June 10, 2013

"Greenwald Says ‘There’s A Lot More Coming,’ Argues NSA Revelations Don’t Harm Security."

Well, all right then.

53 comments:

Strelnikov said...

I never thought I'd be cheering Glenn Greenwald. Strange Days have found us.

SteveR said...

My overseers won't allow me access to the link. I knew this would happen.......

Beta Rube said...

Glenn thought the release of Valerie Plame's CIA affiliation was about the worst thing in the world.

Until the whole Richard Armitage thing.

sonicfrog said...

I never thought I'd be cheering Glenn Greenwald. Strange Days have found us.

The unfortunate thing is, so much of what's going on, so much of the abandonment of 4th and 5th amendment principles is already considered just part of the normal operating procedure. Too many people are used to it. Looks like the only winners in the Global War On terror are the politicians who crave a massive security state, no matter the cost in money and rights.

ricpic said...

Does anyone here know what documents/secrets if any have been released so far?

edutcher said...

I'm sure there will be some harm done to national security once Senator Ma'am and her friends start grandstanding to cover up their lack of oversight (if not complicity) in all this, but I think anyone who says it's all going to turn out to be another Hitler's diary scandal might want to remember the WaPo had its own story (on which it was sitting like an expectant hen).

ricpic said...

Does anyone here know what documents/secrets if any have been released so far?

The methods alone may compromise security. I'm sure an alert analyst working for the bad guys could glean a few things of interest.

bagoh20 said...

It looks like on this subject we may actually have that "discussion" that is so often called for only to be avoided at all costs by hyperbole, ad hominem, and partisan distraction. Of course, that may also be the intended purpose, but we still get to have that talk. Can I get you some tea?

Fprawl said...

There won't be much secrecy left in government anymore if geeks are the new gatekeepers. Used to, you could shoot a couple privates and everybody would shut up.
Nowadays, the temptation to be the world's most famous person is irresistible.
Of course, all of the good secrets are still probably under wraps. Like what really happened to Vince Foster.

n.n said...

Controversies typically have a short lifetime with this administration. If it does not end within a few weeks, then we can assume that they benefit from it.

bagoh20 said...

" all of the good secrets are still probably under wraps. Like what really happened to Vince Foster."

Or what happened to the President on 9/11/12.

Chip S. said...

It looks like on this subject we may actually have that "discussion" that is so often called for

Haven't you heard? Any such discussion would violate National Security. So, treasonous, I suppose.

Be careful what you say. Vewwwy careful.

traditionalguy said...

The CNN and MSNBC talkers have gotten their attack mode against Snowden ramped up since they showed nothing but befuddled consternation yesterday wondering if he was a Good Liberal.

He is now known to be a criminal espionage guy who was exposed shortly after he ran away and fled to Hong Kong.... and he is ridiculous and silly too, snicker, snicker.

The idea du jour is that our NSA programs target China. Of course the truth is that they only target Americans whose records are being stored FOREVER.

Simon said...

He, too, should be extradited, tried for treason, and shot.

Inga said...

OF COURSE we should trust GG to not release any secrets. How did he become the keeper of the secrets anyway? What are his credentials?

edutcher said...

Simon said...

He, too, should be extradited, tried for treason, and shot.

To which enemy did he give aid and comfort?

Inga said...

OF COURSE we should trust GG to not release any secrets. How did he become the keeper of the secrets anyway? What are his credentials?

He's a Lefty journolist who hated Dubya.

you know that.

traditionalguy said...

Greenwald is a Con. Law expert. To him the Bill of Rights prohibition against Monarchical abuse of power {as was faced by the City of Boston at the hands ofthe British Army invasion in the 1760s)happens to be a Law.

Saying that King Obama and his court do not obey our laws is the simple truth.

Chip S. said...

Simon said...
He, too, should be extradited, tried for treason, and shot.

Really, why bother w/ a trial?

If the king says he's a traitor, that should suffice.

edutcher said...

Chip S. said...

It looks like on this subject we may actually have that "discussion" that is so often called for

Haven't you heard? Any such discussion would violate National Security. So, treasonous, I suppose.

Be careful what you say. Vewwwy careful.


The return of der Deutsche blick.

Writ Small said...

If you haven't given into the hyperbole, here is excellent counterpoint from David Simon, the creator "The Wire."

edutcher said...

This may require a little more room under the bus:

Congresscreeps are now worried about NSA reading their Verizon Blackberries.

Hope Choom and Moochelle don't mind the smell of axle grease.

D.D. Driver said...

"If the king says he's a traitor, that should suffice."

Be fair, here. That's not the way it works. First, he has to make some lawyer write a white papers saying that its okay.

THEN he can execute.

Henry said...

Writ Small: Good link.

Greenwald: I defy anybody to say anything that we've published that does that in any way...

Have any terrorists changed their phone numbers yet? That's kind of bleeding obvious.

I find myself of two minds about this whole thing. It looks like overreach by the government and I'm not confident that it can be constrained in the manner David Simon suggest, but I can't get all that worked up about it. That was more or less the same attitude I had when the Bush administration was at the small end of the ear horn.

Now Greenwald's handwashing routine annoys me a great deal. I credit Greenwald for maintaining a consistent stance toward both the Bush and Obama administrations.

But, for God's sake man, accept some consequences. Don't pretend that the NSA program is a huge poison, but disclosing is a cup of anodyne. How about saying "yes this will have negatively impact national security, but we feel the benefits from public awareness and increased oversight outweigh that."

Richard Dolan said...

It turns out that the Gov't has no privacy either. So the joke is on them as much as it is on us.

The Gov't needs a giant bureaucracy to run its NSA and other 'data mining' projects, just as the State Dept and the IRS need giant bureaucracies to perform their functions. As recent events show, those Gov't agencies can't assure that their own secrets, their own attempts at controlling information, will succeed. Given the size of these bureaucracies, it seems quite unlikely that they possibly could.

In all the talk about how the citizenry is at the mercy of the Gov't's abuse of power, it pays to stop and note that the Gov't is also at the mercy of its own agents' abuse of their power -- the power to disclose, leak, or turn on the Man. So long as there is a market for the kinds of leaked information we are seeing -- not just the NSA stuff, but the State Dept report about shutting down investigations that CBS surfaced, to use just today's example -- these leaks will continue.

A comparison that comes to mind is the (failed) War on Drugs -- the market for illegal drugs doomed that War even before it got going, just as the market for illicitly leaked information will doom the Gov't's attempt to keep its own secrets 'private.' The difference is that the drug market relies on the usual profit motive, all payable in cash. The 'leaks' market has different incentives for the leakers and the leakees -- the leakees have the more traditional incentive since these stories add to a reporter's (or blogger's) reputation, and may even garner a Pulitzer. For the leaker, the incentives are different -- Snowden's were apparently a personal political morality that impelled him to act, as were Manning's -- and not so easily measured. But they are just as real.

Aridog said...

The return of der Deutsche blick.

That made me chuckle. Return? I am an old coot and I can't recall a time when the furtive glance wasn't necessary and essential to situational awareness.

Maybe it will be more so now for more people.

mariner said...

I don't think the revelations harm U.S. National Security.

I hope they reduce the Obama Administration's job security.

mariner said...

Fprawl,
There won't be much secrecy left in government anymore if geeks are the new gatekeepers. Used to, you could shoot a couple privates and everybody would shut up.

Obama wouldn't be above shooting a few geeks to stay in power.

Some intelligence agency people have already talked about "disappearing" Snowden.

Robert Cook said...

"Have any terrorists changed their phone numbers yet?"

In any American citizen changes his or her phone number, does that count?

mariner said...

Edutcher,
Congresscreeps are now worried about NSA reading their Verizon Blackberries.

They needn't worry. There will be a bipartisan program of exemptions for them, their families, friends and big donors.

Chip S. said...

In any American citizen changes his or her phone number, does that count?

Well, you've gotta admit that that would be pretty suspicious behavior. If you've got nothing to hide, why change your phone number?

Big Brother is only watching to make sure you don't misbehave. What's the problem?

mariner said...

Henry,
That was more or less the same attitude I had when the Bush administration was at the small end of the ear horn.

Not me.

When Bush was in office the partisan Democrat bureaucracy would never have tolerated it.

Now that Obama's in office, no abuse is too extreme for them.

Rabel said...

About that FISA court that's protecting our constitutional rights:

1. Justice department lies to it to obtain warrants.

2. According to Talking Points Memo, it is a rubber stamp operation: "It is also rare for FISA warrant requests to be turned down by the court. Through the end of 2004, 18,761 warrants were granted, while just five were rejected (many sources say four)"

3. A single judge, out of the 11, grants the warrant.

4. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court appoints the members. Does he do this independently or does he accept nominations from the administration?

5. Requests for warrants and its decisions and orders are secret. Trust us, we will only use our powers for good.

Robert Cook said...

"When Bush was in office the partisan Democrat bureaucracy would never have tolerated it."

Oh, puh-leeze! The Dems were supporters of and complicit in all Bush's crimes.

Mark O said...

Well, we've found out who will be harmed. A "smart" intel guy says today the program was classified to protect the large carriers, like Verizon and AT&T.

There you have it. Get the tar, feathers and rope out for than damnable Snowden.

Meanwhile, believe in your Establishment and shelter in place.

Can we have Dylan sing "The Times They Are A Changin'?"

Hagar said...

Richard Dolan is right.

Everybody of any consequence - in or out of government and of whatever party affiliation - must now work on the assumption that all their electronic devices are being tapped and the information transmitted to their enemies or stored for future use.

Perhaps most already knew and did.

edutcher said...

Oh, puh-leeze! Do you even read?

mariner said...

Congresscreeps are now worried about NSA reading their Verizon Blackberries.

They needn't worry. There will be a bipartisan program of exemptions for them, their families, friends and big donors.


As I said in an earlier post, "How many ways can you spell 'blackmail'?".

lemondog said...

Verizon's Explanation

The New York Times reported Sunday that such cooperation advanced to the point that “Verizon had set up a dedicated fiber-optic line running from New Jersey to Quantico, Va., home to a large military base, allowing government officials to gain access to all communications flowing through the carrier’s operations center.”

Mark O said...

lemondog, Verizon is paid off in government contracts worth billions. Seems fair enough.

We had the debate in 1789 and ratified the 4th Amend in 1791.

What's left to discuss?

MikeDC said...

Could someone explain how the NSA program actually helps our national security?

It seems like "TSA for the internet" to me, sure to hassle everyone, put on a show, and catch no terrorist group with even a minimal amount of sense.

Unlike the late CIA director, I don't think Al Qaeda is gonna send their bombing instructions through Google.

And... as far as I can tell, this has been demonstrated time and again. These guys get caught, or not, based on people seeing real evidence or tips from foreign governments and acting on it.

Nonapod said...

While David Simon may have some points, he focuses too much on the phone metadata revelations and not much on PRISM (which in my estimation probably has scarier immediate implications), and he underestimates the capabilities of modern technology. One of his points is that given the shear volume of data (both phone and PRISM) it would be prohibitively difficult for agents to individually target ordinary citizens. Of course he's probably not particularly familiar with the powerful data mining algorithms and tools that are available in our modern world (given his example of Baltimore police activities in the 1980s clearly he's a creature of a different era). These days it's possible to assemble specific information for vast datasets, to identify patterns and even predict future activities with a reasonable degree of accuracy given enough data and resources (which they obviously have).

Simon said...

Mark O said...
"We had the debate in 1789 and ratified the 4th Amend in 1791. What's left to discuss?"

The relevance of the fourth amendment to the case at hand. The customer has no relevant fourth amendment rights. Perhaps Verizon does, and perhaps the particularity requirement of the fourth amendment comes into play, but even there, it's unclear, for the fourth amendment applies to warrants. The court document that was leaked to Greenwald isn't a warrant. It's a subpoena issued under 50 USC § 1861. Does it count as a warrant? What's the leading case on that question? I don't know. Do you know?

Achilles said...

Robert Cook said...
"When Bush was in office the partisan Democrat bureaucracy would never have tolerated it."

Oh, puh-leeze! The Dems were supporters of and complicit in all Bush's crimes.

6/10/13, 1:12 PM

I do not support the federal government having these kinds of powers. Obama has obviously abused these programs and used them to suppress political dissent. He is a tin pot dictator and all the little fascists here that still support him are despicable.

But there is no equivalence between Bush and Obama. There is zero evidence Bush used the IRS or the FBI to harass and intimidate people who disagreed with him politically. I disagreed with his expansion of federal power and spending but he didn't step over the line into tyranny.

garage mahal said...

Booz Allen gets 98% of their 5.76 billion dollar revenue from the federal government. One giant Griftopia in northern Virginia.

jr565 said...

Writ Small,
Thank you thank you thank you for that link, and thank David Simon for writing it. I direct all the libertarians getting their panties in a wad about the death of the 4th amendment to read it and understand what is happening. (I also suggest they do some research on constructing databases.

IN particular, there's this paragraph:
"When the government grabs every single fucking telephone call made from the United States over a period of months and years, it is not a prelude to monitoring anything in particular. Why not? Because that is tens of billions of phone calls and for the love of god, how many agents do you think the FBI has? How many computer-runs do you think the NSA can do — and then specifically analyze and assess each result? When the government asks for something, it is notable to wonder what they are seeking and for what purpose. When they ask for everything, it is not for specific snooping or violations of civil rights, but rather a data base that is being maintained as an investigative tool."


Kapiche?
This is exactly what I was saying! God. learn about databases for fucks sake. Collecting the data is not the same as searching for the data. It's inefficient to have a databasae that doesnt have all the data in it. That's the reason why they need all the records. But like a search in Google or in a database the only results you get are what are derived from your search. Google would not work if it didn't have access to the entire web. So, unless the NSA is looking for your number, or your number is linked to a terrorist, then YOU'LL BE OK. Stop hyperventilating and calm down. And they are not listening to your calls! The are looking at metadata on calls. Your conversations are sescure.

Again, think about the billions of calls. And think about the duration of calls. Say each call was a minute on average. The NSA would have to go through a billion minutes of calls to listen to them. How many people would they need to hire to do that? It makes no sense.

jr565 said...

Another great point from David Simon (and I highly recommend people watch the Wire, which he was the author of. And which actually ties into this debate tangentially since they were wiring telephones and burners and payphones on that show, some of it prior to the patriot act.

Having labored as a police reporter in the days before the Patriot Act, I can assure all there has always been a stage before the wiretap, a preliminary process involving the capture, retention and analysis of raw data. It has been so for decades now in this country. The only thing new here, from a legal standpoint, is the scale on which the FBI and NSA are apparently attempting to cull anti-terrorism leads from that data. But the legal and moral principles? Same old stuff.
This is the collection stage. Going to the carriers and getting their info to comile the database.


"There, city detectives once began to suspect that major traffickers were using a combination of public pay phones and digital pagers to communicate their business. And they took their suspicions to a judge and obtained court orders — not to monitor any particular suspect, but to instead cull the dialed numbers from the thousands and thousands of calls made to and from certain city pay phones.

Think about it. There is certainly a public expectation of privacy when you pick up a pay phone on the streets of Baltimore, is there not? And certainly, the detectives knew that many, many Baltimoreans were using those pay phones for legitimate telephonic communication. Yet, a city judge had no problem allowing them to place dialed-number recorders on as many pay phones as they felt the need to monitor, knowing that every single number dialed to or from those phones would be captured.

All of that — even in the less fevered, pre-Patriot Act days of yore — was entirely legal. Why?

Because they aren’t listening to the calls."


Again, this type of stuff was legal in the 80's. The only difference is the size of the database and the technology and the context of the search.

Nonapod said...

Again, think about the billions of calls. And think about the duration of calls. Say each call was a minute on average. The NSA would have to go through a billion minutes of calls to listen to them. How many people would they need to hire to do that? It makes no sense

Well obviously humans won't be listening over these billions of hours of calls individually. However, that does not preclude programmatic analysis. With enough storage and processing power one can identify words and phrases that are indicative of patterns consistent with a specific criminal activity (or terrorist activity, or political activity, or if a person is cheating on his wife).

The reality is that most people simply don't understand data mining and analysis and appreciate the potential power that the NSA has.

jr565 said...

A third point from Simon:
"So think for a minute about a scenario in which, say, a phone number is identified overseas as being linked to terror activity. It is so identified by, say, NSA overseas intercepts or through intelligence gathering by the CIA or the military. And say that there exists a database of billions and billions of telephonic contacts in the United States over a period of months or years. And say a computer could then run the suspect number through that data base and determine a pattern of communication between that overseas phone and several individuals in New York, or Boston, or Detroit. Would you want that connection to be made and made quickly? Or do you want to leave law enforcement to begin trying to acquire the call history on that initial phone from overseas carriers who may or may not maintain detailed retroactive call data or be unwilling to even provide that data fully to American law enforcement or do so without revealing the investigative effort to the targets themselves?"
That shoudld be a question that the libertarians answer. How difficult do you want to make it to connect the dots?

Chip S. said...

The only difference is the size of the database and the technology and the context of the search.

Oh, well in that case, I guess there's no level of surveillance that would ever be problematic.

And, really, who knows more about the details of PRISM than David Chase?

Except anyone who's actually read anything published on the subject, I mean.

Simon said...

edutcher said...
"To which enemy did he give aid and comfort?"

Terrorists, primarily but not exclusively Islamic terrorists. Snowden and Greenwald are both complicit in the revealing of the details of a secret program to the enemy by way of publishing it online in the mainstream mass media.

In World War II, it would unquestionably have been treason to send details of a secret government program to the editor of Das Reich marked "for publication." It might have been possible at that time to argue that the publication of the same information in the Washington Post was not treason, insofar as it was not reasonable to assume that the information would necessarily end up in the hands of the enemy. Today, however, what is published online by the Washington Post is read instantly in Berlin, Tokyo, and Afghanistan. We are ill-served by the notion that our enemies are cave-bound primitives who have no capability of obtaining information that is commonly available in the west. We must assume that everything released by Greenwald was being read online by Al Queda and its equivalents before the ink was dry on the print edition. That information is useful to them in evading detection, and that is providing aid to the enemy.

edutcher said...

You might have a hard time proving that in court.

All he's told us so far is about domestic abuses.

It may come out otherwise, depending on what specifics of the methods used emerge, but, for right now, treason might be a hard sell.

Robert Cook said...

@Achilles 2:20 pm post:

I'm referring to Bush's crimes such as initiating illegal wars of aggression, torture, mass murder (in the lands we invaded illegally), extraordinary renditions, etc.

edutcher said...

Illegal according to whom, first of all (last I looked, Congress voted on both campaigns), and aggression is kind of tough to justify since we were the ones attacked.

BTW Mass murder was shot down a long time ago, and torture is the ploy of all those Democrats you dislike so much.

Or will you use anything you can to diss the country?

PianoLessons said...

Always last to the thread (weird hour I have nowdays) but here are three points:

1. We should all know by now terrorists buy Trac Phones at Walmart by the thousands for their calls then toss them in the trash. Wouldn't you do the same if you were a terrorist?

2. Snowden worked for NSA for less than three months from a Hawaii office on an alleged $200,000 salary (with no high school degree and no college). Google it - it's true. If this doesn't scream Obama Team PR plant (like the Code Pink heckler at Obama, the lesbian heckler at Michelle, the fake Cheerios' TV ad controversy about a bi=racial family ....we are being astroturfed up the wazoo by the Alinsky masters of astroturf, folks.

3. The only real scandal the O team is worried about is Benghazi because this is the one where 'a clear and present danger' to the nation - and unforgivable Machiavellian politics - played out and they know they are in trouble.

All the other scandals are smokescreens created by Obama's PR team (Lois Ledner planted the question about IRS targeting Tea Party folks on a BOLO list....for one example. Snowden the spook from Hawaii with zero credentials is another.....)

Robert Cook said...

"Illegal according to whom, first of all (last I looked, Congress voted on both campaigns), and aggression is kind of tough to justify since we were the ones attacked."

We were attacked by a band of stateless terrorists...none of whom were from either Afghanistan and Iraq, and neither Afghanistan nor Iraq had anything to do with the attacks.

Using this metric, if a band of American terrorists from Oakland, California (among many other places in and out of the country during their planning) blew up a building in Bejing, the Chinese would have a right to attack and wage war on the entire state of California (or even the entire country) if we did not turn over the terrorists to them immediately on their demand. And if the Chinese government declared their invasion "legal," well, then...it would be legal!

"BTW Mass murder was shot down a long time ago, and torture is the ploy of all those Democrats you dislike so much."

Your inappropriate phrasing aside, how was "mass murder" uh, "shot down?" We have indisputably killed many people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, (and Everywhereistan where our military forces are active) who were not terrorists. While there are certainly terrorists in the world with hostile intent toward us, we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, and therefore any Afghans or Iraqis who fight back are justified in defending their countries against foreign invaders, and cannot be said automatically to be terrorists, (and so labeled, from our perspective, "justified kills.")

We continue to commit mass murder.

I don't understand your comment about torture being the "ploy of the Democrats," but we certainly have committed torture and, no doubt, still are.