Friday, June 7, 2013

Things you should read about the NSA surveillance program

There's an awful lot of noise out there right now about this whole NSA story. In order to balance that out a bit, here are a few things I suggest that you take the time to read.

From the Director of NSA, a response to the leak about Verizon and a response to the leak about PRISM.

Along the lines of what the Director of NSA said in that first link, here's a former general counsel of the NSA describing how he assumes the surveillance program works.

When President Obama said we need to have a conversation about the balance between security and civil liberties, he was talking about needing to confront what Josh Barro describes in: Massive Government Spying is the Result of a Public Obsessed with Eliminating Terrorism.

Ron Brownstein points to a recent poll where 85 percent of adults surveyed said it was likely that their "communications history, like phone calls, e-mails, and Internet use," was "available for businesses, government, individuals, and other groups to access without your consent." And the poll was taken BEFORE the NSA story broke.

But I saved the best for last. From a REAL investigative reporter who created the most amazing series ever known to television (so relevantly named The Wire) - the one and only David Simon - comes this.
Is it just me or does the entire news media – as well as all the agitators and self-righteous bloviators on both sides of the aisle — not understand even the rudiments of electronic intercepts and the manner in which law enforcement actually uses such intercepts? It would seem so.

Because the national eruption over the rather inevitable and understandable collection of all raw data involving telephonic and internet traffic by Americans would suggest that much of our political commentariat, many of our news gatherers and a lot of average folk are entirely without a clue.

You would think that the government was listening in to the secrets of 200 million Americans from the reaction and the hyperbole being tossed about. And you would think that rather than a legal court order which is an inevitable consequence of legislation that we drafted and passed, something illegal had been discovered to the government’s shame.

Nope. Nothing of the kind. Though apparently, the U.K.’s Guardian, which broke this faux-scandal, is unrelenting in its desire to scale the heights of self-congratulatory hyperbole.
Now go read the whole damn thing from a guy who knows a thing or two about what he's talking about. So great to watch the amazing Simon take down the idiot Greenwald!


  1. "You would think that the government was listening in to the secrets of 200 million Americans..."

    The leak is only part of the truth. Yes, I think the government is listening in to every conversation it's technically possible to listen to. There goes a right we used to have.

    Charles said it best:

    1. I'm going to guess that you didn't read the whole Simon article. You really should.

    2. Given that it takes one "spy" 5 minutes to listen to a 5 minute phone call and 10 minutes to listen to a 10 minute phone call and so forth and so on, we would be at almost 0% unemployment if the federal government hired enough people to listen to the contents of even 3% of the phone calls made or recieved by 2 hundred million americans.

    3. My organization WAS hacked in 2003 just after the war started. A total stranger called to recount an entirely private email discussion my Board members had had that morning. No time for a warrant; no way to know this without hacking and reading all that was posted. What did the caller want? Names and addresses of each Board member. I refused.

      Now metadata without intrusion - no listening in, no links of numbers to you, all lawfully applied for, lawfully obtained, and NOW you're worried? There is not a shred of evidence upholding to your 'listening in' fervor. Nope. Not happening. Did. Isn't. Time to be glad we have an administration that believes in and follows the law. Sorry - you are not a victim. I suppose it would be asking too much for you to become active in trying to change the Patriot Act. That would take away time from hand wringing, but there it is. You want to end these practices, you need to change the law. And you need to vote.

    4. nationofmillionsJune 9, 2013 at 12:12 PM

      Charlie is cool style-wise, but when it comes to the big 'O', he always tries to prove that he's stronger, faster, smarter than the Prez, forever quibbling about style points. Such a turn-off. C'mon, Chuckleluffagus, give the Black Man his props, yo. Last straw for me was the "Fire Holder" premature 'jac. Clearly, he could take a lesson from the man who said "I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak". Personally, I'm a little tired of white folks telling me how to feel about my President, like I'm too fucking stupid to think for myself. Right now Balloon Juice has been overrun with those types, GG lovers who can't get over the fact that they lost and nobody really takes their shit seriously 'cos it's barely one step removed from reich-wing hatespew. To paraphrase a slogan from 13 years hence: You lost. Get the fuck over it.

  2. David Simon really did nail it. Thanks for showing us that essay.

  3. I wonder why the pundits aren't asking questions about the recent leaker.

    I would ask..Why now?

    The leaker gave the Guardian a Power Point presentation of very classified material.

    1. Is it a disgruntled employee who's tired of the secret spying on American citizens?
    2. Is it a patriot who thinks we keep to recapture our morals and restore our civil liberties?
    3. Is it political?
    4. Is it the media retaliating?

    I'm sure there is more to come but I've run out of who and why.

    1. Media pundits won't ask those questions because they will view it as their job to protect the leaker. So its going to be our job to ask those questions.

      Greenwald gave us a hint about the leaker in the WaPo story about him:

      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.”

      So its someone who wanted Greenwald to do with it exactly what he's done.

    2. There's always the biggie - money.

    3. You forgot one,,,,Is it a Traitor trying to destroy us....I do not see these leaks as saving democracy..i see them as traitorous these so-called libertarians feel the same outrage at NYs stop and the attacks on black and brown folks right to vote...etc....there are too many to mention...when I see the same outrage delivered to that....then I can care what these folks claim

  4. It summertime - so basically, the Pundit Class are really desperate to get back the audience they lost to major league baseball and Iron Man 3. Rachel Maddow and Rush Limbaugh jumping up and down about......... something that's been around since 2008?!

    Look, you can be mad at Obama on spying on you, but you should realize that you basically supported these orders willy-nilly when we all blindly voted for Congress.

  5. So where do we find the Simon article?

    1. Click on "David Simon" in the paragraph where I introduce it.