June 17, 2013

"On March 12, 2004, acting attorney general James B. Comey and the Justice Department’s top leadership reached the brink of resignation over electronic surveillance orders that they believed to be illegal."

So begins the WaPo article titled "U.S. surveillance architecture includes collection of revealing Internet, phone metadata." It continues:
President George W. Bush backed down, halting secret foreign-intelligence-gathering operations that had crossed into domestic terrain. That morning marked the beginning of the end of STELLARWIND, the cover name for a set of four surveillance programs that brought Americans and American territory within the domain of the National Security Agency for the first time in decades. It was also a prelude to new legal structures that allowed Bush and then President Obama to reproduce each of those programs and expand their reach.
Much more at the link.

64 comments:

Mark said...

We really threw the Constitution and our fundamental freedoms in the toilet after 9/11. The Bush legacy is a bad one.

gerry said...

I don't have a good feeling about this.

When everything is illegal (Glenn Reynolds), they can get something on you.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Obama's people have no such hesitations.

Pathological altruism on display.

pm317 said...

So, "Bush did it too! or did it first!" -- that is the Obama supporters argument this time around.

@Mark, you're right. 9/11 confused the heck out of the public at large and the corrupt politicians made hay and still are confusing and scaring them even more, with the help of their equally corrupt corporate cronies.

Ann Althouse said...

We need to take some responsibility ourselves. We adopted the electronic devices that the govt could never have planted on us. We willingly submitted ourselves to this abuse. Anyone can get out by throwing away the phone.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Mark said...

The Bush legacy is a bad one.

The Bush legacy is certainly not perfect. But, at least in this case, he had people around him who could stand up to him without losing their jobs, and Bush was willing to listen to those people.

X said...

We willingly submitted ourselves to this abuse.

if we hadn't acted like such sluts

Mark said...

pm, I think for a lot of people raised in the era of Cold War fear, they easily latched onto that and politicians of all stripes have exploited it post-9/11.

Replace Russians with Muslims, stir in some Christians happy to exploit the religious aspect, and you have an older population ready to hand over the keys to the Government. All the while claiming to want smaller Government.

To folks of my generation, the Boomers and their ideas of small government are a complete hypocrisy compared to what they supported last decade.

Mogget said...

We need to take some responsibility ourselves. We adopted the electronic devices that the govt could never have planted on us. We willingly submitted ourselves to this abuse. Anyone can get out by throwing away the phone.

I was thinking along these lines. The phone service I could do without, but the convenience of ordering books via Amazon and getting them either instantaneously on my Kindle or 48 hours later in hard copy is harder.

There is a lot of money to be made by the person who can devise a way to restore some of our lost privacy. Ditto for the companies that refuse the government.

Mark said...

Ignorance is Bliss ... you are so desperate to make this thread another 'Obama does it too!' it makes it clear that you were obviously a supporter of these practices under a different political regime.

Pathetic.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Anyone can get out by throwing away the phone.

And anyone can avoid unreasonable searches of their homes by not having a home, and unreasonable seizures by having no possessions.

The current program may well be constitutional under existing precedent. However, I wonder if this would be similar to the GPS tracking of cars in US v. Jones. It seems like, while the NSA picking up a small subset of records could be constitutional, collecting basically everything crosses a line.

Inga said...

"When Comey finally ordered a stop to the program, Bush signed an order renewing it anyway. Comey, Goldsmith, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and most of the senior Bush appointees in the Justice Department began drafting letters of resignation."

Jay said...

Oh so the Bush NSA did not do what the Obama NSA is doing.

Shocking!

Inga said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
X said...

Comey and Mueller were grandstanding which is why they still work for the government under the expanded program

Inga said...

".....Bush signed the order renewing it anyway....."

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Mark said...

Ignorance is Bliss ... you are so desperate to make this thread another 'Obama does it too!' it makes it clear that you were obviously a supporter of these practices under a different political regime.

So you get to start the thread with a slam on Bush, but when I point out how this incident also illustrates something fundamentally decent about Bush, I'm making the thread about Obama?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

And, for the record, I don't have a particular problem with President Obama doing this, just as I didn't have a big problem with Bush doing considerably less.

Bryan C said...

"We adopted the electronic devices that the govt could never have planted on us."

Actually they could have. It would just have taken a little bit longer.

Of course, we'd previously "opened ourselves to abuse" by adopting written communication, mail service, etc. If we'd just stop insisting on such foolishness then our government wouldn't have to keep hurting us like this.


Inga said...

.....Bush signed an order renewing it ANYWAY...

What was "fundamentally decent" about that? Why is Obama less decent for doing the same thing?

LarsPorsena said...

AA:

"We adopted the electronic devices that the govt could never have planted on us."

Except for those with Obamaphones which are government issued free 'stuff'.

Jay said...

Senator Barack Obama at the Woodrow Wilson Center on Terrorism, 8/1/07:



“This Administration puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide…I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our Freedom”.

“That means no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens, no more National Security letters to spy on American citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient”


Laugh out loud funny.

Mark O said...

"We willingly submitted ourselves to this abuse. Anyone can get out by throwing away the phone."

Wrong. I didn't submit to abuse by having a telephone in 1970, although it could be tapped. Of course we can impoverish our lives, but that's not the law, as you know.

These are "wartime" laws. Changes must be made. We need an administration with honor, not pragmatism.

Gahrie said...

Anyone can get out by throwing away the phone.

I still have never owned a cell phone.....

Gahrie said...

There is a lot of money to be made by the person who can devise a way to restore some of our lost privacy

How about by reducing the size and scope of government?

Now where's my money?

Inga said...

"Anyone can get out by throwing away the phone."
----------------
"I still have never owned a cell phone....."

6/17/13, 8:28 AM

Nevermind, reception will be horrible in that cave you live in anyway. :)

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Inga said...

What was "fundamentally decent" about that? Why is Obama less decent for doing the same thing?

Bush chose to back down, rather then having them resign. It would have been better had he not tried to ignore their original decision. As I said, it was not perfect.

Did I mention President Obama in my statement about Bush? If pointing out something good about Bush requires an indignant defense of President Obama, doesn't that say something about President Obama, or at least your perception of him?

Inga said...

"Three months later, on July 15, the secret surveillance court allowed the NSA to resume bulk collection under the court’s own authority. The opinion, which remains highly classified, was based on a provision of electronic surveillance law, known as “pen register, trap and trace,” that was written to allow law enforcement officers to obtain the phone numbers of incoming and outgoing calls from a single telephone line."
---------------------------------
So what did Bush do THEN, after the courts decision, that was more "fundamentally decent" than what Obama is doing now?

Inga said...

Iggy, my conclusion is both Presidents either were indecent or felt that they were doing what was required to keep the citizens of this country safe.

Haven't made up my mind yet.

Rusty said...

Ann Althouse said...
We need to take some responsibility ourselves. We adopted the electronic devices that the govt could never have planted on us. We willingly submitted ourselves to this abuse. Anyone can get out by throwing away the phone.

OK. I'll bite.
How does making a personal decision between two private parties give the government permission to pry into my electronic life?


(For the NSA)

Tea Party
Christian
Patriot
AR15

Mark said...

Ignorance... my statement is in reference to the article, which details programs expanded or created by Bush.

Is it wrong to discuss the Bush legacy which the linked article discusses?

And give me a break. Your post did not mention a name, only because the meaning was clear without it.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Inga, have you got any response to Senator Obama quoted above?

Was he lying then, or is he lying now?

Or was he wrong then, or was he wrong now?

Instead of talking about Bush, is not President and never will be, let's talk about the guy who is now tracing your phone calls.

A reminder of Senator Obama's words on the program he runs now:


“This Administration puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide…I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our Freedom”.

“That means no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens, no more National Security letters to spy on American citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient”

Gabriel Hanna said...

The reason, Inga and other Obama apologists, that "bush did it!!" is not a defense is because Obama campaigned against the very things he is doing now.

So, what I think people need to hear from Obama supporters is an explanation:

Is the guy they voted for, who is running things now, who campaigned explicitly against what he is now doing, wrong now? Or was he wrong then?

Ann Althouse said...

"How does making a personal decision between two private parties give the government permission to pry into my electronic life?"

Because there's an old Supreme Court opinion saying that you don't have an expectation of privacy with regard to the phone companies business records about what phone numbers were called.

edutcher said...

This was Willie's big excuse, "Wal, he did it, too" .

But not that way Choom's done it.

Ann Althouse said...

We need to take some responsibility ourselves. We adopted the electronic devices that the govt could never have planted on us. We willingly submitted ourselves to this abuse. Anyone can get out by throwing away the phone.

How dare we use the available technology?

(I say this as one who rolls his eyes at those fixed on their phones 24/7 and who ditched his when he no longer commuted)

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Ann:Because there's an old Supreme Court opinion saying that you don't have an expectation of privacy with regard to the phone companies business records about what phone numbers were called.

That makes it legal, but doesn't make it right. The Supreme Court can say whatever, but if it goes too much against the our notions of right and wrong then we will cease to listen to them, and should.

Rusty is speaking to the morality.

edutcher said...

Inga said...

"When Comey finally ordered a stop to the program, Bush signed an order renewing it anyway. Comey, Goldsmith, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and most of the senior Bush appointees in the Justice Department began drafting letters of resignation."

Notice this sort of thing never happens under Democrats.

.....Bush signed an order renewing it ANYWAY...

What was "fundamentally decent" about that? Why is Obama less decent for doing the same thing?


Dubya wanted to protect the country. Choom wanted to gather dirt on everybody.

Got it?

Gabriel Hanna said...

Ann, I'm curious. What about webcams? When you do video chat over Skype, your ISP has to know what bits you are sending and where they're supposed to go. How is that different from phone numbers in terms of expectation of privacy?

You might argue that phone numbers aren't the conversation, and they're not, but those Skype bits ARE the message.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@edutcher:
Dubya wanted to protect the country. Choom wanted to gather dirt on everybody.

Inga's not making this point, too busy flinging feces at the Team Red monkeys, so I'll make it.

Bush's motives are irrelevant, though I concede they were well-intentioned (see road to hell, pavement of). Since he assumed the power, even if he used it well, eventually someone was going to use it to gather dirt on everybody, which is why Bush should never have been allowed to have it.

You should never give your guy a power you would be unwilling to see the other guy have, because the pendulum swings and eventually you get the other guy.

Republicans are slowly learning this, which makes them dumb. Democrats are forgetting it, which makes them evil.

edutcher said...

I agree with a lot of what you say, although, when you say, "Democrats are forgetting it, which makes them evil", I have to disagree.

They're not forgetting it; they don't care.

It's all about the power.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@edutcher:They're not forgetting it; they don't care.

Oh, they care very much, in a "no animal may sleep in a bed with sheets" sort of way.

cubanbob said...

Because there's an old Supreme Court opinion saying that you don't have an expectation of privacy with regard to the phone companies business records about what phone numbers were called."


We have warnings on cigarette packs and product disclosures on other products and services. Here is an idea for Rand Paul: require a warning disclosure in simple English with an acceptance or decline option on every device and service before use. Then lets see how long the public will continue to accept the current status quo and how many vendors will allow their bussiness to go bust before telling the government to piss off.

AllenS said...

Please press one for your call to be recorded/listened to in English, and press 2 for your call to be recorded/listened to in Spanish.

Aridog said...

Gabriel Hanna said...

Is the guy they voted for, who is running things now, who campaigned explicitly against what he is now doing, wrong now? Or was he wrong then...

Good one. He was never wrong before, he was lying. His voters didn't care. And here we are.

Obama kept guys like Mueller for a reason...not competence, but because they provide plausible excuses for Obama. Holder is another example...dimwitted but stubborn. Perfect.

edutcher said...

AllenS said...

Please press one for your call to be recorded/listened to in English, and press 2 for your call to be recorded/listened to in Spanish.

Para espanol, aprietas dos.

FIFY

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Mark said...

Is it wrong to discuss the Bush legacy which the linked article discusses?

Of course not...so why did you feel the need to attack me when I did so?
What is it about President Obama that makes a positive comment about Bush so threatening?

Rusty said...

Ann Althouse said...
"How does making a personal decision between two private parties give the government permission to pry into my electronic life?"

Because there's an old Supreme Court opinion saying that you don't have an expectation of privacy with regard to the phone companies business records about what phone numbers were called.

And the Supreme Court is infallible?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Because there's an old Supreme Court opinion saying that you don't have an expectation of privacy with regard to the phone companies business records about what phone numbers were called.

Professor-

Any thoughts as to how the concurrences in U.S. v Jones might change this analysis? If I understand it correctly, those concurrences said that although the police could track a car without a warrant, if they did it all the time, for too long, it would violate a reasonable expectation of privacy. Wouldn't the same reasoning apply to the NSA gathering large amounts of data over long periods of time?

I know that this reasoning was only in the concurrences, not the majority opinion, but the concurrences covered 5 justices, so if such a case came before the current court, that reasoning could prevail.

William said...

I think it's fair to say that Obama and his supporters have been hypocritical on this issue.

wildswan said...

The government has to get out of "big data" collection and into "smart data" collection just as it got out of big bombs and into smart bombs which it did by improving its mapping so that smart bombs were as effective as big bombs. Here is what I mean. In the WW II and the Forties the bombs got bigger BECAUSE the maps were inaccurate and the bombs anyhow lacked guidance so that to be sure of hitting military targets you had to obliterate vast areas around those targets. The US Army Map Service had a policy of developing accurate maps so that (with proper guidance systems) bombs could be aimed at military targets with confidence in hitting those military targets. And because such bombs could be smaller, bombs could be dropped with confidence in hitting military targets only. A close relative of mine worked on this and this is the program from which came the smart bombs used in the Gulf and Irag wars and the drones. And also GPS came from this.

So if the #@$%$ NSA was a fraction as smart as the #$#!$ idiots think they are, they would be developing "smart data", like smart bombs, not "big data" like an H-bomb on liberty and privacy.

But there is a problem. The President doesn't want us to be free. He actually wants to have information with which to blackmail opponents as is common in Chicago. By talking about dangers from terrorism, the president is diverting attention from the fact that information is being gathered the "Chicago way" for "Chicago goals" when the goal of preventing terrorism could be achieved in a different way leaving us our liberties.
I don't care what Dick Cheney says about how we need this program - we needed big bombs until we didn't and we will need big information until we don't. Under this President the Big Info Grab will be forever, we will never start a program for "smart info". He doesn't want it, he wants dirt on Washington politicians.

Jay said...

LOL

Snowden claim online says Obama expanded 'abusive' security programs

inga hardest hit.

Inga said...

Why would I believe a thing Snowden says?

jussendavis said...

Whether or not anyone in government ever looks at our words or listens to our conversations, as long as we are aware of the possibility, however remote it might be, some degree of self-censorship probably sets in. W don't want that audit trail of intemperate thought there for someone to see, in case we somehow, someway get on the government's scope. Our "private space" is shrinking.

Mark O said...

"Because there's an old Supreme Court opinion saying that you don't have an expectation of privacy with regard to the phone companies business records about what phone numbers were called."

Emphasis on "old." Ann could easily distinguish this case were she of a mind to impeach herself.

Ah, hell. Lunch.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Oh, Inga didn't abandon the thread!

Let's ask her again:
Inga, have you got any response to Senator Obama quoted above?

Was he lying then, or is he lying now?

Or was he wrong then, or was he wrong now?

Instead of talking about Bush, is not President and never will be, let's talk about the guy who is now tracing your phone calls.

A reminder of Senator Obama's words on the program he runs now:


“This Administration puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide…I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our Freedom”.

“That means no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens, no more National Security letters to spy on American citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient”

Jay said...

Inga said...

Why would I believe a thing Snowden says?


HA HA HA HA
HA HA HA HA
HA HA HA HA
HA HA HA HA

You're not at all interested in believing anything that doesn't confirm your political biases.

Idiot.

Aridog said...

Tinker-Bell Snowden said [to Guardian stooge]...

"All I can say right now is the US Government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me" ... "Leaving the US was an incredible risk, as NSA employees must declare their foreign travel 30 days in advance and are monitored,"..."There was a distinct possibility I would be interdicted en route,..."

Bwahahahahahahaha. Please. Make. It. Stop.

So much bull-crap in a couple sentences we could compost it.

Inga said...

Gabriel, the article deals with Bush's involvement, that's one reason I'm talking about him. Why do you NOT want to talk about him, that is the question.

Obviously Bush and Obama feel they are doing what is needed to keep this country safe. We aren't privy to all the reasons why, nor do I believe we should be. As the article stated and I have stated before it boils down to trust, you do or you don't, it all depends on if your President is in power, more folks if they were HONEST would admit that.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Inga: Why do you NOT want to talk about him, that is the question.

I did, in this very thread, and said he was wrong.

But Obama has expanded and extended the policies that he condemned when Bush was doing them.

Obviously Bush and Obama feel they are doing what is needed to keep this country safe.

So Senator Obama was wrong on national security. You voted for him anyway. Good to know.

Leland said...

.....Bush signed an order renewing it ANYWAY...

Apparently Mueller wasn't as concerned about the issue as the article portrays in the next sentence. After all, he's still the FBI Director. Hell, Comey's been tapped to replace Mueller. If these guys were so concerned at the time, they don't seem concerned in the least now. The story seems a bit contrived to me, which is pretty much how I see any of the scandals that start with Snowden's disclosure. So I guess I'm biased.

Jay said...

I bet Inga was all proud of herself for voting for the candidate who was going to end all that illegal Bush wiretappin'!!!!

Inga said...

That wasn't that big of an issue to me Jay, sorry to burst your bubble.

AllenS said...

Inga said...
Obviously Bush and Obama feel they are doing what is needed to keep this country safe. We aren't privy to all the reasons why, nor do I believe we should be.

Would you feel a lot safer, if let's say, everyone wore a GPS device on their ankle?

Robert Cook said...

"Obviously Bush and Obama feel they are doing what is needed to keep this country safe. We aren't privy to all the reasons why, nor do I believe we should be."

Yes, we should be. How can we govern ourselves if we don't know what our purported representatives are doing and why they're doing it?

As the article stated and I have stated before it boils down to trust, you do or you don't, it all depends on if your President is in power, more folks if they were HONEST would admit that."

We should not simply "trust" ANY person in any position of power. We might have voted for this one or that one, we might favor their stated positions, their accomplishments, and their legislative history (if there is one), but we must still and always be vigilant to what they're doing now. We can never know when they might become corrupted by power--or by their favors owed to powerful donors. Even if they act in full sincerity, believing their actions to be for the benefit of the public, we may not agree with what they choose to do. If we're ignorant of their doings and reasonings why, we can't hold them to leash...which, as a supposedly self-governing people, we should.