Ignore the specific issue. The critical question this raises is this: if, as the administration says, the NSA needs all this data to find terrorists, who gets to say what it's used for or not? Ignore the entire privacy argument. If the executive branch is keeping records on all of this stuff, is it also claiming unique and sole access to it?
Because if they are, anybody with a brain can see the problem. In fact, the partisanship of the Congressman spells it out in clear relief. Just picture that guy as the next president. If you give that much power to the executive and they alone make the decision how to use it, then by definition such information will be used for political purposes. Who gets to decide what is so evil that requires this special, and extra-constitutional, treatment? Everybody doesn't want terrorists, but how about supporting congressional investigations? Helping wrongly-accused people get out of jail? Divorce proceedings? Civil cases?
Are we going to have a system of law and order where certain evidence is presented or not solely depending on the decisions of the executive branch?
What this shows is that this NSA data thing just isn't bad, it's bad on multiple levels. It completely breaks the way our constitutional government is supposed to operate. Even if somehow the political weasels in DC get away with keeping the lid on it, the criminal and Congressional cases alone are going to cause a nightmare. Can you imagine how Congress is going to act if some pet cause of theirs could have been supported by evidence NSA refused to release? How criminal defendants are going to react if, years later, they learn that the government was holding exculpatory information?
And it's just going to go on, and on, until they finally open it all up. Then there'll be a hell-storm.
ADD: And I'm willing to bet 20 bucks that part of the data NSA is collecting is the location tracking information from our cellphones. (accurate to within 50 meters). Can you imagine the number of places in the rest of government operations where such information would be useful?
Here's what a smart congressperson would ask: "Director Clapper, on April 15th, 2009, there were large protests around the country. Did your agency request cellular meta data covering that day?"
It's likely obfiscated by the telco as I understand it, but imagine that freakout.
We could pull our batteries out in 2003, but we don't have that feature anymore.
They wouldn't want to tip their hand re:transmission capabilities. They'd probably only activate the capability on-demand, and only for high-value targets (ie. by sending a special packet to be received by the "powered off" handset). It's sorta like turning your phone into a listening "bug" while powered on... you wouldn't want to constantly stream data and tip your hand -- you'd only activate the capability when there is a strong likelihood of a valuable conversation occurring.
The FBI has been known to hack phones such that the microphone is turned on and transmitting when the phone is on but not in use.
In short, no, it ain't gonna happen. It would show up on Bunnie Huang's blog one day and there would be blood in the streets the next.
Is it so hard to imagine part of that logic including the mobile phone equivalent of wake-on-lan?
Yes. You don't have to power up the cellular transceiver to poll a power button. That's usually handled by a dedicated power-management chip with few/no other capabilities (and an internal clock in the kHz range at most, I'd expect.)
I wouldn't expect to get away with it on all phones all the time. But certain phones targeted by surveillance malware? Sure.
Note that powered-off phones still have real time clocks running, for things like keeping time.
> An attempt to do it in the analog domain with no synchronous logic would be even more apparent to anyone who studies the internals of the phone.
I agree, there's little chance of an analog tape recorder being in the phone.
> In short, no, it ain't gonna happen. It would show up on Bunnie Huang's blog one day
Go ask Bunnie if he thinks a well-funded attacker could implement it, having access to the baseband design docs. Then ask him how long it could be used in the wild against unsophisticated targets before it ended up on his blog.
> and there would be blood in the streets the next.
This surveillance malware is being found on phones and in some places there is, in fact, literal blood in the streets.
Malware can't run when the power management logic has shut down the SoC and baseband hardware.
How many people actually measure the battery life of their phone when they believe it's off?
Absurd. Total fiction.
Many of us still do. Some of us still greatly prefer phones with a removable battery--I wouldn't buy a phone without one. Goodbye HTC, hello Samsung.
No, in the absence of a FISA order the information cannot be released. This isn't a legel dilemma at the moment(ethically certainly). There are almost certainly implied constitutional protections on the use of the data.
The only interesting exception would be if someone decided to waive their protections and petitioned the courts to grant access to their phone records. The courts may allow this as no constitutional rights would be violated and no else would have an interest in preventing this(except the Government possibly).
Yes, it's annoying that the representative is trying to make the administration look bad and further his own party. But political embarrassment and partisan show victories are exactly what motivates politicians to do things. These partisan actions are the kind of actions the Obama administration will notice.
Or he could remain neutral and abstract and introduce a hastily written bill that purports to solve the problem, like Rand Paul. And nothing will happen.
The partisan political system responds to partisan political incentives. To see many interesting examples, try studying the period leading up to the American Civil War.
Even though in this particular instance the partisanship is aligned with (y)our goals, it's rather frustrating to know that this guy doesn't actually give a shit about the matter like we do, he just wants to score points in this BS game.
Wait. How do you know that? Isn't it possible and actually likely that he gives a shit AND wants to score political points? After all, what good is supporting a cause if you don't use it to score political points?
Here's a taste of his usual style: https://twitter.com/SteveWorks4You
Possible? Absolutely. Likely? That's impossible to know without knowing him and his motivations, and I would not call it a reasonable assumption given the generally self-serving state of US politicians (most others as well, but in this case they're the most relevant).
Oh wait, that's classified too.
Seeing the trend/problem here? I'm absolutely fine with what this Congressman did.
But why would he give a shit? Perhaps he's one of the Americans (a rather interesting one, to boot) with something to hide.
... the enemy of your enemy ...
Honestly, I cannot believe the number of comments I am seeing here that ignore this fact, as though anyone who agrees with the notion that the NSA programs are bad should be trusted.
It's pretty obvious where this guy stands. Here's one of my favorites:
"House told us to secure windows because of flash floods. On the third floor. On a Hill. Same government claims it can predict climate change"
We don't need people like this chiming in on this issue.
It only takes a little bit of research to see that the man is an extremist with a very consistent record of partisan-centered politics.
My point was that he's willing to hold an irrational view for the sake of his politics.
I don't think people like that have anything important to say about issues like the NSA programs.
The NSA looking at your phone logs is a huge illegal fishing expedition but fishing expeditions are ok when done to trump up charges to impeach the president. Got it.
I'm fully in support of phone call data between government offices and high-level government officials being available for review by Congress.
And think of all the criminal cases this would be useful for - price fixing schemes, anti-trust cases, and on and on.
The uses for a massive store of location information boggle the mind.
HN discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5872348
So the logic is that while the program is 'secret' to only part of the Government then that part can use it to carry out their agenda unchecked, but when the whole government can use it, well it becomes more of a liability than an asset. Part of the beauty of the system we've set up is that it allows the government to fight with itself and keep itself (more) honest. Stockman is working that angle.
So in the ideal case, the Obama administration will realize just how dangerous this system is when it can be used to
smear/threaten/harass non-criminals . And they will come up with some rationale for shutting it down.
 "Gee, isn't the electronic subscriber number [ESN] of your Chief of Staff repeatedly going over to that place where we just busted a prostitution ring? Were they part of that investigation?" kinds of things.
Domestic spying didn't start with Obama and he's not up for re-election. How likely is it that he will suddenly have an epiphany and take on the massively entrenched surveillance-industrial complex? (That he relies upon to protect him and his family the rest of his life).
Yes, the NSA will deny the request. And with any luck, we can have push this into a case in front of Supreme Court before the end of next year.
But, no. He's just being a Grade-A politician, trying to claw at the Democratic party and trying to make an example out of them. I have lost respect for what he is trying to accomplish, if not because it's shameful and disgusting.
Before anyone accuses me of left-right bias, I support third-party efforts and am independent.
Both, the harassment of political opponents by the IRS as well as the NSA spy policies were run under President Obama's leadership.
He is as personally responsible for these things - just as much as is President Bush was for the Iraq war. Both are extremely resistant to admit any wrong doings except for some half hearted apologies without any consequences.
I am all for bashing partisanship when it is based on making mountains out of molehills (in my view the Benghazi story was one of these). But the IRS and NRA cases demonstrate that the United States under the presidency of Obama is using intimidation tactics and intensive surveillance mechanisms that are up-to-par with paranoid third world dictatorships.
His line of If he [President Obama] has nothing to hide he has nothing to be afraid of. is exactly hitting home on the hypocrisy of the Obama administration that once campaigned on transparency and accountability.
Just like how Fast & Furious was in no way a scandal, but a symptom of Arizona's lack of gun laws. Law enforcement was unable to arrest or even restrict people linked to cartels as they purchased weapons- the best they could do was keep track of serial numbers. There was no gun running, but that didn't stop Republicans from fabricating another 'scandal:' http://www.thenation.com/blog/168673/facts-get-way-gops-fast...
Even this article should clue you in to Issa's obvious political theater for his base.
Obama sucks at fighting misinformation, but he is certainly not a dictator.
If you go down this line of argument with Obama you need to do it equally with Bush: than there was nothing wrong of invading Iraq, because some low level CIA employee foreign intelligence services/some nutty informants were confirming the WMDs.
If your intention is to let somebody at the top look good and they are smart enough to have others keep them out of the loop of controversial issues, you can always attach the wrongdoings to some low level figure.
But it is in the end like saying the Walmart CEO has absolutely no responsibility of having bad numbers this year, because well, he is not the guy is selling the milk bottles in all the stores.
Hopefully, these facts should inspire you to question the anti-obama narrative rather than come up with your own. In changing the subject and making an argument like above without addressing the new information, it looks like you're figuring out how you can protect your beliefs from criticism without actually having to address those criticisms.
Please understand this is meta and isn't a criticism of you personally- but it's important for a working democracy that conservatives learn to "understand a complex topic, weigh competing values and considerations against one another, and eventually get behind" the facts. http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2013/06/in-which-i-feel-sorry-...
I sometimes get accused by my Fox news addicted family of being "arrogant" when I go meta. But it's frustrating when "obviously fraudulent arguments get made; get knocked down; and soon pop up again, as if the original discussion never happened. This makes a gentlemanly issue-centered discussion essentially impossible.
If someone says the sky is green, you prove that it’s actually blue, and the next day he comes back once again insisting that the sky is green, and this happens repeatedly, you eventually have to acknowledge that mannerly debate about the color of the sky just isn’t enough; you have to go meta, and talk about the fact that this guy and his friends just aren’t in the business of honest discussion.
Inevitably, there are some people trying to turn the conversation meta in a different direction, and make it all about civility. But bad-faith arguments don’t deserve a civil response, and if the attempt to be civil gets in the way of exposing the bad faith, civility itself becomes part of the problem." http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/06/bad-faith-and-ci...
Exactly! Just look at your argument:
the low level employee didn't think he was breaking the rules with his queries, and his direct manager stopped the activity when she found out
You are trying to frame the harassment of hundreds of groups, and this over years, as the acts of some rogue low level employee. And something that was fixed as soon as the supervisor noticed it.
If someone is trying to spin a story here it is you my friend - independent of how "meta" and "inspiring" you feel your arguments are. I'll leave the rest as it is. It seems pointless to argue the case when you consider everything This makes a gentlemanly issue-centered discussion essentially impossible.
If someone is trying to spin a story here it is you my friend - independent of how "meta" and "inspiring" you feel your arguments are.
I'll leave the rest as it is because implying a "bad faith" argument can be claimed for any irresponsible actions of a public official - except for, maybe Nixon. For any other high level action there is always a chain of minions involved whom you can ultimately frame as "gone rogue". Ideally, as you did in the case, trying to make it a failue of the "system" therefore even avoiding any personal responsibility what so ever.
High level officials stonewalling and taking the fifth don't give me a lot of confidence that we've discovered from where the effort was directed. A Special Prosecutor is really needed.
Obama sucks at fighting misinformation, but he is certainly not a dictator
Yes, the countless times that he told us that "if Congress doesn't act, I will." The number of issues like immigration where DHS is extra-counting at-the-border stops as deportations and then explicitly not enforcing the immigration laws. The NSA and AP issues stepping all over basic rights.
Good thing he doesn't have the complete power of a dictator.
Her innocence has never been questioned. But conservative media play the clip on loop, acting like she didn't testify to presumably hide information (and she still testified!)
"If Congress doesn't act, I will" is another bad faith argument. I implore you to watch the clip from where that quote originated: http://www.politico.com/multimedia/video/2013/02/state-of-th...
Just read the quote and tell me how it can be construed as executive overreach: "I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy."
Please understand why rational people don't respond to conservative talking points: http://cboye.wordpress.com/2010/01/27/bad-faith-arguments/
What do you mean "the clip"? He's said it over and over and over while playing a game of "catch me if you can" where he goes beyond the authority that he is supposed to have. He is supposed to enforce DOMA. He is supposed to enforce on-the-books immigration laws. He was not supposed to unilaterally declare congress out of session to make recess appointments. He does this crap every opportunity he gets and the media just navel gazes.
When someone invokes the 5th, it is as a pleasant reminder that you still are subject to a judicial system that places the burden of proof on the government to prove an innocent defendant guilty. That is how the framers intended it to be--a decisive and enduring departure from bygone days where you were at danger of being forced to incriminate yourself by variously questionable (and sometimes horrific) means.
Citizens invoking the 5th has become in recent decades a vilified action, and this is very dangerous. The reasoning behind a person's invocation of their right against self-incrimination does not matter, and ought not be up to anyone else to judge the merits of. We even instituted Miranda rights to further cement this protection in legal proceedings and the public mind.
I despise the grandstanding and partisanship of American politics. However, when an public official (high-ranking or not; it doesn't matter) invokes the 5th, I take this to mean that the specific question and the implications of answering it, in the particular setting/context in which it is asked causes a person to have reasonable cause and/or justification to "apprehend danger from a direct answer" (Hoffman v. United States). In Grunewald v. United States, the Court held that "one of the Fifth Amendment's basic functions is to protect innocent persons who might otherwise be ensnared by ambiguous circumstances."
In a justice system that holds every person is innocent until proven guilty, that means every person--be they high-ranking official, lowly clerical assistant, or anyone in between.
Universe forbid you ever find yourself accused of a crime, but you will likely find yourself very appreciative of having a constitutional right that affords you the privilege of refusing to testify against yourself in moments you fear direct answers may place you in a dangerous legal position.
Justice requires evidence, not a measurement of your confidence. Let us support uncovering the necessary evidence to understand what has occurred in any given situation, and refrain from prognosticating guilt before then. If we don't, or if we continue to allow the public support of the 5th Amendment to erode further, we may not like the kind of justice we have decades from now.
Enough of this "we should know everything about you, but you can't know anything about us - so trust us".
Nothing that's come to light so far is on that type of level. No matter how strongly you think the government is overstepping its bounds, it's at least possible for reasonable people to think they were justified.
2. The IRS stuff is also way more complicated than it seems. They're supposed to target political organizations, because they don't qualify for the tax-exempt status. And there was really only one large political movement forming new organizations in that time frame. I haven't seen any actual ( as opposed to speculative) connection to the "political elites" yet. Everything I've read points to institutional laziness rather than a politically instigated targeting.
Now, I'm not saying these things shouldn't be investigated! But claiming that they should currently be as big a scandal as Watergate doesn't sit right with me. It diminishes just how fucked up Watergate was.
This is untrue given that the former Obama campaign organization converted (and was approved) to change to a 501(c)4 and has the mission of advocating his 2nd term agenda.
This was political targeting just like what FDR did many years ago. Who actually approved it is the question.
Sorry, sloppy language on my part.
Ultimately, though, there's the classic adage about the president: "The buck stops here." If Obama was aware of PRISM (which I have to believe he did), then he also had the choice of stopping it. The same is true of the IRS scandal. Even if he did not (unlike Nixon) direct the programs, knowing about them and not stopping them (again, if true; I really don't know) is tantamount to running them.
He's a republican, and Obama set himself up for this by defending the NSA.
I would suggest that the best way to understand what is going on is to imagine that, but rather than a single individual as dictator, instead a large group of individuals suffering from fear & paranoia.
When we think that the NSA is spying on terrorists, then we assume that the NSA is using judgement and discretion, focusing on a narrow vertical of individuals. That is certainly what I believed in the past. When it is disclosed that it goes far beyond terrorists, collects deep meta data on the entire US population while logging all electronic communication on a group of a million or so, our imaginations run wild -- and justifiably so.
- Charles de Gaulle
There's a good chance the NSA leak is a gambit by Hillary Clinton's faction to attack the administration.
You know, like the IRS leak.
Anyway, they are all just responding to incentives. American culture has degenerated into soviet-style communism, which means central committees frittering away resources on intelligence catfights and insane megaprojects. The American people are getting the government they deserve, and they're getting it good and hard.
The move as-he-played-it is smarter, right? He's inviting other Congressfolks to join him in making political hay by trolling the executive branch. He's saying to Issa "someone should be embarrassed about this.... would you like to be embarrasser or embarrassee?"
Does anyone know if the opening paragraph thanking Issa is sincere or snark? I don't know what Issa's record/politics have been.
Unfortunately NSA does not have to answer to anyone, including congressman requests. Its their data, per se, and they are not compelled to share with anyone. Sure they will have to set aside large chunk for upcoming lawsuits (that will be paid from your taxes anyways), but other than that ist not a big deal.
NSA stands beyond anyone's power to subpoena. Think Eric Holter being requested to investigate... Eric Holter. Good luck with that.
If you think otherwise, you're kidding yourself.
Except that congress wrote and passed the laws that enable these programs. Many congresscritters, in leadership positions in both parties, have expressed support for the surveillance and varying degrees of condemnation for Snowden. I'd be surprised if they don't actually have a good idea of what's going on at the NSA.
You will see, perhaps, some grandstanding and/or honest pleas from a few people on this. And then it'll be like nothing happened when push comes to shove. There'll be no meaningful attempt to get greater disclosure, and it'll quietly die down in public consciousness, because this kind of shit nearly always does. And the NSA will get their budget, because intelligence and defense basically always do.
Do you mean officially or de facto? I was under the impression that no one was above congressional subpoena.
NSA rep: "That's a matter of national security, I can't answer you."
[..] members of the executive branch to resist certain subpoenas and other interventions by the legislative and judicial branches of government.
If he gets the data, he will use the long and numerous phone conversations between the IRS and the White House to infer the administration is guilty. However, it proves nothing.
If he doesn't get the data, he will argue it is because the President personally ordered the crimes and is hiding it.
He won't get the data. The NSA won't want their databases and valuable time used to perform discovery in every lawsuit from now until eternity. He will exploit the NSA's "Need to Know" policy simply to make Obama look nefarious.
That would be for others to judge.
He won't get the data.
He doesn't want the data. He wants to make a point about the importance of privacy. He wants to appear as if he is standing up for his constituents in the face of overreaching NSA surveillance since obviously Obama is not.
That's the brilliance of this request -- it highlights how the government's asymmetric access to information can be used against it: "Since you know everything, you must be able to prove my case for me... Oh, you won't? Then you're obviously persecuting me."
With absolute knowledge comes absolute power, but with absolute power for some comes absolute victimhood and therefore sympathy for the rest.
Then we'll get into a stalemate - we all know about everyone. Nobody will be able to use such information if they are not completely clean AND their family/associates too. Otherwise, they are blackmail targets too.
Whatever information you generate: speech, messages, GPS logs, social network (with whom you communicate, by any means) it will be intercepted. The only way to maintain privacy will be to keep things into your head.
Let me guess, you feel that situation was somehow different. For reasons other than each president's political affiliation?
The White House and the IRS are large organizations with many employees, none of whom have 'tapes' of their calls, except POTUS.
There was no warrant required to make those tapes. POTUS is a special case. This guy wants every record of every communication by every staffer of both the White House and the IRS. This is going much much farther, and for seemingly no reason whatsoever. The Senator is basically suggesting the interns were part of a conspiracy, so we should find out what they had to hide.
If, for example, one person at either the White House or IRS was a closeted homosexual, and unwarranted recordings proving that are made public, the person's life could be ruined. All because some douchebag Senator wanted an unnecessarily broad fishing expedition for political reasons.
But yes, Nixon should have had to turn over the tapes, because there was already clear evidence he had something to hide. That's why we're supposed to issue warrants - if there is due cause.
It's not every single phone call, only the ones from the IRS to the White House.
Perhaps you missed it. The IRS specifically targeted groups likely to oppose DNC policies.
Nixon chose to wiretap the White House so he's fair game. Obama wiretaps the entire country and he's not?
Logs of all communication on the private lines of the IRS and White House employees could expose some very embarrassing or otherwise "culturally sensitive" activities that have absolutely nothing to do with the intent of this subpoena. To repeat the point made by peterwwillis: "Politicians can use their position to go on fishing expeditions and publicly persecute whoever they wish with flimsy reasoning."
That is a soundbite I would love to hear repeated ad nauseum. Replacing Obama with every politician, CEO, and 3-letter agency head.
I wish that politics hadn't turned into this sort of nonsense; this makes a very sensible concern into a tool of politics.
Congress could end all this stuff right now if they choose to. Obviously, they are choosing political grandstanding and loudmouth politics.
Uh... if I could, I would?
I know it is partisan garbage. It is partisan garbage from people I hate, targeting people I hate. I hope they both mortally injure each other. When my enemies fight, you will have to excuse me for finding the silver lining. I have no faith in the GOP, and do not expect them to attempt to repeal the Patriot Act. Expecting that is not being realistic.
So no one can blame him for all those years of supporting the patriot act and the likes.
If there were some magical guarantee from the good fairy of civil liberties that broad surveillance could only ever be used to stop terrorism, it would be far, far less troublesome.
The problem is using surveillance for any crime one wants to investigate.
This is called transparency and I like it, further the whereabouts via GPS tracking of all of Congress should be released cross referenced with the GPS location of all known special interest groups and lobbyists. Of course I want mine kept private, because I am a private citizen, not a public official.
If any of you were living in this political jungle you would have to resort to the same tactics in order to get anywhere and climb the ladders. You would engage in the kinds of analytics and optimizations that would lead you to quickly conclude that the issues don't matter as much as showing the ignorant masses --who's support you need-- how righteous you are against the other side, no matter which side of the isle you inhabit.
That is the problem with the devolution of our political system. It's not about issues. It's not about rational consideration of mutually beneficial ideas. It's not about long term planning. It's not about fiscally sound policy. It's not about stopping to fuck with the rest of the world to focus on our internal needs. No, it's about the next six months, year, two or four years and the elections we have to win for the party. It's bullshit and it is exactly what is sinking this great nation.
Regrettably, this mess has also created a positive feedback loop that, with every passing moment, makes the problem worst. This is what scares me about where we have been, where we are and where we are going. I am far from a political strategist, but I don't see this self-correcting until we suffer a truly catastrophic set of failures that cause people to wake up to the realities of what we have created.
It's like the three hundred pound overweight man who can't stop eating until he gets to 600 pounds and then has a revelation. How do you get from 300 to 600 pounds and not realize you are killing yourself? How do you keep making the same flawed decisions? One pizza slice at a time. One lie at a time. One excuse at a time. Looking the other way a million little times. Ignoring the need for the "fiscal balance" of food intake, exercise and caloric needs. Talking about fixing it and not really doing anything about it. Put another way: Death by a thousand cuts.
As a country we are probably well past the analogy of a 600 pound man who is dangerously overweight. We are on our way to 1200 pounds. The problem is the feedback loop. Nothing can stop it until the machine breaks. Or so it seems.
Now can we subpoena conversation between the VP, Cheney's office regarding the Valerie Plame or other fabrication about the Iraq war. Oh wait, I forgot. Democrats left their spine in a 70s time capsule.
Of course this is grandstanding (but I support). The House Government Reform and Oversight Committee will simply ignore the request.
I heard a Republican say "there have been so many scandals directed at the President, and he's managed to dodge all of them. He can't be innocent of all of them!" It shocked me because it was an argument for "guilty until proven innocent." My response was "there have been so many accusations, all baseless, that you have to start wondering about the truthfulness of those making the accusations. Isn't it time we just started ignoring all of these so-called scandals?"
I'm at that point now. I can't take the NSA thing seriously because I've heard the boy cry "wolf!" too many times.