James Fallows gets a lot of good emails from insiders. Here’s one from someone he knows about last week’s NSA leaks concerning the infiltration of Google and Yahoo:
I obviously can’t be quoted by name on this … and indeed, since this email is being read (Hi guys!), I can probably get fired just for sending it, but let me just stress how shocking these NSA revelations are.
Look, I’m not a shrinking violet. I work for DoD. I support much of the war on terror. Some of these assholes out there just need killing. And gathering info on them that allows us to schwhack them is okay with me.
But there is law. And my view is that you have two choices. Either you change the law openly, publicly, or if that is impossible and you consider violating the law imperative, then you make a claim of “exceptional illegality.” The later is a tough case, but the best example is torture. I support the torture of Khalid Sheik Mohammed. I do not support the claim that such torture is lawful. But if I had been the responsible official, I would have ordered it and thrown myself on the mercy of the court.
But the thing about the NSA revelations is that this isn’t exceptional illegality. It is routine, somehow justified by legal opinions written by John Yoo-style hacks.
And worse, it is so routine that 29 y/o contractors have access to it.
There are a couple of other letters worth reading at the link.
Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader
James Fallows lives in China, the United States #1 enemy (Russia being #2). Duh, what does he expect?
Mike Lofgren is right: “At some point it is wise to ascribe adult levels of understanding to the principal actors in this drama, no matter how impenetrable their deeper motives.”
The Red Pen
Didn’t John Yoo hack up the memos that supported the torture of Khalid Sheik Mohammed?
Am I confused or wasn’t that torture that yielded pretty much nothing?
Yeah, how ’bout that privatization, kids?!?
@Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader: I know you’re facetious, but Fallows returned to America a few years ago. I will second the recommendation on the link, he has been great on this issue.
Unnamed source asks for transparency.
Have you found the bottom of the barrel yet, MM?
Holy fuck. Summary execution doesn’t lose it’s moral taint because you’ve come up with a cutesy name for it like schwacking. And the rule of law isn’t just a suggestion because you call its supporters shrinking violets. How the fuck does this guy think you get to widespread abuse? We become evil by degrees, asshole.
“And worse, it is so routine that 29 y/o contractors have access to it.”
Snowden did not have routine access to it. The data he obtained was document dumps from other people — either through grabbing their email or looking at the hard drives or file shares. There is no reason he should have had any legal opinions.
The level of access he had reflects internal security in the NSA and not his general level of access.
Good read. As if Monday’s weren’t depressing enough!!! The only thing I would question is whither a Rand Paul could put the security state back in a box. It is to large, to many jobs, to many lobbyists. Like a balloon squeeze one part and it grows somewhere else
Yes. It is a dreadful irony that the people who feel so strongly about national security that they must break the law who should be on the lam and pleading for clemency, not the guy who blows the whistle on them. Not saying they shouldn’t get it, sometimes, but fuck 24.
Internal security protocols for intelligence contractors are certainly ripe for criticism and investigation. But Snowden’s enterprise was wholly criminal from the start, from taking the job under false pretenses, to accessing restricted information through fraud.
To suggest that he had legitimate access to the materials he stole is completely disingenuous.
Snowden deserves the Congressional Medal of Honor for exposing the illegal surveillance machine. Fuckheads like cacti who want to cheerlead us into a permanent state of Orwellian total surveillance are the people who need to be vilified and removed from polite company
That would all be great reasoning, except the Snowden leaks haven’t actually revealed any of these things that it’s reasonable to scared about. None of these revelations showed that the NSA is spying on Americans. They showed that the NSA collects phone metadata of people overseas (with a warrant, no less) and that they rigorously track their process, and that they have computer programs to make the process easy. The closest any of this comes to spying on Americans is that when you track a foreigner’s metadata that will inevitably include information about the Americans they contact. None of those are abuses of power. Yes, every article has had a deceptive lede and included lots of speculation about how this totally could be abused without any evidence backing that up. Hell, there was one article about the NSA reading a couple of common search topic words in a guy’s Google search and coming to his house in a black van and invading his house and interrogating his wife. Buried way down in the article the writer admitted that what actually happened was the company the guy worked for got spooked by his internet use of company computers and called the local police who asked his wife a few questions.
This whole thing is a pack of ridiculous deceptions that have become a narrative.
@TAPX486: Like a balloon squeeze one part and it grows somewhere else.
Yes, that is, in fact, a short history of the “national security” apparatus as it has had to cope with various apparent setbacks, from Stimson to Church to Snowden.
Surveillance, Orwellian, Total
Two more buzzwords and you get a Snowden groupie Bingo.
And this, it seems to me, is missing the forest for the tree. We’re having a national discussion on just how far this stuff should go, and, I believe, other issues that Snowden wanted to bring to the forefront. (I make no declarations as to the intelligence of the conversation, but we are having one, at least.)
This is a good thing.
Are you saying Snowden intentionally defrauded the NSA, thereby compromising its ability to collect intelligence and, consequently, making it more likely that my friends and relatives will be dismembered in a terrorist attack?
Name a street after that man! Or something.
@Cacti: You don’t accept “illegal” as a buzzword?
Which is why I have a hard to believing that many of these purported spying capabilities are actually real.
I think it is much more likely that Snowden and the journalists looking at the stolen material are misinterpreting what may very likely end up being slide presentations and whitepapers about “proof-of-concept” or “testing” efforts that proved certain spying capabilities, but were either not viable, legal, or ultimately used in practice.
For example, when I propose new products at work, I create prototypes, prove them in a lab environment, create slide decks in PowerPoint, write whitepapers about proposed capability and then present them to business decision makers.
Many of those never see the light of day. I am fairly certain many of these code word “programs” are of the same ilk.
Thankfully, many of my bad ideas never make it outside of the walls of my office, stolen by paranoid people and plastered all over world-wide publications!
No, we’re not. We’re having a national freakout about nonexistent boogymen. There’s hardly any discussion of how far the security state should go at all.
wasn’t there just a more recent modification to the law just made in the last week? Aren’t others actively working to strengthen/tighten/revise it even further so that there are fewer opportunities for abuse and provide more oversight (Senators Wyden and Udall)?
if/when we get a Dem Congress, I expect that this will be returned to for more scrutiny and I don’t think that the President will stand in its way.
Is it only the 4th Amendment to the Constitution you don’t like, or do you wish to put the whole Bill of Rights into the dustbin of history?
@Tractarian: Well, there’s already a Snowden Lane in Princeton and a Snowden Way in Boston. Make of that what you will.
But the thing about the NSA revelations is that this isn’t exceptional illegality. It is routine, somehow justified by legal opinions written by John Yoo-style hacks.
And worse, it is so routine that 29 y/o contractors have access to it.
And lest we forget, the latter statement is accurate because the “John Yoo-style hacks” and their backers were too busy filleting the US federal budget and promoting the “efficiency and cost-effectiveness of private enterprise” to bother overmuch with appropriate constraints.
I’m reminded of how Blackwater and Custer Battles behaved once they got federal contracts. Booz Allen seems little different.
Well, I don’t think it’s a non-existent boogeyman. And all conversations need to start somewhere.
Yes, there is a lot of overblown hysteria, but Fallows for one is not generally given to hysteria.
Do you use rubber sheets, or do you merely need to wash them everyday?
Right. Though the 4th may as well BE relegated to the dustbin of history, given the abuse it’s taken over the last 40 years, because Drugs.
No. It is manifestly not a good thing.
Think of it this way. Would it have been advisable or necessary for us to have a “national discussion” in 1961 on how far our surveillance of the Kremlin and KGB should go? Would it have been good for the country to air out these issues in public?
I’m not saying this shouldn’t be discussed. I’m saying there’s a time and a place for such discussions; for example, classified intelligence briefings before Congress. Not on the front page of the Guardian.
MUSCULAR is scooping up a lot more than just metadata, but the bedwetters need to cling to the useful fictions they need to cling to, I guess.
@some guy: Neither. I did smell rotting flesh for several weeks after 9/11, however
@mk3872: I think it is much more likely that Snowden and the journalists looking at the stolen material are misinterpreting what may very likely end up being slide presentations and whitepapers about “proof-of-concept” or “testing” efforts that proved certain spying capabilities, but were either not viable, legal, or ultimately used in practice.
Yes, many of the slideshows are actually internal marketing presentations designed by teams within the NSA aimed at colleagues who might then order up some data or analysis from the “winning” team. As with all marketing presentations I have ever seen, they include a fair amount of, well, you-know-what — but they’re not entirely vainglorious or meretricious.
Terrorist attacks are fictitious.
It’s not like Snowden’s current fan club are the same group that called for George W. Bush’s head when he ignored his August 6, 2001 President’s Daily Brief.
so you don’t wash your sheets after wetting your bed, and you don’t use rubber sheets. the odor must be hellish at your local laundromat when you show up.
So, which of Snowden’s felonies were protected by the 4th Amendment?
Please enlighten us with your legal scholarship.
indeed. didn’t he spoof someone’s email to access the files?
Okay, I just went back and read the leaked documents on MUSCULAR. They say that the NSA has a system they use when they need to go look at old data. It doesn’t say anything about the process of access at all. These documents are a complaint that Yahoo is using that system to transfer vast amounts of data and it’s made the system useless.
It’s always great to see the frantic reaction of the Center-Right here in the comments section whenever Mister Mix brings up another depredation committed by the Security Sate Overlords. James Clapper perjurers himself before Congress and sycophants like Cacti yell “Clap Louder!”
Noun, Verb, 9/11, please delete the Bill of Rights. sad, even if predicatable.
You have a lot more faith in your elected officials than I do.
The “who spies on whom” discussion is indeed a waste of time. What is NOT a waste of time is discussing this:
Pretty straightforward, unlike that pesky #2. Christ, even that a**hole Scalia is probably with me on this one!
i say we ban him forever!
That’s B-I-N-G. Just one more little trooper!
Banning him won’t do much, there are a slew of other conservatives on here who bellow the same bullshit. “Clap Louder” is probably the best retort we can come up with for the bewdwetters and cheerleaders who tend to infest these type of threads.
It’s a side street near Kenmore Square. You go left, drive 3000 miles, and enter the tunnel to Hawaii. Once there you pick up some documents at the toll booth, drop them in the pneumatic tube to Brazil, then proceed to the Atlantic causeway to Hong Kong, where the road bears, ending in Moscow. When you reach the booth, honk loudly and be patient, because it might take a while for the attendant to get there.
no more banksters
@Raenelle: There’s the Rule of Law and there’s the Rule of Law. There are plenty of laws on the books because somebody in law enforcement wanted a reason to question someone but expected to enforce the law selectively (example: Exeter NH has a city ordinance prohibiting three people from standing together on a sidewalk: it’s designed to catch burglars plotting a robbery, but it could ensnare anyone). This “unnamed source” sounds like the kind who takes that view with more laws than most. Given the history of the GWoT, it’s hard to tell which is worst: the Snowdens who abuse their positions to expose the scope and depth of the intelligence gathering, the intelligence professionals like our “unnamed source” who think a little abuse of position can be somehow justified, or the legislators who enact excessive laws with the expectation that they’ll be routinely broken in the name of the Greater Good.
@different-church-lady: As I said, make of it what you will — and I see you have done so.
@Cervantes: You were expecting maybe a pair of mittens instead?
BAN ALL OF THEM! I WANT AN ECHO CHAMBER, DAMMIT!
The NSA revelations are shocking because they are routine? Is this coherent?
watch it, or you’ll be removed from polite company.
Jockey Full of Malbec
You write sentences like this… and you’re worried about Totalitarianism?
@boatboy_srq: To be fair to the “unnamed source,” she didn’t literally say that “a little abuse of position can be somehow justified” — or if she meant that, then notice her saying also that, after breaking the law, she would have “thrown [herself] on the mercy of the court.”
No, the claim is that the NSA revelations are shocking because they purport to show that stupidity at the NSA is routine. That’s a different argument entirely.
Rand fucking Paul.
“freedom” from having someone know what your phone bill contains is more important than Medicare and SS. yay.
@Jockey Full of Malbec:
“If this were a dictatorship, it’d be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator”
@different-church-lady: Mittens? That’s funny! I wouldn’t have taken you for Thérèse Defarge. But yes, thanks, mittens would be nice — it’s cold here.
@Jockey Full of Malbec: Always remember: deliberatly creating cognitive dissonance is one of the key tools in the bag of the determined troll.
LOL…my sentiments on the death penalty precisely, always in jest: “I support the death penalty. As long as I and I alone have absolute authority on it.”
Or, one of my lifelong axioms: “Every person secretly wishes everyone else was more like them because then the world would be a better place.”
i’m sure after president paul gets his first major intelligence briefing and figures out how large the surveillance system is in the US, he’ll shrug his shoulders and say “eh, let’s take a look at that safety net!”
Exactly! This is the discussion I want to have. Snowden is not helping. Especially when he flees to two countries that are not only openly hostile to the US, but have even more surveillance and civil liberty violations (China and Russia). And we still don’t know exactly what information he provided to these countries. I’m more frightened about this than I am over any of the revelations he has made.
This is highly suspicious to me and is uncharacteristic of whistleblowing behavior. This is why Snowden isn’t the guy who can lead this discussion. His actions taint it and continuously distract from the more important issues.
I don’t like NSA either and am highly suspicious of them, but once again, Snowden isn’t helping. Sorry, Mr. Lofgren, but deeper motives do matter here. Because, if Snowden real intentions were to spy for personal gain or worse yet, treason, and he’s merely using whistle-blowing as a cover, that’s not cool! Not cool at all!
In other words, I distrust Snowden just as much as I do the NSA.
Jockey Full of Malbec
I’ve always found impolite company to be much more entertaining, anyway…
@Jockey Full of Malbec: What’s the bon mot that goes something like, “…and if you’re (something something) then sit next to me”?
@The Red Pen:
No, you’re not confused. That was the torture Dick Cheney tried to use to prove that torture works because we totally got valuable information out of KSM… until the FBI guy who’d been in charge of his interrogation came out publicly and said that actually, most of the information we got out of him we got before the torture started and the rest could easily have been obtained the same way.
But, you know, Ticking Time Bomb Scenarios, or whatever.
Here’s the thing… back around 2002-2005 we heard a lot about people having a pre-9/11 mentality and a post-9/11 mentality. And that was probably a fair characterization for a while, the further removed from 9/11 we get, the less fair it seems. The problem today, I think, is that too many people have what I would call a 9/12 mentality. That is pretty much the entirety of the “logic” behind most of the national security state – the next attack is imminent. And I remember the thought at the time that we’d be seeing bombers in sports stadiums and pizza parlors and movie theaters. But none of that came to pass – not because we found thousands of sleeper cells hiding through out the US, but because they never existed. There is nothing wrong with re-evaluating the national security state, it is a discussion that must happen at some point. But Snowden’s actions are not the actions of a hero, no more than the actions of the LAX shooter last weekend were the actions of a hero. I’m not going to pretend that I have all the answers, because I don’t – what I do know is that we have some places where we’ve over-reacted and other places where we are lazy (and those aren’t always mutually exclusive).
Yeah, like that’s been necessary lately.
Is nobody going to talk about what a fucking lunatic this guy is holy shit
“If you can’t say something good about someone, sit right here by me.” – Alice Roosevelt Longworth (eldest child of Teddy Roosevelt)
OT, but the writer loses me with that nonsense. How old would Snowden have to be before mentioning his age would become redundant? 35? 44? 51? There is plenty to criticize about Snowden, and the NSA’s policy on the use of contractors, but Snowden being 29 is completely irrelevant. If you took away all the contributions of those under 30 in the world of computer technology there would be nothing left.
This is as ridiculous as taking a snipe at a footballer or baseball player for being 29,
Right. the authors and rabid proponents of Yoo know who are the ticket to reining in the NSA they let slip along with all the other dogs and codpieces of war.
You did it! B-I-N-G-O.
Your use of the term “center-right” is interesting and inaccurate.
Asking for a rational and sane discussion on this issue doesn’t automatically make a person a right-winger. Sorry, but I rather deal with what actually is than nightmare scenarios and freakouts. All Snowden has done has caused freakouts and not much else.
When it comes to politics, I do freakouts in much smaller doses. At some point, a rational discussion has to occur and Snowden is ill-equipped to participate (forget about leading it). Especially when he’s now working with a leader who has no qualms killing those who disagree with him (Putin).
Things may be bad in the US, but they are nothing compared to Russia. Not even money is enough to keep you out of trouble if you openly disagree with the government there. Wealthy people in Russia are just as likely to be persecuted, jailed, or even killed if they oppose Putin. Yet, this is now where Snowden lives? Come on! How can he be taken seriously, here?
This is why Snowden creeps me out just as much as the NSA.
Yeah, that’s what occurred to me when reading the excerpt, too.
@Mandalay: when you’re young, trust no one over the age of 30; when you’re old, trust no one under the age of 30.
It’s the proof for this still that one goofy PPT slide?
Wow, will he ever freak the fuck out when he finds out that 19-year-old military intelligence enlisted personnel get access to it, too. This is a real stupid talking point, unless he brought up Snowden’s age for some other reason I can’t fathom.
Our clearance system is fucked up, however the discussions around it are just as fucked up. Contractors are held to the same clearance processes as civilians and military personnel. If you think people should be blocked from obtaining clearances because of age, please tell us what age they should be and how you came to that conclusion.
Gin & Tonic
@different-church-lady: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then come sit over here by me.”
@Cervantes: The question is, though, whether the laws on the books are to be obeyed (in all cases), or obeyed only when some badge says so and only in the manner that badge demands. That’s not a minor question: it’s the basis for a lot of the opposition to “Stop-and-Frisk” after all, and what applies on the street for local PD shouldn’t be substantially different from what applies at the federal level to intelligence gathering. And especially given the US’ recent trends in legal proceedings, the “mercy of the court” is becoming far less prevalent and not something one should have any reasonable expectation of obtaining.
As for the contractor’s words, (s)he may not have used those precise words, but professing an expectation that breaking the law, and then hoping for said mercy, would be an appropriate action (even in the context described), is exactly the spirit of that statement.
Speaking of, Putin just signed a law making the family members of dead terrorists financially liable for their acts.
Enjoy your new home, Ed.
I was just about to do that, but you beat me to it. The guy is a fucking lunatic.
And the usually excellent Fallows published his comments and said nothing. Bummer.
Ironically, the lunatic’s final comment (from the link) was
That writer is perceptive enough to see that “banality of evil” in the NSA, but not in himself/herself.
Yeah, this completely. Nail head, meet hammer.
And I read the Fallows letters days ago. Rand Paul fanbois, torture proponents, and the idea that having your own personal cone of silence is more important than whether other people live or die. White boy glibertarianism at its best!
KSM was waterboarded 183 times, right? If waterboarding were the least bit effective, he would have given us the cure for cancer.
In fact, waterboarding KSM got him to tell the Bushies that OBL’s courier had left the game, and it was believed because torture = AWESOME. It wasn’t until years later that BHO’s CIA took another look at the courier and followed him to Abbottabad.
i’d like to meet Ali Soufan some day, maybe have a cup of tea or a game of chess, but i’m afraid of what he’d get out of me.
Well, you’re just a center-right, bedwetting, cheerleader, 4th amendment hater who wants a totalitarian Orwellian surveillance state!
@boatboy_srq: Yes, I agree with you, for what it’s worth.
@Gin & Tonic: @handsmile: Thanks, that was the one.
This is what being Immortal must be like – the same arguments over and over and over and over and…
@some guy: Yeah, we got it the first time, SG. Let it go.
Where could he go to get your seal of approval? Snowden has very few options. He no longer has a passport. There are very few countries in the that will accept him, either due to extradition agreements with the US, or economic/political pressure that would be exerted by the United States. So what can he do? He can stay in Russia with limited freedom, or return to the US and spend a very long time behind bars.
But the mood in Europe as a whole is increasingly turning against the USA, and towards supporting Snowden. That’s already happening on a social level, and it may just be a matter of time before it happens at the political level. I wouldn’t be completely surprised if Snowden became (say) a German citizen a few years from now.
OTOH, I also wouldn’t be completely surprised if he mysteriously disappeared altogether, or tragically died in a car accident once he has outlived his usefulness to Putin.
@Peter: IOW, “I would break the law by acting inhumanely in order to try to save the country.” So morals are subordinate to patriotism. Isn’t that the Teahad in a nutshell?
Appalling? Certainly. Surprising? Hardly.
And you’re right this isn’t getting enough attention.
I’m proud of you DPM for not going with the passive-aggressive angle. Far too infrequently is the question asked, “Is our FPers learning?”
The Red Pen
@Chris: Thanks for clearing that up.
So basically, this guy is saying, “I have no boundaries based on common sense or human decency, and this shocks me, so it should _really_ shock you.”
I find this construction suspicious.
Come back home, face the music, and make his case to a jury of his peers.
The special snowflake generation has somehow warped civil disobedience into a concept where your illegal acts should be entirely free from consequences.
His alternative to the above is to continue living in autocratic authoritarian hellholes and pretending to speak with moral authority.
Meanwhile, from today’s Guardian, this is what his cozy old home has been up to….
Out of the frying pan, into the fire.
The US has double standards, Russia has no standards, ergo, both sides are the same.
Thanks for the insight Mr. Broder.
I’d have liked an opportunity to read this “anonymous email” without the addition of Madrakian bold, mistermix. If you want to comment on something in a passage you quote, why not do that (I’ve played around in the past with bolding different phrases from such quotes and thereby giving them an entirely different slant. One I’d have bolded would have been the reference to Khalid, and if somebody wants to play around with this quote above in that way, have at it.)?
So this guy knows that “this email is being read,” and “I can probably get fired just for sending it,” but sends it nevertheless, just in order to express his general freaked-outness to “someone he knows” who works for the Atlantic?
Something doesn’t smell right here. Unless we’re looking at the birth of another whistleblower (which we may find out in time). But if that’s the case, he’d better have something more than an opinion to make it worth his while.
Why? That might satisfy you, but why on earth would he choose to do that?
AFAIK, Snowden is well aware that he has broken the law, but also still believes that he did the right thing.
I think what really sticks in the craw of some of Snowden’s detractors is that, unlike Manning), he has got away with it. Not only did he publish a pile of information about the government’s security conduct, but he remains (somewhat) free.
@Cacti: Come back home, face the music, and make his case to a jury of his peers.
I’ll keep this short. I presume you are aware that Daniel Ellsberg advised Snowden not to do what you are suggesting:
Is Daniel Ellsberg also a member of the “special snowflake generation”?
In any event, I’m assuming you’ve considered his argument and in your wisdom rejected it. Still, it’s a counterpoint to the suggestion you make above.
Gin & Tonic
@Mandalay: Doctors and psychologists working for the US military violated the ethical codes of their profession
I’m sorry, but that is on the doctors and psychologists involved. “No” is a simple and concise response. The Hippocratic Oath is clear and unambiguous. I’m afraid of Godwining this thread if I go further, but the military and intelligence services will always push the envelope – it’s what they do. Any doctor who doesn’t know where the line is does not deserve to hold a license to practice medicine, and I hope those involved in this story are found out and stripped of it.
I’m going to take a wild guess that the reader from Texas is a well off white dude. Anyone who uses the words Freedom and Liberty unironically deserves neither.
Meaningless drivel posing as wisdom.
I agree, your post was exactly as you described.
Snowden’s sanctuary has passed a law imposing vicarious liability on innocents based on familial relationship.
Buh buh but…some US doctors violated their professional oaths!
Yup, practically the same.
A few corrections/questions:
“[Russia] is now where Snowden lives.”
Not quite. Snowden has been granted temporary refugee status, i.e., asylum, for one year. There are restrictions on his movements (no international travel) and on what he may publish, violations of which would imperil his status.
Last weekend 50 prominent Germans published an appeal in Der Spiegel for Snowden to be granted permanent asylum there. Similar appeals have been made in both Brazil and Ecuador.
“[Snowden] is now working with [Putin]”
Could you please provide citations/link that would corroborate this provocative assertion?
“All Snowden has done has caused freakouts and not much else.”
You might wish to familiarize yourself with current legislative activity and investigations in England and Brazil (the two most prominent examples) convened as a result of published reports of Snowden’s NSA surveillance material.
A “rational and sane discussion” requires at the very least an adherence to fact.
@Chris: Makes you wonder whether our “unnamed contractor” was in favor of beating up KSM to get information, or just beating KSM up because of the information we got. IYAM that’s a distinction between despicable but actionable and just despicable.
Nope, just a has been who decided to get in on the grift.
Got away with it? I think his life probably sucks relative to what it once was, which is one reason I’m sympathetic to his motives and actions. Occam’s razor…the man ruined his own life because he personally felt strongly enough about the issue at hand to do it. I would never go so far as to call him hero, but I see nothing to make me believe he is without conscience or conviction.
@Frankensteinbeck: OMG – stop making sense and stop reading the entire fucking article! It’s Monday, Miserablemix and Mandaley – it’s Snowdentown, Jake…I mean, Frank!
I don’t think so. Snowden is a libertarian, and I remember his quote about Hong Kong’s “spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent,” which is a very libertarian position that seems to extrapolate all sorts of wonderful things from a low income tax rate. I remember noticing that the NSA internal investigation started a week or so before Snowden skipped town, so it’s likely he got wind of the investigation and left in a hurry. So he takes off overseas and gets caught up with Hong Kong’s real rulers, who have been doing espionage for thousands of years, and after some horse trading ended up a sock puppet of the Russian government.
Bob In Portland
@some guy: Removed from polite society? Maybe tortured for being such a bad sport?
Yawn….muckymux throws more red meat to the NSA porn fappers.
@some guy: Says the poster who just poured lighter fluid on his head…
Bob In Portland
@Cacti: Considering Congress’ record on spying (especially the Republicans and “libertarians”) I’m guessing that Snowden isn’t getting a Congressional Medal of Honor. I’m sure he’s satisfied getting his payment from the BND.
@cleek: Feedom. As we react like doomsday preppers to capabilities documents, pesky social safety net programs, women’s rights and minorities’ rights will just have to handle themselves.
Who here doesn’t remember when Ellsberg fled to China after leaking the Pentagon Papers? Or when MLK fled to the USSR?
That’s one way to look at it, I suppose, but nothing you said gives me any indication Snowden’s life isn’t substantially more stressful–which I may idiosyncratically link with The Suck–than it once was.
It’s not very complicated for me. I don’t think Snowden is the issue. I think the 4th Amendment and wildly over-budgeted surveillance without public oversight is.
@boatboy_srq: You totally lost me when you were unable to find much moral difference between legislators who create short-cuts around laws and employees who get tricky about circumventing them on the one hand and whistle-blowers on the other. I see whistle-blowers like Snowden as defenders of Rule of Law. That is true civil disobedience for democratic values like transparency and an informed electorate, IMO. I put him on a par with Gandhi and MLK, Jr. Or course, I am a communist, because I don’t think our government is capable of democratic reform. So I’m not opposed to non-violent subversion. You, OTOH, sound like you still think there is some honor left in our government worth defending or protecting. So, from that lens, I can sort of understand your dislike of Snowden.
To be clear, I meant “got away with it” only from the perspective of his detractors. I agree with everything else you wrote.
People have accused Snowden of stealing the information for money, or because he sought attention. There is not much evidence for either of those claims. It is pretty obvious that Snowden chose to sacrifice his life in the United States in order to expose what he viewed as a massive wrongdoing by our government. Whatever criticisms may be made of his acts, I don’t doubt that he was driven by his conscience.
@lol: By any chance did you read Ellsberg’s article?
@Cacti: I see. Snowden is a special snowflake and Ellsberg is a has-been. Why am I reminded of Goldilocks?
@Gin & Tonic:
Prima facie, you are right. But that’s easy for us to say from the sidelines. Who knows what you or I might also have done if we were military doctors at Guantanamo?
The fish rots from the head, and those doctors were clearly acting under pressure and orders from above. And Milgram showed us what is likely to happen in that situation.
So sure, we can criticize the doctors. But the real problem was with the system.
Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader
We have evidence the NSA is out of control, a rogue agency spying on everyone, foreign and domestic, in contravention to the law and without clear oversight and a couple of the deadenders keep making it about Snowden?
Can we start the bannings?
Ellsberg did a great thing with Pentagon Papers and didn’t take the coward’s way out…and spent the next 40 years on the lecture circuit.
His most recent career move was to join Greenwald’s latest send me money endeavor, the “Freedom of the Press Foundation” (9 directors, 1 staff).
Talking bad about Snowden is contrary to his immediate financial interest.
Not if he keeps releasing information like this, he isn’t. What, you think the German government is completely happy to have all of their own secrets revealed?
Fast Eddie has already pissed off the US, Great Britain, France, Germany, and Sweden. What European country do you picture giving him asylum? Poland?
@Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader:
Was it the scanned-in Post-It note from the Washington Post that convinced you?
@Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader:
Left authoritarians can never hide it for long.
Maybe someday you and Ed can link up in his desired destination of Ecuador, where failure to toe the party line is a jailable offense.
I wasn’t aware that Great Britain, France, Germany, and Sweden were all part of “our government.” I guess the New World Order showed up when I wasn’t looking. Is Obama the president of all of them now?
Free speech for me, but not for thee.
I think the opposite; Snowden had planned his escape. He told his boss he was going on a vacation to Hong Kong. Given the expertise he used to steal the data, he probably knew how much time he had before he would be caught if he remained in the US.
Things only went downhill for him when China (presumably) ordered him to leave ASAP…I don’t think he was expecting that.
Personally, I think the one thing that keeps me from wholeheartedly joining the movement protesting the NSA’s behavior and Obama’s complicity is the extent to which it all leads back to promotion for big-L or small-l libertarians. I know they’re trying to convince me that this takes higher moral priority than my disagreement with all their efforts to eliminate taxes, dismantle the social safety net, flood the country with guns and the rest of it, and that I’m supposed to just roll over on all that stuff so that I can help them get Obama on the NSA.
In particular, the perfidy of Obama on spying and security is clearly supposed to make me agree with them about guns. They’re very, very big on the guns.
I suppose that to some degree this leads back to alliances drawn during the Bush years, when it was Bush doing it. Except that some of these guys were big fans of Bush at the time. Well, a lot of us made dumb decisions back then.
The LAX shooter sounds like he stands with Rand.
His manifesto included fears about fiat currency and the new world order.
This post said:
These are the folks that do the kind of work he does. Well a lot of it. Why Hayden a few years ago showed up at a hackers conference where I bet most folks were about the same age. What I don’t like, and I DO like what he did, is it seems his security clearance wasn’t vetted that well.
My father worked at high levels within the DoD as a Civilian. I think every 5 years they redid this Top Secret Clearance. At a cost of around $40,000. Not sure if in the 80s and 90s it was outsourced (as with Snowden), but they were not messing around. Often folks showed up and talked to my friends. They were not messing around.
Oh noes, from today’s NYT…
Brazil acknowledges spying on diplomatic targets.
Unpossible. Only the US spies on foreign nations.
If it weren’t for the US inventing espionage, everyone on earth would trust each other.
Brazil is a babe among wolves, and home of the most righteous man on earth.
Is that what people are calling the voices in their heads nowadays?
so Obama managed to get Brazil to spy on other countries?
wurst. pressident. evah.
With the exponential increase in the number of people who need vetting, that process probably cannot be done as throughly any more. But even so, would a thorough vetting of Snowden necessarily have revealed anything? (I have read nothing either way on that.)
The glaring error was that Snowden was able to obtain mountains of information, and was not immediately identified as having done that. I’m sure the NSA’s auditing procedures have changed a lot since he left the building.
@Matt McIrvin: Ruh-roh. That makes you a dead ender, according to DPM.
How about I sum up this issue for everyone, and we can move on.
Nations spy. Always have, always will.
Technology today makes spying far easier and more encompassing.
Spying on one’s own citizens is bad, unless it’s under a court order.
The NSA seems to have too free a hand to gather data on people.
We should pass some laws to make sure proper and thorough procedures are followed before any government employee can spy on a citizen.
Yeah? Agreed? Table this resolution.
When Snowden worked for the CIA in Switzerland, his boss suspected him of trying to get his hands on materials above his pay grade, made a note of it in his personnel file, and sent him back to the States.
@Mandalay: That is hard if not impossible to say. I am sure places like the DoD, FBI, CIA have a process and a standard where they know if they find this or that, well it is a “red flag.”
I am with you on the number of people. How do you vet them all? I think at the core this is an outsourcing problem. More outsourcing, more problems. Heck I have a friend that works a help desk at the ATF, through a contractor, and when he got the job I am not sure anything on this resume was 100% accurate. Nobody made even a basic phone call.
Your last part is key. IMHO after 9/11 we felt that information wasn’t shared between agencies. I’d agree. So now we have opened up that information. Opened it to more and more people, hoping to connect the dots.
You got to vet those people and know what they are doing.
I agree that his life is a shitload worse than it used to be. I don’t think he had any agency in it. He got in way over his head with organizations that have been practicing tradecraft for hundreds of years and his fate was out of his control the minute he stepped off the plane in Hong Kong. I don’t think many anti-Snowden people believe he’s living a life of luxury in Russia thumbing his nose at the US, and don’t know where this idea came from.
That’s a good question. Personally, because of the way security clearances are done I doubt it. He hadn’t joined any organization that was looking to overthrow the government, and any real psychological testing is not done for any level I know of. He had a polygraph, which of course is completely useless.
ETA: Cacti answered it a few posts up. Yes, that should have done it for him, but as with the Navy shooter this shit gets ignored. That’s one thing that has to improve right fucking now.
One problem with the current media focus is that if you’re looking for pre-Snowden coverage of state surveillance around the world via, say, Google, you have to drill a bit deeper if you want to find information that doesn’t fall within the current paradigm. Sillt, occasionally you’ll find a reference in passing in an article about current developments, like:
Money? No, haven’t seen evidence of that. As for his lack of attention whoredom? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
We’re a nation of laws, so legal opinions by hacks are written by shrieking violets and anyone concerned with terrorism is a bedwetter? It doesn’t sound like my moral betters want to make friends.
Snowden is having new “revelations” published internationally every week that are linked directly to his name. But he wasn’t seeking the attention? He’s just a reluctant celebrity?
Also, too, if I hold up a bank and only get away with $100, does that mean I didn’t do it for the money since I didn’t get much out of it? Or does it mean that I didn’t plan very well?
Interesting. Got a link?…
I agree with your first three, but WRT your last two, I don’t know that any new laws are in fact necessary. The most clear-cut violation of the NSA’s rulebook in recent times was when it came out in the mid-2000s that the NSA had wiretapped U.S. citizens without asking for warrants from the FISA court set up for this purpose. The problem wasn’t the lack of law, it was simply that no one wanted to prosecute.
If people say the FISC is a joke and a rubber stamp, well, okay. That doesn’t sound implausible. What do we do to strengthen it?
That, I’m interested in hearing suggestions about.
I was just searching for it myself:
ETA: It is “according to two [unnamed] senior Administration officials, but Eric Schmitt, the article’s author, is not among the NYT’s “useful tools”. An impressively comprehensive report.
“And worse, it is so routine that 29 y/o contractors have access to it.’
So routine, that liberals defend it because “I trust Obama” or “white privilege” or whatever.
So they sent him home and he got a private contractor job, where he proceeded to … break into classified computer files to which he was not authorized to have access (IIRC, by using other people’s logins and passwords).
But he’s a freedom fighter, so it’s all good.
@Cacti: Thanks. That’s a doozy of a fuckup. One of the comments on your linked article…
Shorter nabsentia: “We can’t have this discussion because of Snowden Snowden Snowden Snowden Snowden look over there, SNOWDEN!”
Jockey Full of Malbec
Only Squares look for solutions.
QFthefuckingT. All the frantic cries around here of “We have to discuss this! You can’t stifle discussion of this!!” on the part of the FPers and many commenters have resulted in exactly NO real discussion of the problem at all, just endless whining about the current intelligence-gathering capabilities of the US government — capabilities that were revealed years ago, and that are part of something that every nation on earth has been doing, or trying to do, for as long as they’ve existed. And these people wonder why the rest of us make fun of them.
For those of you who are genuinely interested in a real discussion of the issue, the USA Freedom Act is the best place to start. Here, in a nutshell, is what it would do. And here is a good account of where it stands. Interestingly enough, Mark Udall basically voted against his own bill because, apparently, it got watered down in committee. Not surprising; such is the way of legislating. Nevertheless, the act as it stands appears to have decent bipartisan support, and a Google search of the act shows that it has broad support among businesses and community organizations as well. The debate, obviously, is about whether it goes far enough. But, like the ACA, it’s definitely better than nothing, and can of course be built upon at a later date.
@handsmile: Thanks. Your link also contained this interesting tidbit…
You’d think that someone working on surveillance who complains about civil surveillance would raise a red flag, but nooo.
It’s reassuring that our government can be incompetent as well as mendacious.
Well, then. Grab yourself a kitteh picture, sit down and prepare to stay a while. You’ll fit in just fine here.
GHayduke (formerly lojasmo)
So, are bits of metadata out in the ether classified as persons, houses, papers, or effects? Curious.
It’s comments like that which make rational discussion impossible.
You are beyond help if you sincerely believe that nothing new about the government’s intelligence-gathering capabilities has been revealed in the past few months.
Your comment may well be dumbest one I have ever read on the intertubes, and the bar for that is pretty high.
I especially like “torture proponents are the same as those who don’t like the surveillance state” AND the “I smelt the dead of 9/11, so your civil liberties are invalid.”
I am entirely in favor of a stronger welfare state, more civil liberties and no torture at all. Not too hard. That the NSA has shitty internal security should clue you in to how shoddy they are overall — there is no functional difference between shitty internal security with how they deal with external security, since they can’t even seem to keep their own secrets secret, why trust them with ours? — and normal people should be aghast at the washing away of what’s left of our rights. I’m ALSO not in favor of “chained CPI” or any other bullshit that will take even one cent away from our seniors or those on disability. These are real security measures that affect more than one in ten million people, which is more than you can say about the NSA, the torture program and the existential dread some of you seem to wake up with every single day (and I too smelled the dead at the WTC! I’m more valid than you.)
@chopper: DAMMIT… DAMMIT… dammit… dammit…
GHayduke (formerly lojasmo)
@Mandalay: For your education, which is evidently sorely lacking. Unless, of course, you consider 2006 to be within “the past few months.”
Rational discussion can’t take place within the context of ignorance, either.
And yet many of your allies in civil liberties do not agree with you. Look at the letter DPM quoted from:
This guy is in favor of torture but shocked — shocked! — by metadata collection and thinks it goes a step too far. Doesn’t that tell you that at least a few of your purported allies may have their priorities slightly out of order and that pairing up with them without having your own plan in place first could be hazardous to the other things you say you want?
@ Mandalay, Tommy, Mnemosyne et al
I must have recommended this book at least a dozen times on this blog, Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State, co-written by Amazon Prime Daily’s Dana Priest, who has twice won the Pultizer Prize for investigative reporting.
In light of her ambitious and painstaking investigative work, the failure to vet Snowden can be seen as another shabby, albeit illustrative, example of what the embrace of Cheney’s “1% Doctrine” has wrought.
Once again, nobody gets it. Nobody on this forum gets it. Nobody in the U.S. government gets it.
There aren’t two choices.
There is only one choice.
Either the people in power obey the law, or they become lawless. And once you throw out the rule of law, guess what, kiddies? You are out where the busses don’t run.
Once you throw out the rule of law and say “Fuck it, I’m charged with administering the laws of the united states of america, but the hell with that, I’m just gonna do whatever the hell I feel like doing,” you have exited civilization. Now you are in the realm of the barbarian chieftain. And the barbarian chieftain orders people killed because it’s Tuesday. The barbarian chieftain has people crucified because it’s fun to see them writhe around and shriek. The barbarian chieftain sticks a knife in your stomach, grabs your intestines and pulls them out because you insulted him by not asking for a second helping of his food at dinner.
Do we get it now, people?
None of the schmucks in our government and none of the people commenting here seem to understand the basic reality of how things work in the real world.
Out here in the real world, we have laws for a reason.
We have laws because if anyone in power can do whatever the fuck they feel like any time they want, you no longer have civilization. You get the Roman Arena. You get rich people shooting kids in the streets just to watch them die. You get people with power burning folks with red hair alive because “red hair is the sign of the devil.”
Without the rule of law, you are in the jungle. And in the jungle, anything goes.
We have laws for a reason. You cannot just say “Okay, we’ll suspend the laws in this particular case, and shoot people in the head without a trial or evidence, because everyone knows these are bad people, but we’re only going to do it in a few exceptional cases” because when you start doing that, pretty soon it becomes routine. The “exceptional cases” little by little become the Standard Operating Procedure.
You can’t just torture one guy in a special prison because he’s the exception, and for him the law goes away. Because once you make one exception, the special ops guys and the military intelligence people and the homeland security people will come up to you and say, “But here’s another really bad guy and we have to make another exception” and so you make another exception, and then another, and then another, and pretty soon, there’s a stamp sitting on the inkpad that reads TORTURE AUTHORIZED AS AN EXCEPTION TO THE LAW and that stamp is getting stamped on every goddamn arrest warrant that comes in. Everybody is getting tortured as a matter of routine practice, because [fill in the bullshit excuses here] and anyway we’ve been doing it for a long time to so many people, what’s the big deal?
See, that’s the issue. You can’t make a solitary exception to the rule of law. The people who wrote the constitution understood this. The amendments in the Bill of Rights don’t say: “the people shall be secure in their houses and in their person most of the time against unreasonable search or seizure, unless there are really bad scary people out there, in which case we can throw out the rule of law.” The amendments in the Bill of Rights don’t say “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty of property except under due process of law unless everyone feels really scared, and then we shoot people at random and torture them without charges or a trial as a special exception.”
The people who wrote the constitution didn’t make those kinds of “special exceptions” because they understood how things work out here in the real world. Once you make one special exception to an iron rule like “the government cannot murder citizens on suspicion without evidence or a trial,” the exceptions tend to grow and grow and grow and pretty soon you’re got a Star Chamber that hauls in people in the dead of night and conducts secret trials with secret evidence and secret verdicts and pretty soon those people who got hauled in at midnight show up as mutilated corpses in ditches by the side of the road.
At that point, you’re not living in a civilized country anymore. You’ve living in a goddamn banana republic run by a barbarian chieftain. At that point you’re in Idi Amin territory, where the ruler has a torture chamber under his palace, and the rule of law no longer exists.
So we’re still at the outrage phase of this? I know it’s fun being outraged at stuff, but if that’s all that’s gonna happen, then what’s the point? If it leads to laws changing, great, but let it happen sooner rather than later. Otherwise, all it is is fodder for CNN et al to run the same story over and over again.
@Cacti: Given that you presumably find Ellsberg’s argument to be an inferior one, I can see why you might not want to respond to it — and would rather tell me how little you think of his career and his motivations instead.
Meanwhile, his argument is still there.
Congratulations on turning yourself into the Queen of the quislings. I presume you’re now going to take up arms against the government of the united states of America, right? Because after all, the people who founded America were “freedom fighters” — AKA terrorists in your vernacular.
So since George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin and James Madison were all terrorists by your definition, the so-called “government” they founded was a monstrous abomination. And since the united states government is an abomination and an atrocity created by terrorists, just a giant version of Al Qaeda, according to your reasoning, Mnemosyne, when are you going to call for the overthrow of the U.S. government?
We’re waiting. You want to destroy Al Qaeda and wipe out the terrorists. And according to your reasoning, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin and James Madison were the biggest terrorists out there, far more heinous than little Ed Snowden. After all, Snowden just leaked some classified info showing that U.S. government was committing crimes against its citizens. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin and James Madison took up arms against the British government in the American colonies and called for and actively worked for the overthrow of the lawful British government in the colonies.
Jefferson and Washington and Franklin and Madison and all the others were Ed Snowden to the 666th power. These people were the worst kind of terrorists — they actively worked to overthrow the lawful government. Oh, sure, Jefferson and Washington and the rest had various mealy-mouthed claims about how the government was “oppressing” them and how they wanted “no taxation without representaiton,” but we all know what Washington and Jefferson and Franklin and Madison really wanted, right, Menmosyne?
According to your arguments about Snowden (which we can apply equally well to Jefferson and Washington and Madison and Franklin), these guys just wanted to make money. They wanted to cash in. All they cared out about was getting more money. All that crap about “no taxation without representation” just meant Jefferson and Washington wanted to keep more cash from their plantations for themselves. So Washington and Jefferson and Madison and the rest were just a bunch of money-grubbing little traitors, right? Just like Snowden. Like Snowden, these terrorists sounded noble and mouthed some boilerplate phrases about “freedom” and “human liberty” and “the rule of law” and “justice” but that was just a smokescreen for their own grubby little greedy agenda.
C’mon, Mnemosyne. Let’s hear you condemn Washington and Jefferson and Madison and the rest as greedy grubby traitors. The same twisted specious reasoning you applied to Snowden applies equally well to them.
In fact, you can go farther, Mnemosyne. The same smear tactics and sophistical word games you use against Snowden apply equally well against every person who has ever fought for human liberty or common decency.
So give us the full Monty, kiddo. C’mon. Let’s hear you condemn Jesus Christ as a “traitor to the Romans who talks about freedom, but who actually only wanted to consolidate power for himself.” Let’s hear you sneer at Abraham Lincoln as a “treasonous thug who talked about freedom and democracy but who only wanted to grab some money and power.” Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation wasn’t a noble act of selfless human decency, it was a greedy contemptible money-grab by the industrial North to crush the economic power of the American south, right? Let’s hear you throw some shit at Martin Luther King, who behaved just like Snowden — he “broke the law and betrayed his country, all for money and personal gain.” Let’s hear you explain to us how you think Martin Luther King was actually a tool of the Soviets, a traitor who should have been arrested and dragged into a secret prison and tortured until he gave up the names of his Soviet handlers — because, after all, Mnemosyne, there is just as much evidence that MLK was a soviet agent as there is that Snowden is a Chinese agent.
Nah. It’s enough entertainment for me to watch you flail around insisting that the Founding Slaveholders were primarily interested in liberty for all rather than liberty for white men.
GHayduke (formerly lojasmo)
You must studiously avoid reading your own posts. This is clearly evidenced by your obvious lack of self-awareness.
But now you’re moving the goalposts, Mnemosyne. You admit that the founding fathers of America actually were interested in liberty. But according to you, Snowden doesn’t give two shits about libery, he’s a traitor in the pay of the Chinese who’s in it for the money.
So which is it, Mnemosyne?
Which of your lies do you want us to believe?
Either the people who founded America were vulnerable to exactly the same specious sophistries you’ve been hurling at Snowden, impugning his motives without any evidence to back up your vacuous claims that he’s a Chinese spy who’s in it for the money… Or we must apply the same test of evidence to Snowden that we apply to the founding father of America. And the evidence overwhelmingly shows that the people who founded America actually believed what they said about liberty and justice — in which case, the evidence compels us to believe that Snowden also believes what he says about liberty and justice.
Your corporate paymasters are going to start withholding those brown bags of cash, Manemosyne. You’re just not doing a good enough job smearing heroes like Snowden who fight for the basic values of the constitution of the united states.
You’re going to need to come up with much cleverer arguments if you want us to accept a Fourth Reich in this country, Mnemosyne, where any citizen can be surveiled and bugged and eavesdropped on night and day and then dragged off to a secret prison and tortured on mere suspicion, and where anyone who reveals these lawless practices can be declared a traitor and subjected to the same lawless treatment.
Apparatchiks like you, Mnemosyne, are crucial in the New America where the rule of law will go away and guys wearing black suits will pull up in unmarked SUVS without license plates and haul off people with black bags over their heads to secret prisons because their political opinions constitute “treason.” But you’re only worth your money to your corporate paymasters, Mnemosyne, as long as you can make illegality sound like patriotism and summary executions sound like justice and heroes who fight for justice and the constitution like Ed Snowden sound like traitors who are in it for the money.
And you’re just not getting the job done, Mnemosyne. You need to work much harder at your job of making lawlessness seem just and tyranny look like patriotism. Read the speeches of Bukharin from the 1920s, Mnemosyne, in favor of forced farm collectivization and the gulags for “subversives.” That’ll give you a start.
Only…remember what happened to Bukharin. Once a strong man took charge of the lawless government he helped justify with his speeches and his writings, Bukharin himself was tortured and confessed to absurd crimes in a show trial, and afterward he was taken out an executed.
Toadies like you, Mnemosyne, are only useful to the lawless regime for a limited time. As the list of atrocities committed by the lawless regime continues to mount, it gets harder and harder for quislings like you to justify each new abomination, each never murder, each new degradation… And pretty soon quislings like you lose their usefuless and get put on show trial and shot in the head out back, behind the chemical sheds.
I think you just won the gold medal for leaps in logic. 10/10 — even the Russian judge was impressed. Congratulations!
@different-church-lady: This description of “conscience” is just a way of using your misinformed paranoia to justify criminal actions that didn’t actually benefit anyone, particularly the perpetrator.
What exactly is it that you think needs discussing here?
The constitution of the united states is clear and specific. What exactly about “due process of law” do you not understand?
The constitution lets the government do all the surveillance it wants — as long as the government prosecutor shows evidence to a judge and applies for a warrant. Why is that difficult? What’s complicated about that? Why does that require any special discussion?
If the government of the united states has credible evidence that some citizen of the USA is involved with terrorism, the government can show that evidence to a judge and get a warrant for telephonic surveillance — which, nowadays, also extends to things like wireless cellphone data, or what-have-you.
I have no problem with that.
The problem I have is when our government starts throwing out the constitution and saying “We’re going to suck up everyone’s information from every electronic device they have and store it all forever in some giant database at a Death Star in Utah, and oh, by the way, we’re also going to reserve to ourselves the right according to the NDAA to kidnap U.S. citizens and hold them forever in secret prisons on the basis of information which we the government are not required to disclose — like, say, all that info we dragnetted out of everyone’s cellphones and emails and facebooks pages and credit card receipts and stored in that giant database in Utah.”
It cannot have escaped your notice that a sufficiently convoluted line of reasoning would allow the government to suspect anyone in America of treason and subversion, given enough random information.
Example: You travelled in the very same elevator that a suspected terrorist used 3 hours earlier. You travelled in the same taxi cab used by a suspected subversive 3 months ago. And there is a high incidence of the word “terror” in your posts to Balloon Juice. Clearly, the government has reason to suspect you of subversive activity, given all this evidence — so it’s off to the black site with you. No access to a lawyer. You don’t get to see the “evidence” against you. You don’t get a trial. You don’t get to know the charges against you.
Do we really need to discuss why this is a bad idea?
The constitution works. It sets out clear limits on what the government cannot do. No unlimited surveillance, no kidnapping citizens without charges or a trial, no summary executions, no torture. Why is this complicated? Why do we need to “discuss” this?
The constitutional limits were respected by American courts through WW II, when a bunch of fanatical goose-steppers in Germany were trying to destroy this country with a very large army and some super-sophisticate weapons, including rockets and jet fighters. The American government did not feel the need to throw out the constitution and start shooting U.S. citizens in the head on mere suspicion despite all those threats to our country — why is it necessary to throw out these centuries-long constitutional limits now?
During the 60 years of the Cold War, America faced a remorseless adversary dedicated to our destruction, an existential enemy that was armed with sixty divisions of tanks and thousands of nuclear weapons which could obliterate America at any moment, at the touch of a button by somebody in the Kremlin. And yet American courts did not feel it necessary to throw out all the constitutional restrictions on universal surveillance and habeas corpus and due process.
If it wasn’t necessary to throw out those constitutional limits on surveillance at the height of the Cold War, when America faced possible imminent total thermonuclear destruction, why on earth is it necessary to throw out our constitutional limits on surveillance today, in 2013, when America faces a handful of ragtag guys skulking around in caves in Waziristan?
Different day, same shit. By shit, I mean another meandering “American system of everything sucks/get your cyanide tablets out to take when I am finished lecturing you on revisionist history while sucking down Thorazine and Red Bull” posting by mclaren.
You can’t explain what’s wrong with my reasoning, while I’ve explained clearly and simply what’s wrong with yours. So you resort to vacuous ridicule.
Let’s go over this simply and clearly once again.
 You have claimed without evidence that “you believe” Snowden is in the pay of the Chinese, or in some way attempting to profit from his actions, and you have further claimed that you do not believe Snowden’s assertions that he is motivated by basic constitutional values like freedom of speech and the right of the people to be secure in the persons and property against unreasonable searches and seizures.
 The people who founded America committed much worse crimes against their own lawful government than Snowden is accused of, yet you seem peculiarly reluctant to condemn Washington and Jefferson and Franklin and Madison as traitors. But if you dismiss Snowden’s claims about his motivation without any evidence for doing so, should you not also dismiss Washington’s and Jefferson’s et al.’s claims for their motivations without any evidence too?
 The fruit of the poisonous tree. Since the United States of America as it exists today results from the actions of Washington and Jefferson et al., and since we have far more reason to condemn them as traitors than you have according to your own reasoning for condemning Snowden as a traitor, the government of the united states must be regarded in the same light as Al Qaeda. It is the result of traitors, a subversion of all that was good and just and lawful in the British rule of the colonies. So why do you refuse to condemn the united states of America, Mnemosyne, and call openly for its overthrow?
The essential problem with your reasoning, Mnemosyne, is that it is evidence-free and based on supposition, empty assertions, and character assassination.
But using those poisoned tools, anyone can gin up an argument for condeming anyone or anything as a traitor or subversive. In fact, Menmosyne, the same twisted evidence-free chain of character assassination and vacuous supposition is what the Oath Keepers use to rationalize their bizarre claim that the United States government is an illegitimate travesty which must be overthrown by force.
The same twisted evidence-free chain of character assassination and vacuous supposition you used against Snowden is what the Confederacy uses to rationalize their weird assertion that the United States government was a monstrous abomination that had to be destroyed by men at arms. “I don’t believe his claims, I think he’s a subversive out to destroy the country, I don’t need any evidence, it’s clear what he’s doing” — you about Snowden, Jefferson Davis about Lincoln…the exact same reasoning (if you can call it that).
And the very same type of twisted evidence-free character assassination and vacuous supposition you used against Snowden is the kind of fact-free reasoning based on prejudice and mindless belligerance that Timothy MacVeigh used to rationalize his decision to blow up 400 innocent men and women in the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma.
Once you throw out evidence and logic, Mnemosyne, you can reach any conclusion. All the prisoners are witches and must be burned at the stake. All the show trial prisoners are guilty of crimes against Stalin and must be hanged. All the jews are subverting the Reich and must be sent to the death camps. All the people who wear eyeglasses are a deadly danger to the great Year Zero of the Khmer Rouge and must be sent to the killing fields for liquidation.
Once you stop relying on evidence and logic, Mnemosyne, you’re cooked.
Please show us the evidence that FDR authorized universal wiretapping of every American phone call during WW II.. Please show us the evidence that any president from Truman to Clinton authorized universal wiretapping of all Americans during the Cold War.
I have stated that this did not happen.
Why is that statement “revisionist history”?
Do you have evidence to back up your assertion, or are you just another no-neck loudmouth spewing character assassination?
I get strobing rainbows as I scroll past, which always seems to take much longer than I’d hoped.
Ah, the dudebro in full swing — wiretapping phone calls is worse than imprisoning people based on their race, because it could potentially impact the dudebro. Japanese-Americans being imprisoned and having their property stolen from them? Eh, mclaren’s not Japanese-American, so who gives a shit? The government might have the potential to read mclaren’s email headers? OMGMAHLIBBERTYHASBEENKILT!!ELEBENTY!!1!
Why don’t you do us a favor and back up all your hyperbole with anything other than more hyperbole and name calling (“Apparatchiks”, “Fourth Reich”, “corporate paymasters”) Please show us the evidence that anything approaching your manic depressive flailings has actually happened. You have no idea what happened regarding spying during FDR’s period or Clinton’s period, or whatever rose-colored period you are screaming about. Or take your damn meds. Because what you are going on about is a lot of hot air that you covered yesterday.Go back to taping newspapers on your windows. You are the most unhappy person I have read here.
@mclaren: Why don’t you do us a favor and back up all your hyperbole with anything other than more hyperbole and name calling (“Apparatchiks”, “Fourth Reich”, “corporate paymasters”) Please show us the evidence that anything approaching your manic depressive flailings has actually happened. You have no idea what happened regarding spying during FDR’s period or Clinton’s period, or whatever rose-colored period you are screaming about. Or take your damn meds. Because what you are going on about is a lot of hot air that you covered yesterday.Go back to taping newspapers on your windows. You are the most unhappy person I have read here.
Shorter mclaren: Potential collection of phone call metadata is worse than putting people in prison camps based on their race because it impacts white people like mclaren.
See how much scrolling I saved you?
Please show us the evidence that Obama authorized universal wiretapping of every American phone call. Collection of metadata, which I think should require a court order btw, is not the same as wiretapping.
Here’s what I care about: Taking back the House in 2014. Not losing the Senate in 2014. Civil rights of minorities under stop and frisk and SYG laws. Voting rights. SNAP cuts. Fighting against the Tea Partiers and RW noise machine. Supporting this President, who has been treated like dirt in most every way since he took office. What I don’t care very much about: the NSA relevations. Snowden. Greenwald. Assange. Sorry. I just don’t. All countries spy. Companies know everything about me. Why was no one complaining when all this crap was being passed under Bush? No one has answered that question for me.
Here’s what I care about: Taking back the House in 2014. Not losing the Senate in 2014. Civil rights of minorities under stop and frisk and SYG laws. Voting rights. SNAP cuts. Fighting against the Tea Partiers and RW noise machine. Supporting this President, who has been treated like dirt in most every way since he took office. What I don’t care very much about: the NSA relevations. Snowden. Greenwald. Assange. Sorry. I just don’t. All countries spy. Companies know everything about me. Why was no one complaining when all these laws were being passed under Bush? No one has answered that question for me.
Dude should start a blog: http://www.tl;dr.com
Same reason the people who yawned through Iran-contra and the VSPs who decided unilaterally that the country “couldn’t afford another scandal,” overnight, turned into the militia survivalist black-helicopter-obsessed madmen of the nineties, and their concern troll friends in Washington who opposed new antiterrorism laws after OKC (but not after 9/11). Namely, it was never about the security state and certainly not about its abuses. At least not for all the people who just woke up to the concept of “NSA abusing power.”
It’s not true that “no one” was complaining when these laws were passed under Bush, or when the abuses were discovered later. Just, not nearly enough to make a difference.
“I’m not saying this shouldn’t be discussed. I’m saying there’s a time and a place for such discussions; for example, classified intelligence briefings before Congress. Not on the front page of the Guardian.”
Do you suppose any such briefings would have happened had the discussion not begun on the front page of the Guardian, because that’s funny.
@mclaren: mclaren/Cusack ’16
Why was no one complaining when all these laws were being passed under Bush?
@Mnemosyne: And here come the cries of racism.
Well, there’s no better way to tell when Obots are losing an argument on policy, I guess.
@Julia: So by your own admission, you care more about “supporting the President” than you do about the Constitution.
There’s a word for people like you. I believe it’s German in origin.
Thank you for displaying your pervasive ignorance of the documented facts. It discredits you entirely. Since you have no idea what is actually happening in America, your arguments that I am incorrect cannot be taken seriously.
Evidence that the NSA Is Storing Voice Content, Not Just Metadata, Bruce Schneier blog. Schneier is one of the foremost security experts in the world. (We now pause to allow Mnemosyne et al. to smear Schneier as “crazy,” “delusional,” “ignorant,” “unaware of the most basic facts,” and so forth. Standard stuff. Finished screaming lies about Schneier? Good. Let’s continue.)
DEA agents were trained to lie about the source of, and re-create using falsified documents, court cases brought using evidence from NSA surveillance. (We now pause to allow the sycophants of the militarized police state to scream that reuters is a propaganda front for extreme left wing anarchists, that this is all just an Occupy smear job, that the Reuters news service is just making it all up, or if all else fails that the article doesn’t actually say what it actually says. Finished screaming your lies? Good. Let’s continue.)
Source: “Who were the four U.S. citizens killed in drone strikes?” CBS news website.
(We now pause for the bootlickers to shriek that those American citizens got what they deserved, that the running dog holligans who dared defy the greatness of America must be crushed like the vermin they are, and so forth and so on. If you can work in comments about “untermenschen” and “the superior race” you’ll get bonus points.)
Lastly, google for the YouTube video “Texas police secretly deploy spy drones.” It is of course only a matter of time before Texas, and the rest of the U.S. states, weaponize their drones.
We now pause to allow the apparatchiks and bully-worshipers to scream that I’m delusional, in need of medication, mentally ill, and so forth. Just as they did back when I warned years ago that the NSA was most likely tracking and recording their phone calls. Just as I did years before that when I warned that Obama was expanding Bush’s lawless and unconstitutional security state programs. Just as I did years before that when I warned that Bush was a thug who hid his totalitarian leanings behind a folksy Texas charm. Just as I did years before that when I warned that Ronald Reagan was a cruel man with a constant smile whose war on the middle class and love of the military-industrial state was destroying America…
@NR: Oh please…NR weighs in again on behalf of his dudebro in “purity”. Seems to me like Julia is focusing on real shit that impacts people in this country, not some fauxgressive posturing so that you can win a door prize at whatever waste of bandwidth Greenwald will be occupying with his “media empire”.
And here’s Julia back in 1935 Germany:
You tube videos, a paranoid blog and back to the Greenwaldian pet project, the endless Anwar whining? Wow… God, you are just knee deep in the crazy aren’t you?
When you say that collecting cell phone metadata is worse than imprisoning innocent Japanese-Americans during WWII, what do you expect?
@LAC: Wait, Bruce Schneier is paranoid? That’s not credible (never mind true).
And here it is:
Evidence that the NSA is storing voice content, not just metadata.
(We are, incidentally, supposed to believe that the NSA only stores metadata because…the NSA says that’s what it does? We now have a detailed history of systematic lies by the NSA. They have lied about the extent of their surveillance. They have lied about the use of their surveillance. They have lied about the nature of their surveillance. The NSA has on every occasion lied and lied and lied, yet we’re supposed to believe and trust the NSA now. The NSA lied to congress…yet we’re supposed to imagine the NSA wouldn’t lie to us? The NSA kept the president in the dark for five years…yet we’re supposed to believe they’re ready to come clean to the American people about the full extend of their activities? Based on the historical record, the most reasonable conclusion anyone can make is that whatever anyone in the NSA says to mitigate or minimize or explain away their activities, it’s a lie.)
People like you who have no idea of the facts on the ground should not ask these kinds of questions. It lets people like me blow you right out of the water.
Does everyone notice the progression of lies among the bootlickers like Mnemosyne / Omnes Omnibus / cacti, et al.?
 First deny that the thing which actually happened, happened.
 Once it’s revealed that this claim is a lie, immediately switch to admitting that it happened, but it’s not nearly as bad as some other random historical event that also happened. (Useful in every contingency: for example — “Yes, comrade Stalin murdered millions of our countrymen, but at least he didn’t crucify them like the Romans! Or impale them, like the Persians! Or flense their skins off and make blood-soaked mountains of them like the Assyrians!”)
 Once it’s revealed that this is also a lie of omission which tries to distract us from the facts by tossing up irrelevant other facts (Wartime Japanese interment! Slavery! The trail of tears!), immediately switch to claims of mental illness.
 Once it becomes apparent that the final fallback position of accusing your debating opponent of being “a moonbat” (in classic Republican parlance) is also a lie, abandon the debate entirely and merely hurl ridicule and sarcasm.
At no point do Mnemosyne or Omnes Omnibus or cacti or any of these other people actually engage with the central issues of the debate. Namely, that the rule of law in America is being systematically dismantled, and that history shows us what happens when the rule of law goes away.
@mclaren: Your link is not evidence that Obama authorized universal wiretapping of every American phone call. It is evidence that a reputable source has moved from believing scoring voice content is beyond the NSA’s technical capacities to not knowing if that is the case. That is weak sauce.
When you try to distract us from the hard cold proven fact that the U.S. government is now systematically violating the first amendment, the fourth amendment, the fifth amendment, the sixth amendment, the eighth amendment, and the fourteenth amendments for an extended period now going on in excess of 12 years by citing one specific limited instance of the violation of the fifth amendment by FDR for a period of 3 years after which reparations were paid to the Japanese-Americans, do you actually expect anyone reading this forum to fall for your transparent scam?
Why don’t you dredge up Abraham Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War? You could use that example to claim that Obama’s violations of the constitution aren’t so bad.
For that matter, Mnemosyne, why don’t you bring up the fact that Chinese-Americans were not even granted citizenship until they brought a federal case in 1897. Surely refusing to grant basic citizenship to people legally born of parents in America is an even worse atrocity than anything Obama or Bush did, right?
And while you’re at it, why don’t you drag in the fact that George Washington was known by the Iroquois tribes by the name “Burner of Villages.” Because surely that’s even worse than anything FDR did, let alone Obama. Right?
All these side issues are irrelevant to the central question. Namely: will American tolerate the rule of law being thrown away? And do we not know from the historical record what inevitably happens in any state when the rule of law goes away?
Mnemosyne is just throwing dust up in the air in a failed and futile effort to distract us from the central issue. The abandonment of the rule of law represents a short fast slide into barbarism, and societies that embark upon such a course do not end well.
Thank you for sliding down as I predicted into the next level of lying (from “it never happened” to “it happened but it wasn’t as bad as your say” or “your article doesn’t prove that it’s as bad as you say”). Your next fallback position will consist of “mental illness” smears against me.
Come on. Come clean. You’re not really a person, are you? You’re just a bot programmed with these predictable sophistries, right?
@Mnemosyne: Except that nobody has said that. Your straw man arguments are pathetic. But I guess there’s no other way to defend the indefensible.
Fifty years after the fact. Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll get your reparations for the horror of having your cell phone metadata stored on a server much sooner than that. After all, white dudebro issues about potential civil liberties violations always get more attention than actual civil rights violations.
I know I don’t bother to read mclaren all the way through, but you probably should since you’re defending her. Yes, she is saying that the forced incarceration of Japanese-Americans was not as bad as having your cell phone metadata stored on the server.
@mclaren: Sorry, sport, your link didn’t say what you said it did. I actually read the words in it. And did you notice that my stated position is that we shouldn’t even be gathering metadata internally without a court order? I’ve been saying this for a long time. Have a nice evening.
Notice, ladies and gentlemen, the perfect illustration of self-contradiction and pervasive lying demonstrated by Mnemosyne and her amen chorus.
Mnemosyne attacks any criticism of the NSA spying by pointing out that much worse depredations occurred in past periods of American history — viz., FDR’s internment of Japanese-Americans during WW II.
But then, if I attempt to also cite the imprisonment and outright murder of U.S. citizens as further evidence of even worse lawlessness by the Bush and Obama administrations, presto! Change-o! The pro-Obama contingent on Balloon Juice suddenly switch to sneering
Then, of course, when evidence is provided that the U.S. government has assassinated American citizens overseas and that American citizens have been kidnapped and held without trial and without charges in secret prisons and that U.S. citizens have been tortured without a trial and without charge, the evidence gets dismissed with acid contempt as
Judge for yourselves. The fallback positions of the pro-Obama contingent are entirely predictable. First deny what happened happened. When evidence gets provided that the pervasive lawlessness happened, deny the evidence and sneer that it’s “crazy talk.” Then when the evidence grows too overwhelming to deny, claim that, sure, massive violations of the constitution happened but at least they’re not as bad as [fill in the blank with some historical incident]. Lastly, when this final rhetorical dodge gets revealed as a scam, resort to empty ridicule. (“I suppose now mclaren will tell us that the sky is gonna fall if we don’t read some scumbag kiddy raper his rights,” and so on.)
You obots really are perfectly fitted to become the new blackshirts. Mussolini would be proud of you.
@Omnes Omnibus: I saw the exchange where you asked for (A) “evidence that Obama authorized universal wiretapping of every American phone call” and mclaren ostensibly provided (B) “evidence that the NSA is storing voice content, not just metadata.”
Is it your point that (B) is not (A), or is it that (B) is not what it purports to be?
At some point I was taught about this course of action as the “Lincoln option.” It’s what Lincoln might have found himself doing if he had survived the war if anyone had chosen to make a point of any number of things (let’s start with suspension of habeus corpus) he believed he needed to do to make sure the country survived the war of southern rebellion. Jefferson could have been forced to do the same thing with regard to the Louisiana Purchase, which didn’t involve civil liberties but clearly exceeded his authority under the law as President. But people decided that they were happy enough with the result to overlook the violation. My point is that the “official” was really describing a fairly standard idea, not some novel invention or evidence of insanity. That the people who are most apocalyptic about the Snowden/Greenwald PR campaign are unfamiliar with it seems like less than a coincidence.
Now perhaps some of you think we’ve been living in a lawless thugocracy out past where the buses run (which is a pretty cool turn of phrase, actually) since 1803 or 1862, but I’m pretty sure that’s a minority opinion. So this stuff is a little less black and white than some of us want to make it.
Personally, when Obama voted for the FISA Amendments Act while he was running for President in 2008 I knew he wasn’t going to be particularly good on these issues, but since McCain voted for it too it didn’t make a heck of a lot of sense to base my voting decision on it. Now that the Snowden affair has prompted a discussion on something resembling these issues, it would be nice to see an effective organizing campaign to tighten the relevant laws. The greater scandal here isn’t what the NSA has done as a rogue agency, it’s that most of what we’ve heard about that’s actually happening is entirely legal under laws that have been out there in the public record for years.
But if calling each other bedwetters seems more satisfying, knock yourself out.
@Cervantes: Both. B is not A. Also B is not B; it is “possibly B.” Schneier said that he had gone from “it is unlikely” to “I don’t know” and then talked about how it would be done if it were happening.
Omnes Omnibus’s point is that “what mclaren says is not true/may be true but the evidence he provides about highly secret black programs doesn’t prove it beyond shadow of a doubt but only strongly suggests it from lots of circumstantial evidence/is true but other things worse were done in the past by other American presidents so SHUT UP!”
All toadies who support authoritarian regimes use these rhetorical tricks. It’s the same thing Fabian socialists at Oxford did in a failed and futile attempt to argue out of existence Stalin’s atrocities in the 1930s. “Stalin never starved millions of his own people/there’s no evidence that conclusively proves that/okay, sure it’s true, but Hitler is much worse so SHUT UP ABOUT THE GREAT HERO STALIN!”
Standard stuff. Noam Chomsky’s detractors and Glenn Greenwald’s character assassins use the same sophsitries and verbal calisthenics against them. Chomsky is insane, paranoid, a self-hating Jew, okay what he says may be true but it’s wildly exaggerated, okay it isn’t wildly exaggerated but other countries do much worse things, okay maybe not but America is still the light of the world and the last best hope for freedom so SHUT UP!
I used to wonder what motivated the crowds in Leni Reifenstahl’s films to keep singing Deutschland, Deutschland, uber alles even as the government they whose praises they sang, committed atrocity after atrocity.
Now I know.
@drkrick: There have been maybe two threads on this topic here that did not devolve into shouting matches. Betty Cracker’s one from last week with the drawings by her chicken and I’ll take it on faith that there was another one.
Uh-oh, I’ve been Godwinned! And supporting Obama = supporting Hitler. Hyperbole much? I also suspect that my aforementioned concern over actually occurring civil rights violations would have led me to be quite concerned over the treatment of the Jewish citizenry in 1935 Germany.
There really isn’t any point in attempting to argue logically with mclaren. Poking with pointy sticks gets the same results and is more entertaining.
@Julia: Don’t worry about it. It is an issue that matters to me and I strongly support rolling back surveillance laws, but that doesn’t do much to stop mclaren.
But mclaren assured me that her links always mean exactly what she chooses it to mean and nothing more.
@Omnes Omnibus: Right. I agree. Thanks for clarifying your view.
Now, as to whether B is B — Schneier links to Jeff Lyon, who quotes Senate Intelligence Committee members Dianne Feinstein and Bill Nelson and interprets them to mean that B is B; as well as counter-terrorism expert (and former FBI agent) Tim Clemente who flat-out asserts that B is B.
Are we still on the same page?
The relevant laws against the president of the United States ordering the murder of a U.S. citizen without a trial or charges are amendments five, six, eight and fourteen of the constitution.
Source: Wikipedia entry on fourteenth amendment.
So let’s have a substantive adult grown-up discussion of the laws surrounding the NSA revelations, central to which is the right of privacy created by court rulings on the fourteenth amendment.
And if the right to privacy goes away, what happens then?
Then courts can invalidate Roe v. Wade because if the citizens have no right to privacy, the legal basis for legalizing abortion gets struck down. And then states can criminalize birth control, because the court decisions legalizing birth control depend on the same right of privacy. And then the states can ban same-sex marriage, which depends on the very same right of privacy.
How ya like them apples, obots?
Are we grown up and adult enough now?
Now do you have some inkling of how central the right of privacy is to basic progressive causes today, in 2013?
Mclaren, dont bother with Mnemosyne. She is a psycho who will continually move the goalposts until you are arguing about why touchdowns don’t count in baseball. Got sick of posting here since the comments are still polluted with losers like LAC, Cacti, chopper, Mnemosyne etc. Keep on flailing guys. Can’t wait to see which team you join in 2016.
I do agree that there were people who disagreed when the Patriot Act was passed, but the outcry seems ramped up exponentially under this administration. I would welcome a reasoned revamp of the laws, but suspect the cat is out of the bag and it’s not gonna happen. There are many more pressing issues and concerns on this liberal’s plate just now.
When people excuse away actual examples of fascism including the head of state ordering the murder of his own citizens without charges or a trial, it gets hard to point out that it’s fascism without citing the most notable example of fascism in recent 20th century history.
Notice once again that this is just another effort to create a Catch-22 making it impossible for anyone criticizing Obama to actually criticize Obama. Pointing out that America is sliding into fascism is a violation of Godwin’s rule! Ooohh! Ooohh! Terrible! Horrible! Ignore that critic!
And what, Julia, are people supposed to do about these ongoing and massive violations of the constitution by the congress and two U.S. presidents in a row (Bush and Obama)?
We’re supposed to just ignore all this massive illegality on the part of our government because you shout the magic word “Godwin’?
You seriously expect that tactic to work…?
Whatever team it is, it’ll have black shirts.
What’s really scary is that the failed sophistries and infantile word games being dredged up here in a frantically futile effort to defend indefensible violations of the constitution by Bush and Obama and the congress of the united states (passage of the USA Patriot Act, the AUMF, the NDAA, etc.) as well as the supreme court (when it refused cert on Al Awlaki’s case claiming that the father had no legal standing) are all indicative of a mindset.
And the mindset of Mnemosyne and Omnes Omnibus and LAC and cacti and the rest of these people is:
We’re too tired and too hassled to govern ourselves. We would rather a strong man did our governing for us. We are unwilling to shoulder the burdens of citizenship. We would rather some tough leader did it instead, and we will simply go along with whatever that rough tough buff Man on a White Horse decides for us because he is the charismatic figure of history and he is our savior so the laws don’t matter.
That has never ended well throughout history.
Well there is this, but it is getting watered down as it moves forward.
A Humble Lurker
And there’s someone who doesn’t read mclaren or Mnemosyne’s posts.
To which I respond with the news that the NSA dragnet-surveilled 125 billion phone calls in one single month.
Document reveals NSA monitored 125 billion phone calls in one month.
(Okay, 124.8 billion. Quibble away.)
So let’s say Ron Wyden’s bill reduces the NSA’s “abusive” dragnet surveillance all the way down to, let’s say, 12 billion phone calls per month.
You think that preserves your privacy?
None of the obots, none of the authoritarian bootlickers, none of the people making frantic excuses for all this gross illegality on the part of the U.S. government, is grappling with the basic issue.
And that is: the government of the united states no longer feels compelled to obey the most basic laws of the land.
Another commenter claimed “all these abuses are legal” and that’s the real scandal.
None of these abuses are legal, regardless what laws may have been passed. The laws like the USA Patriot Act and the NDAA and the AUMF and the FISA law are all gross violations of the constitution. They’re not even controversial, they outright flagrantly violate basic provisions of the constitution — the requirement for due process, the requirement for privacy, the requirement of no cruel and unusual punishment, the requirement of habeas corpus, the requirement that people get confronted by the evidence against them, the requirement that people have a right to face their accusers in a court of law before a jury of their peers, the requirement of the people to be secure in their persons and their houses against unreasonable searches and seizures.
These laws are basic to a civilized society. When you throw these laws out, you’ve got very little left. If some guy from the government can walk up and grab your information without a warrant, is that a civilized society? If some guy from the government can just kidnap you and throw you in a dungeon forever without charges or a trial, is that a civilized society? If some head government honcho can order you killed without charges or a trial, is that a civilized society?
Folks, that sounds more like Al Capone in Chicago in the 1920s. That’s not a civilized society. That’s gangster stuff.
That’s the issue here. All this talk about tinkering around the edges, passing some ferkakta law to modify some other cockamamey vonts of a law that grossly violates the constitution, that’s all bullshit. It’s like talking about “maybe we should pass some legislation to soften down those Nuermberg laws that make marrying a Jew a crime.” No! No! No! The basic problem is the illegal unconstituitonal Nuremberg law. It’s invalid. It had to be struck down. It’s barbarism. The USA Patriot Act is barbarism. The NDAA is barbarism. FISA courts, secret courts which have never refused a single surveillance request, are barbarism.
Strike it all down. Repeal it all. It’s all grossly unconstitutional, it all destroys the basic rule of law and leads to barbarism of the worst kind, summary executions, extraordinary rendition, mass collection of metadata, whatever euphemisms you use, it’s all just barbarism and it undermines and destroys the basic rule of law.
A civilized society cannot survive those kinds of illegal unconstitutional laws. We are at the point now where either those laws survive, or a civilized society that operates according to the rule of law in America does. It’s one or the other. Choose.
@mclaren: For some reason (not clear to me), Omnes asked you the following:
For some reason (also not clear to me), you responded. So is it your view that the link you provided (to Bruce Schneier) constitutes the requested evidence? More important, is it your position that (literally) (A) “Obama authorized universal wiretapping of every American phone call” or is this a claim that you’re not really making?
As for the rest of your comment, I agree that (1) Circumstantial evidence can be useful but I don’t think it’s always convincing; (2) Actions taken by Obama’s predecessors in the White House aren’t necessarily a good standard by which to judge his actions; (3) Stalin and Hitler were both atrocious; (4) Chomsky’s detractors are, for the most part, dishonest or illiterate (many are both); (5) Glenn Greenwald is not perfect but the character assassination he’s been subjected to is worse; and (6) The Nazis were atrocious (see (3) above) but their anthem was catchy, the melody having been composed by Haydn and used for more than a hundred years before they (alas) came along.
@Socoolsofresh: here I thought it was because you are a sophomoric dumbass who couldn’t fight your way out of a paper bag with a map and a flashlight.
@Socoolsofresh: here I thought it was because you are a sophomoric dumbass who couldn’t fight your way out of a paper bag with a map and a flashlight.
@Cervantes: I asked because, after a comparison Obama to FDR, mclaren asked for evidence that FDR has authorized universal wiretapping of every American phone call during WWII. This carried a clear implication that Obama had done authorized universal wiretapping. I wanted to know what evidence she had to support that. And now I am done with this thread.
The Sheriff's A Ni-
@A Humble Lurker: Odd how they keep doing so. Never admit the mask slipped.
@Omnes Omnibus: Thanks, I appreciate the clarification.
Lol, I love how my handful of snark on this thread has so terribly hurt your delicate fee-fees.
get over yourselves already.
actually my shirt is blue today. tho getting tag-teamed by stalin and hitler’s shriveled pickled-in-brine dicks is still on at 2. not agreeing with ‘mclaren from the Internet’ still costs you.
oh, if only i spoke more like a true progressive on this one internet forum, then i’d surely be a better, more responsible citizen. then i’d be ‘governing myself’ every single day.
Really? Jeez, then I wonder why we had to go through all the bother of having that supreme court thingy all these years.
How I love the rhythm of these Balloon Juice threads–how they so joyously de-evolve into a dreggy trolls’ playground, a safety zone where words wantonly and copiously typed, complete with grandiose apostrophization of “ladies and gents” and grand rhetoricyadayada, pass for Doing Something, when in reality they are just a scrolling subliminal blur of which the merest sideswipe impinges in passing on those very, very few, like me, who have too impoverished lives and are too easily amused to resist the morbid curiosity to click in to The Land Of The Deadender Ideologue With Something Very Important To Say And Brave Post Facto Esprit d’Excalier Fights To Pick With And Insults To Aim At Those Who Have Quite Rationally Long Passed On To Pastures Much More Interesting.
This has definitely been an “It’s five o’clock somewhere” thread. Whew! Hugs and kisses from behind the Redwood Curtain!