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Reining In The N.S.A.

A Federal judge throws down the gauntlet on the National Security Agency. How will the N.S.A. respond? We’ll go deep with The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza.

National Security Agency (NSA) Director Gen. Keith Alexander testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "Continued Oversight of U.S. Government Surveillance Authorities" . (AP)

National Security Agency (NSA) Director Gen. Keith Alexander testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “Continued Oversight of U.S. Government Surveillance Authorities” . (AP)

So, Santa’s not the only one making a list of who’s naughty and nice we learn.  The NSA’s making lists on everything.  In the decade-plus since 9/11, the NSA has gone on a data collection moon shot, grabbing data all over, data on you.  Edward Snowden pulled back the covers.  This week, a federal judge said the authors of the US Constitution “would be aghast” at what’s been going on.  “Almost Orwellian,” in its destruction of privacy, he wrote.  So, what now?  60 Minutes is not exactly tearing the lid off.  Reporter Ryan Lizza goes deeper.  He’s with us.  This hour On Point:  reining in the NSA.

– Tom Ashbrook


Ryan Lizza, Washington correspondent for The New Yorker. (@RyanLizza)

Devlin Barrett, Justice Department reporter for The Wall Street Journal. (@DevlinBarrett)

From Tom’s Reading List

The New Yorker: State of Deception — “In the days after 9/11, General Michael Hayden, the director of the N.S.A., was under intense pressure to intercept communications between Al Qaeda leaders abroad and potential terrorists inside the U.S. According to the inspector general’s report, George Tenet, the director of the C.I.A., told Hayden that Vice-President Dick Cheney wanted to know ‘if N.S.A. could be doing more.’ Hayden noted the limitations of the fisa law, which prevented the N.S.A. from indiscriminately collecting electronic communications of Americans. The agency was legally vacuuming up just about any foreign communications it wanted. But when it targeted one side of a call or an e-mail that involved someone in the U.S. the spy agency had to seek permission from the fisacourt to conduct surveillance.”

The Washington Post: Judge: NSA’s collecting of phone records is probably unconstitutional — “‘I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval,’ said Leon, a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. ‘Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.’”

Lawfare: Matinee Idols: Ryan Lizza’s Flawed Account of Surveillance Law — “The piece is marred by Lizza’s flawed description of surveillance law.  He oversimplifies, and therefore distorts, the legal issues in a way that fits his narrative of Senator Wyden as the hero of his story.  Perhaps the most important problem is that Lizza doesn’t understand the issue with FISA prior to September 11 that led to these programs. He explains that while the NSA ‘was legally vacuuming up just about any foreign communications it wanted,’ it needed FISA court permission ‘when it targeted one side of a call or e-mail that involved someone in the United States . . . .’”

Snowden To Brazil? An Open Letter Draws Eyes

Vincent Bevins, Brazil correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. Runs the “From Brazil” blog at Folha de Sao Paulo. (@Vinncent)

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  • alsordi

    Many people in this USA believe their democracy has been hijacked by foreign bankers, Wall Street, large corporations and powerful lobbies like AIPAC. If this is indeed the case, then the NSA, whose job is to protect the citizens from foreign threats to their liberties, would be not only complicit, but a critical tool and maintaining and growing, this oligarchy that gains more wealth and restricts more civil rights from the American people.
    Not only does the NSA provide the information to coerce leaders and control domestic opposition, the NSA is the CASH COW since it provides the inside information to expand the wealth of the plutocracy. This NSA scandal is about ECONOMIC SPYING and CORPORATE ESPIONAGE. And it is not surprising to know that many of its contractors and systems are Israeli, foreign entities. Ed Snowden is not just a hero…. he is a SUPER HERO!!!

  • brettearle

    How did this country allow a Federal Agency to acquire information on everyone’s phone records–just “in case” it, the Agency, needed it?

    While that may not totally exonerate everything that Snowden may have done, 9/11 should NEVER have eased the opportunity for the Federal Government to invade the privacy of the average US citizen.

    At this point, every citizen, in the United States, should regard George Orwell as a prophetic Hero.

    • Ray in VT

      Well, breattearle, I think that you rather answered your own initial question. Fear. Uncertainty. Those were some dark days following 9/11, and I think that we, as a country, went some places that we should not have. No one wanted to be holding the bag if another attack was successfully perpetrated, and perhaps, as Jasonturner suggests above, there is a sort of love for the sort of spy world. Whether that exists in real life or we are merely working off of what 007 is doing lately might be an issue.

      • brettearle

        Thing of it is, Ray….

        ….that which was ONCE the unthinkable becomes the EXPECTED

        • Ray in VT

          Agreed. I think that psychology would refer to it as desensitization.

    • HonestDebate1

      That’s actually the nub of it Brettearle. The “just in case they need it” dynamic is the crux. Once that concept is accepted the caveats regarding how long it is acceptable to hang onto that information (I think it’s now 5 years) mean little, they have it. That slope is awfully slippery. To my way of thinking it is clearly unconstitutional but the judges and the people who appoint those judges have to care about that sort of thing… and I don’t mean care about fundamentally transforming that little nicety.

      I do think we can remain safe in real time, without files on every damn body.

      • Ray in VT

        Do you mean the sorts of “true conservatives” in the Bush administration who got some of these balls of wax rolling? Let’s just remember who started these eavesdropping programs and how they kept them totally out of any sort of oversight, Congressional or judicial, for years, until they got caught, before launching into some ham-handed attack on the current administration for not cleaning it up fast enough or reining it in enough.

        • HonestDebate1

          I didn’t mention true conservatives.

          • Ray in VT

            But in the past you have referred to former president Bush as a “true conservative”, and he’s the guy whose people started these programs and ran them without oversight. It seems like their actions were fundamentally transforming the country by doing such things.

          • HonestDebate1

            Bush certainly spent like a liberal but if I called him a true conservative it was in the context of presidential candidates like McCain and Romney. I have pointed out many times that the squishy middle does not win, Conservatives like Reagan and Bush do.

            Bush did not abuse section 215. Bush did not target political opponents or people not under investigation.

          • Ray in VT

            So if Bush and Reagan were conservatives, and they spent the way that they did, then it seems like Conservatives have just as much to answer for on the spending front.

            Yeah, all that Bush did was conduct surveillance without warrants and just not bother with the FISA Court at all. No biggie. I don’t care for how Obama has handled a great deal of this issue, but at least his people are going through the courts. Bush didn’t. He ran a program outside of the law. So much for them law and order conservatives.

            Please show me evidence of President Obama targeting political opponents. Let me guess. IRS, right?

            Bush didn’t target people not under investigation? It also appears that these PRISM began in 2007. Who was president then? Obama, right?

          • HonestDebate1

            Bush was a piker compared to Obama, but it’s not about Bush.

          • Ray in VT

            I thought that this was about how “the judges and the people who appoint those judges have to care about that sort of thing”, and, considering the disregard for the law in this area displayed by the Bush administration, i.e. avoiding all Congressional and Judicial oversight and stating that they don’t need warrants when eavesdropping on a call with an American on at least one end, then I think that a great deal about this issue is very much about Bush. I forget, though, that it’s cool that he did what he did, and the person that we really have to blame is the brown guy.

          • HonestDebate1

            Obama’s white half is despicable.

          • Ray in VT

            But not his other half? Why the double standard? Are you treating the other half differently because of color?

            How about Bush’s white whole that did the things that I mentioned, or does he get the GOP pass?

  • JGC

    I read somewhere that only 1% of Snowden’s files have been published. That must be a nightmare for the NSA/Obama administration, waiting to hear what will be leaked in the other 99%…

    • Jasoturner

      Indeed. If having the truth come out constitutes a nightmare, they must be worried indeed. Secrecy and deception are so much more comforting!

  • Jasoturner

    If most politicians weren’t infatuated with spies and soldiers, this NSA story would be a bombshell. But congress is now obsessed with CYA, terrified that their total lack of oversight and unquestioning fawning over military and security officers becomes public knowledge. One senator from California comes immediately to mind as a perfect example of the species.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Just like maintaining the NSA surveillance flouting our 4th Amendment protections, the status quo in Washington protects its true interests in the pathetic Budget just passed, i.e. maintaining Too Big To Fail.

    Status quo apologists have no shame.


  • Government_Banking_Serf
  • Ray in VT

    Have there been hearings on the NSA since Keith Alexander testified in late October, and what is the status of the USA FREEDOM Act? Representative Sensenbrenner and Senator Leahy crafted this, and while some have described it as more of a starting point than an end, it is at least a start. It looks like it was at least addressed at a recent Senate Judiciary hearing.


  • Government_Banking_Serf

    That a specific case (Smith v. Maryland, 1979), about a criminal suspect with probable cause for having their phone tapped for metadata, can now be construed as justifying all Americans giving up all information shared with a 3rd party, with NO PROBABLE CAUSE is outrageous.


    With this kind of logic, that anything shared with a third party has no right to privacy, should we all have access to the Credit Card numbers of members of Congress? Why not?

  • HonestDebate1

    No one cold have predicted this in 1787 yet it seems to me the Constitution has it covered. Now if we can only trust the people we elected to uphold their oath, we’re gold.

    • RolloMartins

      So…we’re pyrite (fool’s gold)?

      • HonestDebate1

        See there, why’d you have to ago and say that? I was really trying to let the whole all inclusive thing sit uncommented upon.

        But yes, we are pyrite. We are fools for electing an administration who got it’s foot in the door then blew it wide open with a 1000% increase in Section 215 data request on individuals not involved with ongoing investigations. We’re fools for electing a leader who is willing to direct his power at political enemies to this unprecedented degree while our real enemies rejoice by exercising their will unchallenged.

        • Labropotes

          All government is by the consent of the people. They may be stupid to consent but they do.

    • Labropotes

      Someone needs to be prosecuted.

      • Government_Banking_Serf

        Yeah, just like all those financial bubble/swindle prosecutions.

        Same crowd, same lawless elite.

  • James

    I love the irony of today’s show.

    1st hour reigning in the NSA

    2nd hour profiling technology that would make the NSA giddy

    • Fiscally_Responsible

      Is this a great country, or what?

      • Barry Kort

        The US has been in the “or what” category for a long long time now.

  • alsordi

    The plutocracy has finally erected a comprehensive system to maintain their wealth and power. They own the congress, the courts, bail out their own banks, create more federal agencies to take away freedoms and militarize the police.

    And how do they do it? They have a disinformation network (the media) which is in hyper-drive in dumbing down the populace with a multitude of trash shows like duck dynasty, pawn stars, and trash picker shows. Evidently the new trend the media is pushing on the populace he lowest red-neck trash couture.
    ….As the income gap grows wider.

  • Shag_Wevera

    Regulating government surveilance over-reach is like taxing and regulating businesses, which is like squeezing a water balloon or a handfull of sand. It’ll make you feel better for a quick minute, but will accomplish little.

    • Labropotes

      Probably a good time to clear the grooves in the uprights of your guillotine of mud dauber nests. These can cause “chatter” as the mouton and blade descend, resulting in failed executions.

  • William

    NSA is more interested in protecting their bloated budget and workforce rather than using their assets and expertise in an efficient and legal manner.

  • Fredlinskip

    Judging by all the other things that occurred after 9/11, the “Patriot “ Act, extraordinary rendition, expansion of torture techniques and justifying the practice legally after the fact, the blatant lying to the American people and U.N. to justify occupation of another country; I am really surprised that people are surprised that this data “mining” is occurring.

    After 9/11, huge amounts of $ were thrown at NSA to prevent another attack. What did you imagine they were going to do with it?

    Within limit’s, this data mining process seems absolutely legit, as long as peoples info is only to be stored until a legitimate reason to monitor occurs, and in those cases FISA courts are properly involved.

    And it’s not surprising that these practices would be secretive

  • DougGiebel

    QUESTION for Tom and Guests:
    Given the NSA’s complexity, secrecy and willingness to mislead, how can anyone including whistleblowers, judges, legislators and the President ever really know what the NSA is doing, has done or plans to do in the future? Is the agency beyond outside control?

    Doug Giebel
    Big Sandy, Montana

    • alsordi

      Answer: They’ve got the goods and skeletons on everyone, including congress and presidents too. Like the CIA, they are an untouchable entity…a self-perpetuating monster if you will. To truly “reign” them in, as the On Point title suggests, would take extreme measures.

    • RolloMartins

      The NSA is like the FBI under Hoover. He had the goods on everyone; no one could touch him.

  • Coastghost

    Usage alert: I’m almost willing to bet that no gauntlet has been thrown down for any reason in well over a century, not even by a US Federal judge.
    The amazing thing is that, although the gauntlet has not been a standard part of soldierly garb for centuries, the nominative can still be spelled correctly even when the word is being used anachronistically. (Even in the Intellectual Capital of the US, distinguishing “reining” from “reigning” can be problematical, ‘twould seem.)
    Or should we expect Pentagon brass to defend the nation with halberds and trebuchets?

  • Barry Kort

    I suppose the NSA knows how many times Rachel from CardMember Services has called me (and probably everyone else here). You’d think the Feds would have enough data by now to regulate these recurring intrusions of home solitude.

    • Coastghost

      Ahhh! The Federal “Do Not Call” Registry! Yet another successful Federal program defending citizen privacy!

    • http://saultannenbaum.org/ Saul Tannenbaum

      Some of the Snowden-leaked documents talk about this problem and how they had to find a way to screen out telemarketers and email spam because they were filling up the databases too quickly.

  • toc1234

    Leon’s ruling will be short lived – the Smith v Maryland is too high a bar for him to simply dismiss it due to time and technology and volume. and as an aside, his statements that “the Government does not cite a single instance in which analysis of the NSA bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent attack” and “I have serious doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program” are just fluff. what does he really know about counter-terrorism? this is not his expertise. People can argue against the validity of the NSA program but Leon did not make the case.

    • Government_Banking_Serf


      “this brief monitoring of a specific criminal suspect bears little resemblance to the National Security Agency’s comprehensive database of phone records, which includes information about every call placed in the United States during the last five years. ”

      The Smith v. Maryland case is so much more limited; the person was a suspect in a crime and there was probable cause to get the “metadata”.

      The volume point, 1 person versus whole country, could not be more significant.

      Upholding that case will be as much a Constitutional tragedy, and more, than Roberts re-writing of the Obamacare law allowing the Federal Government to Coerce us into commerce.

  • RolloMartins

    60 minutes has jumped the shark.

  • Coastghost

    If we Americans are as maniacal in our regard for privacy as the media routinely try to incite us, why are sales of manual typewriters not showing up in the economic data? Why is the scale of USPS business not going up, if privacy is the American concern our media keep telling us it is or ought to be?

  • doggypeg

    Why is there no widespread effort to grant Snowden whistleblower status? How clear does it have to be that his revelations had more to do with revealing crimes and unconstitutional activity than national security? Embarrassment should not be the basis for prosecution by the Obama Justice Department.

    • creaker

      Scapegoat – while Snowden is demonized, very little is said about loose NSA procedures and policies that allowed someone to just walk away with huge amounts of sensitive data.

      • doggypeg

        It’s probably a good thing the NSA procedures aren’t tighter. Without Snowden’s access we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

  • alsordi

    Practically speaking, why should there be 100,000 people (NSA and their contractors) paid by taxpayers to spy on everyone??

    If they say its about terrorism, then get off of the AIPAC controlled foreign policy, stop backing their apartheid state, and there will be substantially less terrorists. And all the eavesdroppers, blackmailers, inside traders and perverts can find real jobs that actually contribute to society.

    • creaker

      It’s not just that – third parties are making money selling this data to the NSA. This has the potential of funneling huge amounts of tax dollars to select corporations.

    • James

      Jobs and money

      I’m sure there is someone out there who is convinced that this is part of some vital government stimulus to provide middle class jobs.

      I’m positive that there are politicians who have held fundraisers with this contracts.

  • Ray in VT

    I agree with the caller Sara(h) that we need to do things as a nation in order to ensure our security, but we need to do it in a manner that it in line with the law and that also serves to protect our liberties.

  • creaker

    Anyone wanna bet the NSA has reviewed whatever data they have on this judge, just to see if anything “interesting” turns up?

    • James

      Yup, my guess is they have some sort of advanced software which scans every comment for patterns. You can cover a lot bigger part of the Internet that way.

      Or they could have some guy sitting there slipping his coffee checking 20 to 30 message boards. It’s the federal government so I won’t put it past them.

  • Charles Klinetobe

    In 60 Minutes audio that was played, Keith Alexander said that the NSA can inform the FBI this number has called this person who is a really bad guy. That is a deflection. If the person is known to be a really bad guy, then a normal search warrant can easily be obtained. What’s more, you can even tap the line with a search warrant. That describes something entirely different than what is being done.

  • James Patrick Dwyer Jr.

    I find it interesting that anyone would take anything 60 minutes says seriously. They have just about much credibility as Fox news.

  • Bigtruck

    This did nothing to stop Boston and we haven’t really seen any track record to justify the cost or the loss of freedom.

  • wiredsam

    What about the great gap between Obama’s campaign rhetoric re rights,
    Guantanamo, and on, and his leadership as our Chief Executive? He’s not
    exactly being dragged along against his desired course.

  • Charles

    What the expansion of the NSA represents is throwing good money after bad. Our absurd interventionist and bellicose foreign policies made this mess for us, and our military-industrial state has contrived to use terrorism as a cover to pour vast sums of money into their machines. The best way to spend our little remaining capital, both political and monetary, would be to find a way to peacefully coexist in the world.

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      That’s what Ron Paul kept saying in the debates, the crazy coot!

  • Unluckyimmortal

    A caller (Sarah?) says we need programs to keep us safe, but from what, exactly, and how? The NSA program was in place and the Tsarnaev brothers still managed to bomb the marathon. In fact, as it was, they were caught more or less by accident.

    The problem is that we’re not allowed to know what specific plots, if any, are actually interrupted by the surveillance programs, and the NSA has proven perfectly happy to lie and obfuscate about what those programs actually do.

    Finally, we need to balance our response to the actual threats we face. We lost, for example, far more American citizens permanently injured or killed in our response to 9/11 than on 9/11 itself.

    The Cold War ended about 25 years ago now, and yet we’ve
    decided we need to have more domestic spying than we were willing to accept during that time period – when the US had literally thousands of nuclear weapons aimed at us. Why is that? Could it be that we’re reacting out of visceral fear and media hype?

    To put it bluntly, more people were killed and maimed in car accidents in the Boston area on the day of the marathon bombing than were killed or maimed by the bombs. I think fear of terrorism poses far more danger to America than terrorists do.

  • Labropotes

    The level of consensus on this topic is amazing and encouraging.

    • Ray in VT

      But broad public support doesn’t get stuff through Congress, which is one place where something can be done, I think, on this issue.

      • Labropotes

        Things have a way of reaching tipping points where impossible change becomes inevitable change. I’m optimistic on this topic, though we are in a really bad and dangerous place.

        • Ray in VT

          I’m in pretty general agreement with you on this, although I am perhaps a bit less optimistic. There currently appear to be 106 cosponsors for the USA FREEDOM Act (I really do hate some of these convoluted acronyms) in the House and 18 in the Senate. One does wonder, or maybe one shouldn’t given the state of politics in D.C., why this hasn’t made it to the floor as of yet. I know that the gears move slowly, and there is an intentionality built into some of that, so maybe I’m just being impatient on this matter.

          • Labropotes

            Look, as of 11:21, no one in today’s thread has called anyone else an unkind thing. Possibly unprecedented.

          • hennorama

            Labropotes — why are you keeping track of all of our behaviors? What will you use this information for? Are you storing it? Is it searchable? ;-)

          • Labropotes

            I do it for the money. /sarc

            But it’s great right? I mean people who can agree on even one thing have something to build trust on.

          • hennorama

            Labropotes — indeed it is notable and nice that respectful exchanges have occurred. That it takes near universal agreement on an issue for this to come to pass is unfortunate, and one hopes for future respectful disagreements.

            However, one must recommend not interrupting normal respiration in anticipation of such an outcome.

  • hellokitty0580

    You know, I’m from Connecticut and when I was in high school I experienced gun threats and my school was locked down because of a bombing. I lived in New York City during the potential Times Square bombing. I live in Boston and I was here when the Boston Marathon bombing took place. Despite all that, I don’t believe that what the NSA is doing is right. We are a country of laws that protect people from illegal search and seizure and we have due process. You are innocent until proven guilty. If the NSA is so effective then why have we had all these school and public shootings? Why haven’t those people been able to be stopped?

    It’s ridiculous. I believe in our country’s security, but I don’t believe that this is the way. I believe there has to be a better way. And by the way, I’m a millenial and this scares the pants off of me.

  • TyroneJ

    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 unforeseeable random economic damage – we absorb four 911′s worth of random 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 destroying our freedom, and we don’t all live underground to avoid the weather.

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

    The bottom line is that while there is zero evidence that terrorism is a threat to these United States, there is plenty of evidence that the behavior of the NSA is a huge threat.

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      But Mr. Obama seems like a good enough guy. Harry Reid’s got our back. Larry Summers and Ben Bernanke can fix those economic woes. What’s wrong with a little benevolent technocratic dictatorship?

      Founding Fathers? That’s so……. 1700′s!

  • tncanoeguy

    Being somewhat serious – what if we all send messages with key words (jihad, bomb…?) as a form of protest. Would we swamp the spooks with bogus “relevant” info?

    • hennorama

      tncanoeguy — thank you for going first.

      Seriously, such one-off communications are likely to be filtered out.

      But you should go ahead and try it. Perhaps throw in some threats against the Chief Executive for good measure, just for fun.

      Assuming you want some up close and personal attention, of course.

      • tncanoeguy

        Tip of the spear!

  • http://saultannenbaum.org/ Saul Tannenbaum

    Our discussion of this still lags from what the NSA is doing. As Ryan Lizza just said, they could do all this the old fashioned way.

    This is about “big data”, about mining these data sets for patterns. If you look at the current research (“Cross-Mission Challenge: detection of subtle patterns in massive multi-source noisy datasets” – http://ieee-hpec.org/2013/index_htm_files/11_130716-D4Mschema.pdf ) you see where this is going. The 60 Minutes piece showed how they look for people who talk to pirates. What they really want to do is find other people who talk like pirates talk. That’s moving from guilt by association – which is what contact chaining is – to guilt by pattern. And if that isn’t Orwellian, I don’t know what is.

  • Coastghost

    Has “state security” been the actual motivation for the NSA? To hear our talking heads, it sounds much more like the NSA merely possessing a capability it wanted to try out: categorical imperative had nothing to do with NSA action, the agency simply acquired a technical capability it could not resist testing as extensively as the law permitted.

    • Charles

      I don’t normally agree with your views, but I’m pleased to see that you and I (and many others) are on the same page on this.
      Hopefully, a lack of partisan bias on this issue will help move it through the Congress, though I’m not optimistic.

      • Labropotes

        Turn that frown upside down, Charles!

  • SteveTheTeacher

    President Obama, and Clinton before him, have made very clear the degree to which the Democrat and Republican parties are both too supportive of the war/security industry.

    Not too much mention in the mainstream media of how the NSA helped track down Nelson Mandela and continued to provide the Apartheid governent with info on the ANC after his arrest. For that matter, I didn’t hear mention of the NSA’s surveillance of US anti-apartheid activists.

  • hennorama

    Exactly what is the upside to politicians if they promote a lessening of the NSA practices (that we know about), and/or increased scrutiny of them?

    They are damned if they do and damned if they don’t, since all it would take is one major incident that could have likely been prevented by current practices for public opinion to turn against them.

    That may be why they are effectively leaving it to the courts to work out these issues before taking legislative and/or executive action.

    • Labropotes

      How about you personally? Would you be open to the argument that the occasional terrorist attack is an acceptable cost to maintain our civil rights? I am open to it.

      • HonestDebate1

        It seems to me it’s a matter of what the Constitution allows and is independent of whether we are attacked.

        • Labropotes

          In a way, I agree. But I also believe that the law is a moving average of what’s expedient. I might not like it, but if ten malls a day get bombed, I would expect to live in a police state.

        • brettearle

          The Constitution never took 9/11 into consideration.

          Nor did Condoleezza Rice.

      • TyroneJ

        Why not? We already accept ten 911′s worth of random deaths per year from automobile accidents, yet we let people drive cars because we as a society have decided the detrimental effects of banning cars is too great. (Actually, we as a society are not that rational.)

        • brettearle

          That’s an intriguing point.

          But, you know, it’s a matter of societal acceptance or resignation.

          While we accept automobile accidents as inevitable, we can’t–for obvious reasons–see Terrorist Acts as inevitable.

          Since cars provide enormous efficiency, productivity, and leisure, we must see auto mishaps as absolutely part of the cost of doing such business.

          The cost of a Terrorist attack is not simply potentially large-scale death. But also, to wit, Terror!

          And, as an aside variable, the large- scale death factor, for Terrorism, is like the perception of a plane crash to many auto accidents:

          Some how it seems much more major (statistically and otherwise) for deaths from a plane crash–when it isn’t.

        • hennorama

          TyroneJ — the obvious difference is one of intent.

          Vehicular fatalities are almost universally unintentional, whereas fatalities and other casualties from terrorist attacks are an intentional outcome.

          • Saul B

            You mean the 10,000 or so deaths last year from drunk driving were purely unavoidable accidents?

            I’m sure that’s solace to the victims’ families.

          • hennorama

            Saul B — thank you for your response.

            Not unavoidable, unintentional.

            A very large part of those fatalities could be avoided by universal ignition interlocks, but that’s not gonna happen.

          • spiral007

            Following this interesting train of thought, why not have universal ignition locks?….presumably because that interferes with some fundamental right; yet we are willing to give up our 4th amendment rights!!!

        • HonestDebate1

          Acts of terrorism are anything but random.

      • hennorama

        Labropotes — we already have “the occasional terrorist attack,” but thankfully they have been small-scale.

        Low-level attacks involving one or two attackers/plotters are virtually impossible to prevent.

        On the other hand, major incidents, especially those involving multiple plotters (which were the topic of my post), have been practically non-existent. This may be due to these programs, or to sheer luck, or to something else altogether.

        This is not to minimize the impacts of the deaths and injuries as a result of incidents such as the Boston Marathon bombing, or Ft. Hood, for example.

        My personal opinion, openness, or lack thereof has no relevance, as I have no power over the matters at hand. Observations as to the politics of these issues are put forward in an effort to point out what may be the reasons behind legislative and executive inaction.

        One also must note that the more time that passes without major incidents, the more likely the pendulum will swing away from what some view as surveillance excesses.

        This still doesn’t change the political calculus for legislators and the executive.

        • Labropotes

          The way to protect ourselves against demagoguery is to dismantle its arguments, By recognizing that under a theoretically perfect form of government, individuals would still have the power to harm one another, we prevent someone doing harm becoming a reason to remove freedom from anyone but the wrongdoer.

          • hennorama

            Labropotes — TY for your response.

            That may be true in a perfect world, and under a perfect form of government, but as neither actually exist, we are left with reality.

        • HonestDebate1

          Until we understand the enemy, it’s all for naught. There was ample opportunity to intervene before the Ft. Hood massacre. There were warning signs before the marathon bombings. And that is without listening to my calls to my grandmother. sitting back ands saying that wasn’t too bad, is not a prudent strategy.

      • brettearle

        Problem is, one terrorist attack can supersede Fukushima.

        That’s what me–over here on the Left (and I believe you’re over here, too)–has to reconcile.

        • SteveTheTeacher

          If my son or daughter were getting married and somebody dropped a bomb on the wedding party killing over a dozen, I’d consider it an act of unconscionable terrorism no matter who was in attendance.

          As President Obama was chiding the world for the fact that many are “persecuted for what they look like, or how they worship, or who they love,” on his authority weaponized drones dropped bombs on a Yemeni wedding party killing 17 and wounding many more.

          Why should any person or any group of people get to determine that some lives are more valuable than others?

          I may not be able to do much to stop terrorism, but damned if I don’t do as much non-violent action as I can to stop the US government from continuing the state sponsored terrorism of targeted killing and profile/crowd killing.

          • brettearle

            Look, Steve….

            In the end–because ALL countries are either capable of being immoral or ARE immoral….in the end….it’s matter of whether you and your family have a good bomb shelter or not.

            That, I think, for my money, is what it boils down to.

          • SteveTheTeacher

            I understand your point about the capability of those in power in all countries to act morally or immorally, but I travel to a lot of places in the developing world.

            My sense is that those who push violence and hatred are a minority – maybe not so among those in power. I’d say, for the most part, people, including those in areas we in the US consider our “enemies,” are generally peaceful and good-natured.

            While it may seem daunting, with the technological advantages that we have nowadays, its more possible than ever for us to build bonds among people from around that world that can withstand efforts to sow hatred and division. We can strike a profound blow to terrorism when more of us, around the world, share a feeling of loss and outrage towards killing.

          • brettearle

            OK, that’s well said.

            In fact, the reason why I’m writing back is because the way that you said, what you said, is a cut above what I usually hear.

            Question is, How?

            You mean, Social Media?

            Why don’t we bandy this back-and-forth a bit, here?

          • SteveTheTeacher

            Yes, I was was thinking about social media, particularly among young people, that’s not to say that its the only or best way.

            I’ve worked helping schools in remote areas get internet access.

            I think that if more people around the world get connected through social media and translation applications, they will build stronger bonds with one another. No doubt it will take effort and a bit of time, but I’m still optimistic.

            Best to you brettearle.

          • brettearle


            What will you, or can you, personally do, to strengthen this opportunity?

            Or…what can you and I do, or what can we all do?

          • brettearle

            Hey, look!

            A disaffected Right Winger–we know who you are–didn’t like my Polyanna-ish approach, in the comment above.

            And so what does he do?

            He displays his Cowardice by clicking, `Thumbs Down’ for my comment.

            Indeed, he does this, relentlessly….with many of my comments.


            Because he doesn’t have the GUTS to confront me publicly and enter into a Man-to-Man debate.

            Instead he simply hides in the back alleys…..

            Right Wingers usually are Cowards. And He….is….one…..of….the….Biggest!

            As Cheney said, “Big Time.”

          • SteveTheTeacher

            A common practice of those who strive to maintain unjust practices and systems is to tie up those of us who work for social justice with needless distractions.

            More power to you if you are able to do the same to your right wing critic, who clearly finds you intriguing and/or threatening. Otherwise I’d say ignore the nonsense.

          • brettearle

            Steve….see my recent comments, today, to Hennorma, above.

            Henn and I are `ole buddies, here, on the Forum.

            Forget all the reasons why it’s a waste of time to discuss your Idea–in some sort of practical way.

            I mean, all we’re doing is talking…..

          • SteveTheTeacher

            Good questions which, as Hennorama demonstrates, I can not fully answer.

            For now, I try to use my strengths. I’m a science/engineering geek, so I work on helping bring sustainable energy to remote locations with a focus on clinics and schools. Where possible, I’ve tried to help set up schools with computers. I’ve tried, and failed so far, to set up a pen-pal thing between kids.

            Can’t provide you, or anyone, with any specific recommendations other than to suggest that you focus and what your good at and what you like.

            I will say, however, that we need to get our government to act more humanely abroad. Any good will that we are able to create in remote Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, etc. is still one drone strike away from being obliterated.

          • hennorama

            SteveTheTeacher — please allow an interruption.

            Social media, young people, and privacy seldom mix well, and unfortunately, young people need protections not only from others, but from themselves as well.

            Just ask this young woman:

            “Alicia Ann Lynch, a 22-year-old from Michigan, tweeted and Instagrammed a photo of herself at work dressed as a Boston Marathon bombing victim for Halloween.”


          • SteveTheTeacher

            And I was just about to solve the world peace problem. Thanks a lot!

            It is a good point. Nothing is simple. But still I go about solving things will openly run oversight rather than the NSA/CIA spying, lying, and worse.

          • brettearle


            It may seem basic–and yet, at the same time, complex–but I think Steve’s onto something.

            Let’s all 3 at least discuss it, shall we?

            A guy like you, Henn, could be of absolute, enormous benefit to this Concept.

            I’m going to explain to Steve–in one sentence above or below–that you and I are Forum buddies.

            Henn….no one’s asking you to sign a contract. And none of that urban cynicsim, please. At least, initially, be your `ole humble self….

          • hennorama

            brettearle — first of all, I was trying (feebly, of course) to point out the irony of discussing Social Media, which collects vast amounts of personal information about its users, against the background of the near-universal agreement that the NSA collecting vasts amounts of business records from telecom companies is a horrific violation of the Bill Of Rights.

            It is clear that the world has become smaller and more free with the advent of easy and near-instantaneous sharing of thoughts and information across vast distances, enabling personal connections that were nearly impossible only two decades ago.

            Witness our interactions.

            It is also clear that such easy and near-instantaneous sharing of thoughts and information can have significant dangers and potential downsides.

            Witness Ms. Lynch and her cluelessness, the damage from which is relatively benign.

            These are two sides of the same coin.

            All of that being said, I am absolutely open to further discourse.

          • brettearle

            He may not be accustomed to the Reply Tally Indicator…..

            Thanks for your comment above.

            It’s possible–but not easy or definite–to catch a wave.

            [Remember Lennon's comment? "All we are saying....."]….

          • brettearle


            We literally need a PointMan for that–like what Zuckerberg [sp?] was to FaceBook.

            Hint, Hint…..

            [I could help you with it; my writing skills are quite well-developed. Trust me.]

      • nycXpat

        THIS is the conversation what we (those that value civil liberties and want to be honest) need to have. We also need to demand from the knowledgeable strategies that prevent the KGB-ification of our gov AND keep the monsters (that we may have stupidly created) at bay.

        Without that conversion (long, in public, in depth) we are giving them a pass by accepting the false choice of Privacy (freedom from gov) or Protection.

        We do have to look inside and acknowledge publicly that we are willing to demand from our families, neighbors, ourselves a certain amount of REAL pain to maintain a free society.

        • Labropotes

          Obama in Jan 2009: “We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.”

          Obama in June 2013: “You can’t have 100% security… and then also have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience…. We’re, we’re going to have to make some choices.”

    • brettearle

      My head spins on this one; and though my instincts are decidedly on the Protect-Privacy side, if I let a smidgeon of thought in—-of, “all it takes is one slip-up” (Human Fallibility program, Turgidson [sorry, folks....it's an inside joke])—-then I buckle.

      But, in any case, well said, above. [Political relelection campaigns--while always still important--may be a bit less critical, in this particular quandary, for DC politicians, in terms of the way they might view it.]

      • hennorama

        brettearle — thank you for your response and your very kind words.

        Like all animals, political animals value self-preservation quite highly, and at times, to the exclusion of all else. We forget this at our peril.

        • brettearle

          That link to the Halloween costume, below, depicts the lowest form of Sarah-Silverman-like Humor that one can muster.

          A character, `inspired’ by her, should be featured in a banned-in-Boston, crucible fable, where she is tarred and feathered and put in a public stockade–for such high crimes and misdemeanors….

          …..right there, In the Boston Public Gardens, where the Make-Way-For-the-Ducklings Mother Mallard, walks by and pauses to take a dump on the character’s nose.

          [Pardon my graphics, here, but it's deserving. And remember, it's only fiction....a story to make up and to read.]

          • hennorama

            brettearle — I doubt that Boston needs any reminders of how foolish some young people can be, given the number of college students in the population.

            That doesn’t mean that your idea does not have merit, but perhaps that it might lack for an appreciate audience.

            There is, as always, no accounting for taste, and few ever go broke underestimating the intelligence of the audience.

            As an aside — the Celtics are 3 games under .500 and are in 1st place? Beware dark skies and the red tide.

          • brettearle

            I take back my above comment:

            We need to replace that woman in the stockade, with Danny Ainge.

          • brettearle

            I take back my comment, above:

            We need to replace that woman in the stockade, with Danny Ainge.

          • hennorama

            brettearle — doesn’t Mr. Ainge already face the “stocks” and stockade of sports talk radio, and the sporting press of Boston?

          • brettearle

            Not AT all.

            For one thing, when the C’s are modiocre or bad, they’re fogotten.

            When they’re good or very good, they’re still second class citizens.

            Ainge is also protected because Sports Media need access to him and his organization–in order for them to do their jobs.

            While he caught flack for the Perkins trade, he basically came out of that with Reaganesque teflon…..

            largely because Celtics Nation didn’t understand the nuances of the transaction:

            an excessive dependence on Shaq getting healthy

            a panic reaction to Marquis Daniels sustaining a mortal injury

            a stubborn refusal by Grand Daddy Wyck Grosbeck [owner] to do anything other than what Ainge says about money–NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.

            What’s more, Celtics Nation never vilified Ainge for losing Tony Allen, Ray Allen, and James Posey–because there is a tendency in this town to see players who leave as turning state’s evidence.

            Even the entire Boston Sports Media are in full denial about Ray Allen’s clutch shot in the Finals–that basically brought home another Flag for the Heat.

            NOT ONCE was the loss of RA ever discussed–ESPECIALLY AFTER THE CLUTCH SHOT.

            And Ray’s still knockin’ down 3 pointers for LeBron & Co.

            Disgrace. It didn’t have to BE this way.

            Had they kept Posey, both Allens, and Perk, the Celtics would have won at least one more championship–IF NOT 2.

            Hell, as it was, without Tony Allen, Posey, and Kendrick injured, they almost won another, against the Lakers in 2010.

          • hennorama

            brettearle — I bow to your superior knowledge. BTW — it’s kinda fun to read you when you get riled up.

          • brettearle

            Vielen Dank. I appreciate that.

  • http://www.CayerComputing.com/ Melissa A. Cayer

    From the movie “Falcon and the Snowman”, “I know a little about predatory behavior.” I always wondered what he meant by that.

  • JohnGSB

    I think it is unreasonable for the pundits (professional, elected or amateur) to tell NSA HOW to run their business. It is fair to say that you don’t like the RESULTS of how they run their business but presuming that one knows how to run a security agency better than the people that do it for their living is pure arrogance. Arguing that you should get a traditional warrant before a target is surveilled makes no sense when you don’t know who your enemies are. The Constitution is so far out of date on this subject that referencing it makes no sense. If NSA can prevent another 9/11 then I say let them track the phone calls.

    • Saul B

      Perhaps silly question here, but what does “another 9/11″ even mean? A plane will never again be turned into a missile, so what does this trope even mean to you?

      • JohnGSB

        OK, replace “9/11″ with “act of terrorism”. The next act could be worse. Also, as they say, never say never.

        • Saul B

          And your neighbor could go insane and barge into your home and stab to death your wife and kids. Never say never, as they say.

          Because of some vague, hypothetical scenario that you can’t even enunciate, we should allow the “authorities” unfettered access to our communications?

    • andic_epipedon

      How dos that thinking make the NSA any different than the KGB?

    • hellokitty0580

      But the NSA isn’t a business. They’re a government institution and so they’re accountable to the people. We SHOULD be telling them how to run their agency. They’re working for us.

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      Was that supposed to be ironic?

  • Sy2502

    No government agency will willingly relinquish power.

    • dust truck

      Sad part is Obama’s unwillingness to reign them in. If even he is unaware of what they’re up to, then clearly they’ve gone too far.

  • Paul

    Actually, from the looks of the comments below and the tone of the callers from the show, it sounds like a good “compromise” has been struck. Just like the most recent “budgets” passed in both houses of Congress a GOOD compromise leaves those on both sides somewhat disappointed.

    • Labropotes

      Paul, it’s about 99 to 1 against the NSA domestic spying. What the hell are you talking about?

      • Paul

        Sorry! I didn’t keep a statistical count of the ups and downs…. I’m just hearing and seeing a lot of people who would willingly “give up some liberty to gain security”…. And yes, I’m aware of Tom Jefferson’s quote about that saying it results in neither liberty or security. As a War College graduate, I’m very familiar with the concept of “Civilians run the military” as outlined in our Constitution but many of those below who are agast about these “revelations” were also whining about our Government doing “more” to protect us from terrorism.
        You tell me what you want – specifically. Unlimited liberty? Total safety & security? Somewhere in between? Exactly where in between? Finally, when you decide exactly what you want and the balance you want, please don’t whine about how our Government provides YOUR balance between those two.

        • Labropotes

          Thanks for your measured response to my not so measured one.

          I want somewhere in between perfect freedom and perfect security, especially given that it’s the only viable option. And I want my fellow citizens, like you’re doing now, to have a conversation about rational limits, and stop letting every risk be labeled existential, and a justification for yet another compromise on the bill of rights.

          Maybe not for the same reasons, but it seems there is a strong consensus that we need this conversation, and that it should result in some roll back of the NSA’s current domestic activities.

          • Paul

            And that brings us back to my original observation. Not everyone’s going to be happy but the mark of a good negotiation is when NOBODY is actually happy about the result. If either side is “happier” than the other, then one side took advantage of the other. When both sides are not happy a balance appears to have been struck.
            I’m with you – I think there will be a roll-back of the NSA activities but with that comes additional risk. I would also point out that the “bad guys” aren’t going to join our discussion. They will merely sit back and see if they can identify any vulnerability and those “bad guys” don’t necessarilly have to be terrorists. They could be crooks, theives, human trafficers, or any other variety of low life who want to “fly under the radar”. There in, my friend, lay the rub….

  • andic_epipedon

    You have to wonder what top secret information the President and a few Senators know that has them so scared that they are willing to dismantle our basic inalienable rights. As Yoda would say, “Much fear I see in you, fear leads to hate, hate leads to the dark side.”

    • derekeddy

      Did you ever think that is is just a power grab? Yeah right, they know things we don’t know. That’s the ticket. I will tell you what I know. The government is in the business of making the rich richer. The GOP and Dems are bought and sold by the wealthy.
      And they are all protecting us for our own good. That’s why they let corporations outsource all our jobs and construct a tax code that favors the rich. Really nice the way they take care of us and keep us in the dark for our own good.

      • andic_epipedon

        I agree there are some pretty shady things going on between governments and corporations. I believe we went into Iraq and most likely Afghanistan for reasons other than the ones spoon fed to the people. I don’t have a hard time believing we spy on other countries for economic gain. I believe the government serves corporate interests very well. However, I don’t see the raionale behind the NSA stuff and corporations. The NSA stuff benefits only one small portion of our economy. So far it has interfered with commerce and brand integrity. I see it as counterproductive to corporate interests.

  • andic_epipedon

    Whatever the government is doing did not prevent the Boston Bombing. Our government officials were told the older brother of the Boston Bombing was a bad seed and our security agencies did nothing about it. If anything they should have used their powers to trail this guy to find out what he was doing instead of collecting my personal cell phone data.

    • http://saultannenbaum.org/ Saul Tannenbaum

      So, you’re willing to outsource national security decisions to the secret police of the former Soviet Union? You do understand that they got the tip and investigated Tsarnaev? And that they found nothing to substantiate the tip? Turns out they made an error in judgment, but to adopt the position that he was a bad seed because the Russian secret police say so isn’t really a pro-civil liberties position.

      • andic_epipedon

        I didn’t necessarily say that. Our investigators should have done a more thorough job of investigating Tsarnaev based on the tip.

  • marygrav

    When are we going to grow up and stop rehashing old news. The US has been in the spy business on private citizens and governments since WWII and perhaps before if the technology was/is right. The only difference now is that co-axle cable is gone and fiber optics has taken its place.

    If you ever road public transportation, you know that young people think nothing of privacy as they blab their life’s secrets on cell phones.

    Internet providers need to be quite. They know their services can be hacked. Any foreign country that trust the US or any Third World Country that trust the West period, is insane and should just keep using the Internet and Cells as usual.

    What has broken down here is face to face human contact and too much faith is put in technology. Look what is occurring with Obamacare.

    Study your history and you will understand that all governments spy. Don’t be under the illusion that democracies don’t spy in their people and that American Exceptionalism is a CROCK!


  • 99Frank99

    I’m all for protecting privacy, but I’m actually more concerned about businesses violating my privacy than the government. In our current society you leave digital fingerprints behind everywhere you go. Banks and credit card companies know where we shop, Google knows what we are looking up, Facebook knows our friends and what we “like,” etc., etc. I don’t have much of a problem with the government keeping track of which phone numbers I call or receive. They don’t listen to the calls, plus I’ve got nothing to hide. I consider it a good thing that the government can track down a terrorist or a criminal using cell phone information. In my area recently they were able to pinpoint an arsonist using his cell phone GPS location and the calls that he made. Bravo!

    What I really don’t like is that websites like eBay or AllMusic that I use frequently all of a sudden drop in ads for the new Subaru car of Hendricks gin a day after I did a Google search on these products. Someone is keeping track of everything I do and these folks have my name, my email address, my phone number, know who my friends are and where I spend my money. My wife once shopped on line for plus size clothes, not for herself, but for a family member. As a result she got presented with ads for plus size ladies while she’s on Facebook. I think that these are the real scary privacy violations. In the future everybody will be defined by a set of parameters which will be traded and used by companies to target individuals. This, I believe is the real threat to our privacy. The real “Big Brother”! Where is the outrage about this!

    • http://saultannenbaum.org/ Saul Tannenbaum

      Facebook and Google are services you chose to use, to whose terms of service you agreed. You’ve volunteered them your data, and they took you up on it.

      Government surveillance you can’t opt out of, as you can from Facebook and Google.

      And, btw, it’s clear from the Snowden revelations, what Google, or eBay, or Facebook know about you, the government has acquired that information, too.

      • 99Frank99

        Google changes their rules of use on you whichever way they like, all in the name of profit. What I was trying to say in my message was that collecting data on us is happening all around us, not just the NSA. In the end I’m more concerned by businesses tracking me than the NSA. They can sell that information to anyone they like.

        • http://saultannenbaum.org/ Saul Tannenbaum

          You’re absolutely right in reminding us that surveillance is the internet business model. And that has to change.

    • Saul B

      Frank, do you pay to use Google and Facebook? No, of course not. You are not a user in these companies’ business models. You *are* the companies’ product, and as another Saul said above, you choose to use their services.

      So stop whining.

    • derekeddy

      Google of Facebook cannot put you in jail for taking conversations out of context. The government can ruin your life if someone in the government has the authority and motive or if there is a mistake made. Imagine if you were wrongfully charged with some really embarrassing crime and were convicted because the government is spying on you and is wrong with the facts. Sounds a lot like a totalitarian and tyrannical government than a free society.

      I don’t trust the government at all and will take my chances with the imagined boogeymen. How do you know they don’t listen to your calls? Because they say so?? Please..

  • mikeylong

    These systems have never been built without leading to abuse. Even if you have the best people involved with the system now by it’s very nature it will start attracting the wrong people. You do not want any position in any government that leads to turn-key totalitarianism. What if Nixon had this during Watergate? I could name example after example of people throughout history that would have used a system like this for a bloodbath. If you create the same intelligence system that the Stasi, KGB, or North Korea has then you will eventually get that type of political system. This is the nature of power. It has already been used to spy on ex-girlfriends, corporate competition, friendly governments etc. Do you really think it is not going to be used against political opponents, journalists, minority religions and personal enemies? These type of systems build upon themselves, the paranoia builds, they chill criticism, they can be used by private enterprises to kill capitalism.

    • mikeylong

      I understand wanting to be protected against the Muslim extremists. But I also want protection from too-big-to-jail banks, government contrators, and political opponents. The housing bust proved that they are every bit as much of a theat as the islamic extriemists. Read about the type of work that HB Gary was doing for the private sector. Attacks on journalists, astroturf software, etc. If you think that large companies are not interested in hacking critics and journalists with this system then you are naive.

  • peoplepower

    this is creeping totalitarianism. Little by little they erode the constitution; break the law; commit perjury during a congressional hearing (with the entire world watching) and goes unpunished. They are testing how much and how fast they can get away with. Very scary!
    Read this book:”IBM and the Holocaust”. You will learn how the latest technology of the time was used to identify 1/16th of Jewish blood, through the review of legal public records, such as birth certificates, baptismal certificates, wedding certificates, etc…
    Many law abiding Germans found nothing wrong with this “census”; only to find themselves gassed a few years later.
    So if a law abiding US citizen calls a shop, a tech support line or whatever business provides a legal appearing front, but in reality happens to be associated (directly or indirectly) with a possible terrorist, is that innocent American safe from government over-reach?
    In other words, how many degrees of separation will be considered safe from being sent to GITMO, for “special treatment” and other water associated activities?

    This is why we have the constitution’s 4th amendment.
    This is why we have a right to privacy, whether we choose to use it or not is irrelevant. If you don’t lock your house, you are not loose ownership of your valuables.
    Just because it is easy and cheap for the government to do this, does not mean it is legal.

  • peoplepower

    So the perjuring Clapper tells us that 50 attacks have been prevented. And I think so does Pres. Obama.
    Really?? where is the evidence? where are these guys? did they get proper access to the judicial system? Where any of them Americans? and if so where they considered innocent until proven guilty? Where are the court records of a proper and fair trial? Where are they incarcerated? Or where they terminated in a secret way, without due process? Where they given fair treatment? where they treated in the shameful fashion like PFC Manning, or even worse? Why has this not seen the light of day? To not let alQaeda know? like they don’t know if one of their operatives was missing, ?? thaaaa….
    I do not think the NSA activities have stopped one act of terror.
    It did not stop the Boston bombing by a person identified by the Russians to the FBI. Even with a big RED finger pointing at him, this ineffective security services failed to see him and stop the attack. Heck, they can’t even stop drug trafficking, which has killed more Americans than all terrorists attacks put together.
    Makes me wonder what they are really up to.

    Our freedom was given to us by the founding fathers first and foremost to be used to question our government without fear of persecution or oppression.

  • GTV

    Tom’s hypothetical question falls far short of the reality. We’ve already crossed the line. Back at the time of the Marathon bombing, the entire city of Boston, along with eight surrounding towns and cities, was literally shut down for an entire day. We were all told to “shelter in place”–not leave our homes. All the transportation systems–buses, trains, taxis, subway–were closed down. The streets were filled with heavily armed law enforcement and military, with helicopters hovering overhead. And during all of this hysteria, the authorities were unable to locate the bombing suspect. After the lock down was lifted, an ordinary citizen traced the suspect to his hiding place in a boat in a neighbor’s back yard. So, my friends, welcome to the Brave New World!

  • Ray in VT
  • Sy2502

    In other news, in an interview, Putin, ex KGB lieutenant and dictator wannabe, when asked what he thinks of the NSA scandal, said:

    “How do I feel about Obama after Snowden’s revelations? I envy him, because he can get away with it,”

    Let me drive the point home. Putin, ex KGB and dictator, gets away with less than Obama does in this supposedly democratic country.

    Food for thought.

  • spencercmc

    i guess some member of congress can’t interpret the law for themselves without a judge’s interpretation first.

  • Agnostic58

    I think the time is coming when Snowden should consider returning to face a jury of his peers – it is becoming increasingly difficult to imagine a jury (not the government, a jury) convicting him.

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In which you had varied reactions to the prospect of a robotic spouse.

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Beverly Gooden on #WhyIStayed
Friday, Sep 12, 2014

Beverly Gooden — who originated the #WhyIStayed hashtag that has taken off across Twitter — joined us today for our discussion on domestic violence.

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