published Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Big Brother working? The world still turns

The National Security Agency building is in Fort Meade, Md.
The National Security Agency building is in Fort Meade, Md.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The public may be shrugging off the news of being treated like terrorists to be protected from terrorists, but the American Civil Liberties Union and the big guns of the Internet already are bringing legal actions.

Google has asked for government permission to reveal details about the classified requests the technology company receives for the personal information of foreign users.

And the ACLU Tuesday sued to bar the "dragnet" collection of phone records and asked that courts order the already collected information be "purged."

Some believe the ACLU suit, filed in New York, could set up an eventual Supreme Court test and focus attention on the phones disclosure amid the larger surveillance issue disclosed by Edward J. Snowden, 29, a former National Security Agency contractor who on Sunday said he was the source of a series of disclosures by The Guardian and The Washington Post.

ACLU's lawsuit claims the NSA's phone records collection "gives the government a comprehensive record of our associations and public movements, revealing a wealth of detail about our familial, political, professional, religious and intimate associations." The complaint says it "is likely to have a chilling effect on whistle-blowers and others who would otherwise contact" the ACLU for legal assistance.

The ACLU has raised questions before over national security policies, but courts have dismissed cases without any ruling on the legal merits after the government argued that litigation over any classified program would reveal state secrets or that the plaintiffs could not prove they were personally affected and so lacked standing to sue.

This case may be different, according to The New York Times. The government has now declassified the existence of the program on domestic call record "metadata." And the ACLU itself is a customer of Verizon Business Network Services.

Meanwhile, however, a majority of Americans don't seem to care.

A Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll found that 56 percent of Americans consider it "acceptable" that the National Security Agency is using secret court orders to collect telephone call records of millions of Americans. And a 62 percent majority believe it's more important for the government to investigate terrorist threats, even if those investigations intrude on personal privacy. Only 41 percent call the practice "unacceptable."

Support drops when it comes to government monitoring of emails, but even here, the public is fairly evenly split.

Some 45 percent of all Americans say the government should be able to go further than it is, saying that it should be able to monitor everyone's online activity if doing so would prevent terrorist attacks. Another 52 percent say no such broad-based monitoring should be allowed.

Of course, we still don't know if there are any real-world examples of these efforts identifying and thwarting terrorist actions.

We're fearing fear.

Or perhaps another way to put it is that we're trusting our government more than we're trusting the specter of more terrorist attacks.

No matter how we view the question, the answer is distasteful.

Absolutely nothing is private, and the genie won't fit back into the bottle.

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nucanuck said...

Ed Snowden had a good job and a pretty good future when he decided that he, his company, and his country were on the wrong course. With nothing to gain and everything to lose, he decided that a clear conscience was worth losing it all. He gave up the life he had for a probable life behind bars. He blew his whistle as long and loud as he knew how and you have to believe that he thought he was doing it for his country. What other motive seems likely?

Is he stupid or crazy? Neither appear to be the case. Like Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, Bradley Manning and the WikiLeaks release of the video showing American soldiers committing war crimes, Ed Snowden was driven by something deep from within...something that would seem to be a selfless devotion to a higher principle.

But that is not the government view and never has been when embarrassing behavior, contrary to our Constitution, is released without authorization (whistle blowing). Snowden will be demonized as defective, a traitor, troubled, unstable, and on and on. He will be hunted down like a dog, jailed without judicial process for a long, long time. He will be stripped of any reasonable defense for whatever charges are eventually presented, based on national security concerns. He will no doubt, spend the rest of his life in Federal prison.

Snowden will lose his freedom trying to help us and we will not rally to his/our cause. We could stand up in solidarity for a brave man, but we won't. Most of us will agree that he must be a traitor because our government says so.

Because it's slow, like the frog in the pot, we don't feel our civil liberties being stripped away, one by one, slowly, often secretly, over time.

How did tyranny and fascism ever work their way into the American Way?

June 12, 2013 at 1:13 a.m.
klifnotes said...

But why now, nucanuck? Especially, since the has been going on since 2006 and not even a burp, blink or yawn from anyone. So it took 7 years for anyone to realize the federal gov. has been gathering info on American citizens for.............7 years?

June 12, 2013 at 9:11 a.m.
Leaf said...

Why not now? Maybe this is the straw that breaks the camel's back.

June 12, 2013 at 9:54 a.m.
soakya said...

leaf, because as a senator and candidate for president he rejected the ideal we had to sacrifice our freedoms for safety, as did his vice president. His White House was going to be more transparent. He has said numerous times the war on terror is over, so why continue the program? Plus, I don't believe 6 years ago the scope of the operation was as large. Trust him and us(government) to do the right thing, they won't abuse this power. A man that has to consistently point out he is above reproach is more than likely not. Can you or anyone give some evidence where any government should be trusted, and I'm including the last administration too. Let me ask a question, Where did the ideal that we should trust government originate? Certainly not from the constitution. A document that limits the federal government reach and has built in checks and balances.

June 12, 2013 at 12:06 p.m.
jjmez said...

But will the real culprits behind it be revealed? Or will the present president take the fall, as likely planned? The real culprits are the ones feigning shock and awe. When in reality, they've been a part of government overreach from the beginning.

June 12, 2013 at 12:08 p.m.
soakya said...

I hope none of the regular posters on here who support this invasion of privacy have future plans to run for any political office. Some of the comments posted here is the kind of information that could be used to destroy your chances of winning any office. For that matter it could be used just to embarrass for any reason. Most on here choose to remain anonymous for a reason. Does it bother the supporters that if the government wanted to they could expose every anonymous person on every web site even though you have a constitutional right to remain anonymous?

June 12, 2013 at 12:38 p.m.
nucanuck said...

I want to think that this is a patriotic, not a partisan, issue. Why would politics enter into Snowden's mind and even if it did, who benefits or loses?

The security apparatus in the US is now so large and unwieldy that no political party or President can or could control it. The US has worldwide black ops and off-budget expenditures through multiple agencies and sub-contractors that must make up a good piece of GDP. These excesses have built up over time and for various reasons. They now constitute a danger to the country, IMO.

So how do we scale them back or shut them down? We can't! In aggregate these operations have more actual power than does our political system, which is designed to be fractured. This is the road to tyranny and we are on it.

June 12, 2013 at 2:33 p.m.
potcat said...

Distasteful hmmm, you should know.

I'm not so naive as to believe that the people at this paper or the goverment don't know who Potcat, Soakya or Leaf are if they were inclined to know so.

Just to post on these threads at the paper you give up personal information, anonymous, please.

June 12, 2013 at 2:40 p.m.
soakya said...

In light of the IRS, EPA, Bengazi, HHS and the justice department scandals anyone who believes the collection of over 100 million phone records of Americans is to stop terrorism is naïve.

Joe Biden said in 2006 "“I don’t have to listen to your phone calls to know what you’re doing. If I know every single phone call you made, I’m able to determine every single person you talked to. I can get a pattern about your life that is very, very intrusive,” he told CBS News

June 12, 2013 at 4:59 p.m.
klifnotes said...

from: altntorg:


"PRISM – which was created in 2007 during the Bush Administration – is almost certainly the most far-reaching surveillance program ever created. By reaching into the servers of 9 different major U.S. internet companies - including Facebook, Google and Apple - the NSA has access to millions of users' personal data, including emails, chats and videos."

"Although PRISM is supposed to only be used to gain information about "foreign individuals" suspected of terrorism – the very methods used to access such information inevitably suck up the private data of American citizens"

June 12, 2013 at 6:04 p.m.
klifnotes said...

On Benghazi:

From StarTribune/Nation:

"Top military leader says Army special forces never told to stand down after Benghazi attack"

WASHINGTON — "The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Wednesday that four members of Army special forces in Tripoli were never told to stand down after last year's deadly assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, disputing a former top diplomat's claim that the unit might have helped Americans under siege.

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said timing and the need for the unit to help with casualties from Benghazi resulted in orders for the special forces to remain in Tripoli. Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, died in two separate attacks several hours apart on the night of Sept. 11.

Gregory Hicks, a former diplomat in Tripoli at the time of the attack, told a House panel last month that the unit was told to stand down.

Dempsey said that was not the case."

June 12, 2013 at 6:26 p.m.
klifnotes said...

Issa a disappointing flop?

huffington post:

Issa, who made no secret of his ambition, took over the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, vowing to use the power of his chairmanship to stage hundreds of hearings and hold the Obama administration to account. Anticipating what he promised would be “constant battle,” the White House hired extra lawyers and braced for the onslaught.

But Issa wasn’t the force people expected him to be. His biggest investigation, into the botched anti-gun smuggling operation that left a Border Patrol agent dead, incited right-wing talk radio listeners. Beyond that, though, it barely registered. After two years in power, Issa seemed more bark than bite.

Then came last month’s revelation that IRS agents had singled out Tea Party groups for special scrutiny. Here was an issue that seized public attention and posed a legitimate threat to Obama. Since then, nobody in Congress has pushed harder than Issa to pin the scandal on the White House.

Issa hasn’t made the all-important connection to the White House. And he may not be able to. The news this week that he won’t release the full transcripts of his interviews with IRS officials—interviews he selectively quoted from to imply White House complicity—suggests that what they contain may in fact exonerate the administration of the very charge Issa is laboring so hard to prosecute

And for all of you who are always griping about your tax dollars being wasted, how much of your tax dollars has been spent on attempting to sabotage and bring down the president?

June 13, 2013 at 8:20 p.m.
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