, to what’s happening right now,
      namely,
      - All nations, One corporate board, All governments, all their agencies, and all of mass media well in tow.

    • fun bobby

      the stasi wish they had the internet and cell phones to find thought criminals like us

  • Ray in VT

    Any thoughts regarding the potential impact of, and the prospects regarding the passage of, the USA Freedom Act?

  • Charles Vigneron

    The Bill of Rights, 1791
    Article I : SOPA
    Article II
    Article III
    Article IV : Patriot Act
    Article V : NDAA
    Article VI : NDAA
    Article VII
    Article VIII : NDAA
    Article IX : Patriot Act
    Article X

    • Bluejay2fly

      George Carlin says we do not have a Bill Of Rights just temporary privileges that can be taken away. Ask the Japanese American citizens about their rights in WW2.

      • Ray in VT

        That’s very true. In times of fear or crisis, some people, especially those viewed as foreigners, outsiders, different or powerless can be subject to having their rights violated. To a lesser extent than Japanese internment were the World War One era violations. It is also very true that ultimately everything in the Constitution is in play. Anything in there can be amended or repealed. As a matter of simple fact it is merely about getting enough votes to do it.

        • Bluejay2fly

          Lets look at your most basic right for which many of our ancestors came to the New World for which is the right to own property. Yes you can own property but you must pay school and property tax or we take the land. You can only hunt and fish on said paid for land in accordance with our rules and regulations regarding hunting and fishing and you must obtain a government permit and pay fees to do so. You have the right to build a house on your land providing it complies with building codes, zoning laws, and you buy a building permit. You can heat the home but what you use and what you burn may be subject to local zoning laws. We have the right to enter said house with a no knock warrant in the middle of the night if we suspect you are committing a crime. If you resist even though half asleep and disoriented we will use deadly force to protect our lives first. If you have a dog on said land and it bites trespassers we have the right to remove said animal and have it destroyed. Now you may say that their has to be reasonable limits on some of these issues but how do you think these limits progress? Is it closer towards freedom or tyranny?

          • Charles Vigneron

            ‘The Records of North and South Hempstead, Long Island’ are available online. These are books of the earliest town meetings in the 1600s.

            The first two decades are largely about animal control, grazing rights and restrictions, people complaining of their neighbors land-use and sometimes restrictions were made, taxes.

            Colonial records and books have never been more available to the public. My earliest PDF book was published in 1765. Socialists.

          • Bluejay2fly

            If your implying that there was a time in US history when laws governing society were very restrictive then you are correct. I am certain life under the pilgrims or puritans was probably very regulated. However, the fundamental arc through out our history has been our dedication to allowing greater liberty in this nation. However, one trend working against that is this obsession with safety and how it relates to the degradation of individual freedom. We are so afraid of terrorism uttering the word “bomb” in an airport or school may get you instantly arrested. I guess the primary difference between an equally abusive government of our past and today is that by now we know better. I also suspect money is behind many of these key issues.

          • fun bobby

            they usually just shoot the dog right then and there

          • Bluejay2fly

            Not for a minor bite

          • fun bobby

            yeah right they shoot the dog way before it can bite them. they always shoot the dog if its a decent sized dog. if your door ever does get kicked in dive on top of your dog and yell ‘don’t shoot my dog” until you are tackled, sometimes that works.

        • fun bobby

          just ask the residents who have been exonerated but still detained in our concentration camp in cuba

          • Ray in VT

            The problems faced by those who were scooped up in foreign lands as a part of the “war on terror” are different than those faced by American citizens, as, at least theoretically and legally, we have the the protections enshrined in the Constitution. The so called “enemy combatants” are in a sort of legal limbo, at least that has been the claim. I personally don’t think that we should be in the business of grabbing people and holding them indefinitely. Of course habeas corpus didn’t help Jose Padilla.

          • fun bobby

            yup NDAA 2012 seems to have stripped us of any remaining protections or illusion of due process

  • TFRX

    Tom, ask your guests what the next administration would do to rein in the NSA. Just wondering if we’d be having this conversation now if Mittster or Old Man Yells at Cloud had won.

    While doing so, remember who was in charge when these laws got passed and enacted.

    • hennorama

      TFRX — is this todays’ first ‘Simpsons’ reference?

      Go Grampa Go!

      • TFRX

        I can’t begin to say I even knew the first person who bestowed that name on our press corps’ Original Beloved The Maverick.

        But I do know that when I first read that bon mot, I was wearing an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time.

        • fun bobby

          gimme 5 bees for a quarter

    • fun bobby

      NDAA 2012, naked scanners 2009

  • Bluejay2fly

    Rein in the NSA? That is like having a bully take your lunch money than asking for some of it back.

    • hennorama

      Bluejay2fly — It’s perhaps also akin to the bully taking the lunch money, then punching you out, because he already knew you were THINKING of asking for some of it back.

      Minority Pre-thwart?

    • fun bobby

      more like getting a restraining order against a sketchy stalker

  • jjp

    I don’t understand why people are surprised by this. What did they expect the Patriot Act to lead to?

    • Labropotes

      A few months ago at the height of the manufactured Syria crisis I downloaded a pdf of the Patriot Act to see if the US providing material support to the rebels would be a violation of that law. Unsurprisingly, I found the law entirely unreadable, page after page of clarity such as, “Sec 2332e of Title 18 is amended by striking 2332c and inserting 2332a.” Given that the law was passed just days after 9/11, before which it had never been publicly discussed, it just brings home the degree to which there has been a policy coup in our country. The authors and proponents of the law used 9/11 as cover to finish what they had long planned.

      • Ray in VT

        Do you mean “perpetrators” as those who pushed for the PATRIOT Act? That statement could be read otherwise.

        • Labropotes

          edited. thanks.

          • Ray in VT

            Okay. I was just seeking some clarity of intent.

      • jjp

        I’m not sure it’s fair to say coverup or to say that it was planned all along. In my opinion the Patriot Act was borne out of emotion not reason. It is vaguely written and leaves too much room for interpretation and manipulation. It was a slippery slope from the beginning and none of us should be surprised by the result.

        • Labropotes

          My point is exactly that it was NOT borne out of emotion. It was a first degree policy coup, not a second degree one.

          • jjp

            I respect your opinion. I see it differently but in either case the end result could have been foreseen.

          • Labropotes

            I, yours.

            This is General W. Clark saying basically what I’m saying.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RC1Mepk_Sw

          • jjp

            Thanks for the link. I watched it and what he’s saying is completely plausible to me.

  • creaker

    I wonder how this all would have been spun if there was currently a Republican in the White House? It’s interesting the current administration is getting blasted for what’s been built over the past decade.

    • disqus_qwehVZOt5U

      Interesting question. The answer is: It would be the same! Both parties have proven they can’t be trusted. I’m not sure which gang; the Dems or GOP, have the most crooks, thieves and criminals at any one time in office but it doesn’t matter. They are both taking their turns at doing the same thing. And people still believe that slavery was abolished by Lincoln. Again, I hate to be the one to rain on your parade but slavery in this country is live and well. Since 2007, 95% of profits have been earned by the one percent of the population. Doesn’t that tell us something? It tells me there is something desperately wrong with the system.

    • fun bobby

      I could care less who is president and which way it is spun. are you suggesting otherwise people would be ok with it or that otherwise liberals would be up in arms?

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    There will always be jews happy to help the SS march the rest of their friends and family to Auschwitz. That criminal betrayal of humanity is essentially what Orin Kerr is an apologist for.

    Hoober Doober

  • northeaster17

    Nothing to hide….Until you do…Then your out of luck

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

      “Nothing to hide….Until you do…Then [you're] out of luck.”

      If it is possible to be abused – it will be abused.

      • Labropotes

        Agreed. The failures in oversight, the overstepping of the law and disregard of the courts are of a piece with such powers, not aberrations. Anyone, including congress and the president, who cares to know this does.

  • creaker

    Part of this is setting up infrastructure to deal with the unwashed masses when the crash finally comes. We now have everything in place to implement a full blown police state overnight. They just have to change which way the guns are pointed.

    • disqus_qwehVZOt5U

      I hate to break it to you Creaker but we are already living in a police state. Didn’t you see all the cockroaches coming out of their holes during the Boston bombing? Didn’t you see the line up of police firing their guns in the direction of the suspect- who was unarmed- at a rate of hundreds of rounds per minute? This was in a residential neighborhood. These are the lunatics that are legally armed with guns claiming to be protecting us. Of the seven or so agencies that were present during the shooting the FBI stated that the suspect had been arrested and was found unarmed, while the local and state police reported that the suspect was heavily armed and returning fire! The one thing I have learned is that one cannot believe anything that government or any government institution says when they make a statement.

    • fun bobby

      they are already pointed at us

  • DeJay79

    I Love the Gettysburg Address! I don’t care how many times I hear it, the address always brings a prideful tear to my eye.

    I know this nation and this world can be great, we just need great leaders with smart people behind them, with no selfish motives other than to be regarded as wise and benevolent.

    • disqus_qwehVZOt5U

      Let us all know when you wake up from this fantasy you’re having.

      • Labropotes

        Disqus, the constitution was designed to dramatically limit the power of the kind of psychopaths that seek political office, as you likely recognize, and DeJay obviously does not. It’s not possible to eliminate the ‘human factor’ from political power. Even very good men are corrupted by power.

  • ThirdWayForward

    Totalitarianism is a much greater threat to our freedom and security than any terrorist attacks. Ask anyone who lived in the Soviet bloc in the Stalin era (or after) or in China during the Cultural Revolution.

    Imagine the NSA in the hands of a ruthless fascist like Herbert Hoover or for that matter, Scott Walker. Cheney was certainly willing to abuse the intelligence system in order to fabricate a pretext for invading Iraq. Another future ruthless politician could use the system to collect dirt on political opponents.

    It is surprising, given how dangerous this secret network is for people of all political stripes, that there is not a larger groundswell to bring the NSA under rule of law, public accountability, and real civilian oversight and direction.

    Democracy’s biggest enemy is mass complacency in the face of a slowly growing, but formidable threat to liberty.

  • disqus_qwehVZOt5U

    Well,… now you’re finally getting it! Yehhh!!

  • hennorama

    Surveillance set seppuku ? Seems sorta severe.

  • John_Hamilton

    What is most significant about conversations of the NSA is that there is NO mention of morality, of concepts of right and wrong. Constitutional rights are mentioned, which serves to confine arguments into nice, neat intellectual categories, but, while rights are important, what about morality without having to refer to the Constitution?

    Spying on other people is immoral. It can be argued that it may sometimes be necessary, but that does not make it moral. Beyond moral considerations, we might want to ask about the sociological effects of having a self-justifying subset of our population in the position of spying on the rest of the population.

    We have already seen the folly of having former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover having unlimited ability to spy on Americans. He compiled dossiers on every public official he could, and resorted to blackmail when it suited him, such as to increase the FBI budget. He tried blackmailing Martin Luther King into committing suicide over threats to reveal his marital infidelity.

    Part of the problem with these discussions is that, for reasons of radio production values and the pretense of high intellectual plane, supposed lofty principles are debated. In real life, the people who do the spying are the same as society at large -fallible, petty, mean and dishonest. They have and will misuse the information, and will exploit the technology available to its maximum potential.

    It’s an all-or-nothing predicament, and given the fallibility, pettiness, meanness and dishonesty of our elected officials and their judicial counterparts, we are stuck with all. And all means a completely immoral system. Or, paraphrasing the head of central intelligence, the least dishonest – for public testimony, at least.

    In actuality it can only be the most dishonest, as Edward Snowden has revealed. It is telling that our President and his administration’s response is to call Snowden a traitor and do everything the can to get him into custody, including vioating the sovereignty of other countries.

    • Labropotes

      Bravo, Sir.

  • fun bobby

    bingo.

  • fun bobby

    seems like any time I mention the NSA my posts take forever to post

  • fun bobby

    put him in a longboat till he is sober?

  • The_Truth_Seeker

    People need to develop their own encryption techniques, so there will be no “standard”. Also, Snowden is DEFINITELY an American hero – not question about that now. If this wasn’t true, we wouldn’t be having this conversation!! What – the American corporate-owned news media was going to tell us about this????

    • TyroneJ

      Self developed encryption is almost always trivially crackable. Al-Qaeda’s master bomb maker, Ramzi Yousef, was caught & the Bojinka plot foiled because Yousef used encryption he developed himself. If he had used real encryption (Twofish, Blowfish, AES, etc.) he’d probably have succeeded.

      • The_Truth_Seeker

        Maybe but then again – they were always hot on his trail and he was probably a suspect long before he started trying to create his own encryption (which I didn’t know he did but was probably pretty bad). In any case, having to decrypt thousands of different types of schemes (which can’t be done by computer alone), would pose a huge headache for the NSA (essentially taking them back to the days of “enigma” and “kryptos”). They would only do it if they already had a suspect (as should be the only time time it should be done, if we respect the 4th amendment).

        Encryption can be fairly crude but still take lots of time to decode. I would never ever claim it can’t be done, it would just be very time consuming and expensive. How long did it take to decipher “Kryptos”?

  • The_Truth_Seeker

    Obama could stop most of this overnight!

  • http://www.abicana.com/shop2.htm Knut Holt

    These comcerns are relevant for people in alll nations, because what is revealed is an overnational ordeal, not a strictly American one, and NSA is one node of many similar that are cooperating in watching us all. What ordinary people shuoujd learn, is that there is not any more any reason for trust ot any kind of authority. Authorities may be necessary, but the trust in authorities is not necessary or good at all.

    Regards Knut Holt
    http://www.mydeltapi.com

  • brettearle

    The balance between loss of Privacy, and national protection against Subversion and Security threats, cannot be ignored–as if Privacy should always prevail.

    Privacy can’t always win, unfortunately–even if there had been no 9/11.

    The problem, to me, is:

    The Federal Government may not be equipped, or motivated, to monitor, closely, the violations of NSA, CIA, and any other agencies or groups who might, at any time, overstep their authority.

  • TyroneJ

    The worst part of all of this is that the entire “War on Terror”, which is used to justify the NSA’s behavior, is a huge over reach.

    One of the callers said that 911 triggered all of this. He’s right, but terrorism just isn’t the threat to the US that the government claims, plain and simple.

    Terrorism strikes the fear that it does because one cannot see it coming and its apparent randomness in whether one will be a victim of it. But we live everyday with other threats that have these same hallmarks and annually cause many times the death & damage of a “911”.

    Every time you drive in a vehicle you run the risk of being killed through no fault of your own, just like in a terror attack. And your death from a car wreak is just as devastating to your family as if you die from a terrorist attack. We have a 911′s worth of these deaths every 5 weeks, so we’ve had over 100 since the real 911. A similar argument can be made about economic damage – we absorb four 911′s worth of economic damage every year due to weather damage, so we’ve had about 50x the economic damage of 911 since the real 911.

    And yet we live with cars without doing stupid crazy stuff that destroys our way of living, and we don’t all live underground to avoid the weather.

    Somehow we’ve let the government go crazy over this, and have lost basically every freedom the founding fathers fought for.

  • http://www.blogger.com/home Carrington Ward

    One very interesting question: what if Edward Snowden had not gone public, but rather followed the Hansen/Ames path of the well-compensated mole.

    At first blush, it sounds too much like the spy fiction-writer’s wilderness of mirrors…. except that Hansen and Ames are all-too-real ex-moles serving out prison sentences.

    And it raises the interesting national security question: does this extensive and capable spying apparatus actually compromise national security by providing our nation-state rivals the opportunity to ‘rent’ portions of this apparatus for their own use?

  • fun bobby

    throw them in the long boat till they are sober?

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