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AdLib On June - 11 - 2013

nsa_the_world

We may have to concede as a society that the term “Orwellian” should be retired as archaic.

In 2012, we’ve seen the completed evolution of the Republican Party led by its ideal personification, Mitt Romney, into an unapologetic, lie and propaganda factory that shamelessly boasts its benefit and importance to the lives of 99% of Americans while transparently servicing only the wealthiest 1% and pandering to extremists to gain their votes for their 1% agenda.

With regards to surveillance policies that continue under the current Democratic administration, it seems so quaint and amusing now that there used to be cautionary tales in science fiction about a citizenry being spied on by their government, wherever they were and whatever they did. Those gullible sci-fi readers of the past bought into the concept that a population would eventually allow it’s evil government to curtail much of its privacy using the justification of defending them from the urgent, existential and eternal threat of terrorism. Well, if they could fantasize about a Star Trek-type future where all races and nations worked towards peace and money was no longer needed, who can blame them for viewing this “extreme” proposition as imaginary as well?

The problem with saying that those stories have become reality isn’t that we aren’t under the eye of Big Brother, it’s that our current government can’t be categorized as evil. Under Obama’s administration, the ACA (Obamacare) was passed which will save the health and lives of millions of Americans, DADT was eliminated giving gays in the military equality they had never received, the Lilly Ledbetter Act was signed which gave women a powerful tool to fight discrimination in the workplace, the Consumer Protection Act was passed to help protect US consumers from being preyed upon by banks and Wall Street, FEMA and other federal emergency relief programs have quickly and efficiently rushed to the assistance of those hit by natural disasters, the list of President Obama’s accomplishments that were and are aimed at helping Americans is long and still growing. So it simply can’t be stated with any veracity that our government is flat out evil.

So there is a dichotomy here that ideologues at the extremes are too frothed up to observe. Some on the extreme Left are just race horses wearing blinders, all they see is what they view straight ahead, there’s no peripheral vision, there’s no looking backwards at what has been passed, all there is in their eyes is what they see at this one moment in time and they assert that the entire character of the Obama Administration must be fully defined by it.

On the Right, everything has become a predictable and childish game of “gotcha!”, if any crumb of or substantive news comes out that can be characterized or twisted around into an attack on Obama, they’ll do so even if they have to completely contradict their recently supported positions.

Did even one of the Republicans or Right Wing talking heads attacking Obama over this NSA surveillance revelation attack George Bush and the Republican controlled Congress for initially passing the Patriot Act which led to this? Did they vehemently oppose the re-authorization of the Patriot Act in 2005 which provided for such an expansion of government surveillance? Of course not but if it works for them right now to decry the Democratic President to oppose what they fully supported under a Republican President…there are no principles or ethics to hold them back.

There are thoughtful and reasonable people out there who express that this NSA spying on Americans is an acceptable trade off of privacy for security. They point out that only metadata (the information about where calls were to and from and duration) was and is being collected from Americans, phone conversations are not being monitored. They propose that if this could help prevent terrorist attacks, it’s worth it.

But what we’re still learning is what that “it” is and how vast “it” is. From the Atlantic:

In 2006, USA Today‘s Leslie Cauley reported the NSA was secretly collecting call records with data from AT&T, Verizon, and BellSouth. A source told Cauley, “It’s the largest database ever assembled in the world” and that the NSA wanted “to create a database of every call ever made” within U.S. territory. Likewise, in 2011, The New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer spoke to former NSA crypto-mathematician Bill Binney, who “believes that the agency now stores copies of all e-mails transmitted in America, in case the government wants to retrieve the details later.” He thinks the NSA wants all emails to be searchable, the same way we search with Google. “The agency reportedly has the capacity to intercept and download, every six hours, electronic communications equivalent to the contents of the Library of Congress,” Mayer said. As Mark Rumold, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told The Atlantic Wire last night, “This is confirmation of what we’ve long feared, that the NSA has been tracking the calling patterns of the entire country.”

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2013/06/nsa-spying-verizon-analysis/65963/

Keeping in mind that while the recognition of this surveillance program, PRISM, is now breaking news to most Americans, as the above quote from The Atlantic reflects, there was awareness of this program many years ago. In 2005, the New York Times exposed the Bush Administration’s warrantless wiretapping. In 2006, AT&T employees came out to alert the public that the NSA was tapping into their internet hubs to monitor and capture emails and other internet communication. So this shocking news…isn’t really quite as shocking news to those who have been paying attention.

What we lack in this nation is a genuine and honest conversation about this erosion of privacy in the name of seeking protection. It’s very difficult to weigh the two sides of this issue when there is no way we will ever fully know the full extent of either side. We are aware that there is an intrusion from our government into our private phone records and emails to the extent of what we’ve heard so far but it is pretty general and this is undoubtedly just the tip of the iceberg, how much more is hidden beneath the surface we don’t know and will never be able to have complete confidence that we know the whole of it.

On the other side of the scale, we will also never be able to confirm how many terrorist attacks have been stopped because of such surveillance since the government reasonably asserts that such information, if made public, would be be valuable to those planning future terrorists attacks.

So though at this point, none of our politicians seem to be asking the public what balance it wants of privacy vs. security, we would have to admit that we could never make a fully informed decision on this and that is a massive problem. Even if the decision was up to the American people to decide whether to permanently trade some of their privacy for hopefully increased security, they would have to rely more on emotion and guesses than facts. And the sad thing is…Americans didn’t get to decide this, the current public response to the latest revelations make clear that most people had no idea that when they voted for their elected officials, that this would occur.

Consider the precedent of this as well when it comes to the usurping of Americans’ constitutional rights. Just a reminder what the 4th Amendment says:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

There is no exception in the 4th Amendment for the government to breach these rights, even if they claim it is for safety’s sake (unless they declare Martial Law). Warrants require probable cause and there is no probable cause to suspect the millions of Americans of being terrorists whose records have been seized. So just going by the letter of the law, putting aside whether it does or doesn’t keep the public safe, is not the seizing of records of Americans when there is no probable cause of their being involved in a crime, unconstitutional?

The weasels at the NSA have constructed an Ignorance Defense akin to, “If I stole your jewelry, it was unintentional.” They try to assert that when they scoop up the personal information of innocent Americans, it’s not purposeful, their scooper is just so big it happens. As they say ignorance is not a legal defense. Try accidentally taking a million iPhones from a store when you only paid for one and see how far it gets you at trial to claim that the illegal possession of nearly one million iPhones was unintentional, you just rented too big of a pickup truck.

That is the first question. Even if it is to the public’s benefit, can the government of the United States override the rights accorded citizens in the Constitution without amending the Constitution? If so, then the precedent says that rights guaranteed by the Constitution are in fact not guaranteed and can be compromised in pursuit of a cause that is represented by the government as in the best interests of the people.

The second question is the one that’s up for debate, is it worth losing some of our privacy for greater potential safety? There are worthy arguments to be made on either side of that debate but isn’t this all backwards? Shouldn’t the debate on carving away privacy rights be held BEFORE those rights are taken away by government?

The debate now is moot and purely for sport, our government has already taken some 4th Amendment rights away from us and out of fear that restraining this spying might result in a terrorist attack slipping through that becomes politically deadly for them or their party, there is only rationalization as to why acting unconstitutionally is a necessary and proper thing.

President Obama is broadly trusted and liked by most Americans, most believe he is earnest in wanting to help and protect Americans. However, those who are comfortable with the current trade off in giving the government such wide-reaching power in order to protect its citizens may not be envisioning how this power could be exploited by a less conscientious President. Had Mitt Romney won in 2012 and instituted the kind of corporate government that he and his recently released plans envisioned, this kind of surveillance could have been exploited in many other ways. Mitt Romney was a man whose campaign was based on dishonesty and spite towards those who were not in his economic strata, a man who did not recognize or respect contrary opinions, a man whose campaign was all about the ends justifying the means…if you placed this incredible power in an administration run and organized by such a man, would you feel as comfortable?

What is terrorism really intended to accomplish? Isn’t it conceived to instill a destructive level of fear in a population, to disturb them enough that it destabilizes their society and weaken them? We may have a stronger security apparatus for doing so but are we a stronger people and society when we allow our privacy to be eroded and our Constitution to be weakened?

We don’t know for certain if being under the surveillance of our government when we email, Skype, text, make calls, etc. has saved us from being attacked but we do know that some terrorist attacks have happened anyway. There is no way to spy enough to prevent one or two deranged people from killing innocents.

Broad surveillance of a nation may or may not reduce attacks or be worth the sacrifice but it must be kept in mind what kind of nation it is that we’re intent on protecting and if we are pulling out the supporting beams of our home to build a barricade around it.

Written by AdLib

My motto is, "It is better to have blogged and lost hours of your day, than never to have blogged at all."

22 Responses so far.

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  1. MurphTheSurf3 says:

    It took me three stop-bys to read your entire article with the care that it deserved.

    The key points for me:

    1) “The problem with saying that those stories have become reality isn’t that we aren’t under the eye of Big Brother, it’s that our current government can’t be categorized as evil.” When good people do bad things….it’s an age old conundrum How does this happen? It seems to come down to good people doing something that others judge as bad and they do not; or doing something bad that they know is wrong but it is less wrong than the alternatives; or doing something wrong that they have not thought enough about to make an informed judgment. In this case I think it comes down to the second explanation….the less of two evils (with the greater evil being too little diligence and thus more opportunity for the really bad guys to act).

    2) “Did even one of the Republicans or Right Wing talking heads attacking Obama over this NSA surveillance revelation attack George Bush and the Republican controlled Congress for initially passing the Patriot Act which led to this?” Let me go a step further. How about the
    Bush era NSA warrantless surveillance controversy (AKA “Warrantless Wiretapping”)as part of the war on terror. Under this program, referred to by the Bush administration as the “terrorist surveillance program”, part of the broader President’s Surveillance Program, the NSA was authorized by executive order to monitor, without search warrants, the phone calls, Internet activity (Web, e-mail, etc.), text messaging, and other communication involving any party believed by the NSA to be outside the U.S., even if the other end of the communication lies within the U.S. Under public pressure, the Bush administration ceased the warrantless wiretapping program in January 2007 and returned review of surveillance to the FISA court. But subsequently, in 2008 Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which relaxed some of the original FISA court requirements. In other words, having been caught, the Bush administration agreed to follow the rules and then had the rules relaxed.

    3) “President Obama is broadly trusted and liked by most Americans, most believe he is earnest in wanting to help and protect Americans. However, those who are comfortable with the current trade off in giving the government such wide-reaching power in order to protect its citizens may not be envisioning how this power could be exploited by a less conscientious President.”

    I think we need a system within the government that provides a ways and means for those who want to blow the whistle on abuse of whatever kind that is clearly laid out, easily available to all, protects the whistle blower whether they are right or wrong in calling out a practice, and has the power to thoroughly investigate and move on the abuse. Snowden and Manning have both said they had no choice because they had nowhere to go but to the public via the media. They have said they did not trust their superiors, did not believe the inspector generals were truly independent, thought Congress was too political. This has to be fixed. I have been putting together (with “Bourne”) a proposal for an independent Office of the Inspector General of the United States with a office anchored in the Legislative Branch, operating in conjunction with the Executive and with oversight by the Judiciary. It is proving complex but Bourne and I hope to launch it this week (probably here at the Planet) with editions for HP etc.

    Thanks for all of the work you did on this really excellent think piece. As always you have a renaissance capacity to gather so many threads together.

  2. choicelady says:

    Thank you for these thoughtful observations, AdLib. I am very late to the table on this -- I’d like to say it’s work, but I’ve been goofing off. So it’s anti-work.

    Today, driving home from work, I heard “Fresh Air” with John Oliver, the Brit with the wit to stand in for Jon Stewart. He was explaining his shock at Americans who think we have tyranny in America. He said, “Tyranny? Tyranny?? I’ll show you tyranny -- we INVENTED tyranny! It’s not raising taxes a few cents -- it’s screwing your thumbs off! You want tyranny we’ll be happy to bring it back to you again!”

    Our goal as a society is to balance security from people who quite obviously wish to kill us against the freedoms which if given up means the people trying to kill us won.

    Along the way someone has to point out that Barak Obama, Bill Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, the Dems in general are actually trying to find this balance while the GOP is paying no attention and the Left is pretending it’s not happening.

    Tyranny? We do have tyranny -- but it resides in each of us when we dismiss others, act with prejudice, classify whole populations as evil, dismiss solutions that require our engagement to fulfill. We are quite happily imposing tyranny on ourselves.

    When people are most happy when they are miserable, we have no need of government or even private corporations to take away our freedoms. We already gave them up.

    • MurphTheSurf3 says:

      Your widening of the venue re. tyranny is brilliant. Thank you. The tyranny of the top percent; the tyranny of those with a stranglehold on the electoral process in their states and have decided to block citizens from exercising the suffrage; the tyranny of corporations who charge exorbitant prices at the gas pumps while taking massive tax breaks and accepting subsidies etc.

  3. jjgravitas says:

    The economy must be doing really well, for all the attention that is not being paid to it!

  4. Kalima says:

    That’s just Facebook. This had me wondering about which of my email addresses had received the weirdest emails so far. Guess what? It’s the address I use on Facebook. Made me just want to get out of there and run for the nearest hills.

    “You Thought You Had Privacy Before the NSA Leak? What About Facebook”?

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/06/13/you-thought-you-had-privacy-before-the-nsa-leak-what-about-facebook.html

    • SallyT says:

      Funny at the end of the article it says: “Like us on Facebook and Twitter”. Both track you. I have Norton on my computer and I am always surprised when they alert me to how many they have deleted from tracking me when doing their daily clean up. Amazing!

      • Kalima says:

        That is funny Sally, but I think that is from the site. It would be like complaining that the soup is too salty, then asking for another plate full.

        The only security I have is an antivirus programm, and it’s been quite busy lately. Made me glad that I haven’t given up too much information there. Still, I’m getting the oddest emails, and although I never open a link unless I know that person, getting so many is annoying. The word “profit” pisses me off too.

        • MurphTheSurf3 says:

          I have so many concerns about facebook. I belonged for a while and when I decided to drop it, it took me over a year to ferret my profile out of the system. And, yes, I know that I only got the surface cleaned up….

  5. agrippa says:

    Adlib

    That is a very good article. Lots of good ideas.

    I would just mention that modern electronic communication is, inherently, insecure. It is very easy to intercept, monitor and read. An, it is new. The courts have to rule that is private.

  6. foodchain says:

    Oh Ad, I can’t keep up with all your points: each comment I have for one is brushed aside for the next. Here are some thoughts though: I wonder if Obama is playing the “rope a dope” with the GOP. If you can’t pass anything, if they will lie about what they do to hurt your position, then continuing George’s policies are a perfect answer. We can’t do nothing and the GOP won’t let him do anything better--nor will our Democrats I’m afraid.

    These big brother fears were to keep the masses in line, sort of like China: the fear being there are too many people to manage if they fall out of control. Look at our right wing to see the potential. What if they numbered hundreds of millions, armed and hating the government.

    But this “spying’ is entirely different. 911 has made a huge difference but it is due to the enormous cultural, religious and economic disparities in the world. Our post WWII super power war with Russia set up some of the divisions we face and our oil problem has set up others.

    Without some plan to work with these crushing disparities, we will be spying--another cold war espionage thrill. Our gun toting, cowboy walking and talking obstructionists leave us little choice. Play them for now.

    I don’t like it. I’d like to think our leadership could do better than hope for an attack on Obama’s watch, but I don’t trust them one whit.

    • MurphTheSurf3 says:

      I noted in an earlier comment that the Bush admin played this game but off radar.

      How about the Bush era NSA warrantless surveillance controversy (AKA “Warrantless Wiretapping”)as part of the war on terror. Under this program, referred to by the Bush administration as the “terrorist surveillance program”, part of the broader President’s Surveillance Program, the NSA was authorized by executive order to monitor, without search warrants, the phone calls, Internet activity (Web, e-mail, etc.), text messaging, and other communication involving any party believed by the NSA to be outside the U.S., even if the other end of the communication lies within the U.S. Under public pressure, the Bush administration ceased the warrantless wiretapping program in January 2007 and returned review of surveillance to the FISA court. But subsequently, in 2008 Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which relaxed some of the original FISA court requirements.

      In other words, having been caught, the Bush administration agreed to follow the rules and then had the rules relaxed.

  7. SallyT says:

    AdLib, as usual, an interesting article. I am in a ponder about this issue. As I have stated on here in Off Topic, I feel because of our desires for gadgets and convenience we have given up much of our privacy. Now in thinking about this information gathering, I do have concerns. This information is being collected and monitored by independent private contracted companies for the government. And, those private contractors have gotten aggressive with their power in their government contracted roles, such as Black Water. So, I am taking the political parties out of it and I am concerned. Like this young man, how many others have access to this information? Since most private companies are only concerned about profits and especially for the salaries at the top, say one of these lower employees paid minimum wage (okay probably more than that but it is just an example here) gets an offer to sale information on someone. Do they? Let’s say there is a movement by environmentalists against an oil company or a pipeline or fracking and the corporations that are involved asks for information on all these environmentalists to build a case against them. Or just to dig into their history to throw doubt or tarnish the individuals. Like the Occupy Movement and it being infiltrated. They get names of people to help get them in and maybe even use blackmail on something they have gotten on that person through the history they have reviewed. I can see Monsanto doing it on people campaigning against their poisoning us. It isn’t the government under another President but those corporations, banks, Wall Street, and others with so much money to buy Congress now go to buy information to destroy those trying to change things for the better. One can only imagine the depths that it can be used in politics. The NSA did aid in getting us into a war in Iraq. And, not to sound like someone with a tin foil hat but lets say you are one of these private prisons and you need more inmates to make more money……I can see where there is danger.

    • MurphTheSurf3 says:

      You really spell out how interconnected so many of these watchers are (and the variety of motivation that drives them).

      More and more it is coming down to who is watching the watchers watch us?

      I think we need an ombudsman structure.

      I think we need a system within the government that provides a ways and means for those who want to blow the whistle on abuse of whatever kind that is clearly laid out, easily available to all, protects the whistle blower whether they are right or wrong in calling out a practice, and has the power to thoroughly investigate and move on the abuse. Snowden and Manning have both said they had no choice because they had nowhere to go but to the public via the media. They have said they did not trust their superiors, did not believe the inspector generals were truly independent, thought Congress was too political. This has to be fixed. I have been putting together (with “Bourne”) a proposal for an independent Office of the Inspector General of the United States with a office anchored in the Legislative Branch, operating in conjunction with the Executive and with oversight by the Judiciary. It is proving complex but Bourne and I hope to launch it this week (probably here at the Planet) with editions for HP etc.

    • AdLib says:

      Sally, you raise many excellent points. Indeed, the focus should not be so narrow, just on what the NSA tracking terrorists are doing with the personal emails and phone records of Americans, it needs to be extrapolated out to all of those with less than altruistic intentions could do with this information.

      You’ve provided some great examples of how this information could be abused by private contractors (corporations, that is) to attack their adversaries or prey on those they want to go after, by political forces to attack and undermine those who they consider their enemies or subversives, and on and on.

      Consider how the Repubs often target minority voters with bogus phone calls claiming an election date or their polling place has been moved, how might these same people use much more personal info to target and manipulate?

      And how much easier would it be for those who have bad intent to use such info to have emails sent that accurately impersonate friends, family, etc. to manipulate/entrap/deceive those they wish to?

      Things that are this important and complicated are all about extrapolation and blowback. When Congress spurned the Constitution and gave Bush the power to start any wars he wanted to or usurp the rights of Americans under the Patriot Act and its renewals, they were just looking narrowly into the eyes of their fears. They didn’t envision all of the hell that those decisions instigated.

      That’s what I think we need to do now before we, as a people, put a stamp of approval on this reduction of our Constitutional rights. Let’s not just decide about how we’re affected just in the present, we need to consider how we could be affected by the dominoes that continue to fall in the future after knocking over this one.

  8. Well done Ad, very interesting and well written. I wonder how legal it would be if a person being surveilled was found to be in violation of say, marijuana laws. Would such evidence be admissible in a court of law? If the NSA is looking for terrorist activity or terror related behavior, would it still be legal to bust people on charges unrelated to terrorism? Wouldn’t a specific warrant be necessary stating the NSA’s purpose to obtain such a warrant?

    Lots and lots of legal grey areas here. Far too many for my comfort. I don’t break any laws these days. I used to grow my own and smoke it, in the privacy of my home, but I haven’t done so for years now. So, like Kalima said, I really have nothing to hide.

    I have a brother living and working for a legit firm in Oman. I worry that my e-mails to him could end up getting me placed on a no-fly list. Thank goodness that hasn’t happened, but I’m afraid it could some day, depending on who’s minding the store.

    What is that famous quote by Ben Franklin…”Those who are willing to trade freedom for a little security deserve neither?” That’s not verbatim, but it is pretty close.

    I really don’t like the whole idea of spying on everyone in the nation, by our government. Just the government having the ability to do so is somewhat discomforting.

    In more than few aspects, the terrorists have succeeded. The Bush/Cheney administration actually aided terrorists in achieving their goal of spreading fear to the point that it has negatively effected our way of life. They blatantly and purposefully amped up and spread fear. They did this for political advantage, resulting in Bush being elected to a second term. I believe, to this very day that the use of 9/11 as a tool for spreading fear is what got Bush a second term. Without such fear, I really believe he would have lost reelection. This is not good.

    • AdLib says:

      KT, the insidiousness of this as a policy is that it SEEMS so insignificant. Sure, it’s just metadata, no big deal, we can go along with the government violating the 4th Amendment if it’s this tiny and it helps protect us…but a miniscule leak can be what leads to a dam fully breaking.

      If this is okay, recording the content of our emails and internet communications along with records of all of our phone calls…then how big of a leap is it to record our phone calls just to archive them, then government people could say, “We don’t listen to any conversations, they’re just stored in case we have a criminal investigation against someone.” That may seem sensible to many as well.

      Then how big of a leap is it from that to having systems that can comb through all conversations for key words and phrases? And what could an unscrupulous President, government, corporation or political party do with that?

      This is not tin foil hat stuff, all of this technology exists and is currently being used in one way or another.

      Could a Bush-like policy of preemptive law enforcement use this information to search for people doing illegal things then prosecute them? It’s not unimaginable.

      Since the precedent is being set that no probable cause or warrant is necessary to spy on millions of Americans’ private communications, it is easy to see how such protections could be substantially eroded as time goes by.

      And as you say, how many people will be added to a list of suspects by the government, purely because they email or call people in Oman or Pakistan?

      Many want our country protected from terrorism and are willing to have slivers of their 4th Amendment rights pared off in exchange for that but once the slicing away of rights begins, it becomes acceptable and if history is any guide, it will continue well past what people envision.

  9. Kalima says:

    Very good article AdLib and really thought provoking.

    I find myself just about NSA’ed and Snowdened out after so many so-called “scandals” in the news since last year, and being as I’m not an American, or living in your country, I feel I can only say so much. My thoughts on this is that Snowden and anyone else connected with this leak, broke the law and should face the consequences. Everything we do has consequences.

    Years ago when I got my first iPad and downloaded Google Earth, I had no idea that just typing in my address would reveal an aerial still photo of our house that can be seen all over the world, from every angle, and when I zoomed in, I could almost see inside the windows of our bedroom. I don’t remember a discussion with Google about taking a photo of the very private space I share with my husband, our home. They didn’t contact me to ask our permission, they just did it without any reason or probable cause because we are on some suspicious list worldwide, but just because they can. I consider this to be a gross invasion of privacy and potentially dangerous.

    Whenever I go to the Internet I am being tracked by that site’s cookies. When I google they store my history. If I enter my name there I find alien things that I have never searched for, especially on Google Australia. I can assure you that there are very few people with the same name combination.

    If I sign up for a news alert email, I get months of junk mail in my inbox from places I have never heard of or have any interest in. My Facebook page can be accessed by anyone who knows my real name on Google. It’s there even though I didn’t give Facebook my permission to make it public and just how much more public can you make it.

    At the moment I’m getting pictures of half clad women from Russia wanting to be my friend. Yesterday I received an email with a video (unopened) addressed to Hi Kershawn. Who the hell is Kershawn and where did this person get my private email address that has nothing to do with Google, Yahoo, hotmail or any of those companies? Not from your NSA, I’m quite sure of that.

    The point I’m trying to make is that the Internet is already unsafe every time you use your browser, we know that and still use it because what can we do about it except limit our private information.

    I agree that there needs to be a discussion about this, your President has stated that he welcomes a discussion, but I believe him when he says that there are safeguards in place to protect innocent people from intense snooping, I have no reason not to. As we discussed the other day, if this stops even just a few terrorist attempts, in my opinion that is the price we pay for a chance of safety in this troubled world we live in today.

    Advanced technology is great for a number of things in our lives, especially concerning our health, but I think that every generation before us have had to give up something for that advancement. We can’t have it both ways unfortunately. Also as I said the other day, I have a clear conscience with nothing to hide. Maybe this is what makes me less concerned than others might be.

    I’m beginning to wonder if Snowden isn’t just a pawn in something much darker or politically motivated by others. Otherwise, without hacking what is supposed to be such a highly sensitive operation, how did he obtain access?

    One of the funnier things to come out of this was a story I read yesterday that Russia had offered to consider giving him asylum. Russia with it’s history of civil and human rights abuses. It’s jailing and public beatings of the opposition and dissenters of Putin’s reign. It’s throwing out of foreign NGOs and recently clamping down on foreign homosexuals for what they call “distributing homosexual propaganda”, has offered to consider giving Snowden a safe haven. I found that absolutely hilarious.

    Putin’s Russia.

    Russia’s Duma waves through anti-gay law – by 436 votes to 0

    Gay activists attacked and arrested for protesting against bill that will ban ‘homosexual propaganda’ aimed at young people

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russias-duma-waves-through-antigay-law--by-436-votes-to-0-8654582.html

    • MurphTheSurf3 says:

      Hey Kalima-

      You might want to take a look at my general response to Ad Lib here. I think we are on the same page in a number of areas.

      Please note my thoughts on the need for a truly independent Inspector General of the United States.

      A word about your comment that “I’m beginning to wonder if Snowden isn’t just a pawn in something much darker or politically motivated by others. Otherwise, without hacking what is supposed to be such a highly sensitive operation, how did he obtain access?” Bradley Manning raised the same issues. I wonder about the role of the media. Greenwald has an interesting history in matters like this. Snowden’s libertarian roots are curious.

    • AdLib says:

      Thanks Kalima.

      I think that’s a serious problem in this country, one that might not be coincidence. We have been so flooded with crises, some phony, some intentionally created and some that are genuine, that we have become a bit numb.

      That would suit those who want the public apathetic just fine.

      Despite all the legit and BS outrages we have been put through, this is a real and serious one that we have to recognize as such.

      IMO, this is straight up destruction of a section of our Constitution and a very slippery slope. It is not unreasonable to say that the actual personal data taken from the American people is relatively unimportant or that if you have nothing to hide this is not so big of a deal but precedent is everything. If our emails and other communications are all being recorded by our government but not being used against us at this time, it is no guarantee that they won’t be in the future.

      We may not be ashamed of anything we write but some of our more personal information in our emails, texts, Skypes, etc. could be used by corporations or politicians as a way of targeting people.

      It doesn’t mean that Big Brother will try to dictate what we can think but there are many other ways such information could be used against Americans.

      As for Snowden, I don’t know what his true motivations are. Perhaps they’re what’s being expressed, perhaps they’re a vision of being a hero and historical figure, perhaps there are other motivations. I wouldn’t lean though towards him being anything other than self-motivated.

      Like you, I’m not as surprised at Russia offering asylum, any opportunity to stick a thumb in the eye of the US when it comes to human rights, especially after the constant condemnation they receive (those you mentioned as well as supporting Assad murder of his people, jailing Pussy Riot, etc.), they jump at.

      I do think this is a critical story and moment for America. Now that this mass surveillance has become more publicly known (it has been reported on since 2005), either the American people get behind protecting their Constitutional rights or those in the 4th Amendment will be remembered as among the earliest to be dissolved by those in power.


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