Violating privacy of private citizen Michael Hayden totally cool because the NSA sucks, or something; http://t.co/aDdnFOjZLM
— Michael Cohen (@speechboy71) October 24, 2013
@delong @speechboy71 @michaelhayden "If you are not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about."
— billmon (@billmon1) October 24, 2013
Apparently Murphy, the Trickster, was the god in charge of the script today. (Never was much for verisimilitude, that Murphy.) So the ex-head of the NSA did an “on background” cellphone interview from a public Acela car… and Tom “MoveOn Alum” Matzzie happened to be sitting in the seat direclty behind him.
Some Storify reports, via Micah Sifry at TechPresident.
One irony: The little-seen WikiLeaks documentary “We Steal Secrets” features Hayden as a surprisingly contrite-sounding talking head. He claims that he “wanted to tell” Americans of various abuses of privacy, but, darn it, he could not do so without people who “did not have the right to know” such information finding out. So he’s different on record and on background.
Matzzie deserves the last word:
For those asking, this was not the quiet car. So he wasn't THAT guy.
— Tom Matzzie (@tommatzzie) October 24, 2013
I’m confused as to why the Europeans are all pissed off about this shit. I’m nearly certain they do the exact same shit as well; they just don’t have useful idiots like Snowden. Or, rather, they probably don’t contract shit out to companies like Booz Allen, who then in turn hire sketchballs that shouldn’t have security clearance.
@PsiFighter37: You forgot to add “If you are not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.”
If the conversation is in a public place and is loud enough to be heard, there is no violation of privacy.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
They’re not. I’m sure they genuinely don’t like being reminded of it, maybe surprised at seeing just how widespread/invasive our methods are, but I doubt the Chancellor of Germany or the President of France don’t know that they’re also spying on us, and each other.
As to violating Hayden’s privacy… Come on. The buffoon’s giving anonymous interviews in a public place on his freakin’ cell phone.
So, Michael Cohen is an idiot, is that that what you’re saying?
That’s the real “theater”.
@PsiFighter37: If we caught a German spying on us, Obama wouldn’t stand up and say “Yeah, we all do it.” He would say “It’s sad that the Germans think they have to spy on us, and they need to come clear about what they are doing,” and then he would probably call Merkel up and they would have a good laugh.
To put it in our bloghost’s terms, Michael Hayden needs a serious punch in the neck and can DIAF. So says this former contractor at his former place o’ business.
This is why the gods invented The Quiet Car!
Also too–@PsiFighter37: though I get there is some theater and hypocrisy going on for local consumption at the European level, there is a strain of American naivete or anarchism or I don’t know what to call it that truly believes there is no reason to spy at all. I really don’t get it.
@PsiFighter37: @Belafon: It does appear that the French and Germans are using this to try to get a no-spying agreement like the Five Eyes one we have with the UK, CAN, AUS, and NZ. If so, it is leverage and nothing else. No real animus.
Seven eyes? That makes no sense whatsoever.
@Baud: No, this would be another agreement, so it would be Three Eyes – giving us a total of eight, which makes much more sense.
Why would our eyes count twice?
Everyone is spying on everyone, The US is just really good at it (see this NPR article on it, specially the quote aboyut jealousy). The outrage theater is about local consumption and politics for these leaders. But what baffles me is those who truly believe spying has no real place in the world today. Really? It’s a sin? Not a tool? Not an advantage? In trade negotiations? In diplomacy?
The Germans, like the British, are a surveillance state.
Don’t think so? Try to run a TOR exit node in Germany. Go ahead. Try it. See how long it is before you get a knock on your door.
The phrase “Worse than Watergate” has been used in the libertarian circlejerk on Reddit.
I really just can. not.
And because I live in DC I have to plan my Saturday around that stupid rally that will have paramilitary crazy right wing people on the mall. I am still traumatized form the Glen Beck thing.
You could join them.
What’s this one about?
Jim, Foolish Literalist
Refreshingly honest, and kinda funny.
@Baud: What do these people think the purpose of organizations like the NSA and CIA is?
Makes sense. Ben Franklin did invest bifocals.
Well you just never know who is watching you..
Kind of like John’s friend in the last thread — to enslave Americans.
@Valdivia: Like I read somewhere, if it was suddenly announced that Iran had a nuclear weapon, Congress wouldn’t be thanking any president for not spying.
@schrodinger’s cat: Someone’s Looking At You.
@Baud: Those agencies have nothing to do with SNAP.
@Omnes Omnibus: There is also the element of anti-American bashing for domestic consumption at home. Beating up on Uncle Sam is always a popular position for any European government, even with our closest allies. Hell even Canada indulges in this every now and again.
How long would it be?
The Merkel stuff is from 2006. They’re still pissed off at Bush.
@Valdivia: All of us are so naive except for those of us here who aren’t.
Exactly. I don’t blame the Europeans for posturing. Diplomatic games have rules just like any other ones, and they’re just following them. What does piss me off are the Americans who are naive and, frankly, fucking stupid enough to latch onto it and waggle their fingers that it’s bad, very baaaaaad, to spy on other countries.
Who do you think makes people into SNAP food?
@Jim, Foolish Literalist: Yeah, this. They’re just pissed that we’re destructively good at it. Spending 1/4 of Germany’s GDP on national security will buy you that.
@Belafon: When was the last time we counted Iran as an ally?
Good one, amigo.
Why is Obama enslaving white Germans with his Kenyan spying?
Oh I go to many of them but this is an anti-NSA libertarian-fest which will be graced by Paulites and Oathkeepers and such. No way. I can tell you the Beck thing was so creepy I am still shocked by it. (If you ever get to DC I can tell you about more than the blood drenched wooden cross over a glass of wine because I had a press pass and was right next to Sarah Palin. Ugh)
So good, in fact, that a cross-dressing private and narcissistic contractor managed to steal hundreds of thousands of pages of this spying and hand it off to an Australian alleged rapist with fake hair and the world’s worst writer/blogger and turn it into the the biggest international story of recent years. Howdy Doody.
Did you have Starbursts?
It is close to Halloween.
I actually can’t believe no one had dropped this one yet!
:), totally ahead of his time this guy.
ETA @Baud: ummm
@Heliopause: Being good at espionage does not equal being good at counterespionage or security.
@Valdivia: I considered it, but I like the Boomtown Rats song better so I went with it.
@Omnes Omnibus: Well, shit. When you’re vacuuming up every fucking thing available it might make it a little more difficult to do the right thing, eh?
@Valdivia: @Omnes Omnibus:
There’s always The Police.
@Corner Stone: Fine. I posted somewhere else about Mexico acquiring nuclear weapons. I was mostly talking about spying in general. A lot of people aren’t talking about spying on England. They think all spying is bad.
You made the exact point i was going to make to @Heliopause so I don’t have to make it again. Also: what is with the cross-dressing thing? Why involve his sexual issues eh?
@Omnes Omnibus: @Baud:
I knew I could count on you guys to bring it musically. The thing with that Rockwell song, which is kinda awful, is that he was in Costa Rica when it came out so I have flashbacks from it, vivid ones. Oh well! Better The Police or Boomtown Rats for sure. This one is just very ingrained.
@Baud: The Soylent Corporation, of course.
Ugh, libertarians. I’m at the farmers market downtown and wouldn’t you know it, the libertarians have a stand. covered in idiotic signs, of course.
one says ‘if military football can run off donations then so can food stamps’. god bless em, they do try.
Damn consultants. They do work that can be done better and cheaper by public employees.
Spying on other countries is normal. Tapping a major country’s leader’s personal phone is *very* much not normal. And yes, they’re P.O’d. It’s easy to be cavalier about spying in general, but everybody gets upset when somebody goes through *their* underwear drawer.
@Jim, Foolish Literalist:
I know right? There was a piece on the usually pretty good Plum Line today by the new guy about spying on Europe. I wish he would answer this point because he made it sound like only the US spies and it’s actually bad to spy. I don’t know. Maybe I am too old school IR trained and don’t see this beyond borders and transparency beyond nationality thing. As I said. It baffles me.
This. They know damn full well they spy on us, too.
To be a douche. Also, I think that there was an implied “haha, a pansy beat you,” in there. Interestingly, three of the known members of the Cambridge Five (Burgess, Maclean, and Blunt) were gay; it has been posited that their demonstrated ability to live double lives to hide their sexuality made them adept at hiding their spying.
@AxelFoley: Shit, that was better than mine.
Interesting point that even if articulating it makes it sound banal–being forced to live a double life gives a talent to hide a double life (not unrelated, see the life of Arenas in Cuba. Also Gay. Also more or less forced to live a double life). I have always been fascinated by the Cambridge Five.
@nellcote: Maybe they think he bugged her bra when he groped her.
Will the sequel to the Wikileaks movie be called “We Are a Front for Russian Intelligence”?
I always feel like
Sombody’s watching me
And I got no privacy
Not so much that as, if you are good at hide one type of secret, you would be good at hiding others. The Cambridge Five have always fascinated me as well. Have you seen the movie Another Country? Based loosely on Burgess’s life, it is the movie that introduced both Rupert Everett and Colin Firth to the world.
they will call it that, but will only be shown in theatres serving distilled water. tinfoil hats will be provided free of charge
Yes you put it much better than I did. Being forced into deception give you a talent for it is what I meant.
I have not seen it that film but is now on my list. thank you for the rec
Now I am going to crash. Somehow this winter, 30 degree weather is making me super tired,
Shit, France is the world champion of industrial espionage.
OT, but this was kinda epic (and not sure if someone already posted it today, because you guys are good at sniffing out news). NJ Congressman Frank Pallone calls the Obamacare Hearing for what they are:
Just a big coincidence that they steered Snowden into Putin’s lap.
pseudonymous in nc
@Jim, Foolish Literalist:
What they do have is a broad data protection regime, and it’s a lot easier to tell Google to fuck off with its attempt to throw around billions of dollars and make hissy-fits in order to weaken it.
(Yeah, the US has the First and Fourth Amendments; the EU has laws to make corporations have a proper duty of care over people’s personal data, while Americans’ personal data is basically up for grabs.)
purity of essence, Mandrake, purity of essence!
Jim, Foolish Literalist
@Omnes Omnibus: I never heard of that movie, I’ll have to look for it. I just rewatched the Alec Guiness versions of Tinker Tailor and Smiley’s People. I like the recent version, but you just can’t beat Alec Guiness, IMHO.
pseudonymous in nc
You only get to claim the world championship trophy if you get caught. Think about that.
@Jim, Foolish Literalist: I vastly prefer the Alec Guinness version of Tinker, Tailor to the new one. The new was good but I think they got two characters (Peter Guillam and Jim Prideaux) so very wrong that it really interferes with my enjoyment of the film.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
@Omnes Omnibus: to say nothing of the Lady Ann Smiley being portrayed as a giggly tart in a cheap red dress
ETA: It was a departure from the book, but I did really like John Hurt as Control
Is this what spying on each other has come to?
@pseudonymous in nc: Let me start by saying I hate my government is spying on my fellow citizens. But it comes at NO surprise to me it is happening. None. I am sure we will find out we are doing a ton more then we already know. What I honestly am pissed off about is we can’t seem to keep a secret. As others have noted here all countries do this. Some better then others. You don’t hear stuff like this leaking out of Great Britain or Germany do you?
But alas I know why, we don’t background check all the people that work for the government via contractors.
There is a story I tell. I used to live in DC and worked in the technology sector as a consultant. I had a client a good friend of mine asked for me to get an interview with one of those companies I worked with. I told him no, cause it was a running joke that literally not a single line item of his resume was accurate. All either half-truths or straight up lies.
I wasn’t going to use my high-level contacts to get him an interview, cause well if they did a background check, I mean made a single phone call they would “out” him.
Well he got an interview on his own. He now runs a help desk, through this government contractor, for the freaking ATF.
Let me say that again, the ATF. He walks into their headquarters daily and works. And honestly he is good at his job (never knew why he lied on his resume). But clearly they didn’t make a single phone call.
Makes me think there could be a lot of folks, working in places they shouldn’t be working, cause nobody puts in the effort to pick up a phone and background check somebody.
@Jim, Foolish Literalist: Guillam and Prideaux are two of my favorite LeCarre characters. Gerry Westerby and Jed from The Night Manager are the others.
@Tommy: Spying on US citizens especially within the US is one thing. Spying on other countries is another.
So I am having white people problems so bad right now. After the dishwasher needed to be replaced, the fridge broke, and we needed a plumber to come put b/c some piping got corroded, my car’s transmission went out. So money has been tight to the point of nonexistent. That was last week. So the car was supposed to be done on Monday. Then Tuesday. Then Wednesday. Then today. So I left work early to drive out to get the car, b/c the garage is all the way across town. On my way out there, they called and said that they fucked it up and it won’t go into reverse.
So I still don’t have my car.
I miss my car.
I cannot afford a new car.
@Suzanne: Do you really need reverse?
@Omnes Omnibus: Agreed. I was just trying to make the point that we outsource so much of our government work and we don’t background check these folks (clearly).
Heck I come from a family of folks that work for the government. Many with high level security clearances. I don’t work for the government and I can’t get within a few hundred yards of where they work. My father was a GS18, the highest level you can get as a civilian. His security clearance was off the charts.
After he retired he got my brother’s wife a job interview. She needed a security clearance (I don’t know what level). My dad and I were over when she was filling out the forms, cause she wanted my father’s help, cause they literally ask you everything about your life.
She listed my father and her father (also former military) as references. Nobody ever called either of them. She now goes to work in a place, that next to maybe the White House, CENTCOM, and NORAD, is the most security military headquarters in he world.
She should have gotten the job. Appears she is good at it. Would NEVER sell out her country. NEVER. But alas her day to day job is working to get supplies to folks in Afganistan. I am pretty sure there are some terrorist that would pay her a lot of money to know what she knows.
@Omnes Omnibus: Reverse is for conservatives. Progressives only move FORWARD!
I am so frustrated that I ate chocolate cake for dinner. And bought a $13 nail polish.
@Suzanne: I think those are called “first world problems” not “white people” problems :). Maybe about the only Internet meme I liked was the “first world problems” one. Both laugh out funny and sad at the same time.
@Tommy: About 25 years ago, I got a TS/BI security clearance since I was an army officer who was potentially going to be given the combination for safes that held nuke info. The army sent people to interview my parents’ neighbors. They tracked down everything. Weirdly, the few black marks on my record at that time were no impediment to the clearance. They were looking for two things. First, behavior that would seem untrustworthy on its face. Second, behavior about which one could be blackmailed. With the second category, if you told the army about it, blackmail is impossible.
It’s probably been 20 years since I last heard that song, but I still remembered all of the lyrics. No wonder I can never find my keys.
@Omnes Omnibus: Understood and IMHO the way it should be. Back in college in 1988 a friend of mine applied to the FBI out of college. He was a Korean American and could speak English of course, but also Korean and Chinese. I would assume a person they’d want. People in black cars with FBI badges pulled up one day to talk to me about him. I assume they talked to a lot of other folks. Again IMHO just basic due diligence.
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): I love that whole album. But then, in my own unaging way, I am old.
The Boomtown Rats and Sir Bob are vastly underrated. Though IIRC he’s also the guy responsible for foisting “Survivor” and other reality game shows on the world, which I can’t help but think has lowered his karma a bit.
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): He has LiveAid to his credit. He has room.
Higgs Boson's Mate (Crystal Set)
In the past there have always been physical or technical limits to the amount of communications that could be spied on. The US has removed the limits. That may be what has upset the Europeans.
@Omnes Omnibus: , @Valdivia:
Re the “Cambridge Five”
For a fictional treatment, I recommend unreservedly the novel, The Untouchable, by Irish writer John Banville. A finely-wrought roman a clef with Anthony Blunt (Victor Maskell in the novel) as the main character, Banville explores the enigmas of identity, loyalty, and narrative reliability. While its plot takes liberties with the actual historical record of the Cambridge spies saga, its style succeeds in being both witty and suspenseful.
If you’re not familiar with Banville, I think he’s one of the most important contemporary literary writers in English (considered likely to be a future Nobel laureate) and The Untouchable is among his most engaging works. I’m certain you’d enjoy it.
@Cacti: Former. China has the title now.
@AxelFoley: I saw that. It was a thing of beauty.
The rationalization of Balloon Juice and and American foreign policy is that as we are cheats and hypocrites, everyone must be…so what is the big deal? Americans are just better at than most, the hypocrisy as well as the eavesdropping, cheating and betraying of confidences since we throw more money and resources at it, even if we spend so much flummery saying how exceptional and transcendent and a great free world (but not from the USA) leader we are, that we don’t do it, friends and allies don’t betray friends, until we are found out; then we have God’s blessing do whatever we want, “God bless America”, our form of “Allahu Akbar” since we are the one country, not bound by the Hague or the IC , and the United Nations, because it is on our soil so we can even spy on them with impunity, and we don’t even have to have the intelligence to know the difference between a Shiite and Sunni before we launch an invasión on a middle east powder keg, so great is our hubris and the energy and time we spend our inteliigence resources on spying on our friends, not even our enemies, who are probably safe. And liberals and conservatives alike, will join the chorous, how dare Snowden try to unmask the Emperor; that the only thing that governs his policy his greed and self-aggrandizement, certainly not freedom for the rest of the free world not to be spied upon, not even their leaders, whom we demand support for what? that syping on or our Latin American and European friends (probably blackmailing then) and betraying their confidences is in their best interest? Now let’s have another joint conference in which we show our unity.. and give our secrets and cell phone numbers to the NSA.
@Tommy: Ha! Reminds me of a friend who applied for a moonlighting part-time job. Turns out it was an army contract and he needed a security clearance; had he but known, he never would have applied because his personal history, how he got to this country, and many other points had been embellished, reversed, forged, etc., to the extent I don’t think he knew the truth any longer. It was all necessary to get out from behind the Iron Curtain alive.
But once he had applied and been hired, pending clearance, he felt he couldn’t safely say he’d lost interest in the job and escape. So the DIA investigated inside and outside, up and down, over and under. People he knew all over the country were interviewed, as were his boss and fellow workers at his day job. And who knows who else that he didn’t hear about. He worried for a month that he’d be stripped of his citizenship and deported.
In the end, he got the security clearance. They should have given him the fact-checked resume they developed.
I love Banville, of course :)
Thanks for the rec. As I was writing last night about the movie I kept wondering if there was a book I had read or knew about and here you are providing an answer…
White Trash Liberal
Mmm vintage pure Firebagger. Perfect accompaniment with soft cheeses, pita points and hummus.
If you consider spycraft to be cheating, then pray tell what are the rules of the game to which nations must abide?
Your whole post is clotted with enough presumption and invective to prevent anything approaching a clear point.
The bottom line is that the goal posts have been moved in the spying debate. So long as it was about the parameters and constraints (or lack thereof) of domestic spying, there was a serious conversation to be had. Deadly serious. But this conversation got swallowed in a Charybdis of hyperbole.
Of which posts like yours are the exemplar.
@Steve Crickmore: Nothing like a pompous scold to start the day.
Yes Americans have a hightened self interest in the constraints of domestic syping but feel no such compulsion for restraint outside its borders. The consequences of such behavior is not lost on 95% of the world and our global ‘partners’, especially outside Austraiia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK, or on
international organizations. The Obama government was going to change its spots but obviously hasn’t .
Obama was a firebagger too. Obama in 2004, “In every region of the globe, our foreign policy should promote traditional American ideals: democracy and human rights and free and fair trade or in 2008.” In the Cold War, we won hearts and minds; now do same to the world”. Sure good luck with that sales pitch in 2012. Very few people believed it then, fewer now. Let’s continue to bash exclusively the domestic conservatives for their debasement and corruption of their rhetoric.
GHayduke (formerly lojasmo)
@GHayduke (formerly lojasmo):
Which countries in the 95% of the world have no spies? Which ones aren’t keeping an eye on its neighbors just in case the neighbor decides to to do something that would have negative consequences for the first country?
Just out of curiosity, which of our friends and allies do you think are not spying on us?
Gathering it and protecting it are different tasks.
@Mnemosyne: Brazil, the Scandanvian countries, UN agencies..etc. The problem is the comphensiveness of the deceit. The Obama adminstration has ordered through State department directives, intialled by Hillary that wikileaks revealed, that all State department officials are to be on the lookout for credit card numbers of anyone who walks into an American embassy, and now the NSA it is positive responsibilty of anyone connected with the US government to get rolex numbers phone numbers of anyone we do business with. Why don’t we just hire members of organized crime or the mafia to blackmail other countries representatives.or set up honey pot traps. Why stop at snooping or privacy theft.? Why not just steal the wallets, cell phones and brief cases of all foreign dignataries, Woudn’t that be much more lucrative and be better to enhance the career prospects of a more enterprising foreign and security officials? Who cares if American credibilty is going down the tubes; after all we are in this to dominate other countries under the cover of the myth that the US in no longer interested in unilateral power, the charge that Obama had leveled at the previous adminsitration.
John M. Burt
Uh, all of those countries/entities spy on the US. Did you really think that they weren’t? Have you ever actually left the cave you live in?
i lived in Brazil recently for over ten years..Other smaller countries actually are interested in other countries and what they can do with them..When was the last time if ever the USA tried to be genuine partner with anyone. iI is not in their DNA. or in the administration’s, Ask anyone who has ever worked with the USA on anything, even at a UN agency. Everything the US does must be done in the national (usually short term) interest of the USA.