1. CIA created black propaganda in USSR linking Soviets and international terrorists to foment dissent in Russia.
2. Somebody picked it up from outside and wrote a book about Soviet-terrorism links.
3. CIA director read the book, took it seriously, freaked out, lobbied for more powers.
4. CIA and NSA got more powers.
It's clearly not the first time in history that an intelligence organisation engineered a privilege escalation from fraudulent circumstances, but doing it by accident seems almost funny.
3a. CIA people told new director, "er, boss, that was actually us".
3b. CIA director does not believe his own people.
And of course the whole "Team B" episode (Rumsfeld etc.), where the complete lack of evidence that the Soviets had <weapon-of-choice> was reinterpreted to mean they MUST OBVIOUSLY HAVE <even-worse-than-weapon-of-choice-even-if-physically-impossible> and perfect secrecy, otherwise how could we not have found any evidence?
Former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt recounts that he never read the BND reports, because anything they wrote was tainted. He just asked other world leaders directly instead.
These are not, I should stress, the strangest people who held influence over the intelligence community in those days.
The official CIA judgement on the matter was more qualified, pointing out that the USSR supported "national insurgencies and some separatist-irredentist groups," but did not directly support terror groups (although they did support states like Libya that, in turn, supported and directed terror operations): "[T]he terrorist activities of these groups are not coordinated by the Soviets. The Soviets have on occasion privately characterized certain nihilistic terrorism as 'criminal,' and have urged other revolutionary groups to cease and desist from terrorist acts the Soviets considered 'self-defeating.'"
One certainly could point out that US support for groups like the Afghan mujahideen and the Pakistani government, the Central American Contras and their narco-trafficking allies, and right-wing "Gladio" networks in Europe would have, from the banks of the Moskva, looked a lot like US support for terrorism as well.
But CIA's considered analysis was basically ignored by senior political leadership, including CIA director Bill Casey, and a pervasive and almost hysterical suspicion of the Soviet leadership overshadowed US foreign policy for most of the 1980s, resulting in lost diplomatic opportunities and a few close calls with general war.
And, of course, what spy agency wouldn't want (4)?
If you create enough propaganda, repeat it long enough, and put great effort in to suppressing the debunking of that propaganda eventually your own people will fall victim to that propaganda and believe that it is unquestionably true. At that point any remaining success is not the result of good decision making but of either randomness or some very dominant advantage over all other parties.
Politics is particularly sensitive to this weakness. While the original group of propaganda producers understand what the bullshit in the message is, and understand the actual purpose of the action being justified is, even the brightest outside of this group will struggle to figure it out.
Without naming names, you can watch politicians and political groups trip and choke on their own propaganda all of the time. The simple explanation stuff sounds farcical, while incredible complex propaganda can often only be identified by someone with a deep understanding on the topic. Sometimes it is more dangerous to the producing group than the intended target.
"After the United States faced another existential threat in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks...."
I'm amazed at how accepting the media is of the threat of terrorism. That statement implicitly compares al Qaeda to the Soviets. The Soviets who, if they had had a bad day and decided to say "screw it" and wipe out capitalism for good could have done so within an hour. A country which, at any moment, could have pressed a button and killed a billion people. (And to be fair, the US of course had/has the same ability.)
This is being compared to a loose organization of fanatics where the worst-case scenario was pretty much, "What if they crashed the fourth plane into the White House and killed the President!"
I think we need an enemy. The country is built on it. After four decades of the Cold War, we needed something to put in the "USSR" slot. Terrorists are a terrible fit, but it's the best we could find.
But we never learn. The best thing that could happen right now for the NSA and the military in the mist of this criticism is another attack on US land, the former will say " see! This is why we need to spy today more than ever! " and the military would get another major money injection for decades to come and it gets to invade any country where they think the enemy might be.
- The government is bulk collecting data on foreigners.
- They're also incidentally spying on US citizens in the processs.
- SAY WHAT?!
If the USA could try to acknowledge the human rights of non-US citizens, that would be really nice.
In short, the practical threat is much lower for you than it is for an American. The CIA spied on the Intelligence committee charged with the agency's oversight. The NSA and CIA and FBI all likely have dossiers on every state and federal politician in the country. That means a heck of a lot more than them doing legit SIGINT on adversaries across the world.
And frankly, even if I completely agree with you, we're still talking about the U.S. Constitution being blatantly ignored. I know canonical legal documents of a country aren't as big a thing in other places, but here, it tends to mean something.
But all of this together makes the famous words "all men are created equal" sound hollow.
You also stated their abuses against your government, and I agree that those are the truly worst offences they made, completely undermining your democracy. But that is off topic from my comment. US media react strongly to any US citizen being spied on, not just politicians, while implicitly condoning bulk collection of data on ALL non-citizens, not just adversaries. I presume adversaries are most targeted, but nobody really raises that issue or asks for that kind of oversight. Non-citizens are just not created equal.
P.S. Constitutions are a big thing in many other places, not just in the US. I hope your phrasing was just an accidental mistake, because you sounded as if you think no other country respects it's constitution...
Civilisation (broadly speaking) doesn't evolves hand-in-hand with technology. It is the major danger of our future.
If you asked anyone in The Netherlands 10 years ago if they thought their e-mail on Hotmail or GMail was monitored by authorities in the U.S. I am sure their answer would have been yes.
Maybe reptile people in government. But otherwise...
Pretty much a universal phenomenon.
One of the few institutions that stuck their neck out for their citizens is the European Parliament. Unfortunately, a substantial portion of the EU is now so enamoured with nationalism that they want to reduce the power of the EU or even leave the EU.
It was markedly different to Australia, where the politicians almost all support it, it was a minor TV news story (certainly not the lead headline like in Germany), and most people just don't care or understand. Germans are understandably cynical, but I wish Germans would have more pride in their country, there are some things that Germany does so much better than other countries right now.
She doesn't deserve any credit. As soon as she paid a visit to Obama, Germany went back to bending over for the U.S. All of the investigations in Germany were immediately shut down and they abandoned plans to have Snowden testify in court.
They are just worried that US citizens think the USA spies on them.
PS. The USA doesn't only spy on non-US traffic, they just hide the spying inside the US more secretive :)
PS2. Every country tries to spy though, not only the US :)
Yes, the NSA can monitor specific targets. Do they monitor all Internet traffic worldwide? No, such a task is absurd and technically impossible. However I have learned that people's opinions about the NSA are faith-based, and not open to reasoned arguments.
And, also: "technically impossible" - also: NOPE. Technically possible! In fact so technically possible it is a done deal. You cannot turn off the NSA, for to do so would be to turn off the entire Internet.. we get the copy, NSA gets the originals.
It's not about human rights.
Of course the US government must only bow to its own people, and only US citizens can lead its policy, that is perfectly understandable. But we all deserve basic human rights and a country that is one of their biggest champions should, for the sake of its credibility, not ignore that!
It would be ideal if some oversight existed for ALL such surveillance. With allied countries, the US should try to work with their governments. With adversaries, it's reasonable to have more relaxed rules. But just bulk collecting data of all non-citizens, treating us all with the same lack of respect of our human rights, is not cool.
Perhaps the US government actually does do all this as I described, and cooperates with allied governments. Then it is just the US media and public that leave the impression like they don't give a fuck about the human rights of anyone other than US citizens... Not cool.
I hate the security state, but I'm okay with that. We've got hundred of millions of people here. There are billions of people in the world. It makes sense to me to spy on all the folks in other countries. I don't see how else you would honestly do a good job of governing.
Spying or digging into the affairs of the people who are voting to make choices in a democratic society? Screw that.
There is a really good reason we separate foreign intelligence from domestic intelligence. The moves the U.S. made after 9-11 to tear down the walls were extremely bad.
You've equated spying on me with good governance. This is fallacious (as well as offensive). I am not a threat to you or your country. Targeted surveillance is one thing but collating data on everyone just because you can is wrong. In some sense it flips the 'innocent until proven guilty' the other way around (I'm foreign, therefore I'm guilty of being foreign and should be watched).
What you've advocated for is simply a digital arms race where states vacuum up whatever data they can, as fast as they can, on everyone they can. If the states are friendly, then they can simply share all that information with each other. Everyone is 'foreign' to someone else so ultimately, everyone loses.
> It makes sense to me to spy on all the folks in other countries.
I'm not American, but I do live in a Five Eyes nation. I've had to come to terms that all my online correspondence for over a decade is stored in some data farm somewhere, for the sole purpose of incriminating me or someone I know.
I'm not at all a terrorist, I don't infringe on the privacy or comfort of others, and yet I am targeted under the banner "Not American". I'm at a loss of words to explain how violated and helpless I feel, and how deplorable such an act is.
Right, do you actually believe it has nothing to do with national security?
Also it is funny how the home countries who have made intelligence deals with the US get a free pass. This is self fulfilling. Why don't you change your own country? Because you could actually do something, you know instead of just complaining. Maybe that is why?
I'm leveraging my skills to create a website to inform voters exactly the consequence of their vote, since many people can't believe their vote ends up in the hands of a party contrary to their beliefs; apart from that, I feel like I've exhausted most reasonable options available to me. Reasonable debate is only one small part in instigating change.
For the safety of myself and my family, it probably makes sense for me to shoot anyone who comes near my house (at least in the short term - but I think your logic also only works in the short term, as current world affairs shows). But I think we'll all agree that I shouldn't do this.
To ensure my own lifestyle I should also cheat on my taxes, sneak items out of the grocery store in the bottom of my cart, take credit for other people's ideas at work, and plenty of other things for which the chances of, or cost of, getting caught is low. Nevertheless, these are things that I ought not to do.
The reason why they won't be so easily spied on is not "screw that", it's because they are voters. Not because spying on voters is wrong - but simply because they can change the government when they get annoyed! So, as it is meant to, voting protects the human rights of a population.
But it would be nice if that population would actually believe in human rights. Particularly if they want to portray themselves champions of the matter. But if your attitude is an example, "screw that", huh?
edit - though admittedly here in the UK we are currently borrowing our citizenship and rights law direct from the pages of 2000AD http://usvsth3m.com/post/75158899178/the-uk-government-is-no...
But the worst part isn't that it's offensive to foreigners (which nobody cares about), it's that people so easily ignore that history knows no such thing as a unidirectional spy camera.
But this isn't related to the surveillance thing as such. Criticism of this racism, if it exists, should be targeted at some combination of the prejudice in the police agencies, the leaking of the data that's supposed to be locked in a vault, and at a stretch, the lopsided impact of the laws on various racial groups.
Still it's trivial to have algorithms to identify the race of the people they have data (heck, even just "call metadata" for). To give an obvious (if slightly non-PC example, if you're from a specific part of Baltimore and you're called Jermaine, you're in all probability Black). And Jesus Mandolito in Southern California is probably latino. And of course they can cross-corellate with databases, like social security info, police records, birth certificates, and the like.
Plus, not every population / race is targeted equally. Consider Middle-easterns vs Icelandish people for example. And not everyone is them is an equal target for later data use.
AUMF is just as bad, too. Did you know US is effectively still in a "state of emergency", today? - and will probably continue to be for long, long, LONG time, if nobody does anything about it.
It's incredibly detailed, though focusing primarily on executive action post 2011.
The problem is that currently there is too much potential for the surveilance data to be comercialized or abused for trivial legal matters.
I think much of the debate could be settled by alowing the public to scrutinize the surveillance process, and putting any abuse of the data (i.e. its usage in non-terror-related situations) under extordinarily humiliating punishments (like denationalization).
"One thing sits at the heart of what many consider a surveillance state within the US today."
The readership at Hacker News firmly believes that the US is a surveillance state. Stories are chosen and upvoted which confirm this worldview. Dissenting opinions are downvoted. If you're looking for a reasoned evidence-based discussion of the NSA, then choose a different website.
However I understand that the story fits the political narrative of the forums here, and will therefore be upvoted despite any lack of sense or evidence.
With secret courts, secret interpretations of laws, gag orders etc. How does one obtain hard 'evidence' of anything (beyond whistleblowers)?
And what exactly do you mean by lack of sense? That we apply our limited knowledge to the scenarios described and then discard anything that doesn't neatly fit? That leads to cargo cult thinking.
Current employees who are happy and fulfilled in their work in the security services don't tend to say all that much to the press.
From there, wild speculation then goes on to breathlessly exclaim about what this really proves, while failing to actually support any of the assertions.
For good measure toss in some wilful blindness about the point of surveillance, mechanics of law enforcement, collective action problems or the fundamental differences between one's own government and a foreign government (hint: foreign governments don't have a monopoly of violence over the citizens of foreign countries).
The people who keep yelling about how nobody cares enough need to consider that just maybe they're not very good at arguing their point.
This story however has quotes and documents from many different people, including John Tye, Edward Snowden, Jesselyn Radack, William Binney, Melvin Goodman, Loch Johnson, Kenneth Mayer, Christopher Dodd, Ed Loomis and Thomas Drake.
Were you perhaps reading a different article?
edit - I am all for encouraging critical thinking, but you are hardly going to achieve that through complete misrepresentation.
The article cites statements from and interviews with 9-10 separate sources, quoting several of them at length, and combines that with additional quotes from government source materials.
Hysterical speculation is to be expected when dealing with the doings of an arm of the government that is willfully shrouded in secrecy. The leaks so far have only confirmed what was being called "tin-foil hattery" until pre-Snowden.
If you are so concerned about subduing rampant speculation, how about showing up with proofs to the contrary instead of ad hominems and downvote baiting?
Doesn't much matter what the content or argument or tone is or was.
Though I do chuckle at "disprove the speculation".
not trusting aspects of textsecure
keeping encryption on all the time
argument about billing bad reviews on yelp
not liking lighttable
ok, whether there is a need to hide political speech from the NSA.
I don't think your claim stands up of it being the only topic.
edit - why are you bothering making claims like this in a medium where the source material is immediately available?
This kind of tactic may work in spoken discussion, but here it just seems absurd.
I would question why you think this is a "gotcha" given that I know how far back my post history goes (further then the initial Snowden disclosures for example), and more or less gave up on these topic-threads for exactly this reason.
Which circles around to my original point: these threads turn into echo chambers because who wants to spend karma on that?
People are instead ironically aggressive in silencing dissent.
Next five before that are:
turning off power in nuclear plant
bitcoin funds transfer
advice on drinking water
theories on OSS
encryption of metadata
This isn't a 'gotcha', just pointing out that you are repeatedly bullshitting about things that are easily verifiable.
And idly wondering why.
edit - Hang on.
After all your fucking winging about how fucking oppressed you feel, on the two things you cited (NSA/Snowden) you get far more upvotes than downvotes on your comments.
I call Shenanigans.
Which would you choose, if you were forced to rationalize yourself rather than change your behavior?
It isn't and you know it.
EDIT: And that search engine definitely isn't fully indexed. But a search for me and points<0 gives nothing but NSA threads. <1 less so, but it's still a sizable portion.
EDIT 2: Though to spin this around for a moment, that is handy utility - thanks!
Indeed, I got -40 karma on this story. Dissenting opinions are not tolerated on NSA stories.
Therefore people who do not agree with the HN consensus "self-censor", and a vicious circle is created, with only a single narrative displayed.
Tell me about it. Plus all my proofs for perpetual motion machines and the flat earth get downvoted too.
edit - well ok, 4 :) but it didn't get hammered down
Yeah, we should all wait until they hand over the evidence in a golden plate, like secret agencies usually do.