Thursday, June 06, 2013

Excellent Reporting by Mr. Greenwald

If you have not read this alarming piece of journalism by Glenn Greenwald, you really should:
NSA collecting phone records of millions of Americans daily - revealed
Exclusive: Top secret court order requiring Verizon to hand over all call data shows scale of domestic surveillance under Obama

The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largesttelecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.
The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.
The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.
The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19...
While the situation is not as awful as it could be --
While the order itself does not include either the contents of messages or the personal information of the subscriber of any particular cell number...
-- the number of doors that the Patriot Act kicked open and the number of actions it legalized in the name of national security is still deeply disturbing:
The law on which the order explicitly relies is the so-called "business records" provision of the Patriot Act, 50 USC section 1861. That is the provision which Wyden and Udall have repeatedly cited when warning the public of what they believe is the Obama administration's extreme interpretation of the law to engage in excessive domestic surveillance.

In a letter to attorney general Eric Holder last year, they argued that "there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows."

"We believe," they wrote, "that most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted" the "business records" provision of the Patriot Act.
Mr. Pierce does the unpleasant remindy thing which is why he does not get invited into respectable homes:
The other thing I hoped would not happen -- but was very confident would happen -- was that the architects of the regime that made this business as usual would step forward now and claimed that their own dingo had eaten their babies.

"As the author of the Patriot Act, I am extremely troubled by the FBI's interpretation of this legislation," he said in a statement. "While I believe the Patriot Act appropriately balanced national security concerns and civil rights, I have always worried about potential abuses. He added: "The Bureau's broad application for phone records was made under the so-called business records provision of the Act. I do not believe the broadly drafted FISA order is consistent with the requirements of the Patriot Act. Seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American."

See also: "Fk, Oh For The Love Of," That horse left the barn in 2002. Jim Sensenbrenner's the one who took the hinges off the barn door.
For the record, back in the early days of the Web, the company I worked for was being courted by a Cambridge firm that wanted to build an "internet application" which we could wrap itself around our 30-year-old legacy systems  (and would subsequently be used by our field offices with those newfangled "laptop" computers, which should give you some idea how far back we're going.).  It turned out to be one of the earliest such apps ever built for private industry, and during the courting rituals, the Cambridge firm put on an amazing and slightly terrifying demonstration of the sort of individualized customer profile you could create based on nothing but information available in existing, publicly-accessible databases.) 

I am old enough to be painfully aware that our elected government -- whether well-intentioned or malevolently-inclined or simply corrupt -- can be relied on to virtually always act exactly like my stepkids at bedtime: take things right up to the absolute limit of the house rules...and still not budge until I explicitly tell them its time for bed...and then beg and plead and stall and wheedle for anything more they can get...and then come down a few minutes after that because they somehow forgot to get a drink of water for the 725th night in a row...and then -- Oh noes!  I totally forgot this thing that is due tomorrow!  

and then, a few minutes later, down they come because there might be monsters under the bed.

My stepchildren are also all very gifted junior attorneys who can turn any clear-cut case of violating our house rules into an exhausting game of loophole parsing and past exception citing.  They also show a capacity for generating deflector fields ("Yes, but four months ago ago you forgot to read me a story, so now...") that would awe the crew of the starship Enterprise and which display mnemonic skill completely at odds with their otherwise apparently crippling inability to remember from day to day when it is time to go to bed.

Grownups set prudent limits and enforce them, usually with a lot of haggling that we sometimes later regret.

Children strain mightily against those limits but however much latitude we might grant them on special occasions, they should never be allowed to decide their own bedtime.

Go read the rest here.


gratuitous said...

What?! Complimenting a Glenn Greenwald story? What's next, you guys gonna stand with Rand if he says something not completely looney tunes?

Gettin' soft, DG.

Anonymous said...

Good afternoon, Mr. Glass.

It's the "millions of Americans" part that I don't like. I can't wrap my head around the idea that there are millions of people in this country alone who are trying to kill us.

Either I'm reading this all wrong, or I'm suffering a failure of imagination, or the government's looking at tons and tons of people they damned well know they shouldn't...for reasons I can't figure out.

Enjoy the rest of your day.

---Kevin Holsinger

n1ck said...

Ah man, since you didn't piss off the Glen Greenwald worshipers (one p!) I won't get to see the troll pop in to call you Droneglass.

Witty, that troll is.

Anonymous said...

Afraid I have to go along with the Rude one's take on this: We were screwed the minute we allowed the Patriot Act genie out of the bottle...and again when we allowed trawling without FISA approval to go unpunished (as many pointed out at the time). But of course, way back then, the possibility of a dem president was should they worry?
It should be the default assumption that any electronic communication is being monitored (because the NSA already admitted that is the case long ago)
Barn door open...horses long gone...

Lumpy Lang said...

"I am old enough to be painfully aware that our elected government -- whether well-intentioned or malevolently-inclined or simply corrupt..."

Droneglass misses or deliberatly obscures the significant difference between 'the government'(i.e. the transient officeholders) and the 'state' - the permanent apparatus which wields the actual power, and seeks constantly to enhance its monopoly of force at the expense of the ruled.

Hence it's irrelevant under which party the hard-won rights of the citizen are done away with - once lost they will not be (so easily) regained.

Anonymous said...

Let 'em decide their own bedtime every once in a while. It's wake-up time they shouldn't touch.

Pinkamena Panic said...

Notre the Greenrube has to FIND something to attack DG about.

I'd call it pathetic but it doesn't even reach that level.

Hamfast Ruddyneck said...

Dare I hope that the assimilation is failing, and Drifty will return to his former outsider glory? :D

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

What, you have to agree slavishly with Gleen Greenwald to be an outsider?

How about we try and keep the gatekeeping to a minimum?

This kind of reporting is why I used to read Greenwald.

His incessant, virulent, and petulant attacks on potential allies and people who largely agree with him are the reasons I stopped. Well, that and he writes so poorly.

heh. Amusingly, one of the capcha words is 'sermons'.

Hamfast Ruddyneck said...

No, ZRM, Drifty has not been endangering his outsider status by disagreeing with, and sometimes bashing, Glenzilla.

Outsider status, or "coolness", is largely a function of one's distance from the Establishment. Drifty has been endangering his outsider status by being too friendly to the current administration, which by definition is part of The Establishment.

If Drifty were saying GG wasn't hard enough on the Warfare State and its operators and minions, he'd be burnishing his outsider status rather than corroding it.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

I don't think driftglass is in any actual danger of joining any form of the Establishment.

Perhaps you have been able to convince him that your ideas about Outsider Status are correct?

Hamfast Ruddyneck said...

@ZRM: Obviously not, or he wouldn't keep making excuses for Prez Droney Catfood McEavesdropper.

I can't accuse Drifty of having sold out, because he's obviously not getting paid for it. XD

I don't know what drives him.

He's like Paul after the Beatles. He still produces some good stuff every so often, but he's just not the transcendent talent which he was.

Or maybe Paul is the wrong Beatle to use as an analog. Perhaps Drifty is John, and the "Obama Phenomenon" is Yoko. XD

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Outsider status, or "coolness", i

I am still chuckling at this equivalency.