June 13, 2013

"I'm not sure which is worse: the NSA surveillance programs themselves..."

"... or the fact that the leaks about them have caused normally reasonable people to publicly commit themselves to so many strange notions in a desperate attempt to defend the Obama administration, e.g. 'The whole concept of privacy is obsolete,' 'Gathering data about phone calls doesn't raise serious privacy concerns,' 'Surveillance is unobjectionable if it's been going on for many years,' 'We don't have to worry about the 4th Amendment as long as a judge is willing to rubber-stamp the government's actions without any adversarial process,' etc."

125 comments:

David said...

Wish he had cited the sources of those quotes. Could just be the usual suspects.

Greg Hlatky said...

"If you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about. We're the ones who determine if you're doing anything wrong."

ndspinelli said...

As a PI I had sources both in the public and private sector. Some just required schmoozing. Some were friends and a lunch on occasion. Others were just a cash deal. I could get medical records, police records, phone records, the list goes on. With all of the people who have access to these records I guarantee you they are being leaked or sold for nefarious reasons. Don't you think the Chicago Machine guys are mining this. Why haven't we seen Plouffe and Axelrod during this political shitstorm. When I got phone records I had sources in 2 companies. Hell, these databases are the fucking Costco of phone/internet info because they include ALL of them.

Pogo said...

Both are equally evil.

I admit being a little surprised at how quickly people have rolled over for an American Stasi/KGB.

pm317 said...

Son is not like the mother. Nice to see. Like I said in another thread, terrorism has become a cottage industry for politicians and some companies, to make a quick buck, to grab a little power and with the corrupt Obama administration, it is a different story altogether. Their bragging about data mining during last election takes on a different meaning now, doesn't it? Did the campaign have access to Google metadata, Facebook backend analytics? What type of collusion was there between Obama campaign and these companies? They were publicly hobnobbing togethter, stuck at the hips.

Robert Cook said...

Well, obviously, the NSA programs are worse than the stupid opinions of stupid people about them.

But stupid people have certainly been responsible for a lot of calamity in the world, both evil-intentioned and not.

Clyde said...

Just read (via Instapundit) that the Germans are all up in arms about the surveillance and want explanations when he shows up to visit Berlin next week. Well, all I can say is, "Lay off President Honecker... er, Obama!"

"Stasi today, Stasi tomorrow, Stasi forever!"

Jay said...

While I'm becoming more & more skeptical of Snowden's claims, I find it hard to believe the idea that the NSA should just suck in tens of millions of records of American citizens is a good idea.

I also saw on the news that the NSA tried to brief all 535 members of Congress on this program and so few showed up that they wanted to cancel the meeting.

That's encouraging.

Jay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jay said...

Oh, and remember how the Bush NSA was run by a bunch of jokers who let a 29 year old 3 month, contractor steal documents and run off to Hong Kong?

This is just another example of what happens when you vote for the guy who allows you to achieve some sort of bizarre catharsis for your idiotic racial guilt.

Bob Ellison said...

The latter (people committing to strange notions) worries me more than the former (the NSA's activity), especially because many of the people defending the NSA are obviously not inclined to defend Obama. Bill Kristol and John Bolton, for example, have spoken forthrightly in defense of the NSA's activity. Bolton said recently on Fox News that it was no big deal, because all three branches of government had signed off on it. I thought "What?!" Rush Limbaugh apparently had the same thought.

Don't people still think the government has no right to look in everyone's underwear? Maybe the TSA has softened us all up. I'm still mad about the TSA, too; isn't everyone else?

James said...

I thought "What?!" Rush Limbaugh apparently had the same thought.

Actually Rush opposes Kristol's thinking.

Jay said...

NSA leaker Ed Snowden claimed to have broken both of his legs while training for Special Forces.
...

That is simply not true as the statement from the Special Warfare Center & School below clearly points out.

Jay said...

So did Snowden take the job in the first place to steal documents?

Ann Althouse said...

"Wish he had cited the sources of those quotes. Could just be the usual suspects."

I don't think those are actual quotes from specific people, just his sense of the kind of thing he's hearing. But I get the Wikipediaesque citation needed response.

Do you want to say - with respect to any of those "quotes" - nobody real is actually saying that?

I think they are.

Larry J said...

ndspinelli said...
As a PI I had sources both in the public and private sector. Some just required schmoozing.


Many years ago, I watched a 60 Minutes segment about how little information it took to learn a great deal about someone. They had a volunteer couple from one coast give a year of canceled checks to a PI on the opposite coast. The PI wasn't allowed to contact the couple but to only use info derived from those checks. The amount he revealed was shocking.

Phone metadata reveals a great deal about someone but that isn't all they're collecting. They're also gathering credit card transactions and reportedly emails. We're talking about orders of magnitude more data than on a year's worth of checks. And we've seen politically motivated abuse at a bunch of government agencies. Why should we have any faith that the people at the NSA are any different from those at the other agencies?

James said...

If All Three Branches of Government Agree, Does That Make It Right?

RUSH: Look, I don't want sound like a National Honor Society candidate. I'm not trying to sound naive here, folks. But this Pew poll today and the Washington Post poll that shows that massive amounts of Democrats totally support the Obama spying programs, and Steny Hoyer out there saying it's so much better than it was under Bush. John Bolton says, look, all three branches signed off on this.

Now, all three branches signed off on it. I'm sorry. In my mind -- and I'm sorry to be naive -- that doesn't make it legal. All three branches signed off on the internment of the Japanese during World War II. Did that make it legal? I mean everybody knew that was happening, the courts knew it, FDR did it, the Congress knew. Well, was it legal? Was it legal and just not right? Or was it legal? All it means is -- and I love John Bolton. I have an incredible amount of respect for John Bolton. But all three branches signing off -- this is the most massive amount of spying and data collection ever. It's happening in the midst of news stories of how this administration is openly targeting for punishment its political enemies. I'm sorry, that's not in a vacuum.

There's a context here. It matters who's collecting this data. It's all about the potential for abuse. Anything can be abused. That's why it's so important who we elect to high office. This is why character mattered so much to the Founders. It's why we ought to do everything we can within our realm of ability to do so to elect trustworthy people, and we haven't been doing that lately. How in the world, in the midst of what we know this regime was doing with the IRS and how they've tried to cover up what happened in Benghazi. Four Americans died in Benghazi, and they blamed some little video maker, some pathetic little video maker, who's still in jail somewhere in a dungeon in Texas without bail on some bank fraud charge.

I mean, using the old adage intelligence guided by experience, there are reasons for red flags all over the place about this, and I'm sorry, the fact that three branches signed off on it doesn't make it legal. It just means consensus. Yeah, consensus, just means they're all in on it. But just because they're all in on it doesn't make it legal. How about amnesty? They're all gonna be in on that. They're gonna have the courts, they're gonna say fine, if ever gets to 'em, you're gonna have the legislative branch get the ball rolling, Obama's gonna sign it, all three branches gonna sign off on it, is it legal? Well, yeah, you could say that we have the provision in the law for granting amnesty to people, but is it right just because three branches sign off on it?

Paco Wové said...

"Don't people still think the government has no right to look in everyone's underwear?"

I think once Republicans get into government, they like the idea of government having that power just fine.

edutcher said...

I'd like a list of these "normally reasonable people".

Jay said...

NSA leaker Ed Snowden claimed to have broken both of his legs while training for Special Forces.
...

That is simply not true as the statement from the Special Warfare Center & School below clearly points out.


Well, not really; and this was speculated upon.

He was in the 18X program (in which he enlisted), which leads to a shot at an SF slot.

Several of our vets have noted this.

I know some of the media said he was in the Q course, but here is the Guardian story directly, "'He did not complete any training or receive any awards,' Wright added.

The army did not release Snowden's entire service record, a form known as a DD-214, despite the Guardian's request. A DD-214 typically details a military service member's entire career history, such as locations of his or her billets, job responsibilities and honorable or dishonorable discharges – none of which the army disclosed on Monday. Nor did the army explain the reason for Snowden's incomplete special forces recruitment.

Typically, so-called 18X candidates are approved to try out for a position in the army special forces, often after passing a vocational aptitude test, but selection to the elite cadre is never guaranteed. Training is a rigorous physical and mental challenge lasting 14 weeks.

The Guardian reported, citing Snowden, that his military career was cut short after 'he broke both his legs in a training accident.'"

So was Snowden lying or, as was the case with his Booz Allen salary, the media (and the trolls) shot off their mouths without checking to see if the ammo was live?

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

No need to worry your pretty little heads about this. Barack has your back.

pm317 said...

I watched a 60 Minutes segment about how little information it took to learn a great deal about someone

You may want to read this.

Simon said...

Nope. Not buying it. Think about this: You have all known me for a long time. Do you really suppose that I am in the business of "desperate attempt[s] to defend the Obama administration"? Really? And if I'm not, and yet I support this program notwithstanding that I loathe this President, what in the world makes you think that other people, whom you do not know, are in the business of "desperate attempt[s] to defend the Obama administration" simply because they defend the program? The whole framework of the observation comes crashing down subjected to the weight of but a moment's thought.

edutcher said...

Paco Wové said...

Don't people still think the government has no right to look in everyone's underwear?

I think once Republicans get into government, they like the idea of government having that power just fine.


No, but the DC Mentality is very seductive. Especially for RINOs.

A great little argument for term limits.

gerry said...

Dear Leader can do no evil.

He's cool. He's black.

RACIST!

Writ Small said...

I have heard people argue in the information age our privacy is pretty much already gone, but all other statements that Jaltoh puts in quotes strike me has dishonest caricatures.

"We don't have to worry about the 4th Amendment as long as a judge is willing to rubber-stamp the government's actions without any adversarial process,"

Yeah - someone really said that.

gerry said...

This is just another example of what happens when you vote for the guy who allows you to achieve some sort of bizarre catharsis for your idiotic racial guilt.

And make it the primary reason - ignoring the few facts actually available about him - for voting for him and his party members.

Progressivism REALLY sucks!

mark said...

Paco Wové said...
I think once Republicans get into government, they like the idea of government having that power just fine.

You do realize this is career administrators doing all this mess, right?

People complain about congress critters and our elected officials. The nest of roaches is the life long career administrative critters. And they are union and Democrat.

The failing of our elected officials is their lack of control over the people who have metastasized into the government. We need to code term limits into government admin jobs.

Mogget said...

I'd be more interested in hearing how the snooping is not all that bad if there was evidence that it produced anything worth the loss. Instead, I keep coming back to the people it hasn't caught, and go the knowledge that simpler, less whole-hog intrusive measures would have been quite sufficient. But no, MAJ Hasan with his "Soldier of Allah" business cards and the Boston brother, about whom we were warned TWICE, did their murderous business.

So supporters can't even say this snooping works with much confidence.

edutcher said...

They can't even find 6 million illegals to deport.

AllenS said...

I'll bet that this spying has allowed this administration to gather more intelligence on political parties/people in this country, that they oppose politically, than any foreigners bound and determined to harm us. As with bombs going off at marathons.

pm317 said...

So supporters can't even say this snooping works with much confidence

Well, the supporters might also say, these guys didn't have much social interaction to figure in those databases which may be true or not. In that case, why collect all this massive data and STORE it for perpetuity in multi-billion dollar Silicon Valley built data centers (Is this their pay-off)? Who is using it and for what purpose? Ask questions, people!

edutcher said...
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edutcher said...

AllenS said...

I'll bet that this spying has allowed this administration to gather more intelligence on political parties/people in this country, that they oppose politically, than any foreigners bound and determined to harm us. As with bombs going off at marathons.

That, I believe, was the intended purpose.

As I said, Mr Al Capone, may I present Reichsfuhrer-SS, Heinrich Himmler?

bbkingfish said...

Here's Bush's NSA Director, Gen. Michael Hayden on Obama:

"Frankly, the Obama administration was more transparent about this effort than we were in the Bush administration," Hayden said. "I mean, they made this meta data collection activity available to all the members of Congress. Not just all the members of the intelligence committees."

Scott M said...

I also saw on the news that the NSA tried to brief all 535 members of Congress on this program and so few showed up that they wanted to cancel the meeting.

Yes, but there are ways to do those things and then there are ways to do those things.

Could be that they did schedule a briefing, but did it at an unusual time when they knew the fewest would show, published the pre-literature in ways that made it seem incredibly boring/irrelevant, etc, locked the door to the briefing room "accidentally", maybe not labeled the marque outside the room...any number of things that could be chalked up to administrative boo-boo's while still being able to say...HEY, WE TRIED TO BRIEF THEM!!!

Robert Cook said...

People complain about congress critters and our elected officials. The nest of roaches is the life long career administrative critters. And they are union and Democrat.

"The failing of our elected officials is their lack of control over the people who have metastasized into the government. We need to code term limits into government admin jobs."


What an idiot.

Hagar said...

I am pretty sure that Gen. Hayden said in his interview with Fox that once they have determined that a phone number has been in "suspicious" contact with a "terrorist" phone number overseas, they can get a court order, and then they can bring up the conversations and listen to them; it is not just "meta-data" they are storing.

And we saw in the Rosen case how that can work. And from Holder's reaction to that, next time, they just won't bother with the court order, and no one will ever know!

pm317 said...

"I mean, they made this meta data collection activity available to all the members of Congress. Not just all the members of the intelligence committees."


Is this what Maxine Waters was talking about? What the hell! All this data in hands of these corrupt politicians?!

Bob Ellison said...

Robert Cook, the stylebook requires that you finish that sentence with an exclamation point. "What an idiot!" I'm not saying that about anyone in particular; I'm just editing here.

Hagar said...

And surely we can trust Gen. Hayden's word here?

Bob Ellison said...

See, pm317 has it right. "What the hell!"

Though I would recommend the use of an indefinite article. "What a hell!"

However, pm317's use is acceptable as a colloquial device.

Mogget said...

Did you know that we can't put a mole in a mosque without Very Special Permission from a Ver High Committee in the Justce Department whose leader and members are Very Unidentifiable?

I dunno. I think plants in these mosques ought to be Plan A. It appears to have worked on the Klan and it is SOP for Christian militias. I understand that CAIR complained about it, so we don't do it.

edutcher said...

Robert Cook said...

People complain about congress critters and our elected officials. The nest of roaches is the life long career administrative critters. And they are union and Democrat.

"The failing of our elected officials is their lack of control over the people who have metastasized into the government. We need to code term limits into government admin jobs."


What an idiot.


Textbook example of "It takes one to know one".

mark is absolutely right.

Too many agencies have no real oversight.

jr565 said...

Who's defending the Obama administration? Well some are, but I'm not.
Is Lindsay Graham' who is going after Obamas admin Benghazi and the IRS now defending the Obama administration? He was supportive of the NSA program under Bush as well, so he's consistent at least.

Brew Master said...

AllenS said...
I'll bet that this spying has allowed this administration to gather more intelligence on political parties/people in this country, that they oppose politically, than any foreigners bound and determined to harm us. As with bombs going off at marathons.


The know how of the NSA programs, and mining meta-data is used by both political parties against each other. The two parties are so familiar with each other that they are able to build up this metadata without much effort.

The upstart Tea Party on the other hand, they required some means of having them self identify their own networks in order to start building the network model. The IRS was used as one tool to gather some of this information.

Paco Wové said...

"You do realize this is career administrators doing all this mess, right?"

Well, yeah. They're doing the 'executive' part of government. But how many Republican legislators have come out in opposition, vs. those R. legislators that have come out defending the program(s)?

edutcher said...

Good point. The difference between real Republicans and RINOs.

Brew Master said...

I'll bet that this spying has allowed this administration to gather more intelligence on political parties/people in this country, that they oppose politically, than any foreigners bound and determined to harm us. As with bombs going off at marathons.

The know how of the NSA programs, and mining meta-data is used by both political parties against each other. The two parties are so familiar with each other that they are able to build up this metadata without much effort.


To this degree of granularity?

I don't think so.

jr565 said...
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lgv said...

I couldn't have said it any better.

In between years in grad school I interned with a company that had the NSA as its sole customer. This was a long time ago. I, like most people, didn't even know what that it existed or what it did.

The NSA makes the CIA look like the office of public records. They are so beyond control or supervision. It's like Colonel Kurtz operating out there. They are free to do whatever they want to. They get to decide if something is acceptable. If they want to do something illegal, they can, because they are unaccountable.

No oversight committee will ever be able to hold the NSA accountable for improper actions because they will never know about it.

Imagine any group with the power to violate laws as it sees fit without any consequences. It's only a matter of time before it happens, "for the good of the...."

edutcher said...

Just to let us know on whose side Choom really is (other than his own), guess where there is no surveillance?

Mosques.

jr565 said...

The latter (people committing to strange notions) worries me more than the former (the NSA's activity), especially because many of the people defending the NSA are obviously not inclined to defend Obama. Bill Kristol and John Bolton, for example, have spoken forthrightly in defense of the NSA's activity. Bolton said recently on Fox News that it was no big deal, because all three branches of government had signed off on it. I thought "What?!" Rush Limbaugh apparently had the same thought


Dude, why would you find it strange that Kristil or Bolton would defend the NSA program? They were defending it when Bush set it up. They spoke out against the Times for leaking it.
I'm pretty sure Rush Limbaugh was for
It too.

rcommal said...

I've heard or read variations of all those example-statements John gave (and of course of other opinions and observations as well). I'd suggest that those who haven't perhaps are not reading or listening widely enough.

jr565 said...

Are republicans now going to
Emulate the liberals who spoke about sadaam possessing WMD's an the turn around and say Bush lied, people died when Bush makes the exact same claim?
I suppose we should then go to google and find all the instances where thy supported the NSA program and now don't simply because they are hypocrites.
I expect that of dems, but repubs should be really careful going down that road.
Libertarians can go hang. They were always with code pink anyway.

jr565 said...

This is the exact same argument we had with The Patriot Act. All the critics keep arguing about how it was the worst thing that ever happened and are an assault in all that is holy. And supporters pointed out that govt already had these powers and were using them on stuff like RICO cases for decades. They simply adopted those same tactics and used them for tracking terrorists.
Where were the critics whenever prosecutors tried a RICO case for years before the Patriot act was written?

Illuninati said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Illuninati said...

jr565 said...

"...I suppose we should then go to google and find all the instances where thy supported the NSA program and now don't simply because they are hypocrites...."

It is not hypocritical to change your mind when the information changes upon which your opinion is based. Perhaps they have changed their minds because of the IRS scandal. The political landscape has been irrevocably changed now that that the Obama administration and a large portion of elected Democrats have decided to use government institutions as weapons against their political enemies.

edutcher said...

jr565 said...

The latter (people committing to strange notions) worries me more than the former (the NSA's activity), especially because many of the people defending the NSA are obviously not inclined to defend Obama. Bill Kristol and John Bolton, for example, have spoken forthrightly in defense of the NSA's activity. Bolton said recently on Fox News that it was no big deal, because all three branches of government had signed off on it. I thought "What?!" Rush Limbaugh apparently had the same thought


Dude, why would you find it strange that Kristil or Bolton would defend the NSA program? They were defending it when Bush set it up. They spoke out against the Times for leaking it.

I'm pretty sure Rush Limbaugh was for It too.


Kristol and Bolton may be defending the original program because it had limits and their POTUS was an honorable, law-abiding man. They may defend it now because, as originally implemented, it does valuable work.

Defending the program now isn't quite the same as defending the abuses which have been committed in the last 4 years.

jr565 said...

This is exactly the problem with republicans who are going after Obama on the NSA program.

http://americanvision.org/8279/patriot-act-author-suddenly-shocked-by-powers-he-created/

The guy who wrote the fucking patriot act. Who fucking changed the rules to make the carriers cooperate with govt is now shocked, SHOCKED that there is gambling going on.
Did he not read the bill he wrote.
Is this another example of having to pass a bill before you know what's in it? Again, fr dems this is the norm.
If republicans want to go down that road there is plenty of ammo on the Internet now that shows they are hypocrites. So, don't go down that road.
Lindsay graham and John Bolton are the honorable ones with the consistent position.
THIS douche is just playing politics.

jr565 said...

Edutcher wrote:
"Kristol and Bolton may be defending the original program because it had limits and their POTUS was an honorable, law-abiding man. They may defend it now because, as originally implemented, it does valuable work."


Did critics of Bush think he was honorable? Did the critics of the original FISA program think the limits in place weren't being abused?
How do we know that that program wasnt a violation of the 4th amendment? I'm sure Glenn Greenwald had a few negative things to say about it then too.


Kristol and Bilton are also defending THIS NSA program despite the fact that the president isn't honorable.
Have you actually watched Bolton on tv? Not a day goes by when he doesn't lambast Obamas handling of foreign policy. And Kristol is not exactly a fan of this president.
Lindsay Graham has been a complete attack dog on Benghazi and the IRS targeting of conservatives. An HE is defending this program.

Illuninati said...

jr565 said...

"The guy who wrote the fucking patriot act. Who fucking changed the rules to make the carriers cooperate with govt is now shocked, SHOCKED that there is gambling going on."

Well done. Calling people fuckers definitely strengthens your argument.

As I recall, when the Patriot act was passed, we were told it was to be limited to foreign calls to locations known to support jihadis. This new program of spying on everyone making domestic calls or emails etc. is not what people signed up for.

Chip S. said...

rcommal said...
I've heard or read variations of all those example-statements John gave (and of course of other opinions and observations as well). I'd suggest that those who haven't perhaps are not reading or listening widely enough.

They're certainly not reading the comments section of this blog.

jr565 said...

Illuminati wrote:

As I recall, when the Patriot act was passed, we were told it was to be limited to foreign calls to locations known to support jihadis. This new program of spying on everyone making domestic calls or emails etc. is not what people signed up for.

it has a component where you had to have one side originate in a foreign country. But if the person making the call was in the US it wouldn't mean that they couldn't monitor the phones in this country as well.
But let's take The marathon bombers. They blew up a bomb in this country. One of them was an Amwrican citizen.
If they are expected to be terrorists why shouldn't we monitor their communication? ESPECIALLY when you also make the argument that the CIA or FBI was warned about this guy and did nothing.
Well what do you want the CIA/FBI or NSA to do? I would think monitoring of their phone calls should be the minimum of what needed to be done.

Strelnikov said...

I am reminded of another manifestation of the same paradigm; otherwise intelligent people claiming:

1) Oral sex, isn't sex;
2) Lying under oath in a civil case isn't perjury;
3) Lying under oath to spare the feelings of your family isn't perjury;
4) Some Christians sects believe oral sex isn't sex;
5) What the President does in the Oval Office with a government intern is part of his private life only;
6) Lying under oath about the above represent "defending the Constitution";
6) etc.,etc. Ad nauseum.

Oddly enough, the claims being made now come from the same people and their co-religionists. There must be some connection but I can't see it.

Lem said...

The Snowden story is not holding up.

jr565 said...

So illuminati. It's your argument that Taarnaev should not have been monitored because he was in America and he or his brother was an American citizen?
That sems like an awfully big hole in our anti terrorism capacity. I suppose if Mohammad Attah became a citizen before carrying out 9/11 then we should have nothing in place to monitor his communications if we think he is a terrorist and is calling the other 18 terrorists also in the US on his American bought cell phone.

Illuninati said...

jr565 wrote
"But let's take The marathon bombers. They blew up a bomb in this country. One of them was an Amwrican citizen.
If they are expected to be terrorists why shouldn't we monitor their communication? ESPECIALLY when you also make the argument that the CIA or FBI was warned about this guy and did nothing"

It is possible that the government had enough information on them to stop the bombing but ignored the information because they didn't want to profile Muslims. At least, this is what happened in the case of Nidal Hasan. On the other hand, profiling Tea Party people is just a OK.

jr565 said...

Jay wrote:
Oh, and remember how the Bush NSA was run by a bunch of jokers who let a 29 year old 3 month, contractor steal documents and run off to Hong Kong?


How did we find out about Bush's NSA program? It was leaked by somebody to the Times. So, I guess the NSA was run by jokers under the Bush administration too?

Face it. If you're going to go after the Obama NSA program and didnt go after the Bush administration then you are a hypocrite.

Glenn greenwald, while wrong, and histrionic, is at least consistent.

rcommal said...

It seems to be there was actual cause to monitor the Boston bombers, regardless of whether this program existed or not. Or am I misremembering the reports about our receiving warnings even from other governments? I don't know that the Boston bombers are a good argument either for or against PRISM.

Chip S. said...

Face it. If you're going to go after the Obama NSA program and didnt go after the Bush administration then you are a hypocrite.

Glenn greenwald, while wrong, and histrionic, is at least consistent.


You are one of the people Emerson had in mind when he wrote that famous epigram.

jr565 said...

Illuminati wrote:
It is possible that the government had enough information on them to stop the bombing but ignored the information because they didn't want to profile Muslims. At least, this is what happened in the case of Nidal Hasan. On the other hand, profiling Tea Party people is just a OK.

I never said profiling the Tea party was ok. The IRS scandal is not the same as the NSA program.
As to Obama having enough information to stop a bombing but not doing so because he didnt want to profile Muslims. I don't think that's true. But even if its true, that's an indictment of Obama acting out of political correctness and not an indictment of the NSA program.
I want the govt to have enough information to stop the bombing. If the NSA program gives that info, or gave it to Obama (and he subsequently ignored) then why destroy the ability to gather that info? Go after Obama for having that info and not doing anything about it.
There will be another potential bombing in the future.
And a republican president will need to have tools in place that could POSSIBLY prevent the attack. Or as you say "have enough information" to do something about it.

David said...

"Do you want to say - with respect to any of those "quotes" - nobody real is actually saying that?

I think they are."

I'm sure they are being said. It would be interesting to match the quotes (or sentiments) with individuals. Is this coming just from the previously confirmed weasels and idiots, or is it really creating a new class of them?

Chip S. said...

There will be another potential bombing in the future.

I think there's always a "potential" bombing somewhere.

There's also the potential for enormous abuse of a massive database.

Reasonable people think that there are tradeoffs b/w freedom and security. Unreasonable people just shriek about "potential" threats and think they've proven something.

jr565 said...

Rcommal wrote:

It seems to be there was actual cause to monitor the Boston bombers, regardless of whether this program existed or not. Or am I misremembering the reports about our receiving warnings even from other governments? I don't know that the Boston bombers are a good argument either for or against PRISM.

well when you say we should monitor them what tools do you think should have been used instead? Why is the NSA using this tool as opposed to another, unless they think its more effective than tools they aren't using instead?
Lets say they were using that other tool instead. How are we determining the efficacy of those tools? And how are we determining that they can't be abused? You couldn't really make the argument for or against those tools either, since we don't even really know what those tools would be.
But, if they were at all efficient I bet you that the Glenn Greenwalds of the world would be against them. Simply because if they are effective it will mean monitoring people's activities. And the last thing they want is effective tools to monitor people.

It would be like Rush Limbaugh saying he wants Obama to fail and people getting outraged.
If rush thinks that Obamas programs will destroy America he should want it to succeed?
So too with Greenwald and the absolute privacy advocates. They don't want a tool that can be used efficiently to target terrorists, because that tool
Could also be used to target non terrorists. They don't want any program in place. Whatever one is, it doesn't have enough restrictions.
They never tell you want reatrictions would be ok, and wouldn't violate the 4th amendment and at the same be an effective tool to actually monitor the Tsarnaevs of the world.

jr565 said...

Chip S wrote:
think there's always a "potential" bombing somewhere.

There's also the potential for enormous abuse of a massive database.

and if you posed additional restrictions, those restrictions would similarly have the potential for abuse. Which is why you are always vague about what those restrictions would be. And why I'm arguing that you are really arguing for no surveillance program that could ever exist in reality.

jr565 said...

Lets say we set up a program that requires a judge to issue a warrant and while covert, we tell the congress about the activities and they all sign off on it.
Hmmm kind of like the program we have in place now.

But let's pretend it was a different program, and a different president and a different congress. How do we know that we can trust that president. Or that congress. Or that judge. Or that restriction.
We're now talking about an abstract program devoid of any detail. And even here we still have the same potential for abuse that any other program will have.

Simon said...

Chip S. said...
"I think there's always a 'potential' bombing somewhere. There's also the potential for enormous abuse of a massive database. Reasonable people think that there are tradeoffs b/w freedom and security."

Which is why there has to be a debate about those trade-offs. That isn't the question. The question is where that debate should take place and who gets to judge it.

Chip S. said...

The question is where that debate should take place and who gets to judge it.

There is absolutely no reason that a debate about the general principles involved can't be held in public.

When Canada's a greater bastion of protection against gov't surveillance than the US, well...the terrorists have won.

jr565 said...

Chip s wrote:
Reasonable people think that there are tradeoffs b/w freedom and security. Unreasonable people just shriek about "potential" threats and think they've proven something.

are you that person though? How do you know that this program doesn't provide the proper trade off between freedom and security? Because it sounds like you are simply arguing the freedom side and not the security side as if there can be no trade off (even though you keep
Saying "if they just had the right trade off it would be ok, even though said trade offs can never be named").
And look at your last sentence.
You're accusing me of that, but isn't that the gist of your argument?
"Unreasonable people just shriek about "potential" threats and think they've proven something."

Since there is no evidence of actual abuse of this program all you're doing is shrieking about the potential for abuse of this program. Does that mean you are being unreasonable?

Illuninati said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Illuninati said...

jr5654 said
"I never said profiling the Tea party was ok. The IRS scandal is not the same as the NSA program.
As to Obama having enough information to stop a bombing but not doing so because he didnt want to profile Muslims. I don't think that's true. But even if its true, that's an indictment of Obama acting out of political correctness and not an indictment of the NSA program."

I wasn't speaking about you personally. You are probably correct that Obama personally did not order the FBI or CIA to ignore those specific jihahis. What he has done is to set policy in place which prohibits them from profiling devout Muslims. Therefore, they allowed the bombing.

The war on terror has shifted. According to the Democrats, one man's terrorist is another man's patriot. The Muslim Brother hood used to be terrorists, but now they are patriots. On the other hand, the old Tea Party patriots are slowly transmogrifying into the new terrorists.

jr565 said...

Chip S wrote:

"The question is where that debate should take place and who gets to judge it.

There is absolutely no reason that a debate about the general principles involved can't be held in public.

When Canada's a greater bastion of protection against gov't surveillance than the US, well...the terrorists have won."

I don't know that Canada doesn't have a program like this, since of course if they did it would be covert as well.
And since when do covert programs get debates
In public? Neither one of us works for govt, but that's where such decisions are made. I have no say about any law that gets passed by govt, but more especially ones that are supposed to remain covert, except for people in govt. people on the intelligence committee know about it. I'm not on the intelligence committee.

Chip S. said...

Since there is no evidence of actual abuse of this program all you're doing is shrieking about the potential for abuse of this program. Does that mean you are being unreasonable?

Why, no. Not at all.

Why don't you take the rest of the day off from commenting and read up on the IRS scandal, the AP scandal, and the Fox News scandal.

Then you'll see what "potential for abuse" means.

elkh1 said...

Notice one thing: Osama won.

With the help of Obama, he turned us into a police state.

Obama declared the end of the War on Terror, yet he snoops us under the threat of Terror, which, by the way, was a figment of Cheney's imagination.

Obama who wants to try the Gitmeses in NYC, yet he snoops us to root out enemy combatants. Guess, there are enemies and enemies. Our enemies whom we sent to Gitmo, Obama's enemies whom he targeted with IRS audits.

Obama who sees no evil in Islamist murders of American citizens, sees enemies under the tables, under the beds, under his bus.

Is that how they caught the filmmaker who "caused" Benghazi so fast?

He scapegoated an obscure filmmaker who made an obscure video to cover up his Benghazi debacle, his IRS minions targeted his political opponents, yet we trust him that his NSA will not use our electronic communications against us.

How stupid are we?

elkh1 said...

Jay said...
"the NSA tried to brief all 535 members of Congress on this program and so few showed up that they wanted to cancel the meeting."

The spineless ones don't want the stink when things hit the fan, i.e. now.

They cannot disclose the snooping, they cannot stop the snooping, to be briefed and say nothing is consent.

Chip S. said...

I don't know that Canada doesn't have a program like this, since of course if they did it would be covert as well.

It does.

And since when do covert programs get debates
In public?


Since the Canadian people found out about it.

elkh1 said...

What is common with the KGB, Stasi, SS, Mao's whatever, and the NSA?

They tried to root out enemies of the state.

Like "public good", those in power get to decide what is good for the public, who are the enemies of the state. Enemies such as the Tea Partiers, the NRA members, the militias, or the not-a-news-organization Fox News.

jr565 said...

Illuminati wrote:
I wasn't speaking about you personally. You are probably correct that Obama personally did not order the FBI or CIA to ignore those specific jihahis. What he has done is to set policy in place which prohibits them from profiling devout Muslims. Therefore, they allowed the bombing.

the problem with this is that people arguing against the NSA Program are arguing against it on privacy grounds. Profiling devout Muslims involves invading people's privacy.
When blacks are profiled, or when cops are accused of profiling by blacks, they take it very personally and an assault on their rights.
So, what about the case where the person being profiled is an American citizen even if he's also a Muslim? His 4th amendment protections don't matter? What If he's profiled and it turns out he wasnt a terrorist?
And when you are monitoring him, and he calls other numbers in this country don't you have to see what those numbers are? What if they belong to other citizens who may or may not be terrorists? In the course of your profiling you are going to have to deal with the fact that a lot of people that the terrorists calls are not in fact terrorists. Like if the brothers call their friend at school and you are looking at phone records you will see the record of that call. Is that ok for you or is that going too far? How do you expect them to connect dots if 90% of dots are off limits.

A lot of the stuff coming from the libertarian side is just stupid. For example, the idea that we can't use drone strikes against Americans overseas who are involved in terrorism without giving them due process or a trial first.
And you can show its stupid by citing a single example. One of the marathon bombers was an American citizen. We all know he's a terrorist and he has yet to go through any trial. Suppose, instead of getting captured he fled the country and went to Afghanistan. Because he was American we couldn't drone strike him if the opportunity presented itself? Even though we know he is a terrorist and had already carried out an attack on this country?
If he were standing next to Osama bin Laden and we could drone strike OBL we shouldn't because he's standing next an American?
All these absolutes argued by the other side are great in the absolute, and might be true in 90% of situations. But what about that other 10% of the time?

jr565 said...

Chip S wrote:

Since the Canadian people found out about it.

so your argument is there should be no covert programs? You should have the same security clearance as people in the intelligence community?

jr565 said...

Chip s wrote:

Why don't you take the rest of the day off from commenting and read up on the IRS scandal, the AP scandal, and the Fox News scandal.

Then you'll see what "potential for abuse" means.

well those aren't potentials for abuse, that is abuse. There is a difference.
We don't actually know that there was abuse since the side commuting the abuse is saying that the charge of abuse is a partisan witch hunt or there's a reasonable explanation. Or that there was an accidental error made.
Granted, in those cases is think we'd be on the same page that abuses were committed.
Back when it was Bush the same crowd was arguing that that program was a violation of the 4th
Amendment and that Bush's IRS was targeting the NAACP.
I happen to think that in 90% of the cases the anti bush left was completely full of shit when it came to anti terror policies setup by Bush. You would probably disagree.

Larry J said...

Just because something is legal doesn't mean it's right. The Jim Crow laws were passed by the Democrat state legislators, signed by the Democrat governors and enforced by the Democrat state supreme courts. In those states, Jim Crow laws were perfectly legal and yet they were morally wrong.

As for the NSA and FBI failing to detect the Boston Marathon bombers, you can have the best database in the world but you won't get good results if your search criteria is wrong. It's a variation on the classic "garbage in, garbage out" truth of computer science. DHS identified the most dangerous threats as veterans, Tea Parties, pro-life groups and the like. Muslims weren't on the list. They didn't find the Boston bombers because they were looking at us instead of them.

jr565 said...

elkh1 wrote:
"What is common with the KGB, Stasi, SS, Mao's whatever, and the NSA?

They tried to root out enemies of the state.

Like "public good", those in power get to decide what is good for the public, who are the enemies of the state. Enemies such as the Tea Partiers, the NRA members, the militias, or the not-a-news-organization Fox News."


I notice you dont include the CIA and FBI.So is it your premise that there can't be enemies of the state? I
Would agree that tea parties are not that enemy, but clearly some are. And clearly govt should view people as such.
If you think that there can be no enemies of this state, then clearly we should have no surveillance programs covert or otherwise.
But that's a pretty absurd position to take.

jr565 said...

Larry J wrote:
Just because something is legal doesn't mean it's right. The Jim Crow laws were passed by the Democrat state legislators, signed by the Democrat governors and enforced by the Democrat state supreme courts. In those states, Jim Crow laws were perfectly legal and yet they were morally wrong.

just because something is covert doesn't men that its wrong.

jr565 said...

Note when i said "but some are"
I meant some people not some tea partiers.

Cedarford said...

elkh1 said...
Notice one thing: Osama won.

With the help of Obama, he turned us into a police state.


=================
I have always found these pronouncements by libertarians and liberals that "The Enemy Has Won" as stupid as many of their slipperly slope arguments.

As stupid as saying drone strikes will soon happen on the American people, just like those B-52 strikes on our cities did or A-10 Warthog strafing runs on US highways.

Now the idiots are saying that in conflict, any inconvenience shows The Enemy Won.
Just as The Japanese Won, The Japanese Won!!! because they forced us to compell 9 million Freeom-Loving!! 'Muricans to submit to the Draft and risk death or face arrest and hard labor in jail.
And once FDR blacked out cities against their will, had every telegram or piece of mail entering or leaving the CONUS monitored, or put some 140,000 enemy German, Jap, and Italians + their US citizen dependents in interment ???

Why just look around...For the last 70 years all mail was opened by evil Gumnint, the cities are still blacked out, and the internment camps are still full...And men are still Drafted against their will to hazardous duty in the national interest..

Their drooling creed: "BECAUSE PRECIOUS LIBERTY, ONCE LOST, IS LOST FOREVER!!!"

*Fucking cretin liberals and libertarians.
*Add their imbicilic cousins the "no profiling ever" - Black Congressional members.

Revenant said...

The initial programs revealed under Bush apparently covered only calls in or involving foreign locations. I was willing to give that a pass, at the time, as a reasonable wartime government activity.

But a big part of the reason I *was* willing to give that a pass was the endless media and public outcry over the fact that the government was doing it. "This", I thought to myself, "shows that the American people are paying attention. If nearly half of the people are infuriated over comparatively minor limits on privacy, serious infringements on privacy are politically impossible."

What I did not realize, at the time, was that most of the public outrage, and virtually ALL of the media coverage, was purely partisan in nature. The current administration is spying on a scale Bush's never did (or at least on a scale we never knew Bush's did) -- but the overall level of outrage hasn't increased. It just switched parties. And the press oversight pretty much vanished.

This is why I have to roll my eyes at Brooks and the other insiders who piously invoke "the system" or "civil society". Neither the electorate nor the news media nor the Constitution itself is acting as a check on government behavior. The first two groups are only interested in picking sides in the Team Red/Team Blue fight, and the latter has been shown to be just a piece of paper.

Methadras said...

The phone calls I make to from one citizen to another citizen are not the governments purview unless they have probable cause to. And even then they must attain a warrant and inform me of said peeping. This is bullshit. I'm an American citizen and I have a right to not be spied on without being informed that I am either under indictment, subpoena, or warrant to that effect regardless of what I'm doing. These court ruling circumventions to the constitution are getting worse and worse.

Revenant said...

There's a context here. It matters who's collecting this data. It's all about the potential for abuse. Anything can be abused. That's why it's so important who we elect to high office.

That is wildly wrong.

"Awe-inspiring power is fine so long as The Right Man is wielding it" is an idea that humans have been flocking to -- and inevitably regretting having flocked to -- for all of recorded history. Even if such men existed, human beings quite obviously don't know how to find them. Nobody who has ever been President of this country, or even run FOR the Presidency of this country, can be trusted with unrestricted power.

Here is the correct way of stating what you stated:

"It matters who's collecting this data. It's all about the potential for abuse. Anything can be abused. That's why it's so important that nobody elected to higher office be allowed that kind of power."

Simon said...

Methadras said...
"The phone calls I make to from one citizen to another citizen are not the governments purview unless they have probable cause to."

The content of the calls, sure. But it's settled law that you don't have any privacy rights in the records kept by businesses of the services provided to you.

Robert Cook said...

"Kristol and Bolton may be defending the original program because it had limits and their POTUS was an honorable, law-abiding man."

Their POTUS was as law-abiding a man as John Gotti. The present POTUS is as law-abiding a man as their POTUS was.

Cedarford said...

And adding to Simon's remarks..it is one thing for "evil Gummint" to have a database of a towns homes and their addresses, the owner, basic info about the home structure, property size and value from tax records..
And it is another thing to just enter those homes.

Simon said...

Larry J said...
"Just because something is legal doesn't mean it's right."

And just because something is wrong doesn't mean it's illegal. It may well be the case that government can now do things that would once have obliged it to use the tools regulated by the fourth amendment without those tools. As I've said many times over the years (e.g. in 2012; in 2011; in 2009), the Constitution isn't airtight.

Chip S. said...
"[Simon said that the question is where that debate should take place and who gets to judge it.] There is absolutely no reason that a debate about the general principles involved can't be held in public."

There is absolutely no reason why a debate conducted in such utter generalities to be almost meaningless, without any specific knowledge of the relevant data, couldn't be held in public, no—and every reason why it shouldn't.

"[Jr565,] Why don't you take the rest of the day off from commenting and read up on the IRS scandal, the AP scandal, and the Fox News scandal."

See what you did there? Jr565 said that there is no evidence of actual abuse of this program all you're doing is shrieking about the potential for abuse of this program. And you respond not with evidence of actual abuse of this program, but by talking about the potential for its abuse by comparison to the abuse of another program.

And, by the way, yes, that was deliberately phrased in the singular. The so-called AP and Fox "scandals" are no such thing—they are actually somewhat similar to the issue at hand. In both cases, classified information was criminally leaked to journalists. It is entirely proper for the government to mount a criminal investigation, and the idea that an investigation cannot seek a thief by obtaining information from him who received the stolen goods is quite odd.

Chip S. said...

Simon asserted...

But it's settled law that you don't have any privacy rights in the records kept by businesses of the services provided to you.

Well then, I guess the ACLU's suit won't get very far.

Unless you're a SCOTUS insider, I don't give your magisterial declarations on the scope of the 4th amendment a great deal of weight.

As for Cedarford, it's a refreshing change to have him ranting about the cretinous libertarians instead of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Rant on, fascist.

Chip S. said...

And you respond not with evidence of actual abuse of this program, but by talking about the potential for its abuse by comparison to the abuse of another program.

That's a nice, tight bubble you live in.

You won't consider the evidence we have of gov't abuse b/c it's not about the secret surveillance program.

You don't want evidence of abuse by the secret surveillance program brought to light b/c it would violate National Security. In fact, you've stated several times that you think the person giving us info about the program should be executed.

See? No evidence!

Move along, sheeple.

Larry J said...

jr565 said...

just because something is covert doesn't men that its wrong.


Since I never said it did, that's a strawman argument. What makes the NSA personnel any less likely to abuse this information than the people who work at the IRS? What good is the data they collect if they're looking at veterans and tea party types instead of Muslim extremists? The data they're collecting could be extremely valuable in detecting terrorist and criminal activity but only if they're using the correct search criteria. Otherwise, it's garbage in, garbage out.

Larry J said...

Simon said...
Larry J said...
"Just because something is legal doesn't mean it's right."

And just because something is wrong doesn't mean it's illegal. It may well be the case that government can now do things that would once have obliged it to use the tools regulated by the fourth amendment without those tools. As I've said many times over the years (e.g. in 2012; in 2011; in 2009), the Constitution isn't airtight.


All things considered, I'd greatly prefer that our government not do things that are wrong even if they're legal.

When Bush 43 was setting up this program, few knew about it. There was no evidence that people working for him were applying politically biased standards to how they treated people. There is amble evidence of this abuse happening in the Obama administration. He has shown that he can't be given the benefit of the doubt. His view of us has come through many times, from "punish your enemies" to "punch back twice as hard."

They didn't find the Boston bombers because they were apparently using the wrong search criteria. Those brothers weren't military veterans, tea party members or Republicans so they were practically invisible.

Alex said...

Sorry Cook, but I find rank hypocrisy to be far more damaging in everyday life than the NSA program.

Big Mike said...

or the fact that the leaks about them have caused normally reasonable people to publicly commit themselves to so many strange notions in a desperate attempt to defend the Obama administration.

Depends on whether you believe that the "normally reasonable" people were actually reasonable at any time in their lives.

Part of the problem is whether, in light of the IRS revelations, anyone trusts this administration not to abuse the data they collect. "The data is only going to be used against terrorists." Except that too many Democrats in high positions of power, including Lonesome Joe Biden (though he says not) equate being anti-abortion or belonging to the Tea Party or owning a gun to being a terrorist. And that's a problem.

Blue@9 said...

See what you did there? Jr565 said that there is no evidence of actual abuse of this program all you're doing is shrieking about the potential for abuse of this program. And you respond not with evidence of actual abuse of this program, but by talking about the potential for its abuse by comparison to the abuse of another program.

Potential for abuse is all I need to cast a skeptical eye on the program. Our criminal justice system is loaded with prophylactic measures--is it so silly that we're so paranoid about potential for abuse?

I could deal with the NSA program if we had sufficient reason to believe that it wouldn't be abused. Do you feel confident? An entire section of the IRS went off the rails for two years before someone realized "Oh wait, this is totally improper." I would hope the NSA is better managed than the IRS, but can we guarantee that? My final thought is that the potential damage from NSA abuse of personal data is magnitudes greater than that from the IRS.

Tim said...

The basic fact is, the government considers all of us potential terrorists.

If they didn't, they would not be procuring, reviewing and keeping these records.

Simon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Simon said...

Chip S. said...
"[Simon said that] it's settled law that you don't have any privacy rights in the records kept by businesses of the services provided to you. Well then, I guess the ACLU's suit won't get very far. Unless you're a SCOTUS insider, I don't give your magisterial declarations on the scope of the 4th amendment a great deal of weight."

You don't have to. The Supreme Court spoke to a precisely analogous fact patter in United States v. Miller, 425 U.S. 435 (1976): The government obtained a bank's records of their customer's transactions by subpoena, and the defendant claimed a fourth amendment violation. The court rebuffed it because you have no fourth amendment rights over third party data about you, which is precisley the issue here. Cf. United States v. Cormier, 220 F.3d 1103 (9th Cir. 2000); United States v. Thomas, 878 F.2d 383 (6th Cir., 1989). Likewise, Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735 (1979), is on all fours with this case and it squarely holds that the customer has no legitimate expectation of privacy in the numbers dialled from his phone. "Telephone users, in sum," held the court, "typically know that they must convey numerical information to the phone company; that the phone company has facilities for recording this information; and that the phone company does in fact record this information for a variety of legitimate business purposes." 442 U.S., at 743. That the calls originated in a person's home is "immaterial": "When he used his phone, petitioner voluntarily conveyed numerical information to the telephone company and "exposed" that information to its equipment in the ordinary course of business. In so doing, petitioner assumed the risk that the company would reveal to police the numbers he dialed." Id. at 745. This is settled law. If you think that the Supreme Court is going to upend it because a few civil liberties people have a fit of the vapors and are too ill-informed to realize that the legal question at issue is settled law, you're in for a nasty surprise.

Blue@9 said...

The Supreme Court spoke to a precisely analogous fact patter[n]

Analogous? The records were obtained by warrant or subpoena, yes? Tell me, did any of those cases involve an investigating agency demanding records for *all* telephone subscribers in their jurisdiction? Do you think it would be appropriate for, say, the NYPD to demand all NYC phone records on the justification that they are "investigating crime"?

There can't be probable cause if the govt isn't investigating a particular crime. You can't declare the entire country under probable cause for "terrorism"-- well, you could, but then then the Stasi comparisons would start to get really accurate.

The only thing I could see as analogous was the censorship of mail during the world wars. Is that where we're at now?

Debbie Symanovich said...

I thought that the Constitution says we have a right to privacy. Wasn't that what liberals have argued? Roe v. Wade didn't just give us reproductive privacy. It gave us a RIGHT to privacy.

Suddenly, liberals don't seem to value privacy or the right to privacy quite as highly. I don't get it.

Simon said...

Blue@9 said...
"Analogous? The records were obtained by warrant or subpoena, yes? Tell me, did any of those cases involve an investigating agency demanding records for *all* telephone subscribers in their jurisdiction?"

Yes, then as now, the records were obtained by subpoena. So here's the question: The Fourth Amendment requires particularity in warrants. What case holds that a subpoena is subject to the same requirement?


Debbie Symanovich said...
"I thought that the Constitution says we have a right to privacy. Wasn't that what liberals have argued?"

It doesn't. That was an invention of the Warren Court—we used to call them judicial activists, remember?—in Griswold v. Connecticut.

Chip S. said...

Simon, you have a concept of "precisely analogous" that is as indiscriminate as PRISM.

From a summary of Miller:

There is no legitimate "expectation of privacy" in the contents of the original checks and deposit slips, since the checks are not confidential communications, but negotiable instruments to be used in commercial transactions, and all the documents obtained contain only information voluntarily conveyed to the banks and exposed to their employees in the ordinary course of business.

Yep. Exactly like password-protected email housed on a server presumed to be "secure".

We'll see.

And if the SCOTUS upholds PRISM, there are legislative remedies which could upend "settled law".

Y'know, for someone who worships "tradition" as much as you do, Simon, you're incredibly eager to defend a program of domestic surveillance that appears (as far as can be discerned) to be utterly unprecedented in US history.

Blue@9 said...

Yes, then as now, the records were obtained by subpoena. So here's the question: The Fourth Amendment requires particularity in warrants. What case holds that a subpoena is subject to the same requirement?

I don't have a case before me, but there must be reasonable, articulable grounds to believe that the info is relevant to an investigation. A law enforcement officer cannot simply start issuing subpoenas on the general belief that crime is taking place. Take my example above: could the NYPD subpoena all NYC phone records on the general theory that they might uncover criminal activity? Of course not. So what is the particular crime for which the govt needs information on 300 million Americans?

Simon said...

Yes, Chip, it's precisely analogous. In both cases, the question is whether the customer has a privacy interest in third-party business records. The answer is no.

While I recognize that there's a generality issue here, the question of whether the tradition inquiry can take place at the level of means rather than ends is disposed by the restless churn in technological means. As I explained last year: "If something is genuinely new, the lack of any traditional practice is not conclusive against it, although it encourages caution and circumspection. For example, it is not a persuasive argument against the Apollo program that we hadn’t been to the moon before! But truly novel cases are rare, and typically there are analogs whence we can draw guidance. We had not been to the moon, but the crown had sponsored the colonization of the new world and fostered innovation; we had not had to deal with infrared technology before, but we had dealt with searches."

Chip S. said...

"Precisely analogous"? It isn't even "closely analogous".

A bank's records of its customers' accounts are necessarily its property b/c those records are essential to the performance of its duties.

Email on google's servers is more closely analogous to the contents of safe deposit boxes. AFAIK, a court order is required for the gov to search one of those. And if it's the case that the feds have been given general authority to check out the contents of every safe deposit box in the country, then I think it would be pretty easy to pass a law revoking that authority.

rcommal said...

This is settled law. If you think that the Supreme Court is going to upend it because a few civil liberties people have a fit of the vapors and are too ill-informed to realize that the legal question at issue is settled law, you're in for a nasty surprise.

Jesus Christ, Simon.

Fine. It's settled law. Once settled, never ought a settled law, much less its underpinnings, be challenged.

Got it.

Re: vapors + ill-informed

Your analysis, description and judgment is duly noted, and I surely will take all of that into account.




rcommal said...

Simon:

This is just about as peachy of an argument that you and I had years and years ago, when you tried to tell me that you--a whole bunch of years younger than I and not raised in the U.S. [though you are, indeed, every bit as much a citizen as I am, and I am grateful and happy about that]--knew more about growing up in small-town Indiana and small-town Illinois, and then experiencing relatively small-town Delaware as a whole than did I, who actually lived all of that in all those places in real time at the relevant times.

Simon, perhaps you ought consider, every now and again, that it is *you* who over-reaches, and that it is *you* who knows less than you think that you do.

Derfel Cadarn said...

The feeble excuse that it has been going on for years is outright insulting to anyone of even the meanest of intellects. The institution of slavery had been going on in the New World for centuries before it was abolished in the US, does this same justification apply here? Then it must be concluded that slavery was a good thing as it had existed for so long.How do these cretins sleep at night?

DEEBEE said...

Ann, this is exactly why your blog is sticky.

Robert Cook said...

"Glenn greenwald, while wrong, and histrionic, is at least consistent."

Greenwald, while perhaps occasionally verbose in his writing--though admirably to the point in his public speaking--is not histrionic, and, while no one is never wrong, Greenwald scores way high on the correct-o-meter.

Robert Cook said...

"Part of the problem is whether, in light of the IRS revelations, anyone trusts this administration not to abuse the data they collect."

The problem is not "this administration", it is any administration. They must all be checked by the people--through Congress (HA!)--or they will "make mischief" (abuse the power they have and attempt to expand that power beyond that limit they found on taking office). Every administration is to be viewed with deep skepticism and with the presumption they will lie to us, (as--as I.F. Stone famously said about governments--they all do).

Simon said...

Chip,
It is precisely analogous. I am happy to stipulate that a search of safe deposit boxes requiers a warrant, and I'm even willing to stipulate that e-mail is enough like a safe deposit box that the government needs a warrant in order to read it. But from what we know of PRISM—not what we suspect, what we can safely say we know, which is less than what the leaks have claimed given the doubts that have been raised about their veracity—the govenrnment isn't reading your e-mail. It is obtaining the same transaction data that it is obtaining on telephone calls.

Mail server logs record dates and times and senders and recipients; they often record the subject. But they don't include the contents of the mail. If the government is obtaining the logs, which is the best interpretation of PRISM that is available today, the analogy is not to safe deposit boxes held by a bank, but the records that UPS keeps on your use of their services: Dates and times and senders and recipients, and some ancillary information.

The government needs a warrant to listen to your calls. It does not need a warrant to get a list of the numbers that you have dialled (assuming that Verizon keeps those records), which is precisely what Smith says. That is precisely analogous to the use of express mail: The government needs a warrant to open your mail. It does not need a warrant to get a list of people to whom you have sent packages (assuming that UPS keeps those records). And it is precisely analogous to the use of e-mail: The government needs a warrant to open your e-mail. It does not need a warrant to get a list of people to whom you have sent e-mails (assuming that UPS keeps those records).