HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » DirkGently » Journal
Page: 1 2 Next »

DirkGently

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Orlando
Home country: USA
Current location: Holistically detecting
Member since: Wed Jan 27, 2010, 04:59 PM
Number of posts: 12,151

Journal Archives

There's long been a deliberate conflation


of "American interests" with "interests of the few and the powerful."

It's not a uniquely American evil -- we regularly call it out and cluck when we see Russia, China, et al transparently supporting some dictator they're selling weapons to or buying things from. It's a human evil as old as time. People ascribe false, beneficial motivations to selfish interests.

But I'm not sure anyone's doing it to the extent we are right now. It's a PNAC-flavored extension of trickle-down theory, really. We use the military and intelligence strengths we have not for defense, but for offense, and specifically, to obtain power and wealth for the influential and well-connected.

It's only a matter of time before we discover which American private interests are being fed intel on their competition and their critics. We saw one tip of the iceberg with the BOA / HBGary proposal to "destroy Glenn Greenwald" (him again) through dirty social networking tricks.

Nobody needs ten zillion phone records or e-mails to watch out a handful of poorly-armed foreign zealots who, we should remember, premise their attacks on us on the idea that we are already interfering with their countries and their politics.

This stuff is the current version of the CIA setting up banana republics in South America, or the Bush family invading countries in the Middle East. It's quiet and (theoretically) bloodless, but the motivations are the same. And the winners and losers will be the same.

The American public is not in the "win" column.

Oh. Nihilistic pragmatism? No thanks.

I thought that when you made that statement regarding ethics above, calling for recognition of the actual, rather than imaginary, consequences of action, that you were speaking about the disingenuous support for illegal / unconstitutional / or unethical surveillance -- being for our "protection" and so forth.

Are you instead suggesting that these secret surveillance activities ARE wrong, and harmful, and in need of change, but there is simply too much political leverage / money involved for us to do anything about it?

That we need to prioritize other things -- things like partisan political victory -- ahead of it?

Asking how many babies you would skin and eat if it would stop 9/11 -- that sort of thing? That's nonsense.

NOTE: I'm not sure that's what you actually said, but if it is, it runs counter to the ethical premise you set out earlier.

You don't start from the premise everything is a zero-sum exercise in the soulless exercise of power, and that you just trade bad here for less bad there. Take what the existing forces will give you. Not as a citizen you don't, anyway. That's a game for mercenaries.

You start with principle, and the rational contemplation of what helps, and what harms, and you push in all directions at once. You build consensus. Raise awareness. CREATE leverage out of consciousness and the awareness of true consequences. Once there was no leverage for women to vote, or to curb pollution, or to end segregation. We didn't trade our souls to anyone to make those changes.

Your premise -- again, if I'm reading you correctly -- is simply false. You're asking us to presume consequences and tradeoffs not in evidence.

If you think you know more about what they are than the rest of us, lay them out.

Does the ACLU "NOT. GET. IT RAWWWR!" either?


NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union today filed a constitutional challenge to a surveillance program under which the National Security Agency vacuums up information about every phone call placed within, from, or to the United States. The lawsuit argues that the program violates the First Amendment rights of free speech and association as well as the right of privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment. The complaint also charges that the dragnet program exceeds the authority that Congress provided through the Patriot Act.

"This dragnet program is surely one of the largest surveillance efforts ever launched by a democratic government against its own citizens," said Jameel Jaffer, ACLU deputy legal director. "It is the equivalent of requiring every American to file a daily report with the government of every location they visited, every person they talked to on the phone, the time of each call, and the length of every conversation. The program goes far beyond even the permissive limits set by the Patriot Act and represents a gross infringement of the freedom of association and the right to privacy."

The ACLU is a customer of Verizon Business Network Services, which was the recipient of a secret FISA Court order published by The Guardian last week. The order required the company to "turn over on 'an ongoing daily basis' phone call details" such as who calls are placed to and from, and when those calls are made. The lawsuit argues that the government's blanket seizure of and ability to search the ACLU's phone records compromises sensitive information about its work, undermining the organization's ability to engage in legitimate communications with clients, journalists, advocacy partners, and others.

"The crux of the government's justification for the program is the chilling logic that it can collect everyone's data now and ask questions later," said Alex Abdo, a staff attorney for the ACLU's National Security Project. "The Constitution does not permit the suspicionless surveillance of every person in the country."


http://www.aclu.org/national-security/aclu-files-lawsuit-challenging-constitutionality-nsa-phone-spying-program

Clapper didn't lie in "2006."

During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on March 12 of this year, Ron Wyden asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper a simple question: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

“No, sir,” Clapper shot back without a pause. “There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect, but not wittingly.”

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/350699/clappers-lie-charles-c-w-cooke

Is 2011 the same as "2006?"

This important case—all the more relevant in the wake of this week's disclosures—was triggered after Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate intelligence committee, started crying foul in 2011 about US government snooping. As a member of the intelligence committee, he had learned about domestic surveillance activity affecting American citizens that he believed was improper. He and Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), another intelligence committee member, raised only vague warnings about this data collection, because they could not reveal the details of the classified program that concerned them. But in July 2012, Wyden was able to get the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to declassify two statements that he wanted to issue publicly. They were:

* On at least one occasion the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court held that some collection carried out pursuant to the Section 702 minimization procedures used by the government was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.

* I believe that the government's implementation of Section 702 of FISA [the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] has sometimes circumvented the spirit of the law, and on at least one occasion the FISA Court has reached this same conclusion.


http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/06/justice-department-electronic-frontier-foundation-fisa-court-opinion

Your position is in fact the one lacking in understanding complexity. Equating the entire domestic surveillance scandal with ... Ron Paul? He has nothing to do with it. He's not the point. Obama is not the point. Snowden is not the point.

There is an ongoing, expanding, massive, domestic surveillance program, which has already been determined to have violated the Constitution, and without question no further in the past than 2011.

Get it?

We've given other nations the ammunition to call us a rogue state.


Another thing that's supposed to identify the small and large "d" democratically minded is that we put principle over personality, what we do over who we are.

And we've been acting like a rogue state. Iraq, waterboarding, indefinite detention, and now illicit global surveillance.

We've never been a perfect country. But we used to at least have a good faith claim to occupying some kind of moral high ground. Bush destroyed a lot of it. Obama seemed to be putting some of it back.

But not on this stuff. Not on the new, red-hot, big-dollar world of massive electronic surveillance. And not on government secrecy. No one has abused the Espionage Act to punish whistleblowers this way. What Bush began in this arena has been expanded and worsened.

The fact that American "dissidents" are now fleeing to foreign countries is not a reflection on them, so much as it is on US.

Question is, what are we going to do about it? Become the old Soviet Union, demanding our "defectors" be returned to us in chains, to be stripped and held in some secret dungeon?

We claim to be better than that. But apparently when it comes down do it, we have plenty who are too scared, too stupid, or too otherwise motivated to stand up to it.

I don't get how Dems can suddenly identify with secretive power structures.


They've never been on our side. Being liberal / Democratic / progressive is supposed to mean (I thought) a distrust of the empowered, whereas conservatives / Republicans / assholes distrust the disempowered.

They punch down. Down on hippies, down on the poor, down on the leakers and the tattletales and the dissident shouters. The FBI spied on MLK, John Lennon, Democratic Headquarters. This is not new. This is not about one person. This is about how secret power is always a constraint on progress and equality and fairness.

We punch up.

Wow. The apologist ammo bucket must be empty if shameful racial animus

is all that's left.

Are the ACLU racists? The Electronic Frontier Foundation? Chris Hayes? Please, explain the racist motivations of these people, given it's apparently easy to ascribe such motives to members of "Democratic Underground."

Facts facts facts? Have some facts.

A Google News search of "NSA scandal" pulls 259 million hits. 81 million for "NSA Obama." The media is giving it a little play.

Yes, the NSA does spy on Americans. Clapper's weasel wording about "wittingly" kind of gave that away. That is the problem that people have a possibly non-racist problem with. Who wouldn't?


ACLU Files Lawsuit Challenging Constitutionality of NSA Phone Spying Program

NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union today filed a constitutional challenge to a surveillance program under which the National Security Agency vacuums up information about every phone call placed within, from, or to the United States. The lawsuit argues that the program violates the First Amendment rights of free speech and association as well as the right of privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment. The complaint also charges that the dragnet program exceeds the authority that Congress provided through the Patriot Act.

"This dragnet program is surely one of the largest surveillance efforts ever launched by a democratic government against its own citizens," said Jameel Jaffer, ACLU deputy legal director. "It is the equivalent of requiring every American to file a daily report with the government of every location they visited, every person they talked to on the phone, the time of each call, and the length of every conversation. The program goes far beyond even the permissive limits set by the Patriot Act and represents a gross infringement of the freedom of association and the right to privacy."

The ACLU is a customer of Verizon Business Network Services, which was the recipient of a secret FISA Court order published by The Guardian last week. The order required the company to "turn over on 'an ongoing daily basis' phone call details" such as who calls are placed to and from, and when those calls are made. The lawsuit argues that the government's blanket seizure of and ability to search the ACLU's phone records compromises sensitive information about its work, undermining the organization's ability to engage in legitimate communications with clients, journalists, advocacy partners, and others.

"The crux of the government's justification for the program is the chilling logic that it can collect everyone's data now and ask questions later," said Alex Abdo, a staff attorney for the ACLU's National Security Project. "The Constitution does not permit the suspicionless surveillance of every person in the country."


http://www.aclu.org/national-security/aclu-files-lawsuit-challenging-constitutionality-nsa-phone-spying-program

What the NSA claims is that it aims for at least "51%" foreign surveillance. Supposedly. If that's even a reasonable standard to begin with. Which is verified by precisely nothing. Which is also what we know about what happens if it un"wittingly" gathers more than 49% domestic surveillance.

This is the same organization that batted not an eyelash when Bush ordered it to wiretap unconstitutionally. Then they listened to people's "sex calls" for fun.

So yeah, "trust" is kind of out the window here. Words are not going to be enough when we've already seen that "no, not wittingly" is the standard of truth we're working with.

As recently as 2011, this administration unconstitutionally violated the law on which PRISM is based. The precious FISA court said so. That means you are being spied on. Or were, within the past two years. We really don't know, because there is no transparency and no accountability and no public oversight of how the laws, including the despicable Patriot Act, are being interpreted.

Nor can we know how it's now interpreting things that supposedly fixes the unconstitutionally spying that we already know has occurred.

A 2011 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ruling found the U.S. government had unconstitutionally overreached in its use of a section of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The National Security Agency uses the same section to justify its PRISM online data collection program. But that court opinion must remain secret, the Justice Department says, to avoid being "misleading to the public."

The DOJ was responding to a lawsuit filed last year by the Electronic Frontier Foundation seeking the release of a 2011 court opinion that found the government had violated the Constitution and circumvented FISA, the law that is supposed to protect Americans from surveillance aimed at foreigners.

The part of the FISA law addressed in the opinion in question, Section 702, is the same one the NSA is now using to scoop up email and social media records through its PRISM program.


But the court that released the opinion under dispute is no ordinary legal body. Made up of federal judges on loan from other courts, FISC conducts its highly classified business in secret. Its rulings, too, are classified -- which means Americans don't know how the law governing surveillance is being interpreted.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/07/justice-department-prism_n_3405101.html

So, besides disgracefully accusing people who are concerned about a fundamental threat to the basic Constitutional protections of Americans of being racist, this "hypothesis" is just flat-out wrong.

Secret domestic surveillance is not analogous to healthcare.


We don't have a Bill of Rights to protect us from unwarranted healthcare.

This is supposed to be the difference between rightwingers and Democrats and progressives.

Conservatives don't "trust government" to limit the power of private business entities to exploit people for profit. They don't want environmental regulations or limits on how financial institutions can gamble with depositor money, or the possibility of large jury verdicts when someone is injured by a defective product.

In short, conservatives seek more power for the already-empowered, and distrust government interference in that.

Progressives / liberals / Democrats typically favor regulation aimed at preserving the common good and protecting people without the leverage provided by money or class, or race or gender.

Domestic surveillance programs have not just a history, but a nearly exclusive history, of being abused -- to the precise extent they operate without accountability to the public -- to attack political dissidents, which typically includes progressives.

The FBI has a disgusting criminal history here, trying to threaten and torment MLK into suicide after learning of his affairs, and pursuing all manner of civil rights proponents, supposed "communists," and even longhaired musicians like John Lennon.

The NSA has not a leg to stand on in terms of benefit of the doubt. It's supposed to be surveilling FOREIGN signals, not domestic, in the first place, And when the Bush administration decided to interpret the law *IN SECRET* to permit it warrantless wiretapping, what was the NSA's response?

Well, of course, they immediately set about warrantless wiretapping without an eye batted. Then they went a little further and started passing around "sex calls" for their own amusement. Not a thousand years ago -- during the Bush administration.

And it's not like the view that lefties are possible "enemies of the state" has changed. Homeland Security apparently spent so much time checking out what OWS was doing on Facebook and writing reports estimating its possible "damage to the financial industry," that no one paid much attention to the conversations they were having with Russia about the Boston bomber.

This is what government does when it can spy on people in secret. It worries a lot about embarrassment to itself and damage to the powerful, and then maybe looks for "terrorists."

The issue now continues to be secrecy. A FISA court ruled as recently as 2011 that the law used to justify the PRISM program had been ... wait for it ... applied in an unconstitutional manner. We think, anyway, because the Obama administration has fought tooth and nail to make sure no one ever reads that ruling.

This is the problem. The conceit invented by Bush, with obvious bad faith, was that Executive Branch can claim state secrets privilege and hide behind supposed "national security interest" as to not only what it's DOING, but whatever it may be doing WRONG. No investigation, no courtroom discovery, nothing. Zip.

And the Obama administration, which came into office riding a wave of, at the very least, very sweet-sounding talk about "transparency," has, at the very most, done not one single thing to change that conceit. It still takes the position that we not only can't know who's being spied on, but we can't even know what legal interpretations it's using to define how and to whom it's doing that.

That's not a situation that can be cured by "trust." There's only one cure for government secrecy regarding what it thinks its own powers are, and that is DAYLIGHT. Transparency. Accountability. Examination.

The argument that it would somehow destroy our ability to watch "the bad guys" by simply coming clean about what the rules are is specious and unworkable.

So it's not a matter of "trust," which is why it isn't cured by however much anyone likes Obama or any other President.

This is the way government power works, and it's the reason we have safeguards like the Fourth Amendment. Safeguards that mean nothing if they are applied "in secret," because that means that as far as anyone knows, they're not being applied at all.

The whole "traitor" theme should make anyone squirm.

Sure, it's possible to harm "the United States" by actually, say, working for a foreign power. But the idea being pushed so vigorously is that anything that might tend to *embarrass the government* is some kind of mortal crime is creepy and wrong.

This is what Bush / Cheney pushed. This is the problem with equating "national security" with a lack of transparency about, not just what government is doing, but what government is doing wrong. They came down like a ton of bricks on Drake not because he endangered us, but because he embarrassed THEM.

This is not what democracy looks like. We do not prioritize government secrecy over the principle of a free and open society.

We do not call people "cowards" and "traitors" for coming forward with the truth. Those are the words of people in fear of the truth, seeking to shortcut debate and put people in fear of speaking out.

Traitor my ass.

NSA admits listening to U.S. phone calls without warrants

So, when they said they weren't listening to phone calls, they meant yes, they were listening to phone calls? Oh, but it's okay, they secretly interpreted the law and found it was legal.

Apparently.

Edit: Oh, and you know, e-mail. And stuff.


http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57589495-38/nsa-admits-listening-to-u.s-phone-calls-without-warrants/
The National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed this week that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed "simply based on an analyst deciding that." If the NSA wants "to listen to the phone," an analyst's decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required, Nadler said he learned. "I was rather startled," said Nadler, an attorney who serves on the House Judiciary committee.

Not only does this disclosure shed more light on how the NSA's formidable eavesdropping apparatus works domestically, it suggests the Justice Department has secretly interpreted federal surveillance law to permit thousands of low-ranking analysts to eavesdrop on phone calls.Because the same legal standards that apply to phone calls also apply to e-mail messages, text messages, and instant messages, Nadler's disclosure indicates the NSA analysts could also access the contents of Internet communications without going before a court and seeking approval.

The disclosure appears to confirm some of the allegations made by Edward Snowden, a former NSA infrastructure analyst who leaked classified documents to the Guardian. Snowden said in a video interview that, while not all NSA analysts had this ability, he could from Hawaii "wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president."

This is the inescapable problem.

No one can self-police abuse of power. The entire idea is ridiculous, which is why it came from the Bush administration. They rationalized, quite obviously in bad faith, that national security gives the executive near-unlimited power, including the power to decide that even any questions about its own wrongdoing could be classified.

That's the core battle that's been going on since Bush. Does anyone get to see how the Executive is governing itself on issues of Executive power and Constitutional rights?

Bush said, "No." Now the administration is saying the same thing.

It is an issue, it's not something we have settled before, and this leak story, whatever it's worth as a description of the actual programs, has raised the question once again. Does the executive get to, not only conduct its business in secret, but also tell us we may not even ask its interpretation of what is legal and what is not?

And it looks like they may now tell us what they think is legal, because they want to refute the specifics in the story.

How they go about doing that will be another story.

Go to Page: 1 2 Next »