Avedon, at Eschaton:
The spy-on-everyone program under Bush did not start after 9/11. It started in March.
Meanwhile, through the usual channels, there was lots of chatter all summer about how bin Laden was up to something. The directors of the FBI and CIA both had their hair on fire about it.
So, as far as we can tell, Bush/Cheney and NSA did not decide to start collecting all of your data because of 9/11, because 9/11 had not happened yet. They decided to do it in spite of the fact that they obviously did not care about terrorism and then persisted in ignoring all of the warnings about it.
So, how come nearly every article I see about the spying program has a phrase saying that the program was started after or because of 9/11?…
(Yeah, I owe someone a hat tip for this… )
Because we’re rightfully ashamed of what we voted for, what we endorsed, what we’ve become.
Interesting, but I’m going to need to invoke the internet tradition of “citation needed” on the “when did the spying start.” I’m aware that the Bush White House ignored warnings, but this is new information
Also, John, condolences on the Pens
So, it started in March, 2001, then it obviously started while Clinton was president. Bush didn’t become president until right after the two towers fell.
Agreed. One thing the last year has made clear is that precision is not highly valued in NSA discussions.
Is anybody surprised?
“Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars. Also, if you’ve seen me lately, could you please call the cops?” – Casey Kasem
I think that this claim is at least partially addressed in the upcoming Frontline special — there was an inspector general’s report about invasive spying that was filed at the end of October 2001 and (if I was listening to the Fresh Air interview correctly), the NSA employees who filed the complaint did so because of pre-9/11 actions by the NSA. So I think the claim has been out there for a while now.
You do know this is an Anne Laurie post, not a John Cole post?
And you do know that John Cole is notorious for almost never reading threads that Anne Laurie initiates?
Point is, he won’t see your comment unless you email him.
You should do that. John loves getting emails from us.
What does “invasive spying” mean?
HR Giger dies at 74
Given that GG said his biggest reveal was due in month or two there’s a good chance more background on when it started could be it?
@KG: Look up Joseph Nacchio who was CEO of Qwest. The NSA set up a meeting with the telecoms in Feb 2001 asking them to release phone metadata. The NSA had tried doing it in 1998, but the WH then said it was illegal. New prez, new shot at the Apple. Nacchio was the only CEO to refuse to go along based on the advise of his companies lawyers. He accused the govt of denying Qwest contracts after that refusal.
Here’s a decent, sourced timeline.
As I understand it (and I’d have to listen to the program again), it was recording people’s phone calls without a warrant and other illegal actions. More than metadata collection, in other words.
@SiubhanDuinne: yes, I know who posted this, and yeah, I know he doesn’t read too many of the comments. But, I ain’t a noob and know better than to fuck with the emails
Snarki, child of Loki
February 2001: a massive order for desert-camo uniforms.
Thanks. Back to Avedon’s point, here is wikipedia’s description:
@Mnemosyne: Bush issued a specific memo in October asking the NSA to do this collection. Effectively, pre-9/11 it was “voluntary” without WH support. Post-9/11 it was a WH executive action. So, it was legitimized in October, but it was happening before that.
Nacchio’s story came out during the Bush admin at the first run through the metadata issue back in the 2004/2005 timeframe.
Wasn’t calling you a noob, just thought you might have missed the name of the poster (JG often puts up a thread around this time of night, so it would be easy).
Did anyone else laugh out loud at the Coulson-Garrett bit at the end of Agents of Shield?
Recorded. Haven’t seen it yet. No spoilers.
@Belafon: Quite a bit of the finale had me laughing out loud.
@Belafon: The last couple of episodes were the first real glimmers of the show feeling like it was part of the Whedonverse, as opposed to a limp parody of a Whedon show.
So I know there are more important things to discuss, but can I just say that I’m fan-girling hard right now for X-Men DOFP next week. I.CAN’T.WAIT.
Ok, back to the more important stuff
I mentioned the Avedon bit in the morning thread. :-)
For those requesting citation:
http://harpers.org/blog/2007/10/qwest-another-political-prosecution/ (includes an NYT link)
And as I said in the earlier thread, in addition to using 9/11 as a convenient excuse to invade Iraq (which they wanted to do anyway), they used it as a convenient excuse to spy on everybody (which they wanted to do anyway).
And while you can blame Iraq on the Bush admin, I think the spying goes deeper. I think that comes from entrenched career NSA folks who constantly want to expand the scope of their power and reach in secret. The NSA (and CIA, FBI, etc) have always pushed the envelope in getting greater and greater power with little or no responsibility or oversight.
@SiubhanDuinne: no worries
Everyone else, thanks for the pointers
@TG Chicago: if meetings were happening in February 2001, they’d probably had been set up during the Clinton Administration. So, yeah, not difficult to say it went deeper
@TG Chicago: And speaking of Iraq (in the Bushian sense), Bush gave millions of dollars to the Taliban in May 2001:
Again, I want to be clear that I’m not suggesting 9/11 “truth”. I don’t think the Bush admin had any foreknowledge of the attack. But they sure screwed up massively.
@? Martin: Yes, I should have said, “at least as early as March,” because that was when I remembered Nachio saying he’d had meetings with them. I didn’t realize it was actually as early as February. (And, of course, the other “after 9/11” stuff had been ready before 9/11 but they never could have gotten away with it before – like the PATRIOT Act. None of that stuff was because of 9/11, they just used 9/11 as the excuse to do what had previously been recognized as illegal – and publicly unthinkable.)
Wouldn’t surprise me, given the first WTC bombing.
The NSA getting data from telecoms prior to 911 doesnt in itself indicate that unlawful post-911 practices started back then. I.e. the NSA has always had the power to grab whatever data they want from telecoms and spy their little hearts away, as long as the communications were between non-US persons (and the President authorized it).
Of course, there’s the iffy matter of determining whether a piece of communication involves a US person, or not, in the era of packet switched networking.
One option would be the NSA asking the telecom to make that call and then deliver everything to them which did not involve US persons. That has the obvious drawback that it takes a lot of time and effort on the part of the telecom and the information will be stale once it reaches the NSA.
So what happened at some point is that the NSA set up shop to filter the information flow live themselves. Could still be perfectly legal as long as they are in full compliance with the requirement to only access foreign communications. (While designing and implementing a system which always is in full compliance sounds like an interesting challenge.)
Anyway, if such a regime was put in place prior to 911 that could certainly in itself be a source of some controversy w regards to civil liberties. But it doesnt necessarily change the timeline of the introduction of even more controversial practices post 911, specifically the Bush administration explicitly authorizing the targeting of communications involving US persons (metadata and the communication itself) – without any change in statute and without obtaining the warrants required by statute.
The latter policy was the original “warantless wiretapping” scandal exposed in 2005.
As far as I know, nothing in the Snowden leaks so far has changed the picture that those practices were started post 9/11 2001 and terminated in 2007.
@lamh36: No joke, you are my hero. I am so looking to that movie. Easily one of the best X-Men stories ever.
Here’s what I think is the truth about 9/11: the Bushies fucked up and then tried to cover up their fuckitude. I’m pretty sure that’s what happened with Kennedy, too — the FBI and CIA fucked up by not keeping an eye on Oswald and did their best to muddy the waters afterwards so no one could pin the blame on them.
If the Bush administration did somehow manage to orchestrate 9/11, it demonstrated a far higher level of competence than they ever showed in any other endeavor (Afghanistan, Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, the bank collapse, etc. etc.)
If the Cllnton admin was found doing something illegal, Hillary can kiss away her 2016 chances. Yeah, I know Bill was the president, not Hillary.
It has to be an especially difficult challenge for Wheedon because it isn’t 100% his property; it’s a Marvel property first and foremost. That might not be such a big deal, but Marvel is obviously trying really hard to do their own universe building, or at least to recreate some of the comic universe in the movies. Because Marvel is their own studio, they’re being very aggressive about crossovers and team-ups, with the obvious goal of creating a whole roster of heroes who will keep producing movies indefinitely. That gives a guy like Wheedon a lot less room to put his personal stamp on the series, even if it is a new for TV group not based on an existing comic.
@KG: “they’d probably had been set up during the Clinton Administration.”
I agree that is likely, but given the permanent mafia that Cheney has had in the government, headed by David Addington,
Addington does not come off well in the Frontline special. Neither does the NYT for stalling the revelation during the election year, and then reversing course in 2005. Not due to national security, but because Risen decided to write a book without their permission.
Open thread, so in case any of my old-movie-watching homies shows up tonight, just caught We Live Again on TCM, and it was surprisingly good. Pretty faithful to Tolstoy (except ending), and great performance by Fredric March. Anna Sten was no Garbo/Dietrich, though. I kept thinking she was going to turn into one of them, but she didn’t.
@nellcote: Oh hell, Giger was one of my favorite artists. I didn’t realize he was quite that old though. The world will be a little less weirder and a more dull for his passing.
I think there was a little bit more to it than that. Oswald actually did have communist ties, so there was a real worry that he would be used as an excuse for heating up the cold war if the assassination could be tied to the Cubans or Soviets. TBTB weren’t interested in that, so they rushed the investigation and pushed it to produce a conclusion that he acted alone. The FBI and CIA were happy to go along because it helped to cover their incompetence. That rushed, sloppy job reaching a politically ordained conclusion produced plenty of evidence for conspiracy theorists to point to claiming that the truth had been covered up.
Frederic March is one of those forgotten actors of early Hollywood, but he could really be terrific. He’s great in a lot of Pre-Code films (betcha didn’t know that his Academy Award-winning version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was Pre-Code!) but he also has a lot of solid performances through the 1950s. He’s really great in The Best Years of Our Lives.
More specifically, you should email his mom. She’s his conscience, his guide, his manners minder who wonders after so many years, why his still chews with his mouth open…
Higgs Boson's Mate
They knew that bin Laden was up to something and yet between the CIA, the FBI and the NSA not one of the hijackers was identified in advance, the towers fell, thousands died – due solely to the utter incompetence of those three agencies, aided and abetted by a dumbshit in the White House and a conniving bastard in Blair House. Here we are, nearly thirteen years later and the CIA’s total failure in spycraft parlayed together with the NSA’s inability to do much more than hoover up data results in our targeting drones at cellphones based on the traffic through those phones. Fuck me, we could replace them all with a cheap Ouija board and get the same results at a savings of billions of dollars.
If the Bush administration did somehow manage to orchestrate 9/11, it demonstrated a far higher level of competence than they ever showed in any other endeavor
In one thing, and one thing only, did the W administration ever excel:
In the hours after 9/11, while most civilian flights were grounded, they got all the Bin Laden family members (buisiness associates of the Bush family, doncha know) and all the Saudi royals (ditto) quietly out of the country, leaving almost no trace. None of them were ever subpoena’ed or deposed, despite the fact that UBL ran the show and most of the terrorists were Saudis spending Saudi monies.
I’ve always thought that this showed that the Bushies could execute when they found it important; they just didn’t ever think that governing the US was important.
@Higgs Boson’s Mate:
The New Improved NSA
Now 12 monkeys with Ouija boards. Our success rate is now 4%, up from 1% and we have enough money left over to repave every street and fix every bridge in the US. Twice a year.
In fairness, the Bushies were pretty good on the political side of things. They used 9/11 to push through a ton of stuff they had wanted to do since forever, and were able to bully enough Democrats to go along to give themselves political cover but not enough for the Dems to get the credit.
? “The spy-on-everyone program under Bush did not start after 9/11. It started in March.”
March of which year?
This is a link to another writer who posted something without any links.
George W. Bush will be a repugnant footnote in the history of presidents (or, so I hope).
But this linking to links that have no links?
I doubt they had the competence to orchestrate it. But I wouldn’t put it past them to know something was coming and deliberately do nothing, (let’s assume not knowing how catastrophic it would be) and calculating they could benefit greatly from exploiting it.
I never saw it discussed much but I noticed Bush’s careful hedging when asked if he received warnings of 9/11: “If I had known terrists were going to fly planes into buildings that fateful morning I would have done everything to stop it, Jeebus, nookyular Saddam evildoers blahblahblah…” He never outright says he didn’t get warnings; he carefully specifies that he didn’t know the specific day.
Honestly, I seriously doubt the Bush administration coordinated that — more likely the Saudis called the shots and the Bushies followed along. There’s no way in hell they could have planned and executed that by themselves.
I even doubt that. What I think probably happened (and this is all guesswork/ESP on my part) is that Bush asked his good buddy Bandar if he should worry about this bin Laden guy the CIA and NSA were screaming about, and Bandar assured him that there was no way bin Laden could pull off an attack. And, as per usual, Bush went with what his buddy told him rather than what the people with actual knowledge and experience were saying.
That’s what his expression was during “My Pet Goat” — Goddamnit, Bandar, you fucked me over!
Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again)
2). Thanks for the advice you offered in the morning- truly- but I knew with whom I was conversing. I’ve been mostly lurking of late.
3). Would you please start blogging again?!?! I’ve got The Insufferable Movie Snob bookmarked, and I do check in occasionally to see if you’ve posted again. I like what you’ve done there, and I’d probably comment if I’ve seen one of your picks.
@Belafon: That bit had me at hello.
@lamh36: I’m see Godzilla Thursday night (A WORK NITE) and I’ve been singing the theme song to the cartoon all day.
@Roger Moore: FWIW, Joss Whedon isn’t even the showrunner for SHIELD. He doesn’t have day-to-day input.
That said, I have heard that there may have been problems getting ABC, Marvel, and Whedon’s crew all on the same page. But the show got really good in the second half of the season (after a weak first half), so I guess it worked out.
BTW, there was one HUGE gag in the season finale which was total Whedon. And it was great.
@Higgs Boson’s Mate:
I agree with all that. And the fact that they had the beginnings of the surveillance network prior to 9/11 but apparently didn’t use it to stop the attack (seemingly putting little effort into it) is even more infuriating.
@CTVoter: There are numerous relevant links in this comment thread.
@Mike G: This is pretty much what I believe. They didn’t plan it. They didn’t really even know what it was, and it didn’t matter because we’re so awesome and exceptionally exceptional that it couldn’t really hurt anyone who matters. Let it happen and we can do what we want from here on out. Permanent Republican Majority! They’re willing to let people die slow deaths without healthcare, food, UI, safe food & water or workplaces. You think the possibility that a plane or a building being attacked (n their limited imaginations), that gave them buckets of that there political capital, wasn’t a cost they’d be willing to let others pay?
@Belafon: Ha! I almost missed that this was snark.
Enhanced Voting Techniques
Talking to my conservative friends I thought Clinton(R) was president up until 2006 when Obama(Satan) became president. Who is this President Bush people talk about?
I think the better view of this is thst just like the PNAC openly wanted war with Iraq well before 9/11, the NSA and national security apparatus dreamed of increased data gathering and surveillance powers. The Bush election brought these people into power, 9/11 provided the cover to achieve their goals. It is fairly trivial to talk about how NSA dreamed of expanding its powers and was tinkering with it before 9/11. Institutionally, bureaucracies do that, and spy agencies are probably more likely than most to do this. After all, their job is to break normal rules in order to gather intel on scary foreigners.
It’s important in the wake of the Snowden revelations that we keep the focus where it belongs: on George Bush.
Perhaps some day we will have a Democratic president or a majority in one of the legislative houses. Until then, we need to keep our attention focused like a laser on the people with the power to change what is going down.