Program X
July 27, 2007 12:30 PM   Subscribe

This post was deleted for the following reason: this is UpdateFilter crossed with conjecture from TPM. Seriously, is it possible to write about Gonzales WITHOUT linking to TPM? If not, why not go to TPM to talk about this? -- jessamyn



 
In other surveillance news: Judge Allows State Anti-Spying Lawsuits Against Telecoms to Continue
posted by homunculus at 12:31 PM on July 27, 2007


Here we go again?
posted by dersins at 12:37 PM on July 27, 2007


This post's primary point is not about Gonzalez's testimony, but about the potential breadth of domestic surveillance -- above and beyond that which is known as the TSP (Terror Surveillance Program).
posted by ericb at 12:38 PM on July 27, 2007


Like say, tapping political opponents phone lines? nah...
posted by R. Mutt at 12:39 PM on July 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Shumer: we need an AG who can tell the truth.

deleted post on this, by me.
posted by delmoi at 12:42 PM on July 27, 2007


In related news -- 'ABC News' is reporting...

FBI Proposes Building Network of U.S. Informants
"The FBI is taking cues from the CIA to recruit thousands of covert informants in the United States as part of a sprawling effort to boost its intelligence capabilities.

According to a recent unclassified report to Congress, the FBI expects its informants to provide secrets about possible terrorists and foreign spies, although some may also be expected to aid with criminal investigations, in the tradition of law enforcement confidential informants. The FBI did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

The FBI said the push was driven by a 2004 directive from President Bush ordering the bureau to improve its counterterrorism efforts by boosting its human intelligence capabilities.

The aggressive push for more secret informants appears to be part of a new effort to grow its intelligence and counterterrorism efforts. Other recent proposals include expanding its collection and analysis of data on U.S. persons, retaining years' worth of Americans' phone records and even increasing so-called ‘black bag’ secret entry operations.

To handle the increase in so-called human sources, the FBI also plans to overhaul its database system, so it can manage records and verify the accuracy of information from ‘more than 15,000’ informants, according to the document. While many of the recruited informants will apparently be U.S. residents, some informants may be overseas, recruited by FBI agents in foreign offices, the report indicates.

…The bureau has arranged to use elements of CIA training to teach FBI agents about ‘Source Targeting and Development,’ the report states. The courses will train FBI special agents on the ‘comprehensive tradecraft’ needed to identify, recruit and manage these ‘confidential human sources.’ According to January testimony by FBI Deputy Director John S. Pistole, the CIA has been working with the bureau on the course."
posted by ericb at 12:50 PM on July 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Hi. Could someone explain to me what's new about this? It's UpdateFilter crossed with conjecture from TPM.

I LOLGONZALES as much as anyone, but I don't see what's compelling about this.
posted by dw at 12:52 PM on July 27, 2007


Oh, and these federal informants wouldn't dare spy on peace activists, environmental or religious groups.

I recommend PBS Frontline's documentary Spying on the Homefront
"'So many people in America think this does not affect them. They've been convinced that these programs are only targeted at suspected terrorists. … I think that's wrong. … Our programs are not perfect, and it is inevitable that totally innocent Americans are going to be affected by these programs,' former CIA Assistant General Counsel Suzanne Spaulding tells FRONTLINE correspondent Hedrick Smith in 'Spying on the Home Front.'

...Even government officials with experience since 9/11 are nagged by anxiety about the jeopardy that a war without end against unseen terrorists poses to our way of life, our personal freedoms.

...Although the president told the nation that his NSA eavesdropping program was limited to known Al Qaeda agents or supporters abroad making calls into the U.S., comments of other administration officials and intelligence veterans indicate that the NSA cast its net far more widely. AT&T technician Mark Klein inadvertently discovered that the whole flow of Internet traffic in several AT&T operations centers was being regularly diverted to the NSA, a charge indirectly substantiated by John Yoo, the Justice Department lawyer who wrote the official legal memos legitimizing the president's warrantless wiretapping program.

...Spying on the Home Front also looks at a massive FBI data sweep in December 2003. On a tip that Al Qaeda 'might have an interest in Las Vegas' around New Year's 2004, the FBI demanded records from all hotels, airlines, rental car agencies, casinos and other businesses on every person who visited Las Vegas in the run-up to the holiday.

...In the broad reach of NSA eavesdropping, the massive FBI data sweep in Las Vegas, access to records gathered by private database companies that allows government agencies to avoid the limitations provided by the Privacy Act, and nearly 200 other government data-mining programs identified by the Government Accounting Office, experienced national security officials and government attorneys see a troubling and potentially dangerous collision between the strategy of pre-emption and the Fourth Amendment's protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

Peter Swire, a law professor and former White House privacy adviser to President Clinton, tells FRONTLINE that since 9/11 the government has been moving away from the traditional legal standard of investigations based on individual suspicion to generalized suspicion. The new standard, Swire says, is: 'Check everybody. Everybody is a suspect.'"
Watch the full program online here.
posted by ericb at 1:00 PM on July 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


THIS PSOT WILL CORTEXAMYN IN 3..2..1..
posted by quonsar at 1:01 PM on July 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hi. Could someone explain to me what's new about this?

I'd say the fact that we are learning about other, broader domestic spying programs exist and which had not been previously disclosed to the appropriate congressional committee(s) -- and only learned about during Gonzalez testimony (in what some call a "slip") this week -- and it has been revealed that the FBI intends to recruit 15,000 informants in the U.S. for deomestic surveillance is pretty big news ... and not just a rehash of old news. YMMV.
posted by ericb at 1:08 PM on July 27, 2007


*domestic*
posted by ericb at 1:10 PM on July 27, 2007


Hahahaha.

I laugh because it displaces the crying.
posted by srboisvert at 1:11 PM on July 27, 2007


Man, forget that! Did you know Mathowie is playing Spock in the new Star Trek movie!?!
posted by blue_beetle at 1:11 PM on July 27, 2007


and it has been revealed that the FBI intends to recruit 15,000 informants in the U.S. for deomestic surveillance is pretty big news ... and not just a rehash of old news. YMMV.

Nonsense. Anything that isn't a drunk celebrity is old news.
posted by Avenger at 1:12 PM on July 27, 2007




This post's primary point is not about Gonzalez's testimony, but about the potential breadth of domestic surveillance -- above and beyond that which is known as the TSP (Terror Surveillance Program).

Exactly.
posted by homunculus at 1:14 PM on July 27, 2007


I wonder which MeFite(s) will be recruited as an FBI informant to report on the subversive activity and discussion that goes on here? Maybe one (or more) are already among us. ; )
posted by ericb at 1:15 PM on July 27, 2007


Also, the person in the US government most responsible for law and order demonstrated a contempt for the law by perjuring himself (Gonzales' sworn testimony was contradicted by the head of the FBI) and by flat-out refusing to answer questions without an explanation or taking the Fifth. I'm not sure why I have to follow the laws when the "nation's top cop" doesn't.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:15 PM on July 27, 2007


please type closer to the microphone
posted by docpops at 1:19 PM on July 27, 2007


Outsourcing Intelligence
posted by homunculus at 1:20 PM on July 27, 2007


Also -- when it was announced (as per the first post above) on Wednesday that various States could continue their lawsuits against AT&T and other telecoms for their participation in the federal warantless domestic spying program, it was also announced that "[t]he Ninth Circuit will also hear arguments...in an appeal of a case where two American attorneys say they received proof they were targeted by the secret spy program (including during the time that the Justice Department thought the program was illegal). They say the document proves their case without needing to see any more classified information and that the courts now only need to decide if the program is legal. An ACLU challenge to the program was thrown out by the Sixth Circuit appeals court in July on the basis that the journalists and lawyers bringing the case could not prove the secret program targeted them specifically."*
posted by ericb at 1:26 PM on July 27, 2007


"I'm not sure why I have to follow the laws when the "nation's top cop" doesn't."

W isn't standing in the wings with a pardon ready for kirkaracha.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:31 PM on July 27, 2007


The White House offered a vigorous defense of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales today, insisting that he had not given misleading testimony to Congress, but that national security factors prevented further clarification for now.”


Wow.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:10 PM on July 27, 2007


kirkaracha writes "I'm not sure why I have to follow the laws when the 'nation's top cop' doesn't."

On his first day in office, Bush issued a secret Executive Order which states that you can do whatever you want as long as you don't get caught.
posted by mullingitover at 2:12 PM on July 27, 2007


HOW IS THAT VIGOROUS????

JESUS

Ok, I'm better now.
posted by selfnoise at 2:14 PM on July 27, 2007


Like say, tapping political opponents phone lines? nah...
posted by R. Mutt at 3:39 PM on July 27 [+] [!]


That's exactly why we have rules that disallow warrantless searches. You know Rove has used the intelligence agencies for political gain. He's as bad as Tricky Dick, just less paranoid.
posted by caddis at 2:22 PM on July 27, 2007


“Our Beltway political class just has chosen not to demand to know what
was done, notwithstanding its blatant illegality.”

Says it all really.
No reason not to countersurveil them.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:22 PM on July 27, 2007


“I understand it’s difficult to parse, because what you have involved here are matters of classification,” Mr. Snow said. “Sometimes it’s going to lead people to talk very carefully, and there’s going to be plenty of room for interpretation or conclusion.”

I know you think you know what I may or may not have said, but what I actually meant was something I will not confirm or deny.

What a prick. I don't know what's worse - that people actually believe him, or that he thinks that what he's saying isn't patently absurd horseshit. I also the believe that Republicans are supposed to decry the argument "it depends on what the meaning of "is" is."
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:22 PM on July 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Another dangerous point to this: having widespread warrantless searches will, at best, lead to a false sense of security. The 9/11 hijackers didn't discuss their plans via the internet or phone. There is no reason to think that future attacks would be any less wise. This type of program, had it been in place prior, would not have made any difference whatsoever.

It's wise to note that one attack nearly six years ago has caused our government to fall all over itself to help the terrorists to achieve their goals. 'Al-quaeda' is tiny, it's not unified, and the tiny, scattered cells' chances of pulling off any kind of serious attack are extremely slim. The US has helped them by making the population believe that widespread, deadly attacks are just around the corner, we should all be scared, and our very freedom is at risk.

The terrorists didn't take our freedom, and they can't. Fear-mongering politicans have done that for them, and they are the real threat to peace and security in the world.
posted by mullingitover at 2:42 PM on July 27, 2007 [5 favorites]


So this is all very interesting and all, but the real question is WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE STILL WALKING AROUND FREE? WTF CONGRESS?!?
posted by fungible at 2:47 PM on July 27, 2007


One of the things that occurs to me is that most of the particulars involved benefit from investment in existing monopolies or sole source providers. Haliburton f’rinstance. Corporate espionage is a big problem today. As long as the focus is on (less powerful) individuals or rival (re: non-campaign contributing) or foreign corporations no one is going to lose money on this. In fact, given latitude in certain areas, it could greatly benefit security. It doesn’t seem like anyone in the administration is pushing anyone with any real muscle to oppose them (e.g. mostly us ham and eggers). Which could be one of the reasons there hasn’t been any serious negative repercussions.
As much as it might piss me off, I’m not guilty of anything, I’m not a mole, so I’m not going to lose anything if the feds spy all over me, except my right to privacy with only the potential to lose others if the espionage is abused.
Materially minded individuals, and those entities concerned only with the bottom line of a spreadsheet, might not see that as a consideration.
Which is why the egregious nature of these acts might go overlooked - the relief (and the assurance) is not found in the law, but in the treasury.
I have been characterizing Bushco as politically radical in many respects, and I’d stand by that. But contrary to what is typically percieved as “radical” their actions have not damaged through radical change: capital.
Which is why I suspect they remain out of jail. Pissing on the commoners tends only to go awry when they’re hungry. Otherwise you can try to (and sometimes succeed) in telling them it’s raining.
Just musing, but I think it’s important to the characterization of this thing.
People aren’t pissed not because they don’t see that they’re losing anything, but that they’re not losing anything that they can see. If that makes sense.
Seems like a sort of soft fascism, where they don’t actually take anything away from you, don’t actually embarrass you with what they’ve gleaned from your private conversations, don’t actually force you into doing anything, but rather, reserve the right to.
Much like the inquisition. They’d show you the tools by which you were tortured first. It was all very methodical and, if you’ll pardon, compassionate in trying to keep the subject from making the decision to force the inquisitors to torture him to save his soul. And of course the dogma, the litergy was in Latin so you couldn’t argue logically against their interpretation.
I don’t know how to better express the vibe here.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:50 PM on July 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is what I wrote in the deleted post. This is the game of chicken that the Bush Administration is playing, as I see it:


The Executive Branch, if they weren't fucking reptiles at heart, would be embarassed by this. But they aren't, because they know if Gonzo can sit there and shit on Congress without Congress hitting back, they (the administration) win. This is political dick waving of the highest order.

Bush and his cronies, who claim to be America-lovin' patriots one and all, are dismantling the Constitution in front of everyone's eyes - and no one has the balls to call them on it. They can invoke "executive privilege" for anything they don't want to talk about - but that doesn't make it proper or correct.

Congress is tasked with oversight. The Executive is tasked with upholding the law, not creating it. The Gonzales brouhaha is critically important because it appears that the Executive branch has been attempting to stack the Judicial branch in their favor so, if Congress attempts to use its oversight powers, any legal disagreements would likely be found in favor of the Executive. It's an inside move to consolidate power in a single branch. I'd call that about as unAmerican as it gets.

It's especially troubling because it involves a President and Attorney General who argue that a blanket right to privacy doesn't exist (because it's not in the Constitution), and that there are no blanket habeas corpus rights (because it's not in the Constitution), but that a blanket right to executive privilege does exist - even though it's NOT IN THE FUCKING CONSTITUTION.

If Congress and the public don't fight back against these guys, they are going to win. They cannot be ignored away; they only thrive on that.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:57 PM on July 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Anyone who has read the documents on Wired.com from the AT&T whistleblower has known all along that the surveillance program was more than just eavesdropping on individual international phone calls in which one party was previously believed to be a terrorist. It involved, at least, massive server farms cranking away on the lexical analysis problem of identifying suspicious individuals by siftin through the contents of every packet of information traveling through North America's major Internet backbones.

What I really have to wonder is this: So over a period of 8 years, this administration laid the groundwork for this appallingly extensive and illegal system of domestic surveillance. Now, say a Democrat wins the next presidential election. What do you think will happen then?
- Will the President come forward and say "this is what you all were subjected to, but now I am ordering it dismantled?"
- Dismantle it quietly?
- Leave it in place?
- Never find out the full details of the program from defensive NSA/CIA/whatever spooks?
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 3:50 PM on July 27, 2007


Now, say a Democrat wins the next presidential election. What do you think will happen then?

That's the $64,000 question, isn't it? That's why the regal attitude of this executive branch needs to be dealt with. 3 coequal branches are the way the Founding Fathers devised to avoid partisan unbalancing of functioning government. It doesn't matter who is in control of a particular branch as long as they are not allowed to assume powers that rightfully belong to another branch.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:58 PM on July 27, 2007


Cyber Jihadists Embrace Tor
posted by homunculus at 4:13 PM on July 27, 2007




Current GOP talking point (from the currently on air News Hour): the original NSA program of warrantless surveillance was the program about which the dramatic scene occurred in the hospital, and given that the Justice Dept. refused to reauthorize that program they then came up with a "new" program regarding essentially similar activities and that was the program about which Fredo testified that there was no controversy.
posted by caddis at 4:22 PM on July 27, 2007


Cyber Jihadists Embrace Tor

Relevant... how?

Can someone explain to me how this is at all different from delmoi's deleted post, which was already a day late (though he apparently didn't realize that) -- except that it's... wait for it... even a day later? Snarky though that may be, I've been following the story pretty closely and I'd like to know if there's any information I'm missing.

Of course, since I actually read Glenn Greenwald and TPM -- unsurprising, since they're two of the most heavily-trafficked poliblogs on the internet -- both of the posts' links were marked as 'visited' before I even got here, but hey, I've been known to miss things from time to time.
posted by spiderwire at 4:22 PM on July 27, 2007


The FBI is taking cues from the CIA to recruit thousands of covert informants in the United States as part of a sprawling effort to boost its intelligence capabilities.

Isn't this more or less exactly the manner in which some of the worst regimes — Chairman Mao and Herr Hitler included — really got the upper hand on their citizens and representatives?

Why, oh why, is it taking so much to make the American people get up off their asses and do something about this criminal government?
posted by five fresh fish at 6:13 PM on July 27, 2007


Why, oh why, is it taking so much to make the American people get up off their asses and do something about this criminal government?

Because LOLLOHAN and the fact that people have got it into their heads that it's even vaguely morally okay to not care about politics.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:28 PM on July 27, 2007


... iam pridem, ex quo suffragia nulli
uendimus, effudit curas; nam qui dabat olim
imperium, fasces, legiones, omnia, nunc se
continet atque duas tantum res anxius optat,
panem et circenses.

--- [Juvenal, Satire 10.77-81]
posted by ericb at 7:09 PM on July 27, 2007


Maybe I'm thinking of the Stasi.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:27 PM on July 27, 2007


I never thought ashcroft's successor would make him look sane, competent and honest by comparison.

Just goes to show you that there is no limit to how insane, incompetent and dishonest people can get.
posted by cuban link flooded jesus at 7:41 PM on July 27, 2007


Maybe I'm thinking of the Stasi.

No, remember these are former Nixonite Neo-cons. I think you are more thinking along the lines of the SAVAK.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:51 PM on July 27, 2007


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