Streetwise Professor

June 12, 2013

Attention Idiots!

Filed under: History,Military — The Professor @ 4:05 pm

It’s always unpleasant watching a dog chase an SUV, especially an armored presidential one, even if you’re not that fond of the dog.

Further my post of yesterday.  Today’s main revelation about Snowden is that he revealed confidential information about NSA hacking of China to a Chinese paper.  But I’m sure Glenn Beck and Fox News are totally cool with that. Because they are in solidarity with the PRC.

Um, how long do you think it would take me to find a Fox News story or Beck bit freaking out about Chinese hacking of the US?

The mere fact that Snowden decamped to Hong Kong-i.e., China-should raise alarm bells.  And spare me the BS about Hong Kong being a bellwether of free speech and civil liberties.  We aren’t partying like it’s 1999 anymore.  Hello.

Look.  Snowden and Greenwald obviously have an agenda.  Greenwald has been totally upfront about that agenda.  The agenda is that the US should not be collecting intelligence on anyone, anywhere, anytime.  Snowden has said as much.

Is that really the conservative position now? If not, why are many conservative outlets implicitly endorsing it, by continuing to flog the Snowden/Greenwald line? Are we now all Henry Stimsons, circa 1941 updated to the Internet age: “Gentlemen do not read other gentlemen’s emails”? If so, say so.

And if you’re a libertarian, a man with unimpeachable libertarian credentials and encyclopedic knowledge of the law and the Constitution says, categorically, that the collection of metadata is legal and Constitutional.  And bonus points: he’s joined in this opinion by a legal scholar at Cato.

Attention idiots: this will not harm Obama in the least, and you are being played by people with a deeply-held anti-American agenda.  You are playing into Greenwald’s hands, and are enabling the activities of people who are willing to betray highly confidential information to China.

Can you be more stupid?  Don’t answer that.  I think I know the answer.

Update. I’ve focused on Glenn Greenwald, but Laura Poitras deserves attention too.  She’s had an anti-NSA agenda for some time, as evidenced by this “Surveillance teach-in” that she put on last year.  Note the usual suspects involved-specifically, William Binney and Jacob Appelbaum.  I’m curious as to whether Appelbaum facilitated communications (e.g., help with encryption or the use of Tor) between Snowden, Greenwald, and Poitras.  She’s obviously had an agenda for quite a while. Then there’s this little tidbit about Poitras’s dalliance-and perhaps far worse-with insurgents in Iraq who ambushed an American patrol.  Lovely.   The WaPo gave her a byline, why, exactly, since it seems to be directly contrary to its policy not to give one in a news story to a political activist?

There is a little cabal here.  I further note that Poitras and Greenwald were in communication with Snowden before he removed classified items from NSA computers.  If they asked him to provide proof for his stories, I’m thinking accessories before the fact.

And oh look, Sean Hannity is giving a platform and a wet kiss to William Binney, who is also adored by OWS.  Bizarro World doesn’t come close to describing all of this.

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  1. China or no China take it up with your Congressnan Ted Poe – today he eviscerated your argument that this was all legal, that the Patriot Act and FISA courts can or even Constutuonally could be construed to allow the gathering of a billion phone calls worth of ‘metadata’ daily. Your list of everyone allegedly getting duped by those dastardly clever ChiComs into worrying about the NSA grows longer by the minute.

    As for your gal Twitter pal, screw Gen Alexander he perjured himself before Congress and is an Oathbreaker. And as Ive warned you both if thise whi continue to break their oaths continue to prepare to wage war against Americans the first order they give to confiscate guns or round up dissidents could be their last order before being thrown into a cell as traitors to the Constitution by those they thought would obey like Nazis. These smug DC bastards better get it through their heads that the patriots they call ‘insurrectionists’ might have air support when the time comes.

    You’re only digging a deeper hole for yourself when 10 Snowdens come forward who don’t flee to Hong Kong China with proof that NSA is being used by the Obama Admin against political enemies. I already gave you the links that they spied on Benghazi investigator Doug Hagmann and that they spied on returning veterans who are clients of Rutherford Institute attorney John Whitehead.

    And I’m talking about weeks, not months or years, that these damning details of Obama turning the NSA into his personal Stasi will come out. And you and your pals won’t be able to blame it all on Gleen Beck.

    Comment by Ivan Denisovich — June 12, 2013 @ 4:23 pm

  2. And again, constantly referring to one crappy article hidden behind a paywall cherry picked from the entire Cato Institute which I’m sure isn’t on board with this ain’t a ringing rebuttal. You are going to have to defend this program itself because regardless of whether Snowden made a big mistake in fleeing to Hong Kong, William Binney is still out there and there are dozens more leakers waiting in the wings. Eventually I could see RINOs denouncing anyone, including colleagues in Congress, who slam the NSA as Russsian or Chinese agents. Is that where all this is going?

    Your language is so shrill and desperate particular on Twitter it makes me wonder if you or this lady are Feds and the professor thing is just a clever cover.

    Comment by Ivan Denisovich — June 12, 2013 @ 4:40 pm

  3. I have long liked both Richard Epstein and Glen Greenwald, which puts me in a bind. My default position is that Greenwald is correct, but I’m willing to concede some of Epstein’s points (though whether something is legal and constitutional is not sufficient to whether something is a good idea). I don’t see an issue with collecting metadata on foreign calls into the U.S., provided that the content of the call can only be obtained by a court order. The argument that the critics can’t point to one case of abuse is very weak. Everything about the program is secret, which makes it significantly more difficult to figure out if an abuse takes place. The additional argument that the names attached to phone numbers is only available from a court order seems specious. There are a large number of reverse look up services on line.

    Comment by John — June 12, 2013 @ 4:46 pm

  4. And saying this hadn’t hurt Obama on the left, among his base? LOL even Progressive talk radio where I live has been raking him over the coals for this. Piers Morgan, if anyone still watches him, is slamming Obama and neocon vampire Woolsey.

    If the GOP doesn’t pick up a huge number of seats in 2014 either it’s because they f Ed up as usual or Obama has now hopelessly rigged the voting machines, because thus guy is already politically joining the undead. Bill and Hillary might even deliver the coup de grace before the proof that Benghazi was about smuggling missiles to Al Qaeda comes out with the FLIR footage of CIA loading the ships for Turkey.

    The Establishment in this country both Obamanoid and RINO (ie you) are bleeding out politically. You have no credibility left and thus can only shout, ‘Look! Over there! ChiComs!’

    Comment by Ivan Denisovich — June 12, 2013 @ 4:47 pm

  5. @John. If you are torn between Epstein (a true genius, serious legal scholar, and a man with high integrity) and Glenn Greenwald (none of the above)-well, I can’t help you.

    @Ivan-dream on.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — June 12, 2013 @ 4:51 pm

  6. John, the prob is a ) the Verizon order was strictly domestic calls b ) even the strictly overseas mass trawling has damaged us tech cos cred (hence the Prof trying to separate bad cop Google from good cop NSA, as if the two aren’t one and the same and Gov ogle wasn’t founded by the CIA InQTel) c ) they defend what the NSA is supposed to do under 72 hour retroactive FISA warrants – track specific individuals with a warrant, not warrants so broad as to amount to unlimited monitoring every 90 days signed off on.

    The MSM gets around this by appealing to ignorance and vaguely worded push polls that don’t establish any circumstances when wiretapping should be legal save for the magic word ‘terrorism’. The Prof like the MSM resorts to straw men and insisting everyone has to accept Greenwalds agenda to believe his sources on anything. It’s akin to me asking why the Prof is willing to LGF who worships Obama because he punishes the Christianist bitter clingers

    Comment by Ivan Denisovich — June 12, 2013 @ 4:55 pm

  7. Yes @John. I always confuse scholar Richard Epstein with a man (Glenn Greenwald) who defended a Nazi, illegally wiretapped witnesses and was possibly disbarred for it. A dilemma indeed.

    Comment by Q — June 12, 2013 @ 4:56 pm

  8. Dream on re you being on fed payroll or more leakers? Or Texas DPS arresting the NSA when they leave the Lackland gate?

    Comment by Ivan Denisovich — June 12, 2013 @ 4:58 pm

  9. DU also said McChimpy Bushitler who gave us this program ate Iraqi babies. I don’t like Bush because he gave us Obama but your sources suck. And Epstein if I could ever finally get around the paywall can’t prove seizing data for a billion calls a day is Constitutional anymore than I can prove you aren’t a Reptilian.

    Comment by Ivan Denisovich — June 12, 2013 @ 5:00 pm

  10. You’re all going to look like idiots. I hope your Tea Party friends if you have any and haven’t been pegged as fed informants on them yet call you on it in a few weeks when NSA admits they shared data with Holder and the IRS on ‘teabaggers’.

    Comment by Ivan Denisovich — June 12, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

  11. @Ivan, you can’t get past the non paywall at Chicago Tribune? Complicated, eh? Here. It’s not very polite to do this in the comments section but I want to help you.

    NSA surveillance in perspective

    By Roger Pilon and Richard A. Epstein

    June 12, 2013

    President Barack Obama is under harsh attack for stating the obvious: No amount of government ingenuity will guarantee the American people 100 percent security, 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. He was answering a burst of more heated responses from left and right alike to the “news” that for years the National Security Agency has been collecting metadata about Americans’ phone calls and certain foreign Internet communications.

    Legally, the president is on secure footing under the Patriot Act, which Congress passed shortly after 9/11 and has since reauthorized by large bipartisan majorities. As he stressed, the program has enjoyed the continued support of all three branches of the federal government. It has been free of political abuse since its inception. And as he rightly added, this nation has real problems if its people, at least here, can’t trust the combined actions of the executive branch and the Congress, backstopped by federal judges sworn to protect our individual liberties secured by the Bill of Rights.

    In asking for our trust, Obama would be on stronger ground, of course, if the NSA controversy had not followed hard on the heels of the ongoing Benghazi, IRS and AP/Fox News scandals — to say nothing of Attorney General Eric Holder’s problems. But give Obama due credit: We can recall no other instance in which he announced publicly that the responsibilities of his office have changed his mind. And for the better — here’s why.

    In domestic and foreign affairs, the basic function of government is to protect our liberty, without unnecessarily violating that liberty in the process. The text of the Fourth Amendment grasps that essential trade-off by allowing searches, but not “unreasonable” ones. That instructive, albeit vague, accommodation has led courts to craft legal rules that, first, define what a search is and, second, indicate the circumstances under which one is justified. In the realm of foreign intelligence gathering, recognizing the need for secrecy and their own limitations, judges have shown an acute awareness of the strength of the public interest in national security. They have rightly deferred to Congress and the executive branch, allowing executive agencies to engage in the limited surveillance that lies at the opposite pole from ransacking a single person’s sensitive papers for political purposes.

    That deference is especially appropriate now that Congress, through the Patriot Act, has set a delicate balance that enables the executive branch to carry out its basic duty to protect us from another 9/11 while respecting our privacy as much as possible. Obviously, reasonable people can have reasonable differences over how that balance is struck. But on this question, political deliberation has done its job, because everyone on both sides of the aisle is seeking the right constitutional balance.

    In 1979, in Smith v. Maryland, the U.S. Supreme Court addressed that balance when it held that using a pen register to track telephone numbers did not count as an invasion of privacy, even in ordinary criminal cases. That’s just what the government is doing here on a grand scale. The metadata it examines in its effort to uncover suspicious patterns enables it to learn the numbers called, the locations of the parties, and the lengths of the calls. The government does not know — as some have charged — whether you’ve called your psychiatrist, lawyer or lover. The names linked to the phone numbers are not available to the government before a court grants a warrant on proof of probable cause, just as the Fourth Amendment requires. Indeed, once that warrant is granted to examine content, the content can be used only for national security issues, not even ordinary police work.

    As the president said, the process involves some necessary loss of privacy. But it’s trivial, certainly in comparison to the losses that would have arisen if the government had failed to discern the pattern that let it thwart the 2009 New York subway bombing plot by Colorado airport shuttle driver Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan-American, who was prosecuted and ultimately pleaded guilty.

    The critics miss the forest for the trees. Yes, government officials might conceivably misuse some of the trillions of bits of metadata they examine using sophisticated algorithms. But one abuse is no pattern of abuses. And even one abuse is not likely to happen given the safeguards in place. The cumulative weight of the evidence attests to the soundness of the program. The critics would be more credible if they could identify a pattern of government abuses. But after 12 years of continuous practice, they can’t cite even a single case. We should be thankful that here, at least, government has done its job and done it well.

    Roger Pilon is vice president for legal affairs at the Cato Institute and director of Cato’s Center for Constitutional Studies. Richard A. Epstein is a law professor at New York University Law School, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago.

    Comment by Q — June 12, 2013 @ 5:06 pm

  12. Bla bla bla bla ….the key part is ‘here on a grand scale’. And the claim that they can’t link the numbers to a person without a warrant is BULLSHIT. Especially since the nature if the Verizon warrant is ti collect all of thus data. Sorry, trust but verify. And I don’t trust them at all. You want to naively trust the NSA to never give your data to the IRS or the Obama minions because they don’t like your tweets. I don’t. And all it takes is one more whistleblower with the docs to prove this fig leaf you, Pilon and the Prof all cling to is horseshit.

    Comment by Ivan Denisovich — June 12, 2013 @ 5:15 pm

  13. So what I’d there are good military people at BSA? They’re compartmentalized. How would they know that this going on at the highest echelons? You think generals as perfumed princes throw away their clearances and careers every day? WTFU

    Comment by Ivan Denisovich — June 12, 2013 @ 5:17 pm

  14. Doug Hagmann, John Whitehead and William Binney would all disagree vigorously with Pilons laughable ‘not a single case of misused data’ claim. End of thread for me.

    Comment by Ivan Denisovich — June 12, 2013 @ 5:19 pm

  15. The argument that domestic spying on Americans is legal because the government gave itself the right to do so is intellectually dishonest. In our system of government, the powers of the government are supposed to be granted by the people. If it is considered treason for the people to even be informed of the powers of government, how can it be argued the people acted with informed consent in granting the government the right to engage in wholesale domestic spying?

    The legislative and executive branches have acted in secret, granting themselves the right to engage in domestic spying and the judicial branch is now being asked by the executive branch to find someone guilty of treason (punishable by death) because the people have learned of the powers the government has given itself. Not the specific activities, but merely the extent to which government has secretly given itself the right to encroach on one of our fundamental Constitutional rights. And Congress and government employees are to be exempted from intrusions into THEIR privacy. That’s bullshit.

    Tell the American people wholesale domestic spying will be conducted and allow the American people to decide if they want to allow those who plan to administer such a government to remain in office. If I am a probable enemy of the state and must be surveilled, them Barack Obama, Harry Reid and every other sonofabitch in government is a probably enemy of the state. There is no more probable cause for government to subject me to domestic spying than Barack Obama.

    Its unfuckingbelieveable that the government considers it treason to reveal to the American people that their government is no longer abiding by the Constitution. We absolutely have the right to resist a government that grants itself the right to trample on our basic freedoms, especially when the government is simultaneously working to deprive the people of their 2nd Amendment rights.

    I’m not saying the government should or shouldn’t be engaging in wholesale domestic spying. What I’m saying is the people must be informed it is going on and should then consent or not consent.

    Comment by Charles — June 12, 2013 @ 7:02 pm

  16. Impugning Greenwald’s character does not make him wrong; just as saying Epstein is a genius (I met him once at a colloquium at NYU and am fairly sure he is) doesn’t make him always right. I won’t deny that there’s a lot about the program I am ignorant of. Nevertheless, I know for sure that I don’t like secret courts and gag rules that prevent people from talking about this stuff. Greenwald agrees. I don’t like the idea of the government listening on calls domestically without a warrant. I think those are both fairly reasonable positions. I have little confidence that the government is only going to use that kind of information in terrorist cases. Even if they do use it to capture a terrorist, they do not have a good record of trying those cases in civilian courts. Another area that I agree with Greenwald.

    Comment by John — June 12, 2013 @ 9:28 pm

  17. They don’t listen to your phone calls without a warrant, John. Try to keep up. Those are lies spread by Greenwald and Poitras (even before they found their little Bradley Manning leaker). Reading the actual post might help.

    Comment by Q — June 12, 2013 @ 10:10 pm

  18. @Q- how can we be sure what is actually being collected and how it is being used if even allowing the American people to understand domestic spying is being conducted is considered impermissible? What are the checks and balances? Who is holding the government accountable (mind you, the same government that has allowed the use of the IRS for partisan politican purposes)?

    The face is that the people have the absolute right to know what powers the government is claiming it has. We do not need to know exactly the government is conducting massive domestic survellience on the American public, but we have every right to know it is happening and every right to demand it be stopped, if we so choose. We also have every right to understand who is conducting oversight of the domestic spying apparatus. At this point, the American people don’t know much about the government’s secret domestic spy apparatus and that is scary.

    Comment by Charles — June 13, 2013 @ 1:10 am

  19. I’m embarrassed for everyone. Truly. They are falling for a show created and presented by the Wikileaks crew of Glenn Greenwald et al.

    So where were you in 2006?


    Comment by Q — June 13, 2013 @ 12:08 pm

  20. They aren’t listening to domestic calls?

    Comment by John — June 15, 2013 @ 8:43 pm

  21. @John. Try again. The article states that Jerrold Nadler says that the NSA said that. Jerrold Nadler. See the problem here? Hearsay from the mouth of an idiot.

    You grasp at every straw.

    I will die laughing when Glenn Beck cites Jerrold Nadler as an authoritative source. Talk about moronic convergence.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — June 15, 2013 @ 9:09 pm

  22. Hey… leave my congressman alone 😉

    Comment by MJ — June 16, 2013 @ 3:48 am

  23. @MJ. My condolences.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — June 16, 2013 @ 7:43 am

  24. Professor, it is even fun to have such congressman. It comes to show how irrelevant Congress can be 🙂

    Comment by MJ — June 16, 2013 @ 7:50 am

  25. @John. 1. Nadler backed off his assertion today. 2. Reading the Nadler-Mueller exchange makes it clear that CNET grossly exaggerated. Mueller described a procession of events: a phone number is identified as suspicious; to obtain the subscriber information, a National Security Letter must be obtained, at least; to listen to the information, a warrant from a FISA court is required. Nadler responds by referring to “specific information from that telephone”, which could well just refer to the subscriber information, not the content of the calls: it certainly does not imply any analyst has the ability to listen to calls without a warrant, especially when the context of Nadler’s remark is taken into consideration. Also Mueller’s mention of a FISA warrant means that at least he understood that by definition, any content examined would involve conversations involving at least one foreign subject, rather than strictly domestic calls. Regardless, Nadler has walked back his claim.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — June 16, 2013 @ 1:11 pm

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