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Be it resolved state surveillance is a legitimate defence of our freedom
May 2, 2014 9:35 AM   Subscribe

Alan Dershowitz and Michael Hayden (for); Glenn Greenwald and Alexis Ohanian against. Tonight. “I consider him and Alan Dershowitz” – the two men Mr. Greenwald, 47, will face at Friday’s Munk Debates – “two of the most pernicious human beings on the planet. I find them morally offensive. There’s an element of hypocrisy to being in the same room with them, treating them as if I have outward respect, because I don’t.”

Mr. Greenwald says his Toronto debate opponents, Mr. Dershowitz and Gen. Hayden, have both suggested that they believe he belongs in jail, alongside Mr. Snowden. It should make for some frostiness this weekend, and Mr. Greenwald shakes his head a bit at what his life has become.

Not long ago, he told Ms. Poitras he was looking forward to things getting “back to normal.”

Again the dark, fast laugh.

“She said, ‘Honey, I think that ship has sailed.’”

Livestream here
posted by whyareyouatriangle (282 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Glenn Greenwald on politeness, privacy and the surveillance state
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 9:36 AM on May 2 [2 favorites]


These Munk Debates annoy me to no end. The "resolutions" that are debated are absurd. This one is slightly better than the others like "Be it resolved men are obsolete" or "Be it resolved, the 21st century will belong to China." or "I would rather get sick in the United States than Canada". This last one isn't even a debate topic, it's a personal opinion.
posted by demiurge at 9:52 AM on May 2 [3 favorites]


Is Greenwald a good debater? I don't have that impression really. He's a meticulous and impassioned writer for sure, and often has the truth and rightness on his side, but he still comes off as someone 'I agree with but rubs me the wrong way.'

Dershowitz is a sack of shit but man is he effective at convincing people of things.

Ohanian is a defender of child pornographer ViolentAcrez, so ergo he is a sack of shit, even if he may be right on this issue.

Hayden will probably stick to the script and be pretty boring.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:03 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Oh Christ, I guess Greenwald is the big-ticket draw, but couldn't they get someone smarter and less insufferably self-righteous, like Schneier or something? Greenwald is just going to vomit out a screeching mess of sky-is-falling hyperbole like he always does. His rhetoric isn't even interesting; he's just shrill and boring.
posted by eugenen at 10:04 AM on May 2 [9 favorites]


The question of whether or not mass surveillance is "legitimate" or "justified" can only be asked in an environment where over-government agencies legally operating in total secrecy exist and are the norm. There is literally nothing democratic about a shadow government, and don't ever be mistaken on this point: that's what we have right now.
posted by Taft at 10:06 AM on May 2 [11 favorites]


Both Glenn Greenwald and Michael Hayden were on Q on CBC Radio this morning and to call Hayden prickly was an understatement. The man bristled at most of Jian Ghomeshi's questions, often accusing him of comparing the US to China and Russia (he didn't) and defending the US Constitution in terms of surveillance (which had no relevance to any question asked).

And THAT was on the radio. A live debate should be a lot more interesting.
posted by Kitteh at 10:07 AM on May 2 [2 favorites]


"And in this corner, the Tort-ure Reformer, the Barrister of Terrorister, the United States Atrocity General...
Alan 'Ticking Time Bomb' Dershowitz!"
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:19 AM on May 2 [11 favorites]


The idea that we can't bug spies and terrorists with connections to foreign powers makes no sense to me.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:20 AM on May 2 [4 favorites]


You're being deliberately disingenuous, Ironmouth. The problem is not bugging spies. The problem is bugging everyone, and you know this.

Engage in good faith please.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:24 AM on May 2 [78 favorites]


The whole "mass surveillance" premise is flawed and overblown in the first place, because the goal isn't to spy upon what the haystack is doing, but to be able to be able to find the needles. If the NSA were so all-knowing, presumably they wouldn't be just a small fraction of the total US intelligence budget, with the CIA dwarfing them.

I also find it kind of ridiculous that Greenwald seems to equate a few technical capabilities that were clearly developed for fighting a hot cyberwar against an enemy country with the premise of spying on everyone, all the time.

It's a bit like criticizing the DoD by saying that their goal is to kill everyone on the world, many, many times over... as if one's goals were the same as one's mathematically theoretical capabilities.
posted by markkraft at 10:31 AM on May 2 [7 favorites]


If the NSA were so all-knowing, presumably they wouldn't be just a small fraction of the total US intelligence budget, with the CIA dwarfing them.

The NSA can't be spying on Americans because the CIA has more money than them?

If this is the quality of the argument from the pro-NSA side in this debate then Greenwald et al will mop the floor with them.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:35 AM on May 2 [12 favorites]


I also find it kind of ridiculous that Greenwald seems to equate a few technical capabilities that were clearly developed for fighting a hot cyberwar against an enemy country with the premise of spying on everyone, all the time.

Except, y'know, that the NSA really is spying on everyone all the time.

Please, come join us in the real world. It's a bit scary out here but being part of reality also means being part of fixing it.

It's a bit like criticizing the DoD by saying that their goal is to kill everyone on the world, many, many times over... as if one's goals were the same as one's mathematically theoretical capabilities.

That is, in fact, their goal under a specific set of circumstances.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:44 AM on May 2 [9 favorites]


On-stage debates are really not a good way of deciding truth, they're way too susceptible to charisma and presentation. They're like a game, except they pretend to objectivity. The time constraints in particular are problematic; some truths cannot be compellingly expressed aloud within a short time frame. Text is much better for arguing these things.

Oh Christ, I guess Greenwald is the big-ticket draw, but couldn't they get someone smarter and less insufferably self-righteous, like Schneier or something?

Really, what are you doing here other than just trying to vaguely discredit him?

What the hell does "self-righteous" mean anyhow? Secure in his correctness? Granted, but who the hell isn't these days? If you're not sure of yourself you're not going to give your ideas a creditable presentation, and you're certainly not going to be brought onto cable news to talk about them. Smug? I don't think Greenwald is smug. The definitions of the term I've found all imply certain but wrong, and I'm telling you, at least, he's not wrong.

As for "someone smarter," well, the man's risked an awful lot for your rights, call him a fool for that if you like. Maybe he's not risked as much as Manning or Snowden, but we're really deciding that after the fact, aren't we? Because he hasn't yet been put away. There are plenty who'd like him sealed in a barred box, sure, and he's going to be debating them.
posted by JHarris at 10:44 AM on May 2 [29 favorites]


markkraft: The whole "mass surveillance" premise is flawed and overblown in the first place, because the goal isn't to spy upon what the haystack is doing, but to be able to be able to find the needles.
It's a little surprising and disappointing to hear you say that, Mark. What happened to you?

You need to understand that the very capability is the abuse, and something that mere policies can't protect against. Instead of using footwork to spy on spies, the NSA has been Hoovering up everyone's data.

Look at this hand-drawn social graph made by the Stasi, and think of what the NSA is able to create near-passively for anyone who they don't like. Do you not think they've got graphs like that for anyone who's written critically of them, like Glenn or Jacob Appelbaum? What about people who have emailed them? This is all happening with just metadata.

It's worth pointing out that "Stasi" is an abbreviation of the German term for National Security Agency: Ministerium für Staatssicherheit.
posted by anemone of the state at 10:48 AM on May 2 [21 favorites]


The idea that we can't bug spies and terrorists with connections to foreign powers makes no sense to me.

Under the Constitution, the US must treat everyone equally under the law, and extend to everyone equal protection of the law.

That being the case, please tell us what court of law these 'spies' and 'terrorists' ( those being very specifically defined legal terms ) these people have been convicted in *prior* to their warrantless surveillance?
posted by mikelieman at 10:48 AM on May 2 [8 favorites]


It's a bit like criticizing the DoD by saying that their goal is to kill everyone on the world, many, many times over... as if one's goals were the same as one's mathematically theoretical capabilities.

I don't think this is a helpful analogy. People are *very* concerned about the DoD's capability to more or less kill everyone in the world.

We're fortunate that so far that capability apparently hasn't been handled by someone with that goal, and hasn't been deployed as an unintended consequence. But it's possible, and alarming. And there's a number of reasons surveillance power might well be abused more casually.
posted by weston at 10:49 AM on May 2 [5 favorites]


Of course the NSA can spy on Americans... but like I said, *needles* in the haystack, not the entire haystack itself. There's still a *LOT* they don't know and can't find out via SIGINT, to the point that there has been a marked refocusing on traditional intelligence gathering.

The CIA has greatly expanded their far larger capabilities over the past few years, as well as having closer ties with the military, and a huge growth in the military's own intelligence gathering capabilities... but apparently that potentially bigger, much more expensive story isn't as easy to sell.

If you want an example of how a country goes after the entire haystack in a corrupt manner, well... Snowden's adopted country would be a good place to start.

It's pretty revolting to me, as someone previously involved with LiveJournal, to see that it has since been used by the Russian government to target, arrest, and censor random people guilty of the crime of blogging and critiquing the government. Clearly, the Russian government has some pretty sophisticated monitoring of LJ's content, in ways that actually *do* target and hurt ordinary citizens. To make matters worse, it's recently been used as a way to identify and target homosexual activists by assorted government-affiliated hate groups.

So yeah.. there is a difference between capabilities vs. implementation.
posted by markkraft at 10:53 AM on May 2 [2 favorites]


"People are *very* concerned about the DoD's capability to more or less kill everyone in the world. "

Sure... and they should be. But those capabilities are viewed for what they are in a fair manner, rather than as a statement of intent.
posted by markkraft at 10:54 AM on May 2


“I consider him and Alan Dershowitz” – the two men Mr. Greenwald, 47, will face at Friday’s Munk Debates – “two of the most pernicious human beings on the planet. I find them morally offensive

Oh, well this won't be tedious bluster.
posted by spaltavian at 10:55 AM on May 2 [4 favorites]


You're being deliberately disingenuous, Ironmouth. The problem is not bugging spies. The problem is bugging everyone, and you know this.

Engage in good faith please.


I don't think Ironmouth isn't engaging in good faith, although I'm admittedly not sure what exactly he's trying to say.

One of the reasons behind widespread surveillance is that it's a procedure for identifying spies and terrorists. So some of the arguments against widespread surveillance are an empirical claim that this is an ineffective procedure. As I understand it, Ironmouth is just saying he disagrees with this claim.

Of course, the statement is a bit too one-off, but it's still perfectly engaged in the debate. It's not as if he's being belligerent or not being charitable or not engaging in good faith or straw-manning or something.
posted by SollosQ at 10:56 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Practical example. What legal basis is there for the interception, storage and analysis of this message?
posted by mikelieman at 10:56 AM on May 2 [4 favorites]


So yeah.. there is a difference between capabilities vs. implementation.

Usually the difference is highlighted when the capability suddenly gets utilized for the first time following an election, a national tragedy, a new appointment, or something else that alters the status quo.

Potential harm is always but a half-step away from realized harm.
posted by jsturgill at 10:56 AM on May 2 [2 favorites]


The most telling point of this debate has already been made. It is happening in Canada.
posted by srboisvert at 10:57 AM on May 2 [17 favorites]


Snowden's adopted country

You mean the country he was forced to flee to so he could stay out of prison after he revealed the intelligence community was lying to Congress and the American people?
posted by Drinky Die at 10:57 AM on May 2 [40 favorites]


MisantropicPainforest: "Dershowitz is a sack of shit but man is he effective at convincing people of things.

Ohanian is a defender of child pornographer ViolentAcrez, so ergo he is a sack of shit, even if he may be right on this issue.
"

Is Oprah the moderator? "SACKS OF SHIT ALL AROUND!!! And YOU get a sack of shit, and YOU get a sack of shit!!!! "
posted by symbioid at 11:00 AM on May 2 [5 favorites]


Practical example. What legal basis is there for the interception, storage and analysis of this message?

Steganography. Who knows what kind of child-porn terrorist message you've got hidden in there. Better store it permanently, just to be safe. Can't be too careful, after all.
posted by xbonesgt at 11:01 AM on May 2 [2 favorites]


The pre-debate interviews are now beginning and can be streamed here.
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 11:02 AM on May 2


I'm listening on headphones and annoyed as shit at the mono-via-stereo effect . I get why, but it's annoying as shit.
posted by symbioid at 11:03 AM on May 2


The most telling point of this debate has already been made. It is happening in Canada.

Don't hold us up as any example here; it's happening here too. We're just less aware, and less engaged about it, which is it's own problem.
posted by nubs at 11:04 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]



I'm listening on headphones and annoyed as shit at the mono-via-stereo effect . I get why, but it's annoying as shit.


WOW, so THAT'S what the MONO button on my headphone amp is for!
posted by mikelieman at 11:05 AM on May 2


I don't think Ironmouth isn't engaging in good faith, although I'm admittedly not sure what exactly he's trying to say.

Something about omelettes and eggs, I would imagine.

Snowden's adopted country

Eliding the details of exactly how and why he is in that country--one of only two in the world that the USA dare not attack or send in some sort of SEAL Delta Green Beret Force to assassinate or exfiltrate him--does precisely nothing to indicate that you are engaging in good faith here.

Anywhere else in the world Snowden went, he was in danger. Actions of the US Govt have proven this. China and Russia were his only options after exposing the NSA's lies to the people.

So, maybe stop deliberately ignoring details like that to try and make some kind of weirdo NSA apologia point.

Don't hold us up as any example here; it's happening here too. We're just less aware, and less engaged about it, which is it's own problem.

I think the point was that the debate is being held in Canada where, for now at least, the long arm of the US Govt can't just pluck people away.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:05 AM on May 2 [5 favorites]


Practical example. What legal basis is there for the interception, storage and analysis of this message?

Well, for starters: (1) Smith v. Maryland. (2) Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. (3) Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
posted by SollosQ at 11:07 AM on May 2 [3 favorites]


I see a future where people have given up fighting the surveillance state and start unconsciously regarding it as an omniscient Other that evaluates their character and actions.

"My webcam knows I'm a good person," he doesn't think as he combs his hair purposefully and avoids sudden movement.
posted by Taft at 11:09 AM on May 2 [5 favorites]


The idea that we can't bug spies and terrorists with connections to foreign powers makes no sense to me.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:20 AM on May 2 [2 favorites +] [!]


That is not exclusively what is happening.
posted by rhizome at 11:10 AM on May 2 [2 favorites]



Practical example. What legal basis is there for the interception, storage and analysis of this message?


The legal basis I can't speak to. In terms of the value of it, that would likely come from the context (this website), who else replies to it, who favourites it, and what other connections you have with other users on the site, who we are, what we might be doing, and so forth. It's the meta-data analysis of involvements and relationships in addition to outright content that becomes interesting, I believe.
posted by nubs at 11:10 AM on May 2


"Anywhere else in the world Snowden went, he was in danger..."

If, by danger, you mean that he *may* have been charged with a crime in the U.S., and *may* have been extradited per international treaties, and *may* have either been found guilty by a jury, or *may* have chosen to plead guilty and settle on a lesser offense.

In other words, his danger was that me may have been found guilty by a jury of committing a crime, as a result of his actions.
posted by markkraft at 11:13 AM on May 2 [2 favorites]


You're being deliberately disingenuous, Ironmouth. The problem is not bugging spies. The problem is bugging everyone, and you know this.

Engage in good faith please.


Everyone is not being bugged. Being bugged is having the content of your conversations taped. That is not the fact.

Please show where everyone is having their phones bugged.

Engage in good faith, please.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:13 AM on May 2 [5 favorites]


for starters: (1) Smith v. Maryland

I don't believe the analogy of a 'pen register' to the explicitly specified interception, storage, and analysis of this message holds up under even the most casual of scrutiny. Trying to pivot the discussion -- about content -- to metadata doesn't help anyone.
posted by mikelieman at 11:14 AM on May 2


It's worth pointing out that "Stasi" is an abbreviation of the German term for National Security Agency: Ministerium für Staatssicherheit.

And you don't know how badly I want someone in this debate to list at nauseating length the various awful things that have been performed in the name of security by the National Security Ministry. To which the hoped for response is, "You mean the National Security Agency." To which the first replies, "Well the NSA are just as guilty but I was speaking of the Stasi".
posted by Slackermagee at 11:15 AM on May 2 [3 favorites]


Please show where everyone is having their phones bugged.

Intel analysis is about capabilities, not intentions. The Klein deposition clearly demonstrated capabilities. Now it's your turn to prove the capabilities aren't being abused.
posted by mikelieman at 11:15 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Well, the intelligence community, which is allowed to lie under oath to Congress without consequence, says they aren't abusing it.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:16 AM on May 2 [13 favorites]


It's a bit like criticizing the DoD by saying that their goal is to kill everyone on the world, many, many times over... as if one's goals were the same as one's mathematically theoretical capabilities.

The goal of the DoD is to defend the power of ruling elites, and has shown many times that it is quite coolly prepared to kill everyone in the world to do so.

Greenwald: "Self-righteous" - check. "Sky-is-falling hyperbole" - check. "Shrill" - check.

All we need now is 'narcissist' and we are on the way to an Assange smear full house!
posted by colie at 11:18 AM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Please show where everyone is having their phones bugged.

Intel analysis is about capabilities, not intentions. The Klein deposition clearly demonstrated capabilities. Now it's your turn to prove the capabilities aren't being abused.


The legal analysis of what the government is doing is based on the facts of whether or not an interception took place.

The pen registers are not interceptions. You can pretend they are all they want on Reddit. Here, you'll be asked to prove the facts of your case.

Please link to said deposition.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:18 AM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Well, the intelligence community, which is allowed to lie under oath to Congress without consequence, says they aren't abusing it.

Well, that conclusively refutes my assertion. I guess I'll just shut up now.
posted by mikelieman at 11:19 AM on May 2


If, by danger, you mean that he *may* have been charged with a crime in the U.S., and *may* have been extradited per international treaties, and *may* have either been found guilty by a jury, or *may* have chosen to plead guilty and settle on a lesser offense.

In other words, his danger was that me may have been guilty of committing a crime, as a result of his actions.


Now you're being disingenuous. Chelsea Manning's treatment comes to mind. Or the hundreds? Thousands? of people killed by drone strikes.

Everyone is not being bugged. Being bugged is having the content of your conversations taped. That is not the fact.

Please show where everyone is having their phones bugged.

Engage in good faith, please.


Oh god now you're doing your hairsplitting semantics thing. Take it elsewhere and actually engage in the discussion about what reality is actually on the ground.

NSA is hoovering up everyone's data in the USA and then using data-mining techniques. This post that I am making right now is going to end up in an NSA data centre somewhere (Utah?). These are facts, they are known, and they are rubberstamped by a court which is legally hidden from public view and scrutiny.

So stop it. Just stop it.

Well, the intelligence community, which is allowed to lie under oath to Congress without consequence, says they aren't abusing it.

Which is essentially the thrust of Ironmouth's argument in all of these discussions. I shouldn't have gotten sucked in. Best to ignore him.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:19 AM on May 2 [24 favorites]


"Intel analysis is about capabilities, not intentions. The Klein deposition clearly demonstrated capabilities. Now it's your turn to prove the capabilities aren't being abused."

Does your top secret government program still beat his wife?!
posted by markkraft at 11:19 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth, you do know that somewhere on some server there exists a computer-generated file called [YOUR FIRST AND LAST NAME] and contains a better picture of your life and social connections than you yourself have? Human eyes may not have looked at it, but whether they do or not isn't dependent on you committing crime. If someone else in your vast social network is engaging in state-threatening activity, you best believe that everyone that person is "connected to" gets their files opened as well.
posted by Taft at 11:19 AM on May 2 [3 favorites]


Please show where everyone is having their phones bugged.

Engage in good faith, please.


Ah yes, let me just ask someone at No Such Agency, I'm sure they'll be more than happy to tell me the truth.

But back to what you're asking about, From The Mouth Piece Of The Deep State Itself To You and again from a vaguely more reputable source it would appear that, yes, the NSA can record anything and has a named program dedicated to doing just that.
posted by Slackermagee at 11:19 AM on May 2 [3 favorites]


but couldn't they get someone smarter and less insufferably self-righteous

If it works for Dawkins...
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:20 AM on May 2


I'm not sure I can respect anyone's opinion in this if they're ignorant of EFF v AT&T, and Klein's deposition, specifically 'cut in procedures for optical splitters', which by definition copies ALL CONTENT, not just metadata.
posted by mikelieman at 11:21 AM on May 2 [4 favorites]


"and they are rubberstamped by a court which is legally hidden from public view and scrutiny."

Well, except for the fact that they comply with information requests from the EFF and we know all the members of the court, and they are accountable to numerous elected representatives and judicial scrutiny, and they now have their own website, yeah.
posted by markkraft at 11:21 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


I shouldn't have gotten sucked in. Best to ignore him.

Yes please. I don't read these threads to watch grudge matches.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:21 AM on May 2


The pen registers are not interceptions. You can pretend they are all they want on Reddit. Here, you'll be asked to prove the facts of your case.

The Supreme Court of Metafilter is now in session, Judge Ironmouth presiding.

"Intel analysis is about capabilities, not intentions. The Klein deposition clearly demonstrated capabilities. Now it's your turn to prove the capabilities aren't being abused."

Does your top secret government program still beat his wife?!


Gee, you lie under oath to Congress and suddenly people stop trusting you, so unfair.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:21 AM on May 2 [14 favorites]


Well, the intelligence community, which is allowed to lie under oath to Congress without consequence, says they aren't abusing it.

Not without consequence. James Clapper's feelings have been hurt.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:22 AM on May 2 [5 favorites]


And Dianne Feinstein is most upset. Or was that about the other arm of our supposedly external security apparatus tampering with the non-physical repositories of documents her committee was legally allowed to have?

I can't keep the crimes straight anymore, sadly.
posted by Slackermagee at 11:24 AM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth, you do know that somewhere on some server there exists a computer-generated file called [YOUR FIRST AND LAST NAME] and contains a better picture of your life and social connections than you yourself have? Human eyes may not have looked at it, but whether they do or not isn't dependent on you committing crime. If someone else in your vast social network is engaging in state-threatening activity, you best believe that everyone that person is "connected to" gets their files opened as well.

No. I do not know that somewhere on some server there exists a computer-generated file containing my first and last name which contains a better picture of my life and social connections than I myself have.

Extraordinary claims like that require extraordinary evidence. Let's see that evidence.

The pen registers are not interceptions. You can pretend they are all they want on Reddit. Here, you'll be asked to prove the facts of your case.

The Supreme Court of Metafilter is now in session, Judge Ironmouth presiding.


Explain to me exactly how a record of what number called what number constitutes an interception of the content of the communication, i.e. the words said between the parties. That's how everyone else, including the courts thinks of it.

And Dianne Feinstein is most upset. Or was that about the other arm of our supposedly external security apparatus tampering with the non-physical repositories of documents her committee was legally allowed to have?

I can't keep the crimes straight anymore, sadly.


If the CIA did what she said they did, that's a violation of separation of powers and likely illegal.

As for Klein's deposition, it sure seems to describe the illegal warrantless wiretapping engaged in by the government during the first years of the Bush administration. Such illegal, warrantless interception of the contents of American's phone conversations is, in my opinion, per se illegal and unconstitutional. A pen register is not illegal nor unconstitutional, nor is it a search under the 4th Amendment, per Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735 (1979).
posted by Ironmouth at 11:31 AM on May 2 [3 favorites]


Ironmouth,

Stop talking about 'Pen Registers', please.

Thank you,
Mike Lieman
posted by mikelieman at 11:34 AM on May 2 [5 favorites]


Extraordinary claims like that require extraordinary evidence. Let's see that evidence.

We're not allowed to see the evidence, for God's sake. That's the whole point.

Can you, seriously I am asking you as someone who has been around here for a while, just leave these threads the hell alone? You always come in with the same talking points, the same legalistic hairsplitting, and the same stupid semanticizing. And you refuse to back down when proven wrong by evidence, so your repeated calls for same are even more disingenuous than usual.

Engage like an actual human being in good faith please because your schtick is tiresome in the extreme.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:35 AM on May 2 [26 favorites]


Explain to me exactly how a record of what number called what number constitutes an interception of the content of the communication, i.e. the words said between the parties.

Can you explain why metadata should not be considered to be "bugging," especially when the content can be accessed if desired?

I mean really, let's cut to the chase here. If you don't think tapping undersea fiber is "interception," and that surveillance doesn't happen until stored data is searched with a purpose, then I don't see where quibbling over details is going to be fruitful.
posted by rhizome at 11:36 AM on May 2 [2 favorites]


I don't read these threads to watch grudge matches.

I quite like a grudge match thread.
posted by colie at 11:37 AM on May 2 [2 favorites]


The Supreme Court of Metafilter is now in session, Judge Ironmouth presiding.

Explain to me exactly how a record of what number called what number constitutes an interception of the content of the communication, i.e. the words said between the parties. That's how everyone else, including the courts thinks of it.


Yes, Your Honor. I'll get right on that.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:38 AM on May 2


It's also disingenuous to assert that Smith v. Maryland is controlling when there is currently a circuit split on the topic.
posted by rhizome at 11:41 AM on May 2 [3 favorites]


Ironmouth:

There aren't, like, screencaps I can show you. There are only indicators.

1. Unaccountable black-box intelligence agencies operating above the law.
2. Technology is capable of automating such large feats as the one I described.
3. ????
4. PROPHET
posted by Taft at 11:42 AM on May 2


A worthy topic to debate.

However, given the cable-news-bobble-head-participant-attention-whores, I will wait for the summary version that is sure to appear on Morning Joe and/or Fox & Friends.

Then everyone can snark each other to death on Politico and Mediaite for 37 hours or until Sarah Palin decides to fart.
posted by lampshade at 11:42 AM on May 2


Can you explain why metadata should not be considered to be "bugging,

Ignore the semantics.

Smith v. Maryland, ACLU v. Clapper have upheld metadata collection.

especially when the content can be accessed if desired?

Do you mean: especially when the content can be accessed if the myriad of requirements established are met and access is granted by going through an established legal process? Where such things involved will be enumerated by 215, 702, 12333, etc. and will involve being granted approval by the FISA court, and other things.
posted by SollosQ at 11:42 AM on May 2 [3 favorites]


"It's a little surprising and disappointing to hear you say that, Mark. What happened to you?"

Um... nothing? Trying to approach this issue based on what we know, vs. potentially irrational fears?

As I have said before:
"In a sense yes, we're being watched. I certainly assumed that there were computers that were making flags whenever certain kinds of words or relationships were established. I was sure that was happening, especially internationally. . . We should recognize in a world of terrorism the government's going to be out there trying to protect us. But let's make sure that they're using tools or technology that also protects the privacy side of what they should be protecting."

Actually, I was just kidding. That's not me. That's Larry Lessig.

You need to understand that the very capability is the abuse"

Lessig's statements don't agree with that premise. There are, in fact, legal precedents -- and legislation -- that allow such programs. Rather, he argued that we need to make sure the implementation of the programs are such as to restrict them from unauthorized, mass use against American citizens.

"Look at this hand-drawn social graph made by the Stasi, and think of what the NSA is able to create near-passively for anyone who they don't like . . . It's worth pointing out that "Stasi" is an abbreviation of the German term for National Security Agency: Ministerium für Staatssicherheit."

This, presumably, being a more developed, "nuanced" version of the common Tea Party argument that if the Nazis were democratic socialists, they therefore had more in common with the Democratic party and all those liberal socialists than the Republicans... and why should we want Democrats and socialists ruling our country anyway?!

"Do you not think they've got graphs like that for anyone who's written critically of them, like Glenn or Jacob Appelbaum? What about people who have emailed them?"

See previous statement: Trying to approach this issue based on what we know vs. potentially irrational fears.
posted by markkraft at 11:43 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Practical example. What legal basis is there for the interception, storage and analysis of this message?

Well, that message was posted publicly to MetaFilter, so under Executive Order 12333 2.3(b) it's fair game for collection even though you're an American. If it were on a private forum, though, SollosQ's answers would be dismally irrelevant:

Well, for starters: (1) Smith v. Maryland. (2) Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. (3) Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

1. Smith v. Maryland should not pertain beacuse, as pointed out, the content of mikelieman's comment isn't metadata

2. Section 215 investigations shall "not be conducted of a United States person solely
upon the basis of activities protected by the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States", and no other basis for an investigation exists

3. 50 USC 1881a doesn't apply at all since mikelieman is not to your knowledge an agent of a foreign power
posted by nicwolff at 11:45 AM on May 2 [3 favorites]


Extraordinary claims like that require extraordinary evidence. Let's see that evidence.

Once more with feeling then, just for you Ironmouth.

The metadata program is/was MAINWAY

The surveillance of content and NOT JUST metadata was done by via the PRISM, MYSTIC, and XKEYSCORE programs. Details and hopefully proof enough for you (and I don't know what else would suffice honestly if this won't) in the wiki's themselves and in the supporting citations.

This is actually happening, the information has been available for quite a long time now, and we don't know what they've expanded to in the year-ish since Snowden cut himself off from their networks. Which assumes, of course, that Snowden had access to absolutely everything and didn't miss anything important.
posted by Slackermagee at 11:45 AM on May 2 [20 favorites]


Where such things involved will be enumerated by 215, 702, 12333, etc. and will involve being granted approval by the FISA court, and other things.

Except that 12333 is not subject to FISC, nor "other things."
posted by rhizome at 11:52 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


What the hell does "self-righteous" mean anyhow? Secure in his correctness? Granted, but who the hell isn't these days? If you're not sure of yourself you're not going to give your ideas a creditable presentation, and you're certainly not going to be brought onto cable news to talk about them. Smug? I don't think Greenwald is smug. The definitions of the term I've found all imply certain but wrong, and I'm telling you, at least, he's not wrong.

Certain not only in his correctness but also that he is striking a blow with the Greenwaldian Axe of Truth and Justice with every word he writes, and absolutely bubbling over with delight at being able to proclaim how much he's risked to protect us all against Big Brother.

Incidentally, I'm fairly confident that there is not a computer-generated file titled with my first and last name that contains a "a better picture of [my] life and social connections than [I myself] have," and the information available concerning MAINWAY/PRISM/XKEYSCORE absolutely does not suggest, much less prove, otherwise.
posted by eugenen at 11:55 AM on May 2


The surveillance of content and NOT JUST metadata was done by via the PRISM, MYSTIC, and XKEYSCORE programs. Details and hopefully proof enough for you (and I don't know what else would suffice honestly if this won't) in the wiki's themselves and in the supporting citations.

PRISM, MYSTIC and XKEYSCORE apply to information going either from a U.S. server to a foreign server or between foreign servers, or foreign telephone calls. All 100% legal, all 100% constitutional.

PRISM:
"PRISM is not an undisclosed collection or data mining program," the fact sheet states. "It is an internal government computer system used to facilitate the government's statutorily authorized collection of foreign intelligence information from electronic communication service providers under court supervision."
MYSTIC:
The National Security Agency has built a surveillance system capable of recording “100 percent” of a foreign country’s telephone calls, enabling the agency to rewind and review conversations as long as a month after they take place, according to people with direct knowledge of the effort and documents supplied by former contractor Edward Snowden.
XKEYSCORE
XKEYSCORE is not a thing that DOES collecting; it's a series of user interfaces, backend databases, servers and software that selects certain types of metadata that the NSA has ALREADY collected using other methods. XKEYSCORE, as D.B. Grady and I reported in our book, is the worldwide base level database for such metadata.
So, PRISM searches foreign servers and servers within the US engaged in connecting to foreign servers. MYSTIC collects foreign telephone calls in other countries, and XKEYSCORE collects nothing--its just the database of collected materials.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:03 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]


I'm fairly confident that there is not a computer-generated file titled with my first and last name that contains a "a better picture of [my] life and social connections than [I myself] have,"

Sure, the map is not the territory. So what?
posted by rhizome at 12:04 PM on May 2


As somebody who studies secret intelligence for a living, I just want to say how depressed I am by the level of debate in this thread.

Some of the people are talking about these issues like they're climate change: settled debates with the vast majority of the experts on one side, in which contrary views are most often the processed 'talking points' of ruthless and corrupt pressure groups parroted by the ignorant and by useful idiots.

Well this is not one of those issues. It's not climate change, it's not health care, it's not taxation levels, it's not even gun control. This is a complex, live issue with a tonne of ambiguity in which we know almost none of the things we need to know to come to a definite conclusion.

In this issue, reasonable people can argue either side. We don't know all the answers, we don't know a tenth of the answers. Expert opinion isn't divided, because most experts have no idea what the right answer is.

For the love of all that is holy, please, please stop all this name calling and character assassination. Blind certainty, on any issue of contemporary intelligence studies, doesn't make you look persuasive: it makes you look rash.
posted by Dreadnought at 12:05 PM on May 2 [31 favorites]


PRISM, MYSTIC and XKEYSCORE apply to information going either from a U.S. server to a foreign server or between foreign servers, or foreign telephone calls. All 100% legal, all 100% constitutional.

Do I have to take your word for it, or is there an actual certification process we can audit?
posted by mikelieman at 12:05 PM on May 2 [7 favorites]


Incidentally, I'm fairly confident that there is not a computer-generated file titled with my first and last name that contains a "a better picture of [my] life and social connections than [I myself] have," and the information available concerning MAINWAY/PRISM/XKEYSCORE absolutely does not suggest, much less prove, otherwise.

You don't know how hard it is for me to not start meme-fying my responses

And quick edit: But Ironmouth, no one's revealed the MYSTIC target to date. There were noises about Iraq but nothing substantiated.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:05 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


So, PRISM searches foreign servers and servers within the US engaged in connecting to foreign servers. MYSTIC collects foreign telephone calls in other countries, and XKEYSCORE collects nothing--its just the database of collected materials.

I know! Totally fucked up, isn't it?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:07 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Practical example. What legal basis is there for the interception, storage and analysis of this message?

Well, that message was posted publicly to MetaFilter, so under Executive Order 12333 2.3(b) it's fair game for collection even though you're an American. If it were on a private forum, though, SollosQ's answers would be dismally irrelevant:

Well, for starters: (1) Smith v. Maryland. (2) Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. (3) Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

1. Smith v. Maryland should not pertain beacuse, as pointed out, the content of mikelieman's comment isn't metadata

2. Section 215 investigations shall "not be conducted of a United States person solely
upon the basis of activities protected by the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States", and no other basis for an investigation exists

3. 50 USC 1881a doesn't apply at all since mikelieman is not to your knowledge an agent of a foreign power


The answer is its not a search. A person has zero expectation of privacy in something they posted to the internet. They are putting it up there to be seen. Its called the third party rule. Therefore the 4th Amendment does not apply.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:08 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


I mean, unless there's some other way to interpret "full take content and metadata" that I'm not yet aware of.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:09 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


And how many US-based servers are not contacting foreign-based servers on a regular basis, thus suddenly and 'legally' opening them up to view?

When I use gmail to contact a friend with a .co.uk address, that's exactly what's happening.

But I'm sure they're not abusing any of that power. After all, they told Congress they weren't engaging in mass surveillance of US citizens oh wait
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:10 PM on May 2 [7 favorites]


A person has zero expectation of privacy in something they posted to the internet.

Until the Third-Party Doctrine is legislated out of existence.
posted by rhizome at 12:13 PM on May 2


The answer is its not a search. A person has zero expectation of privacy in something they posted to the internet. They are putting it up there to be seen. Its called the third party rule. Therefore the 4th Amendment does not apply.

You know damn well this isn't true--if it was, then the 4th amendment wouldn't apply to telephone conversations. You also know that not everything 'put up on the internet' is publicly available. For example, have you heard of email and the online banking?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:13 PM on May 2 [5 favorites]


rhizome: Sure, the map is not the territory. So what?

Slackermagee: I mean, unless there's some other way to interpret "full take content and metadata" that I'm not yet aware of.

This moves the goalposts halfway across the field. I'll stipulate that NSA may well have content and metadata somewhere that could be linked to me if someone wanted to do so. I have complicated feelings about this, but it's a long way from saying they're deliberately keeping a file on me, which was the fearmongering claim made above.
posted by eugenen at 12:14 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


"A pen register is not illegal nor unconstitutional, nor is it a search under the 4th Amendment, per Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735 (1979)."

Smith's logic was something that looked good at the time and was aimed at rolling back some of the Katz anti-surveillance protections, but seems thinner and thinner with every year — the inferences that are available through this information, which most people would actually think of as private because they don't think of the phone companies as people so much as autonomous switches, have only grown. I don't think that this means that metadata requires a high standard of privacy, but there should have to be some reasonable suspicion before the state is able to collect and act on it.

I especially think it odd to hold that there's no expectation of privacy for information that is emphatically not public — the same argument would hold for all credit card purchases, in that the info has to be sent to the credit card company, but few would think that a) law enforcement should be able to see their CC purchases without a reason, and b) that the public should be able to see that information. There is a social expectation of privacy there.
posted by klangklangston at 12:15 PM on May 2 [15 favorites]


You know damn well this isn't true--if it was, then the 4th amendment wouldn't apply to telephone conversations

You're comparing the content of private telephone conversations to a comment posted on Metafilter?
posted by yoink at 12:16 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


That said, I agree that the zero-expectation-of-privacy move is a dead end and that the pen register analogy is kind of laughable at this point.
posted by eugenen at 12:16 PM on May 2


So you can see, once again, why surveillance/privacy is a complete distraction.

The real issue is that the US is still institutionally geared up to fight an apocalyptic war with the USSR. The NSA is a division of the DoD. The question you have to ask is why billions of dollars are being thrown at the NSA to build capabilities which have so far proved to be singularly useless. The answer is the role of "secret" information in the way the defense and foreign policy bureaucracies work. The best example of how this dynamic works is the way Cheney et al dragged the US into war in Iraq by aggressively controlling and manipulating information within the bureacracy.

The USSR collapsed 25 years ago. Islamic radicalism has not and will never be an existential threat, yet the national security state lives on. The hippies were fucking right about that too... going all the way back to Vietnam.
posted by ennui.bz at 12:21 PM on May 2 [8 favorites]


You're comparing the content of private telephone conversations to a comment posted on Metafilter?

Not in the least.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:26 PM on May 2


The answer is its not a search. A person has zero expectation of privacy in something they posted to the internet.

Perhaps this posting you're reading right now isn't the best example. How about we discuss whether the Government is legitimately able to intercept an instant message or email I send to you? Same technological infrastructure without the nature of a public forum confusing the issue.

Oh, but as an attorney, you would know that email is not secure for the purposes of privileged communication, so I'll just accept that in lieu of your formally conceding my point.
posted by mikelieman at 12:26 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


The best example of how this dynamic works is the way Cheney et al dragged the US into war in Iraq by aggressively controlling and manipulating information within the bureacracy.

I hate to nitpick, but if you're arguing that Cheney and the Bush Administration manipulated how the CIA collected intelligence to make their war look like the better option, well that didn't happen.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:28 PM on May 2


I expect the streaming debate to be as productive as the one we are having here (and change a similar amount of opinions as our current debate is).
posted by el io at 12:29 PM on May 2


Islamic radicalism has not and will never be an existential threat

Except for, you know, 1993 WTC, September 11th, Times Square, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab...

And we in the United States are comparatively lucky living so far away from the hot bed of al-Qaeda and other forms of terrorism, where attacks happen much more commonly and successfully.

God forbid terrorist groups start getting a hold of nuclear weapons. Then civilization as we know it will truly be facing an existential threat. I for one would like there to be effective security agencies across the nations able to combat this threat in specific, but also their current general threat.

The Cold War was cold thanks to the fact that it wasn't in anyone's interest to go to direct war. Terrorism, asymmetric warfare, doesn't play by the same rules.
posted by SollosQ at 12:31 PM on May 2


Now you're being disingenuous. Chelsea Manning's treatment comes to mind. Or the hundreds? Thousands? of people killed by drone strikes.

Wait, what? You're saying Snowden was going to be attacked by drone?
posted by spaltavian at 12:34 PM on May 2


it's a long way from saying they're deliberately keeping a file on me, which was the fearmongering claim made above.

You're looking at it wrong. They're keeping your data so that they can create a file on you later if they decide to, for any reason.
posted by rhizome at 12:34 PM on May 2 [6 favorites]


Wait, what? You're saying Snowden was going to be attacked by drone?

I'm saying my flabber would be gasted if that weren't a serious option put on the table when the whole situation blew up.

Or just an outsource to Mossad, they're good at that sort of thing.

Either way I'm a) surprised he's alive, b) saddened that there were no whistleblower protections and he cannot--probably ever--return to his home.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:38 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]


Except for, you know, 1993 WTC, September 11th, Times Square, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab...

Horrific yes, but none of those things were existential threats.

God forbid terrorist groups start getting a hold of nuclear weapons.

Well that won't happen:

"Many experts consider nuclear terrorism the single greatest threat to U.S. security. The fear that a state might transfer nuclear materials to terrorists was a core justification for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and, more recently, for a strike against Iran's nuclear program. The logical basis for this concern is sound: if a state could orchestrate an anonymous nuclear terror attack, it could destroy an enemy yet avoid retaliation. But how likely is it that the perpetrators of nuclear terrorism could remain anonymous? Data culled from a decade of terrorist incidents reveal that attribution is very likely after high-casualty terror attacks. Attribution rates are even higher for attacks on the U.S. homeland or the territory of a major U.S. ally—97 percent for incidents in which ten or more people were killed. Moreover, tracing a terrorist group that used a nuclear weapon to its state sponsor would not be difficult, because few countries sponsor terror; few terror groups have multiple sponsors; and only one country that sponsors terrorism, Pakistan, has nuclear weapons or enough material to manufacture them. If leaders understand these facts, they will be as reluctant to give weapons to terrorists as they are to use them directly; both actions would invite devastating retaliation."
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:39 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]


"Islamic radicalism has not and will never be an existential threat

Except for, you know, 1993 WTC, September 11th, Times Square, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab...
"

Oh, so you mean, "Except where it's not"?

Because 9/11 sucked, no doubt, but it was not an "existential threat" to the United States. The Soviet nukes were an existential threat. Hell, global warming is an existential threat. Some backwoods yobbos killing a couple thousand people out of millions is not an existential threat.
posted by klangklangston at 12:40 PM on May 2 [23 favorites]


The hippies were fucking right about that too... going all the way back to Vietnam.

Yeah. We was right about the mescaline, too.

I guess we'll stop having wars when everybody decides not to come. Or, as an alternative, when wars stop creating such tempting profit margins.
posted by mule98J at 12:43 PM on May 2


I guess all that about whether or not our security apparatus is doing X,Y, but not-or-are-they Z is beside the point in all of this. Some of the reasons against the current size, scope, and expansion of the security apparatus:

We don't need it (IIRC, we had warnings of 9/11 months, weeks, and days prior to the event, it was human error outside the old programs what done it and the old programs were working).

There isn't anyone left to fight that should be elucidating this expenditure or response.

The existential threats that do exist aren't countered by focusing our attention on people but its a easy job to twist emotions into thinking this is the case, hence the current situation.

This isn't what Canonically Good Countries are supposed to do. And we are supposed to be The Canonically Good Country at least according to the education the kids receive.

These are some-but-not-all of the Bad Things the Stasi were remembered for (and places like Guantanamo finish out the list with gusto).

I understand that there are special circumstances on occasion and that we would need to shed the Good Guy image (if we had it) to take care of things... radical islam doesn't provide those special circumstances though it certainly provides convenient circumstances for varying types of people I'd rather not see in power. To say nothing of there being a never ending parade of such 'special circumstances' that we find out were rather purposefully over-exaggerated before hand.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:44 PM on May 2 [5 favorites]


This moves the goalposts halfway across the field. I'll stipulate that NSA may well have content and metadata somewhere that could be linked to me if someone wanted to do so. I have complicated feelings about this, but it's a long way from saying they're deliberately keeping a file on me, which was the fearmongering claim made above.

Really? Because I don't think that is what anyone is saying. No, the only difference to deliberately keeping a file and assembling on on demand with recorded data as needed is semantics.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 12:46 PM on May 2


(Pedantic note: an "existential threat" is a threat to the very existence of whatever it's aimed at. It is not a threat that exists, as opposed to one that is merely hypothetical.)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:46 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Wait, what? You're saying Snowden was going to be attacked by drone?

I'm saying my flabber would be gasted if that weren't a serious option put on the table when the whole situation blew up.


Put on the table by whom? Where would this attack have taken place? Who would have carried it out? Do you have any evidence of the U.S. ever using drone attacks to murder American citizens (or anyone) who it thinks might leak classified information?

I swear, this topic makes Metafilter go looney-tunes.
posted by eugenen at 12:47 PM on May 2 [6 favorites]


The answer is its not a search. A person has zero expectation of privacy in something they posted to the internet. They are putting it up there to be seen. Its called the third party rule. Therefore the 4th Amendment does not apply.

You know damn well this isn't true--if it was, then the 4th amendment wouldn't apply to telephone conversations. You also know that not everything 'put up on the internet' is publicly available. For example, have you heard of email and the online banking?


Incorrect. If I put up something on the internet, I'm intending that to be read by anyone who can go to the URL in question. More than one person. A telephone conversation is intended for the recipient only. The metadata goes to a third party--the telephone company.

I especially think it odd to hold that there's no expectation of privacy for information that is emphatically not public — the same argument would hold for all credit card purchases, in that the info has to be sent to the credit card company, but few would think that a) law enforcement should be able to see their CC purchases without a reason, and b) that the public should be able to see that information. There is a social expectation of privacy there.

Your logic is correct. The Government does not need, and has never needed, a warrant to review credit card transactions. Nor your bank transactions. Never. People just sort of assume they need a warrant for things they never have needed one for. There is no social expectation of privacy because it has long been the rule that credit card transactions can be obtained by the government without a warrant under the business records exemption.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:47 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Do you have any evidence of the U.S. ever using drone attacks to murder American citizens (or anyone) who it thinks might leak classified information?

Now that is some niche-y special pleading right there.
posted by rhizome at 12:49 PM on May 2 [4 favorites]


Incorrect. If I put up something on the internet, I'm intending that to be read by anyone who can go to the URL in question. More than one person. A telephone conversation is intended for the recipient only. The metadata goes to a third party--the telephone company.

Hilariously, the government took the exact opposite position when they prosecuted Andrew Aurenheimer.

And that still only applies to publicly posted messages/pages and not to e-mails, chat traffic, password-protected areas, etc.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:51 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]


The sound of the USA murdering random people with drones is practically its national anthem.
posted by colie at 12:51 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]


"Incorrect. If I put up something on the internet, I'm intending that to be read by anyone who can go to the URL in question. More than one person. A telephone conversation is intended for the recipient only. The metadata goes to a third party--the telephone company. "

Interesting to think about this in the context of the Weev case not too long ago.
posted by klangklangston at 12:51 PM on May 2


Put on the table by whom? Where would this attack have taken place? Who would have carried it out? Do you have any evidence of the U.S. ever using drone attacks to murder American citizens (or anyone) who it thinks might leak classified information?


By whoever advises Obama on such things. Where, I don't know. Who would have carried it out? I'm pretty sure the DoD has that sewn up.

And since there is evidence of the US using drone attacks to murder American citizens, I'm just going to ignore that attempted little 'gotcha' of 'might leak classified information.'

Especially since I'm talking about possible reactions that were tabled after Snowden's revelations.

But you knew all that.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:52 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Incorrect. If I put up something on the internet, I'm intending that to be read by anyone who can go to the URL in question.

Someone wanna educate Ironmouth on how email, private messaging, and cloud storage works? I don't have the patience.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:53 PM on May 2 [4 favorites]


Really? Because I don't think that is what anyone is saying. No, the only difference to deliberately keeping a file and assembling on on demand with recorded data as needed is semantics.

I don't agree, and don't really agree (based on what we know) that anything like a comprehensive file can be "assembled on-demand" either, though they may be able to figure some recent stuff out. Someone armed with Google, social media, and some determination may be able to do a half-decent job too.

Now that is some niche-y special pleading right there.

Oh come on!! The suggestion was explicitly -- and as far as I can tell, seriously -- made that the US government contemplated silencing Snowden by launching a drone attack against him. I'm asking for some evidence that this isn't completely ludicrous.
posted by eugenen at 12:54 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Wait, what? You're saying Snowden was going to be attacked by drone?

I'm saying my flabber would be gasted if that weren't a serious option put on the table when the whole situation blew up.


And that's why he had to leave the United States (which is what you were responding to)? Don't you think it would be less likely for him to get droned domestically?
posted by spaltavian at 12:55 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


He had to leave the States to avoid the Chelsea Manning treatment.

I was speaking of tactics the USGovt may have considered in the aftermath.

But, you know, whatever. Onward NSA!
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:59 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Incorrect. If I put up something on the internet, I'm intending that to be read by anyone who can go to the URL in question.

Someone wanna educate Ironmouth on how email, private messaging, and cloud storage works? I don't have the patience.


If you have something on a US server they need a warrant.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:59 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


True, Ironmouth, the credit card example may be legal, but it doesn't change that there is the expectation of privacy by most individuals. And it's pretty clear that the founders had no idea that they needed to protect against 3rd party run-arounds with guaranteeing rights of the citizens.

Meanwhile, its silly to expect your average citizen to understand the full implications of the Internet being public. For most of this countries history, we had the aforementioned social expectation of privacy. A privacy of the Commons, if you will. Words in the public space were not logged and documented, and in public, one could adjust their speech as needed based on the audience visible. The Internet is the new public, and to interact with many parts of modern society, one must interact with the Internet. In ways that would have been and should be private, or at least temporary.

Of course, I'm going beyond what is strictly legal, because law hasn't caught up with technology, and moneyed interests don't want it to.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 1:00 PM on May 2


Or they can just watch as you upload or download it, and there's no problem because that's just like a pen register.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:01 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


He had to leave the States to avoid the Chelsea Manning treatment.

Trial and conviction for doing something he actually admits he (Snowden) did? Let's be clear. He's avoiding prosecution for an actual crime he admits he committed.

Ms. Manning also admitted she had committed the crime in question, she was tried and convicted.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:01 PM on May 2


Or they can just watch as you upload or download it, and there's no problem because that's just like a pen register.

How can they watch someone download something inside their home without a warrant? That would be thrown out.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:02 PM on May 2


He's avoiding prosecution for an actual crime he admits he committed.

You mean for something he should have had whistleblower protection for, because he was the one who stood up and told Congress--the entirety of the US population--that the NSA was lying, repeatedly.

Ugh why do I bother
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:04 PM on May 2 [6 favorites]


Talk of the NSA having "files" on people is very likely outdated. What they have is databases that can be queried to produce a complete social graph, an accounting for every penny you've spent that wasn't, say, in cash, and a set of coordinates that describe everywhere you've physically set foot with your cell phone turned on. They can also use the data they have to extrapolate information such as your gender (if it wasn't already known), your nationality, your religion, your politics, etc., with a high degree of accuracy.

They have this information and can generate the "file" in seconds if they ever want to do so.

And if they do decide they need that information on you, they will also move through your social graph and get the same information about everyone you know, two or three or whatever the number is now times removed. And they can do this without asking anyone permission, protected only by rules in an unaudited IT infrastructure that was insecure enough to allow Snowden to, you know, take all the secure things and disseminate them.
posted by jsturgill at 1:05 PM on May 2 [9 favorites]


I don't agree, and don't really agree (based on what we know) that anything like a comprehensive file can be "assembled on-demand" either, though they may be able to figure some recent stuff out. Someone armed with Google, social media, and some determination may be able to do a half-decent job too.

But there is an important distinction. If I decide tomorrow (proverbially) to burn my online profiles and remove my public presence from the Internet, then your Googler won't be able to retrieve that data. Not so if the government decides it's time to create a dossier on you.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 1:05 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


How can they watch someone download something inside their home without a warrant?

Because traffic on the internet, with vanishingly few exceptions, goes over a backbone, and the NSA taps the backbone. "Upstream collection," remember? It's how they get e-mails without querying the servers where said e-mails are stored (viz.), and the same principle applies just as well to cloud storage.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:08 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]


Yeah there's this weird assumption that the NSA (or other alphabet soup agencies) give any fucks at all about warrants or constitutionality.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:15 PM on May 2 [6 favorites]


Yes, they can and will do whatever they want, 702 and 215 are just the degree to which they're willing to publicly admit to it. If those two authorities go away, they can and will hide behind 12333.
posted by rhizome at 1:18 PM on May 2


Ironmouth, can you clarify, btw, about no warrants or subpoenas being needed for bank statements and credit card statements?

Is it that these businesses are legally compelled to turn over that information to law enforcement if law enforcement requests them, even without a warrant or subpoena?

Or is it that these businesses (credit card company, bank, etc.) can choose to turn over that information without a warrant or subpoena if a law enforcement agent/agency requests them, but if they refuse to do so, the law enforcement agent/agency would need to then obtain a warrant or subpoena, at which time the business would be forced to comply?
posted by jsturgill at 1:19 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


He had to leave the States to avoid the Chelsea Manning treatment.

You mean solitary confinement? You do realize Manning was tried through the military justice system, right? I think you are comparing apples and oranges.
posted by spaltavian at 1:20 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Yes I do mean solitary confinement. You think if they got their hands on Snowden he'd be in genpop?

You're trying for some sort of gotcha here, and implying that I have no idea what I am talking about.

I would seriously appreciate it if you would stop doing both of those things, immediately.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:21 PM on May 2


Yes, the Manning treatment is solitary confinement...for years. You remember how that played out, right? That the prosecution didn't start until people started being annoying about it?
posted by rhizome at 1:21 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


PRISM, MYSTIC and XKEYSCORE apply to information going either from a U.S. server to a foreign server or between foreign servers, or foreign telephone calls. All 100% legal, all 100% constitutional.

I'm a U.S. citizen. I frequently make calls to other U.S. citizens where both endpoints are outside the U.S. Interception of these calls by the U.S. without a warrant is completely illegal; my constitutional protections with respect to government action do not stop at the border.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:21 PM on May 2


You mean for something he should have had whistleblower protection for, because he was the one who stood up and told Congress--the entirety of the US population--that the NSA was lying, repeatedly

Snowden released a whole heap of information. He could probably have made a pretty decent stab at whistleblower protection for some of it; he probably would be unsuccessful at making any whistleblower claims for other parts of it. That some of what Snowden revealed should have been revealed doesn't give him an automatic free pass for everything else he revealed.

Had Snowden wanted to claim whistleblower protection, he should have made his revelations directly to Congress rather than to the world at large, and he should have restricted his revelations to cases where the NSA was clearly misleading Congress and/or breaking the laws that regulate its actions. You can't just say "well, some of the national secrets he divulged were helpful, therefore it doesn't matter that he indiscriminately spilled all kinds of secrets."
posted by yoink at 1:24 PM on May 2 [5 favorites]


something something best defence is sunshine something
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:25 PM on May 2


You're trying for some sort of gotcha here

I'm really not. If you don't want me to ask you want you mean, stop being coy. You responded to someone's comment about leaving the United States with drone attacks, the plain reading of which is that you think the United States was going to send drones after him and shoot a missile at him within a presumably populated area. If you were just going for lazy hyperbole there, you could have said so rather than doubling down.

As for the rest, I'm not at all interested in that kind of bluster. But if that's your preferred way to communicate, just insert something equally imperious here.
posted by spaltavian at 1:27 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Snowden dumped all that information to Greenwald. Greenwald has been selectively publishing it since.
posted by LogicalDash at 1:29 PM on May 2


Had Snowden wanted to claim whistleblower protection, he should have made his revelations directly to Congress

Senators already knew, but were not permitted to say anything about the scope of it. It was a Catch-22. In order to reveal the law was broken you had to break the law. In order to tell the public something they think they have a right to know about their government you had to do something they might not approve of. It was a sign of great moral character that he was willing to put himself at risk like that to do what he thought was right.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:35 PM on May 2 [9 favorites]


Yoink, I might agree with your point about whistleblower protection, except that prior to Snowden there was a long line of high level whistle blowers who tried going through the correct channels. Their complaints were ignored, and then their lives were trashed to fullest extent possible (short of a drone strike) in retaliation.

More generally, I can't think of another large organization which has had such a long string of high level whistle blowers. These are smart, hard working, patriotic people with a long history of service who have come forward and said that there are enormous problems at the NSA. After a certain point, it might make sense to listen to them?
posted by Balna Watya at 1:35 PM on May 2 [9 favorites]


Oh, and while not directly related, a new serious flaw discovered in OAuth and OpenID.

Yay.
posted by symbioid at 1:37 PM on May 2


I'm really not. If you don't want me to ask you want you mean, stop being coy.

I'm not being coy. I'm being perfectly straightforward.

the plain reading of which is that you think the United States was going to send drones after him and shoot a missile at him within a presumably populated area

Certainly an activity without any precedent whatsoever.

Asking you to treat me with a modicum of respect is 'bluster', now?

God, this place.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:38 PM on May 2


The problem with saying Snowden should have gone the route of the whistleblower is you have the Obama Administration, this week, arguing a public employee, who is compelled to testify, can be fired for what he says, if he learned those facts while on the job. cite
posted by cjorgensen at 1:44 PM on May 2 [7 favorites]


I'm not saying he should have--I'm aware of how those laws have been abused by those in power--I'm saying there should have been robust whistleblower protections in place that he could have used.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:46 PM on May 2


I'm being perfectly straightforward.

Actually, from where I sit you're being kind of bullying, imperious and flagrantly uninterested in genuine debate (and I should add that I don't think that this is typical of your participation on Metafilter). I know you think Truth, Right and Goodness are entirely on your side and that people can only possible disagree with you if they are cretins or are being deliberately disingenuous. But, you know, there are those of us who, for all that we could be misinformed or mistaken, have tried to follow this issue and do not see it as being as simple and black and white as you do and also think that much of what is being said by you and those who agree with you is weirdly exaggerated and hyperbolic (as, for example, the--to me--patently ridiculous notion that Snowden faced some nonzero probability of dying in a drone strike if he'd stayed on US soil).

If you could tone down the dismissive, preemptively insulting language it's possible the discussion might actually go somewhere other than everybody getting to state their preformed opinions and getting pats on the back from those who already agree with them.
posted by yoink at 1:47 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]


Yup Greenwald is "self-righteous" and "shrill." But the President who mimes horror at a botched execution in Oklahoma, while himself ordering the murder without any due process of American citizens by blowing off their limbs (along with any women and children who happen to be standing nearby) is such an awesome guy. He likes basketball! He eats arugula! He watches MSNBC- hell, he owns it! He isn't Sarah Palin!

At some point these issues are important to the future of the world and people who insist on making it a middle school Student Council popularity contest should step aside and let the grown-ups get a word in.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:48 PM on May 2 [14 favorites]


So, PRISM searches foreign servers and servers within the US engaged in connecting to foreign servers. MYSTIC collects foreign telephone calls in other countries, and XKEYSCORE collects nothing--its just the database of collected materials.

But, but, but he promised! We spent decades fighting the Soviets, and the strongest weapon in our arsenal was an ideological one: we have a just cause. And where did we end up? "Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster".

You should really read up on the Soviet constitution. What a wonderful document. All sorts of freedoms and protections and rights. Why, the USSR was ruled by the voice of the common worker! They had elections - just as we did! Democracy! And the workers voted and the results would come in, 99.999% for the party! Hurray!

Laws and protections only mean something when they are real. You can sit here and quote all day all sorts of laws and what PRISM was designed for and this and that. It means less than nothing. Because we have long since crossed into the nether world of monsters. You telling me that my government is guided by laws in accordance with how they are portrayed is an insult, just as it was an insult when a person in the USSR was thrown into prison for political reasons and as the door was slammed shut, the interrogator would jeer "you have the right to appeal, and all legal protections!".

Hyperbole? What good are all these laws and protection and guidelines when they are routinely, spectacularly and flamboyantly flouted by the intelligence community? "Oh, it's only this one time, promise!" "Bad apple!", "new day!" "mistakes were made!". And now for a musical interlude:

He was a sweet and tender hooligan, hooligan. And he said that he'd never, never do it again. And of course he won't (oh, not until the next time)...

How many times have the FBI and CIA and various police agencies around the country signed this and that promising that they'd "never again"?

When you have a breakdown so complete as to render these laws equivalent in value to the USSR ones, citing any of these laws in an argument is meaningless. It is not a problem of a bad apple - it is obviously a systemic problem.

There is clearly a catastrophic failure of design in the whole supervision regimen. When even senior senators like Feinstein, whose very job it is to oversee the agencies to assure that abuse is not taking place, are defied and attacked by these very agencies, the SYSTEM IS BROKEN. Full stop. There is no going back. It can only be dismantled - the secret laws, the secret impenetrable and opaque judicial process that just collapses when confronted by security issues, the whole shebang.

This is not the time for small reforms and replacing of personnel. This is the time for scrapping it wholesale and starting anew. All these laws cited so far, mean nothing, they demonstrably don't work, and have proven that they cannot work.

When this country was established, the single greatest insight the founding fathers had, was that you cannot rely on the "good nature" of those in power to have laws operate in a just way. You MUST design laws in such a way, that they are fault tolerant, and can work regardless of the inevitable failures of human nature in particular individuals.

That's what we need today - not replacing Clapper, or any one apparatchik, not tinkering with this law or that. We need to design a clearly articulated system with specific reach and a very tough and transparent supervisory regimen. The tragedy is, that the political environment today does not exist to do such a job. I hope it is too pessimistic to say that only in extraordinary circumstances can such an environment exist - as when a country is being designed by founding fathers, revolutions and new constitutions. I hope. But I fear, not in my lifetime, under the best of circumstances: to wit - the dismal response to all these scandals and deep systemic problems by the Obama administration, the Hope and Change, the best shot we had of actual reform within the system. What a dispiriting failure it has been. I don't blame the young people for losing hope and becoming cynical - they are right.
posted by VikingSword at 1:49 PM on May 2 [18 favorites]


[Folks, cool it all around.]
posted by cortex at 1:51 PM on May 2 [6 favorites]


What saddens me is that people argue the conclusions of an un-examined premise.

"Is state surveillance [POSSIBLE BECAUSE OF THE EXISTENCE OF UNACCOUNTABLE BLACK-BOX GOVERNMENTAL-YET-SUPER-LEGAL AGENCIES] a legitimate defense of our freedom?"

Is anyone here actually in favor of the premise? Or buy the idea that such agencies can ethically self-regulate their actions?
posted by Taft at 1:55 PM on May 2 [4 favorites]


"Your logic is correct. The Government does not need, and has never needed, a warrant to review credit card transactions. Nor your bank transactions. Never. People just sort of assume they need a warrant for things they never have needed one for. There is no social expectation of privacy because it has long been the rule that credit card transactions can be obtained by the government without a warrant under the business records exemption."

I think you missed the point of what I was saying — I am willing to believe that it is legal for the government to obtain credit card records without a warrant or subpoena. However, I do believe that this contravenes what would commonly be perceived as expectation of privacy; you yourself note that people assume that the government needs a warrant for all sorts of things they don't, and that's because of that social expectation of privacy. If I buy Big Butt Anal Sluts #156 with a credit card, I expect that this will be held confidential by the credit card company.

(And a quick bit of googling around seems to contradict what you're saying here. First, the business records exemption refers to admissibility as a hearsay exemption, but says nothing about subpoenas or warrants. Further, both Police Chief Magazine and Wired Magazine describe the process of getting credit card transaction records as requiring a subpoena, which isn't the same as a warrant, but at least generally requires some level of oversight. The NSA programs don't even have that level of individual oversight.)
posted by klangklangston at 2:08 PM on May 2 [6 favorites]


The debate starts in 5 minutes, apparently...
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 3:55 PM on May 2


Sometimes you have to give up freedom to be free.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:16 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


But the President who mimes horror at a botched execution in Oklahoma, while himself ordering the murder without any due process of American citizens by blowing off their limbs (along with any women and children who happen to be standing nearby) is such an awesome guy.

Seriously? Ascribing to Obama beliefs just to make him look like a bad person and straw-man him in order to make your cute little point about hypocrisy? And comparing how someone responds to the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki to the botched Oklahoma execution?

Is this what passes for discourse on Metafilter now?
posted by SollosQ at 4:19 PM on May 2 [6 favorites]


Wow, does Hayden have some special glasses on that make everyone in the audience appear to be seven years old? Condescending fuck.
posted by gman at 4:22 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Wow, does Hayden have some special glasses on that make everyone in the audience appear to be seven years old?

Well, apparently. Is he wrong that the media has sensationalized NSA activities?
posted by SollosQ at 4:24 PM on May 2


Is it just me or does Hayden look like Red Forman from the 70s Show?
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:26 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Four TED talks enter.
Two TED talks leave.
posted by uosuaq at 4:29 PM on May 2 [9 favorites]


Is it just me or does Hayden look like Red Forman from the 70s Show?

Well, apparently. But is he wrong that there are very bad men who are emailing other very bad men?
posted by Drinky Die at 4:29 PM on May 2


But is he wrong that there are very bad men who are emailing other very bad men?

This is the childish framing of the likes to which gman was referring.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 4:30 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Are there any alternative stream links? I'm getting really bad audio quality.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:31 PM on May 2


PEW PEW LASER SHOES
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:31 PM on May 2


Preemptive attribution of Godwinning to the opponent. A real pro at work here.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:34 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


GODWIN ACHIEVED
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:34 PM on May 2


Curse you Drinky Die!

Also: I keep hearing what sounds like short burst of someone typing on a keyboard...
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:35 PM on May 2


That would be the comment box below the video, you can turn the sound off.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:36 PM on May 2


A real pro at work here.

I don't share his politics at all, but...yes, I would unironically call Desrhowitz a real pro at work.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:37 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Ah, so it is! Thanks!
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:37 PM on May 2


Next person to use the word "sinister" gets twenty lashes with a wet noodle.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:39 PM on May 2


Or "pernicious." A Glennzilla favorite.

But good job Glenn on calling out Dershowitz on his straw men.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 4:40 PM on May 2


HOT WAR
posted by rhizome at 4:42 PM on May 2


TEERISM

(I genuinely enjoyed that pronunciation.)
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:43 PM on May 2


Hayden doesn't agree with Glenn. Surprise of the century.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 4:46 PM on May 2


So Alan asked the other side what the motives are, Glen responds, and now Alan yells that we should not be debating motives...
posted by Drinky Die at 4:48 PM on May 2


Uh, Dershowitz, you argued for torture.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 4:48 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Ack, we're liveblogging this? I can't play, I'm in a public place dammit.
posted by JHarris at 4:49 PM on May 2


But is he wrong that there are very bad men who are emailing other very bad men?

I'm imagining a cartoon supervillain called Very Bad Man. Think Snidely Whiplash in a turban.
posted by JHarris at 4:52 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]


Yaymun.
posted by gman at 4:55 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


I don't think "could this surveillance have prevented 9/11?" is that great of a question, for either side.

Ack, we're liveblogging this? I can't play, I'm in a public place dammit.

Yeah, I have to leave as well. Apparently I have a "wife" who wants "dinner".
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:55 PM on May 2 [4 favorites]


JHarris: "I'm imagining a cartoon supervillain called Very Bad Man."

Wouldn't there have to be two of them to email each other?
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:59 PM on May 2


The only credible existential threat to the Government of the United States is a popular revolt by the people of the United States. Therefore, all the people must be treated as potential enemies of the state if and when that revolt starts to happen. Mostly this seems to happen in benign ways, such as gathering data, creating capabilities to influence/overwhelm social networks, testing the limits of the state's power in isolated cases that don't harm many people, etc.

Yes, these programs could be useful against non-state actors or even against foreign governments, but the former doesn't have the capability and the latter doesn't have the motive to take down the current government. I think you have to be naive to not understand why these mass surveillance programs are being created, tested, and implemented.

If you believe that generally the U.S. government does the will of the people, is accountable to its citizens, and upholds the rule of law, I can understand why you think these programs are not threatening and can see how they can be useful now and in the future. If you're concerned about the power to abuse as much as the abuse of power, I can see how you'd be terrified in granting such power to the state.
posted by cell divide at 5:02 PM on May 2 [5 favorites]


"Nimble... agile... fanatical..." as Hayden's squirming in his chair... begging for a gif
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 5:05 PM on May 2


I didn't know what Hayden's style reminded me of. With "Lockbox", I realize it's the Al Gore School of Losing Debates.
posted by persona at 5:07 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


"There are no powerful algorithms chugging through [metadata collected by the NSA]."

Bull. Shit.
posted by Taft at 5:08 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Maybe quasi-powerful-algorithms (QPA)s.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 5:10 PM on May 2


If you believe that generally the U.S. government does the will of the people, is accountable to its citizens, and upholds the rule of law, I can understand why you think these programs are not threatening and can see how they can be useful now and in the future.

Well, the United States ranks in the top-20 countries in the world for lowest amounts of corruption. Yes, there are exceptions, but things on a whole tend to work. That's why we're a stable, developed country.

We're not Egypt. We're not Chad. There are a ton of institutions in the United States open to abuse. The legislature. The courts. The executive. The military. The police forces. The IRS. The FBI.

I listened to a distinguished political philosopher the other week who argued that political authority is illegitimate because government authority is no different from a group of random people barging into town, rounding up criminals, and then charging me a tax for their unrequested services.

If you have this sort of skeptical picture of the government, that it's prone to abuse, then sure. Be against metadata collection. Be against the IRS. Be against a standing military. Be against government.

I don't have this sort of skeptical picture though. Abuses as bad as they have been, can only hide in the shadows for so long. People will speak out against these abuses. Abu Ghraib. The Church Committee. We have dealt with, are dealing with, and will deal with any and all abuses. This is how our government has, does, and will work so long as it remains a stable, developed country.
posted by SollosQ at 5:12 PM on May 2 [4 favorites]


Way to score points on more straw men, Dershowitz.

He really is insufferable. Did the same thing when debating Israel/Palestine with Chomsky.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 5:14 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Was he the one who muttered "Jesus" under his breath when Greenwald was talking?
posted by Drinky Die at 5:16 PM on May 2


After watching Hayden, I feel like I can now skip that new Errol Morris movie about Rumsfeld.
posted by uosuaq at 5:21 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Intel analysis is about capabilities, not intentions.

Debating capabilities, rather than intentions or better yet, actions, is silly. Anyone has the "capability" to do all kinds of bad things. The only important question is whether they have actually done this.

You say the NSA has hoovered up enough info that they could put together a profile on me if they wanted. Well so what? So could anyone with Google. If you have proof that they have used this profile to blackmail whistle-blowers, or threaten people who've committed no crimes, well that's bad and should stop. But why on earth should I care about some inert "capability"?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 5:24 PM on May 2


So what do I Google to find a list of who you have called today?
posted by Drinky Die at 5:28 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


We already know they've used this information in routine criminal cases and lied about where it came from to evade the warrant requirement. They call it "parallel construction." We also know that the information was so loosely controlled that any random contractor can get his hands on all of it - that's what Snowden was, after all. Analysts illegally checking into their romantic partners (or targets) has been so common that it got a cutesy name too (LOVEINT). Is any of that concerning?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:31 PM on May 2 [11 favorites]


One more terrorist attack = the end of your civil liberties. Huh. Why? Because people will overreact and create a mass surveillance culture--? oh, right
posted by Taft at 5:37 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]


"mmmkay?" --James Clapper
posted by rhizome at 5:40 PM on May 2


Wow, Michael Hayden sounds like such a snake.
posted by anemone of the state at 5:40 PM on May 2


Hayden: "That's Google, not the NSA" ... yes, which the NSA is collecting data from, overtly or covertly.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 5:41 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


"What is it you think we're doing?"

Preemptively snubbing a revolution, dummy.
posted by Taft at 5:42 PM on May 2


It's the snitches who are spying on you. GOSH.
posted by rhizome at 5:42 PM on May 2


I'm glad Hayden's "Trust me" got a big laugh from the audience.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 5:42 PM on May 2


I suspect the audience is gonna give this one to the Pro side. They seemed to be eating out of their hands at times. Alexis Ohanian was kind of a one note and he didn't really help cover Greenwald's back or really put any pressure on the other side. Personally I found Dershowitz extremely unpleasant even at the times he was making reasonable points. The strawmanning, shouting, interrupting, and muttering under his breath when Greenwald was talking was extremely off-putting and made him seem desperate.

I think I would have rather seen Greenwald and Hayden one on one.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:49 PM on May 2


Yeah I agree the Reddit guy was pretty superfluous.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 6:00 PM on May 2


Well, the United States ranks in the top-20 countries in the world for lowest amounts of corruption. Yes, there are exceptions, but things on a whole tend to work. That's why we're a stable, developed country.

SollosQ, I think you misunderstand what the problem is here. The NSA mass surveillance problem is not one of a virtuous program that was twisted into serving another more devious purpose -- rather, it is of a fundamentally oppressive one that is being faithfully executed. We don't find the Stasi objectionable because it was corrupt, either, but because we find it objectionable to have a repressive political police force.

I don't have this sort of skeptical picture though. Abuses as bad as they have been, can only hide in the shadows for so long. People will speak out against these abuses. Abu Ghraib. The Church Committee. We have dealt with, are dealing with, and will deal with any and all abuses. This is how our government has, does, and will work so long as it remains a stable, developed country.

You see, I don't think history has worked out as you're portraying it. Many of the abuses that the US has committed, especially recently, have gone pretty much unpunished. The Iraq invasion, torture, Guantanamo, mass surveillance, drone strikes, etc. The history of government misbehavior is not one of increasing civil liberties and progress towards transparency and accounatbility. I think a stronger case could be made that we're going in the opposite direction, personally.

I also wonder what it would take to shake your faith in US institutions. What kind of abuse would convince you that the present status quo was not addressing problems appropriately? Serious question.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 6:12 PM on May 2 [10 favorites]


The Munk Debates@munkdebate Munk Debate Results. 41% agree, 59% disagree. Narrow win for Greenwald and Ohanian. 4 points over Hayden and Dershowitz.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:14 PM on May 2


Not to mention that this particular abuse (or potential for abuse) was not revealed through any procedural or systematic process of stable transparent government but by the extra-legal actions of a concerned and well-placed citizen.

These particular abuses, and the opportunity to correct them, would not have come to light without Snowden.

This is true as well for John Kirakiau who revealed the CIA's water-boarding and wound up in prison because of it. And also for Chelsea Manning.

These abuses have come to light not as a result of the reliable functioning of stable government, but in spite of it.
posted by notyou at 6:42 PM on May 2 [12 favorites]


German Government Blocks Ed Snowden From Testifying Before Parliament So As Not To Upset The US
posted by homunculus at 6:55 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Abuses as bad as they have been, can only hide in the shadows for so long. People will speak out against these abuses. Abu Ghraib. The Church Committee.

Former Church Committee Counsel and Staffers Call on Congress to Create Modern Day Church Committee
posted by homunculus at 6:57 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]


>A person has zero expectation of privacy in something they posted to the internet. They are putting it up there to be seen. Its called the third party rule. Therefore the 4th Amendment does not apply.

First of all, the SCOTUS has never directly ruled on the issue of how the third party rule and the issue of particularity (of which you are apparently unaware) relate to internet communications. Second, there have been conflicting rulings in the lower courts about how to exactly apply the third party doctrine even when the case meets the particularity requirement of the 4th amendment (see United States v. Warshak, Quon v. Arch Wireless Operating Co., City of Ontario v. Quon, United States v. Forrester, and United States v. Hambrick).

In other words, you seem to be severely misinformed about the legal situation surrounding these issues.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:02 PM on May 2 [5 favorites]


SollosQ, I think you misunderstand what the problem is here.

There are literally hundreds of problems here. What are the current NSA practices? Are the current NSA practices legal? If they are legal, then do we want them to be legal?

Hence my post is solely in response to cell divide.

Many of the abuses that the US has committed, especially recently, have gone pretty much unpunished. The Iraq invasion, torture, Guantanamo, mass surveillance, drone strikes, etc. The history of government misbehavior is not one of increasing civil liberties and progress towards transparency and accountability. I think a stronger case could be made that we're going in the opposite direction, personally.

Part of the problem is that we have a different understanding of abuse. I take abuse to be actions that transcend partisanship concerns, these are actions for which there can be no public argument. And I have in mind that there's some background assumptions that citizens of such a democracy are working with. I won't spell out the details, but I'll paraphrase what I have in mind with: "the aims of a democratic state." So, prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. Regardless of where your partisanship lies, no argument can be made for what happened there that are compatible with the aims of a democratic state. J. Edgar Hoover using the FBI for his own personal gain and interests. Everyone can agree that his actions were incompatible with the aims of a democratic state insofar as he was using a public institution which performs a particular service, for personal gain.

I know how I define "abuses" to be convoluted, but I think it's important. I can't simply say that abuses are things that are illegal. For one, it's not entirely clear if Hoover's actions were illegal at the time. It'll depend on what the legal framework was at the time. So even though we can easily say that what happened at Abu Ghraib was wrong because it violated rule of law, both domestically and internationally, we want to be able to capture a wider range of abuses than simply these instances.

But it's also important to frame things like this, because otherwise you may end up begging the question. If you define "abuses" to be things that violate rule of law, then it might necessarily follow that yes, drone strikes, the Iraq invasion, and other things are abuses. But it's not clear to me that this is so. Because clearly, many reasonable people support drone strikes. And many reasonable people supported the Iraq war. And I'm also concerned that too many things would become abuses under this consideration because of the tricky nature of international law and war and sovereignty. Was U.S. involvement in WW1 or WW2 an abuse? Was U.S./International involvement in Yugoslavia an abuse? Would U.S. intervention in Rwanda have been an abuse? Would U.S. intervention in Syria be an abuse? Would international intervention in Rwanda have been an abuse? Would international intervention in Syria be an abuse?

Not to mention that this particular abuse (or potential for abuse) was not revealed through any procedural or systematic process of stable transparent government but by the extra-legal actions of a concerned and well-placed citizen.

Which I included in my statement: "Abuses as bad as they have been, can only hide in the shadows for so long. People will speak out against these abuses."
posted by SollosQ at 7:20 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


[One comment deleted; as always, let's keep it focused on the ideas/facts under discussion, not on participants in the thread. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:36 PM on May 2


So, prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. Regardless of where your partisanship lies, no argument can be made for what happened there that are compatible with the aims of a democratic state.

When people take political positions, they don't do it by justifying it by saying "... because that would be compatible with the aims of a democratic state." Indeed, what the aims of a democratic state should be is quite a point of contention -- that's what politics is (at least, in countries that are democracies).

Nevertheless, many people downplayed ("bad apples," "just blowing off steam") the Abu Ghraib abuses and at least one person (Michael Savage) endorsed it. I'm sure there were plenty more, unfortunately (albeit people that don't have a platform -- the 'yeah, get them bad guys!' culture, especially when overlapping with nationalism / patriotism / racism / militarism runs pretty deep in the US).

Anyways, many "reasonable people" support terrible policies, even ones that today it is common to think of as beyond the pale. Plenty of reasonable people supported slavery, the Vietnam War, Nazism, etc. Moral standards change with time, place and context. I doubt there are many supporters of the GWB Iraq invasion in Iraq, for instance. And people advocating the reinstitution of slavery today are few and far between.

I think we're getting off course here by getting caught up in the semantics of the word "abuse." I think we're all on the same page when we agree that all of these current policies should be debated and also that legality is not morality and vice versa. Fine. But taking a strong moral stand on an issue, even complex issues like the NSA imbroglio, is the right thing to do sometimes. No matter how many "reasonable people" there are in the opposition. One could argue that, as intellectuals, it is our responsibility.

I would also note that exposing government malfeasance is not the same thing as combatting it. A necessary first step most of the time, sure. But then again, Condi, GWB, Obama, etc. are still walking free in spite of their well documented crimes.

Maybe I'm rambling here, SollosQ, but partially its because you didn't address my question, so far as I can tell.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 9:25 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Oh btw, results of the debate:

"Be it resolved state surveillance is a legitimate defence of our freedoms

Pre-Debate Results: 33% pro 46% con (I suppose the rest didn't vote?)

Post-Debate Results: 41% pro 59% con

Con wins with 4% margin change."
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 9:35 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Also some interesting audience polling data here
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 10:05 PM on May 2


"I don't have this sort of skeptical picture though. Abuses as bad as they have been, can only hide in the shadows for so long. People will speak out against these abuses. Abu Ghraib. The Church Committee. We have dealt with, are dealing with, and will deal with any and all abuses. This is how our government has, does, and will work so long as it remains a stable, developed country."

I was mostly with you through the bit about corruption, but this is entirely too rosy a picture. The police murdered Fred Hampton on the word of an FBI informant. (If you're talking to a conservative, substitute Ruby Ridge.) We do not deal with all abuses. Not only that, but many abuses take a long time to surface.

Because of that, I think it's dangerous to take too rosy a view of the government and surveillance. It's easy to think sometimes that because we generally do better on a lot of things than we used to, that means that we've solved these problems. We haven't.
posted by klangklangston at 10:11 PM on May 2 [4 favorites]


"But the President who mimes horror at a botched execution in Oklahoma, while himself ordering the murder without any due process of American citizens..."

... who refused to turn themselves in after being charged with a crime, who we know was personally training and recruiting terrorists, planning terrorist attacks against civilians, trying to blow up a plane flying to Detroit, and who's damn near final act was requesting bombmaking equipment, while hunkering down in a part of Yemen that was, at the time, outside of any other means of justice... in an attack that also killed Al Qaeda in Yemen's chief bombmaker?

This US citizen, who was judged to be a serious enemy combatant? And his son, who was accidentally killed while hanging out with Al Qaeda's media chief and several terrorists from the same training compound?
posted by markkraft at 10:32 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]


Well if you put it that way, yes of course, judge, jury, and executioner. Hellfires away!
posted by notyou at 10:55 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


who refused to turn themselves in after being charged with a crime

In countries where the rule of law is followed this does not constitute a death sentence.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:13 AM on May 3 [11 favorites]


The other thing everyone should be aware of is that Ironmouth likes to hold court as the resident meta-lawyer and sets himself up as some kind of authority on legal issues. He is not engaging in good faith. Time and time again he trots out the old Smith v. Maryland pen register argument and claims that this is all clear cut and finished in the eyes of the law. This could not be further from the case, and he knows it. Time and time again he has been shown that the third party doctrine is in fact a very controversial opinion in the context of it being applied to electronic communications. He ignores this evidence and in every NSA thread plows ahead with the same tired argument. You don't have to take my work for it.

The Third Party Doctrine in the Digital Age

The Data Question: Should the Third-Party Records Doctrine Be Revisited?

The Timely Demise of the Fourth Amendment Third Party Doctrine

The Crisis in Fourth Amendment Jurisprudence
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:05 AM on May 3 [11 favorites]


America had not charged al-Awlaki with a crime at the time he was placed on the kill list. Also, you lose the right to complain about people not turning themselves in to you when you think they are terrorists after you torture those you hold under that accusation or hold them forever without trial.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:46 AM on May 3 [3 favorites]


This US citizen yt , who was judged to be a serious enemy combatant? And his son, who was accidentally killed while hanging out with Al Qaeda's media chief and several terrorists from the same training compound?

markkraft, putting aside the entire issue of due process (which as other commenters have noted is *very* important here!), those are the kinds of cheap, vague accusations that the national security apparatus has in bottomless supply. History shows that many if not all of these types of claims fall apart under scrutiny. The only material action Al-Awalaki was provably conducting was putting up YouTube videos that Obama didn't like.

Since you're citing his Wikipedia page as evidence, I presume you don't mind if I quote from it as well:

"Jeremy Scahill offers a strongly contradictory description of the accusations made against Anwar al-Awlaki, noting in his writings and book that al-Awlaki was very pro-American and opposed to violence but he frequently criticized and questions American foreign policy with respect to the Middle East and the Muslim World"

"Glenn Greenwald argued on Salon.com that killing al-Awlaki violated his First Amendment right of free speech and that doing so outside of a criminal proceeding violated the Constitution's due process clause, specifically citing the 1969 Supreme Court decision in Brandenburg v. Ohio"

"Paul Craig Roberts wrote Awlaki gave "sermons critical of Washington’s indiscriminate assaults on Muslim peoples" who "told Muslims that they did not have to passively accept American aggression." He called the operation "The Day America Died" as he asserted the U.S. lacked evidence either Awlaki or Khan were real threats or Al Qaeda operatives."

This is hardly an open-and-shut case that you or the dime-a-dozen Serious Government Terrorism Guy With Thunderous Accusations makes it out to be.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 5:22 AM on May 3 [4 favorites]


Weird. "Serious Government Terrorism Guy With Thunderous Accusations" is the name of my apocalyptic punk/rock/classical outfit's second reunion album.
posted by nevercalm at 8:23 AM on May 3


Al Qaeda's media chief

As an aside, it's a tell when someone uses "Al Qaeda is organized like a corporation!" rhetoric that they either don't know what they're talking about or are deliberately obfuscating.
posted by rhizome at 9:58 AM on May 3 [3 favorites]


" Also, you lose the right to complain about people not turning themselves in to you when you think they are terrorists after you torture those you hold under that accusation or hold them forever without trial."

First off, to be clear, President Obama is responsible for sending exactly zero people to Guantanamo. The number of detainees are currently at 166, from a high of 779 during the Bush administration, despite all the obstacles that Congress -- and primarily, the Republicans -- have put against either repatriating or domestically trying detainees. As it stands, over half of the remaining detainees are cleared and awaiting release... despite the fact that some countries are currently refusing to take their own citizens back.

It's a neat trick that you think that terrorists actively engaged in trying to kill Americans shouldn't have to turn themselves in to avoid being taken out in other means... especially when they intentionally base themselves in places outside the rule of law.

You seem to think that our system of law should be so inflexible as to be brutally gamed by killers... as opposed to a living Constitution.. the kind that allows things like equal rights for women, homosexuals, and a whole bunch of good, civilized, common-sense things that you take for granted every day.

Basically, you're so far left that you are arguing somewhere to the right of where Scalia might on this issue.
posted by markkraft at 2:24 PM on May 3 [2 favorites]


First off, to be clear, President Obama is responsible for sending exactly zero people to Guantanamo.

What about all the people he sent to other countries to be tortured? I guess outsourced torture doesn't count.

It's a neat trick that you think that terrorists actively engaged in trying to kill Americans shouldn't have to turn themselves in to avoid being taken out in other means... especially when they intentionally base themselves in places outside the rule of law.

The fact that certain criminal elements base themselves outside the rule of law has no bearing on whether our system of government should have a rule of law. Your logic is so convoluted that I don't know if you really understand the implications of what you are proposing.

You seem to think that our system of law should be so inflexible as to be brutally gamed by killers... as opposed to a living Constitution.. the kind that allows things like equal rights for women, homosexuals, and a whole bunch of good, civilized, common-sense things that you take for granted every day.

Nice try but you don't get to sully the gains made by women, homosexuals, and other minorities with the innocent blood shed by our brutal military adventures. They have exactly zero relation to one another. In fact they are complete opposites...they couldn't be more diametrically opposed. On one hand we have progressive values which are fighting for equal protection under the law. On the other we have an executive branch setting itself up as judge, jury, and executioner; i.e. no protection under the law. The antithesis of the rule of law.

You seem to want to live in a society with a "living constitution" that allows for the integration of totalitarian methods and practices into our democratic systems. At what point does such a system become one more than the other? You really need to rethink what type of society you want to live in, especially in the context of what future presidents will do with the powers usurped by Bush II and codified by Obama.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:16 PM on May 3 [3 favorites]


The whole WOT has completely corrupted our political system. The rule of law has been subverted pretty much entirely when it comes to our intelligence and war efforts. Any laws to do with the security apparatus is now a sham. Read the book "Dirty Wars" or watch the documentary to see more about the "legal" underpinnings of the travesty that is the WOT and the murder of U.S. citizens designated as "terrorists" abroad. The documentary is a good jumping off point to becoming more educated on the subject, but by no means the last word - don't just accept any claims, question and research, the more you learn, the more clear it becomes that the security system is irretrievably broken.

The problem of terrorism is real. But the solutions implemented so far, are destroying us. We need to start over and find better ways of addressing legitimate issues. Personally, I think that our policies of the last 60-70 years are responsible for 90%, at least, of the 'terror' attacks against us, but that's a separate discussion. What's clear so far is that our 'solutions' are working in the opposite direction - they are aggravating the problem.
posted by VikingSword at 6:26 PM on May 3 [2 favorites]


"What about all the people he sent to other countries to be tortured? "

Given the link you supplied -- which in turn has numerous other links supposedly supporting your premise -- can you give me three examples of the US turning detainees over to other countries with the clear intent of them being tortured? I say this, because several of the articles cited specifically mentioned that the Obama Administration was pursuing policies that would actually reduce the potential for torture and lengthy US detentions.

Obviously, the worst issue here is Afghanistan, where the police have regularly tortured for decades, and where the US has spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to train and overhaul their police, specifically so that they don't use torture anymore. The Karzai government was actually a big problem in this situation, as they simultaneously insisted that detainees be turned over to them rapidly, while dragging their feet in approving a detainee policy with the US that would provide the US with the information they needed on detainees turned over to them so as to largely exclude the possibility of torture.

Even the Canadians admitted to the intractable nature of this problem, making it clear that if the goal was to be absolutely sure that the Afghanis weren't torturing detainees turned over to them, they would have to effectively end all military operations in Afghanistan. Still, it is clear that the Afghan police are a far more professional organization today than they were during the Bush administration.
posted by markkraft at 7:49 PM on May 3 [1 favorite]


Storming the Stasi headquarters, 1990
posted by anemone of the state at 9:38 PM on May 3 [1 favorite]


an you give me three examples of the US turning detainees over to other countries with the clear intent of them being tortured?

There are thousands of examples in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Of course you will ignore or downplay them as you preemptively tried to do in your last comment. There are many other examples. Here are three: Yonas Fikre, Sharif Mobley, and Naji Hamdan
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:26 PM on May 3 [2 favorites]


First off, to be clear, President Obama is responsible for sending exactly zero people to Guantanamo.

First off, I didn't say he did. And second off, it is totally irrelevant.

It's a neat trick that you think that terrorists actively engaged in trying to kill Americans shouldn't have to turn themselves in to avoid being taken out in other means... especially when they intentionally base themselves in places outside the rule of law.

No, it's tragic and terrifying that we have self damaged ourselves by choosing brutal and useless tactics that make it so no innocent person can feel reasonably safe in our custody. Your decision to only engage with the question of the guilty is the area where our communication is breaking down here.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:28 AM on May 4 [1 favorite]


*rolling my eyes HARD at "you crazy far leftists who think people shouldn't be turning themselves in to a country where torture and indefinite detention have been a part of the process."*
posted by Drinky Die at 4:31 AM on May 4 [1 favorite]


You seem to think that our system of law should be so inflexible as to be brutally gamed by killers... as opposed to a living Constitution.. the kind that allows things like equal rights for women, homosexuals, and a whole bunch of good, civilized, common-sense things that you take for granted every day.

Where in your Constitution does it say that due process only counts sometimes?

Show your work.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:25 AM on May 4 [3 favorites]


You might be a liberal if...you don't like Turkish prisons.
posted by rhizome at 10:50 AM on May 4 [2 favorites]


> Here are three: Yonas Fikre, Sharif Mobley, and Naji Hamdan

Here's some more recent MoJo reporting on proxy detention:

This American Refused to Become an FBI Informant. Then the Government Made His Family's Life Hell.

Meet the American Citizens Who Allege the US Had Them Locked Up Abroad
posted by homunculus at 11:38 AM on May 4 [2 favorites]


Islamic radicalism has not and will never be an existential threat
&
'God forbid terrorist groups start getting a hold of nuclear weapons.'

Well that won't happen:


*adjusts AQ baseball cap*

Part of the reason it won't happen is because of the demand for surveillance and accountability when it comes to nuclear weapons. And that took a LOT of work. And still takes constant vigilance and multi-party (countries, companies, NGOs, etc) pressure and influence.


This entire issue seems to have gone pretty far off the rails in terms of real world consequences.
Most of the realpolitick today is from what can be done. You can, with enough money and power (and literal power in terms of electricity) surveil a great deal.
You can, with enough money, destroy someone you don't like from a long way away.

Most surveillance now is countermeasures for 10 or 20 years from now when the technology is less expensive, processor power is higher, cheaper, smaller, the techniques are more ubiquitous - whatever, and someone of a given extremist philosophy or fantaticism in their actions can do what's now being done.

In simple terms just having the kind of processing power in my own house makes me a 1950's level digital superpower.

In terms of the debate, Greenwald is arguing real world effects of surveillance and its impact on our society.
Dershowitz is an apologist.

And if it seems like Hayden is pulling stuff from his ass it's because he is. There is no ground on which to cover the sorts of metaconceptual questions this kind of technology brings to bear.
For example - does being secure in one's papers include the right to privacy from the government knowing where your mail goes? They deliver the mail. So how do they keep that secret from themselves?
The no Warrants thing - 1st - what's probable cause when you can touch something digitally without accessing content?
Hey, that guy went to a child porn website (for example, and perhaps easier 10-20 years ago), was it on purpose? Does merely visiting the site constitute 'downloading' (in the broad terms the law seems to use) illegal material? (Legally, apparently so. They might cut you a break if you're Pete Townshend though.) But either way, you're subject to a forensic investigation of your machine for simply "going" to a place you haven't actually been.

So too - is the idea of your paper, your paper? Of what use is a warrent when the information is so transient and time-sensitive it can only be measured in fractions of a second?

Surveillance is the reality. And the further reality is that we, that is as the government, have no f'ing idea how to deal with that. So the default is to take the executive path, do what you CAN do, and ignore the shoulds/shouldn'ts until Congress, society, etc., catch up and figure out how to lay it down.

We are constantly surveilled and we always will be as long as people have cell phones, private property owners, high crime areas, traffic accidents, etc. And this will always lead to unintended consequences (hell, the whole tragedy of Oedipus started with a traffic accident).


That's not so much playing Devil's Advocate as just showing the respective differences in the idea "State surveillance is a legitimate defense of our freedom" (which, yeah, is a pretty loaded question in any case).

You can't defend freedom in an extroverted manner without being proactive and, typically, using violence.
The very nature of the concept "defend freedom" demands an antagonist. I mean - defend freedom from what? Anti-surveillance?

Currently we're doing the same thing the Chinese did when faced with new technology a few thousand years ago.
It's instructive that while trying to control travel (that is, interfering with Mongols' and local lords out for themselves ability to carry their loot away) it also (Willow Palisade) focused on migration control.

That speaks to Haydens' point about volume in sigint and the general point as to just surveilling terrorists or drug traffickers, etc. etc.

And there are practical points on both sides of that facet of the argument - e.g. Greenwald's points on security costing stupid amounts of money and casting too wide a net.

But....all that, and 4th amendment particulars aside...

Not much of that matters because all defense of liberty, "defending freedom", is - funly enough referenced in the debate with the Madison quote - must be internally focused.

If we're defending against terrorists, enemies of the state, etc. the focus is outward. But those threats - while some can be existential and most are not - are not as powerful as what we can do to ourselves.

And certainly not as powerful as what we can do to ourselves if influenced by fear (as demonstrated by 9/11. We lost more blood and treasure in the response than in the attack).

The "angels" Madison quote is an instructive one. Ironic too, in this debate. Since Madison said there that "Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civil society. It ever has been and ever will be pursued until it be obtained, or until liberty be lost in the pursuit."

And certainly the only defense of freedom is to ensure that power remain dependent on the people and not have a will independant of society itself.

Implict in the clash here too is the respective weights given to murder and destruction by an enemy and domestic oppression and which is worse.

A general, and almost any member of the executive branch of the government will always think the former is worse because that's the job. The pursuit.

The quote comes from: "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."

The rest of it: "A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions."

Right now our Republican system is such that Congress has - for practical intents and purposes - abdicated its role, or, perhaps less cynically, been structurally engineered out of the system by the very private interests that are supposed to be set against encroachments by the power of the government.

This is important.

Because that leaves "the people" all alone in defending this case and, frankly, that defense is nowhere near enough. No matter how angry or annoyning Greenwald, or anyone else championing that end of the cause is likely to be out of frustration, not much is going to get done because no one has enough skin in it to be bruised.

Or rather, to feel bruised. Since the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) hasn't turned over a bunch of records and people in general simplly can't know if, or how much, they've been subject to mass surveillance - and indeed has taken steps to destroy evidence, which is, apart from the troubling oversight concerns, comically hilarious (First you didn't want me to spy on you, now you wan't me to tell you how I did it!? Make up your mind!)

And, practially and socially, it can be both. The 'pen register' / 'metadata' thing upthread.

Certainly the content can be left unknown by surveillance and only the metadata registered - but, unlike the mail, concentration of data was impossible years ago and since communication does happen so quickly, who you're talking to and the volume of traffic of who you're talking to is a "content" point itself.

Particularly given how interconnected everyone is. Much like the anectode (true tho) how Target (and other merchants) know someone is pregnant. Not from actual personal information but from just the traffic.

We know patterns are as, if not more, important than actual documentation. That's how we found OBL. Hell, it's what the FBI wanted from the sneak and peek warrants "hey, we're not secretly breaking in to someone's house and taking contraband or potential contraband into evidence - we're secretly breaking in to someone's house to SEE if there's any potential contraband so we can come back with a search warrent so we CAN seize the property as evidence, y'know, constitutionally."

They, uh, can still do that you know. And, while I myself take the position that there are very real and valid existential threats posed in certain quarters from powerful interests (some with billions and billions of dollars and friends with nuclear weapons who would be happy to let a few million of their own die as long as it kills a few million Americans), delayed warrents have been used for less than one percent of cases related to cases with heavy foreign relation...aww, y'know, "terrorism" 'bad guys.' Most of it has been for drug outfits, et.al.


So - all that to say - and teasing out the acorn here in the roots of this debate -

- the problem isn't the interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the problem is that Section 215, and indeed, the Patriot Act itself still exists at all.

Which was an act of Congress. Which they could, y'know, repeal. If the whole Madison thing was working for us.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:41 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]


(poorly edited, etc. sorry, no sleep)
posted by Smedleyman at 4:50 PM on May 4


">>Can you give me three examples of the US turning detainees over to other countries with the clear intent of them being tortured?

>There are thousands of examples in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Of course you will ignore or downplay them as you preemptively tried to do in your last comment. There are many other examples. Here are three: Yonas Fikre, Sharif Mobley, and Naji Hamdan..."


The CLEAR INTENT?! Even the article you cited specifically said that when the State Department / FBI is aware of the detention of US citizens overseas for suspected involvement in terrorism, they specifically caution the country detaining US citizens to refrain from any kind of abuse or torture. They even, in some cases, send people in to witness the interviews of US detainees.

I've reviewed the case with Fikre and watched his video, which seems to have been carefully put together to avoid mentioning any knowledge of why the government was interested in him, and comes off as evasive and self-serving, once you know the facts. It turns out that he, along with several others, deliberately tried to get around government regulations to bypass longstanding sanctions by sending large sums of money to Sudan in small chunks, via various intermediaries, in a way that would be untraceable and could wind up in the hands of a corrupt government, terrorists, etc. (Remember Darfur?!)

The fact is, prisons overseas are, in many cases, poorly run, with torture and abuse a common thing. The State Department even warns Americans of this in the UAE, which Fikre traveled/fled to.
"Other reported human rights problems included police and prison guard brutality.'

...something to remember, I guess, if you're ever on the lam.

Presumably, the FBI wanted him to cooperate with their investigation, but he chose not to do so and, despite their requests that he not do so, he left the country shortly after. This triggered no end of alarms, where he appeared, for all purposes, like someone funding terrorists, on the lam. This led to him being put on the "no fly" list, and was why the country he visited was notified by the US about his suspicious behavior.

One of his co-dendendants later decided to cooperate with the investigation, and made a settlement with the government, in exchange for them dropping the money laundering charges... which, frankly, is probably what Fikre should've had the common sense to do.
posted by markkraft at 1:24 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


The CLEAR INTENT?!

Don't be silly. Your question is ridiculous just for the fact that the US Government refuses to use the word "torture" to describe anything they've ever done. Once you account for that, maybe your points will have some substance, but if this is the framing you require then you're just masturbating. Which is rude to do in public.
posted by rhizome at 1:52 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


The CLEAR INTENT?!

Don't be obtuse.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:41 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


For everyone who doesn't have time to read through all the pdfs I linked above, regarding the third part doctrine, The Atlantic has a fairly succinct breakdown of the situation:

The Shaky Legal Foundation of NSA Surveillance on Americans

Here is a link to Sotomayor's concurring opinion in UNITED STATES v. JONES.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:54 PM on May 5 [3 favorites]


Man, I was about to say AElfwine Evenstar deserves a Metafilter Lifetime Achievement Award for standing firm on these issues before I noticed has had only been here since 2010. So many other folks from a similar perspective are long gone for various reasons. Well, I think he offers his point of view with a ton of decency and respect that some of the others didn't always manage and he is a credit to the site. Peace, all.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:07 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


Yep, AElfwine Evenstar's great. But let's not discount homunculus, who regularly and awesomely comes into old threads before they close and keeps them updated with new information, which all of us who use the oft-neglected Recent Activity feature appreciate greatly.

I still miss amberglow, though.
posted by JHarris at 7:21 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


I miss ericb.
posted by homunculus at 10:58 PM on May 5 [2 favorites]


Aah. Lots of people are gone it seems. Is a shame.
posted by JHarris at 11:48 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


.
posted by mikelieman at 2:46 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Omnivore: An absolute surveillance society
posted by homunculus at 2:44 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Obama Administration Proves Why the Public Needs Someone to Leak the CIA Torture Report
posted by homunculus at 4:11 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


Emails reveal close Google relationship with NSA
posted by homunculus at 4:11 PM on May 6 [2 favorites]


Cops Must Swear Silence to Access Vehicle Tracking System
posted by jeffburdges at 4:23 AM on May 8 [1 favorite]


"Your question is ridiculous just for the fact that the US Government refuses to use the word "torture" to describe anything they've ever done."


BULL.

"What I've said... and I will repeat... is that waterboarding violates our ideals and our values. I do believe it is torture. It is not just my and our ideals. I do believe it is torture. I don't think that's just my opinion. That's the opinion of many that examined the topic. And that's why I put an end to these practices."
- President Obama, press conference, April 29, 2014

So, I guess that makes my question about whether the US still knowingly and intentionally hands over people to other nations with the intent of torturing them not so ridiculous, while still leaving it open that, yes, sometimes, the US does have an interest in working with other nations in monitoring criminal behavior, especially when it is possibly linked to terrorism, and that sometimes, when people are legally detained overseas in other countries for behavior that the US notified other nations about -- which we do fairly often, especially when it comes to potentially terrorist-related information -- they may, in fact, be mistreated or even tortured without the US in any way approving of such behavior.

Really, if you're an American, you don't have to go all the way to the UAE to get beaten, tortured, or killed in a foreign prison. Tijuana will suffice. Which is not to downplay how serious the situation is, as much as to make it clear that abuses are rampant worldwide -- even within our own country -- but not every abuse is evidence that the US government intends such brutality to occur.
posted by markkraft at 8:24 AM on May 8


And contrary to the ideological gladhanding for Evenstar, when you accuse one person on the thread of "not engaging in good faith", while another who calls him on a statement that the US is still turning over prisoners with the intent of torture -- a Bush-era practice -- without any actual evidence of intent being presented by Evenstar, only to get called "obtuse"...

Well... that's just a quasi-polite way to say that anyone who disagrees with you on your interpretation of US policies and how they are being carried out is either lying or stupid. Which isn't a nice thing to do. In fact, it tends to punish actually thinking about and debating these issues on their merits. (Likewise, saying that someone who wants verifiable evidence of US complicity in such behavior during the Obama administration is just "masturbating", isn't nice either Rhizome. In fact, it's childish and anti-intellectual.)

As opposed to seriously saying "No, wait... show me a leaked internal document or an on-the-record quote from a government source that says that yes, we still are intentionally turning prisoners over to other entities, with the express goal of having them tortured. Or offering a link to such a document -- hundreds of thousands have been made public. Pick one. -- or an on-the-record statement.

... because I actually *DO* believe that waterboarding and many other approved Bush-era policies were, in fact, torture, in addition to all the obvious torture that other nation's police and security forces worldwide tend to do... but haven't seen the clear evidence that we are still intentionally turning people over to third parties with the intent of having them torture prisoners on our behalf. What I have seen here, in this thread, is people taking Nader-like leaps of ideological faith, without clear evidence to back it up.

Really, if our government has a policy in place where it is still intentionally turning people over to other nations with the intent of having them tortured, I *DO* want to know! Because I have seen clear evidence of that policy in the Bush Administration, and have even seen evidence of US interrogators carrying out torturous policies themselves, but our government's complicity as policy does, in fact, make a difference.

Instead, even in the case Evenstar cited, the US didn't even turn the prisoner over to UAE... which pretty much ruins his example in the first place. And perhaps not-so-surprisingly, the UAE has reasons to worry about terrorism too. It's a hot-button issue worldwide, because even a single, relatively mild terrorist attack can absolutely ruin the day for a ruling government trying to maintain the trust of its citizens, a semblance of order, a healthy environment for investors, etc. Even a relatively unimportant, low-tech DIY bombing like Boston is enough to wipe billions off of balance sheets. And money absolutely talks. And when money and power are involved, people who work for the government -- such as police or security forces -- overreact.

But you don't even need police and security forces to overreact in UAE in order for torture to happen, because in truth, torture is *REALLY, REALLY* common there, and not something reserved just for people fleeing the US Feds after trying to smuggle money to places they shouldn't.
posted by markkraft at 9:09 AM on May 8 [1 favorite]


Well, it's my interpretation that Obama said that with a wink and a nod. Torture is a war crime, and it was personally approved by a US President. For this we do have evidence. Also: Jose Rodriguez and James Mitchell.
posted by rhizome at 11:02 AM on May 8


Of course it was approved by *a* US President. That's not the issue. The question is whether it was approved by the current one.

And as far as any perceived "wink and a nod" from President Obama, well... show me that he has continued to authorize the torture of people, either here or abroad, and I will certainly tend to agree with you.

Torture happens around the world... and that's a horrible thing. And the US has been complicit in more than its share of it for over sixty years. But that does not mean its use is authorized by the current President.
posted by markkraft at 12:23 PM on May 8


If it's not prosecuted, then it's de facto not illegal.
posted by rhizome at 1:55 PM on May 8


without any actual evidence of intent being presented by Evenstar

You were presented with firsthand testimony. Listen you apparently don't think that plausible deniability is a thing, and that when our government habitually engages in a pattern of behavior with the same results that it is without "intent." That's fine. But that is specifically where the obtuse part comes in. How can something that is a known quantity be accidental? You can't accidentally do something that is a forgone conclusion. This is especially true when the FBI informs foreign governments with a history of torture, who are also dependent on the USA for military aid, that they are "interested" in certain individuals.

But that does not mean its use is authorized by the current President.

This is true, but the pattern of behavior, first hand testimony, and a wealth of circumstantial evidence says otherwise. I mean we are talking about a guy who assassinates people without a trial and you think authorizing some torture is beyond the pale?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:04 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


An American Just Disappeared From a Prison in Yemen, and No One Will Say What Happened
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:10 PM on May 8


that when our government habitually engages in a pattern of behavior with the same results that it is without "intent."

If you're going to allege that this "pattern of behavior" exists, it would be nice if you could provide examples of it. Neither the Jonas Fikre case nor the one you've just linked to (Sharif Mobley) are cases of the US "sending" anyone to foreign countries for any purpose whatsoever. In both cases, they are people who traveled to foreign countries of their own free will and were arrested by local security forces who, they allege, tortured them. That they personally believe (or, at least, that their lawyers claim) that the US played some role in instigating the local arrest is not really "evidence" one way or the other. Maybe they did, maybe they didn't. But in neither case do we see that the US "sent [people] to other countries to be tortured"--which was your original claim, and is the claim under dispute. And, indeed, if you read the articles you linked to under that claim (on the propublica "The Best Reporting on Detention and Rendition Under Obama" page) you will see that not a single one of them instances cases of the US "sending people to other countries to be tortured." (I know actually reading the articles you link to is not your style, Aelfwine, but it really would help if you'd try to make a habit of it).

So what reason do we have to assume that this is a widespread practice that we can just assume is the order of the day when you are incapable of providing even one well-documented instance of it having occurred under Obama's presidency?
posted by yoink at 2:33 PM on May 8


ONE person is widespread enough, and at this point, sorry but the US Government doesn't enjoy the benefit of the doubt, do they?
posted by mikelieman at 4:31 PM on May 8


ONE person is widespread enough

We don't have that "ONE" example in this thread yet. Can you provide it?

And even if you can, by the way, "ONE" case, however deplorable, is not enough to support claims that this is something done habitually and regularly.
posted by yoink at 5:04 PM on May 8


Habitually and regularly? Well, I guess the best I can come up with would be pretrial detention with solitary confinement. But that's not international, though, it's a domestic issue and although many would say it's habitual and regular and definitely torture, it's not really on-topic, so I guess your point about not sending people to other countries to torture them might have merit.
posted by mikelieman at 5:28 PM on May 8


mikelieman, I'm taking issue with a very specific claim advanced in this thread--that there is some sufficiently large group of people that justifies the reference to "all the people he [Obama] sent to other countries to be tortured?" If you want to talk about solitary confinement in US prisons, that's simply changing to a completely different topic. Personally I agree that solitary confinement is a barbaric practice that is grossly overused in the US penal system. It is not the topic under discussion, however.
posted by yoink at 5:43 PM on May 8


Former NSA Chief Defends Stockpiling Software Flaws for Spying
posted by homunculus at 6:06 PM on May 8


And even if you can, by the way, "ONE" case, however deplorable, is not enough to support claims that this is something done habitually and regularly.

More special pleading. Are you really not aware of any ONE who fits here, or are you just playing games? I mean, you're already pre-moving the goalposts by saying that the ONE you are badgering for won't be enough anyway, after asking for JUST ONE.

you will see that not a single one of them [on propublica] instances cases of the US "sending people to other countries to be tortured."

So you're saying that "the US 'sending people to other countries to be tortured.'" didn't happen?
posted by rhizome at 9:55 PM on May 8


while another who calls him on a statement that the US is still turning over prisoners with the intent of torture -- a Bush-era practice -- without any actual evidence of intent being presented by Evenstar, only to get called "obtuse"...

There is plenty of evidence. You just choose not to see it. The Obama administration has, in the past, stated that it would continue the rendition program started by the Bush administration. Like Bush, the Obama administration maintains complete secrecy on the rendition program citing the state secrets privilege. So the central reason that I can't provide you with any smoking gun evidence (one way or another) is specifically because the President you claim isn't engaging in rendition and torture is blocking any legal avenue of data collection or evidentiary finding by a court of law.

I will admit that there is no smoking gun proving that the Obama administration is renditioning and torturing people. There are several lines of evidence, though, that suggest it is doing exactly that. First, we have first hand accounts of people who have been tortured in several different countries where they claim Americans were either directing or present for the interrogation process. Second, we have reporting on the continued existence of Black sites. Third, we have the loopholes in the President's executive orders which supposedly stopped all torture and closed all the black sites. Fourth, we have the fact that the Obama administration itself has uncategorically stated that they would continue the practice of rendition. When rendition is impossible, we simply assassinate suspects with drones. Why one would think a president who engages in assassination without due process would be above torture is beyond me.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:13 AM on May 9


"You were presented with firsthand testimony."

Well, the case I cited was "firsthand testimony" of a victim of torture over in UAE, who fled the Feds, went there, and was tortured in prison, and whose lawyer -- who is presumably trying to win a settlement -- believes was tortured by the request of the U.S.

Surprisingly, lawyers tend to publicly believe and represent the interests of their clients. That, however, does not make them an institution of truth-sayers.

I was presented a laundry list that, on review, didn't say what was implied... that *this* president has a policy of intentional torture, albeit through overseas proxies. Which firsthand testimony am I supposed to believe that actually does a good job showing the US government authorizes this treatment?
posted by markkraft at 12:28 AM on May 9


So, just to understand this, while accepting that we torture prisoners domestically, exception is being taken to the idea that we ship people off to torture them using proxies.

I guess I agree. Why waste all that money and 'intel-cred' doing something we do regularly right here?

And even one is too many.
posted by mikelieman at 3:13 AM on May 9


Maher Arar.

There's your JUST ONE. Now can you stop with the BS please?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:28 AM on May 9


Oh wait, he was under GWB's orders.

SO basically you are requiring that we provide evidence that is classified by law and thus cannot access, and if we don't provide that evidence, you're right?

You have got to be fucking joking.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:31 AM on May 9


First, we have first hand accounts of people who have been tortured in several different countries where they claim Americans were either directing or present for the interrogation process.

Yes, "they claim"--do we have any cases where those claims have been substantiated?

Second, we have reporting on the continued existence of Black sites.

Once again you appear to have failed to read your links, AE--that, too, is not reporting on the US handing over people to third party nations to be tortured.

Third, we have the loopholes in the President's executive orders which supposedly stopped all torture and closed all the black sites. Fourth, we have the fact that the Obama administration itself has uncategorically stated that they would continue the practice of rendition.

And, again, the link does not provide evidence of what you earlier alleged. The link is to a 2009 ACLU statement expressing fear that the Administration's expressed policy of ensuring that any prisoners they hand over to third parties will NOT be mistreated does not have strong enough guarantees. O.K. that was in 2009. Now, five years later, you are incapable of providing documentation of a single case where those guarantees proved inadequate (which is pretty remarkable, actually). That's not a statement of the administration's willingness to turn people over to be tortured and it's pretty impressive negative evidence that they have not made any regular habit of doing so.
posted by yoink at 7:46 AM on May 9


SO basically you are requiring that we provide evidence that is classified by law and thus cannot access, and if we don't provide that evidence, you're right?

So you are admitting that you have no evidence for what you allege, right? So...why do you continue to allege it?

(By the way, the "it's classified!" thing is really unconvincing--everything we know about torture under Bush was classified too--and yet we can cite specific names, dates, places for the torture committed under Bush. Did Bush just forget to use the Soooper Sekrit classification that Obama has been using?)
posted by yoink at 7:49 AM on May 9


"The government is using unicorns to mine the moon for cream cheese!"

"Really? That seems an extraordinary claim. What's your evidence?"

"It's a classified program!"

"Well, o.k., that will obviously make it harder to get detailed evidence on its operation, but what makes you believe it is happening at all?"

"SO basically you are requiring that we provide evidence that is classified by law and thus cannot access, and if we don't provide that evidence, you're right?

You have got to be fucking joking.
"
posted by yoink at 7:59 AM on May 9


So you are admitting that you have no evidence for what you allege, right? So...why do you continue to allege it?


Because unlike certain people in this thread I am not in favour of arrest without due process followed by torture and probably death.

There are mountains of evidence from the GWB years. There has been nothing to indicate that anything has changed.

But, you know, go ahead and continue with your torture apologias, yoink and markkraft. "haha you cant prove classified information so I'm right and you're wrong, neener neener" isn't an argument I wish to get into.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:10 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]


Not to mention that we know that evidence that would be relevant to an investigation has been destroyed.
posted by rhizome at 10:03 AM on May 9


Charlie Stross: The Snowden leaks; a meta-narrative
posted by homunculus at 10:18 AM on May 9


"So, just to understand this, while accepting that we torture prisoners domestically, exception is being taken to the idea that we ship people off to torture them using proxies.

No.

There is a difference between "accepting that we torture" domestically vs. "accepting that we tortured" domestically, by government policy.

I accept that it was the policy of the Bush Administration to engage in detention and interrogation policies that were clearly torture, no matter how twisted the legal justifications were for such policies. But I simply haven't seen the evidence that the Obama administration tortures as policy, either domestically or overseas... even though several of our allies do, in fact, torture prisoners -- both accused terrorists and others -- on a disturbingly routine basis.

"Oh wait, he was under GWB's orders...."

Exactly.

"SO basically you are requiring that we provide evidence that is classified by law and thus cannot access, and if we don't provide that evidence, you're right?"

No. I *DO* expect you to say "we don't know whether the Obama administration authorizes torture" when we don't know whether the Obama administration authorizes torture, however.

I'm not even saying that they don't authorize torture... rather, that even with the hundreds of thousands of leaked documents and all the various informants that have come out of the woodwork, I have yet to see a single clear-cut case of the Obama Administration either authorizing US citizens to torture, or turning someone over to a third party with the clear intent of having them tortured, as state policy.

This isn't to say that torture doesn't happen. It does, all too frequently. It happens in our prisons every day, no doubt. Deals are made all the time where agents of the state effectively say "you had better make a deal with us, or we'll send you back to (insert prison, country, etc.) and let you try making a deal with them instead." Every system has abuses of power at the ground level. But the Bush Administration had very specific policies that codified the systematic use of torture, ordering its use. And prior to this, there is evidence that the CIA had such powers, under some circumstances, for decades.

It doesn't do justice to the seriousness of this to say, flat out, that things *ARE* the same as before, or that policies haven't changed, at least without some really serious, substantial evidence to back it up. They may be. They may not be. I would certainly like to know myself, but I don't see evidence that is so compelling as to justify this level of ideologically-driven anger.
posted by markkraft at 2:40 PM on May 9


Sure, you're drawing a legalistic hardline between Bush and Obama, I can respect that. Sometimes I'm that guy. However, meanwhile, Obama is not prosecuting (stab you in the face if you quibble an 'actually the DoJ,' there) the Bush torturers and torture-policymakers and it still sucks to travel as someone from the US, so on the far side of your position, Obama is complicit. The US is more than any one President, and Obama has been half-stepping in the torture department.
posted by rhizome at 4:12 PM on May 9 [3 favorites]


I simply haven't seen the evidence that the Obama administration tortures as policy,

Haven't been in prison recently, huh?
posted by mikelieman at 12:50 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]


I'm not even saying that they don't authorize torture... rather, that even with the hundreds of thousands of leaked documents and all the various informants that have come out of the woodwork, I have yet to see a single clear-cut case of the Obama Administration either authorizing US citizens to torture, or turning someone over to a third party with the clear intent of having them tortured, as state policy.

Because maybe, just maybe, Obama is slightly more intelligent than GWB and knows better than to put such things in writing.

And prior to this, there is evidence that the CIA had such powers, under some circumstances, for decades.

So.. where's the evidence that's actually stopped? Come on, cough up, you're demanding evidence from everyone but yourself.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:10 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]


So.. where's the evidence that's actually stopped? Come on, cough up, you're demanding evidence from everyone but yourself.

Obama die hards are like biblical literalists. "The bible[Obama] said it, I believe it." It really is fairly telling that these people think that one president can undo 60+ years of institutional momentum with some executive orders with loopholes you could drive a mac truck through. But when we call Obama on something he hasn't done well on, like Guantanamo, the public option, or the NSA spying, the response is always something along the lines of "well he's only the president, not a dictator." It's all very contradictory and confusing.

That's not a statement of the administration's willingness to turn people over to be tortured and it's pretty impressive negative evidence that they have not made any regular habit of doing so.

Because they don't need to get diplomatic guarantees if they just circumvent the whole process by tipping off governments that suspects they are interested in are in their country. This isn't really that difficult but again you guys are being so obtuse as to pretend that backdoor deals don't exist, and that we can just take the Obama administration at their word without any meaningful oversight or accountability. The interagency task force report on rendition and torture that was issued in 2009 is still being withheld from the public. So the bottom line is that some people will just take the governments word for it and others want to have some type of proof that this practice is no longer happening. Again the reason there is no smoking gun evidence which is specifically because the Obama administration continually cites the state secrets privilege any time someone tries to challenge these practices in court.

To top it all off the Obama administration has run cover for the torturers of the Bush administration since day one in office. You want us to believe that a President who orders assassinations of suspects without trial is above rendition and torture, just because he says so. Well sorry, but that is the height of gullibility. Use the human reason you have been endowed with and escape the fiction created for you by the mass media.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:36 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


Also, I missed it but now I see that somehow absence of evidence is now evidence of absence. Well I guess you guys haven't heard of that one time the U.S. government dropped bombs on Cambodia over an 8 year period while keeping it secret from not only the American people, but also Congress. This wan't some type of limited bombing either. Over the course of the 8 years more tonnage was dropped on Cambodia than in the whole of WWII.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:59 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]


Sorry the Pentagon Papers were released in 1971, so that would be 6 years of secrecy not 8.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:08 AM on May 10


http://doonesbury.washingtonpost.com/strip/archive/1973/11/10
posted by mikelieman at 2:30 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


In other surveillance news: Anti-surveillance mask lets you pass as someone else
posted by homunculus at 6:17 PM on May 10


‘We Kill People Based on Metadata’
posted by homunculus at 6:41 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]


And metadata = technology-driven stereotypes.
posted by rhizome at 12:06 AM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Frontline: United States of Secrets: How did the government come to spy on millions of Americans?
posted by homunculus at 5:54 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]


Snowden Forced Silicon Valley to Value Privacy and Transparency
posted by homunculus at 6:41 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


The lie about Edward Snowden that just won't die
posted by homunculus at 12:29 PM on May 16 [3 favorites]


Why Is Edward Snowden Staring Into Our Souls?
posted by homunculus at 5:22 PM on May 22 [1 favorite]


White House leaks name of Kabul CIA chief, yet no one goes to prison
posted by homunculus at 1:42 PM on May 27


Meet the Man Hired to Make Sure the Snowden Docs Aren't Hacked
posted by homunculus at 1:43 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


Glenn Greenwald To Publish List Of US Citizens Spied On By The NSA
posted by homunculus at 1:51 PM on May 27 [2 favorites]


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