Why believe anything the government says about the NSA?

At this point, why would you believe anything the State, or anyone fronting for it, tells you about NSA domestic spying? Even the gullible have to be non-virgins by now. Let’s take a look.

Here’s security expert Bruce Schneier on just this subject. He starts (my emphasis, including a few bullets and some reparagraphing throughout):

Restoring Trust in Government and the Internet

In July 2012, responding to allegations that the video-chat service Skype — owned by Microsoft — was changing its protocols to make it possible for the government to eavesdrop on users, Corporate Vice President Mark Gillett took to the company’s blog to deny it. Turns out that wasn’t quite true.

Or at least he — or the company’s lawyers — carefully crafted a statement that could be defended as true while completely deceiving the reader. You see, Skype wasn’t changing its protocols to make it possible for the government to eavesdrop on users, because the government was already able to eavesdrop on users.

And this is just the start of this great piece. Two things to note:

Is Skype (aka Microsoft) an arm of the State? Skype (Microsoft) is lying to protect their joint operation with the Pentagon, their joint involvement in spying on you. You tell me if lying by Skype equals lying by the State. I say Yes.

Skype is lying in the skeeziest possible way — because the thing they’re lying about doing had already been done; it was done and over, five years ago. The lie not only conceals what you wanted to know; it’s based on something worse.

 About Skype, from Schneier’s link above:

Last month, the Post reported that the NSA has a “User’s Guide for PRISM Skype Collection” that outlines how it can eavesdrop on Skype “when one end of the call is a conventional telephone and for any combination of ‘audio, video, chat, and file transfers’ when Skype users connect by computer alone.”

About two weeks later, the New York Times reported that, five years ago [i.e., in 2008], before Microsoft acquired Skype, Skype initiated an internal program called “Project Chess” to explore how it could make Skype calls readily available to the government.

Be sure to click through to the timeline in the post. I was especially interested in this sentence:

June 2011: Microsoft [Skype’s new owner] obtains a patent for “legal intercept” technology designed to be used with services like Skype to “silently copy” communications.

Forced participant or eager partner? And what does Skype (Microsoft) get back from its partner the State? Obviously something it can monetize.

More carefully crafted deceptions from the State & its partners

Ready for more tricky words from the State and their partners? Schneier again, on Clapper lying to Congress, plus oh-so-clever phrasing by those happy hipsters, your leftie friends Google and Apple:

▪ At a Senate hearing in March, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper assured the committee that his agency didn’t collect data on hundreds of millions of Americans. He was lying, too. He later defended his lie by inventing a new definition of the word “collect,” an excuse that didn’t even pass the laugh test.

▪ Google and Facebook insist that the NSA has no “direct access” to their servers. Of course not; the smart way for the NSA to get all the data is through sniffers.

▪ Apple says it’s never heard of PRISM. Of course not; that’s the internal name of the NSA database.

There are many more instances of super-parsed phrasing in this fine piece; I’ll leave you to read them at the source.

Schneier’s bottom line — They’re all lying until proven otherwise

Here’s what Schneier concludes from all this. Do read this quote through; the end is as strong as the beginning:

As Edward Snowden’s documents reveal more about the NSA’s activities, it’s becoming clear that we can’t trust anything anyone official says about these programs. …

Both government agencies and corporations have cloaked themselves in so much secrecy that it’s impossible to verify anything they say; revelation after revelation demonstrates that they’ve been lying to us regularly and tell the truth only when there’s no alternative.

[And] There’s much more to come. Right now, the press has published only a tiny percentage of the documents Snowden took with him. And Snowden’s files are only a tiny percentage of the number of secrets our government is keeping, awaiting the next whistle-blower.

We’re not looking at the tip of the iceberg. We’re looking at the tip of the tip — the tip of the tip of an iceberg so big — and apparently so old — that the mind will boggle and seize up when it surfaces.

It’s all coming out

Let’s put that another way. The crime against the Constitution is so great and so longstanding, and the number of perps and betrayers so long and so wide, that they have no choice but to lie. How can they cop to a betrayal so large and sweeping in scope that what we know now is just the start?

Will lying save their day? You tell me. It’s a digital world. You can guard a thing; you can’t guard an electronic pathway. If they can’t keep the Super Bowl off the Internet (there are many workarounds for the Homeland Security site take-down I talked about here), they’ll never keep all of what’s in this punch bowl from floating to the top.

It’s going to surface, folks — all of it. So strap yourself in. As I say, the day it all comes out, the national mind will boggle and seize up. That day won’t be fun.

Obama: “We don’t have a domestic spying program”

I thought I’d leave you with a word from the Liar-in-Chief, Mr. Legacy. Raw Story:

Obama-on-Jay-LenoAsked [on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show] whether the controversial surveillance programs helped lead to the intelligence that sparked the warnings, Obama said the programs were critical to counterterrorism work. But he said more needed to be done to assure Americans they were not being spied on themselves.

“We don’t have a domestic spying program,” he said. “What we do have are some mechanisms where we can track a phone number or an email address that we know is connected to some sort of terrorist threat.”

See how easy? Just say No, we’re not spying on you.

And bonus points if you noticed that in the first paragraph, Obama’s answer didn’t address Leno’s question. See how easy?

Last thought — What level of unconstitutionality was a bridge too far for those lovable loyal Bushies, Ashcroft and Comey, that even they couldn’t say yes to it? If all of what we know, and all of what we’re about to know, is legal — “fine and dandy” in DoJ parlance — then what in god’s frying earth was totally not fine and dandy for eager torturer James Comey? What did he turn down, if what we’re left with totally works for him?

My guess — we’ll find that out too, and in your lifetime.


As I say, strap in.


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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108 Responses to “Why believe anything the government says about the NSA?”

  1. conundrum says:


  2. reva says:

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  3. marxmarv says:

    That’s fair. In my own experience I’ve been accused of being a GOPer or GOP sympathizer because of my unwillingness to toe the party line, and there is a strong element of partisan identity in those charges (and an undue faith in the just-world hypothesis and in the articles not in contention between the major parties). Maybe I’ve just been around some extreme, less intellectual cases, but it does seem that when the dedicated partisan runs out of argument, the best they’ve usually got is accusations of partisanship to the archrivals.

    I too would love to know the downvoter’s thought process, but I suspect the non-response to your call so far is because there isn’t really a thought process in the 13 that bears a second reading. You’re most welcome and thank you likewise.

  4. marxmarv says:

    Actually, if you accept capitalism and private property as an alternative mechanism of distribution with roughly the same capacity for influential actors to predetermine the outcome as ration cards and Ingsoc palace intrigue, we have arrived.

  5. marxmarv says:

    What I’m suggesting is that it’s not directly because of any intrinsic defects in these other identity groups that they are exploited (though such alleged deficiencies will be brought out every time a rationalization is needed), but merely that they are sufficiently and conspicuously different from the WASP aristocrat ideal that, whenever the WASP aristocrat needs someone to scapegoat, enslave, or otherwise exploit, they usually don’t have to look far for a ready and visible mark with which to gin up an underclass.

    And this will continue, as long as it works, which is as long as the aristocracy can decide who eats and who stays hungry.

  6. Bruce says:

    Being an Orwellian (19) ’49er “Big Brother” birther, I can tell you we’re ALREADY THERE since at least 1984 In ACTUALITY! We here in Oceania have always been at war with Eurasia (until we’re next at war with Eastasia, AGAIN*). (* “They who control the present, control the past; they who control the past, control the future.”)

  7. Bruce says:

    Achtung! USchwitz: WAHRHEIT MACHT FREI !! WIRKLICH !!!

  8. cole3244 says:

    carter wasn’t perfect but he wasn’t a racist like reagan.

    he was telling america about the oil problem and wanted to start reducing our dependency on fossil fuels but since the american public refuse to hear bad news he was skewered for being honest.
    reagan was the start of the real divide and conquer agenda by the gop that has continued unabated since along with the liberals are the problem aligned with govt theme.
    on second thought compared to reagan he was close to perfect, imho.

  9. kenthomes says:

    If they are spying on us “We DO LIVE IN A POLICE STATE!”

  10. kenthomes says:

    Please go away… I can’t stand people who willingly stand for oppression. Franklin said” anyone who is willing to give up liberty for perceived safety deserves neither!” You definately fit into the “I am scared of the terrorists!!!! Please, please do anything to save me from them!!!

  11. kenthomes says:

    Jim is just happy as a lark with the government being able to spy on everyone. [email protected]

  12. kenthomes says:

    The only attacks that have been thwarted – are the ones the FBI set up and then thwarted.

  13. kenthomes says:

    You are nothing more than a TOOL of the state.

  14. kenthomes says:

    Said by someone who would have been very happy living in Soviet Russia or East Germany.

  15. kenthomes says:

    Are you serious??? I am NOT OK with any of this, FULL STOP. This has been instituted ever since 9/11 to spy on we the people and not the so-called “enemy”. The same “enemy” we supported and created in Afghanistan.The same “enemy” is alsoo ur hired mercenaries in Libya and now Syria. Are you keeping up with the news? I will stand up for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights always. What they are doing is worse than East Germany and is completely un-American.

  16. kenthomes says:

    They hire people to infiltrate web sites and articles like this…to push the government propaganda line!

  17. Vince in Cedar Rapids says:

    A conservative friend of mine just finished reading 1984 and he and I both agree how frightening it is (no matter the party in power, as they ALL support this crap) that we are SO close to the world George Orwell described. All it would take is a major war or another terrorist attack and we will be living it. We came close with Bush and Iraq, with republicans threatening to jail people for dissenting against the war.

  18. ronbo says:

    More Americans will be struck by lightning than terrorism. Please carry your lightning rod and grounding cables with you every time you go outside. Seriously Jim, get some perspective.

  19. ronbo says:

    Take your head out of the sand, Jim. (sand sounds more polite than ass – as you requested)


  20. ronbo says:

    Sometimes it’s best to shock evil ones with the truth. The cold hard truth. Otherwise they will sell YOUR rights to the highest bidder.

    People who cooperate and call for evil, are evil…Jim.

  21. ronbo says:

    Said the guards as they marched the “dirty” people into the showers.

  22. cambridgemac says:

    Jimmy Carter supported Somoza in Nicaragua (at a time when Somoza was strafing his own people in the capital!) and oversaw the introduction of the Pershing Missile into Europe, as well as development of the neutron bomb and the nonsense about Soviet first-strike intentions. Later, he was a great ex-President known for his humanitarian values. As President, not so much. All of the corporate deregulation that Reagan is blamed for started under Carter. On the other hand, he was good on the environment and he modified Federal policies to be more pro-urban and sited more Federal office buildings and such in urban areas.

  23. cambridgemac says:

    Thanks for explaining. I see it differently – this is an argument between blues and ex-blues (those of us who see Obama as a beige Nixon) – with republicans or red staters as irrelevant. Maybe it’s the vehemence (jilted lover) of our perceptions that you’re responding to. In any event, thanks for taking the time to say more.

  24. Bill_Perdue says:

    They’re racist murders. Racism is a major contributor to US policy like the wars against Vietnam and Iraq and the atomic attacks on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

    These murders are further proof of the fact that the US is a sewer of racism, woman hating, homo hating and immigrant bashing.

  25. marxmarv says:

    No, you have an authoritarian reply. If you grew up in a nation that has enough control over their quality of governance to make extensive state involvement in private life minimally detrimental and net beneficial, I’m sure it would be different.

    But you’re not in Kansas anymore. You’re in a nation structured on, and still largely beholden to, the premise that only the landed gentry deserve real power, and that aristocrat beauty pageants are the best the masses should even imagine for themselves. You’re in a nation that fetishizes transgression as a personal good, either in the doing or in the punishment for doing, and simultaneously celebrates the abuse and exploitation of people not like oneself and aggressively welcomes of more of them (despite, or perhaps among the elites because of, the long-observed correlation nearly unheard among the laity between cultural homogeneity and the quality and availability of public goods). And you’re among a group of people who, for the most part, see that these and other incorrigible dysfunctions work powerfully to mute the voice of dissent and who, for the most part, have made the same choice between loyalty and exit, if perhaps by different degrees.

    Perhaps that might explain the hostility toward Asian carp in the Great Lakes, and likewise the hostility to your invasive viewpoint of trusting the prestigious abuser.

  26. marxmarv says:

    Dang, you lost me at “racist”. It’s not racist, it’s business. Business is indifferent to humanity but will cynically exploit humanity’s bugs to its own ends (including but not limited to xenophobia — and I believe racism is merely a convenient shortcut to that).

  27. marxmarv says:

    Finally, you say something I agree with. This paper king nonsense isn’t working out well for anyone. The US Constitution is nothing more or less than a blueprint for a permanent aristocracy whose theoretical possibilities just happened to get away from them for a few decades, but apparently they have it under control now.

  28. marxmarv says:

    You must live in a particularly privileged part of New York if you aren’t seeing the police state all around you. Or, you’re pointedly not looking for it.

  29. marxmarv says:

    The US isn’t open about it. The US doesn’t do open. Open reverses the consolidation of power and wealth they’ve been working to implement for decades. Therefore, nothing about this hypothetical is remotely relevant.

  30. marxmarv says:

    As I understand it, in many cases they’re not actually bots, just virtual socks managed by “social CRM” software and run at breakneck speed by some Georgetown student grooming themselves for a Congressional staffer position.

  31. marxmarv says:

    I upvoted it, but I’ve seen it enough, and it amounts to:

    Not blue = RED! RED = BAD! Me blue! Me not bad! Gorg silence BAD RED by any means necessary!

  32. marxmarv says:

    That’s what makes Disqus commenting so disappointing. How are you supposed to publicize IP addresses of trolls if the Man won’t let you have them?

  33. marxmarv says:

    Stop making excuses. If the shoe fits…

  34. Whitewitch says:

    Nicho I just read that somewhere else as well…that the Bots actually get better with people responding to them using some coolo logarithms? I wonder if that is possible…I am a computer wienie of sorts and I find it amazing, if true.

  35. Whitewitch says:

    Your last paragraph is what I believe wholeheartedly. No more anti-war protests, because it is a D promoting the war, no more standing up for Freedom because there are D supporting the spying (Pelosi, Obama, et. al.) Thank you for saying it so well.

  36. How do you know that?

  37. Well my relative told me the opposite! And a friend of a friend told me something else too!

  38. Badgerite says:

    You really are into ‘enemies of the people’ territory. You know that? I can tell you one thing for sure. The governments that absolutely do spy domestically would be China and Russia.

  39. vyduxawanuxe says:

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    Also being open about the private information the government is
    sifting through allows for an open dialogue about what that means
    exactly and why they are doing it. Instead now we’re just in the dark
    and so everyone assumes it’s bad because well it SOUNDS bad. But I
    wouldn’t trust a government that didn’t spy on its citizens to a certain
    degree. I want them to be looking out for criminals and as Hedwig
    said, to be truly free you must give up a part of yourself.

  40. flocculent says:

    How about those of us who feel plenty safe enough without the government recording our every keystroke and utterance? Are you making that call for us as well? Some of us didn’t piss our pants on Sept 11.

  41. cambridgemac says:

    Fact: the DoJ has decades worth of experience with illegal wiretapping and blackmail. A relative of mine worked for them and told me (in the early 70s) about attempts to get black activists to kill each other by monitoring phone calls and then planting fake evidence that they were betraying each other and sleeping with each others’ girlfriends. Of course, that’s kid stuff compared to the assassinations they carried out. Do you know about ANY of this? It’s not hard to find out. Your “What me worry?” responses are risible.

  42. cambridgemac says:

    Union activists, environmental activists, trans activists – they all might worry a bit about their phone calls being monitored. Or do you really think the FBI only messed with nigras? I’m assuming that you do know of Hoover’s undercover attempt to get ML King to commit suicide….

  43. cambridgemac says:

    Would one of the down-raters please explain what you’re thinking?

  44. dula says:

    You’re not challenging our thinking. You are challenging the foundation of this nation.

  45. dula says:

    Were you born in East Germany, I mean Sweden, by any chance? True, the NSA is probably not reading the communications of doormats for fascism but what about political activists, elected representatives, journalists, and anyone useful who challenges anti-democratic forces in the US?

  46. ezpz says:

    Exactly, which is why I questioned Jim for making and so readily believing that claim.

  47. BeccaM says:

    Damn! You discovered my secret.

  48. nicho says:

    The sad thing is that that claim is a lie. There is no evidence that the domestic psying has prevented any attacks. In fact, most of the “plots” that were “thwarted” were dreamed up and fostered by the FBI.

  49. nicho says:

    Actually, all the NSA spying has produced almost no results that make you any safer. And in fact, they make you a lot less safe. Maybe they aren’t staying up nights reading your email. However, if you became a nuisance to them in any way, then they can focus on you and read anything and everything your ever wrote, any thing you bought, anywhere you traveled to, anyone you spoke to on the phone and for how long. Just because they haven’t done it yet doesn’t mean they won’t.

  50. nicho says:

    If so, I should be getting laid a lot more than I am.

  51. nicho says:

    Actually, I just read that part of the government Internet activity is creating sock-puppet bots to go out on sites like this and pretend to be real people.

  52. Ford Prefect says:

    Forgot to mention: great post, GP!

    Just imagine if hurricane warnings were done the same way “terror alerts” are:

    Unnamed sources not cleared to not discuss “weather” at the National Weather Service are seeing increased chatter that a severe weather event will take place somewhere, sometime in the future. Americans are advised to go shopping, then hide in the basement until the All Clear siren goes off–assuming that you still have those after the sequester. Hurricane Hunter data is being collected, but it’s classified, so we can’t tell you what it says. Any leaking of meteorological data will be punished very harshly (see: Manning, Bradley). In the mean time, don’t call us, we’ll call you.

  53. Ford Prefect says:

    Of course, with his terrible sense of humor, what better show to appear on than the very unfunny Leno?

  54. samizdat says:

    Dang, where’s my snare and my hi-hat when I need ’em!

    That deserved an up, ergo…

  55. samizdat says:

    “We don’t have a domestic spying program…”

    To be fair to Presidouche Drone-bama, the Tonight Show is an entertainment and comedy interview show. So maybe he was just trying out a new act.

  56. Naja pallida says:

    Would be nice if we could see the names of downvoters like we do upvoters.

  57. Max_1 says:

    If the President said it… Its a lie.

    Look, I guess if you can go on a T.V. “cult of personality” show to discuss how the US doesn’t spy ‘domestically’ the day AFTER it was widely reported that the NSA and DEA cover their tracks when arresting AMERICANS suspected of communicating with other AMERICANS about drugs… then ANYTHING is possible.


  58. Yeah, I just said everything was perfect as is and the government does no bad. Exactly. Thanks for that.

    For open minded, liberal leaning people you guys sure are rude to anyone who challenges your thinking or disagrees with you.

    So you think I’m wrong, fine. But I have a right to my opinion. I’m done with this conversation as its gotten fairly repetitive and pointless and people are starting to get snarky with me. I’ve said what I thought and believe. Carry on.

  59. Ford Prefect says:

    In America, Customer Service finds YOU. What a country!

  60. ezpz says:

    …I have eyes and a brain.

    You may want to consider giving those eyes a rest from looking through those rose colored lenses, and maybe you could give your ‘brain’ a break from all the washings.

  61. Ford Prefect says:

    Looks like the Downvoters are all back from OFA’s Troll Camp in the Catskills.

  62. I know this because I live in NYC and I have eyes and a brain.

  63. Fine. If that makes you feel better, go for it.

  64. ezpz says:

    more attacks were attempted and thwarted.

    And you know this because your govt and its’ stenographers on MSNBC tell you so?

  65. jomicur says:

    Since I haven’t posited any scenario, and since you have cited no “facts.” this comment is as nonsensical as everything else you’ve posted. At the risk of repetition, you’ll just spout any drivel that occurs to you, won’t you?

  66. Yeah…and? We always are/have been. The fact that our government has worked this well for this long is kind of a miracle. I am not supporting the government’s right to abuse their power, I’m talking about the government being open and honest about what they need to do to protect their citizens.

    Again, this “spying” goes on in most industrialized nations, they’re just way more open about it.

  67. Drew2u says:

    While I would agree with you, the DEA begs to differ.

  68. ezpz says:

    If you haven’t yet read the following piece by James Bamford, published last year in Wired.com, I suggest you do. If you have, it certainly merits a reread.


    One little excerpt, James Bamford:

    The former NSA official [William Binney] held his thumb and forefinger close together: “We are that far from a turnkey totalitarian state.”

  69. Just because you disagree with me doesn’t mean you have to be nasty. I know I’m in the minority here. Fine. But don’t be a dick about it.

    Also my scenario was based on facts – more attacks were attempted and thwarted. Your scenario was based on a huge maybe.

  70. Exactly. Clear that up right away. We’re the only modern industrialized nation who hasn’t updated or modified their constitution to fit in the modern age.

  71. This is the same slippery slope argument that Republicans use for gay marriage. Well if they’re spying on us, then we must live in a police state. One does not necessarily mean the other.

  72. That’s fine, but complete civil liberties is an illusion. Now that we know that they can and will do this, we should have a voice at the table. A government who hides things from its people is way more dangerous than a government who spies on its people with good intentions.

  73. jomicur says:

    Let’s not play what if? Good gosh, you better check your Disqus account, because someone using your name and picture just posted a comment that said “”But how many other things *might* have happened if they weren’t looking for it.” You’ll just spout any drivel that occurs to you, won’t you?

  74. jomicur says:

    We can start by scrapping the second amendment, or at the very least fixing it so it can’t be used to let criminals and psychotics arm themselves to the teeth.

  75. Yes. They’re doing it anyway. And if they weren’t doing it there would probably be a lot more mayhem and terror attacks. I’d rather every one just be honest about it.

    I think about privacy maybe different than many Americans. I’m not obsessed with it (as you can see I don’t hide behind a fake avatar like most people on here).

    Also being open about the private information the government is sifting through allows for an open dialogue about what that means exactly and why they are doing it. Instead now we’re just in the dark and so everyone assumes it’s bad because well it SOUNDS bad. But I wouldn’t trust a government that didn’t spy on its citizens to a certain degree. I want them to be looking out for criminals and as Hedwig said, to be truly free you must give up a part of yourself.

  76. ezpz says:


  77. ezpz says:

    So wait….you’re okay with the govt spying on you in every possible way (phone, email, driving habits, & more), along with all other citizens and non citizens alike, as long as they tell you first??

  78. Bill_Perdue says:

    I beat you.

  79. Our constitution is outdated, too old and vague and never intended to last this long. I’m not a fan of it. Draft up a new one I say.

  80. Drew2u says:

    Add expunging Tim DeChristopher’s sentence to that list.

  81. HolyMoly says:

    With an individualized warrant, sure!

  82. HolyMoly says:

    The 2nd paragraph was not intended to be “snarky” by the way. Dunno if that threw anyone off.

  83. HolyMoly says:

    I see we have a few tribalists here today. Thank you for proving my point.

  84. Drew2u says:

    Taken to its logical extreme, should everyone then be jailed and controlled out of an abundance of caution?

  85. I got some of those. I have a bunch because I don’t just agree with everything and provide the standard and acceptable liberal reply. I have my own mind.

  86. BeccaM says:

    I suspect one of our Disqus sock-puppets is back, with an entire drawer full of “I HATE YOU I HATE YOU!” alternate login socks.

  87. You’re right! But how many other things *might* have happened if they weren’t looking for it. 9/11 was a bit of a wake-up call. And anyway, of course they can’t stop everything. Your logic is dumb. They didn’t stop the Boston Marathon bombing, so obviously they aren’t doing anything – just end it.

    This is not to say that they don’t make mistakes and should not be watched and adhere to standards, but just be open about it.

  88. BeccaM says:

    Unfortunately, Skype is just another of the systems of communication and TCP/IP traffic they’re already capturing.

    Once received by the cell phone tower, mobile communications are recoded into IP telephony — which is now reportedly being tracked and recorded, not just ‘meta data’. That was just the proverbial camel’s nose in the tent for us rubes, to get us used to “a little” surveillance, not unlike the ever increasing (and increasingly degrading) screening at airports (and now proposed to spread to trains, buses, and elsewhere).

    Land line? Same thing. If it’s possible to feed off the main trunk lines or the central offices, entire conversations can be recorded, including source and destination information. And as we learned from the whistleblowers from a decade ago, those little sealed rooms were being built in switch-stations all over the country.

    The problem with the ‘bridge too far’ scenario is how what’s deemed unacceptable and unthinkable one year is reexamined a few years later and given the stamp of, “Why not? The proles will never know, and if anybody tries to tell them, we’ll prosecute to the fullest extent of secret law.”

  89. Drew2u says:

    If the NSA didn’t stop the first 9/11, what makes you think it’d stop a second? It certainly didn’t stop the Boston Marathon bombing.

  90. If they want to open my letters to avoid a next 9/11 – so be it. Just don’t lie about it.

  91. Let’s not play what if and deal with the reality. If the NSA needs to scan our data to look for patterns of activity, I’m fine with it. I don’t really think they’re looking at my personal information and even if they were I don’t care.

    When they say they were picking up on chatter what do you think they mean? They are looking at algorithms and then isolating patterns and then looking at those more closely. They don’t have time to read about how you texted your friend about LASIK surgery or if you googled how to get rid of hemorrhoids.

    My issue with it is that they’re not open about what they’re doing. Tell us they need to look at our data in order to protect us and I’m OK with that. They do this in Sweden – it’s in the constitution (something we’ll never alter or change because it’s so sacred). So they have an idea of how the government is infringing on their lives.

    In this day and age you just can’t get away from your privacy being somewhat violated. If you don’t like it, unplug your computer, move to a cabin in the woods and hunt your own food and maybe you’ll be off the radar.

  92. lynchie says:

    congratulations, you my friend have a groupie, not unlike the metal bands of the 80’s and 90’s.

  93. nicho says:

    The USPS doesn’t read your letters — at least I haven’t heard about it — but now they do scan the outside of every envelope that passes through their system and turns the scans over to the NSA.

  94. HolyMoly says:

    The NSA –was– developed pre-personal computer, like say 1952. And no doubt they existed in one form or another under a different name prior to that date. And no, we weren’t okay with them opening our letters back then either.

  95. HolyMoly says:

    But Obama is hopey-changey, and he’s got a “D” next to his name. So there MUST be a good reason for the government’s behavior, because O’s such a Good Guy!

    Funny thing is, though, there are people who actually have that mind-numb tribal mentality. Some who claimed vociferously that Bush was shredding the Constitution (for doing much less, mind you) are now justifying the same actions (plus much more), citing “pragmatism” or “it’s not the same” (you bet it’s not the same…it’s actually WORSE).

  96. Butch1 says:

    Obama is a pathological liar! How can anyone ever take a thing he says with any substance of being truthful? He lost my trust in him a long time ago and I do not believe a word that comes out of his mouth.


  97. nicho says:

    Now, we find out the IRS is using the spy data too.


  98. nicho says:

    All the down votes. This must be “America Blog Day” at Langley.

  99. nicho says:

    Oh, I’ve got my own little downvoting troll. How cute.

  100. nicho says:

    Here’s a “boycott” for you. Refuse to support — with labor, money, or votes — any candidate or party that refuses to support a full and immediate pardon for Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden. And stick to it — no matter what scary troll the opposition runs.

  101. jomicur says:

    I remember hearing–constantly–that the way citizens of the Soviet Union dealt with their government’s constant, ubiquitous surveillance was with a large dose of resigned black humor. That is almost certainly the way the American people will deal with this, assuming Boobus Americanus is even capable of it. (I’m not sure how “It’s worth it if it makes us safer!” leaves any room for black humor.) And despite the Pollyannas and Obamabots among us, this won’t end. Even in the unlikely event congress passes a law banning it (nudge nudge wink wink), the White House will just create another right-wing secret court headed by another right-wing secret judge, and the whole thing will go on as usual. And we’ll just have to get used to it.

    A few days ago I had a phone conversation with a service rep for a company I had done business with several years ago. She immediately pulled up my old file and asked me if I was still at the same address, which she then recited. Caught off-guard by this, I asked her jokingly, “Are you with the NSA?” She explained that they still had the record of my former dealings with them, and we had a good laugh together. Substitute “KGB” for “NSA” and anyone in Russia would get the joke.

  102. dula says:

    If the NSA was developed pre-personal computer, like say 1984, would you be ok with the government opening your letters and reading them before they were delivered? Iranian terrorists might have been planning to retaliate for our support of Saddam Hussein at that time. They already took Americans hostage, you remember. It would have been easy to gin up fear here.

  103. HolyMoly says:

    Exactly. And that’s why the secrecy. If they knew what they were doing was legal, we would have known long ago. To use the now-cliche government slogan, “If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to worry about.” They’ve been trying to hide this for far too long.

    Personally, if I had to choose between complete safety and my civil liberties, I’m going with my civil liberties — every single time. And guaranteed, curtailing our rights does not make us any safer.

  104. nicho says:

    But if you don’t believe the official government story on everything, you’re just a nutty conspiracy theorist, don’t you know.

  105. nicho says:

    Because it is a severe violation of the Constiution? Maybe you want to wipe your ass with the Constitution, but many of us don’t.

  106. I think I’d be OK with what they were doing if they were up front about it. I mean, sure, I know they spy, just tell me you have to do what you have to do and why. Other governments are very up front about this – like Sweden. Why can’t we be?

  107. Bill_Perdue says:

    Spying on American citizens has been going on since the Palmer raids under Wilson, when thousands were deported for not being Democrats or Republicans but socialists.

    As a result of Truman’s loyalty oaths and McCarthy’s red-baiting and gay-baiting tens of thousands lost their livelihoods and others were jailed. The sickness of McCarthyism remains as strong here as the habit of not so ex-Stalinists like Putin to scapegoat and engage in purges.

    Obama upped the ante in terms of attacks on the Bill of Rights. NDAA will result in the detention without regular judicial review, of political opponents of Democrat and Republican union busting, war mongering and soon, attacks on those who oppose gutting Social Security and Medicare.

    But the clearest sign of the not to distant arrival of an American police state are the racist murders, directly ordered by Obama, of four American citizens, Anwar al-Aulaqi, Samir Khan, ‘Abd al-Rahman Anwar al-Aulaqi and Jude Mohammed.

  108. cole3244 says:

    jimmy carter was the last quality person we had in the wh and he was ridiculed as a buffoon for telling the truth and being straight with the voters.

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