Furthermore, having been served a National Security Letter, Nacchio was not able to speak to his company or shareholders about the situation.
Nacchio continued to insist on legal avenues and Uncle Sam did exactly what it threatened. Nacchio warned major stakeholders that all of the major QWest contracts were about to go belly up.
The US government threw Nacchio in prison for insider trading.
Oh and then QWest went bankrupt and was bought by competitor CenturyLink (who presumably had fewer difficulties complying).
Sometimes the market has more than one invisible hand.
Edit: A good point by a fellow commentor - no independent investigation has been performed into the QWest story. I looked but could not find FOIA information online.
Nacchio was convicted of running a pump-and-dump insider trading scam that netted him ~$100MM at the expense of common public shareholders. If there's an award for "most obnoxious implication of NSA's wrongdoing", it should go to the attempted rehabilitation of people like Nacchio.
Here's the indictment. It's quite straightforward.
Here's the cliff notes:
"No later than December 4, 2000, through and including September 10, 2001, NACCHIO was aware of material, non-public information about Qwest’s business, including, but not limited to" [litany of distressing concerns about Qwest's bottom line which ultimately proved dispositive in valuing Qwest].
Note the date.
Now, look at this table of Nacchio's stock sales:
Nacchio claims to have believed that secret national security government contracts were going to rescue Qwest from their financial problems (note the implicit concession that Qwest had problems from which its financials needed to be rescued). One tie-in between Nacchio and NSA is the notion that by refusing requests from NSA, Nacchio lost those contracts. Stipulate that this is true; it's a plausible complaint. Nacchio still took the money and ran.
An indictment will read very clearly, because that's how it's written.
What it fails to do is take into account any exculpatory evidence or claims.
This isn't proof against Nacchio. You've mistaken a court finding for a lawyer's filing.
That doesn't mean the indictment is accurate, it is written at a point where it hasn't been scrutinized by the courts. They are pretty much always written as the very extreme position of what could have happened. They always present the offender as having clear intentions of breaking the law, when reality is much more complex. For example, they always throw in extra charges. In this case:
> Nacchio was convicted in 2007 of 19 counts of insider trading and acquitted on 23 counts. 
Prosecutors have to prove it's plausible the guy did it, they don't have an obligation to present an accurate or realistic scenarios in their original pre-trial arguments in order to win. Even the judgement by the courts can be inaccurate, this is why appeals courts are super important:
> The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that the trial judge overstated the amount of Nacchio's alleged financial gain.
> Joseph P. Nacchio was the only head of a communications company to demand a court order, or approval under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, in order to turn over communications records to the NSA.
His conviction doesn't disprove he lost government contracts for fighting back against the NSA, only that he attempted to financially benefit from his unique knowledge of it. As even tptacek admits, it's a very plausible complaint. And one now effectively derailed.
Why are you defending this person?
The insider trading case does not disprove that QWest faced serious economic repercussions for non-compliance.
The question of whether his insider trading charge, which was filed by the SEC four years after his initial actions at QWest, was a response to his non-compliance is a lot less likely. But publicly discrediting your opponents sounds like the type of thing particular agencies do best.
The guy was convicted of defrauding his shareholders out of many millions of dollars. The basic fact pattern supporting the allegation is there in black and white; his attorneys have, from what I've read, acknowledged those facts.
I'm not arguing that the government didn't "retaliate" against Nacchio. I have actually no idea whether they did or didn't (it's tricky to tease it out given the timing of the prosecution, which again happened during a wave of similar prosecutions).
My point is that people should be wary about rehabilitating people like Nacchio. The accepted facts of that case do not paint a sympathetic picture.
There are good, strong arguments against NSA surveillance and coercive interventions with industry. They should survive inconvenient facts. But that's not even what's being asked right now. The only question here is, are those arguments damaged by the refutation of one single very convenient fact?
This happens all the time on HN: people really seem to want to observe the world through the lens of their issues. I have trouble with that. I think the NSA needs drastically better regulation, and that some of their actions warrant criminal justice attention. But I have an even bigger problem with accepting what seem to be obvious falsehoods in the service of that perspective.
As for peoples' sympathy for Nacchio, I'll tell you that I think that a company executive who cheats on stock options is not a rare thing. It's not my favorite thing, but the degree to which that affects me personally is close to nil; but a telecomm executive who (allegedly) told the NSA to piss off is something that affects me, and worth a second glance. Nacchio has been consistent in his denials and allegations throughout and continues to be to this day.
Here is an interview from March. http://www.foxbusiness.com/business-leaders/2014/03/27/forme...
And one from May http://denver.cbslocal.com/2014/05/28/defiant-joe-nacchio-la...
>But I have an even bigger problem with accepting what seem to be obvious falsehoods in the service of that perspective.
What seem to be? They either are obvious falsehoods or they are not. And, I have to tell you that the things that are obvious to you and the things that are obvious to me are not always of the same set. I can't even begin to imagine what kind of saint a person would have to be to earn standing in your court.
I do not care what Nacchio has to say. You can find anything he says compelling and that is fine.
I am saying that independent of anything Nacchio has to say, he does not appear to have been convicted on trumped-up charges. But that belief is extremely common; even Jason Kottke featured it on his popular blog.
Good, and thanks for clearing it up.
>I am saying that independent of anything Nacchio has to say, he does not appear to have been convicted on trumped-up charges. But that belief is extremely common; even Jason Kottke featured it on his popular blog.
That's fine, but I don't think it makes much difference if the charges were trumped up or legit. When you've got the NSA, you don't always need to trump up charges. Just be patient, catch your mark breaking some law. Maybe give the mark a little nudge if needed. One of Nacchio's complaints was that he wasn't allowed to disclose certain exculpatory facts in public.
The amount at hand was (curse HN for hiding the parent thread), ~$100m. Let's be generous and say as much as $250m. A significant amount? Yes. As much as has remained unprosecuted in other significant cases of fraud.
Pardon my French here.
Hell. Fucking. No.
I'm answering briefly in the midst of a number of other tasks and with a slow system, so I'm not even going to pretend that my case here is complete or entirely cogent.
But as memory serves, there was a financial bailout in recent memory on the order of $650 billion dollars, and some trouble in the real-estate sector. So it's not clear to me just how significant a $100m case is. Especially if other circumstances (noted above) meant the government was itself influencing the financial outcome (and limiting disclosure).
The question is less one of fabricated enforcement than selective enforcement, along with concerns over parallel construction.
Moreover, coercive punishment is straight out of Machiavelli or any two-bit warlord. How do you get your underpaid and resentful soldiers to do unspeakable things to the enemy on the battlefield? Threaten doing unspeakable things to them, their loved ones, and belongings yourself. That is a huge concern in any surveillance state.
I was curious as to just how Nacchio's case measures up with other prosecutions, and, actually, it's a pretty good-sized dollar amount, if one accepts the prosecutors' accounting. From the FBI, other financial crimes prosecuted 2007-2011:
"On December 6, 2010, the FFETF-Securities Fraud Working Group held a national press conference to announce the conclusion of OBT. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder gave remarks on behalf of DOJ. In coordination with the national press conference, local press conferences were held across the country by U.S. attorneys participating in the operation. The operation involved 343 criminal defendants nationwide and more than 120,000 victims with losses attributable to alleged criminal activity of more than $8 billion."
That works out to an average of $23 million per defendant.
"As of the end of FY 2011, the FBI was investigating 1,846 cases of securities and commodities fraud and had recorded 520 indictments/informations and 394 convictions against this criminal threat. Additional notable accomplishments in FY 2011 include: $8.8 billion in restitution orders; $36 million in recoveries; $113 million in fines; and $751 million in forfeitures. The chart below reflects securities and commodities fraud pending cases from FY 2007 through FY 2011."
Assuming $8.9 billion at hand, $17.1 million per indictment (not clear if cases involved multiple indictments).
Health care fraud (HCF):
"The following notable statistical accomplishments are reflective in FY 2011 for HCF: $1.2 billion in restitutions; $1 billion in fines; $96 million in seizures; $320 million in civil restitution; and over $1 billion in civil settlements. The chart below reflects HCF pending cases from FY 2007 through FY 2011."
The link also gives some idea of case volume and significant cases:
Corporate fraud pending cases ranged from 529 for FY 2007 to 726 for FY 2011.
Securities and Commodities fraud pending cases: 1,217 FY 2007 to 1,846 FY 2011.
Mortgage fraud "suspicious activity reports.
FY 2007: 45,717. FY 2011: 93,508.
Dollar losses (millions), pending cases:
2007: $813, 1,199
2008: $1,491, 1,642
2009: $2,798, 2,794
2010: $3,238, 3,129
2011: $3,029, 2,691
Beazer Homes: Involved restitution of $50 million
Colonial Bank and Taylor, Bean & Whitaker: Attempt to fraudulently acquire $553 million in TARP funding.
Galleon Group: Insider trading. No specific amount, but Galleon had $7 billion in assets.
Joseph Blimline, Porvident Royalties: $485 million fraud against 7,700 investors.
A&O Entities: $50 million diverted to personal benefit, another $100 million in Ponzi scheme, totalling $150 million for the seven defendants.
Nicholas Cosmo: A "several-hundred-million-dollar Ponzi scheme". $179 in restitution.
Glaxosmithkline: "A $600 million civil settlement under the False Claims Act was agreed upon in addition to $150 million in criminal fines and forfeiture."
American Therapeutic Corporation: "its owners and operators of facilities have submitted approximately $205 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare".
Luis Belevan, The Guardian Group: "defrauding at least 1,800 local distressed homeowners out of a $1,595 upfront fee for bogus promises of assistance .... Belevan generated almost $3 million in funds in just nine months"
Howard Shmuckler, the Schmuckler Group: "lients paid fees ranging from $2,500 to $25,000 to modify the terms of their mortgages" (no cumulative dollar amount specified).
Carl Cole, David Crisp: 140 fraudulent mortgage transactions on 108 properties with loans totaling $142 million.
Anthony Raguz: 1,000 fraudulent loans totalling $70 million, $1 m in bribes, etc., failure of St. Paul Croatian FCU for $170 million in losses.
Gary Foster, Citigroup: "embezzlement of more than $22 million from Citigroup."
William T. Hernandez: "ordered to pay $453,819 in restitution for embezzling money".
_Financial Institution Failures_
Donna Shebetich: "underreported millions of dollars in delinquent mortgages". Bank had $15.8 m in assets.
Elexa Manos: "a scheme to steal $4 million from the Dwelling House Savings & Loan".
Robert E. Maloney, Jr.: "a multi-million-dollar fraud and money laundering conspiracy." So, at least $2 million.
Other categories: insurance fraud, mass marketing fraud,
Barclays, NY: "This investigation resulted in the forfeiture of $298 million."
Credit Suisse: "This investigation resulted in the forfeiture of $536 million, which was the largest forfeiture ever received for this type of violation."
Fair Finance: "over 5,000 victim-investors totaling approximately $200 million in loss."
Galleon Group: "largest hedge fund insider trading scheme in history." No dollar amount, but $7 billion in the fund per above.
American Therapeutic Corporation: restitution payments of $87 and 72.7 million, totalling $159.7 million.
In court, the standard is that the prosecution should prove its case to the jury of the accused's peers beyond a reasonable doubt. That's great and should stay that way.
But for the purposes of Internet message board discussion, there's no need for that high of a threshold. The appeal didn't say Nacchio didn't insider-trade; just that his gains should be considered gains-less-taxes.
⚫ Defendants are entitled to defense. You might even say it's in the name.
⚫ People are entitled to exploration and speculation of both history and legal issues. Legally guaranteed that right in some places.
⚫ Why are you so intent on prosecuting him? For that matter, I note a pretty pronounced pro-Spook bias in many of your posts.
⚫ The circumstances which lead to Qwest's precarious financial state were largely, some might say entirely, the result of the Government's actions against the company for failure to comply with NSL and other intelligence requests.
⚫ I see nothing even in the prosecution's case which establishes that the sale of stock 1) wasn't part of a longer-term asset sale, that 2) it wasn't part of a pre-planned asset divestiture plan. Quite common, there's been previous discussion on HN, I believe, on planned sales by Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer of Microsoft stock.
⚫ If some of the "material, non-public information" related to surveillance requests, Nacchio was pretty much in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situation. Specifically: he was culpable if he disclosed the reason for target undershoots, or if he didn't.
The point remains that the document you've provided as definitive evidence is anything but.
That's a cheap shot. As you know, personal attacks are not welcome on Hacker News.
You usually do a good job of forcefully arguing your positions while remaining civil. We need you to keep doing that. Please set a right example, not a wrong one. This stuff matters.
It weakens your arguments when you stoop to the lower levels, anyway.
I get your point about remaining civil (though I disagree that stooping to lower levels always weakens one's arguments), and I commend you for taking such a proactive role in this, I really do. Sometimes though, discourse here has different problems than strictly has to do with civility, when I open a thread about yet another NSA scandal and I see tptacek pushing the very same hot button again and again, derailing all top discussion into something that has little if anything to do with the topic. Yes sure he is often technically correct, but he's a smart guy (really smart, and that is when I'd expect better, wouldn't you?), knowing very well that what and how he writes makes people think he's defending the NSA somehow. Somebody will engage, and the by now very familiar pattern unrolls in the same way it always does, taking up parts of the thread-space that could've been useful and interesting discussion. He could also make the same statement in a much less inflammatory way. Or simply not at all, because in this particular case he was pre-empting a sentiment that nobody actually claimed.
In short, I don't think forcefully arguing their positions would have addressed the frustrations that gave cause to coldtea's "cheap shot" (I can't really speak for him of course), but rather the opposite.
It's particularly harmful when a good writer or established user goes there, because then everybody else does and it's degenerate internet goo for the lot of us.
The old line about heat vs. light comes to mind. We can't have both. Hacker News is about clearing a place for thoughtful conversation, or at least trying to. This is not a subject matter thing, it's a quality thing.
"Yahoo also felt that warrantless requests placed discretion for data collection 'entirely in the hands of the Executive Branch without prior judicial involvement' thereby ceding to the government 'overly broad power that invites abuse” and possible errors that would result in scooping up data of U.S. citizens as well.'
When stories about PRISM first leaked, there was intense speculation that it was a system that gave the NSA direct access to servers.
If you don't cooperate with whatever they want you to do they'll get you for something, and then they'll paint you as the scum of the Earth in the media, so nobody pays too much attention to what they did exactly.
In one case, we have a socially decent person (fuck "law abiding", in this context) who is wronged by "justice".
In the other case, we have someone who got away with something wrong, only to be nailed for something else.
One person is a "solid citizen" (placed in quotes because, again, who knows what the fuck that means).
The other is Al Capone.
I don't know if I'm OK with going after Capone for reasons-unrelated-to-the-real-reason (taxes versus criminal conspiracy), but I think it's important to acknowledge the difference.
Something like insider trading is a particularly grey area, because directors trade all the time with more knowledge than the public (how could they not), and leaks of information happen all the time without punishment. I don't know all the details of this particular case, but I'd be skeptical of taking the conviction at face value, given the willingness of some branches of the US government to openly lie to the public, distort the truth, bypass or neuter the judicial branch, and vindictively punish and vilify those who refuse to cooperate in illegality or blow the whistle on their activities.
More generally, whether you take a conviction as a proof of moral turpitude relates to how much faith you have that the justice system in a given country is operating in a just, transparent and fair manner. If you don't have that faith, a criminal conviction means nothing in moral terms.
Otherwise you make a law for Al Capone and you end up prosecuting Aaron Swartz.
No, if "everyone that powerful has done something illegal" then the other is what we call a scape-goat.
Al Capone was in criminal business through and through, not someone who had a legit business and also "had done something illegal", much less something that "everybody that powerful" had also done.
Intent matters too. Catching Al Capone for tax evasion was meant to punish him for his larger serious crimes. Whereas in this situation (if it's as described), the caught the guy for "insider trading" to punish him for something else he did RIGHT.
They may have been confused by you writing, "Here's the indictment. It's quite straightforward." Either way, point is this is yet another NSA thread derailed by a smaller issue (insider trading vs. 4th amendment, domestic spying, etc). It's too bad people choose to engage and let it happen over and over.
I'm not saying that this thread or even HN is a victim of this.
I do want to use this opportunity to contribute that there are NSA programs designed to derail conversations.
As such, it's fairly one-sided. It's just what the prosecutor has presented to a grand jury, and the grand jury has said "yeah, that looks like enough evidence that it's worth having a trial." Note also that grand juries these days pretty much always just rubber-stamp whatever the prosecutor puts in front of them.
"Rather than tread over the ground well-described by my colleagues in the criminal defense bar, today I'd like to describe something else for you: what a federal grand jury proceeding looks like. From 1995 through 2000, I presented cases of varying complexity to federal grand juries as a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles. That experience did not inspire confidence in the process. Rather, it taught me that the adage that a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich is an understatement. A better description would be that the prosecution can show a grand jury a shit sandwich and they will indict it as ham without looking up from their newspapers. The notion that the Supreme Court relies upon — that the grand jury has a "historical role of protecting individuals from unjust persecution" — is not a polite fiction. A polite fiction would have some grounding in reality. It's an offensive fiction, an impudent fiction, a fiction that slaps you across the face and calls your mother a dirty bitch."
It's likely that Snowden doesn't know anything about it.
If you want more meat than that: the US government, and in fact the majority of modern Western-style governments, do not directly control enterprises ("that's fascism/marxism/communism") but there remains a need for governments to interact and leverage infrastructure, information and capabilities of private enterprises - a need that can not be fulfilled by the blunt instrument of eminent domain.
Western style governments instead rely on coercion and leverage and also provide market advantages (and sometimes "Soft Power"; look that up) to achieve policy goals. The idea is then that governments nudge private enterprises to efficiently allocate their resoures for the greater good that individual customers and market pressures can't account for (because the calculus of a consumer doesn't include national strategy and because access to restricted information can't make it into the marketplace).
A fantastic example of that is the global cyberintelligence war, which the US and Five Eyes would very much like to win, and you should a tleask hope that we don't lose. [The vast majority of the Snowden leaks are about international espionage and sabotage (not about 'terrorism', the 2000's boogyman; find more in previous comments by yours truly).] There are other examples such as private enterprises with shared strategic interests having been invited to participate in international treaties like the Trans Pacific Partnership.
This has its own sort of internal self-consistent logic that is somewhat grounded in, although also represents a significant departure from, the ideas of Western 'Enlightenment' thinkers.
A criticism of this sort of leverage is that it has to grow more and more intense as the need, frequency, and scope of demands intensify due to resource exhaustion, accumulating expenses/promises, and competition with large centrally organized states and other Western-style states that are willing to interfere more to compete more (the 'prisoner dilemma' or 'tragedy of the commons' scenario). Every person you ask will give you a different answer on how much of this behavior, if any at all, has been happening.
The current conception of the state is that it must correct the market where it fails to allocate things efficiently (natural monopolies, etc) and that it may also collectivize cost where chance or circumstance have the power ruin individuals (providing emergency services during storms, snowplows during winter, equal access to education even for the poverty stricken) for the same reason people collectivize risk via insurance. But that otherwise it should remain minimal in size. I acknowledge there are debates about the concept of the state that would fill libraries. These are broad strokes.
States have learned that wielding private enterprises for both Soft Power (having the world rely on US company services or Chinese goods, owning water supply [Nestle]) and coercive power (withholding access to treatments and cures of diseases, manipulating social media to stir unrest, exporting favorable financial regulations via the WTO and World Bank [why BRICS made their own]) and by giving domestic corporations favors so that they can compete internationally (traditionally tariffs, huge tax subsidies (sugar), and recently information from the cyberintelligence war) as well as financial manipulations (manipulating currency exchange rates so that they are favored for export) enable them to achieve policy goals. Countries must participate if their competitors are, sort of like a cold war but without the existential threat of annihilation.
So states play a large part in the fluxuations of markets. Some of this is highly public ("Today at 9:00, China bans bitcoins"), but others are surreptitious.
In so many words: because it is 'invisible' and because it is a 'hand'.
From what I can tell - yes - he was guilty of insider trading by the letter of the law. Sharing insider information as CEO about the future of the company with shareholders is by definition insider trading. Despite circumstances, warning that contracts were being gutted is still illegal.
Of course, insider trading laws are broken on a minute-to-minute basis by hundreds of corporate executives and others. If you want to nail someone for insider trading, and they have a management position at a company, you could do it fairly easily. White collar crime is very rarely even investigated, let alone prosecuted or punished, though.
"My boss was an asshole today." Fine.
"We're about to get bought out for $x million." Very much not fine.
Well if your boss was an asshole today, because you can't make any sales that's something you can say as a realtor in a private company, but can't say as the guy trying to close XXX,000 sized seat contracts at a public company because your inability to perform is going to be reflected in the quarterly reports.
> "We're about to get bought out for $x million." Very much not fine.
Here's another example. If your company is in the process of a public merger, and you're publicly involved in the M&A process you can't throw a wild party the day before the public announcement of its success, because someone will inevitably ask "why are you guys celebrating?"
Heck, there are people that had the death penalty due to planted evidence and/or witnesses in favor of them ignored, only to be found innocent decades later, through newer findings like DNA.
So who really knows, especially in particularly charged cases with special interest like this.
Consider if Yahoo refused to honor the requests, and began accruing the fines. Presumably, if they didn't pay the huge bill for their fines, what would happen?
Surely, $250k/day would rack up fast... As I see it, eventually Yahoo would rack up such a bill that they couldn't afford it, and any collection of the fee by the government would force Yahoo to close its doors. At that point, surely they'd have to reveal something to the general public about said requests, and the fines, and everything else going on behind the scenes...
I could tell you a story about this squeaky clean guy I know who's in prison for fraud, because he refused to comply with a secret court order... but I can't, because I don't want to join him.
I could tell you another story about a barrister I know who had his career destroyed and his wife "suicided" for refusing to do certain things around a trial in the UK - but again, I fear repercussions should I say anything.
In fact, this is probably too much.
Suffice to say that of what you read in the press about the misdoings of important individual X should be taken with a heaping of salt and a cynical eye.
We live in the age of assassination without murder.
Additionally, merely by dint of me being able to know these things about these people it would make clear who I am, as I dare say there are a limited number of folks who have these two in their graph, and an even more limited number who are publicly anti-establishment, and thus potentially negate my ability to do anything positive about this.
Sorry. If I do opt to go public with these tales it'll be via the Grauniad or somesuch, as only with significant clout, correlation and voice will there be any impact - otherwise it'll just be reburied in disinformation.
Language changes depending on how you want the person to feel about a subject.
if you want people to hate and revile someone for doing something you do call it something strong and fierce (blackmail) if you want to do something yourself make it sound lawful (IE; parallel construction).
then they say you did something illegal and you're immoral.
then you appear like you're lashing out at a government- trying to blame them instead of atoning for past transgressions.
For 2008 the percentage may well have been higher.
It's actually a fairly interesting point on reflection. I look at it as metabolic efficiency.
Note that YHOO's profit margins are fairly high as well.
Yahoo is about to get $20bn+ in cash in about 2 weeks, so they can hold out these fines for about 80,000 days.
These kinds of fines are usually issued for contempt of court. Judges don't take kindly to parties that try to ignore a court order, which would include writing off a court imposed fine as a cost of business.
There's few things more terrifying than an angry judge with full power of contempt. There's no principle of proportionality, which gives judges almost unlimited authority. See Chadwick v Janecka (3rd Cir. 2002) as an example.
What's the worst thing the government could do to Yahoo that would go unnoticed by the public, if Yahoo didn't comply?
But if your point is that the NSA have no law enforcement role, that's salient.
Also: check your mail WRT http://idlewords.com/bt14.htm
I've posted a few fixes to that (excellent piece BTW) from my gmail account.
It's easy to think of shady secret things the government could do to coerce Yahoo! in to either complying or paying. But at the end of the day, there's always people with guns.
I think the point of the OP is that "people with guns" get to be pretty hard to hide at larger scales.
Not much will change until the people in Washington are changed and changed regularly. the system is engineered to protect those in office and they are very good at manipulating the public into helping them maintain that dominance; namely bills to supposedly prevent money in politics - except it really only blocks money for views that don't support their views.
i think I have seen it somewhere, hightway interdiction. I am sure that they have a way to do whatever they want.
nevermind bombing contries that refuse to give up controls to energy resources or are controlling flow of those. like um Syria or Ukraine.
If they did, it would just come out of the pockets of taxpayers anyways.
Was it some high level official? An intern?
I can imagine this dialogue taking place:
(Two bureaucrat monkeys. They just got back from lunch from cafeteria at Ft. Meade. Their tummies are bit heavy with greasy hamburgers. Settling in to finish their day before 2pm. One last thing needs to be done -- deciding on this PRISM non-compliance issue)
M0: What if they don't comply?
M1: We'll punish them!
M1: Well...we'll make them pay.
M0: How much?
M1: [Puts pinkie finger to the corner of his mouth] Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars a day!
M0: Great idea, M1
(They wrap up before clock hits 2pm. Get in their cars. One goes to pick up kids from soccer practice. Other drives straight home, to his bachelor-pad apartment in College Park, MD).
Wonder what and how the people who generated and viewed this documents feel about them being on the front page of news sites. I can only hope they feel a tiny bit violated and betrayed. Kind of like when someone breaks in and steals your things. Or violates your privacy.
Control: Yes, Tony?
Tony: If I may ask, how did you determine this sum of a 150,000 pounds a day?
Control: A very good question, Tony. You see, I simply took the figure that our American cousins have calculated using a supercomputer, and converted the currency.
Tony: That's very clever of you, Control.
Control: Thank you, Tony. It proves that what we lack by way of resources we make up for with good old British ingenuity.
But you make a good point. There was a real life human (or humans) on the creating end of that number.
Do you think they believe they're actually fighting for American Freedoms and Security?
Yes, they probably do think that.
Would that have been material enough to require disclosure in Yahoo's public filings? If so, how would it have been described? It seems as if by complying with SEC regulations, Yahoo would have been forced to violate secrecy rules with regards to the origin of the fine.
That would have been an interesting conundrum.
Not reporting the exact details of a $90m acquisition is not a huge deal (for Yahoo). Not reporting on-going government fines that have amounted to $90m in a year, would be a huge deal. One is in theory the acquisition of value and enhances the business, the other is just a black hole of cash destruction.
Further, beyond the money, intentionally doing something against the US Government such that you're getting fined per day, is a big issue for shareholders to know about. Especially given the power the government wields these days.
A few months later the government would want to demand Yahoo pay them millions of dollars........ but be entirely incapable of explaining WHY they were owed this money at all. That would have been a very interesting event.
There's no reason to believe the daily fine wouldn't continuously increase, or that executives wouldn't eventually be put in jail for contempt.
And keep in mind you can be held in jail indefinitely for contempt of court, as long as you remain in noncompliance.
And if we wander into nefarious approaches, well, Yahoo was going to comply no matter what if the Feds felt like they needed it to happen for PRISM to be effective.
The curious mind in me would like to see a parallel universe in which a major company responds to these threads by leaving the US entirely (or threatening to do so) and then running an anti agency here campaign for years to spite them.
Or maybe a big enough company that takes them heads on and crushes them...well I guess I've been reading too much dystopia fiction recently and am curious how the megacorps > governments scenario would actually be kickstarted.
[the situation is too sad for me to think about it in realistic terms, sorry for the minor derail]
Everyone was told why including the investors.
Not a major company (<$50M capital) but it stirred the pot big time in a particular sector of the insurance industry and pissed off a number of large investors in the US.
Or the reality of a destroyed life leads them to suicide as the only way out. Prison is pretty terrible.
"The company disputed the initial order in 2007 because it deemed the bulk demand for email metadata to be unconstitutionally broad."
That is neither what the government demanded nor the reason Yahoo appealed. How did the reporter get this so wrong?
What happens next? Do the feds forcibly shut down the company?
Way to go Yahoo for sticking it our then.
That's called 'contempt of court' and would cause the fines to go up the second the judge realized how they took it.
Most of the rights that we pride ourselves on today were gained by citizen action (strikes, demonstrations) that were more often than not violently oppressed by the authorities, until the pressure threatened to undermine the stability of the system, in which case they threw some bones and progress was made.
One could fear that the advanced state of surveillance, mass media brainwashing, and militarization of police forces has all but closed this avenue for change.
Most of the rights were gained by those outside of the entrenched power structures, whether it was a handful of founding fathers at the Constitutional Convention, Martin Luther King in the streets of Alabama, or newly-minted labor unions in the early 20th century factories.
Over time, all of these institutions developed and ossified, creating a ruling class that sought to preserve their own power rather than pursue their original missions that were meaningful and beneficial.
has all but closed this avenue for change
I feel like we've definitely passed a point of no return. We've lost the cohesion of purpose in this country to accomplish important things because the ruling class keeps us divided while they remain united, at least for the purpose of amassing power.
The only thing we have going for us is that most of the rest of the world suffers from the same set of problems, so relatively speaking, we're not that bad. The USA was something new for a while where the amassing of money was okay, but citizens recognized the evil of amassed power.
While I’ll admit that anyone can make a mistake once, to go on making the same lethal errors century after century seems to me nothing short of deliberate.
You have encouraged these malicious incompetents, who have made your working life a shambles.
You have accepted without question their senseless orders.
You have allowed them to fill your workspace with dangerous and unproven machines.
You could have stopped them.
All you had to say was “No.”
You have no spine. You have no pride.”
And I'm seeing the same pattern in the EU where I live since it basically copies whatever the US does.
"Fascist governments encouraged the pursuit of private profit and offered many benefits to large businesses, but they demanded in return that all economic activity should serve the national interest."
The biggest question is what to do, and how to do it. Clearly, we have to fix things, but how do we fix a fascism problem that is deeply ingrained in the roots of power and spans multiple countries economic, social, military, and political structures?
Seriously, you typed this statement and thought what? "Now we'll finally have a fruitful discussion on the hacker site"?
400 innocent children were killed indiscriminately in the span of 6 weeks in Gaza. But your vim configuration is more worthy of discussion here? Idk...
For instance: >400 innocent children were killed indiscriminately in the span of 6 weeks in Gaza
The bias implicit in this suggests that you consider that either someone agrees with your point of view, or else they support the slaughter of innocent children. Which further suggests that what you're looking for is not discussion, but pro-Palestinian advocacy, as there is no room for discussion in your framing. And of course it's impossible for me to suggest the nature of your bias without expressing my own bias.
Which is fine, if that's what you want there are other forums for such things, but that's not what most people come to Hacker News for. One-sided political discussions are not very interesting, and never fruitful.
There is no bias. Either he is lying, or he is not. You can sugar-coat the discussion any way you want to wiggle out of it, but facts and lies are what count.
And yeah, you're right. There is only one side, and that's the side of "the best available truth". Not that people understand any of that jazz with all the "bias" being thrown back and forth in the media. Your post included.
Honestly, I don't even know enough about this recent Gaza/Israel thing. Just commenting on your "bias" retort to the parent's assertion that 400 children were killed.
Also, the comparison with Nazi Germany is wrong. The US does not have any racial ideology, it wants to dominate economically and militarily, not destroy if it doesn't have to.
A government that is fascist doesn't mean automatically that it has any policies towards certain races. It just means that it gradually removes freedoms of its citizens in every sphere to excert greater control over its population.
The only reason that muslims are victimized on this scale is that mostly muslims live in that region. If the region was mostly habitated by a buddhist or jewish population that isn't compliant with US demands, then buddhists or jews would be the victims.
I think what he is saying is that the fascist governments and capabilities of Israel and the U.S. would have been envied by Nazi germany.
Maybe he has a point. Just consider the recent round of violence (to put it lightly, some might call it ethnic cleansing) in gaza. Now consider the success of dehumanizing the palestinians to the point where nobody in the world -- not even the arab nations took significant diplomatic action against Israeli aggression. Consider that in context of the scale of destruction of civilian infrastructure and the rate of civilian casualties. Huge propaganda success. All in this day and age of twitter/fb despite near total destruction of Gaza and overwhelming deaths of civilians.
How many countries outside of south america recalled ambassadors? How much divestment? How many canceled contracts gas/weapons/settlement-products? Nothing significant enough to reverse Israeli actions. In the end, Israel only stopped because there was nothing left to destroy.
There are a lot of criticisms to be leveled against Israel, but accusing them of genocide doesn't pass the sniff test. That's more an ideological framing and comment on the person leveling said criticisms than it is a reflection of reality.
The Nazis would be jealous of any modern state's computing power, military might, and intelligence capabilities. But so would literally any other empire in history. I mean, how jealous of modern air power would Napoleon be?
Update: Agree with smcl, disengaging ;)
Keeping out of the debate entirely is fine, but if we're doing that, let's downvote and reject posts like the ones in this thread by yamayb and jdimov that are packed with inflammatory rhetoric that has nothing to do with the original topic here.
I wish more people would be outraged by where the u.s. Is going and just leave. If you're educated, have desirable skills, you can just come to Europe. If you think you can change what's happening in the u.s. I do not agree with you. You will lose to the political class. They have 100% of their time to focus on restraining you while you have to focus on building your business.
The u.s. has become a force for evil in the world. It has been at war for almost the entire time of its existence. In the past Americans were protected from that reality but now the u.s. seems to be even at war with its citizens and businesses.
If you don't like what's happening in the u.s. you can quit your company you're building and become a politician, or you can just take your skills and knowledge to someplace different. But don't forget to continue filing your u.s. taxes.
Making new ids every now and then is strange, there is absolutely no need for that unless you are divulging something that might cost you your job or that you're embarrassed to share.
As for your 'come to Europe' call, America needs critical Americans just as much as Europe needs critical Europeans. The better solution would be to push for change locally, rather than to instigate a brain drain.
Europe has just as many problems as the US does, the only difference is that we do not yet have a European president with sufficient power to wield to cause real trouble. But we're getting there. And then what would you tell any Americans that you've tempted here with greener pastures? If you want to improve the world the best place to do it is right where you're living.
Cycling through IDs online seems like a great way to prevent stuff from haunting you later. It's hard to predict what will turn out to be embarrassing or can cost you your job later.
In theory, you would need to be very careful to prevent a determined adversary from chaining those IDs together and back to you. In practice, it seems unlikely that anyone would be that determined.
Plus have you ever had a European burrito? It's not pretty.
All kidding aside - the euro countries are no better than the US in these areas. They have different code-names and the agencies are different, but they're all going the same direction.
There's decent Mexican inn Basel. A Mexican and 1/2 Mexican Swiss have a restaurant.
Also there's a Vietnamese restaurant here called "Hong Kong Lounge". The crimes don't end at the US border.
We in the EU like to smugly look at the USA with an air of superiority. But we're not much different — there is a small group that is outraged, and most people simply don't care.
Do you truly believe you'll be able to change anything? Remember, people that reason about these sorts of things are the exception, not the rule. The majority just gobble up whatever "militaristic propaganda" (as one of the siblings called it) is fed to them by the media.
Willingly working in America is supporting the surveillance and military state. Yes, Canada is part of Five Eyes, but the political will to surveil everything is centred in America and the UK, Canada is just along for the ride because the cost to our defensive interests is too great to go against our NATO / NORAD arrangements.
I might add, Europe has also been at war for most of the time it has been inhabited. Just because parts of Europe have taken a break for the last 60 years doesn't negate this.
Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if that was even built in to humans on a sociological level. The recurring need for sword/spear/arrow/cannon fodder has been a socially acceptable way to prevent accumulation of an excess of (male) population. As soon as there are too many disgruntled people, those in power start to worry. Sending this cumbersome segment of population off to be killed has been, historically, a perfectly valid way to deal with the problem. (It has also provided a very convenient way to direct attention away from domestic problems.)
Nature shows the same tendency. When a local population of a species grows too great, lack of resources forces some of them to migrate outside their "normal" region. The inhabitants of the regions under invasion fight back, and eventually things return to an equilibrium.
Europe also has a long and bloody history. Sadly it seems violence and tribalism are intrinsic to the human condition. Hopefully we fix this at some point.
(I'm not trying to justify the actions of the US incidentally. I don't approve of war for profit. But it is hardly the first time an empire has engaged in wars of profit.)
Except (among others):
1) The US intervention in the insurgency in Cuba (the "Sugar Intervention") which ran from 1917-1922.
2) The US intervention in China from about 1922-1927.
3) The use of the US military to clear the protesting "Bonus Army" of US veterans in Washington D.C. in 1932.
There may be 21 years without armed conflict by the US in its history, but they aren't 21 years in a row.
The original commenter is trying to compare the number of years the US was involved in military conflicts vs. Europe. If you're going to include events as obscure as the sugar intervention (of which I found very little mention in books about Cuban history and US/Caribbean relations) then I doubt the comparison would be very meaningful.
The conflicts that became WWII started at different times in different places.
Problems are all over the world. Europe has them too and more may be coming. Going to Europe won't remove a person from problems. It will simply switch one set of problems for another.
I might add... the US is a big and diverse country. Things that might be a problem in one area are not a problem in another. Don't agree with the international military actions of the US? Well... I agree. The US is too quick to use violence usually and doesn't take a long term view. But this is often done (as of late) with the secret approval of the managers of Europe who generally also benefit from this aggressive stance.
I agree that the US is a force for evil in the world. Getting other Americans to believe this is extremely difficult, as it is directly contrary to decades of militaristic propaganda.
I'm of the opinion that all Western governments are headed down this path, inevitably. It's going to take a lot of violence and bloodshed (read: murdering the rich in their sleep) to "fix" this.
Well, you're a pleasant fellow.
Pick up a history book.
Once the government disarms us, I'll probably leave. That will be the final nail in freedom's coffin.
Our democratic government has never used force illegally, violated our rights, and has never exceeded its Constitutional authority. That's why there are so many popular posts on HN lauding the US government for its benevolence.
Let me ask you, specifically, why would you want to disarm me?
Take away guns, I have knife. Take away knifes, I have fertilizer and diesel fuel. Take those away, I have propane tanks and model rocket engines. Take those away, I have beer bottles, gasoline, and rags.
Take all that away and we can't have BBQ's because no one has fuel to get there, propane to grill, beers to drink, knives to cut meat, and rags to clean up. I don't want to live in your "safe" world.
Bother, you have effect confused with cause. Guns don't cause violence. People cause violence and will use what ever tool is at their disposal to have that effect.
You are not gonna do what we like? It's gonna cost ya. Next we are gonna break Marissa's legs.
And if you are the government or a business and you can't win, you change the rules so that you can.
Democracy does not coexist with expansive secret court systems...
Luckily, they realized that nothing of worth is on Yahoo.
They are either in bed with NSA or will be very soon. I laugh how gullible some people are.
"But they owner told me that they will stand up to US government with 3M seed round guys!"