Alan Grayson’s blockbuster speech about NSA spying (video)

This blockbuster speech by Cong. Alan Grayson (D-FL) about NSA spying is a must-listen. He’s titled it: “American as Apple Spy.”

And yes, the speech is 20 minutes long, but it’s the best, clearest lawyer’s examination of what’s being done I’ve seen.


Grayson is sharp and on point. The speech is making the rounds on the Tubes, so you may have seen it already. If not, give a watch below. Here’s the end of the speech (you can find the entire transcript here at Daily Kos):

I don’t understand why anyone would think that it’s somehow okay for the Department of Defense to get every single one of our call records regardless of who we are, regardless of whether we are innocent or guilty of anything. I venture to say that there are Americans who have never even had a parking ticket; yet the Defense Department is pulling their call records as well. Eventually, we will find out whether the NSA’s own document is misleading and whether the NSA is not pulling email accounts and emails and photos and VoIP calls on people who are Americans, because, if you read this document, it sure looks like they are.

This is not the first time that we have had this problem. This is not the first time that the government has entered into surveillance on people without probable cause. Many of us remember that there was FBI surveillance of Martin Luther King, including the wiretapping and bugging of his personal conversations. I thought, perhaps naively, that we had moved beyond that. In some sense, we have moved beyond that because now they’re doing it to everyone. In fact, one could well say that we are reaching the point at which Uncle Sam is Big Brother.

I submit to you that this program, although the proponents picked it as American as ‘‘apple spy,’’ is an anti-American program. We are not North Koreans. We don’t live in Nazi Germany. We are Americans and we are human beings, and we deserve to have our privacy respected. I have no way to call my mother except to employ the services of Verizon or AT&T or some other telephone company. I’m not going to string two cups between my house and her house 70 miles away. That doesn’t mean that it’s okay with me for the government—and specifically the Department of Defense—to be getting information about every telephone call I make to her. It’s not okay with me.

I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, it’s probably not okay with you, and I know that, for most of the people who are listening to me.

As you watch the video, don’t think of the NSA as some free-floating bunch that reports to the president (like the National Security Advisor, which is a thing totally different).

NSA is the military, it’s a branch of the Department of Defense. NSA spying is the military spying. Memorize that. The Big Brother that’s watching you wears a general’s uniform.

Here’s Grayson:

Support Congressman Grayson in his fight to stop the military from spying on you. Read about his “Mind Your Own Business Act,” and consider signing the petition in support of it. Thanks.

Note: I’ll be at Netroots Nation again this year, so posting for the next 8 days or so will be spotty or non-existent. My apologies for that; I’ve been working to get the next big climate piece ready, and it’s fighting back. I hope to emerge with new posts next Tuesday, after I return.

If you’re attending Netroots Nation and you see my name tag walk by, do say Hi. I’ll be glad to talk with you.


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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52 Responses to “Alan Grayson’s blockbuster speech about NSA spying (video)”

  1. debiannj says:

    Maybe they just don’t like you. I haven’t had much of an issue visiting Senators. I’ve visited with mine at least twice a year in DC, and several times in my home state. But then if he were to have said National Security issue with a Top Secret Program and that he had worked for the CIA, they might have taken him more seriously. I guess he – and you – didn’t try hard enough.

  2. debiannj says:

    Based on the fact that he has released other information, it only coorborates what they said. I consider what him leaking things to the media of a foreign country and the NSA program to be two separate issues. I disagree with the NSA snooping, but it was already well known that they were permitted to do so under the Patriot Act, and were (unofficially) doing so since 1952. But the official LEGAL spying on Americans came after 9/11 – when it was started in 2001, why is everyone up in arms in 2013? That’s 12 years with the Patriot Act – and a lot of people had issue with it when it came out, but we were constantly told “We need it to keep us safe.” Now suddenly, the government isn’t transparent enough – why is it any different now than it was under George Bush?

  3. Whitewitch says:

    Oh I forgot how very easy it is to get to talk to a Senator, my mistake. I guess I will call up my representative and talk to her about how we should not be spying…oh wait it is a message machine…no luck there. Which Senator do you think he should have spoken with, which one do you think would have listened? Which Senator did not approve the Patriotic Act, which one would support him. The Senators that are now calling him a traitor…no..not those. You are naive at best…and a spreader of disinformation at worst.

  4. lynchie says:

    So because the CIA says something you automatically believe it? As far as access how good is their computer security if he accessed something he should not have? As far as my guys saying he is a traitor, well who are MY guys. Anyone who calls into question anything the government does is now labelled a traitor. Having a government that is transparent would be a start but having a government who breaks the law at will, murders Americans abroad without trial and without evidence, goes to war on lies makes many of us want to shed light on their wrong doings. they (governement) are accountable to we the people.

  5. debiannj says:

    Sarah Palin! When did you move to texas? What an idiot.

  6. debiannj says:

    He could have gone to his congressman. He could have talked about government spying in general rather than specifics. He certainly didn’t need to steal top secret documents. He probably could have sabotaged something in the program – they might have fired him, but it wouldn’t hit the media. He could have gone to one of the Senators that has clearance high enough to access the materials. I’m guessing pretty much all but the ones in the homeland security or Military committees that have clearances would have worked. Maybe McCain, or even Rand Paul if he had the clearance. They are saying that he was talking about things and revealing them long before Obama was even in the picture.

  7. BillyHewitt says:

    When you learned to speak arabic was it with a lisp? You were one of the Saudi trainers for Al Qaeda pilots that flew into the towers. Obama wants to talk with you about an all expense paid vacation to Guantanamo. You won’t need a tooth brush. How did you sneak into America when all the guards had your picture after 9/11.

  8. debiannj says:

    Because the CIA and Booz both said that he’d accessed a lot of stuff that he wasn’t supposed to, that he had a flash drive full of stuff, and that the press probably wouldn’t have talked to him if he didn’t have something that proved he was what he said he was – some sort of top secret document. Could have been about the program, or it could have been something else. Also he’s revealed other things now. Even your guys are saying he’s a traitor.

    Personally, I’m not pro-Obama, but I’m not swallowing the conservative koolaid either. I don’t trust ANY of the politicians in office any further than I can trust them except a few politicians in my state that I know have done good work. (I also know that there’s something going on with some politicians called the Peter Principle. You get promoted to your highest level of incompetency.)

  9. debiannj says:

    Snowden and the NSA program are two separate things. He is a traitor. The NSA program was developed from the program started in 1952 (illegally, I might add), and legalized by the Patriot Act in 2001 by President Bush. When it was re-authorized in 2011, nothing was changed. Oh, and you might also remember that it’s CONGRESS that makes the laws – if a bill is passed by Congress, the President can do one of 3 things – sign it, ignore it and it will become law after a length of time (something usually done if a President doesn’t much like it, but he thinks it will be over ridden), or he can veto it (in which case 2/3 vote will override the veto). With the Patriot Act, it was passed by congress and signed by the President. They still have to have court orders to get the data.

  10. debiannj says:

    Yeah right. Y’all just a homeboy, right? My family has been in this country long before yours ever got off the boat. You need to wake up and stop sipping that koolaid. Pathetic bigoted sack of nothing is all you are.

  11. debiannj says:

    Nicho: as long as you stay blind to the fact that this man stole government documents and gave them to foreign nationals, you’re going to be backwards. I’m not a troll, although YOU probably are. It is about Snowden. He IS a traitor to this country for taking top secret documents and giving them to the media from the UK – you keep watching. He’s already showed that he has more than just the program he says he revealed. (Which has been in existence as it is now since 2001, and in other forms since 1952.) When the Patriot Act was passed in 2001, we were all after the government to do what they could because we were afraid after 9/11, and we allowed them to legalize the wiretapping they were already doing.

    You can say I’m a troll, but I was against the NSA program when it was still just a part of the Patriot Act. But then again, you’re a conservative troll. Did they PAY you to come in here?

  12. Badgerite says:

    Having actually looked up and read Smith v Maryland, and it only took about a minute because the gist of the ruling is right at the top on the first page, it can be said that Alan Grayson is clearly in error as to the ruling of the case. It is a broad ruling and it applies to everyone at all times. The court ruled that a reasonable expectation of privacy does not attach to the pen registry which the phone company compiles of the phone numbers called. If there is no reasonable expectation of privacy than the information is wholly, at all times and with respect to everyone outside the protections of the Fourth Amendment. Either Grayson can’t read or he didn’t take the time or trouble to read the case he cited as a ‘one time’ thing. He is completely wrong on that and the NSA is right in terms of what the case says and the implications of it ruling. And I quote:
    ” The installation and use of the pen register was not a ‘search’ within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, and hence no warrant was required.”

    That’s pretty clear. So most of Grayson’s speech is based on an incorrect reading of the case law or more likely no reading at all.

  13. Badgerite says:

    It was also J. Edgar’s Hoover’s FBI that hunted down the killers of the three civil rights workers in
    Mississippi. President Johnson sicked Hoover on the Klan and the Klan never really recovered. It was also J. Edgar Hoover who balked at the Huston’s plan (google it) , one of Richard Nixon’s more bizarre proposals for widespread domestic spying, and kept it from going into effect. No, I don’t think the actions of the FBI in any way slowed down the Civil Rights Movement. What did slow it down, and considerably so, was the elevation of Richard Nixon to the White House and the power of appointment to the Supreme Court that that gave him. Not only did the left NOT stop war. They helped to put Richard Nixon in the White House, thereby guaranteeing that the war would continue.
    Richard Nixon, secretly urged the South Vietnamese to leave the bargaining table because he would see to it that they would get a better deal when he was elected president. Four years and many lives later, he reached the same deal with the North Vietnamese that was proposed four years earlier. Not only did the left not stop the war, they helped to make sure that the man most responsible for the war not ending in 1968, as it should have, could ride the issue into the White House.

    I also find it ridiculous that people who complain that we are slipping into a police state, hero worship a guy who ran off to seek sanctuary in an ACTUAL police state. I like Alan Grayson, but I am not with him on this one because it ‘appears’ to me, that Snowjob was lying about NSA policy from day one. And in his online interview he said the following:

    “…an analyst has access to query raw SIGINT databases, they can enter and get results for anything they want…..The restrictions against this are POLICY based, not technically based, and can change at any time. ” As Bob Cesca states, what this means, decoded, is that “Snowden had the IT hacker know how to do it. Not the permission or the mandate.

    In other words, to do this legally, he would have to have a court order. Period. This was not the way the story was reported.

  14. DonewithDems says:

    Alan Grayson for president!!!!

  15. pappyvet says:

    No one would have believed in the first years of the 21st century,that American affairs were being watched from the timeless worlds of government. Few men even considered the possibility of life with such paranoia. Yet,across the void minds immeasurably less free than ours regarded this country with envious eyes. And slowly, and surely, they drew their plans against us.
    With a nod to Mr. Wells

  16. tomtallis says:

    This is why I hoped that Obama wouldn’t get the nomination in 2008 and why I fervently hoped he’d get primaried in 2012. I just knew he was going to turn out to be Bush lite. Obama isn’t eloquent, he’s glib.

  17. JayRandal says:

    Grayson has to convince others in Congress that NSA spying is bad. If he remains as just one lone politician, like Kucinich was before pushed out of his House seat, then his warning about NSA goes

  18. lynchie says:

    Excellent point.

  19. Leon Hall says:

    the Supreme Court orders 110,000 innocent Japanese Americans to move
    into relocation camps by Civilian Restrictive Order No. 1, 8 Fed. Reg.
    982. even though not 1 incident of subversion was ever detected and not a
    single crime committed. The Supreme Court ACKNOWLEDGED infringement of
    their rights but the IMPRESSION of safety was more important to the
    Court than the reality of individual liberties guaranteed in the Constitution. My question is this:

    What stops the Court from doing the same thing to ANYONE that actually
    speaks out or protests today or do anything else for the IMPRESSION of
    security? NOTHING! Because it will always happen behind closed doors so they don’t have to deal with the little people, you and me.
    Before you consider an answer remember we now have the
    Patriot Act with indefinite detention and “sneak and peek warrants” ,
    NDAA, 680,000 people stopped and frisked without cause in 2011, new laws
    against any type of protest outside the Supreme Court, private banks
    with their own police force, loss of privacy in the name of “safety” to
    name a few. That any judge was convinced to sign off on whatever they have, or will, without the scrutiny of the people as a whole and the foundation of the Constitution and The People’s right’s is a damn sad day for America.

  20. Whitewitch says:

    Either that or they are using the Keystone Cops method of tracking down terrorists.

  21. Whitewitch says:

    No – but his dress is It is actually his christening dress…but it is a dress. I think he was was an “over compensator” based on the stuff in the collection. And of course, I am sure the FBI cleaned out anything that might have “tarnished” him before donating it.

  22. nicho says:

    Is his plunging neckline wardrobe included in that collection?

  23. BeccaM says:

    I find myself wondering what would happen if all those pro-gun folks suddenly realized that if the gov’t is tracking every last little detail of people’s lives — phone calls, emails, financial transactions, credit card purchases and so on — this by definition means in those massive fully searchable databases is the secret equivalent of a permanent national gun registry.

  24. nicho says:

    There’s more to that bomber story than meets the eye. Don’t think that just because they said they lost track of them they really did. That’s why they wanted those guys dead. They knew too much. One died “because the brother ran over him,” and then they pumped thousands of rounds into a boat during a “gun battle” with an unarmed guy. Then, the friend in Florida just happened to “lunge” at an agent after three other agents “just happened” to leave the room for a minute. To stop him, the agent had to fire six shots into his torso and a seventh into the back of his head – -for good measure. For me, I know that one shot into my torso would pretty much stop me from “lunging.”

  25. DrDignity says:

    Thank you, Rep. Grayson. A very clear speech which raises many questions about the rise of an inverted totalitarian, police state that has happened in a short time without much notice. The USA is like a human being with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder with a generous helping of paranoia: dangerous, out of control, unpredictable. Imagine if we took the time & money to sow peace & brotherhood in the world: huge waste of treasure, trust & good will spent on creating cruelty, hate & suspicion.

  26. Zorba says:

    One of the most frightening aspects is how many Americans are perfectly okay with all of this. After all, it’s supposed to be “keeping us safe,” and”if you’re not doing anything wrong, why should you be concerned.”

    The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

    H. L. Mencken

  27. Whitewitch says:

    Wrong wrong wrong. What is it you think he could of done, short of what he did that would have gotten any attention at all?

  28. Leon Hall says:

    NSA builds a 1 million sq. ft. @ a cost of $1.2-1.7 Billion dollars.
    Data is stored in Yottabytes, which is equal to 500 quintillion pages.
    If those pages were piled flat on each other the stack would go to the moon and back 66 MILLION times!
    Russia calls us twice to warn us about Boston bombers. All that didn’t protect us from the 2 young bastids. Are we any safer?

  29. Whitewitch says:

    I kind of think that part of the “scapegoating” is what making this agreeable to many people. Heck they are watching me they are watching “those guys”.

  30. lynchie says:

    How do you know he stole “Top Secret” documents. I call bullshit. His vilification by the media and government based on what O’highness and his lackeys tell us is all I need to know. How is he a traitor for having the courage to disclose this program which condemns all Americans as being guilty of something either now or in the future. Our constitution which W said we could wipe our asses with is supposed to protect us from search and seizure seems easy to skirt. But the second on right to bear arms is supposedly etched in stone. So we go along like lemmings over the cliff saying “If I have done nothing wrong I have nothing to be afraid of”. Horseshit, you should always be afraid of those willing to break the law to imprison our thoughts and prevent us from sharing them.

  31. Whitewitch says:

    From your picture Karmanot – I figured you were about 7…but then in dog years that can be quite old. Sorry you were not able to get out and hoping your health improves!!

  32. Whitewitch says:

    Wow, just wow. Did you know that there is a collection of J. Edgar Hoover in DC of all his possessions. He is considered quite groovy by those of the Rumsfeld league. Do you think he did not slow down the Civil Rights movement – do you seriously think he had not affect on the assassination of King and other participants of the movement. HE had too much power, for too long. I get that lots of people feel they have to defend this action by the government, because they feel they are protecting the President, but I ask you – would you like Cheney or Rumsfeld to have this power? Would you like the next Republican President, Congress and House to have this authority? I think not.

  33. BeccaM says:

    We’re already most of the way there. Our privately-run for-profit prisons are engaging in actual slavery. The non-1% college grads are saddled with hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans, which by law can’t be discharged through bankruptcy. The so-called immigration reform bill is actually in large part a huge expansion of guest-worker visa programs. Plus, just to make sure the serfs don’t get too complacent and forget who’s really in charge, we have banks stealing people’s houses through fraudulent foreclosures.

  34. theophrastvs says:

    ..there you go ragging on the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt again

  35. Badgerite says:

    It was a good speech. But it was a speech made where outrage seemed to be contingent on the phrase, ‘it sure looks like’. The phrase, ‘it sure looks like’, is not oversight. It is making a speech. It is not a lawyers speech. It is a politicians speech. I admire Grayson a lot. But ‘it sure looks like’ is not good enough. Daily Kos has links to some very good articles about the technical aspects of the program. The slide that Grayson relies on in his ‘it sure looks like’ speech is actually quite ambiguous and possibly misleading. One would need a whole lot more information than that to determine what is really going on. The ‘direct access’ claims have already been debunked by the companies involved and by more detailed explanations from the NSA and others about how the program works. If Grayson is a lawyer then he should know that ‘it sure looks like’ is not really evidence of anything. Appearances can be and frequently are deceptive. By the way, how did that wiretapping thing of J. Edgar’s work out for him. Do we have a National holiday honoring J. Edgar?. NO. Was he given the Nobel Prize? NO. Is there a monument in our nation’s capital honoring him? NO. He did manage to have the FBI building named after him, I think. Did what J. Edgar’s leaks in any way stop or even slow down the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s and 70’s. NO. Whose reputation was actually damaged by the leaks of personal information. Certainly not King’s. He is a towering figure in our national story and will remain so. And how did those ‘Plumbers’ and breaking and entering and wiretapping things work out for Nixon. He was driven from office and any prosecution of Daniel Ellsberg was made moot due to governmental wrongdoing. In terms of chilling or stifling political dissent in this country, methods of surveillance have limited utility. There was a good interview with Lawrence Lessig on Bill Moyers show last night and he seemed to think that the real concern would be if information gathered is used to impact the individual it is gathered from. And that kind of action is still restrained by all the laws that restrained action by the government before.

  36. TheOriginalLiz says:

    and it’s worked better than expected. Not only are we willing to take our shoes off in airports and accept the mass murders of children, but we’re totally okay with being impoverished by a small minority and actually turn against anyone who complains. Virtual slavery isn’t far down the road.

  37. BeccaM says:

    He might have a better chance if he wasn’t in Florida. I imagine if he lived in New England, he might be a Senator by now.

  38. theophrastvs says:

    I really wish Grayson would seek higher office. I suppose he’s too much state-the-truth to be considered as a vice-presidential candidate?

  39. karmanot says:

    That’s right dimwit: kill the messenger that would set you free.

  40. karmanot says:

    “This is how democratic republics die” We saw this coming during Dubya’s coupe and tried to emigrate. Now we are too old and in bad health. I deeply regret we didn’t make it. I hate to think what lies ahead for our younger generations. If you can, leave. The new American model is Singapore.

  41. BeccaM says:

    One little-reported aspect of all this is that despite the constant crowing that this is to “keep us safe from terrorists,” the national security state has already been casting a wider net, looking to begin using these unfettered surveillance methods for all kinds of crimes.

    First it was terrorism. The leaked docs indicate they’re also using these vast databases for drug enforcement and human trafficking cases. I’d be surprised if they hadn’t also expanded it to child p*rn crimes and who knows what else.

    And as MG1 notes below, the definition of ‘terrorist’ itself is quite fungible. In fact, just about anybody who is an anti-establishment activist or organization is probably being watched.

    The NSA and the other alphabet agencies have tens of thousands of employees. Many of them quite new. And say whatever you will about Snowden’s motives, the plain fact of the matter is that a guy just three months on the job had access to these “secret” presentations. Billions of dollars are being spent on all this, and quite frankly our law enforcement apparatus was capable of investigating and even preventing terrorist attacks. They even knew the 9/11 attackers were preparing with those “no landings” flying lessons and behaving suspiciously. Reports were written, and then quietly sh*t-canned. There just aren’t that many terrorists out there.

    So we have these new agencies and groups, and they have to prove they need their ridiculous revenue stream. Of course they’re going to look for more pies to stick their collective thumbs into. And on top of all this, when they misbehave and do patently corrupt or illegal things, now we’re no longer allowed even to know they did them or to take measures to stop them from keep doing it.

    Remember when Nixon famously said, “Well, when the president does it that means that it is not illegal”? We now have an entire governmental law enforcement bureaucracy believing “when the government does it, that means that it is not illegal.”

    This is how democratic republics die.

  42. BeccaM says:

    I and others have said for a while now that the TSA and color-coded warnings and all other trappings of the National Security Police State were designed to gradually get the citizens used to giving up our civil rights and freedoms.

  43. MG1 says:

    It’s important to note that NSA/DOD has been focusing on (illegal) programs to use, when necessary for crushing domestic protests over any number of issues: unemployment and the economy, treatment of homeowners by the big banks, environmental disasters caused by climate change and corporate criminality, and manipulation, by multinationals, of prices for necessities such as food and gas.

    The NSA programs are aimed at international “terrorists” (those who are retaliating against us bombing and occupying their countries) but also, at political activists and the general public who might protest worsening conditions in the U.S. For example, the vast NSA database on all Americans allowed the government to break up the Occupy encampments, simultaneously, in one day. The term “eco-terrorist” is used to vilify those who protest Monsanto’s poisoning of our food and the environment, or extension of the Keystone pipeline. The NSA/DOD serves billionaires, making the world safe for their plunder and making sure there is no significant rebellion on the home front over their activities.

  44. nicho says:

    Obama is not dumb. He doesn’t think Americans are terrorists. Terrorism is just a screen for the PTB to scare the average person and gain more control over the country.

  45. nicho says:

    You need to disclose exactly who it is you work for as a troll here. This isn’t about Snowden, no matter how much you and your handlers say it is. Any claim that the story is about Snowden is an attempt to distract from the real traitorous activity.

  46. BillyHewitt says:

    debiannj is a nut case to embrace tyranny and torture. Why don’t you go home to Afghanistan.
    Snowden is a hero! Obama is a paranoid fascist determined to hug homosexuals and skunks. Obama’s teachers denied America has a constitution.

  47. TheOriginalLiz says:

    We’re a violent nation and we love scapegoats – “ragheads’ after 9/11 and mexican-american kids, for example. Mix that with a populace unwilling to think for themselves or to stand up for themselves, much less any one else…

  48. BillyHewitt says:

    Obama must be the dumbest man on earth to think 300 million Americans are terrorists!

  49. jomicur says:

    I think Soviet Russia is a more apt analogy. Surveillance of all citizens by the government all the time.

  50. TheOriginalLiz says:

    As a nation we’ve become so used to being bullied by TSA and other “officials’ that nothing is going to be done about this, other than a few rabble rousers. We are so ripe to become the next Nazi Germany, it’s horrifying.

  51. debiannj says:

    It’s important to remember that what Edward Snowden did and what the NSA is doing are, indeed, two separate entities. The program is very wrong, but Snowden stealing Top Secret documents is also VERY wrong. There are many other ways – non-illegal ways that he could have dealt with his growing concern that would not have put our country at risk. Please remember that if someone condemns Snowden as a traitor, that they are NOT saying that this program is OK. The majority of these people have already said that it’s wrong.

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