December 10, 2013

"State of Deception: Why won’t the President rein in the intelligence community?"

Ryan Lizza in The New Yorker. Excerpt:
In recent years, Americans have become accustomed to the idea of advertisers gathering wide swaths of information about their private transactions. The N.S.A.’s collecting of data looks a lot like what Facebook does, but it is fundamentally different. It inverts the crucial legal principle of probable cause: the government may not seize or inspect private property or information without evidence of a crime. The N.S.A. contends that it needs haystacks in order to find the terrorist needle. Its definition of a haystack is expanding; there are indications that, under the auspices of the “business records” provision of the Patriot Act, the intelligence community is now trying to assemble databases of financial transactions and cell-phone location information. [Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Senate Select Committee on Intelligence] maintains that data collection is not surveillance. But it is no longer clear if there is a distinction.

24 comments:

rehajm said...

You need big data to win.

James said...

These people (the author et al) really are fools.

Roger Sweeny said...

If you think that people make bad decisions and do bad things, and that government exists to force them to do good things, and that the people in government are the better people, well, those people need all the information they can get.

And, of course, the power to do what they think is right with that information.

Heather said...

This big difference is Facebook and Google can't audit me if I criticize them. They can't take my house and savings claiming I broke some law I was not aware of.

The government can without a trial then force me to sue to get it all back.

The Drill SGT said...

Because it works...

Robert Cook said...

Why won't the President rein in the intelligence community?

Because he doesn't want to; and neither will the next president, whether he be a Democan or a Republicrat.

Either that, or he can't, and neither will the next president be able to.

Either answer is awful and frightening.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Because they got stuff on him, of course. Same tactic he uses on his enemies.

Just one example of what they (and every other Intelligence group in the world) probably have on him: fraud in foreign student claims during his schooling - the real reason those records are locked down.

Diana said...

Space data have been classified since 2009.

What do you make of this?

I think it's ridiculous. Everything is secret. Everything is weaponized.

http://tinyurl.com/b5uswc5

Joe said...

Because Obama thinks he's the smartest man in the room and is sure we need people like him protecting us. In short he's a petty tyrant and a fascist.

But forget the President, where the fuck is our congress?

damikesc said...

It'll take a courageous man to take office and simply shut down the surveillance mindset. Nobody on the Dem side seems to fit the bill. Rand Paul would do it.

Would it hurt us internationally? Probably. But, at this point, we're in an Orwellian distopia here in the US now. The government snoops on everything.

Foreign policy problems is preferrable to a domestic police state. Manning was a useless douche, but I applaud Snowden for what he did.

Larry J said...

The N.S.A. contends that it needs haystacks in order to find the terrorist needle. Its definition of a haystack is expanding; there are indications that, under the auspices of the “business records” provision of the Patriot Act, the intelligence community is now trying to assemble databases of financial transactions and cell-phone location information. [Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Senate Select Committee on Intelligence] maintains that data collection is not surveillance. But it is no longer clear if there is a distinction.

The military's dictionary defines surveillance as:

(DOD) The systematic observation of aerospace, surface, or subsurface areas, places, persons, or things, by visual, aural, electronic, photographic, or other means. See also sea surveillance. Source: JP 3-0

Data collection is a form of surveillance. Surveillance involves gathering information on whatever can be detected in a sensor's field of view. In this case, the NSA is gathering data on whatever they can detect in the form on email, web traffic and cell phone metadata. When they focus on particular items or persons of interest, that's reconnaissance:

DOD) A mission undertaken to obtain, by visual observation or other detection methods, information about the activities and resources of an enemy or adversary, or to secure data concerning the meteorological, hydrographic, or geographic characteristics of a particular area. Also called RECON. Source: JP 2-0

David said...

Why?

He likes to watch.

Freeman Hunt said...

"Why isn't the lion protective of the lamb?"

Richard Dolan said...

This is not an area or a subject where partisan bashing makes any sense. Nor is it a subject that permits easy conclusions about right/wrong, good/bad. Instead, it's an exercise in choosing the lesser of two evils. Reasonable people will differ. Far better to assume that everyone involved in it is proceeding in good faith, and doing what they think is best, even if you disagree with how their prioritize the two evils.

Andy Freeman said...

> Far better to assume that everyone involved in it is proceeding in good faith, and doing what they think is best, even if you disagree with how their prioritize the two evils.

Why is it "better" to assume something that is likely wrong? I ask because there is plenty of evidence that the "everyone involved in it is proceeding in good faith" assumption is wrong.

Larry J said...

Richard Dolan said...
This is not an area or a subject where partisan bashing makes any sense. Nor is it a subject that permits easy conclusions about right/wrong, good/bad. Instead, it's an exercise in choosing the lesser of two evils. Reasonable people will differ. Far better to assume that everyone involved in it is proceeding in good faith, and doing what they think is best, even if you disagree with how their prioritize the two evils.


It would be far easier to assume everyone is acting in good faith if I'd never learned of the political abuses by the IRS, DoJ and many other government agencies. What makes the people at the NSA any less likely to act in the same manner?

Robert Cook said...

Richard Dolan,

It cannot be known for certain that medieval witch hunters (or their repeated iterations prior to and since their time) did not proceed in "good faith," and many do great evil in the conviction of their own righteousness.

Assuming "good faith" on the part of those in power is never advisable.

Jim Howard said...

The government does NOT need 'probable cause' to collect military intelligence!

Because the constitution isn't a suicide pac, it authorizes us to have a military and makes the President CIC.

The problem comes in cases where the government uses legitimate functions, like intelligence collection and taxation to harass and destroy its own citizens.

I wish people would focus on the possibility that national security collection is being used in the civil law system. If that's happening, then its a Bad Thing.

And of course, when the next big terrorist attack comes I don't want hear any BS about 'connecting the dots', since so many of us seem to want to not collect dots to connect.

It's a good thing Edward Snowden wasn't around in WWII. He'd need to learn German to live in Moscow.

n.n said...

Obama unleashed them to conduct domestic espionage. There is no reasonable cause for him to now restrain their activities. Perhaps if his celebrity continues to fade, then people will again start to ask questions. Obamacare may be the coup we have been waiting for.

Larry J said...

I wish people would focus on the possibility that national security collection is being used in the civil law system. If that's happening, then its a Bad Thing.

There's also the possibility (probability?) that the information gathered on US citizens will be used for political purposes.

John Lynch said...

At least he spelled "rein," correctly.

Does anyone still believe that the President wants to limit government power? Has the President done anything to limit government power in the last five years?

Obama is about power. Getting it, keeping it, using it. That's all there is.

Richard Dolan said...

For those who want to use the NSA data collection program to bash O-man, you should consider the fact that this is the exceedingly rare policy on which Bush/Cheney and O-man agree. It's not a program motivated by a partisan agenda (either ideological or electoral), as the agreement about it by those polar opposites attests. Instead, it is based on the premise that the needs of national security, when defending against amorphous groups bent on mayhem and terror, justify infringing on hitherto accepted notions of privacy. There is an excellent argument that the NSA policy is misguided, and Sen Wyden among other makes it. Reasonable people will differ in how they balance security vs privacy in this context.

But I see no basis to reduce that complex reality to a silly Western, with one side in white hats and the other black. For the same reason, there is nothing about it that compares to the partisan misuse of the IRS or DOJ, where those agencies had a thumb on the scale for the purpose of aiding the home team and hurting the out-of-power team.

Richard Dolan said...

For those who want to use the NSA data collection program to bash O-man, you should consider the fact that this is the exceedingly rare policy on which Bush/Cheney and O-man agree. It's not a program motivated by a partisan agenda (either ideological or electoral), as the agreement about it by those polar opposites attests. Instead, it is based on the premise that the needs of national security, when defending against amorphous groups bent on mayhem and terror, justify infringing on hitherto accepted notions of privacy. There is an excellent argument that the NSA policy is misguided, and Sen Wyden among other makes it. Reasonable people will differ in how they balance security vs privacy in this context.

But I see no basis to reduce that complex reality to a silly Western, with one side in white hats and the other black. For the same reason, there is nothing about it that compares to the partisan misuse of the IRS or DOJ, where those agencies had a thumb on the scale for the purpose of aiding the home team and hurting the out-of-power team.

Unknown said...

David said, (12/10/13, 11:10 AM)

"He likes to watch."

I know it's late, but thanks for the Chauncey Gardiner reference. Spot on.