Edward Snowden, Leaker Of NSA Data Mining Stories, Steps Forward

Meet Edward Snowden, the 29 year old CIA/NSA contractor who has confessed to leaking the details of the NSA's data mining projects.

Edward Snowden

The man apparently responsible for the leaking of a considerable amount of information regarding data mining operations by the National Security Agency has stepped forward and identified himself as Edward Snowden, an employee of a major contractor who has worked with the CIA and NSA:

The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell.

The Guardian, after several days of interviews, is revealing his identity at his request. From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. “I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” he said.

Snowden will go down in history as one of America’s most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. He is responsible for handing over material from one of the world’s most secretive organisations – the NSA.

In a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided, he wrote: “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions,” but “I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant.”

Despite his determination to be publicly unveiled, he repeatedly insisted that he wants to avoid the media spotlight. “I don’t want public attention because I don’t want the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the US government is doing.”

He does not fear the consequences of going public, he said, only that doing so will distract attention from the issues raised by his disclosures. “I know the media likes to personalise political debates, and I know the government will demonise me.”

Snowden revealed his identity in an interview with The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald (video available here), and it becomes apparent that this was a project that he had been working on for quite some time:

Three weeks ago, Snowden made final preparations that resulted in last week’s series of blockbuster news stories. At the NSA office in Hawaii where he was working, he copied the last set of documents he intended to disclose.

He then advised his NSA supervisor that he needed to be away from work for “a couple of weeks” in order to receive treatment for epilepsy, a condition he learned he suffers from after a series of seizures last year.

As he packed his bags, he told his girlfriend that he had to be away for a few weeks, though he said he was vague about the reason. “That is not an uncommon occurrence for someone who has spent the last decade working in the intelligence world.”

On May 20, he boarded a flight to Hong Kong, where he has remained ever since. He chose the city because “they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent”, and because he believed that it was one of the few places in the world that both could and would resist the dictates of the US government.

In the three weeks since he arrived, he has been ensconced in a hotel room. “I’ve left the room maybe a total of three times during my entire stay,” he said. It is a plush hotel and, what with eating meals in his room too, he has run up big bills.

He is deeply worried about being spied on. He lines the door of his hotel room with pillows to prevent eavesdropping. He puts a large red hood over his head and laptop when entering his passwords to prevent any hidden cameras from detecting them.

Though that may sound like paranoia to some, Snowden has good reason for such fears. He worked in the US intelligence world for almost a decade. He knows that the biggest and most secretive surveillance organisation in America, the NSA, along with the most powerful government on the planet, is looking for him.

Since the disclosures began to emerge, he has watched television and monitored the internet, hearing all the threats and vows of prosecution emanating from Washington.

And he knows only too well the sophisticated technology available to them and how easy it will be for them to find him. The NSA police and other law enforcement officers have twice visited his home in Hawaii and already contacted his girlfriend, though he believes that may have been prompted by his absence from work, and not because of suspicions of any connection to the leaks.

“All my options are bad,” he said. The US could begin extradition proceedings against him, a potentially problematic, lengthy and unpredictable course for Washington. Or the Chinese government might whisk him away for questioning, viewing him as a useful source of information. Or he might end up being grabbed and bundled into a plane bound for US territory.

Snowden’s presence in Hong Kong is interesting partly because it is indeed unclear how authorities in that city and, ultimately the Chinese government, would react to a demand for extradition from the United States. Additionally, it explains why Greenwald, who has been living in Brazil for many years now, has been giving his interviews since the story broke from Hong Kong rather than his home in Brazil. It also appears that Federal law enforcement authorities have been on to Snowden for at least several days now, which many be one reason why he’s decided to step forward. Now, if anything does happen, it will have to happen in public rather than behind closed doors.  Additionally, while I don’t share Greenwald’s appreciation for Bradley Manning for reasons I’ve shared in the past, but it is somewhat interesting that all of this has happened during the first week of Manning’s Court Martial at Fort Meade on the charges related to his actions in providing classified documents to Wikileaks while serving with the U.S. Army and stationed in Iraq. Snowden does express any opinion about the Manning case in his interview, but one is led to wonder if the timing wasn’t quite deliberate on his, and indeed Greenwald’s, part.

It seems inevitable the the U.S. Government will seek to bring charges against Snowden at this point. The extradition question will, of course, be the first legal hurdle that will  have to be met. According to this list, the United States does not have an Extradition Treaty with the People’s Republic Of China, however, there is such a treaty with Hong Kong that was entered into in 1998, before the city was returned to Chinese control. Whether that treaty supersedes the status of extradition rights between the U.S. and the PRC, and whether the PRC could or would seek to intervene to prevent Hong Kong from going forward with extradition is something that I can’t speak to . Suffice it to say that the name Edward Snowden, and the question of whether or not what he did was the right thing or not, is going to become a big part of the political debate that is emerging in the wake of the revelations that he helped make happen.

Is he a hero or a villain? That’s for everyone to decide for themselves.

Update: Here’s the video of Snowden’s interview with Greenwald:

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Intelligence, Law and the Courts, National Security, US Politics, , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. There’s a lot in Mr. Snowden’s “story” that does not add up. His “coming forward” weakens any argument into highly likely intelligence community surveillance overreach rather than strengthens it. Consider:

    1) Applicants for the United States Army Special Forces must be at least 20 years old, have a high school diploma, and are encouraged to have at least 1 year of college. Snowden failed all three in 2003.

    2) Highly unlikely the CIA would have hired a military drop-out with no HS diploma when their own careers website says that four year degrees are “highly recommended” for applicants.

    3) Mr. Snowden is thinking of asking for asylum in Iceland, and clearly is brilliant because he’s in a $200K/year job with no HS diploma. However, he flies not to Reykjavik via Keflavik but to Hong Kong? Yeah, that makes perfect sense for somebody so smart when there’s no direct HKG-to-KEF service and when Ecuadorian asylum-ee Julian Assange is very publicly stuck in the Ecuadorian embassy in London because he’ll be arrested the second he steps off the embassy grounds.

    Don’t jump on this guy’s bandwagon yet. First impression is that his job was to discredit NSA criticism, not be a civil liberties hero.

  2. Jeremy R says:

    So anti-secrecy / surveillance crusader Glenn Greenwald aided Snowden in leaking and spinning that US cybertaskforce order at a time and in a way chosen to maximize its value to the Chinese, during their U.S. / China summit. All the while Snowden is off in China with a harddrive full of U.S. gov’t secrets and now Greenwald is aiding Snowden in propping up China as some sort of paragon of: “a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent.”

    Greenwald’s jumped the shark so far on this one that he’s likely reached the stratosphere.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/07/business/media/anti-surveillance-activist-is-at-center-of-new-leak.html

    The leak, he said, came from “a reader of mine” who was comfortable working with him. The source, Mr. Greenwald said, “knew the views that I had and had an expectation of how I would display them.”

    As the U.S / China summit began:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/07/obama-china-targets-cyber-overseas

    Obama orders US to draw up overseas target list for cyber-attacks

    by Glenn Greenwald …

    The directive’s publication comes as the president plans to confront his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at a summit in California on Friday over alleged Chinese attacks on western targets.

    Even before the publication of the directive, Beijing had hit back against US criticism, with a senior official claiming to have “mountains of data” on American cyber-attacks he claimed were every bit as serious as those China was accused of having carried out against the US.

    An intelligence source with extensive knowledge of the National Security Agency’s systems told the Guardian the US complaints again China were hypocritical, because America had participated in offensive cyber operations and widespread hacking – breaking into foreign computer systems to mine information.

    Provided anonymity to speak critically about classified practices, the source said: “We hack everyone everywhere. We like to make a distinction between us and the others. But we are in almost every country in the world.”

    The US likes to haul China before the international court of public opinion for “doing what we do every day”, the source added.

    And from the today’s article again:

    On May 20, he boarded a flight to Hong Kong, where he has remained ever since. He chose the city because “they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent”, and because he believed that it was one of the few places in the world that both could and would resist the dictates of the US government.

  3. Tillman says:

    Well, there goes my theory that an upstanding Senator on one of the Intelligence committees leaked the info.

  4. Tillman says:

    I’d respect him more if he came out in the U.S., called a press conference, and made certain he was hauled off at the end of it while condemning the U.S. government for its circumvention of civil liberties.

    Much easier to start a protest movement if you’re imprisoned in the country you thwarted. Much harder to do when you mire it in international legalities. Obviously he wasn’t thinking things through enough, or was too scared. I can’t blame him on being scared, but if what he wanted to achieve was to bring down the surveillance regime, he should’ve realized that he’d need to suffer more.

    It’s a more civilized world nowadays. You don’t have to pull a St. Peter and be crucified upside down to make a point. Some commitment would be nice, however.

  5. superdestroyer says:

    @Allan Bourdius:

    Snowden was not a CIA employee but a CIA/NSA contractor (I do not know if contractors actually work directly for the CIA or are contracted by some other part of the three letter organizations . The most important credential for being a CIA/NSA contractor is having a TS/SCI type clearance. If Snowden was in the military, his specialty was something that required a clearance (probably intelligence analyst). Companies that want to work on contracts for NSA/CIA are not willing to pay or to wait for someone to qualify for a clearance. Thus they will hire anyone who has the appropriate clearance. The Washington Post has had several reports on the supply and demand of intelligence contractors.

  6. Superdestroyer,

    The Guardian article explicitly states he was employed by the CIA.

    From there, he went to the CIA, where he worked on IT security. His understanding of the internet and his talent for computer programming enabled him to rise fairly quickly for someone who lacked even a high school diploma.

    By 2007, the CIA stationed him with diplomatic cover in Geneva, Switzerland. His responsibility for maintaining computer network security meant he had clearance to access a wide array of classified documents.

    And later

    He left the CIA in 2009 in order to take his first job working for a private contractor that assigned him to a functioning NSA facility

    Nice try…

  7. rudderpedals says:

    Is he a hero or a villain? That’s for everyone to decide for themselves.

    The decision isn’t difficult. He’s in China with heaven knows what else on a laptop.

  8. Jeremy R says:

    @Allan Bourdius:

    Until there’s more verification you may want to take Snowden’s grandiose claims with a massive grain of salt:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/edward-snowden-nsa-2013-6

    At one point he says: “I had full access to the full rosters of everyone working at the NSA, the entire intelligence community, and undercover assets all around the world.”

    Earlier he claims: “Any analyst at any time can target anyone … I, sitting at my desk, certainly have the authorities to wiretap anyone — from you or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the President.”

    And around the 10:30 mark, he makes the shocking claim: ‘If I had just wanted to harm the U.S., you could shut down the surveillance system in an afternoon, but that’s not my intention.”

    Apparently he’s Jason Bourne.

  9. Jeremy R,

    I’m pretty sure we both are taking that massive grain…didn’t you read my 1st comment on this thread, right before yours?

  10. He puts a large red hood over his head and laptop when entering his passwords to prevent any hidden cameras from detecting them.

    He’s so concerned about security that he has no problem using a hotel’s public Wi-Fi?

    Complete whack-a-doodle.

  11. Jeremy R says:

    @Allan Bourdius:

    I’m pretty sure we both are taking that massive grain…didn’t you read my 1st comment on this thread, right before yours?

    Oops, you’re right. I lost the thread of the debate there. Sorry.

  12. superdestroyer says:

    @Allan Bourdius:

    NO one leaves the CIA to work for a contractor. The CIA pays better than the contractors. It has been reported than over 75% of the people who work in Langley are contractors. I assume that some of the reporting is mixing up all of the terms. But if the reports that he is a contractor are true, he has probably always been a contractor since leaving the military.

  13. Tillman says:

    @Timothy Watson: Really, visually looking at someone typing in a password is the hardest way to get their password. That’s so ’80s.

  14. Tillman says:

    You know, if there’s a red herring worth pursuing in this story, it’s that this is the result of widespread privatization of former government services. The government didn’t used to contract out intelligence work to private companies, and now a private[ish?] contractor reveals a shadowy surveillance regime to the public? This just won’t do.

    I love this story. No matter your political persuasion, everyone’s got an angle.

  15. john personna says:

    Whistle-blowers tend to be odd birds. They have to be, to break from the flock. Self-aggrandizement may not be so surprising either, given that they put themselves in such a pivotal role.

    All that said … I really only care if the Verizon letter and etc. are legit.

    If the data is good, I suppose it could be a secondary question whether he is fronting for someone on it. If that were true I’d think it would come out over the next couple days. Otherwise you need REAL conspiracies, like the Chinese stole the letter, Snowden fronted for them, and the US can’t admit that the Chinese pulled that off. Or something.

  16. @Tillman: Yep, I wouldn’t be surprised if every computer issued to someone with TS/SCI certification doesn’t come with a government keylocker on it.

  17. al-Ameda says:

    Snowden is no hero, he merely made fully public, government intelligennce-gathering activities that( we know, but have willfully denied) have been going on for the better part of 7 years.

    Somehow I’m not surprised that Snowden is clearly not interested in facing the potential legal consequences of his “heroic” actions.

  18. edmondo says:

    he boarded a flight to Hong Kong, where he has remained ever since. He chose the city because “they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent”,

    Jesus, isn’t that we we used to be ffamous for here in the USA? It certainly has turned quite Orwellian here in the “land of the free”, hasn’t it?

  19. Tillman says:

    @down-voter(s): Martin Luther King, Jr. told those who followed him that they’d be beaten and tortured, worse than they could imagine. He and those like him were in a struggle for rights they and their forebears had been denied for centuries.

    This dude claims he did all this because he was disturbed at how the government was treating the civil liberties of all Americans, but his personal example is to flee to another country. The dude isn’t standing up for us by releasing the information; he’s hoping the public will be outraged enough to do all the work for him. He is seriously underestimating the American public, which needs figures (some might call them heroes) to unite around in order for anything to get done on a social level. You can condemn the public for requiring martyrs, but it has been human nature since time beyond memory.

    All I’m saying is this dude isn’t a true believer. Like it or not, he’s just a schmuck whose conscience got the better of him, but not well enough for his personal safety to be on the line. Lionize away, but that’s the reality.

  20. superdestroyer says:

    Booz Allen says that Snowden has worked for them less than 3 month.
    http://www.boozallen.com/media-center/press-releases/48399320/statement-reports-leaked-information-060913

    Also, if you look at Booz Allens career website, there are job announcements for security computer operations in Hawaii that only required a GED but do require TS/SCI. http://careers.boozallen.com/job/Honolulu-Knowledge-Manager-Job-HI-96801/2390056/

  21. Alex Knapp says:

    @Timothy Watson: All you need is a secure VPN. Pretty sure he’s smart enough to have one.

  22. stonetools says:

    Seems to me what’s very clear is that the world’s premier intelligence agency needs to do better job of vetting the employees of its contractors.

  23. Gustopher says:

    Is Snowden even a real name? I just keep thinking of the bombardier from Catch-22. The one who dies in the first chapter, and ends up pushing Yosarrian into his desertion of duty,mental breakdown, etc.

    I would be very impressed with him if we discovered he changed his name to match a character in a great anti-war novel, and then managed to get clearance and access to all this information.

  24. stonetools says:

    @Tillman:

    The government didn’t used to contract out intelligence work to private companies, and now a private[ish?] contractor reveals a shadowy surveillance regime to the public? This just won’t do.

    Yeah, but the magic of the free market blah blah blah Hayek blah blah Friedman blah blah shrink the federal government…

    OK, conservatives, help me out here..

  25. al-Ameda says:

    @stonetools:

    Yeah, but the magic of the free market blah blah blah Hayek blah blah Friedman blah blah shrink the federal government…

    OK, conservatives, help me out here..

    Allow me, a non-conservative, to help out here:
    “Ronald Reagan, Iran-Contra, Arms for hostages, and for good shadowy measure – Halliburton and Blackwater.”

  26. superdestroyer says:

    @stonetools:

    No part of the government has in-house IT. The civil service rules just do not lend themselves to the IT world. Also, civil service rules do not allow for fast reorganizations or change of direction. Contractors are expensive because they allow the government to make changes faster. Also, contracting allows the government to get the skills in needs in places like Hawaii that would be much harder it they had to follow all of the civil service rules.

  27. Andre Kenji says:

    Whether that treaty supersedes the status of extradition rights between the U.S. and the PRC, and whether the PRC could or would seek to intervene to prevent Hong Kong from going forward with extradition is something that I can’t speak to .

    I don´t know if Snowden commited any crime that could be considered an extraditable offense.

    I would bet that´s not, unless there is some offense that´s exists both in US and Hohg Kong where he could be indicted.

  28. Ben Wolf says:

    He’s certainly very brave, given our government will direct all its resources to destroying him. As always the be guy is never the wrongdoing of our public servants, but those who reveal the wrongdoing.

  29. stonetools says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    I don´t know if Snowden commited any crime that could be considered an extraditable offense.

    I would bet that´s not, unless there is some offense that´s exists both in US and Hohg Kong where he could be indicted.

    Maybe the guy did his research. Anyway, we’ll soon find out. The DOJ is researching this as we speak. I hope Snowden likes it in Hong Kong. He might never be able to leave there again.

  30. stonetools says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    He’s certainly very brave, given our government will direct all its resources to destroying him. As always the be guy is never the wrongdoing of our public servants, but those who reveal the wrongdoing.

    He is brave. The agents and assets abroad who might be endangered by his revelations are brave too, though.

  31. Andre Kenji says:

    @stonetools:

    I hope Snowden likes it in Hong Kong. He might never be able to leave there again.

    He probably will. Julian Assange made of the error of staying in the United Kingdom(A country that has a pretty generous treaty with the United States) and that is part of the European Union. He would probably be free and safe as a bird if he had stayed in a country outside of the EU during the release of these cables.

  32. Andre Kenji says:

    Most countries have a limited number of crimes that are considered extraditable offenses. Snowden would be pretty safe living in Rio Janeiro with Greenwald.

  33. rudderpedals says:

    Add the contract intelligence industry to his list of people to be afraid of, starting with the ex-employer. Maybe he decamps to the mainland.

  34. stonetools says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    He would probably be free and safe as a bird if he had stayed in a country outside of the EU during the release of these cables.

    I think the USA has ways of intercepting folks who are on their way to other countries, if they really want to. They’ve got these things called F-16s that can “escort” passenger jets to US airbases and fleet destroyers that can divert passenger ships. And of course, there’s Seal Team 6.

    My guess, though, is that the USA will stick to legal means, unless say, someone dies as a result of Snowden’s revelations.

  35. michael reynolds says:

    Wow. The guy gives up highly-classified data then runs off to a country that may not be an enemy but is certainly a likely opponent. There’s no good spin on that. The guy is screwed. And far from being happy about this, I suspect the Chinese are embarrassed. He might just find himself on a plane to some country with an extradition treaty.

    I have to feel sorry for him. He’s just a kid, and now he faces a life branded as a traitor with life in prison hanging over his head. What a mess he’s made.

  36. superdestroyer says:
  37. Davebo says:

    @superdestroyer:

    No part of the government has in-house IT. The civil service rules just do not lend themselves to the IT world.

    Tens of thousands of IT professionals in civil service would like to inform you that you’re so full of it your eyes are brown.

  38. Andre Kenji says:

    @stonetools:

    I think the USA has ways of intercepting folks who are on their way to other countries, if they really want to.

    The United States, fortunately, is not Israel. And most countries are not Pakistan.

  39. superdestroyer says:

    @Davebo:

    The in-house people are contract specialist and managers. The idea that there are civil servants mannng help desk and configuring servers is laughable. How do you think all of the beltway bandits make money? IT is one of the easiest things to outsource (along with building operations). If you are at the Pentago and you call for computer help, the guy who shows up has a pink badge.

  40. Ben Wolf says:

    @stonetools: What evidence do you have that anyone is endangered by Snowden’s disclosures? Unfounded accusations are easy to make. And no, I dn’t find IT specialists at NSA to be necessarily brave.

  41. Davebo says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Again, as usual, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

    It’s like you consider your ignorance a badge of honor!

    Better stick to complaining about brown people and a single party state dude.

  42. Mikey says:

    @superdestroyer:

    No part of the government has in-house IT.

    This is entirely false.

    Contractors are expensive because they allow the government to make changes faster.

    This is absolutely true.

    You’re a walking dichotomy, SD…LOL

  43. Tillman says:

    I want to be clear: I genuinely appreciate Edward Snowden leaking these classified documents. They contribute to a frank public discussion on what liberties we trade in the name of security.

    But he is not a hero, nor are his actions particularly brave. In the face of punishments far greater, there have been those willing to take a stand for human rights. This dude is a postmodern hero: he appeals to the ideal without having to live up to it because we no longer expect real heroes anymore, finding them contrivances of an age when everyone assumed the best of others. Take Cornel West and Tavis Smiley: those dudes are arrested for agitating against goddamn legislation. This dude clicks his mouse some tens of times, flees the country, and is treated (and defended) as a hero for what he reveals instead of what he does.

    Maybe I’m just blowing this out of proportion, or maybe I just have too many social network friends lionizing Julian Assange and Bradley Manning.

  44. Tillman says:

    @Ben Wolf: You are deluded if you think the government will direct “all of its resources to destroy him.” The government is not a monolithic entity, but a disparate, discrete conglomeration of bureaucracies and agencies. To say all of its resources would be devoted to “destroying” a whistleblower would be to allege that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can somehow, like Aquaman of the Justice League, summon the creatures of the depths to do their bidding. And while I’m paranoid enough to entertain the possibility that the government’s using HAARP to control marine animals to assassinate Persons of Interest abroad, I doubt Snowden ranks high on the list of targets.

  45. Mikey says:

    One wonders if all the changes the Washington Post had to make to their story on PRISM were due to them figuring out this guy was full of bullshit. Some of what he said made me outright guffaw. “I have the authority to wiretap the President…” Oh, please. What utter hogwash.

    So basically he worked at BAH for a couple months, got hold of a TS slide deck, but probably isn’t read on to the actual program so he doesn’t know the details. But he infers what he doesn’t know, then gets a wild hair up his ass to be some kind of hero, pulls the slide deck and who-knows-what-else and goes to fvcking CHINA, which in case anyone missed it, finds IT espionage highly important.

  46. Mikey says:

    @Timothy Watson:

    Yep, I wouldn’t be surprised if every computer issued to someone with TS/SCI certification doesn’t come with a government keylocker on it.

    Not all of them. Some require use of a hardware authentication token, but many don’t. Depends on what they’re used for and who issued them.

  47. Andy says:

    Seems to me he’s a modern Christopher Boyce, if a bit more delusional. A lot of the stuff in that interview is just factually wrong.

  48. He is a hero, even though he himself doesn’t think so. It’s pretty pathetic if not surprising how many people who hold forth about the Constitution and liberty on a daily basis are condemning or smearing or sneering at someone who is actually fighting for it at considerable cost to himself.

  49. Kari Q says:

    @superdestroyer:

    When I worked for the federal government, we had in house IT, and the information we dealt with was no where close to as sensitive as the CIA has.

  50. michael reynolds says:

    @kathy kattenburg:

    No doubt he’s a hero in his own mind. But that won’t last. This isn’t the Pentagon Papers, it’s a story that seems important to a small segment of the population, but is really just a government responding to changing technology. A few months from now it will be largely forgotten.

    And then this poor, dumb bast@rd will still have the rest of his life to live out. He’s got, what, 60 years of life left?

    He’ll end up like Kim Philby, a martyr to a silly cause, despised not only by his own people, but by whoever ends up granting him asylum. Or he ends up in prison. Or drinking himself to death. He has destroyed his life to indulge his own hero fantasies. Ten years from now, twenty years from now, none of the details of this supposedly earth-shattering revelation (the NSA knows I called my wife!) will seem remotely worth the price he’s paid. No one will care or call him a hero.

    The thing to know about fighting “the law” is that it’s not a game of Fox and hounds. It’s a game of tightrope walker and floor. Sooner or later, floor wins.

  51. Wow, Michael. We usually agree on most stuff, but you’re way off base here. Jesus, Michael. Did you even read the interview? He clearly does not see himself as a hero. He’s given up his career, will probably never see his family or his home again, all because for some reason he doesn”t think our govt. should have the power to see us and monitor us literally everywhere, 24/7. He doesn’t think the govt. should get away with lying about the nature and extent of a vast surveillance prigram with no MEANINGFUL oversight whatsoever. Maybe it doesn’t bother you that the govt. has every email and phone call you’ve ever sent or made, and quite literally has access to all your internet chats, all your photos and videos and notes and comments on the Internet, but it bother me because it’s unconstitutional and an egregious abuse of power. This is exactly like the Pentagon Papers, Michael, and the idea that this is just about changes in technology is ludicrous.

  52. “No one will care or call him a hero.”

    Michael, of course they will call him a hero, just as you and most other people call Daniel Ellsberg a hero now, even though in 1971 he was a dusgruntled employee willing to give away his country’s secrets for self-aggradizement.

  53. Todd says:

    A hero? Are you serious? I have a TS clearance, and I can tell you I don’t recall anybody ever telling me anything even remotely like: “don’t reveal classified information to spies, but it’s ok to give it to reporters .. especially if you really think it needs to be public”.

    This guy is a criminal, and as such should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

  54. Todd, that’s kind of the point. Of course no one told you you could do what Snowden did. Governments generally do not want employees or anyone to embarrass them by revealing their abuses of power. That’s why we have the word “whistleblower,” todd.

  55. Todd says:

    I’m sorry Kathy, but I can’t help feeling that to some people the only differentiation between a “whistleblower” and a “criminal” in a case like this is their political/ideological views about the information that (they think) was revealed.

    To me, someone who downloads disks full of top secret information then gets on a plane to China is a criminal. Doesn’t matter one iota what my own personal opinion may be about the information he shared with a reporter. (Also … as other commenters have noted, how do we know that what he revealed is all the information he stole? If the Chinese arrest him and seize the disks isn’t there at least a chance it could be genuinely damaging to national security?)

  56. Crusty Dem says:

    @kathy kattenburg:

    I’m sorry. No. I’m not a fan of what the NSA was doing, but a whistleblower is someone who brings forth evidence of criminal wrongdoing, not questionable behavior directed by congress and supervised by US courts. Additionally, a whistleblower doesn’t copy top secret files and escape to an extradition-free island run by America’s #1 frenemy. Those are the actions of either a spy or a coward. While I’m not a fan, I can’t believe Greenwald would be so obtuse as to be involved with someone with such poor judgement.

  57. michael reynolds says:

    @kathy kattenburg:

    Of course he sees himself as a hero. Your better-written heroes always deny that they see themselves in that light. It’s part of the whole hero complex.

    He’s a spy and a traitor. That’s the inescapable legal reality of this. He stole secrets, published them, and then in the name of “freedom” ran to one of the most repressive governments on earth, a government that censors all its internet connections and regularly arrests and imprisons dissidents. Whatever shot he had at playing Daniel Ellsberg died when he ran to the Chinese.

    Talk to me about it a year from now. No one will give a damn about this story because what’s happening here is just the future, and while it seems surprising today, it will cease to seem at all surprising very quickly. And this poor, deluded soul will still be in exile or in prison. The story will fade very quickly and this man’s ruined life will go on.

  58. “I can’t help feeling that to some people…”

    Well, Todd, you could also look at it from the opposite standpoint — that to some people the only difference between authorized leaks of classified information (the govt. itself leaks the info to reporters) and unauthorized leaks of classified information (whistleblowers leak the info to reporters) is whether the classified info makes the govt. look good, or makes it look bad, or foolish.

    “… isn’t there at least a chance…”

    If there is, I am not willing to let the govt. decide that on its own, unilaterally, with no real oversight. Too much room for abuse of power. NO govt. should be allowed that much unchecked power, esp. in a democracy.

  59. CrustyDem,

    And violating the Constitution is not criminal wrongdoing enough for you?

  60. Gustopher says:

    @Jeremy R:

    Earlier he claims: “Any analyst at any time can target anyone … I, sitting at my desk, certainly have the authorities to wiretap anyone — from you or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the President.”

    And around the 10:30 mark, he makes the shocking claim: ‘If I had just wanted to harm the U.S., you could shut down the surveillance system in an afternoon, but that’s not my intention.”

    Apparently he’s Jason Bourne.

    I’ve worked for several large corporations where sensitive customer data was being handled on a regular basis, and there are two things that leap to mind:

    First, once you have the data in-house, controlling access to that data is damned hard and the people who have to fix those systems often need the permissions to the data that the system is working with — at least for limited times, usually granted automatically and tracked. His claim that he could wiretap the President seems like a possible exaggeration since the systems he had access to were not wiretapping anyone (no records of phone conversation contents, just the metadata, but he might have been referring to emails, IMs, etc), but hemay well have had access (or access to access) to the data that was collected on anyone.

    In this first claim, he seems to be suggesting that the NSA does not have tight enough controls around the data access. That sounds entirely plausible.

    Second, it’s often difficult to keep these systems running, so disabling it for a short time seems entirely plausible as well. I doubt he could destroy the system, merely disrupt it.

  61. Crusty Dem says:

    @kathy kattenburg:

    Which part of this court-approved program, set up by congress and signed by our last president are you referring to as “violating the Constitution”?

    As I’ve said, I’m not a fan, but throwing around blanket condemnations doesn’t clarify anything.

  62. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @kathy kattenburg:

    You are rationalizing here because you agree with what he did.

    The bottom line is that this guy broke the law, grievously, in ways that we’ll probably still be picking up the pieces from years from now.

  63. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @kathy kattenburg:

    How, specifically, was the Constitution violated?

    When the DOJ went before a court and obtained a warrant permitting these activities? Like it or not, no right is unequivocal, including the 4th Amendment.

    The noise erupting from this revelation boils down, IMO, to a bunch of hysterics who probably actually believe that the NSA cares enough about their BoringAverageCitizen phone calls to listen in. It’s the epitome of paranoia and, frankly, megalomania.

  64. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    He’s a spy and a traitor. That’s the inescapable legal reality of this. He stole secrets, published them, and then in the name of “freedom” ran to one of the most repressive governments on earth, a government that censors all its internet connections and regularly arrests and imprisons dissidents. Whatever shot he had at playing Daniel Ellsberg died when he ran to the Chinese.

    Exactly. Thank you …

  65. Spartacus says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    The bottom line is that this guy broke the law, grievously, in ways that we’ll probably still be picking up the pieces from years from now.

    That doesn’t seem likely based on the info he has disclosed. All he’s done is informed people who had no reason to suspect the govt was collecting data on them that this was happening. Anyone engaged in any kind of terrorist activity already believed the govt was gathering data or trying to gather data on them, which is why they take steps to hide their activities.

  66. The problem with that reasoning is that the U.S. govt. itself spies on the behavior of every American who’s ever used the Internet, and regularly arrests and imprisons dissidents. Bradley Manning, hello? He’s been imprisoned for three years w/o trial, and subjected to both physixal and psychological abuse, as certified by those human rights advocates you’re so fond of. The U.S. hounds to the ends of the earth anyone who dares expose govt. malfeasance.

    I think your problem is that you’re upset that Hong Kong offers political dissidents more protection and respect than Snowdon’s own country does.

    This actually is one of the worst consequences of the Obama admin’s codification of the limitless national security state: we’ve lost all moral authority to criticize other countries because we’re doing all the same stuff ourselves.

  67. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Spartacus:

    That doesn’t seem likely based on the info he has disclosed

    Exactly my point. We don’t know what else this little caped crusader wannabe with a TS/SCI clearance took to China, fricking CHINA, with him. You think they haven’t had a sit-down and read at their leisure whatever they liked, whether he approved or not?

    The problem with people who see themselves as being above the law is that there are effectively no limits to the damage they are willing to wreak in the name of their imagined higher purpose. No. This toolbag belongs in prison, and the sooner the better.

  68. HarvardLaw, that court is secret, and thete’s no way for anyone outside the govt. to know whether it’s doing its job according to the law or just rubberstamping everything the govt. asks them for. That’s not what the Fourth Amendment requires.

  69. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @kathy kattenburg:

    Oh spare me, Kathy. Name some of these “dissidents” that have been arrested.

    Bradley Manning committed multiple violations of the Espionage Act, among many others. He has already pled guilty to 10 counts of mishandling classified documents, and the bulk of his time in prison has been the consequence of endless legal maneuvering on the part of his apparently exceedingly imaginative attorneys. He didn’t even bother to vet the documents that he dumped; he just dumped them en masse. Zero concern for impact. Zero concern for damage. All he cared about was notoriety and doing as much damage as possible.

    He’s not a dissident. He’s not a hero. He’s a traitor, plain and simple, and he’s going to be spending 20 years or so, at a minimum, in prison as a result of his actions.

    Despite being a dyed in the wool liberal, this is one of those times that the extremes of my own political constituency just outrages me. When you are prepared to rationalize anything as being OK and prepared to set yourselves up as being above the law in order to get what you want, then you aren’t part of the solution. You’re part of the problem.

  70. Todd says:

    @Spartacus:

    Anybody who had “no reason to believe” that data was being collected on them is naive. Whether it’s private companies, or the government, somebody, somewhere knows (or more accurately, has the capability to know) virtually everything we’ve ever done online.

    Unless you’re using some sort of (at least a little beyond just basic) encncryption (and why would most people?), there is literally no such thing as “private” communication on the Internet, or even a cell phone network.

    If someone has the need to record thoughts or ideas that they don’t want anybody else to know about, I’d suggest a diary .. maybe locked in a safe.

  71. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @kathy kattenburg:

    Really? Let me know where the 4th Amendment says that you have a right to know that you are being subjected to surveillance.

    For that matter, let me know where it says that courts have to meet publicly and allow you to attend.

    The bottom line is that, while disagreeable to many, programs like this are necessary. They aren’t listening to your phone calls. They aren’t reading your emails. They certainly aren’t doing those specific activities without a warrant, and warrants for those activities DO require probable cause.

    You could, you know, just read 50 USC ch. 36. But for god’s sake spare me the paranoia. It insults your intelligence and it’s just plain nutty – you know that they aren’t listening to your phone calls. Deep down you know that.

  72. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @kathy kattenburg:

    I think your problem is that you’re upset that Hong Kong offers political dissidents more protection and respect than Snowdon’s own country does.

    LOL, Hong Kong is China, babes. If you honestly believe that Hong Kong can, or will, protect anybody that Beijing wants, then you are deluding yourself.

  73. Spartacus says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    He’s a traitor, plain and simple, and he’s going to be spending 20 years or so, at a minimum, in prison as a result of his actions.

    No one is questioning whether he broke the law. That is not in doubt. However, let’s not pretend, that in many circumstances, there’s a way a government employee can disclose govt wrongdoing without breaking the law. So, while he’s required to face justice for this, I have a hard time judging the morality of what he’s done, much less the harm he’s actually done to the country, based solely on whether he’s violated the law. After all, anyone who would have disclosed the govt’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” most likely violated the law even though the govt was committing torture.

  74. Scott F. says:

    @kathy kattenburg:

    Maybe it doesn’t bother you that the govt. has every email and phone call you’ve ever sent or made, and quite literally has access to all your internet chats, all your photos and videos and notes and comments on the Internet, but it bother me because it’s unconstitutional and an egregious abuse of power.

    I’m sorry if you don’t see it, but meta-data about the emails or phone calls you’ve made are not private. Some company (Verizon, AT&T) already collects and stores this information about you and they’ve told you they’re doing it when they send you your bill. And you surely don’t think posting photos and videos on the Internet is a private act, do you?

    I’m with Michael, technology has rendered many of our notions of privacy quaint. If you’ve chosen to participate in the public square that is the Internet and telecommunications, then you’ve elected to share certain information about yourself willingly.

  75. Gustopher says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    How, specifically, was the Constitution violated?

    When the DOJ went before a court and obtained a warrant permitting these activities? Like it or not, no right is unequivocal, including the 4th Amendment.

    The noise erupting from this revelation boils down, IMO, to a bunch of hysterics who probably actually believe that the NSA cares enough about their BoringAverageCitizen phone calls to listen in. It’s the epitome of paranoia and, frankly, megalomania.

    I think reasonable people are going to disagree on whether the FISA rubber stamp on requests for information on all Americans is constitutional muster. If it went to the Supreme Court, I doubt we would have a unanimous decision, for instance.

    I think Snowden has just sacrificed his normal life to tell us all what we already expected, and that might not have been the brightest decision he has made. He has violated laws — and then run off to Hong Kong, which also might have been ill-advised. He is going to be facing a whole lot of thoroughly unpleasant consequences for his actions.

    As far as heading off to Hong Kong rather than sticking around the US to be arrested — well, the administrations treatment of Bradley Manning has been deplorable, and that might have had something to do with it. Also, by remaining out of custody, he has more of a chance to speak further than he would squirrelled away in a cell.

    And Bravo to him for standing up for his principles. It’s just a little sad that he’s chosen this to make his stand for, since we all assumed it already. But, bravo, young master Snowden, you sure showed them!

  76. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Todd:

    The thing that gets me is that people seem to think they have a right to the privacy of records which they don’t even own. Even that is the relatively sane part of the madding crowd who actually gets that nothing more than their metadata was analyzed. The bulk of them seem convinced that somebody in a little room at Fort Meade is listening to their phone calls. It takes some special sort of self-absorption to believe something that ludicrous.

    You don’t own your phone records. Verizon does. AT&T does,. Sprint does, et al, ad infinitum. If anybody has a gripe here, it’s Verizon, and it seems to have been happy to have complied with a legitimate order from a legitimate court.

    Short version: if you don’t want your call records sifted, then just don’t use the phone.

  77. Spartacus says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    They certainly aren’t doing those specific activities without a warrant, and warrants for those activities DO require probable cause.

    Is this always the case? Clearly, the FISA warrant that was issued to Verizon was not based on probable cause. If the data collected from Verizon contains evidence of a crime, do you believe that evidence can be suppressed since there was no probable cause for the warrant?

    I’m not being sarcastic or rhetorical here. I really don’t know the answers to these questions.

  78. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Gustopher:

    LOL, you know that he picked Hong Kong because China doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the US and he thought his behind would be safe there.

    I’m honestly though with entertaining any sort of concept that Manning has any sort of honor, deserves any sort of celebration or deserves anything less than what he’s going to get.

  79. Alex says:

    I think this whole thing is an elaborate CIA and/or NSA ruse, designed to feed false intelligence to the Chinese. Here’s an article:

    http://www.scmp.com/news/world/article/1257570/nsa-contract-worker-edward-snowden-surveillance-whistleblower

    From the article:

    “Officials said the revelations were dangerous and irresponsible. US Republican Peter King, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, called for Snowden to be “extradited from Hong Kong immediately … and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” in an interview with the Associated Press on Sunday.

    “I believe the leaker has done extreme damage to the US and to our intelligence operations,” King said, by alerting al-Qaeda to US surveillance, and by spooking US service providers who now might fight sharing data in future with the US government, now that the system has been made public.

    King added that intelligence and law enforcement professionals he’d spoken to since the news broke were also concerned that Snowden might be taken into custody by Chinese intelligence agents and questioned about CIA and NSA spies and policies.”

    The last paragraph is the kicker. I’m willing to bet that Snowden is still working for the CIA / NSA, and they are hoping he will be able to feed false intel to the Chinese. Intelligence agencies play these types of spy games with each other all the time. Snowden’s laptop was probably carefully prepared with false intel before he departed for Hong Kong. What that false intel could be is anyone’s guess – hopefully it’s nothing that will start WWIII.

  80. Gustopher says:

    @HarvardLaw92: manning deserves to be treated like a common criminal, not stripped of all clothing, kept in isolation with the lights in 24/7 and watched at all times.

  81. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Spartacus:

    Business records do not require probable cause. Beyond that, I’m not sure what sort of evidence of a crime it could possibly substantiate. We’re talking about a huge list of what numbers called or were called by other numbers, when, and how long the call lasted. That’s it. No conversational content. Nothing of import at all beyond allowing for the formation of interpersonal patterns. In other words, it’s useful to know who Omar Terrorist in Yemen is calling in the US, and it’s useful to know who those people are calling, but call records alone aren’t going to convict anybody of anything. They serve as a starting point to help you focus limited resources on the targets that are most likely to be worth the effort, nothing more.

    Wiretapping does require a warrant predicated on probable cause, and it has to be specific about what actual communications will be intercepted, when, and for how long. Interception of emails in transit or those residing on a server less than 180 days in age or those residing on your personal equipment DO require warrants, and interestingly, warrants for actual wiretapping conducted under FISA requires that the AG substantiates probable cause, AND goes further to mandate that the AG can only seek such warrants on direct, written orders from the president ordering him to do so.

    You can read about it here

    Wiretapping can not be blanket under FISA. It’s little different than wiretapping conducted under a warrant from any other court beyond the fact that it is approved and conducted in secret. That concept needs to be repeated under people grasp it.

  82. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Gustopher:

    The guy was on suicide watch. What was done is normal procedure in that context. I’m sorry. Maybe it makes me a Neanderthal, but I just feel no sympathy for the little twig. He made his own bed.

  83. michael reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:

    Unfortunately “common criminals” in this country are turned over to the custody of criminal gangs operating in jails and prisons to do with as they like. Unless of course they have money, in which case they aren’t “common” criminals.

    I’m not happy with the way Bradley Manning has been treated. But I’m not happy with the way we treat suspects who’ve been busted for weed or prostitution or simple theft, either. In fact, I’m a lot less happy about their treatment because unlike Mr. Manning they haven’t generally confessed to multiple felonies. Some of them are actually innocent when they are extorted, beaten, raped or forced to function as drug mules.

    If we ever took seriously our notion of innocent until proven guilty jails would be very different places. More like Hiltons. Less like hell.

  84. HarvardLaw,

    If Manning had wanted to betray his counyru he could have sold ot given thosr documents to Al Qaeda or the Taliban. Instead, he gave them to Wikileaks, which is no different than any source who gives classified or unauthorized info to the WaPo or the New York Times. To call him a traitor is to twist the meaning of that word beyond all recognition. And of course every govt. says its own dissidents are traitors. What you’re accusing Snowdon and Manning of — acting as though above the law, rationalizing anything as being okay — is exactly what the Obama admin is doing.

    “… programs like this are necessary.”

    A program that vacuums up every single email, phone call, everything everything everyone does and everywhere everyone goes and everything everyone sees or says or does on the Internet and in everyday life is necessary? Why does the govt need to know and track and monitor every moment of the lives of 350 million Americans, or whatever the U.S. pop. is now?

    I’m well aware that Obama and the DNI have said no one is reading anyone’s emails, but the point is I cannot and do not take that on faith just because the govt says so when there is absolutely no way for Congress or the public to verify that. I am not reassured that my constitutional rights are being protected or respected because the govt says a secret FISA court that is accountable to no one is making sure thosr rights are being protected. Secret courts, HarvardLaw? That’s what totalitarian police states due. It doesn’t matter what 50 U.S.C. 36 says if there is no one to whom the govt has to account to demonstrate whether that statute or any.other is observed.

    You believe a court whose proceedings are secret is making sure the govt has probable cause before it grants the warrant? WHY? You haven’t answeredthat question. Because you can’t.

  85. “He made his own bed.”

    They all do, don’t they?

  86. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @kathy kattenburg:

    If Manning had wanted to betray his counyru he could have sold ot given thosr documents to Al Qaeda or the Taliban

    No, instead he just posted them on the internet, via Wikileaks, so that ANYbody with an interest, including Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, could read them. Doing so was illegal. HIGHLY illegal. The Espionage Act does NOT make exceptions for leaks made to the press.

    which is no different than any source who gives classified or unauthorized info to the WaPo or the New York Times.

    Absolutely correct. It’s illegal to leak classified information to them as well, regardless of motivation, AND it’s illegal for them to publish it. Don’t even get started on New York Times v. United States. It doesn’t mean what you think that it means.

    To call him a traitor is to twist the meaning of that word beyond all recognition. And of course every govt. says its own dissidents are traitors. What you’re accusing Snowdon and Manning of — acting as though above the law, rationalizing anything as being okay — is exactly what the Obama admin is doing.

    No. The Obama admin, despite historical precedent that it didn’t necessarily HAVE to seek permission from a court to do what it did, sought that permission anyway. It went to court and properly obtained a warrant. It properly informed Congress about what it was going.

    In other words, it went out of its way to follow the law. Manning and Snowden, on the other hand, violated the law. In their opinion (and apparently yours) some higher purpose justifies breaking the law. It’s apparently an inconvenient impediment for you. Your problem is that you dislike the law. Tough noogies. You aren’t entitled to know everything that you want to know just because you want to know it.

    A program that vacuums up every single email, phone call, everything everything everyone does and everywhere everyone goes and everything everyone sees or says or does on the Internet and in everyday life is necessary? Why does the govt need to know and track and monitor every moment of the lives of 350 million Americans, or whatever the U.S. pop. is now?

    Except that it doesn’t do that. This program collects metadata. Equivalent to the calls section of your phone bill. It doesn’t listen to your calls. It doesn’t read your emails. It doesn’t give NSA backdoor access to sift through servers at Google and Apple and Microsoft, et al, whenever it feels like it.

    As i said above, the sad part of all of this is that there actually are people out there (apparently including you) who are whack enough to believe that the government actually has an interest (or even the resources to pursue an interest) in listening to their phone calls. Not to burst your bubble, but you don’t merit the attention.

    I’m well aware that Obama and the DNI have said no one is reading anyone’s emails, but the point is I cannot and do not take that on faith just because the govt says so when there is absolutely no way for Congress or the public to verify that.

    Well, then that is your paranoia and your issue. I can’t help you with that one.

  87. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @kathy kattenburg:

    You believe a court whose proceedings are secret is making sure the govt has probable cause before it grants the warrant? WHY? You haven’t answeredthat question. Because you can’t.

    Basic, bottom line answer? Because I know several of these judges, as jurists and as friends, including the one that signed off on this particular order. They are not busybodies, and they are not ideologues ready to shred the constitution just because somebody wants some information.

    The names of the judges who serve on this court are public record, just in case you were interested in looking them up.

    Again, I can’t help other people with their paranoia.

  88. “If you’ve chosen to participate in the public square that is the Internet….”

    Your Facebook privacy settings are off, right? You’ve set them so that anyone can see everything and it comes up in a Google search, right? No caller ID or Call Block on your phone either, correct? And your home phone and address are listed in the phone book I’m sure.

  89. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @kathy kattenburg:

    You do realize that, while you “own” your content on Facebook, your use of the service grants them a right to utilize the material pretty much as they like. They can datamine it. They can sell the results of that datamining to third parties and they can use it to market to you, among other purposes.

    Caller ID doesn’t prevent the phone company from knowing, or from keeping records of, who calls who. Likewise with call blocking. Those are conveniences, not privacy tools.

    The underlying theme here is the myth of privacy. That died a long time ago, and your daily activities pretty much killed it. You can’t maintain any reasonable expectation of privacy with regard to information that you choose to reveal, regardless of where you choose to reveal it.

    Short version: if it’s online and it’s free (and even sometimes when it isn’t free), you aren’t the customer. You are the product.

    And you accept being the product every time that you log on.

  90. “Because I know several of these judges, as jurists and as friends… They are not busybodies, and they are not ideologues ready to shred the Constitution….”

    Wow. I didn’t realize you knew these judges personally. If you know they are not ideologues and won’t rubberstamp any govt requests, man, that’s good enough for me.

    “The names of the judges who serve on this court are public record.”

    Really? That’s great! I’ll go to the court website tomorrow and download all of the government’s warrant requests so I can see exactly what they said. Now that I know the names of the judges are public record, getting access to the specific proceedings should be a piece of cake.

    Thanks!

  91. HarvardLaw,

    What about information you don’t choose to reveal?

    By the way, I’m pretty sure people have Caller ID et al. as a privacy measure. On the other hand, it IS pretty convenient to have privacy!

  92. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @kathy kattenburg:

    Wow. I didn’t realize you knew these judges personally. If you know they are not ideologues and won’t rubberstamp any govt requests, man, that’s good enough for me.

    It’s all that I have to work with, Kathy. Tenuous as it may be, it’s certainly a great deal more rational than “They are reading my emails and listening to my phone calls! I just know that they are!!”

    Really? That’s great! I’ll go to the court website tomorrow and download all of the government’s warrant requests so I can see exactly what they said. Now that I know the names of the judges are public record, getting access to the specific proceedings should be a piece of cake.

    No, but you COULD review their other, published rulings and get an idea of what sort of jurists they are. What their ideas about the law are and how they approach privacy in particular. It certainly beats the paranoia approach.

  93. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @kathy kattenburg:

    What about information you don’t choose to reveal?

    Such as?

  94. “It’s certainly a great deal more rational…”

    Actually, I don’t think it is more rational to trust my rights to a stranger who assures me he knows the judges and they would never do anything wrong, than it is for me to know that there is a functioning system of checks on government power. Whixh courts that conduct their business in secret are not.

    I know that the government has everything I ever wrote or said out loud in my entire life. I know it because a whistleblower named Snowdon, who was one of the people who collected this information, decided he could no longer in good conscience do that work, or be silent about the fact the govt was doing it and deliberately deceiving the public about it. So that’s a fact, that the govt has everything I’ve ever written or said out loud, and can use that info any way it wants. Given the fact that the govt was keeping me in the dark about this, and given the fact that the govt has refused to provide any information about the program, except that it exists (which they didn’t want me to know), I think it’s only common sense to conclude that I have no reason to trust anything the govt says on this subject. That’s not paranoia; it is, as I said, common sense.

    On the one hand, I am told it is absolutely necessary for national security that my govt. have all my emails, phone calls, and Internet interactions. On the other hand, I am told the govt. is not looking at the content of my emails and phone calls and Internet interactions that it is absolutely necessary they should have. They must have it, and they will have it, whether I want them to or not, but if I am angry that the govt might be surveilling everything I say and write and do, I am scoffingly accused of being paranoid. On the contrary, I think such a reaction to my justified concern is at best misguided or foolish, and at worst the mark of know-nothing idiots.

  95. Jeremy R says:

    Not really related, but since Rep. Sensenbrenner has been trying to tie the Guardian leak stories to the IRS controversy it’s worth mentioning. Rep. Cummings released the transcript of the House Republicans interviewing a Cincinnati IRS Manager:

    Republican IRS agent says Cincinnati began ‘Tea Party’ inquiries

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. Internal Revenue Service manager, who described himself as a conservative Republican, told congressional investigators that he and a local colleague decided to give conservative groups the extra scrutiny that has prompted weeks of political controversy.

    In an official interview transcript released on Sunday by Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings, the manager said he and an underling set aside “Tea Party” and “patriot” groups that had applied for tax-exempt status because the organizations appeared to pose a new precedent that could affect future IRS filings.

    Investigators asked Shafer if he believed the decision to centralize the screening of Tea Party applications was intended to target “the president’s political enemies.”

    “I do not believe that the screening of these cases had anything to do, other than consistency and identifying issues that needed to have further development,” the manager answered, according to a transcript released by Cummings.

    Asked if he believed the White House was involved, the manager replied: “I have no reason to believe that.”

  96. “Such as?”

    Such as, anything that has happened to me in my life, or that I’ve experienced, or that I’ve done or thought or felt if I ever at any time put it in writing to a friend or a family member. Such as details of my family history. Such as anything and everything that I have chosen to share at any point in my life, in the belief that it was my right to choose whether or when or with whom to share it. There are innumerable personal pieces of information about me and my life and the lives of important persons in my life that in actual fact I have never shared on Facebook, but that at some.point I migjt have written or spoken about with other human beings of my choice.

  97. superdestroyer says:

    @Kari Q:

    The Department of the Navy outsourced its IT over a decade ago. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navy/Marine_Corps_Intranet How many examples do you want me to provide to show that the government outsources its IT. Trying to run IT services with in=house civil servants is extremely rare.

    How do you think companies all those government contractors do. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top_100_Contractors_of_the_U.S._federal_government

  98. Ben Wolf says:

    @Tillman: Ah, the obligatory word-parsing game to defend curent policies. That’s fine, I’ll amend my statement to humor you:

    “The government will devote all necessary resources to destroying Snowden.”

    Silly person.

  99. Heard on NPR’s Morning Edition that a reporter asked the Icelandic ambassador in Hong Kong about Mr. Snowden’s hypothetical request for asylum. The ambassador told the reporter that asylum is only granted by Iceland to individuals physically in Iceland.

    Took me about 30 seconds to verify that, by the Icelandic Ministry of the Interior’s website. (third paragraph)

    Snowden may be a hero for whistle blowing, but not for using Google.

  100. Ben Wolf says:

    @kathy kattenburg: You’re arguing with people who will say anything, no matter how inconsistent. Democrats will defend any action taken by Democrats. Republicans do the same. It’s a form of narcissism: “I and my side are good, therefore anything I do or say to defend that side is also good. Those who criticize my side are bad and must be neutralized even if I must use the arguments and logic of the side I oppose.”

    They will never consider the possibility they are the bad guy.

  101. Ben Wolf says:

    @Tillman:

    finding them contrivances of an age when everyone assumed the best of others. Take Cornel West and Tavis Smiley: those dudes are arrested for agitating against goddamn legislation. This dude clicks his mouse some tens of times, flees the country, and is treated (and defended) as a hero for what he reveals instead of what he does.

    And you have the gall to call others deluded?

    What have Weat and Smiley accomplished? They have no power, no influence and are marginalized by a system of racial injustice as strong as ever. They have accomplished nothing. Snowden, by clicking a mouse has done more to advance his cause than either of your examples in their lifetimes. Cornel West is arrested, then his ultra-high powered lawyer comes and gets him out of the slammer and West goes home to his family, to sleep in his own bed from which he will rise the next morning to attend his highly-paid, comfortable job in academia without fear of being rendered to a secret prison. He isn’t brave because there are no significant negative consequences for his activism.

    Snowden may never see his family and friends again. He will never sleep in his home again and he will be hunted until he is imprisoned or dead. The only time a person can be brave is when they’re afraid, so I’m very sorry but you’ll never take that away from this man.

    Get some perspective.

  102. Barry says:

    @Tillman: “Much easier to start a protest movement if you’re imprisoned in the country you thwarted. ”

    Not really, and BTW, the guy put himself in considerable risk, no matter where he is.

  103. Barry says:

    @Jeremy R: I’ve read the Business Insider; it’s straight up garbage. Sorta like the WSJ editorial page, but for the kids who couldn’t make the cut.

  104. Tillman says:

    @Ben Wolf: Thank you. Honestly I just wanted to use the “Aquaman of the Justice League” line, I knew what you meant from the start.

    @Ben Wolf: See, that’s the thing. They have more legitimacy in my eyes because they’re willing to stand for their minor, minor crimes and at least risk jail. I am measuring them by their actions. What they’re doing has a rich history in the civil rights movement. Notice I’m not calling them heroes either.

    Snowden, on the other hand, has done next to nothing that would risk his personal safety. It is telling that most people defending his heroism say he has given up his career and his home. Because giving up your career and home is all that is required to fight for freedom, right? I’m sorry, but to be labeled a hero requires giving up more than that. The dude’s living in a hotel in Hong Kong. He’s not agitating for your liberty, he’s hoping to preserve his.

    …and he will be hunted until he is imprisoned or dead.

    If by “hunted” you mean “the country he resides in will be pressured by a bureaucracy of another country thousands of miles away to arrest him.” You’re inflating what’s going to happen to the guy, making him out to be a modern-day action movie star on the run from the Man. You’re already mythologizing him. That’s the problem.

  105. Barry says:

    @Tillman: “This dude claims he did all this because he was disturbed at how the government was treating the civil liberties of all Americans, but his personal example is to flee to another country. ”

    You do something as brave as MLK, and you’ll have the right to talk smack.

  106. Tillman says:

    @Barry: In my mind, you dilute the moral purity of your cause when you flee to another country and entangle your criminal prosecution in international red tape.

    It’s another layer of complexity on top of “the state has arrested him for doing X.” X can be whatever cause you agree with, but the more sentences that have to be appended before the description of your ultimate arrest, the less attention people are going to pay to it.

    As to the risk he’s taking, I understand that clearly. What I don’t understand is how people can equate the risks he’s taking with heroism. People every day lose their livelihoods and freedoms to circumstances beyond their control. This dude controlled his circumstances from the beginning, and made certain to minimize what he lost. That is not heroic.

  107. EddieInCA says:

    Snowden may never see his family and friends again. He will never sleep in his home again and he will be hunted until he is imprisoned or dead. The only time a person can be brave is when they’re afraid, so I’m very sorry but you’ll never take that away from this man.

    Really?

    Grow the eff up. Snowden is nothing but a little bitch. If he wanted to be a hero, he’d have released the information on the capitol steps with papers copies available to the Washington Post, NY Times, Guardian, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, etc, etc.

    True. He’d still be a criminal, but he’d be standing up for his principles. Instead, he ran off to China – freaking CHINA – to hide.

    Not too bright. There are 20 other countries that would have protected him better than the Chinese will. Don’t be surprised if Mr. Snowden suddenly dissappears, courtesy of the Chinese Government.

  108. fred says:

    How does a high school dropout get a top secret clearance and 200 grand pa working for a US defense contractor? Because most of these contractors are run by retired generals and pay for their reps thru lobbying firms on capitol hill who facilitate them getting contracts. Of course the info marketplace never ever writes about contractors and their exhorbitant contracts from the US defense dept.

  109. Tillman says:

    @Barry:

    You do something as brave as MLK, and you’ll have the right to talk smack.

    Thankfully, we all have the right of free speech.

    As long as you’re okay with anybody listening to it. Including the NSA.

  110. stonetools says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Snowden may never see his family and friends again. He will never sleep in his home again and he will be hunted until he is imprisoned or dead. The only time a person can be brave is when they’re afraid, so I’m very sorry but you’ll never take that away from this man.

    OK, so let’s stipulate he is brave. So what. There are brave people spying for us in China, North Korea, and Iran. We’ll never know their names, but they are braver than Snowden will ever be.
    Also, too, bravery still doesn’t make him right. Bobby Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia were brave, too. But their cause was evil.
    Have you listened to the video? He is saying (along with Glenn Greenwald) that the USA should not have a national surveillance system, and should get out of the business of spying altogether, because slippery slope to serfdom. Nonsense.
    Not only is this wrong, but:

    1. We still have enemies who want to come to America and blow us up.
    2. We voted on this.

    This does not mean that our current system is unicorns and rainbows. But it does mean that the US public wants such a system in place. You can talk about improvements to the system.You can talk about cutting back on some aspects of the system. But the vast majority of the US public wants that wall, and wants people manning the wall.

  111. rudderpedals says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Sequester hit my local district court like a ton of bricks. Do you know if the FISA courts are suffering?

  112. michael reynolds says:

    Is Snowden brave? Irrelevant. Bravery proves only bravery, it adds nothing to a discussion of right or wrong. As Stonetools points out, there were once a lot of brave men fighting to defend slavery.

    Is Snowden screwed? Yes. He is well and truly screwed.

    Was he right? No. He was a fool. As I have argued, and as HarvardLaw92 is arguing as well, the privacy ship has sailed. Wake up, check the calendar. It’s 2013. You may have told yourself you still had 20th century levels of privacy, but you didn’t. Long gone. Not coming back. Get used to it.

    Those of you who appear to actually be arguing that we should not have government secrets and not even have a clandestine service, frankly you’re talking nonsense. You’re so invested in a 1940’s version of dystopia (Orwell) that you blind yourself to the much more realistic version you would bring on.

    There are people right now, right this minute, trying to figure out how to kill lots of Americans. If they succeed civil liberties in this country will be very seriously damaged. To begin with, Muslim-Americans will suffer, but our society as a whole would change and not in ways you like. So rather than just dragging poor Mr. Orwell’s fictional warnings about a completely different system, why don’t you invest some imagination in picturing how this country would react to mall bombings and school bombings and more airplane bombings?

    It is really time now for you to live in the real world. The world where 1984 never happened but Facebook did.

  113. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @rudderpedals:

    There is no “FISA court” per se, in the context of a special building staffed with people whose primary purpose is to constitute the court.

    The judges that constitute the FISA panel are serving US District court judges and the same who have assumed senior status who continue to serve in that role while serving in the FISA role as well. FISA judge is like an additional hat that an already serving federal judge wears in addition to his/her primary one. So the question of whether or not the FISA court is suffering as the result of sequesters would devolve to one of how the courts as a whole are suffering as a result of them.

    The answer to that one is: quite a bit. They have historically always had budget problems, since Congress ostensibly doesn’t like them and underappropriates. The sequesters removed about $350 million from an already tight budget. They’re seeing probation officers and public defenders furloughed, among others. The US Attorney’s offices took a $100 million hit as well.

    When you couple that with courts that were already understaffed due to the Senate confirmation (obstruction) follies, it’s becoming a body blow to the efficient functioning of the courts.

  114. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Those of you who appear to actually be arguing that we should not have government secrets and not even have a clandestine service, frankly you’re talking nonsense. You’re so invested in a 1940′s version of dystopia (Orwell) that you blind yourself to the much more realistic version you would bring on.

    This is the part that honestly infuriates me more than the rest of it. The same people going Busby Berkeley production number hysterical over the imagined belief that some kid at NSA is listening to his or her phone calls would, I have no doubt, be the first one to similarly go hysterical about government’s failure to prevent another terror attack.

    They want security, and they want absolute privacy as well. Sorry, you can’t have both any longer. You honestly never could. They are mutually exclusive.

    The system in place serves well, IMO, to balance the informational needs of the government with the privacy rights of citizens. We’re in an asymmetrical war with a fanatical enemy, and while the tactics necessary to successfully prosecute that war might be distasteful to some, including me, they are without a doubt necessary.

    So these people need to be asking themselves: “is a government computer sifting through my (and everybody elses) phone records too high a price to pay for preventing another 9/11?”

    My response is:No. I was in New York on 9/11. I don’t need to see it happen twice to convince me.

  115. JohnMcC says:

    In 1929 Secretary of State Stimson disbanded the U.S. Cryptographic Office. He said ‘Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail.’ Not very many people who’ve looked into that action think it was a smart move. I suppose Mr Rand Paul and his dad would agree with Mr Stimson.

    This is an interesting segment of the story to me. Seems that Mr Snowden donated to the Ron Paul presidential campaign. And I note that the Heritage Foundation has declared that Hong Kong is the most free ‘nation’ on the planet. Coincidence?

    I wonder if Mr Snowden will agree with the Heritage folks a year from now? And how will we know? Perhaps ask Mr Greenwald?

  116. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jeremy R:

    LOL, Issa is going to whore that one out for every ounce of political mileage that he can get out of it. Nobody in the Republican leadership, and I say that as a Republican, remotely gives a damn about who ordered what or why it was done. They care about generating and nurturing the appearance of impropriety in order to win political points and elections. This is why Issa is selectively conducting interviews behind closed doors and not releasing transcripts. He wants to control the narrative, and not for an oversight purpose. For a political one.

    Contrast that with the Senate Watergate Committee, in which both sides actually gave a crap about wrongdoing and cooperated to get to the bottom of it (and, just incidentally, only after the FBI had produced evidence which established a clear need for them to do so). They conducted their business honorably, and in the open. We can only wish for that sort of statesmanship today.

    It’s a cynical example of what has become a very cynical (and dysfunctional) game. They are no longer interested in governing. They are interested in perpetual election campaigns, winning reelection and gaining power.

  117. rudderpedals says:

    @HarvardLaw92: That’s what I feared. We started with an extremely miserly budget and this IMO broke the camel’s back, at least it did in my division as far as the clerk’s office and for civil stuff 🙁

  118. Ben says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    This is the part that honestly infuriates me more than the rest of it. The same people going Busby Berkeley production number hysterical over the imagined belief that some kid at NSA is listening to his or her phone calls would, I have no doubt, be the first one to similarly go hysterical about government’s failure to prevent another terror attack.

    Not me. All of the terror attack attempts that we actually know about were thwarted by the attacker’s incompetence, not by the NSA processing billions of phone records and trillions of Internet transactions. I know that they keep claiming that this program has thwarted attacks, without giving any specifics whatsoever. Great.

    They want security, and they want absolute privacy as well. Sorry, you can’t have both any longer. You honestly never could. They are mutually exclusive.

    The system in place serves well, IMO, to balance the informational needs of the government with the privacy rights of citizens. We’re in an asymmetrical war with a fanatical enemy, and while the tactics necessary to successfully prosecute that war might be distasteful to some, including me, they are without a doubt necessary.

    Well IMO, you’re wrong. I don’t think it’s well-balanced. When are we going to have an actual, open public debate about where that balance point is? Oh wait, we can’t. Because the government has classified the program’s methods, it’s justification, hell it’s actual existence. Pretty hard to have a debate in that case. So we’ll just let them decide where their own power should end, and trust them to stay on the right side of the line. Yeah. That’s never turned out bad before.

    So these people need to be asking themselves: “is a government computer sifting through my (and everybody elses) phone records too high a price to pay for preventing another 9/11?”

    My response is:No. I was in New York on 9/11. I don’t need to see it happen twice to convince me.

    My response is Yes. And I knew a couple people that died in 9/11 too. “Being in NY” on 9/11 doesn’t give you any special authority here.

  119. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Ben:

    Not me. All of the terror attack attempts that we actually know about were thwarted by the attacker’s incompetence, not by the NSA processing billions of phone records and trillions of Internet transactions. I know that they keep claiming that this program has thwarted attacks, without giving any specifics whatsoever. Great.

    Exactly. The ones that you know about. Their successes are private and their failures are quite public. The need to preserve the integrity and efficacy of these tactics, so they remain effective, trumps your need/want to know everything that the government does. if that causes you discomfort, well, honestly, I really don’t give a damn. We’re at war here, and if the tactics utilized to prosecute that war make you uncomfortable, you’ll just have to be uncomfortable.

    Well IMO, you’re wrong. I don’t think it’s well-balanced. When are we going to have an actual, open public debate about where that balance point is? Oh wait, we can’t. Because the government has classified the program’s methods, it’s justification, hell it’s actual existence. Pretty hard to have a debate in that case. So we’ll just let them decide where their own power should end, and trust them to stay on the right side of the line. Yeah. That’s never turned out bad before.

    Well, IMO, tough caca. We do not live in a democracy. We live in a representative republic. You do not get line item input into every little decision that the government makes. I get that you don’t like secrecy. I don’t like terror attacks, and if your discomfort with secrecy is the price that I have to be willing to pay in order to ensure that there aren’t more of them, well, I’ll gladly pay it. You do not need to know every little thing that is done to protect you.

    My response is Yes. And I knew a couple people that died in 9/11 too. “Being in NY” on 9/11 doesn’t give you any special authority here.

    Again, tough caca. You’re going to pay it anyway. This is a war, not some smoke-filled coffeehouse debating society for the paranoid and angst ridden. if that makes you uncomfortable, see previous response.

    Does it give me special authority? No. Does watching the towers fall in real-time in lower Manhattan give me a perspective on the whole thing that perhaps you lack? You bet. We’re at war, pal. Try to find way to achieve peace with that concept.

    Or don’t. We’ll do what we have to do as a nation to prevent this from happening again despite your disapproval.

  120. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    “The government will devote all necessary resources to [holding] Snowden [accountable for his crimes].”

    FIFY

  121. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “The problem with people who see themselves as being above the law is that there are effectively no limits to the damage they are willing to wreak in the name of their imagined higher purpose. No. This toolbag belongs in prison, and the sooner the better. ”

    Which is, of course, exactly what Hoover said about MLK. What the apartheid regime said about Mandela. What the British Empire said about Ghandi and what the church said about Galileo…

  122. stonetools says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    The answer to that one is: quite a bit. They have historically always had budget problems, since Congress ostensibly doesn’t like them and underappropriates. The sequesters removed about $350 million from an already tight budget. They’re seeing probation officers and public defenders furloughed, among others. The US Attorney’s offices took a $100 million hit as well.

    Well, Doug tells us that the sequester is having no effect whatsoever, so let’s not worry about that.

    So these people need to be asking themselves: “is a government computer sifting through my (and everybody elses) phone records too high a price to pay for preventing another 9/11?”

    My response is:No. I was in New York on 9/11. I don’t need to see it happen twice to convince me.

    If you listen to the video, and read GG’s posts, you’ll find that they only mention the real and imagined abuses of the US government, and never mention 9-11 or al-Queda. On the extreme security side, my guess is that they only mention 9-11 and never government abuse. The best approach is that there needs to be a balanced approach.
    I also think that Obama should just say, ” Look. this is the system I put in place. If you think we can do better, let’s repeal the Patriot Act and set those tough new standards”. The people could then decide.

  123. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “Except that it doesn’t do that. This program collects metadata. Equivalent to the calls section of your phone bill. It doesn’t listen to your calls. It doesn’t read your emails. It doesn’t give NSA backdoor access to sift through servers at Google and Apple and Microsoft, et al, whenever it feels like it.”

    Just wondering — you keep saying this, and I don’t understand how you can be so sure. It’s what the government tells us, true, but it’s also illegal for anyyone, even a senator, to tell us what the government is actually doing.

  124. Ben says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    You keep saying we’re at war. Stop it. We’re “at war” against an amorphous blob of undefined people. There is no stated end state to this “war”. There is no central authority that could surrender to end this “war”. It will last forever, because there will always be a wacko somewhere willing to blow himself up for some stupid reason. (Just ask Israel on that one)

    If a “war” will last forever, and has no boundaries, fronts, or surrender terms, then it isn’t war. It’s an excuse to expand power to a new normal. That’s all it is.

    A “war on terror” is just as nonsensical (and meaningless) as a “war on poverty” or a “war on drugs” or a “war on crime”. All of those things will always exist, none of them will ever go away or stop. It is BS.

  125. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: “There are people right now, right this minute, trying to figure out how to kill lots of Americans. If they succeed civil liberties in this country will be very seriously damaged.”

    And here we have the argument for why it was necessary to keep people who’d signed a petition supporting the communists in the Spanish Civil War from ever working in the entertainment industry — because there are bad guys tryning to undo our system of freedom and justice, and the only way to beat them was to undo it all ourselves first.

  126. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “They want security, and they want absolute privacy as well. Sorry, you can’t have both any longer. You honestly never could. They are mutually exclusive.”

    Hey, let us know when you’ve finished arguing with your little straw man and want to actually talk about the issues.

    I’m a little more conflicted on this than KK, but I will tell you that I would happily give up some of this “security” in exchange for a little more liberty, and I say that knowing the potential consequences of the choice.

    You have apparently decided that fear should run all our decisions, and that we should be eager to give up all civil liberties to protect ourselvels against the terrorist boogey man.

    Or maybe your views are a little more subtle, nuanced and sophisticated than that? Well maybe you should try assuming the same thing about people who disagree with you.

    Unless all you want to do is call names.

  127. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @wr:

    It’s what the order signed by Vinson permits them to do with regard to this program.

    If they had intended to violate civil liberties on a wholesale, on the fly do as you please, no oversight basis they wouldn’t have gone to a judge seeking permission that, by the nature of judicial orders, will unavoidably impose limits and mandatory briefings to Congressional oversight committees (who get copies of approved orders directly from the judges that issue them) on their activities. Violating the limitations of those orders is a federal offense. They go to prison for it.

    It’s not a matter of interpretation unless you’re just one of those tinfoil hat people who distrust government on principle.

  128. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @wr:

    Or maybe your views are a little more subtle, nuanced and sophisticated than that? Well maybe you should try assuming the same thing about people who disagree with you.”

    My views have been stated, at length and IMO with precision, already. I see no need to repeat them.

    I tend to have little patience with (or for) moral absolutists, especially those who believe themselves to be justified in violating the law in the pursuit of their believed moral absolutes. I suspect that lack of patience annoys people, and I can see why it might.

    I honestly just don’t care enough about it to entertain lunacy in the name of civility.

  129. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Ben:

    Call it a threat if it makes you feel more comfortable. The semantics of the issue don’t interest me or detract from the truth that we have a problem against which we must defend ourselves. The war/threat/problem/etc. is ongoing, therefore the actions taken to protect against it must unavoidably be ongoing as well.

    I get that you dislike the measures that are necessary to adequately address the war/threat/problem/etc. Tough noogies.

    FISA has been public law for 36 years. The amendments to FISA, ECPA, etc. have been public law for nearly a decade. You aren’t prevented from knowing exactly what laws have been passed, or what the implications of those laws might be. They’re available at your fingertips, and have been for decades now, whenever you choose to deign to read them.

    You’re also entitled to vote accordingly if they disturb you. Other voters are as well. that’s the extent of your involvement in and oversight for these measures. You get to vote for the people who vote on them. Judging from past votes, the majority of voters consider these measures to be necessary.

    Frankly, that’s all that needs to be said about the matter.

  130. TastyBits says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    So these people need to be asking themselves: “is a government computer sifting through my (and everybody elses) phone records too high a price to pay for preventing another 9/11?”

    My response is:No. I was in New York on 9/11. I don’t need to see it happen twice to convince me.

    Is there any price too high to ensure preventing another 9/11? If so, what is that price?

  131. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @wr:

    Which is, of course, exactly what Hoover said about MLK. What the apartheid regime said about Mandela. What the British Empire said about Ghandi and what the church said about Galileo…

    Aside from the lunacy of comparing this clown to MLK, Mandela, Ghandi and Galileo, all four of those people honorably faced up to the potential legal consequences of their actions. They willingly went to prison in pursuit of their beliefs.

    They didn’t hop a plane to China in order to cover their backsides. This guy is a traitor AND a coward. Don’t besmirch the memory of those people by attempting to equate his actions with theirs.

  132. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @TastyBits:

    Is there any price too high to ensure preventing another 9/11? If so, what is that price?

    Sure. That price is accepting infringements on civil liberties that don’t serve to ensure that prevention in any way.

    It honestly should be readily evident to anybody with a brain why this program would help to ensure it. Unless people just think that knowing who Omar the Terrorist in Yemen is calling in the US, and who those people regularly call, isn’t relevant information with regard to preventing terrorist attacks. Personally, I think it’s highly relevant, and I’m not remotely paranoid enough to believe that the government has an interest (or indeed even the resource to pursue an interest) in who I call. It’s a trade-off that I have no problem making.

  133. stonetools says:

    @Ben:

    Well IMO, you’re wrong. I don’t think it’s well-balanced. When are we going to have an actual, open public debate about where that balance point is? Oh wait, we can’t. Because the government has classified the program’s methods, it’s justification, hell it’s actual existence. Pretty hard to have a debate in that case. So we’ll just let them decide where their own power should end, and trust them to stay on the right side of the line. Yeah. That’s never turned out bad before.

    But we’ve had this debate. Several times. Each time, Congress voted for more expansion of power and more secrecy. The pure civil liberties position-repeal the Patriot Act, no domestic spying at all, etc- has lost several times now. Congress voted for every one of those programs you dislike, by open vote, more than once, after debate.
    Like it or not , the public favors these programs and wants them to continue. The Obama Administration has agreed to congressional and judicial supervision at most points, where Bush wanted no supervision and unlimited executive power. That’s not perfect, but it’s what America seems to want.

  134. TastyBits says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Sure. That price is accepting infringements on civil liberties that don’t serve to ensure that prevention in any way.

    Within the context of 9/11 type terrorist prevention, does “accepting infringements” mean no limits?

    It honestly should be readily evident to anybody with a brain why this program would help to ensure it. …

    If it was not apparent, I was inquiring about a larger context than this program. Is your above statement only applicable to this specific program? The original quote seemed to be more encompassing, but I may have misunderstood.

  135. michael reynolds says:

    @wr:

    I’m a little more conflicted on this than KK, but I will tell you that I would happily give up some of this “security” in exchange for a little more liberty, and I say that knowing the potential consequences of the choice.

    That is not the trade-off. Apply some imagination. Ask yourself this: If we begin to suffer more terrorist attacks, will civil liberties likely be increased or restricted further?

    Do you seriously imagine that if we get hit again and again the American people will shrug it off? Have you met the American people? Have you met any human, period?

    As for the black list days, this program has been in place for quite a while now. Has anyone been harmed? I keep asking you guys to connect the dots and show me the harm and I get getting vagueness and evasion and bluster.

    And again: reducing threat preserves civil liberties. Allowing threat to grow undermines civil liberties. That’s not complicated, that’s Human Nature 101.

  136. mantis says:

    @wr:

    I’m a little more conflicted on this than KK, but I will tell you that I would happily give up some of this “security” in exchange for a little more liberty, and I say that knowing the potential consequences of the choice.

    What liberty do you not have that you want, exactly?

    You have apparently decided that fear should run all our decisions, and that we should be eager to give up all civil liberties to protect ourselvels against the terrorist boogey man.

    Boogeymen are fictitious. Terrorists are real. Also, having your electronic communication data available to every digital marketing company in the world, but not the US government, is not exactly a civil liberty. It’s just a rather foolish naïveté about technology.

  137. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @TastyBits:

    Within the context of 9/11 type terrorist prevention, does “accepting infringements” mean no limits?

    No. Were that the case, we wouldn’t have courts and congressional committees exerting oversight with regard to what these programs are allowed to do and what they actually so. It means limits that can be justified to the satisfaction of judges and multiple members of Congress.

  138. Ben says:

    @stonetools:

    I’m well aware of what the votes have been in Congress. My Rep (who I voted for) voted against reauthorization. But he lost. I know, sucks to be me. And I am well aware of what the majority of America wants. But the limts to governmental power in the Constitution are not supposed to be subject to the whims (and cowardice) of the American people (or their Representatives).

    @michael reynolds:

    Honestly Michael, it’s hard to say what the harm has been, since so much is classified. But one of my main beefs with this program is: Can this data that is collected be used for non-terrorism purposes? Can it be shared with domestic intelligence or law enforcement? I think it can. In that fact sheet that Clapper released, it says:

    the dissemination of information about U.S. persons is expressly prohibited unless it is necessary to understand foreign intelligence or assess its
    importance, is evidence of a crime, or indicates a threat of death or serious bodily harm.

    Emphasis mine. So, according to this document, anything the NSA finds that they think is evidence of a crime is not subject to the minimization procedures, which means they can provide it to the FBI and to law enforcement. That is a complete end-run around the criminal protections in Constitution. There are a millions scenarios I could come up with for a person to have a criminal case built against them using this allegedly non-invasive metadata.

  139. TastyBits says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    To clarify, I mean US citizens on US soil, and who has not been identified as a terrorist. By civil liberties, I am only including those rights in the US Constitution, Amendments, and any applicable court decisions.

  140. mantis says:

    @Ben:

    So, according to this document, anything the NSA finds that they think is evidence of a crime is not subject to the minimization procedures, which means they can provide it to the FBI and to law enforcement. That is a complete end-run around the criminal protections in Constitution.

    Which protections?

    Before you answer, consider this scenario: police obtain a warrant to search a home suspected of being a drug den. Upon entry, they instead find an individual being held against her will. No drugs are found and the subjects of the warrant are not present, but others are. Should the police free her and charge her kidnappers for the crime? If they do, is it ” a complete end-run around the criminal protections in Constitution?”

  141. Jeremy R says:

    OK this is getting pretty weird.

    There’s a documentary filmmaker whose name is on the byline of both the Guardian & the WaPo Snowden stories, Laura Poitras. Someone asked the WaPo reporter about her last night on twitter. Here’s that exchange:

    https://twitter.com/bartongellman/statuses/343919110930964480

    bmaz @bmaz
    @bartongellman Laura Poitras has been on both your and @ggreenwald byline. Was she filming/working in conjunction with both of you?

    Barton Gellman @bartongellman
    @bmaz I can’t speak for Laura Poitras but I look forward to what she produces. She’s a remarkable filmmaker.

    Poitras is also apparently the one who filmed the Snowden interview from yesterday.

    This morning Glenn Greenwald tweeted this, while he was in the middle of one of his typical twitter spats:

    https://twitter.com/ggreenwald/statuses/344040301972815872

    @TheStalwart The reality is that Laura Poitras and I have been working with him since February, long before anyone spoke to Bart Gellman

    So some documentary filmaker & Greenwald have been “working” w/ Snowden from just before, or just as he started his 3 month employment at Booz Allen Hamilton and obviously long before Snowden copied a bunch of classified files and fled to China.

  142. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @TastyBits:

    To clarify, I mean US citizens on US soil, and who has not been identified as a terrorist. By civil liberties, I am only including those rights in the US Constitution, Amendments, and any applicable court decisions.

    You honestly need to read through 50 USC Ch.36

    The lengths that it goes to to insulate US citizens from actual surveillance (as opposed to sifting through phone records that are owned by phone companies, and as such in which the covered persons have no privacy right interest to begin with) are amazing.

  143. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jeremy R:

    So some documentary filmaker & Greenwald have been “working” w/ Snowden from just before, or perhaps at the beginning of his 3 month employment @ Booz Allen Hamilton and obviously long before Snowden copied a bunch of files and fled to China.

    I’d call that a prime example of conspiracy to commit espionage. If accurate, all three of them belong in prison.

  144. Ben says:

    @mantis:

    That scenario is a complete non-sequitur. In that case, they apparently had enough evidence against that person to meet a probable cause standard to a judge, to obtain a search warrant for that house. Evidence of other crimes found while there are admissible. No one is disputing that.

    In my scenario, there has absolutely no individualized probable cause established prior to the data collection whatsoever. The FISA court allowed them to collect data against the entire general population based on no suspicion whatsoever. If they can then turn around and use that data as evidence in a criminal proceeding, the fourth amendment has been completely short-circuited.

  145. stonetools says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Has anyone been harmed? I keep asking you guys to connect the dots and show me the harm and I get getting vagueness and evasion and bluster.

    The silence to your challenge, now posted several times, is telling.If there is a civil right be violated here, then the violation of that right should cause some measurable, actual harm.Mere talk of “loss of privacy” or “chilling effect” or “causes concern” won’t cut it.
    We can identify exactly what effect anti-abortion rights legislation has, or if someone is denied a job because of race. The “civil liberties” folks haven’t been able to identify any harm that will come to me because my phone metadata is being collected by the government.
    Now if the government had access to all of my Gmail messages through the so called “PRISM” program, they may have a better argument. but that’s been walked back too-to the point of insignificance. There was some talk of “Infinite Informant” as well, but that’s petered out. We hear talk of more revelations coming, but I presume that Mr. Greenwald, etc. has led with their best. If that’s so, then we have got another nothingburger here.

  146. mantis says:

    @Ben:

    That scenario is a complete non-sequitur. In that case, they apparently had enough evidence against that person to meet a probable cause standard to a judge, to obtain a search warrant for that house.

    It’s not a non-sequitur. The person named on the warrant isn’t there, and other criminals, not named in the warrant, are present. The warrant is for crimes different from those committed by the people present, and the kidnapping would not have been discovered if not for a warrant against another person for other crimes. Get it?

    In my scenario, there has absolutely no individualized probable cause established prior to the data collection whatsoever. The FISA court allowed them to collect data against the entire general population based on no suspicion whatsoever. If they can then turn around and use that data as evidence in a criminal proceeding, the fourth amendment has been completely short-circuited.

    Stumbling upon one crime while investigating unrelated crimes or criminals (with a warrant) is what we’re talking about. If you really think law enforcement should be barred from investigating such crimes, explain why. Claiming the two situations are different doesn’t wash. In effect, they are not.

    Anyway, that’s a huge “if” right there. Do you have knowledge that anyone, anywhere, has been tried for a crime in which evidence obtained in such a manner has been presented, let alone admitted by a judge?

  147. michael reynolds says:

    What’s kinda funny is that this case probably knocked the Rosen and AP cases out permanently. And took everyone’s eye off the IRS case as well. Because now, kids, we have a traitor and a chase scene and exotic locales and a big bunch of crazy, and that’s more interesting than the boring stuff we were following. Snowden and Greenwald have drawn the eye of the camera, and they’re both deeply unlikable, and that’s not how you write the story if you want people to follow the IRS plot line.

  148. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    Rather than “just accepting” our security state. we could be demanding ubiquitous, secure to a person strong encryption. It’s 2013. Why do not even mail programs employ easy-to-use strong encryption?

    I am bothered by the white-flag waving in this particular discussion. “Accept it. We’re at war that has no end until the world is unmade.”

    Ah, no, to both, thanks. Neither is an American virtue. Expect resistance to these ideas. Neither is sustainable.

  149. Ben says:

    @mantis:

    It’s not a non-sequitur. The person named on the warrant isn’t there, and other criminals, not named in the warrant, are present. The warrant is for crimes different from those committed by the people present, and the kidnapping would not have been discovered if not for a warrant against another person for other crimes. Get it?

    Oh I get it. But none of that matters. If they have a warrant, then they can search the property and collect evidence for any other crimes they find while doing so. And they can arrest anyone they find there that is committing other crimes as well. There’s nothing controversial about this.

    Stumbling upon one crime while investigating unrelated crimes or criminals (with a warrant) is what we’re talking about. If you really think law enforcement should be barred from investigating such crimes, explain why. Claiming the two situations are different doesn’t wash. In effect, they are not.

    AH, but in the NSA case, they DON’T have a warrant, not against this person or their property, or against any other individual person or property. They have a blanket warrant for the data covering everyone in the f&cking country. That is so completely different than your scenario, that I don’t see how you could say they are similar.

    In the first instance, a warrant with particularized evidence of a crime has been established against a person and their property. Anyone else doing bad things caught on that property is screwed. In the second instance, they are taking out a generalized warrant on the entire country‘s data and then could use that data to build a criminal case against an individual for a crime unrelated to the purpose of the warrant. That is a difference in degree large enough to become a difference in kind.

  150. michael reynolds says:

    @James in Silverdale, WA:

    I’m not waving a white flag. Let me clear: I am glad the NSA has this capability. It is a reasonable adjustment to changing technological realities.

    And no one is saying we’re at war forever. Even terrorism loses focus after a while. Even the IRA finally went away. This is a case of being patient, making reasonable countermoves, and being patient some more. Sorry if it’s taking longer than you’d like, but a decade (so far) isn’t really all that long.

    I’m a reasonable adult who understands that Facebook exists, and Mr. Orwell, while a great writer, was not a prophet. I also understand that terrorism exists and I don’t see much point in pretending otherwise. And as a reasonably adept student of humans, I understand that more terrorism will yield the opposite of more civil liberties.

    So, not surrendering. Just living in reality.

  151. Ben says:

    Anyway, that’s a huge “if” right there. Do you have knowledge that anyone, anywhere, has been tried for a crime in which evidence obtained in such a manner has been presented, let alone admitted by a judge?

    I forgot to address this point. My answer to this is no, but that’s not dispositive. It is quite possible this has happened, and we wouldn’t know it. Because they could have just gone back and gotten a proper above-board warrant for the data afterwards, and then used that in the proceedings. And the defendant would never be able to find out that the original tip-off came from an NSA search, because he wouldn’t even be able to subpoena those records (state secrets would knock that crap right out in any event).

  152. rudderpedals says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Thanks for the link. ISTM Ben can make a good faith argument that acquisition of the Verizon metadata feed (for ex) as a section 1861 business record capturing is an end run around the pen register/trap and trace protections of 1845.

  153. stonetools says:

    @Ben:

    I’m well aware of what the votes have been in Congress. My Rep (who I voted for) voted against reauthorization. But he lost. I know, sucks to be me. And I am well aware of what the majority of America wants. But the limts to governmental power in the Constitution are not supposed to be subject to the whims (and cowardice) of the American people (or their Representatives).

    Indeed. And the courts have so far held that none of these laws violate the Constitution. So they are Constitutional, and your position has been debated, advocated for, and rejected.

    So, according to this document, anything the NSA finds that they think is evidence of a crime is not subject to the minimization procedures, which means they can provide it to the FBI and to law enforcement. That is a complete end-run around the criminal protections in Constitution. There are a millions scenarios I could come up with for a person to have a criminal case built against them using this allegedly non-invasive metadata.

    Scenarios are interesting mental exercises, but until you have proof that NSA is using, or even thinking of using such evidence gathered for prosecution of non-espionage crimes, I’m afraid this has to be filed in the “boogeyman” bin. Tweaking the statute to limit the provision to crimes involving espionage might be a good idea, though.

  154. stonetools says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Snowden and Greenwald have drawn the eye of the camera, and they’re both deeply unlikable, and that’s not how you write the story if you want people to follow the IRS plot line

    I kind of feel Obama is thinking, ” I hope the media takes all the time on this that they want.”

  155. michael reynolds says:

    @stonetools:
    By the way, the notion that different agencies of the federal government over-share rather flies in the face of actual experience which is that it’s all but impossible to get government agencies to co-operate on anything. That’s why we have a Homeland Security, because we couldn’t even get CIA and the various other intel agencies to talk to each other.

  156. Tillman says:

    @michael reynolds: Not necessarily. My first reaction was that the scandals of the second term Obama administration were piling up and giving fodder to news media to blather about for quite some time.

  157. Ben says:

    @stonetools:

    Scenarios are interesting mental exercises, but until you have proof that NSA is using, or even thinking of using such evidence gathered for prosecution of non-espionage crimes, I’m afraid this has to be filed in the “boogeyman” bin.

    Maybe I’ve been reading Radley Balko too much the last 7 or 8 years, but in my experience, if there’s an exploit there, law enforcement and intelligence will use/abuse it. As I said, just because we don’t have actual knowledge of an example doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. But I agree that it’s conjecture at this point. So I’ll concede that.

    Tweaking the statute to limit the provision to crimes involving espionage might be a good idea, though.

    Honestly, this would be a reasonable compromise that would address most of my concerns.

  158. Spartacus says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Business records do not require probable cause.

    That’s my point. You can’t say that these warrants were issued only upon a finding of probable cause.

    Beyond that, I’m not sure what sort of evidence of a crime it could possibly substantiate. We’re talking about a huge list of what numbers called or were called by other numbers, when, and how long the call lasted. That’s it. No conversational content.

    If the FBI had nothing else but metadata showing that someone who had engaged in anti-government protests had sent and received multiple phone calls with the Tsaranez brothers in the two weeks immediately preceding the Boston marathon bombing, with the frequency of those calls increasing in the day of and the day before the bombing, you could not assure anyone that that person wouldn’t be convicted of a crime. There’s simply no basis for claiming that metadata won’t be the key piece of evidence in a conviction.

    However, even if govt wasn’t relying exclusively or primarily on metadata for a prosecution, the fact is that no one knows what kinds of conclusions the govt forms based on metadata. More importantly, the reliability of the govt’s algorithms has not and can not be tested to determine whether the conclusions the govt forms are statistically valid. Full stop. So, what basis is there for claiming that a search warrant that was issued based on metadata patterns is always one that’s based on probable cause?

    Lastly, it seems entirely inconsistent for you, @michael reynolds: and others to say, “Look, this isn’t so bad because there are safeguards in place” while at the same time claiming that all privacy is dead. If the safeguards are in place, then a considerable amount of privacy remains. Privacy is dead only if the safeguards are ineffective.

  159. stonetools says:

    @michael reynolds:

    And no one is saying we’re at war forever. Even terrorism loses focus after a while. Even the IRA finally went away. This is a case of being patient, making reasonable countermoves, and being patient some more. Sorry if it’s taking longer than you’d like, but a decade (so far) isn’t really all that long.

    America likes its short wars with simple, verifiable goals. Every war must be like WW2, have a capitol city to be conquered, and last no more than four years. If it doesn’t fit those criteria, it’s not “real” war.
    Looking back at history, you see that WW2 is an atypical war. How long did the Punic Wars last? The Napoleonic Wars? The Cold War? Yet we are already talking about this war being “too long” and not being a “real war” . I think Americans need to lack back at the actual history of war and “toughen up” a bit. A lot of “real war” is just outlasting the opposition, not capturing the capitol.

  160. Tillman says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Aside from the lunacy of comparing this clown to MLK, Mandela, Ghandi and Galileo, all four of those people honorably faced up to the potential legal consequences of their actions. They willingly went to prison in pursuit of their beliefs.

    See, this is the distinction I was harping on at the beginning of the thread. The dude isn’t being evaluated on his actions. He’s being evaluated for what he has done for The Cause.

    What he’s done for The Cause is great, sure. But the moment he fled across the Pacific, he was not deserving of any special commendation.

  161. stonetools says:

    @michael reynolds:

    That’s why we have a Homeland Security, because we couldn’t even get CIA and the various other intel agencies to talk to each other.

    Indeed. That’s why there’s a Joint Chiefs of Staff for the military too.
    But that concern was more than a decade ago. Hell, that’s 1500 years in Internet time. Can’t expect people to remember all that.

  162. michael reynolds says:

    @Tillman:

    No sex, no violence, no evidence of laws being broken, no secret stash of money. Reporters had their phone logs checked, the IRS looked at Tea Party groups. This isn’t scandals mounting up, it’s boredom multiplying. Now this comes along, and it stars a guy who is very likely frickin’ nuts, and yet another reporter.

    Story-wise, Mr. Snowden is now playing the leading role. He now embodies the story. And he’s going to be a very unlikable hero. So, in the end, he hurts the scandal narrative.

  163. Jeremy R says:

    @Jeremy R:

    Greenwald, over a year ago, when he blogged for Salon, writing about Laura Portias’ next project:

    http://www.salon.com/2012/04/08/u_s_filmmaker_repeatedly_detained_at_border/

    SUNDAY, APR 8, 2012 06:37 AM EDT

    As Poitras described it to me, this next film will examine the way in which The War on Terror has been imported onto U.S. soil, with a focus on the U.S. Government’s increasing powers of domestic surveillance, its expanding covert domestic NSA activities (including construction of a massive new NSA facility in Bluffdale, Utah), its attacks on whistleblowers, and the movement to foster government transparency and to safeguard Internet anonymity.

  164. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    @michael reynolds: “So, not surrendering. ”

    Who are you trying to convince? You, or me? I need no convincing. I see surrender. I see living WITH reality, not agitating for the reality you would prefer. Unless the reality you already have is the one you’d like, which means you are correct, and there is no need to surrender.

    You cannot have it both ways. You are either accepting it or fighting it. Given the level of fear and paranoia rampant in our government, I find your expectation that Terrorism will become the New IRA to be quaint. Those who are making Snowden’s level of income and higher will never, ever permit you to dismantle their armed security state. That wold be just terrible for bidness. And no one was making that kind of scratch in the IRA days, boy howdy.

    IMHO, resistance is called for. Not acceptance.

    And strong encryption to a person would go a long way to restoring at least some privacy.

  165. Tillman says:

    @Ben:

    AH, but in the NSA case, they DON’T have a warrant, not against this person or their property, or against any other individual person or property. They have a blanket warrant for the data covering everyone in the f&cking country. That is so completely different than your scenario, that I don’t see how you could say they are similar.

    In the first instance, a warrant with particularized evidence of a crime has been established against a person and their property. Anyone else doing bad things caught on that property is screwed. In the second instance, they are taking out a generalized warrant on the entire country‘s data and then could use that data to build a criminal case against an individual for a crime unrelated to the purpose of the warrant. That is a difference in degree large enough to become a difference in kind.

    To get the warrant to search a specific person’s property, they’ll need to have observed that person or learned from other sources that the person is worth suspicion. To the best of my knowledge, the police can follow you around in public and observe your movements before acquiring a warrant to investigate your property. This is something that regularly occurs during legitimate investigation of crime. The NSA’s data-mining is essentially this first step in getting a warrant in a digital domain. The phone records can indicate your movements and hint at who you spoke with (note other people can use your cellphone). Moreover, we know that their algorithms search out two degrees from the person they’re investigating once they’ve obtained a warrant, and they can discover those people within two degrees committing crime. That’s mantis’s analogy.

    The only real breakdown in the analogy is that we need to prevent terrorism. It’s precrime. That is somewhat disturbing.

  166. Spartacus says:

    @michael reynolds: @stonetools:

    I keep asking you guys to connect the dots and show me the harm and I get getting vagueness and evasion and bluster.

    I dont’ know if you’ve had a chance to look at it yet, but on the other thread I provided you a research paper that showed the govt’s declared program of “preemptive prosecution” has been the intended driving force behind using data collected for anti-terrorism purposes to prosecute people for crimes that have nothing to do with terrorism.

    Secondly, until someone can explain how the govt determines who gets placed on the no-fly list, the safeguards against mistakenly placing someone on it and how a person can get off the list, it seems unreasonable to claim no actual harm has occurred from this kind of data collection and secret use of data by the govt.

    Those are just the harms imposed by the govt. You can be assured that there are no Booze Allen Hamilton employees commenting anonymously on a blog today about the perils of a surveillance state. They will keep those thoughts to themselves out of fear of losing their jobs. That is a harm to their free speech rights.

    These are real harms that are occurring today and we haven’t even begun to talk about the govt’s capture of the contents of electronic communications. Most of this discussion has been about metadata.

  167. Ben says:

    @stonetools:

    And no one is saying we’re at war forever. Even terrorism loses focus after a while. Even the IRA finally went away. This is a case of being patient, making reasonable countermoves, and being patient some more. Sorry if it’s taking longer than you’d like, but a decade (so far) isn’t really all that long.

    America likes its short wars with simple, verifiable goals. Every war must be like WW2, have a capitol city to be conquered, and last no more than four years. If it doesn’t fit those criteria, it’s not “real” war.
    Looking back at history, you see that WW2 is an atypical war. How long did the Punic Wars last? The Napoleonic Wars? The Cold War? Yet we are already talking about this war being “too long” and not being a “real war” . I think Americans need to lack back at the actual history of war and “toughen up” a bit. A lot of “real war” is just outlasting the opposition, not capturing the capitol.

    It’s not about the length, it’s about how undefinable it is. Every single one of those wars you mentioned either had a defined geographic enemy, or a specific piece of land that was being fought over. In other words, there was a definable end state. Either country A conquered country B or vice versa. That is what war was, until the 70s. Even the Cold War (which was not a traditional war in any sense) at least had a definable end state.

    But with this “War on Terror”, what is the end state? How do we know if we “won”? No more terrorism, ever? If that is the goal, then I think we’re going to have a whole hell of a lot longer wait than anyone ever imagined. Israel has been fighting off terrorist attacks for over 50 years.

    Is it the toppling of Al Qaeda only? Define Al Qaeda for me, please. Because it certainly doesn’t seem to be a regulated or defined group of people. Anyone, anywhere that wants to blow s*&t up can pop up and call themselves Al Qaeda. Would that restart the war?

    The IRA was a closed, defined group of people, that had an actual chain of command and visible leadership, that could be bargained with. The IRA didn’t just go away like Kaiser Soze. Their leadership sat down at a cease-fire accord and signed a truce. Al Qaeda does not seem to be that sort of organization. There really doesn’t seem to be any sort of real organization or leadership (notwithstanding our constant claims to have killed the “number 3 guy” every few months). Most of the cells seem to operate independently.

  168. Jr says:

    Yeah, I think Michael is right about this.

    WIth the advancement of technology, it is obvious that privacy is going to take a hit.

  169. Ben says:

    @Tillman:

    To get the warrant to search a specific person’s property, they’ll need to have observed that person or learned from other sources that the person is worth suspicion. To the best of my knowledge, the police can follow you around in public and observe your movements before acquiring a warrant to investigate your property. This is something that regularly occurs during legitimate investigation of crime. The NSA’s data-mining is essentially this first step in getting a warrant in a digital domain. The phone records can indicate your movements and hint at who you spoke with (note other people can use your cellphone). Moreover, we know that their algorithms search out two degrees from the person they’re investigating once they’ve obtained a warrant, and they can discover those people within two degrees committing crime. That’s mantis’s analogy

    The police can follow you around, that’s true. But the Supreme Court has already said that they CAN’T just go stick a GPS on your car and follow you digitally without having a warrant to do that ahead of time. Having that sort of automated database of all of your location data was judged to be a bridge too far.

  170. stonetools says:

    @James in Silverdale, WA:

    And strong encryption to a person would go a long way to restoring at least some privacy.

    Here’s the reason why encryption hasn’t caught on. Americans don’t give a damn about the government or companies reading their emails and Internet stuff. Maybe they should. But they pretty much don’t.
    The one per cent of people who care about this stuff are welcome to do the PGP thing. But it’s a small church-although quite vociferous.

  171. stonetools says:

    @Jeremy R:

    So this has been in the works a while. Interesting.

  172. mantis says:

    @Ben:

    The police can follow you around, that’s true. But the Supreme Court has already said that they CAN’T just go stick a GPS on your car and follow you digitally without having a warrant to do that ahead of time. Having that sort of automated database of all of your location data was judged to be a bridge too far.

    Yes, because that constituted a physical “search,” according to SCOTUS. From the majority opinion:

    “We hold that the government’s installation of a GPS device on a target’s vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements, constitutes a ‘search,'” Scalia said. “The government physically occupied private property for the purpose of obtaining information,” he said.

    Would SCOTUS find that phone call metadata or Internet activity are owned physical areas protected from search under the 4th amendment as they did with a vehicle? Highly doubtful, and in fact the court found in Smith v. Maryland that lists of phone calls are not protected.

  173. Tillman says:

    @Ben: I’m not certain a GPS on a car is quite the same league of surveillance, since phone records don’t provide exact location but just a best guess based on cell tower usage. I mean, GPS is setting a satellite on someone, and a car definitely qualifies as one’s property. Then again, I’m not an expert on technology, and cellphones have GPS and now I’ve gone cross-eyed.

  174. Spartacus says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    while the tactics necessary to successfully prosecute that war might be distasteful to some, including me, they are without a doubt necessary.

    I don’t mean to get off on a tangent and I don’t know if you mean this literally, but this is a strange statement. First of all, we don’t know all of the tactics that are being used to fight this war. Secondly, some of those tactics are, no doubt, useless or harmful, while other tactics are very effective.

    No one is arguing that we don’t need to aggressively fight people who intend us harm – I think you and Michael Reynolds have picked a straw man with that.

    Most of us are arguing that (1) the govt shouldn’t have the right to collect the kind of data that both the Verizon warrant and PRISM enable the govt to collect because of the kinds of abuses that have and will continue to occur, (2) the NSA is not subject to proper oversight (as evidenced by the fact that the Senators who sit on the committee can’t even get some of their most basic questions answered and that the NSA chief lied to Congress), (3) the public has no way of verifying that FISA isn’t a rubber stamp, and (4) it is a good thing for govt secrets to be disclosed unless there’s a real potential for actual harm, clearly the Greenwald reports do not in any way threaten national security since the govt chose not to seek a redaction of anything within those reports.

  175. TastyBits says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Much of your argument has been bound by the legal system, but the “high price” quote was not specifically bound.

    If I understand correctly, the “high price” is bound by the agreement of the three branches of the federal government, and an objection by any branch will bind the other two to this limit.

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I added the stipulations to keep the discussion from wandering. I wanted to exclude Google voluntarily giving the data it owns to the government, and I wanted to exclude terrorists or potential terrorists. I want to be as intellectually honest as possible.

    The above legal framework restriction would imply that if no judge signs the warrant for further data, any investigation that relied upon that data would be crippled or shut down. Would this be applicable even if the terrorist was planning an imminent attack?

    Also, is this data gathering limited to national security? Specifically, I mean identifying and stopping terrorists. Or, does this include other criminal activity?

    This topic seems to be debated by each person using his/her terms and concepts.

  176. Ben says:

    @mantis:

    Would SCOTUS find that phone call metadata or Internet activity are owned physical areas protected from search under the 4th amendment as they did with a vehicle? Highly doubtful, and in fact the court found in Smith v. Maryland that lists of phone calls are not protected.

    In all the cases I am aware of, a warrant is required to obtain a person’s web browsing and email history.

  177. stonetools says:

    @Ben:

    I think you are confusing the proper definition of war with whether we are actually at war.
    Al Queda declared war on us. If we didn’t understand that before 9-11, we understand that now. You may not like the phrase “Global War on Terrror” but TBH, who gives a f@ck?(Certainly not Al-Queda.) Naming wars is for historians. Call it the Al-Queda War, if you want.
    As to the goal, it is to fight until Al-Queda and its successor organizations are defeated or have laid down their arms. That’s not as precise as “On to Richmond!” but there was no exact goal or end state for the Cold War either .The Al-Queda War will eventually end, like all wars, and we will know it when it happens.

  178. Jeremy R says:

    @Jeremy R:

    Assange Interview on ABC in Austrailia’s Lateline:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-06-10/assanges-political-ambition/4744972

    EMMA ALBERICI: Let’s talk about the 29-year-old former CIA staffer Edward Snowden. It’s now been revealed that he was responsible for those leaks to The Guardian and The Washington Post revealing the way the US National Security Agency gains information from internet companies – Google, Facebook, as well as US telecoms. Have you had any communication with him?

    JULIAN ASSANGE: We have had indirect communication with his people.

    EMMA ALBERICI: What do you mean?

    JULIAN ASSANGE: I don’t think it’s appropriate at this time that I go into further details

    EMMA ALBERICI: Finally, Julian Assange, Jemima Khan, who was once a keen supporter of yours, has recently lamented that you, in her words, expect supporters to follow unquestioningly in blinkered, cultish devotion, claiming that you had become more like an Australian L. Ron Hubbard. What do you make of that?

    JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, come on. I mean, really? Jemima Khan? Seriously? This concerns a Hollywood documentary made by Universal for $2.5 million. They wanted WikiLeaks to partake in that, but we thought they were going to produce a pretty sleazy result, so we said no. In fact, the documentary team that we are working with is the same one that is now holed up in Hong Kong with Snowden. That’s Laura Poitras. Anyway, so because we went with Laura Poitras and we didn’t go with Alex Gibney in the US, the result was Gibney then went to Jemima Khan and recruited her to try and bring us in to that documentary process over two years ago, giving her access and an executive credit in the film. But we couldn’t tolerate the film. So we attacked the film, but she was part of the film, so as a result, she attacked back. I mean, it’s really just – it’s nothing.

  179. mantis says:

    @Ben:

    In all the cases I am aware of, a warrant is required to obtain a person’s web browsing and email history.

    Are you just trying to be obtuse? Do you think the fact that law enforcement would be searching a physical computer for those things has something to do with it?

    If you are talking about electronic data stored on a host company’s servers, you are simply wrong. All that is needed to obtain such records is an administrative subpoena.

    Now there are a lot of people who support tightening up these laws to require warrants of such searches in the era of cloud-based computing, such as myself and Attorney General Holder. However, at this moment they are not required.

  180. Ben says:

    @stonetools:

    As to the goal, it is to fight until Al-Queda and its successor organizations are defeated or have laid down their arms. That’s not as precise as “On to Richmond!” but there was no exact goal or end state for the Cold War either .The Al-Queda War will eventually end, like all wars, and we will know it when it happens.

    I’m saying that I don’t think “Al Qaeda” even describes a defined group of people. Our government seems to consider any Muslim with a pipe bomb a new Al Qaeda cell. And I think that is precisely what is going to continue to happen indefinitely.

  181. stonetools says:

    @Spartacus:

    (1) the govt shouldn’t have the right to collect the kind of data that both the Verizon warrant and PRISM enable the govt to collect because of the kinds of abuses that have and will continue to occur,

    The law and the courts have said they have that right. Several times.

    (2) the NSA is not subject to proper oversight (as evidenced by the fact that the Senators who sit on the committee can’t even get some of their most basic questions answered and that the NSA chief lied to Congress),

    Then the Senators need to up their oversight game.They don’t seem to be under any pressure to do that. Maybe the public is just fine with the level of oversight . I don’t see anybody demonstrating in the streets or lighting up the town halls about it. Maybe the civil libertarians need to apply some street pressure.

    (3) the public has no way of verifying that FISA isn’t a rubber stamp,

    Actually, there is a way. There could be some evidence of tangible harm or a civil rights violation to anyone, anywhere.

    ) it is a good thing for govt secrets to be disclosed unless there’s a real potential for actual harm, clearly the Greenwald reports do not in any way threaten national security since the govt chose not to seek a redaction of anything within those reports.

    Did Greenwald submit these reports for redaction? I missed that. I’ll agree that there is no evidence of harm-yet. There are supposedly more revelations to come.

  182. “Absolutely correct. It’s illegal to leak classified information to them as well, regardless of motivation, AND it’s illegal for them to publish it.”

    Right, HarvardLaw. And if there weren’t individuals willing to illegally leak classified information to the press, when they come to believe that the law is being misused to egregiously usurp power or to cover up the government’s own illegal or immoral behavior and actions, then there would be absolutely no check on what the government could get away with.

    What Daniel Ellsberg did in 1971 was illegal, too. And thank God he did it. By the way, Ellsberg has two articles today praising what Snowden did (or maybe it’s two news sources writing about the same article; I haven’t looked closely yet).

  183. rudderpedals says:

    No no, GPS is passive receive only. With a good view of the sky and no correction autonomous fixes accurate to within 3 meters are expected most of the time.

  184. @Tillman:

    If you think losing your family, your life partner, and your home (as in native land, not house) permanently, forever, and always having to look over your back, for the rest of your life, is “minimizing” risk, then, I guess, I am conflicted as to what I should feel about you — whether I should feel contempt for your trivialization of never again being able to see any of the people you care about, or whether I should feel pity, or sorrow, or compassion, that for you, for some reason, these aspects of life are unimportant.

  185. Spartacus says:

    @stonetools:

    The law and the courts have said they have that right. Several times.

    Agreed. I’m arguing that some of these things shouldn’t be legal.

    Then the Senators need to up their oversight game.They don’t seem to be under any pressure to do that. Maybe the public is just fine with the level of oversight .

    Yes, they do need to up their game, which is why it’s wrong to say, “Don’t worry, adequate checks are in place.” I agree that the majority of the public seems okay with this, but that’s one of the purposes of discussions like this – to continue to push on that issue.

    There could be some evidence of tangible harm or a civil rights violation to anyone, anywhere.

    See the no-fly list. See also re Hamid Hayat that I referenced in my other comment.

    Did Greenwald submit these reports for redaction?

    From Greenwald’s June 5 story:

    The Guardian approached the National Security Agency, the White House and the Department of Justice for comment in advance of publication on Wednesday. All declined. The agencies were also offered the opportunity to raise specific security concerns regarding the publication of the court order.

  186. @mantis:

    “Also, having your electronic communication data available to every digital marketing company in the world, but not the US government, is not exactly a civil liberty. It’s just a rather foolish naïveté about technology.”

    So you’re saying that because the private sector has more and more personal info about us without our consent, the government should join in in the game? Your logic is absolutely and totally bizarre to me. Our government is supposed to protect us from abuses of power in the private sector. That’s why we have things like the EPA and OSHA and the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection. Our government is not supposed to be the entity we need protection from. By your logic, our response to police brutality and/or corruption should be to say, ‘Hey, murderers and thieves and arsonists are already out there, they’re not going away, so it’s ridiculous to worry about the police beating people up or demanding kickbacks and bribes in exchange for protection.’

  187. Tillman says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg: He chose his course of action. He chose to sacrifice his family, life partner, and home for his ideals. What he chose not to sacrifice was his freedom, and avoided sacrificing it by going to another country instead of facing imprisonment in this one. That is him minimizing the risk to his personal safety. If you can’t wrap your mind around that, I don’t know how to help you.

    I am not trivializing his sacrifices, I am pointing out that others are inflating them while ignoring how whistleblowers/those agitating for change in the past have sacrificed more than him for similar goals. The man does not live up to the ideal you and others have created for him based on what he has done. Daniel Ellsberg, for instance, surrendered to the authorities after hiding for a period, and spent two years in jail. He did not run to China.

  188. Bob @ Younstown says:

    @Todd:
    Greenwald has already said that there are more documents coming.
    I also thought that it was interesting that Snowden parsed the information so that (in his opinion) it would not damage the US. Then Greenwald reviewed the documents and is releasing those (that in his opinion) would not be damaging.

    I have every confidence that The Snowden/Greenwald review team is the most effective filter as they obviously know evertything there is to know about the entirety of the US national security programs. — Yea, right.

  189. stonetools says:

    @Ben:

    I’m saying that I don’t think “Al Qaeda” even describes a defined group of people. Our government seems to consider any Muslim with a pipe bomb a new Al Qaeda cell. And I think that is precisely what is going to continue to happen indefinitely.

    Again, it ain’t your grandfather’s WW2. There is no doubt that there is a group or umbrella group of jihadist terrorist groups called al Qaeda out there, and they are fighting against the United States. This is the war that THEY want to fight, and for them being secret, amorphous, and ill-defined is a bug, not feature. You don’t think the US military would prefer a war in which they knew exactly what al Qaeda is, who is a member, where they are located, and where their supplies come from? You go with the war you have, not the WW2 type campaign you want to fight.
    Now is there a danger of overreach? Sure. But let’s not pretend that AL-Qaeda doesn’t want a secret war in the shadows where you can’t tell for sure who is who.You either fight that kind of war, and risk making mistakes, or you surrender because you don’t want to fight that kind of war. Surrender isn’t an option at this point.

  190. mantis says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    So you’re saying that because the private sector has more and more personal info about us without our consent, the government should join in in the game?

    No, I’m not saying that, but you like your strawmen so have fun.

    Your logic is absolutely and totally bizarre to me.

    Well maybe you should stop inventing it for me.

    Our government is supposed to protect us from abuses of power in the private sector.

    Our government is a system of laws, not vague platitudes.

    By your logic, our response to police brutality and/or corruption should be to say, ‘Hey, murderers and thieves and arsonists are already out there, they’re not going away, so it’s ridiculous to worry about the police beating people up or demanding kickbacks and bribes in exchange for protection.’

    The things you are describing are crimes.

  191. @michael reynolds:

    “Snowden and Greenwald have drawn the eye of the camera, and they’re both deeply unlikable,…”

    LOL! In your opinion, you mean, right? I have admired Greenwald’s work for years, and although I didn’t know Snowden’s name until all of this broke, I have enormous admiration and respect for him as well. Greenwald is a journalistic national treasure. And Snowden is a hero of open, transparent government. I am in awe of both of them. Their fearlessness in seeking justice and trying to ferret out the truth are incredibly inspirational to me.

  192. stonetools says:

    @Spartacus:

    Agreed. I’m arguing that some of these things shouldn’t be legal.

    IOW, your minority opinion.

    I agree that the majority of the public seems okay with this, but that’s one of the purposes of discussions like this – to continue to push on that issue.

    So you advocated for your position and lost. That’s democracy. Keep fighting the good fight, though.

    See the no-fly list. See also re Hamid Hayat that I referenced in my other comment.

    The no fly list is something, I guess. But it seems more like an administrative inconvenience than evidence of actual harm.Not sure that Hamid Hayat is clear evidence of injustice, or what it has to do with collecting phone metadata. I think if this is the best evidence of injustice due to NSA “violations” that civil libertarians can put forward, it’s understandable why there hasn’t been much of a public outcry. It’s pretty thin gruel.

    I didn’t know Greenwald approached the government about redaction. Good for him.

  193. @Tillman:

    “What he’s done for The Cause is great, sure. But the moment he fled across the Pacific, he was not deserving of any special commendation.”

    I get it. You don’t believe in the concept of asylum. I mean, you believe that the concept exists, obviously, but you think it’s bogus. Snowden is a coward and a fraud because after exposing a secret government surveillance program, he sought asylum in another country when he should have turned himself in to the DOJ.

  194. @Tillman:

    “He chose his course of action.”

    Yes, that’s why we’re having this discussion. I don’t agree with your apparent belief that because Snowden made a choice, that means he’s a coward. As opposed to what? Keeping silent would also have been a choice, but presumably one you would have approved if you had known about it, which of course by definition you couldn’t have. I don’t admire or not admire Snowden because he “made a choice.” I admire him because of WHY he made the choice.

    “Daniel Ellsberg, for instance, surrendered to the authorities after hiding for a period, and spent two years in jail. He did not run to China.”

    Then I take it you think Ellsberg was despicable for making a choice and for hiding after he made the choice, but he became admirable after he turned himself in. Maybe Edward Snowden, too, is only hiding for a period and will then turn himself in to the authorities, and then you can admire him for making his choice.

  195. Spartacus says:

    @stonetools:

    IOW, your minority opinion.
    I never argued otherwise. The issue at hand isn't whether this kind of activity is legal (to the extent that question can be answered at this point, a simple Lexis search would suffice). The issue is whether this kind of activity is too great an impairment on individual privacy and whether there's effective oversight.

    The no fly list is something, I guess. But it seems more like an administrative inconvenience than evidence of actual harm.

    Really, because if you're someone who wants or needs to travel by air it's a helluva lot more than a mere inconvenience that you're prohibited from all air travel. And, if you're one of the 500 Americans who mysteriously appeared on the list and has no way of getting off it, you definitely know that the govt has severely restricted your freedom of movement without any due process at all. Based on many of your previous comments in the past, I'm surprised that you think this is nothing more than a mere inconvenience.

  196. @Tillman:

    “That is him minimizing the risk to his personal safety.”

    I don’t fault him for minimizing the risk to his personal safety to the extent he could, or think his motives less commendable or his sacrifice less meaningful because he minimized the risk to his personal safety to the extent he could.

    I think it’s weird that you do. So I guess we both have something we can’t wrap our brains around. 🙂

  197. @mantis:

    “Our government is a system of laws, not vague platitudes.”

    My point exactly.

  198. mantis says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    My point exactly.

    If so, it is extremely poorly expressed. You said this:

    Our government is supposed to protect us from abuses of power in the private sector.

    That’s a vague platitude, and not necessarily even correct.

    The fact that you equate lawful surveillance that you don’t like with police brutality and corruption shows you are not, in fact, talking about laws. You’re just lumping every government action you disagree with together and calling it illegal. That’s nonsense.

  199. Spartacus says:

    @stonetools:

    I forgot to address Hayat.

    Do you seriously not see any harm with the govt’s policy of preemptive prosecution, which basically calls for the govt to use the entire national security apparatus to incarcerate someone because the govt identifies the person as a threat even though none of the charges leveled at the person may be related in any way to national security?

    I could see possibly going along with this if we understood and agreed to what it takes for the govt to identify someone as a threat, but we don’t have the slightest clue how those lines are drawn. Except, it’s now conceivable that the scenario I described above regarding metadata on calls to/from the Tsaranev brothers could be sufficient to put a person on the no-fly list or cause the govt to direct whatever resources it needs to put that person in jail for the slightest legal violation no matter how unrelated it is to security.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t believe people understand this to be the case nor that they would go along with it if they understood the implications.

  200. stonetools says:

    Ultimately, whether Mr. Snowden has any impact is based on whether we accept his argument. Now to be clear he is NOT arguing for some incremental improvement-better oversight, or a revamped FISA court. He is arguing that we should dismantle the national surveillance system altogether-that we should just just close down NSA. For him there should be no monitoring of emails, Internet traffic, or phone communications-at all .

    Perhaps I am naive,” he replied, “but I believe that at this point in history, the greatest danger to our freedom and way of life comes from the reasonable fear of omniscient State powers kept in check by nothing more than policy documents.” The steady expansion of surveillance powers, he wrote, is “such a direct threat to democratic governance that I have risked my life and family for it.”….
    “We managed to survive greater threats in our history . . . than a few disorganized terrorist groups and rogue states without resorting to these sorts of programs,” he wrote. “It is not that I do not value intelligence, but that I oppose . . . omniscient, automatic, mass surveillance. . . . That seems to me a greater threat to the institutions of free society than missed intelligence reports, and unworthy of the costs.”

    This is his argument. We should consider argument without further discussion of how brave or unlikeable he is (For my part, I’ll stipulate that he is brave and likeable enough). Let’s discuss whether he is RIGHT.

  201. Mikey says:

    @stonetools:

    This is his argument. We should consider argument without further discussion of how brave or unlikeable he is (For my part, I’ll stipulate that he is brave and likeable enough). Let’s discuss whether he is RIGHT.

    I think it doesn’t matter if he is or not. We could discuss all day long whether he is, and I think he actually makes a decent point when he writes of the dangers of “omniscient State powers,” but Pandora’s box has been opened, and it is far too late to do anything besides ensure the best rules are in place and information safeguarded until it is truly needed to protect the nation. Anyone who thinks we can put this horse back in the barn is in for some mighty hefty disappointment…Edward Snowden most of all, because he gave up everything for nothing.

    There will be a time, in the very near future, when just about everything we do will hit the network in some way. People will clamor for the conveniences that will bring, just as they adore their smartphones and Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and…and…and. At that point, the only relevant questions will concern what is done with the information.

  202. Caj says:

    This guy belongs in jail! How brave of him to run away to Hong Kong. Still, that’s what cowards do, cause mayhem and run. Where’s his patriotism? Why not stay here and face the music like a man? He is just another Rand Paul nut job who hates all things government. What gives him the right to take the law into his own hands because he’s a government hater? He is no hero.
    He is an absolute zero!

  203. That’s a vague platitude, and not necessarily even correct.”

    “If it’s online and it’s free, you aren’t the customer. You are the product.” is a vague platitude, too.

    So is “Anyone who thinks we can put this horse back in the barn is in for some mighty hefty disappointment.”

    So is “We are at war and the terrorists want to kill us all,” which has been vaguely platituded throughout this discussion.

    The fact that you equate lawful surveillance that you don’t like with police brutality and corruption shows you are not, in fact, talking about laws.

    The fact that you equate actual lawful surveillance with illegal surveillance that has been made lawful by passing a law for that specific purpose (which is what Congress did when it amended the existing FISA statute to allow warrantless surveillance after the Bush admin’s program to conduct surveillance without getting the warrant that FISA then required was revealed) shows you do not give a rat’s ass about the rule of law.

  204. Mikey says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    So is “Anyone who thinks we can put this horse back in the barn is in for some mighty hefty disappointment.”

    That’s not a platitude, it’s a truism.

  205. @Mikey:

    And the difference between a platitude and a truism is…. what?

  206. michael reynolds says:

    @Spartacus:

    I have to tell you, man, if “possible no-fly list issues” is the harm that’s pretty weak. Especially weighed against, “Maybe another plane gets flown into a building.”

  207. michael reynolds says:

    So, we still have no compelling answer to the question I posed days ago: where is the harm?

    We have a bunch of people huffing and puffing. We have a bunch of people avoiding. We have a bunch of people outraged that I dare to ask such a question. Only Spartacus has actually tried to answer the question and I believe he’d agree that he’s offered a less-than-compelling answer.

    We also have so far no one willing to address the second obvious question: have you considered the effect on civil liberties of further terror attacks?

    No one takes that on. Interesting.

    Lots of people willing to bloviate without any being able to show me the harm done by PRISM. And so far (unless I missed someone) willing to even address the alternate world scenario.

    My conclusion is that we have a lot of people striking poses and enjoying the pleasures of outrage. And remarkably few willing to translate all of this to the real world.

  208. @michael reynolds:

    Michael, every one of those points and/or questions has been answered by lots of people here. If you don’t find the answers compelling, that probably has more to do with the fact that you place a higher priority on feeling that the government is keeping you safe than you do on feeling that the government is keeping you free.

    So maybe you should take a moment to manage your own bloviating and the pleasure of your own outrage.

  209. michael reynolds says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:
    No they have not been answered. I’ve watched. What I’ve gotten is rhetorical questions and evasions and vague Orwellian murmurs. No one connects the dots between Orwellian fantasy and reality. No one offers an example of cases if actual harm done. I started out posing the question because I thought I might be missing something. It has astounded me how lame the answers are. ‘Might affect the no fly list’ is pretty weak beer.

    And no one has even attempted to address the second question: what effect do you suppose new terror attacks would have on civil liberties.

    I think you’re all on an outrage high. I think on the practical end though, you got nothing.

  210. And no one has even attempted to address the second question: what effect do you suppose new terror attacks would have on civil liberties.

    Now, Michael, you know that’s not true. Go back to where you first expressed your idea that we need to curb civil liberties to prevent terrorist attacks that might further curb civil liberties. You will find at least one response. There might have been more, but definitely it was answered at least once.

  211. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: Sorry. We also have some people who are crazy busy with work and don’t have time to play as much as they’d like. But if you don’t remember the abuses of the McCarthy era, then you aren’t only doomed to repeat them, you deserve them.

    Look, I know the government is never going to go after me — I’m never going to be a threat to them. My politics are confined to bitchingin places like this.

    But I am concerned about the way this kind of information can be employed against gadflies and irritants – against the Woody Guthries and John Steinbecks and Victor Navaskys.

    And I’m not all that worried about this administration, because I think they mean pretty well. But I don’t know who’s coming in next, or next after that. And I do have an idea about what a Dick Cheney would do with this kind of power.

    That’s why I want controls on this kind of power — checks and balances, if you will.

    Because honestly I’m not worried about a handful of criminals plotting to kill me in my bed. 9/11 only happened because a bunch of thugs got lucky and because we had a government that didn’t give a damn about lots and lots of warnings.

    And yes, I get it. If terrorists strike, we’ll lose our civil liberties. But I don’t think eliminating our civil liberties to prevent that is the answer — why not just surrender right now?

  212. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: “And no one has even attempted to address the second question: what effect do you suppose new terror attacks would have on civil liberties. ”

    And by th way, this fear is right up there with the notion that some day Social Security might run out of money and we’d have to drastically cut benefits, which is bad — so they way to fix that is to drastically cut benefits now.

    It’s called “surrender.”

    All you’re doing is saying that the terrorists are so powerful we have to give them exactly what they want or they will force us to do exactly what they want.

    I say to you they are not that powerful. Right now they’re a bunch of islolated criminals spread otu across half the globe, and we’re picking them off. What they want is for us to overreact so greatly we turn into a police state, or state invading Musim countries and turn the world against us. They succeeded brilliantly before, because Bush was such a moron he did exactly what they wanted. I’ve always seen you as significantly more sophisticated than that — and yet, here you are, arguing that the only way to defeat these reallly scary bad guys made up of college students with pressure cookers is to turn the USA into a police state.

    Are you really so scared? I thought a lot better of you.

  213. Spartacus says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Only Spartacus has actually tried to answer the question and I believe he’d agree that he’s offered a less-than-compelling answer.

    I guess the persuasiveness of my answer depends on your ability to place yourself in the affected person’s shoes.

    It’s a very serious thing to have the govt identify people it thinks pose a threat based on criteria that no one outside the NSA or a few other highly secretive agencies can identify and then devote whatever resources and investigative power are necessary to incarcerate those people for literally any violation of the law no matter how minor or how unrelated to national security. I’m not speculating that could happen; that was the stated policy of the DOJ under Ashcroft and it may still be the policy under Holder. If you were to find yourself on the receiving end of this you wouldn’t doubt the harm it causes.

    A real harm also exists for the 500+ people on the no-fly list for reasons that are unknown to anyone outside the govt and those people have no way of getting off the list. Some of those people need to travel for business and they have absolutely no recourse. The right to freedom of movement has been deemed a constitutional right, yet the govt has severely restricted this for 500 Americans without any due process. That is, by definition, harm.

    These are actual harms that we know about. Can we fairly assume no others have escaped our awareness?

    These harms may, in your view, be a price worth paying in order to let the govt amass as much data as it has, but that’s a different issue on which opinions will vary. To claim, however, that there is no price requires turning a blind eye to the real-world consequences that have been paid by those who have encountered them.

    With respect to your second question re the loss of liberties in the event of another attack, @wr:’s analogy to the argument for cutting SSN benefits is apt, but still misses the bigger flaw, which is the complete lack of connection between today’s liberties and the liberties we will have after the next attack. Your question presupposes that by giving up liberties today, we will prevent a future attack. There’s absolutely no evidence of that whatsoever as demonstrated by the Boston marathon bombing. To my knowledge, none of the thwarted terrorist attacks we know of were the result of these kinds of data collections.

    More importantly, when there is an attack in the future the govt is not going to say, “Don’t worry, you don’t need to give up any liberties this time since you gave them up after the last attack.” Instead, a future attack will only justify the relinquishment of even more liberties.

  214. Spartacus says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I’m going to have to give you the last word, but I really do appreciate the exchange. Even when neither person is persuaded by the other’s argument, I still value a dialog that forces me to carefully think through my views.

  215. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @mantis:

    Would SCOTUS find that phone call metadata or Internet activity are owned physical areas protected from search under the 4th amendment as they did with a vehicle? Highly doubtful, and in fact the court found in Smith v. Maryland that lists of phone calls are not protected.

    This. Exactly. I’m reading a great deal of outrage which essentially devolves to “I do not like that!”

    Tough noogies. You do not own your phone records. People need to read and reread that statement until they grasp it in its entirety.

    You have zero – none – zippo expectation of privacy with regard to the information contained in them. The law loosely constrains the permissible reasons for which the government can seek those records, and those constraints revolve almost entirely around protected 1st Amendment activities.

    In other words, it is NOT a question of whether your privacy has been invaded. You have no privacy expectation with regard to phone records to begin with. It is a question of how the government may subsequently use the information contained in those records against you.

    Espionage is NOT protected under the 1st Amendment. Revealing classified documents and/or publishing the same is NOT protected under the 1st Amendment. Engaging in terrorism is NOT protected under the 1st Amendment.

    Beyond that, making a phone call in and of itself from a consumer line is not, and never can be, a criminal act. No US citizen is ever going to be convicted of anything solely based on the information contained in these records. IF, and that is a big if, those records suggest the prudence of a further criminal investigation, and if that investigation is conducted in a constitutional manner and if that investigation produces evidence of wrongdoing, then sure, you can expect to be prosecuted, but that’s pretty much the definition of the police process.

    In short, I’m hearing a great deal about “I do not like that we do this. It makes me uncomfortable and it makes me mad.” I get that. I do. I’m just not very concerned about that.

    What I’m concerned about, and also what I’m not really hearing, is “we should not be doing this, and here are the legal / constitutional reasons why.”

  216. @HarvardLaw92:

    What I’m concerned about, and also what I’m not really hearing, is “we should not be doing this, and here are the legal / constitutional reasons why.”

    Fun stuff you can do with metadata:

    http://kieranhealy.org/blog/archives/2013/06/09/using-metadata-to-find-paul-revere/

  217. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    That’s fluff, albeit it entertaining fluff. You didn’t answer the question.

  218. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @wr:

    Right now they’re a bunch of islolated criminals spread otu across half the globe, and we’re picking them off.

    Not to state the obvious, but how, exactly, do you think that we find these people in order to “pick them off”? Word of mouth? Ouija boards and crystal balls?

  219. @HarvardLaw92:

    “You didn’t answer the question.”

    No, I didn’t. Kieran did. Neither he nor I can get a person to accept an answer when it’s not the only one he already is certain is acceptable.

    “That’s fluff.”

    LOL, okay.

  220. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @kathy kattenburg:

    No, I didn’t. Kieran did. Neither he nor I can get a person to accept an answer when it’s not the only one he already is certain is acceptable.

    LOL, no, he used a historical funny to illustrate what can only be described as a criminal investigation. Remind me when those became either illegal or unconstitutional? Not to put too fine a point on it, but the actions undertaken by the founding fathers constituted treason. Treason that we find justifiable in hindsight, but treason nonetheless. The British would have been entirely justified in using techniques like this, had they been available at the time, to ferret out Revere, et al.

    I get that you do not like this concept. That it offends your sense of right and wrong and makes you uncomfortable. As I said above, I just don’t care about that and I’m not going to entertain it. Your comfort level is not my concern and, frankly, shouldn’t be the NSA’s concern either when prosecuting a war.

    What, specifically, makes this unconstitutional? How, specifically, has your reasonable expectation of privacy been violated? No need to cite more fluff pieces. Explain to me, in Kathy’s own words, why this is unconstitutional. For someone who doesn’t seem to be at a lack for words, that shouldn’t be a difficult request to meet.

  221. fred says:

    Fact is that if Pres Bush had prevented 9/11 and not lied the country into two illegal wars this focus on national security would not be on-going now. Our government has always taken steps to protect us and Bush and Cheney failed. Their follow-up reaction after the fact changed our country for generations to come especially how they used electronic technology in their policies. The info marketplace now does our country a great disservice by having this “conversation” as they, including Pres Obama, calls it. In fact they are educating our enemies everyday as to how US conducts security and safety matters for citizens. That is the most depressing fact and traitors such as Snowden should face the full force of justice. We have a defense department and military which is second to none. Let them do their job rather than outsourcing to contractors who care more about $s than our country.

  222. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @stonetools:

    I didn’t know Greenwald approached the government about redaction. Good for him.

    He didn’t approach them for redaction. He approached them for comment. Very different animals.

  223. “He didn’t approach them for redaction. He approached them for comment. Very different animals.”

    And they felt they really couldn’t ask him for redaction, because he only came to them for comment.

  224. “Explain to me, in Kathy’s own words, why this is unconstitutional. For someone who doesn’t seem to be at a lack for words, that shouldn’t be a difficult request to meet.”

    Yes, Daddy. It’s unconstitutional because it violates the spirit and the letter of the Fourth Amendment, which requires a warrant, issued upon demonstration of probable cause, to search or seize the personal phone and email records of 316 million Americans.

    Also, Daddy, from your claim that Americans give up ownership of their phone and email records when they sign up with a phone company and/or an Internet service provider, and transfer that ownership to said phone company and/or Internet service provider, even if true, it does not follow that said phone companies and/or ISPs have the right to hand said phone and email records over to the U.S. governemt, or that said U.S. government owns those phone and email records, and has the right to do with them whatever it wishes. (Yes, Daddy, the revised FISA statute does allow the U.S. government to look at individual Americans’ phone and email records without having to show probable cause. The only instance in which the U.S. government has to obtain a probable cause warrant is if those U.S. citizens are physically in the United States.) And even then, there is no way to independently verify that said warrant was obtained according to the requirements of the Fourth Amendment, because the FISA court operates in secret, which means that no one other than the government parties seeking the warrant and the judge knows the content of those proceedings.

    But Daddy, you really maybe should get stronger glasses, because I and others have said all this before.

    Now can I have my glass of chocolate milk?

  225. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    All that verbiage and you never managed to actually make a legal argument.

    I didn’t ask how Kathy THINKS it should be. I asked for a legal argument.

    They are not your phone records. They are Verizon’s phone records that describe your calling activities. You ceded any expectation of privacy with regard to that information when you passed the called number to the phone company. Verizon is free to do with said information as it pleases, including to reveal it to the authorities with or without a warrant as it chooses. In this case, a court order was obtained, but even if it hadn’t been & Verizon had been compelled to turn over the information involuntarily, VERIZON would have a privacy claim. YOU do not. This is the mistake that you seem determined to keep making: you are placing yourself into Verizon’s shoes, evidently in the erroneous belief that since the records concern you, you have a vested interest in control over their release. That is just not the case.

    I didn’t make that up. SCOTUS did, in Smith v. Maryland. Since you seem loathe to accept the word of an attorney concerning the law, perhaps you’d like to read it for yourself:

    Petitioner in all probability entertained no actual expectation of privacy in the phone numbers he dialed, and even if he did, his expectation was not “legitimate.” First, it is doubtful that telephone users in general have any expectation of privacy regarding the numbers they dial, since they typically know that they must convey phone numbers to the telephone company and that the company has facilities for recording this information and does in fact record it for various legitimate business purposes.
    {paragraph mine}
    And petitioner did not demonstrate an expectation of privacy merely by using his home phone rather than some other phone, since his conduct, although perhaps calculated to keep the contents of his conversation private, was not calculated to preserve the privacy of the number he dialed. Second, even if petitioner did harbor some subjective expectation of privacy, this expectation was not one that society is prepared to recognize as “reasonable.” When petitioner voluntarily conveyed numerical information to the phone company and “exposed” that information to its equipment in the normal course of business, he assumed the risk that the company would reveal the information to the police

    I mean hell, that opinion was written by Blackmun, who was never anybody’s idea of a conservative jurist. That should give you a clue just how far off the reservation of the reasonable you’ve wandered.

    As for your second paragraph – probable cause is NEVER required to obtain phone records, for ANYBODY, US citizen or otherwise, when the activity is intended to protect against terrorism. Why, you ask? Because again, under Smith, you have no privacy or ownership interest in those records to begin with. They are not your records. They are Verizon’s records, and you ceded whatever dubious privacy interest you may have had when you made the phone call and transmitted the information to the phone company.

    Now, the CONTENT of your conversation is protected. THAT requires a warrant predicated on probable cause to obtain. Again though, if you’re actually whack enough to believe that the NSA is interested in listening to Kathy’s phone calls, you’re beyond anybody’s help.

    You don’t enjoy absolute privacy. You never have and you never will. You’ll just have to find a way to live with that.

    Or just stop using the phone? LOL

  226. “Again though, if you’re actually whack enough to believe that the NSA is interested in listening to Kathy’s phone calls, you’re beyond anybody’s help.”

    Again though, if you’re stupid enough to believe that the NSA listening to my phone calls is the extent of the problem with this program, you’re beyond anyone’s help.

    As for the rest, all you’ve done here is repeat the same arguments you asked me to answer, which is what you’ve done throughout. There’s no point in my playing that game. If you say something new, that I haven’t already answered a dozen times, I’ll respond.

  227. @HarvardLaw92:

    “You don’t enjoy absolute privacy. You never have and you never will. You’ll just have to find a way to live with that.”

    Another endlessly repeated red herring. Nobody said there’s such a thing as absolute privacy. There’s no such thing as absolute security, either. I’ll take my personal civil and constitutional freedoms over a massive unsupervised, constitutionally dubious, government surveillance program any day. And in general, in any contest between intrusions on civil liberties and protection from terrorist attacks, as far as I’m concerned, civil liberties win hands down. There IS no contest. I’d rather have freedom to speak without fear, freedom to think without fear, freedom to choose my associations without fear, than have Big Brother tell me, ‘Just do as we say and we’ll keep you safe.’

    As for “You’ll just have to find a way to live with that,” that’s not my only choice, and you know it. You make your choice to let the government literally take every shred of privacy away from you; I will make my choice to fight.

  228. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    Again though, if you’re stupid enough to believe that the NSA listening to my phone calls is the extent of the problem with this program, you’re beyond anyone’s help.

    Surely you have evidence of this paranoid belief, right? I mean, I’ve been kind enough to cite the law, give you links to the relevant statutes, and even cite the text of actual cases from the Supreme Court backing up what I’m telling you. Your sole rebuttal is that an order demonstrating that the administration FOLLOWED the law is prima facie evidence that the administration violates the law with impunity?

    Sorry, that’s the land of the black helicopter tinfoilians. You’re speaking from your own paranoia, and you’ll have to pardon me for considering that to be a waste of my time.

    As for the rest, all you’ve done here is repeat the same arguments you asked me to answer, which is what you’ve done throughout.

    LOL, no shit. That’s usually what happens when you doing your best to explain something to someone that categorically refuses to accept it despite all manner of evidence supporting it. Your problem is that you are determined to believe A, even when the evidence patently tells you B. That’s a delusion, and paranoia is a delusional phenomenon.

  229. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    I’ll take my personal civil and constitutional freedoms over a massive unsupervised, constitutionally dubious, government surveillance program any day.

    Which ones have you lost, exactly?

    I’d rather have freedom to speak without fear, freedom to think without fear, freedom to choose my associations without fear

    There you go again. Why exactly do you think that Kathy would ever have reason to be afraid? What rational basis do you have for thinking that your thoughts, speech and associations would remotely be of interest to the government?

    Personally, I think you’re nucking futs, but I’ve tried to be civil and explain the law to you anyway. I see no point in continuing in that futility.

    I will make my choice to fight.

    LOL, with what. Protest signs? Best of luck, toots.

  230. @HarvardLaw92:

    “Your sole rebuttal is that an order demonstrating that the administration FOLLOWED the law is prima facie evidence that the administration violates the law with impunity?”

    No, actually, that isn’t my rebuttal, sole or otherwise. Go back and read everything I’ve written here if you really, sincerely believe that my rebuttal is that simple-minded. I refuse to continue to explain my argument to someone who refuses to characterize it accurately.

  231. @HarvardLaw92:

    “LOL, with what. Protest signs? Best of luck, toots.”

    Yes, of course, that’s the way the civil rights movement was fought, isn’t it? (Hint for the literal-minded: I’m being sarcastic.)

  232. “What rational basis do you have for thinking that your thoughts, speech and associations would remotely be of interest to the government?”

    History and experience.

    (Hint for the simple-minded: I’m not talking solely about my personal history or experience, or even at all.)

  233. @HarvardLaw92:

    “Personally, I think you’re nucking futs, but I’ve tried to be civil and explain the law to you anyway. I see no point in continuing in that futility.”

    See, we do have something in common.

    P.S. “I’ve tried… to explain the law to you…”

    I thank God that not all lawyers are this simple-minded.

  234. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    Go back and read everything I’ve written here if you really, sincerely believe that my rebuttal is that simple-minded.

    I have. It’s a pretty consistent and concise statement of “Those bastards shouldn’t be able to do that. That is not fair. Unconstitutional blah blah blah rights blah blah blah 4th Amendment blah blah blah”

    In a word – boo fricking hoo. The laws allow them to do it. The courts have (repeatedly) found them to be constitutional. The administration followed the law, to the letter in fact, in this instance. You have zero evidence that they have violated the law in other nebulous cases which you can neither identify nor describe with any degree of specificity, yet you are convinced not only that this nebulous wrongdoing exists, but also that it targets you in particular.

    At what point did you expect that I was going to take you, or anybody else operating from such a moonunit position, seriously.

    I refuse to continue to explain my argument to someone who refuses to characterize it accurately.

    I’m still not sure that you understand it yourself. Take your meds …

  235. “It’s a pretty consistent and concise statement of “Those bastards shouldn’t be able to do that. That is not fair. Unconstitutional blah blah blah rights blah blah blah 4th Amendment blah blah blah.””

    This speaks for itself.

    “The laws allow them to do it.”

    Yes, that’s true. The laws allow them to do it. Is this really what you consider an intelligent or convincing argument? Really? And you probably don’t even understand why anyone would ask that question.

    “The courts have (repeatedly) found them to be constitutional.”

    Have the courts ruled on the constitutionality of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008? I wasn’t aware of that. Even if they have, no legal ruling is ever final, not even if it’s the Supreme Court.

    “The administration followed the law, to the letter in fact, in this instance.”

    This may or may not be true. You don’t know. No one else does, either.

    “You have zero evidence that they have violated the law in other nebulous cases ….”

    Actually, there have been a number of cases in which the Obama administration HAS been accused of violating the law, but it’s meaningless to say that we have no evidence the law WAS actually violated, because the DOJ and the White House always flatly refuse to defend those cases in court because that would require providing supporting documents — evidence — and they won’t do that, because they say it’s all classified. In other words, when legal cases have been filed in court to challenge the legality of specific actions, the Obama admin has said they can’t even discuss the legality, because discussing the legality would endanger national security. They can’t even acknowledge that programs exist, or that specific actions were taken, or provide their legal reasoning for the constitutionality of such cases or programs (including the one we’re discussing) because it’s all secret. It’s all classified. They can’t even tell us why it’s legal or defend themselves against charges they broke the law, because all of that is shhhh, hush hush, top secret, classified. Can’t even discuss the program. Can’t even acknowledge it exists. Judge must dismiss the case because the country will explode if the govt. talks about it at all.

  236. @HarvardLaw92:

    “… yet you are convinced not only that this nebulous wrongdoing exists, but also that it targets you in particular.”

    No. Again.

  237. “” Take your meds …”

    Pick up a fucking history book and read it. That’s more to the point.”

  238. TastyBits says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    Property rights are the basis for civil liberties. @HarvardLaw92 is documenting the existing legal/governmental framework. I dislike it, but he/she is correct. You own very little of your data, and @HarvardLaw92 could cite case after case. In many of these cases, property was not the basis, but it was the underlying principle.

    When you are using free services, you are trading the value of your data for the value of their service. This is often explicitly stated in the “Terms of Use” agreement. In the case of paid services, data ownership has been claimed by the service provider.

    If you were able to establish your data is your property, the government would still have a claim on your property. The Commerce Clause has been transformed into a catch-all for regulation of property. The problem is that there are legitimate reasons for the government to exert a claim on private property, and this has been used to erode property rights.

    The Commerce Clause is probably the basis for many of the government actions you support, and many Libertarians are willing to grant businesses an individual’s property.

  239. “Property rights are the basis for civil liberties.”

    I don’t understand what you mean by this. I get your point about property rights as they relate to emails and phone calls, but you seem to be saying ALL civil liberties are determined by property rights? How is that?

    “@HarvardLaw92 is documenting the existing legal/governmental framework. I dislike it, but he/she is correct.”

    That’s a crucial difference, though, between your argument and HarvardLaw’s. You dislike it; he/she is fine with it. That makes a huge difference in the way I, at least, am going to respond in this context.

  240. TastyBits says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    Property is not limited to physical or virtual objects. It is also ideas. Civil rights are usually understood to be rights of an individual, and that is the context of my statement. It may seem trite, but an individual must be able claim their physical body as their property. The individual must be able to perform actions with/upon their property, but there is a restriction to not violate any other individual’s property.

    Your right to freedom of Speech is not about talking. It is about your thoughts/ideas, and the actions you will perform with that thoughts. For this to be a meaningful right, your thoughts/ideas must be yours, and you must be able to do with them what you want.

    Freedom to peaceably assemble requires a body, a thought(s), and possibly a sign with your thought. Freedom of religion is similar. With the exception of the 10th Amendment, the Bill of Rights is about property and actions performed with/upon this property.

    For most people, this an esoteric and meaningless argument, but without a sound philosophical basis, civil liberties are subjective. Property rights provide an anchor point, and without that anchor, your civil liberties are malleable.

    I am more concerned with private companies owning my data. With the government, my options may be limited, but with private companies, I realistically have none. Google, AT&T, MasterCard, etc. can afford the lawyers that I cannot.

  241. “It may seem trite, but an individual must be able claim their physical body as their property.”

    That does not seem at all trite. I don’t know your gender, but as a woman the idea that an individual must be able to claim their body as their property has been pretty central to my life, as it continues to be now to my daughter.

  242. TastyBits says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    Throughout history, places with more freedom have stronger property rights, and where women are able to own property, I suspect they enjoyed more freedom.

    Not long ago, some rape laws included an exemption for a wife, and a husband could not legally rape his wife. Essentially, a husband had a claim on his wife’s body. Before slavery was abolished, a slave was property, and since a person would not willingly damage his property, a slave who died during a whipping would not be considered murder.

    In a word – boo fricking hoo. The laws allow them to do it. The courts have (repeatedly) found them to be constitutional. …

    Now get to the back of the bus.

  243. Amos Jones says:

    @Allan Bourdius: Toss him in a cell with Manning, wait thirty years, then let them both out. I despise traitors.