Perhaps even more importantly, I hope this public ruling will make it more difficult for any of us to tell our grandchildren that we didn't know about serious things going seriously wrong.
0. e.g. "And, at that moment, I really realised that it was no excuse that I had been so young. I could perhaps have tried to find out about things."
That's hardly futile - it's just the norm, the starting point for any social change. Our society gave civil rights to a small black minority (~12% of the population now; I don't know about then) after centuries of discrimination, gave equal rights to women after millenia of descrimination, grew an environmental movement, and much more. In all those situations, the people advocating change faced far greater obstacles than what you describe, yet they changed almost every person's perception, society's norms, and almost every industry's and business' practices.
I agree it seems daunting, but then I grasp the courage of people like MLK, Rachel Carson, and others even more. Think of what they felt as they looked at the culture of their day.
(And yes, all those movements still have much more to do.)
I agree. I've mostly (99.999%) given up on participating in American politics for the betterment of society.
> People are HEAVILY biased towards the version of the "truth" that lets them do what they want.
I just have to point out that by taking the stance that you and I are taking, we're doing the same. I'm biased towards the version of truth that lets me live as we want. In other words, I could massively disrupt my life as Snowden did, and that actually might make a difference. However, I convince myself that it wouldn't, so I can just work, make money, and pursue my usual definition of happiness.
Wait what? you're Snowden?
I meant that.
> Wait what? you're Snwoden?
[Begin conspiracy theory]If a judge marks it unconstitutional or not or forbids them from doing it doesn't necessarily mean that the NSA stops. That only works if you have faith in your government.
A government set to maintain its own power, after being outed by a whistleblower, would seek to save face. Have judges "ban acts of surveillance" and distribute that knowledge to the general public while secretly maintaining the actions behind the curtains. With a smaller, more loyal/contained group to prevent future whistleblowers. [/End conspiracy theory]
If it is found that the NSA continued to keep/records phone records after being "forbidden from doing so" - who would be held responsible? Would it be the head of the NSA? Head of the specific surveillance department in charge of the program? How would they be "punished"? How would the government insure it doesn't happen again? Who provides oversight of the NSA, outside of the NSA?
Maybe he blackmailed everyone using NSA data...
Even if he didn't, it's only a question of time until the NSA starts blackmailing everyone with NSA data.
If so, either he was persuaded by evidence of its effectiveness in preventing terrorist attacks on the US, or maybe he was persuaded by evidence of its effectiveness after being shown his last 10 years of internet searches, presented on a CD, lying next to the duplicate sitting in an envelope marked "To the Editor, New York Times".
For the record I'm not saying clapper was in the right or that he shouldn't face charges, but in a country where sanctioned torture is the norm why should unpunished perjury by an official from a spy agency be shocking?
A lot of the problems here are simply about the inherent tensions with intelligence gathering. The default statements from such agencies pretty much has to be, "if you knew what I new, you'd be very afraid". And the default reply, now that "we" know they are not trustworthy, has to be, "bullshit".
Short of the NSA actually behaving as if civilian control over their operations was a thing, and doing so for a generation, I don't see how they regain the trust of folks they are ostensibly there to protect.
Which is a bit of a problem, assuming they care about such things.
Do you mind explaining why you think that? I do not think it makes my theory any more credible.
My concern is that checks and balances rely on oversight. Oversight relies on motivation. There doesn't seem to be any motivation to provide oversight of the NSA.
Anyone in a position to provide oversight can easily be bribed. Want to snoop on your SO or a love interest? Bam. They now have a reason to "glance over" the surveillance and use it for their own personal gain. There is zero motivation other than "integrity" for ratting on the NSA while the individual stands to benefit by keeping their trap shut.
Also because there are always the apologetic pro-authoritarian government shills out there: Yes. I firmly believe that all levels and positions of government can be corrupted or bribed. That doesn't necessarily mean that they are all corrupt. But it cannot be discounted as a possibility.
It's not that there isn't any motivation to provide oversight, it's the exact opposite, there is a strong motivation to look the other way. If it weren't then there surely should have been a lot more fall-out from the Snowden leaks but in fact it is mostly a re-arranging and re-naming of some programs and making sure the next Snowden has a much harder time of doing it (and probably an even harder time of getting out of the US before tshtf).
This has nothing to do with corruption per-se, it has simply got to do with that plenty of what goes on without our knowledge can not stand the light of day and the amount of complicity is such that no government official will want to look too hard at what other departments are up to because they're up to their necks in it themselves.
And that's not just limited to the USA either, I fully expect every western democracy to be doing roughly the same thing only limited by capability to execute and budget.
Maybe it's naive of me to be surprised, but until all this Snowden stuff it never occurred to me that it was possible for entire government organizations to just flout the law because nobody was watching.
We can however keep the spirit of 2nd amendment and fight against NSA by actively creating incentives for those people who are willing to shut down NSA. For example a candidate like Rand Paul should get enough support. It is not even necessary that this candidate should win, but once politicians realize that there is vote issue to be exploited they will bite the bait.
It is remarkable that the government wants to spy teenagers sharing nudes but cant prosecute Hillary Clinton who seem to have actually put sensitive information at danger.
You can see some discomfort with this status quo in some of the questions that people like Senator Wyden pose to officials from the executive branch, but unless you already have the secret decoder ring (which CNN and their ilk at least pretend to not have) you miss the point entirely if you just follow the popular news. This makes it easy to gain popular support for agencies like the NSA since topics like this are of minor interest to most of the voting base, and most people won't dig deep enough to see what they really mean when they say things like that.
I really hope that we get something equivalent to the Church commision in the next decade or so to mitigate the potential damage that could result from our current intelligence apparatus, but I'm not too hopeful. I feel like the information that Snowden provided was our best chance for that, but I don't see enough popular support to convince our elected representitives that it's in their best interests.
That's such a small, and arguably not the most important part, of NSA's wrongdoings -- collecting contacts, metadata, movement, all unencrypted Internet activity is much more potentially dangerous and damaging imho. Still, it's nice to see even a small step to the right direction.
The move of this phone metadata from NSA to private telcos doesn't make these records less accessible, it makes them more so. It puts them in the same category as our other online metadata records held in private hands.
I don't get how people are all freaked out about NSA having these records but don't seem to worry that law enforcement will now have even better access.
Until they change the legal definition of "search and seizure" to include metadata held by third parties, I don't see any reason to celebrate.
These coward judges don't want to make a precedent. At least there are brave judges still left!