June 9, 2013

Some clarification about what the government does with the 3 billion phone records it collects every day.

I'm not saying the first guest on today's "Fox News Sunday," Rand Paul, wasn't sharp and interesting, but I really appreciated the knowledge and calm expertise that General Michael Hayden, who headed the NSA and the CIA (under Bush), brought to the table. (The boldface is mine.)
CHRIS WALLACE: General Hayden, let's talk first of all about the general reaction you have to Senator Paul. I'm going to get into specific issues with you. As a man who used to run these programs, how important and how effective have they been in keeping us safe and how do you feel when you hear Senator Paul talk about class action lawsuits to the Supreme Court, new congressional restrictions?

GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER HEAD OF NSA AND CIA: Well, first of all, Chris, with regard to how effective they are, I think they're very effective. We had two presidents doing the same thing with regard to electronic surveillance. Now, that seems to me to suggest that these things do work. Now, with regard to what the senator said -- if I believed NSA was doing some of the things the senator fears they're doing, I would have been backstopping him during your first segment. He said we're trolling through millions of records. That's just simply not true. The government acquires records as business records from the telecom providers, but then doesn't go into that database without an arguable reason connected to terrorism to ask that database a question. If you don't have any link to that original predicate, terrorism, your phone records are never touched.

WALLACE: Well, let's get into that and let's talk a little bit -- and I know we're getting into kind of a sensitive area here about the tradecraft that you were involved with -- as especially the head of the NSA, but also the CIA. According to one estimate, the NSA is getting the phone records of 3 billion of our phone calls every day -- 3 billion phone calls every day. Two questions: one, how can you possibly process 3 billion records a day? And, secondly, why not just target, from the very beginning, the bad guys?

HAYDEN: Well -- well, first of all, you have to identify who are the bad guys. So, let's begin the acquisition. Three billions is a big number. Keep in mind, Chris, that our telecommunications providers do that every day on their own. So, it's not impossible to do. Now you've got the data stored. Here's the important part and this is the part that protects civil liberties and balances... security and our freedom.

You ask the database a question, but the question has to be related to terrorism. I'll give you a concrete example so this is very clear. So, you roll up something in Waziristan. You get a cell phone. It's the first time you've ever had that cell phone number. You know it's related to terrorism because of the pocket litter you've gotten in that operation. Here's how it works: you simply ask that database, hey, any of you phone numbers in there ever talked to this phone number in Waziristan? I mean, you're already going into the database with the predicate, with a probable cause, with an arguable reason why you're asking for the data.

WALLACE: I've been talking -- obviously, this has been the subject in Washington and across the country this week. People are concerned about this mountain of data that you have. OK. I mean, what you say sounds perfectly sensible. You know that there's a guy in Waziristan. You want to know who he's talking to in the United States. One, what do you do with all the records, the billions of records that you have on all of us law-abiding citizens and what's the potential for abuse with the fact that you have all of that stored in computers somewhere?

HAYDEN: First, to answer your question, what do we do with all of the other records? Nothing. All right?

WALLACE: You keep it, though.

HAYDEN: Of course, because -- I mean, you get the cell phone with that number six months from now you want to know the history of that number. When does the value of that information begin to age off? So, you do retain the information so that you can ask questions of it in the future. With regard to abuse, there are no records of abuse under President Bush, under President Obama.

Now, I was criticized because I theoretically didn't have enough oversight mechanisms, but no one accused us of abuse. President Obama has in some ways added incredible oversight mechanisms to this. Again, no abuse under either president.

WALLACE: ... Back in 2006, Senator Obama voted against your nomination to be CIA director because of your involvement in government programs. From what you know and I understand you've been on the outside, how much has he changed? He expanded, restricted these government surveillance programs that he inherited....

HAYDEN: Expanded in volume, changed the legal grounding for them a little bit, put it more under congressional authorization rather than the president's Article II powers and added a bit more oversight. But in terms of what NSA is doing, there is incredible continuity between the two presidents.

WALLACE: How do you mean he's expanded in volume?

HAYDEN: Well, it may just because we've gotten more of these records over time and with the amendment to the FISA Act in 2008, which Senator Obama finally voted for, NSA is actually empowered to do more things than I was empowered to do under President Bush's special authorization.
Now, obviously, there's worry about abuse, and the fact that we haven't seen "records of abuse" isn't that reassuring, especially when we're so aware of the abuse for political purposes within the IRS. That topic came up later in the show during the panel discussion:
WALLACE: Well, Bill, as someone who I suspect thinks that these surveillance programs are a necessary part of the war on terror, do you worry that all the leaks, all the disclosures this week are going to create some sort of backlash?

BILL KRISTOL, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I do, particularly because they're coming into context of genuine abuses of government power, especially by the IRS. I think the big thing to remember is national security is different from internal management of the government. We're dealing with foreign terrorist threats here. And, secondly, apparently this program really does require court orders to go target particular individuals or groups. You can't just then migrate through the whole database and data mine and say this looks suspicious. You need to say this is a group in Waziristan. Let's see who they're talking to. And if they're talking to me, you then have to go back to the court and get an order for me. That is not what the IRS did, obviously. Lois Lerner on her own decided let's target people who have Tea Party in there...

WALLACE: But you would agree that when Rand Paul says what he says about, you know, let's have specific targeting and let's not just Hoover off, vacuum up all of this information on law-abiding citizens, that certainly has at least a political appeal.

KRISTOL: Maybe. But honestly, I think the concern is Republicans are making a huge mistake. A, I think it's mischaracterizing what's happening. They're getting a lot of data because they don't want to have to go to Verizon and AT&T and everyone else each time they get a phone number. But they're not allowed to go into that data until they have a particular warrant signed off on by a judge, with some cause to suspect a foreigner of terrorism -- that is totally different from the IRS abuses, which I think are very serious. And I think it's very important for conservatives and Republicans to make that distinction....

94 comments:

Deirdre Mundy said...

My issue is that this administration has called pro-lifers, tea partiers, libertarians, Catholics, and Evangelicals potential terrorists.

So..... 'connection to terrorism' suddenly looks really vague....

John from Pomeroy on the Palouse said...

"KRISTOL: Maybe. ... They're getting a lot of data because they don't want to have to go to Verizon and AT&T and everyone else each time they get a phone number. "
Well, Why don't they want to go to Verizon, etc., each time? It sure seems like it'd cut down on the potential for abuse.

Palladian said...

Why, I definitely believe a former head of the NSA and the CIA! They never tell untruths! They never do anything underhanded!

MayBee said...

I want to know what is meant by *has to be* and *can't*

How hard is it to add to the list of things that you can search for?

How did they read Peraueus's private emails?

YoungHegelian said...

...secondly, apparently this program really does require court orders to go target particular individuals or groups. You can't just then migrate through the whole database and data mine and say this looks suspicious.

I gotta disagree with Bill Kristol on that last bolded sentence. Of course, the analysts have to be able to run various queries against the DB to see what comes up. One doesn't know what one is looking for until one finds it. To have us believe that NSA is not mining the data until they have a specific human intelligence provided "key" to reference against is preposterous. That's just not the way data analysis works.

To move from a "found" association to intelligence action against a person may require a court order, but to say that there's some legal barrier to an analyst popping out any ole damn SQL query he damn well feels like doing and then saving the results is absurd.

edutcher said...

He's talking mainly about what happened on Dubya's watch.

As Ann says, it's the about under Choom that's the issue.

And I don't know we should be listening to Bill Kristol.

A copule of things to which I linked earlier.

Looks like they're working with 50 (not 9) companies, including ISPs and credit agencies.

and the whistleblower says they may have 20 trillion phone calls and emails.

Bob Ellison said...

"You're far too trusting." YoungHegelian is correct. With this amount and kind of power, what can be abused, will be.

Also, Hayden sounds like someone who knows little about computers and how they're used.

FedkaTheConvict said...

James Clapper's sworn testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee:


Wyden: "And this is for you, Director Clapper, again on the surveillance front. And I hope we can do this in just a yes or no answer, because I know Sen. Feinstein wants to move on.

"Last summer the NSA director was at a conference and he was asked a question about the NSA surveillance of Americans. He replied, and I quote here, '... the story that we have millions or hundreds of millions of dossiers on people is completely false.'

"The reason I'm asking the question is, having served on the committee now for a dozen years, I don't really know what a dossier is in this context. So what I wanted to see is if you could give me a yes or no answer to the question: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?"

Clapper: "No, sir."

Wyden: "It does not."

Clapper: "Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly."

Wyden: "All right. Thank you. I'll have additional questions to give you in writing on that point, but I thank you for the answer."

Yep, we should unquestionably accept the words of Hayden and Clapper.

FedkaTheConvict said...

Also, Hayden sounds like someone who knows little about computers and how they're used.

That's one of the more laughable aspects of the entire episode. Is anyone confident that Feinstein, Graham, etc. even use computers?

Carl said...

I'm impressed that anyone would be persuaded by a defense that contains these two statements in close proximity:

(1) "If you don't have any link to that original predicate, terrorism, your phone records are never touched."

(2) "well, first of all, you have to identify who are the bad guys."

Got that? So your data will never be touched unless they already know it's related to bad guys. Then why acquire it in the first place? Oh, because we first need to touch all the data to see who the bad guys are.

In your generic scruffy independent-minded uneducated peasant the logic fuse would blow at this point. But for the intellectuals who are used to believing six impossible (but shiny and attractive) things before breakfast, let's try it this way: holy moley, locksmiths in your city have been secretly delivering house keys to the police every time locks are changed, so police can come in and search your house any time without your knowledge! Don't worry, though, they won't search your house unless they already know you're connected to a crime. Er..then why do they need the keys ahead of time? Silly! How are they going to find out if you are connected to a crime without taking a quick peek every now and then?

Well, but the general gave us a nice, soothing example of how it would work in an ideal way. So that's all right then. We can be sure that the former director of the NSA would have no reason at all to pick an example that isn't wholly representative of what actually happens. I mean, who better to check out whether the NSA has been up to bad things than the NSA itself? Just like Eric Holder is the best person to investigate misdeeds at the Justice Department, and "oversight" by Congressional commmittees is the best safeguards against abuse of power created by Congress in the first place. (Why people charged with crimes aren't judges in their own cases remains a mystery.)

Get your bridges, folks. The demand is incredible and the price rising daily! Call now, operators are standing by.

Larry J said...

Under Obama, we've seen political abuses at the DOJ, IRS and EPA, and those are just the ones we heard about. We have DHS claiming that the biggest threat to America are veterans, prolifers and conservatives. In this environment, trusting the intelligence community to respect the rights of ordinary Americans is a stretch. The situation will only get worse as ObamaCare forces doctors to use electronic medical records and have the program administered by the IRS. Sorry, but his reassurances ring hollow, at least as long as Obama is in charge.

Jay said...

You can't just then migrate through the whole database and data mine and say this looks suspicious.

Wait, what?

Our resident dope, cederford, just spent two days telling us how important this program is because it can do precisely that in "drawing patterns"

So which is it?

Jay said...

So as we see, the primary defense of this program, being that they use the database to "connect the dots" is an absolute lie.

Jay said...

HA HA HA HA HA!

NSA is actually empowered to do more things than I was empowered to do under President Bush's special authorization.

HA HA HA HA HA, GOT THAT RUBES?

jacksonjay said...


Drip, Drip, Drip, .... Pretty soon you've got a big hole in the rock!

Ann Althouse said...

If your idea is that government should not be trusted with any power that can be abused, then you will have to end all government.

Any power can be abused.

FedkaTheConvict said...

Hayden and Clapper will never ever shade the truth...

======

Wyden: "And this is for you, Director Clapper, again on the surveillance front. And I hope we can do this in just a yes or no answer, because I know Sen. Feinstein wants to move on.

"Last summer the NSA director was at a conference and he was asked a question about the NSA surveillance of Americans. He replied, and I quote here, '... the story that we have millions or hundreds of millions of dossiers on people is completely false.'

"The reason I'm asking the question is, having served on the committee now for a dozen years, I don't really know what a dossier is in this context. So what I wanted to see is if you could give me a yes or no answer to the question: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?"

Clapper: "No, sir."

Wyden: "It does not?"

Clapper: "Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly."

Wyden: "All right. Thank you. I'll have additional questions to give you in writing on that point, but I thank you for the answer."

chuck said...

Now, that seems to me to suggest that these things do work.

Seems a bit vague here. Haven't these guys developed better metrics than program longevity?

Bob Ellison said...

Professor, I was trying to be pithy. Your response reminds me of your frequent and irritating commands to go back and read what you wrote.

Jay said...

This seemed to be a pretty balanced article:

It is not clear how the NSA interfaces with the companies. It cannot use standard law enforcement transmission channels to do, since most use data protocols that are not compatible with that hardware. Several of the companies mentioned in the Post report deny granting access to the NSA, although it is possible that they are lying, or that the NSA's arrangements with the company are kept so tightly compartmentalized that very few people know about it. Those who do probably have security clearances and are bound by law not to reveal the arrangement.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Much more data is now available to be misused. This administration has shown an eagerness to misuse their power. One of those by themselves is bad, but not horrific. The two of them combined could be catastrophic.

exhelodrvr1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jay said...

If you don't have any link to that original predicate, terrorism, your phone records are never touched.


From the link I provided:

"The idea is to create a mosaic. We get a tip. We vet it. Then we mine the data for intelligence," one of the officials said.

Mogget said...

If we ever do trust the government with level of intrusion, the safeguards and the penalties for abuse will have to commensurate.

Roger J. said...

Professor: agree that all power can be abused, but weren't the arguments in the declaration, federalist papers, and constitution, about how to construct appropriate checks and balances to mitigate abuse of power? To suggest that governments have to be ended because power can be abused, seems to me to be rather foolish. You have thrown the baby out with the bath water.

Jourtegrity said...

Of course.....no one would ever look at say....conservative politicians records without a national security risk at hand...right? Heh, heh. No one ever....underestimating the intelligence of the....blah blah...

Diogenes of Sinope said...

Fires need a source of ignition, oxygen and fuel. So, wise people, avoid gathering huge amounts of readily combustible fuel in one location.

I look at the enormous accumulation of phone call records, credit card usage records, meta data, etc. as the equivalent of gathering readily combustible fuel.

Becon said...

Ann wrote, "If your idea is that government should not be trusted with any power that can be abused, then you will have to end all government."

Trust, but verify. How can we verify these secret programs. We can't even get standing with the Supreme Court to challenge them.

Ann Althouse said...

@Roger J

Here's the key passage in Federalist 51 (Madison):

"But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions."

T J Sawyer said...

"If you don't have any link to that original predicate, terrorism, your phone records are never touched."

OK. No problem then.

But it sure seems odd that during the 2012 GOP presidential primary season, any candidate with a surge of popularity suddenly got a lot of "scandal" attention.

How did all of those women who were "special friends" of Herman Cain suddenly appear and contact reporters? I'd like to hear some reporters explain just how that information suddenly fell into their laps.

I'm just curious, that's all.

AllenS said...

Ann Althouse said...
If your idea is that government should not be trusted with any power that can be abused, then you will have to end all government.

Any power can be abused.


The Founding Fathers thought about all of that when they wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America.

You need to take a course in constitutional law before pin-headed modern lawyers had a say in it.

T J Sawyer said...

"If you don't have any link to that original predicate, terrorism, your phone records are never touched."

OK. No problem then.

But it sure seems odd that during the 2012 GOP presidential primary season, any candidate with a surge of popularity suddenly got a lot of "scandal" attention.

How did all of those women who were "special friends" of Herman Cain suddenly appear and contact reporters? I'd like to hear some reporters explain just how that information suddenly fell into their laps.

I'm just curious, that's all.

AprilApple said...

My issue is that this administration has called pro-lifers, tea partiers, libertarians, Catholics, and Evangelicals potential terrorists.

yes.

and.

The Koch brothers and Karl Rove are American citizens. According to Obama - they are "shadowy" and underserving of free speech.
My guess is that Obama thinks they are terrorists, too.

Ann Althouse said...

Federalist 51.

bagoh20 said...

"Any power can be abused."

That's obvious. The important difference between those concerned and those not is whether they believe power in the hands of government is abused more often than not.

What power given to government has not been abused? What rights have not been whittled away to some degree?

Some of us believe abuse is the default condition of power, with restraint being near impossible in the long run with thousands of people constantly trying to get at it forever, like vermin in your pantry.

I doubt that there have not been any abuses so far under either Bush or Obama, and I'm near certain that there will be eventually by someone. Is that reason enough to abandon this very powerful program. Maybe - maybe not, but insisting on getting better assurances seem prudent and the only way to avoid being a sucker for things as old as the species.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

If your idea is that government should not be trusted with any power that can be abused, then you will have to end all government.

Any power can be abused.


This is why the Federalist Papers held out secession as the ultimate check on a tyrannical government.

PS If you can remember what's in each of the Federalist Papers off the top of your head, you're a better man than I am, Gunga Din.

(as it were)

Yu-Ain Gonnano said...

The General's statement is highly unlikely to be correct in anything other than a policy perspective. There was a policy that the IRS wouldn't act politically either. We see how well that worked.

Database access control occurs at the person and element level. But once a person has access to the data they pretty much have free reign. There is nothing that physically prevents access for uses outside of allowed policy. It's all about trusting the people who you have granted access to.

Trust is a little short right now.

Quaestor said...

Obama might as well play golf and/or take zillion dollar vacations every other week, he's done... it's over. At the very least he faces 3 1/2 years of lame duckage, if not impeachment.

Ann argues that PRISM is not a real danger to privacy, that it is effective and necessary means to thwart terrorism. (That's my take anyway, Althouse is about as easy to pin down as a slime mold colony.) And I largely agree. That said post-FDR presidents get the shaft for things they rightly do; their wrongs get ignored, especially by the left. I could site you examples from Eisenhower on to Bush II, but why bother, engage the neurons and you'll see I'm correct. You can shout, "Debt! Poverty! Unemployment! Cronyism!" 'til your blue in the face and the Obamanistas won't hear you, or else they try to deflect blame onto GWB or the Republicans in Congress (which makes about as much sense as blaming soured milk on the faeries). It's cognitive dissonance, a definitive character of the Left. But this they'll hear.

This NSA thing has resonance far out of proportion to its actual impact. It's as if one had dropped a penny from a great height and the echo of its landing shattered windows for miles around. What really damages Obama is he is now indelibly associated with a Republican evil in the minds of his heretofore trumpet-blowing myrmidons. Barack Obama is now for all intents and purposes "American Dad".

In case there's anyone here secure enough to ignore pop culture I'll easy briefly on the subject. "American Dad" is the animated creation of Seth MacFarland which serves as a caricature of the rock-ribbed Republican man of action the Left loves to hate. American Dad is patriotic, packs heat, which he whips out at the least hint of terrorism, thinks wives should eschew careers for homemaking and kid-rearing, is suspicious of anything other than what is traditional American culture. In other word he's the ideological clone of Archie Bunker, except he's not a retired blue collar. American Dad is a CIA officer -- a field agent with a gun. In the series American Dad is admirable for his physical courage, but otherwise he's a dunderheaded thug. The only times he's not a dunderhead is when he "comes around" to what mainstream lefty culture holds as the correct viewpoint on any given subject.

In summary: Obama = American Dad = Figure of Leftish contempt = Lame Duck.

AprilApple said...

Speaking of abuse of power-- It looks like IRS Steven Miller(D) is a complete lair.

Lying on behalf of the higher ups in the Obama administration.

JackOfVA said...

"That general warrants, whereby any officer or messenger may be commanded to search suspected places without evidence of a fact committed, or to seize any person or persons not named, or whose offense is not particularly described and supported by evidence, are grievous and oppressive and ought not to be granted."

Or so said Virginia Resolutions of 1776.

It seem that the argument advanced by Hayden is that there is no "seizure" of the records of an individual until some suspicion attaches, which then permits the NSA and who knows what other agency to rummage through their collection of records.

This sort of argument is why lawyers (and yes, I am one) are held in such low regard ...

And as far as checks and balances, one could make a fair case out that the FISA court is an updated version of a Star Chamber. 100% ex parte presentation by the government, and the judge has no independent method of verifying whether or not the argument is real or fake (See the James Rosen order for an example where AG Holder admitted the affidavit was perjured) and there is absolutely zero independent ability to establish that even the cursory safeguards from a judge sitting in the FISA court are being followed.

Whatever trust I might have had in the NSA, etc. to do their job vanished some time ago.

JackOfVA said...

"That general warrants, whereby any officer or messenger may be commanded to search suspected places without evidence of a fact committed, or to seize any person or persons not named, or whose offense is not particularly described and supported by evidence, are grievous and oppressive and ought not to be granted."

Or so said Virginia Resolutions of 1776.

It seem that the argument advanced by Hayden is that there is no "seizure" of the records of an individual until some suspicion attaches, which then permits the NSA and who knows what other agency to rummage through their collection of records.

This sort of argument is why lawyers (and yes, I am one) are held in such low regard ...

And as far as checks and balances, one could make a fair case out that the FISA court is an updated version of a Star Chamber. 100% ex parte presentation by the government, and the judge has no independent method of verifying whether or not the argument is real or fake (See the James Rosen order for an example where AG Holder admitted the affidavit was perjured) and there is absolutely zero independent ability to establish that even the cursory safeguards from a judge sitting in the FISA court are being followed.

Whatever trust I might have had in the NSA, etc. to do their job vanished some time ago.

lemondog said...

Suspect we will hear more senators responding to this call for a review.

Senator seeks review of Patriot Act amid surveillance report

Let's have the debate, let's be transparent, let's open this up," he said. "I don't think the American public knows the extent or knew the extent to which they were being surveilled and their data was being collected."

Prior to this breaking, as a member of the Intelligence Committee was Udall not concerned or unaware with the extent of surveillance and lack of transparency?

Roger J. said...

Professor: re Federalist 51 (and along with Fed 10) are the best arguments on how the republic should be governed. Re Federalist 51, Madison IMO puts forward the same argument you did, but does not advocate anarchy (Thomas Hobbes dealt with that argument in Leviathan.) I do not see Madison arguing that Government should not exist--rather, I think, he suggesting that the constitution he wrote provided the safeguards to prevent the potential abuses he describes in the paragraph you quoted. That is not the same thing as advocating for no government. Now perhaps have overly truncated your argument above, and if so, my apologies.

edutcher said...

Well, this should make us all feel better.

Kerosene Maxine tells us Choom has a secret database with everything on everyone.

Would everyone care to join me in a chorus of, "Uh oh"?

Jupiter said...

"If your idea is that government should not be trusted with any power that can be abused, then you will have to end all government.

Any power can be abused."

Any power *will* be abused. Therefore, the question becomes, is the benefit gained by granting the power worth the cost of the inevitable abuse. The answer is usually no.

Robert Cook said...

"If your idea is that government should not be trusted with any power that can be abused, then you will have to end all government.

"Any power can be abused."


Of course, but how can abuse be checked when the powers claimed and acted on by the government are kept secret?

"Trust us" is, by Constitutional definition, not an adequate justification for the government to do whatever it wants, in the dark.

This digital dragnet is a violation of the 4th Amendment. By definition, what they're doing is an abuse of power. Merely the collection of the data--even if they never look at it or act on it--is unconstitutional.

Larry J said...

"If your idea is that government should not be trusted with any power that can be abused, then you will have to end all government.

Any power can be abused."

Yes, any power can be abused in the abstract. The difference is that we're seeing that it HAS been abused repeatedly under Obama in the name of politics. It'd be foolish to trust him on anything, almost as foolish as ever voting for him.

Almost Ali said...

Two possibilities: General Hayden is either extraordinarily naive -or- he's a lying bullshitter.

Chef Mojo said...

"Alex, I'll go for 'Lying Bullshitters' for $500.00..."

jr565 said...

Mike Hayden wrote:
"He said we're trolling through millions of records. That's just simply not true. The government acquires records as business records from the telecom providers, but then doesn't go into that database without an arguable reason connected to terrorism to ask that database a question. If you don't have any link to that original predicate, terrorism, your phone records are never touched.


THis is exactly how I said that the database was being used. You need the info to compile the database so that when you do a search it gets as many numbers as possible. But if your number never comes up as part of a search there would be no accessing of your info.
it's the search taht is relevant, not the compiled data. And the search requires a warrant.

Now, granted I don't trust Obama as far as I could throw him, but I did trust Hayden under Bush. ANd I trust him still.


jr565 said...

John wrote:
Well, Why don't they want to go to Verizon, etc., each time? It sure seems like it'd cut down on the potential for abuse.

Because that would be a slow as hell process. Not to mention aggravating for the providers who've already granted approval.

Robert Cook said...

"Two possibilities: General Hayden is either extraordinarily naive -or- he's a lying bullshitter."

It's not possible Hayden is extraordinarily naive.

One possibility.

jr565 said...

TJ Sawyer wrote:
"If you don't have any link to that original predicate, terrorism, your phone records are never touched."

OK. No problem then.

But it sure seems odd that during the 2012 GOP presidential primary season, any candidate with a surge of popularity suddenly got a lot of "scandal" attention.

How did all of those women who were "special friends" of Herman Cain suddenly appear and contact reporters? I'd like to hear some reporters explain just how that information suddenly fell into their laps.


Well, I don't think this program was involved in that targeting, since that wouldn't really be revealed through this program.
As they say though, just because you're paranoid, don't mean they're not after you.
If they don't use your phone records, they can still target you. And by they I mean, govt,or the media.
My personal guess is, the women had an axe to grind and contacted the media themselves since they wanted to tell their "Story".
Cain, should have known that such women were out in the woodworks.

lemondog said...

Yahoo Finance site POLL.

Do you think the government is overstepping its authority by collecting emails and phone records?

o Yes, they should step back

o The need to fight terror outweighs it

o I'd be more outraged with companies giving it away

o I don't want to answer because I know they're watching

Chef Mojo said...

"In war-time, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies."

Winston Churchill

That intelligence officials would lie is to be expected.

Almost Ali said...

Re: "Alex, I'll go for 'Lying Bullshitters' for $500.00..."

Okay, Lying Bullshitters for 500: "He said Barack Obama is the only mortal who can fly AirForce-1 through the eye of a needle."

"Who is Gov. Christie?"

Cedarford said...

Jay said...
You can't just then migrate through the whole database and data mine and say this looks suspicious.

Wait, what?

Our resident dope, cederford, just spent two days telling us how important this program is because it can do precisely that in "drawing patterns"

======================
The libertarian extremist asshole "Jay", fails to understand that they are also using the Dbase for baselines and patterns...and part of the reason they GET those Waziri phone numbers is looking for a suspicious number of phone calls or emails to a known radical Islamist mullah in London, or Yemen.
That they can take to a FISA panel and say that Mohammed Ibridi and his brother Shaheed of Newark NJ - and two college pals the FBI interviewed that have strong Jihadist beliefs - have been in regular contact with a location in Yemen..even though the 4 hail from Libya or were born to Palestinian refugee parents here.
And investigating the pattern, they find the phone number of the Yemeni and his Internet ISP, which in turn leads to a radical cleric in London in Britain. Who then is looked at by Brits for his associates, and records determine that his right hand man not only was in contact with the New Jersey Muslims, but visited them for two weeks.


And so on..

This is just more libertarian assholiness.
And part of the reason libertarians will never hold power in America.
They reject any database, even the FBI fingerprint file and moter vehicle records in existence 90 years as a slippery slope to the Jack-booted storm troopers of their pet paranoia.
They reject the idea that we should have a database and have a secure ID system of who is in America legally...as Fascism.

Libertarians also have a stupid level of faith in the lawyers that bundle money for powerful politicians that get the judgeships as a reward - and issue the precious pieces of paper that libertarians think are holy things that make all searches "Alright!".



jr565 said...

Cedarford wrote:
They reject any database, even the FBI fingerprint file and moter vehicle records in existence 90 years as a slippery slope to the Jack-booted storm troopers of their pet paranoia.
They reject the idea that we should have a database and have a secure ID system of who is in America legally...as Fascism.

Yet, I think a lot of them are for making people show ID to vote.
I assure libertarians, your license is in a database somewhere and the govt knows! It has the info!

Cedarford said...

Think of all this as a ideal Squirrel!!!! Event.
It gets the libertarian assholes like Rand Paul in a holy lather about something Bush did and Congress under Bush and Obama approved of.

It allows the Obama media lapdogs to quietly drop the real damaging stuff - Benghazi, the IRS - to follow the antics of foaming at the mouth libertarians.

Its working perfectly for Obama.

Chef Mojo said...

They reject the idea that we should have a database and have a secure ID system of who is in America legally...as Fascism.


I should be surprised by this statement from our resident... Fascist?

Saint Croix said...

He said we're trolling through millions of records. That's just simply not true. The government acquires records as business records from the telecom providers, but then doesn't go into that database without an arguable reason connected to terrorism to ask that database a question.

Geez, what an optimist. What happens if you get an asshole in the government, Mr. Optimist?

If you don't have any link to that original predicate, terrorism, your phone records are never touched.

And what is the check or balance on the executive's apparently unlimited discretion?

Dad29 said...

Hayden:

"I think they're very effective. We had two presidents doing the same thing with regard to electronic surveillance. Now, that seems to me to suggest that these things do work."

Except in Boston, Ft. Hood, and the '09 attack.

Maybe they don't count, eh?

Writ Small said...

Do you people have any idea of the power of the US military? The potential for abuse is far beyond anything the NSA could do. Did the military prevent the Boston bombing or 9/11? It did not. Anything that can be abused, will be. Let's end it now. Also, the same government that oversees the IRS looks after our armed forces. It's all connected. Wake up sheeple.

Cedarford said...

jr565 said...
John wrote:
Well, Why don't they want to go to Verizon, etc., each time? It sure seems like it'd cut down on the potential for abuse.

JR565 - Because that would be a slow as hell process. Not to mention aggravating for the providers who've already granted approval.

===================
JR565 is right. What John wants is the pre-9/11 stovepiping where no one agency knew what the left hand or right hand was doing because of Jamie Gorelick "walls".

He just wants that to be stovepipes of private companies.

Which makes even less sense because while the billing is with the service provider, the communications between parties are without restraint across dozens of telecomm providers in the US and private and state telecomm firms abroad. PLus the additional content providers that have the details of the originator or recipent's Facebook, email, Twitter, etc. activity.

And before this, and the need to investigate enemy terrorists whose activities spanned years, preservation of that communication activity was for billing and legal reasons , with destruction of all records after 6 months.
When Ayman al-Zawahiri visited the US two years before 9/11, met with Muslim Brotherhood and radical mullahs that also had contact with the WTC bombers or the Blind Shiekh terror cell or the 9/11 hijackers - much of the communications record had long since been discarded and lost when the 9/11 investigations looked at al-Zarahiris activities, Atta's , etc.

Saint Croix said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clyde said...

With the numerous scandals fouling the air around this administration like a skunk in an outhouse, our government has forfeited the benefit of the doubt. They are not worthy of our trust, and just as with Nixon, there can be no healing in that breach of trust until the miscreants have left office, whenever that may be.

Cedarford said...

Writ Small said...
Do you people have any idea of the power of the US military? The potential for abuse is far beyond anything the NSA could do. Did the military prevent the Boston bombing or 9/11? It did not. Anything that can be abused, will be. Let's end it now.
========================
That's libertarian idiocy.
It presumes that private and government systems must be perfect and catch things that are amiss 100% of the time.

And the fact that the data analysis failed to catch two Islamoids that libertarians scream have precious privacy rights?? And Freedom!!! to cross any Border they want? (Libertarians have always been 'Open Borders"

Now it is the systems fault?
And libertarians think it is a good time to get rid of the NSA, the US military, the IRS, the fingerprint files the FBI has, the DNA files on felons..and anything else with the potential for abuse!!

What fucking idiots!

jr565 said...

As Hayden wrote:
But honestly, I think the concern is Republicans are making a huge mistake. A, I think it's mischaracterizing what's happening. They're getting a lot of data because they don't want to have to go to Verizon and AT&T and everyone else each time they get a phone number. But they're not allowed to go into that data until they have a particular warrant signed off on by a judge, with some cause to suspect a foreigner of terrorism -- that is totally different from the IRS abuses, which I think are very serious.

heed that warning libertarians.IN particular. "MISCHARACTERIZING WHAT"S HAPPENING". Rand Paul did that with his stunt about not droning citizens who are getting Starbucks. And he then had to backtrack and say, but of course if it's a military type situation then the president can authorize a drone. Well, who said otherwise?

Hayden points out the differnce where the IRS targeting IS a scandal.
I can see the slipperly slope. But there is a slippery slope in the other direction. Listening to libertarians and their absolutism and unrealistic arguments and shutting down a valuable program that can save lives based on irratlional fears that were never borne out and replacing it with NOTHING to deal with legitmiate threats would be beyond stupid.

All that would need to happen would be for one attack to ge through and people start demanding why we couldn't connnect the dots, and having the people in the know say "We were connecting the dots, until some retards who are dumber than liberals made us dismantle the whole apparatus and left us completely vulnerable all over some bogus absolutist position that hasn't been borne out ever in this county and based on a fear that was based on their ignorance. Think Rand Paul will see the WHite house?
If it were the choice of Obama or an Rand Paul, adn that were the scenario, I'd rather vote for Obama. Because, at least he is continuing Bush's program despite being a hypocrite about it.

Clyde said...

Ann Althouse said...
If your idea is that government should not be trusted with any power that can be abused, then you will have to end all government.

Any power can be abused.


I wouldn't end all [federal] government, but I'd certainly turn it from a redwood into bonsai if I could. It has become far too large and intrusive on the rights of American citizens. It has far outstripped its Constitutional mission. It does too much and it costs WAY too much. Sadly, only those already on the gravy train can do anything about the size of it, which is about as likely as a blizzard in Florida in June.

Martinkh said...

You can always tell what Democrats are up to by what they accuse Republicans of. They accused Bush of creating a massive database on Americans because they knew that is what they would do, and they refuse to accept that ANYONE is more ethical then they. So when they got power, they used these systems for evil, and you bet Democrats will use EVERYTHING to score political points and win. I wonder if they know if Boehner called a hooker? They would blackmail him. Don't like Petraeus trying to reign in the Obama Admin in the middle east? Blackmail him with his affair. This is Stalin meets the Chicago way, and deep in their hearts the believe everyone would do it, so it is OK.

The Godfather said...

I'd have to know a lot more about how this all works before I'd be comfortable that the Government won't/can't abuse our liberties through access to all this data. But of course they can't tell us more because it's all a matter of national security.

Federalist 51, and indeed all the Federalist Papers, argued that the separation or powers between Federal and State governments, and among the three branches of the Federal government, would prevent abuse, but that doesn't work if the abuses can be kept secret.

Saint Croix said...

"there are no records of abuse under President Bush, under President Obama."

Now I imagine Michael Hayden playing golf with Obama's head of the CIA from 2009-2011.

Michael Hayden: "Hey, what's the record of abuse over at the CIA?"

Leon Panetta: "No abuse. No abuse. We're doing great!"

Michael Hayden: "That's awesome. Shit! Sand trap."

Leon Panetta: "I was confirmed 100-0 to head up the Pentagon. Everybody loves me. Especially Hollywood."

Michael Hayden: "You're a rock star. Hey, I'm going on Fox News Sunday."

Leon Panetta: "Yeah, whatever. That's small screen. Hey, Chuck, look at my drive!"

Chuck Hagel: "Jews. Damn Jews. Jews!"

jr565 said...

HAYDEN: Well -- well, first of all, you have to identify who are the bad guys. So, let's begin the acquisition. Three billions is a big number. Keep in mind, Chris, that our telecommunications providers do that every day on their own. So, it's not impossible to do. Now you've got the data stored. Here's the important part and this is the part that protects civil liberties and balances... security and our freedom.

You ask the database a question, but the question has to be related to terrorism. I'll give you a concrete example so this is very clear. So, you roll up something in Waziristan. You get a cell phone. It's the first time you've ever had that cell phone number. You know it's related to terrorism because of the pocket litter you've gotten in that operation. Here's how it works: you simply ask that database, hey, any of you phone numbers in there ever talked to this phone number in Waziristan? I mean, you're already going into the database with the predicate, with a probable cause, with an arguable reason why you're asking for the data.



That is LITERALLY how you connect the dots. Something we are always told govt should have done when they didn't. Well, how do you expect them to other than with programs like this?

If the NSA is using this to target Tea Partiers it would certianly be an abuse of power, but as of yet, it seems they haven't done so. Yet, should we remove the ability to connect the dots on matters of national security because of the fear that someone might target someone, not that someone did target someone.

If you came up with an alternative way to connect dots, you'd run into the same exact issue and potential for abuse. It coudl be used to connect dots in ways you don't like. THen the premise becomes, we shouldn't connect the dots. And that's dangerous.

I'm always arguing that govt should be lean and not bloated. that govt is often the problem because it does things badly. (usually that the public sector can do better) but govt is our only recourse when it comes to national security. I hope that that is the one area where they are acting responsibly. The other stuff is bullshit.
And if the argument is that govt works best when it has nothing in place to connect the dots when it comes to national security, then frankly anyone making the argument is an idiot.



Hagar said...

If it can be abused, it will be.

And the problem is precisely parallel to the Rosen case, where they went to a compliant federal judge with a false affidavit as to why they wanted secret access to Rosen's phone records.

And we still do not know for sure that the original aim was to investigate the Korean leak thing, or something else entirely - perhaps political, perhaps personal.

Leora said...

My major concern is with the definition of terrorist activity which seems to be in the sole discretion of the executive branch. DHS is continually releasing material that indicates that they are concerned about the terror activities of veterans and anti-government right wingers.There seems to be no judicial oversight on the queries to be processed and no Congressional oversight on threat assessment. I am generally in favor of these massive databases for the purpose of "connecting the dots" but there needs to be some transparency and open debate on what dots are to be connected.

Saint Croix said...

But they're not allowed to go into that data until they have a particular warrant signed off on by a judge

And they go judge-shopping until they find a judge that says, oh hell yeah, spy on Fox news, spy on the AP.

Richard Dolan said...

For those who think the policy of collecting these records should be reversed, how would you answer Hayden's hypo about the newly acquired cell number from BadGuy-istan? Verizon and the other telecoms don't have to all of these call records for extended periods, and will incur the expense of doing so only insofar as their own interests dictate. It's hard to connect the dots if all the dots are discarded with the vast amount of insignificant data.

For those who worry about the possible abuse of power, it is helpful to recall the the worst abuse anyone is likel ever to suffer will come from local officials, not the Feds -- the out-of-control cop who locks you up for pissing him off, the zoning or buildings dept official who won't give you a permit, the environmental guy who decides your property is a regulated wetland because it floods eriodically, etc.

For those who are concerned about a loss of privacy, the belief that there was any iron-clad privacy when using the digital infrastructure is and for a long time has been factually baseless. In this context privacy is a relative concept, not an absolute one.

Given the realities ofthe world we live in, I don't see any preferable policy to the data gathering that has been a constant feature of post-9/11 America. For all the noise, there is no chance that Congress will act to change it. Those who disagree need to answer Hayden's hypo.

Paul said...

Hahahahaha... won't touch those records. Yea like the IRS won't audit Obama's enemy's.

Sure sucker.. just keep thinking that.

This is right out of 'Enemies of The State'. Only no rouge CIA/NSA spook but a rouge President.

DADvocate said...

I saw the exchange between Hayden and Wallace. I didn't find Hayden believable. He seemed to have a "nothing here to see, move on" attitude.

Quaestor said...

This is right out of 'Enemies of The State'. Only no rouge CIA/NSA spook but a rouge President.

You mean rogue, I think.

Chip S. said...

Those who disagree need to answer Hayden's hypo.

No. The burden of proof is not on US citizens to explain why they shouldn't be spied on by their own government.

The burden of proof is on Hayden to demonstrate that the only way to keep some dude in Badguyistan from getting a bomb into the NY subway system is to download every bit of info about every single American.

That case isn't even remotely close to being made.

slumber_j said...

"Incredible oversight mechanisms..." "Incredible continuity..."

Incredible indeed.

jr565 said...

Chip S wrote:
No. The burden of proof is not on US citizens to explain why they shouldn't be spied on by their own government.
If your number is not triggered then are you being spied on (at least as per the NSA program).
If you number is brought up and a FISA warrant issued, are you suggesting that you should not be targeted?

jr565 said...

DADVocate wrote:
I saw the exchange between Hayden and Wallace. I didn't find Hayden believable. He seemed to have a "nothing here to see, move on" attitude.

That's probably because there's nothing to see here.

jr565 said...

Saint Croix wrote:
And they go judge-shopping until they find a judge that says, oh hell yeah, spy on Fox news, spy on the AP.

See, now THAT is a legitmate issue that the repubs should be hammering. This one... not so much (unless you can show that Obama is using it to target conservatives and not terrorists)

Chip S. said...

jr, The Director of the NSA has already lied to the Congress.

Why am I supposed to trust his agency to handle yottabytes of data w/ discretion?

Michael The Magnificent said...

If you don't have any link to that original predicate, terrorism, your phone records are never touched.

And when you have professional leftists in government declaring everyone to the right of Stalin a right-wing nazi-loving terrorist (Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment), fit for an IRS audit, you can justify viewing anybody's phone records.

DADvocate said...

That's probably because there's nothing to see here.

Especially for a willfully blind man such as yourself.

Rusty said...

jr said,
"
If the NSA is using this to target Tea Partiers it would certianly be an abuse of power, but as of yet, it seems they haven't done so."

Here is the rub.
How do you know they haven't targeted Tea Partyers?
THEY get to define the parameters. They haven't disclosed what those parameters are.
For all we know the buzz they are looking for includes "Tea Party", Conservative", "Republican", etc.
We have no way of knowing.
However.
Judging by the performance f the IRS, OSHA, EPA, etc., I'm going to go with that they are.

David Hampton said...

Let us not forget or overlook the name of the program utilizing the data; PRISM. What does a prism do to light? It disassembles the spectrum of light into it's component parts. The program must, by it's very nature, not just study RGB (Red, Green, Blue) but all the shades bleeding over into the next. Any terrorist practicing good trade craft is engaged in a form of Chess as opposed to the Checkers analysis soothingly sold to the rubes to allay their well-founded fears

VekTor said...

But they're not allowed to go into that data until they have a particular warrant signed off on by a judge

... and if there's one thing that we can be sure of, it's that members of this administration will definitely not lie to a judge in order to further their agenda.

/eyeroll

If the AG will lie to a court with public oversight, and will lie under oath with the American public watching on live TV, what makes you think this administration will be less likely to lie to a set of secret FISA judges when there is no oversight, because this stuff is secret, dontcha know?

VekTor said...

Ann Althouse said...

If your idea is that government should not be trusted with any power that can be abused, then you will have to end all government.

Any power can be abused.
6/9/13, 2:31 PM


This a false dichotomy... it's not a binary choice of "no trust with any power" versus "the government can do whatever the hell it wants".

It's a spectrum. A tool that offers a significantly larger potential for violation of civil liberties would seem to call for more oversight than a more generic tool which would not be so prone to abusability.

Rather than more oversight, though, we seem to have much less in this case, under the rubric that it's all national security and has to be secret. So the hurdle that has to be cleared before someone could abuse this data trove if they so chose is much lower than would be expected.

All it really takes is someone being willing to lie to the secret FISA court about the reasons for running a given query, or to simply neglect to "follow the rules" one or more times and run some queries without having first acquired the needed approval.

Who would know that someone had lied to the FISA court? It's secret. Where is the proper set of checks and balances to make sure that any abuse is detected, exposed, and properly punished?

But that surely won't happen with this administration, since they are on the side of the angels, after all.

National security could be preserved and safeguards still be put in place to detect and protect against abuse of the collected data, via compartmentalized independent auditors, and extremely severe and mandatory criminal penalties for abuse of the system.

But all the apparatus has to do is say the magic word "terrorism", and all the suspicion about the human nature of the operators of the system goes flying out the window...

VekTor said...

JackOfVA said...
...
And as far as checks and balances, one could make a fair case out that the FISA court is an updated version of a Star Chamber. 100% ex parte presentation by the government, and the judge has no independent method of verifying whether or not the argument is real or fake (See the James Rosen order for an example where AG Holder admitted the affidavit was perjured) and there is absolutely zero independent ability to establish that even the cursory safeguards from a judge sitting in the FISA court are being followed.
...
6/9/13, 3:27 PM


THIS. A hundred times, this.

VekTor said...

The Godfather said...

I'd have to know a lot more about how this all works before I'd be comfortable that the Government won't/can't abuse our liberties through access to all this data. But of course they can't tell us more because it's all a matter of national security.

Federalist 51, and indeed all the Federalist Papers, argued that the separation or powers between Federal and State governments, and among the three branches of the Federal government, would prevent abuse, but that doesn't work if the abuses can be kept secret.
6/9/13, 5:53 PM


Even worse, the checks and balances don't work quite so well when you have at least two of the three branches demonstrating a willingness to flout the rule of law, so long as it advances the Chicago Way of our current CIC.

A corrupt administration official can't be exposed as lying to a secret FISA court if no one else can see what's being asked of that court, and there's nothing to correlate whether the actual searches performed are constrained to only what was actually authorized.


To make matters worse, if you have a corrupt AG, there's far less disincentive to abusing the system, since you know that he won't prosecute you so long as your actions were in alignment with the goals of the administration.

That's a recipe for disaster... but that's what you tend to get when you combine governmental corruption with a "trust us, this is all for national security" attitude.

It doesn't matter who is in charge. We should assume that humans are subject to potential corruption, and design our systems to detect and expose abuse even when dealing with national security issues... and much more so for systems which expose everyone in the nation to infringement of their rights.