Friday, June 21, 2013


In which Kevin Drum at "Mother Jones" posts a fairly straightforward recap of "Today In Snowwaldenian" that uses almost nothing but citations from leaked documents along with several caveats: cautions about the freshness date on those documents, how things might have changed in secret in the four years since one of them was drafted, and how ongoing secrecy make it difficult to figure out how often data about "U.S. persons" are inadvertently captured or how big a truck you can drive through the "inadvertent" loophole itself.

Here's How the NSA Decides Who It Can Spy On

—By Kevin Drum| Thu Jun. 20, 2013 9:57 PM PDT

The NSA isn't allowed to spy on Americans, but the nature of modern communication doesn't always make it obvious whether a phone call or email is foreign or domestic. This means that in the course of its normal business of spying on foreigners, NSA will inevitably collect information it shouldn't have. Certain rules, called "minimization procedures," define what NSA is required to do when it discovers that it has inadvertently captured a U.S. person in its surveillance dragnet.

Today, in the latest release of classified NSA documents from Glenn Greenwald, we finally got a look at these minimization procedures...


Watching this singular, defining cognitive impairment of the Greenwaldians -- this instant dismissal of/attack on anyone who asks any questions or pushes back against flaws or anomalies in the story -- manifest itself over and over again in public is both entertaining and sad.

They are incapable of seeing this automatic-zombie-bite-bite-bite reflex as others see it, or perceiving any mention of it as anything other than a further assault on their snow-white virtue and/or a mindless defense of everything President Barack Milhous O'Cheney  has said or done.

It's tragically ludicrous.

Like when a clown dies.


Anonymous said...

"You got to love the moving of the goalposts that has taken place since 2005. Back then, when Glenn Greenwald wrote "warrantless wiretaps" it referred to wiretaps that took place without authorization from the FISA court. In 2013 when Glenn Greenwald writes "warrantless wiretaps" it means wiretaps with authorization from the FISA court. All's fair in love and advocacy I guess."
- commenter at Mother Jones

Man I am just not getting this...
How in gods name does this thing have the legs it has?
It sure can't be the story itself, which has now been revised and redacted back into the unrecognizable mush of common public knowledge it was 1 day before it its own authors!

All I hear now is:... " was just a fucking blowjob..none of is my business!!....
"But thats not the issue! He lied about it!
LIED I tell you!!!

...anyway, hang in there! You are, unequivocally, on the correct side of history with this one.

OBS said...

I'm not a fan of Drum or Greenwald (generally) so this is double-extra tragically funny to watch. Like a two-clown-car pileup.

DocAmazing said...

While I am not an unalloyed fan of Greenwald--he has taken Koch money and is a Libertarian of long standing--Drum's got stains on his credibility, too, the largest of which is early support for the Iraq War. Drum's post is balanced, and that's good, but I can surely understand a reflexive suspicion of Drum given his history.

Unsalted Sinner said...

"Were you OK in 2005 with Bush NSA program on ground it only eavesdropped on Americans when talking to foreign surveillance targets?"

Says the guy who described his views in 2003 thus:

"I had not abandoned my trust in the Bush administration. Between the president’s performance in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the swift removal of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the fact that I wanted the president to succeed, because my loyalty is to my country and he was the leader of my country, I still gave the administration the benefit of the doubt. I believed then that the president was entitled to have his national security judgment deferred to, and to the extent that I was able to develop a definitive view, I accepted his judgment that American security really would be enhanced by the invasion of this sovereign country."

Way to go, Mr. Purity.


mahakal said...

Kevin Drum says: "What's more, if collection of domestic content genuinely is inadvertent, and is only occasionally turned over to other agencies when there's evidence of serious crime, we should all feel better about this."

Oh, so much better.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

On the other hand, Kevin Drum is acknowledged as the progenitor of Caturday, so he has a lot to answer for.

mahakal said...

Fortunately, Charles Pierce still has a way with words nearly rivaling our DG: "If you look at the phrase 'inadvertently acquired' and see a loophole through which you could sail the Nimitz, you win the House Cup."

n1ck said...

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

But you guys are forgetting one key component of all of this:


Carry on.

driftglass said...

Charlie Pierce's kung fu is strong and he usually roots the important truffle out of the Big Internet Shouting Match

Anonymous said...

Another such exchange here.

His "attack the messenger" style is well mimicked by his trolling minions...Is there some kind of on line class he is teaching?
Really, it comes across like a lawyer, defending a going after the victim for wearing a short skirt.

Anonymous said...

Pierce tries to find the one important aspect of the debate in the weeds, and draw the whole crowd over to look..without pissing any side off too much. Can't blame him...In these tenuous times for actual writing...Esquire money is no money to be trifled with. They must be making something off of the never ending phalanx of pop ups and blurbs you have to wade through to actually get to read the story.

Lumpy Lang said...

REPORTER: Stig, I've been told that Dinsdale Pirhana nailed your head to the floor.

STIG: No! No, never! He was a smashin bloke. Used to buy his mother flowers n' that. He was like a brother to me!

REPORTER: But the police have film of Dinsdale nailing your head to the floor.

STIG: Oh yeah, well... He did that, ya.


STIG: Well, he had to, didn't he? I mean be fair! There was nothing he could do! I had transgressed the unwritten law.

REPORTER: What had you done?

STIG: Well, he never told me that, but he gave me his word that it was the case... and that's good enough for me with old Dinsey! I mean, he didn't want to nail my head to the floor, I had to insist! He was gonna let me off!... there's nothing Dinsdale wouldn't do for ya!

Just replace 'Stig' with Droneglass and 'Dinsdale Pirhana' with Obama and that pretty well sums it up.

mahakal said...

Btw, N1ck, I've never called DG names like Droneglass. Just fwiw. If I ever felt that he was so far gone that I couldn't respect him on his own blog, I wouldn't bother reading or commenting here. Which is why I find Limpy so annoying, frankly.

Anonymous said...


I won't bother to transcribe it..since you know ..I have a life. But I found the video you and troll friends use to train.
Here's your handful of mud..and a kick in the pants. You have certainly graduated. Now, at long last, just go away.

jim said...

Some of the Aluminum Fedora persuasion might point out that Snowden is rumoured to be a Paultard & the IRS cracker-downer/leaker was a conservative too - & quip that their Ratfuck Bingo Card sure is filling up mighty fast all of a sudden ...

prof_fate said...

While you're all having great fun tallying up Greenwald's many failings as a journalist and human being, I'd like to know if anyone would care to take a break and comment on this latest from the Most Transparent Administration Ever TM via McClatchy:

President Barack Obama’s unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, is sweeping in its reach. It has received scant public attention even though it extends beyond the U.S. national security bureaucracies to most federal departments and agencies nationwide, including the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture departments. It emphasizes leaks of classified material, but catchall definitions of “insider threat” give agencies latitude to pursue and penalize a range of other conduct.

Government documents reviewed by McClatchy illustrate how some agencies are using that latitude to pursue unauthorized disclosures of any information, not just classified material. They also show how millions of federal employees and contractors must watch for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers and could face penalties, including criminal charges, for failing to report them. Leaks to the media are equated with espionage.

I have to admit, in forty years of voting Democratic, I honestly never thought I'd see a president from my party taking East Germany as a model for running the executive branch. In the middle of a messy divorce? Have a family member who's desperately ill? Prone to disagreeing with or speaking disrespectfully of higher-ups? Visit or the Onion on-line during your lunch hour? Congrabulations: Yer a potential threat to our nation's security! Your fellow employees will be watching your every move. And reporting on you. Or else they too will be liable to criminal penalties.

Kind of makes every time this man uses the word "transparency" a particularly sick joke, doesn't it? Unless he's using an old-style overhead projector.

The funny thing is, if I were to say corporations can be trusted to regulate themselves, and to do it in total secrecy, you guys would be on my case. And rightly so. Even the most rudimentary grasp of recent history or even just human nature, would tell you it's a self-evidently idiotic thing to say.

But even with their long, sordid record of abusing the public trust, of spectacular failures, of a repeated willingness to use their powers to destroy people who haven't threatened the state, but merely embarrassed its custodians, we can trust the NSA and the rest of the Surveillance State to police itself. Honest. Cross its heart and hope to die. And a secret FISA court so compliant it gives new meaning to the term "rubber stamp" is an effective check on it.

Down in my neck of the woods, we just had the Deputy Director of our Department of the Environment equating complaints about water quality to an "act of terrorism". And you're trying to tell me this shit isn't way, way out of control?

It seems like cognitive impairment isn't exclusive to Greenwaldians.

And kudos to you, too, driftglass, for having come up with a term every bit as polarizing and demeaning as "Obot". Obot, fanboy, Greenwaldian: these are all terms designed to shut down the discussion, not to get at the truth. Personally, I don't care for them.

Anonymous said...


...Oh, I am inventing a new one for this.
Guess what it means?


You know drifty, at this point it is starting to feel like you are just punishing your long time / reader commenters?
What did we do to deserve Lumpik, Compound al?

Unknown said...

Greenwald is squandering his talent, his reach and his reputation at a remarkably swift pace. He's latched onto a giant story, a great story, and has no clue what to do with it, hasn't worked it past square one, can't advance it at all. But he sure as hell can find the time and the energy to respond to even the most remote demurral. Siccing himself and his acolytes on the mild-mannered dialectics of nice guy Kevin Drum for God's sake. Really, the hysteria and pearl-clutching is all too much. Greenwald needs to turn the volume down on his super-duper hyper hearing and just work the fucking story before McClatchy and Mother Jones mop the floor with him.