To NSA Or Not To NSA?

I’ve not been in a kerfuffle over NSA revelations for a number of reasons. The first of which is, I assumed it was going on beginning quite some time ago. If a school district can turn on the camera on your computer, I was reasonably sure the NSA could do it as well. In the second case, Google, Amazon and Facebook profile you and your behaviors on a minute to minute basis. Granted we comport some degree of voluntary action but they as well gather information, market it, create profiles and monetize their innovations: gathering information for resale and market analysis is a crucial part of their business plans. In some ways they do what the NSA does. Private sector players know what you’re buying trends are; what kinds of books you read and the music you like. Credit Card companies know where you’ve been. Facebook can trace who you associate with and how you communicate. Third an objective review of the information we give away either voluntarily or as a mandatory part of opening a bank account, getting a drivers license, a mortgage etc, must lead to the perception that traditional views of privacy have long since gone the way of the Dodo Bird.

Want to evaluate where ‘privacy’ stands today? Try to figure out what you’d have to do to ‘drop off the grid’ and the privacy issue will rise up like Godzilla in Tokyo harbor. No bills, no credit cards, no bank accounts, no job and no connections to the energy grid, barrels of cash and potentially a false identity, just to name a few.

Finally, I’m a national security hawk, 9/11 made me that way and I’ve spend over a decade carefully studying the threats that face us, they’re history and the motivation for those threats.

Those threats maintain my attention and what is currently scary is the politicization of the issue and the intelligence community writ large. Edward Snowden scares me as he ran into the arms of Vlad Putin. American operatives put in harm’s way by exposure scares me, missing the critical link that connects dots scares me. Waiting for the DOJ to go to court while the next evolution of the Tsarnaev brothers lights the fuse scares me. What scares me the most is the President’s comprehensive inability to handle the issue with a scintilla of courage, consistency or leadership ability.

The President will bestow American Constitutional protections on ‘foreign’ entities and persons because they whined. Apparently whining gets the job done, unless you’re an American. He will add ‘protections’ which in common language is a political fig leaf that may actually inhibit the NSA from doing its job’ as efficiently as possible. More regulations will arise that are inherently unnecessary and motivate an expanding bureaucracy; this, in the absence of a single known case where an innocent American was harmed by NSA intelligence gathering. If we want to look for harm, we should look to the N.Y. Times that has exposed American secret programs three times in recent years with the only tangible benefit being to the bad guys who changed their tactics making it yet harder to deal with them.

What is really at issue here is the President’s leadership ability and integrity. He railed against NSA programs as a Senator and candidate. He castigated those who would engage in surveillance calling it illegal, unethical and un-American. As he came to office he expanded the very programs he railed about, but he didn’t know anything about until Mr. Snowden exposed the programs and the President read about it in the papers.

Stop right there! Logical disconnect alert; how did candidate Obama know enough about NSA programs to label them as illegal and un-American when he supposedly knew nothing about them until he read about it in the papers. He doesn’t want the NSA to store the data but has not a clue who should when there are only two choices; the NSA or the telephone companies. Once again, the Presidents integrity is in question as his ability to lead on nearly any issue related to American Security.

He should have simply made the case for robust national security capabilities. But, he opted for the ‘kissing your sister’ approach. It’s a kiss but it doesn’t really mean anything. He did the minimal amount that could be done to quiet the political waters and make life, potentially, more difficult for the intelligence gathering infrastructure. He will put the DOJ in the middle of the process; please no! Oh no; not the DOJ, what could possibly go wrong with Eric Holder at the helm and in a position to inflict his prejudices on the process?

He should have told leaders such as Chancellor Merkel to ‘stand down’ and seriously think about putting their ‘big boy’ pants back on. Spying is endemic, everyone does it, including those crying blue murder. I can’t decide if they’re offended at the spying or jealous of the capabilities. If the President were to offer anyone a guarantee it should have been elected officials in the U.S. That apparently was less important that Ms. Merkle.

He should have told us that the specter of terrorism does in fact reside here in America and that it is motivated in large measure by foreign sources. The ability to connect those foreign sources to individuals in America is a crucial capability.

The President has bestowed upon those that rail against the most fundamental of American values and beliefs, in particular Islamists, social cover, religious cover, political cover and cover from being profiled by Federal law enforcement. Shall we now bestow freedom from being held accountable for dangerous foreign associations?

  • Bob

    This has been a topic I have been following very closely because I am a Constitutional conservative and the violation of our rights in any instance outrages me.

    Let’s begin with a little background on how individuals today view their privacy to start off. America of 2014 doesn’t value privacy and has no idea nor do they care what Communist regimes did with intelligence gathering from their citizenry. Americans join Twitter, Facebook and any other social network and post their entire family history and embarrassing pictures of themselves without blinking an eye. Their complacency is based on convenience without considering the consequences.They are asked before entering a web site “do you agree to the terms….but don’t read them but just click access to the site. Like attempting to control access to the atom bomb once the information is out there it’s out of your control. We we’re threatened as children that “this is going on your permanent record” …WELL THIS IS YOUR PERMANENT RECORD !

    NOW FOR THE GOVERNMENTS SIDE lets start by saying no where does the words “Right to Privacy” show up in the Constitution. The Search and Seizure amendment like the rest of the Bill of Rights has to do with limiting government authority. The press conference the President held this past week was a Public relations move to mollify the public and is about as reassuring as being on the “No Call” list protects you from annoying phone calls. Lets forget for a moment his promises on the health care issue and how reliable they were.The President soothed the publics concern with his rhetorical tripe about how the government will no longer store data……Pssst! the government forced the telecommunications industry into participating in this program originally and could just as well force them into storing the information for future retrieval. He also promised that the government will not gather information on our shores again. If I remember right President Bush made a similar promise about torturing prisoners and got around that by outsourcing it to foreign countries. President Obama hasn’t in the past and has no future regard to follow the rules of law. He stated that the NSA needs to restore confidence with the American public. That has been his entire operating procedure since he became President,feign outrage and innocence, promise to investigate, and promise the injustice to be corrected. No action will be taken…….just an empty promise. He even attempted to form an investigative committee of his cronies but when they came back with suggestions he didn’t want to hear he ignored those recommendations.

    We went through this same song and dance back in the 1970’s and the FISC court was set up with the idea that the government had to justify and get an approval on an individual basis from a court before they could invade privacy. The FISC court turned out to be a puppet of the government and rubber stamped approval. Not once was it proven any of the information gathered prevented a terrorist attack. But that mask wasn’t the basis of the government gathering individual information on such a vast scale. And nothing could please the President more than to continue the status quo.

  • Bill Hedges

    April 25, 2012

    “Fifty Terror Plots Foiled Since 9/11: The Homegrown Threat and the Long War on Terrorism”

    “Abstract: In 2007, The Heritage Foundation became the first and only organization to track thwarted terrorist attacks against the United States. That year, Heritage reported that at least 19 publicly known terrorist attacks against the United States had been foiled since 9/11. Today, that number stands at 50. The fact that the United States has not suffered a large-scale attack since 9/11 speaks to the country’s counterterrorism successes. But, one year after the death of Osama bin Laden, the long war on terrorism is far from over. Reviewing the terrorist plots that have been foiled since 9/11 can provide valuable information for understanding the nature of the threat, as well as best practices for preventing the next attack. The U.S. must also be ready to adapt its security strategies—such as to counter terror attacks by an increasing number of homegrown terrorists.”

    http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/04/fifty-terror-plots-foiled-since-9-11-the-homegrown-threat-and-the-long-war-on-terrorism

  • Bob

    You want Chutz-pah:

    The President after waiving,ignoring and unilaterally rewriting Congressional statutes for 5 years said during his speech last week “Our system of government is built on the premise that our liberty can not depend on the good intentions of those in power it depends upon the law to constrain those in power.”

    According to the White House investigative panel assigned by the President THERE IS NO PROOF THAT ANY SPYING ON THE PART OF THE NSA PREVENTED ANY ATTACKS.

    The article entitled: ” NSA Program Stopped No Terror Attacks Says White house Panel” (dated 20th December 2013)

    http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/12/20/21975158-nsa-program-stopped-no-terror-attacks-says-white-house-panel-member?lite

  • Bill Hedges

    From bob’s link:

    “While Stone said the mass collection of telephone call records was a “logical program” from the NSA’s perspective, one question the White House panel was seeking to answer was whether it had actually stopped “any [terror attacks] that might have been really big.”

    Key stipulation:

    “…actually stopped “any [terror attacks] that might have been really big.”

    911 qualifies as “really big”. TRUE. NO “really big” attacks occurred. However A LOT OF FOLKS were FOUND GUILTY & sit in a JAIL CELL. Though not necessarily because of DIRECT ACTION by NSA per se.

    Heritage Foundation with documentation list fifty since 911. List is self evident IF NSA had any involvement. Heightened alertness due to 911 & possibilities of future attacks, may have easily been deterrent/uncovering/stopping attacks.

    In any event, NO “really big” attacks occurred. HOWEVER attempts AT TERRORISM occurred BUT not “really big”.

    Usually what you hear from antiterrorist officials is “neither confirm nor deny” IF THAT. Protecting their sources & methods. I for one want NO microscope dissecting & then observing national security. Plastered ALL OVER the internet & the 6:00 pm news.

    IRS investigating conservative organization taxes IS abuse of power when done for political reasons. A pat down before entering a airplane is acceptable infringement upon my privacy when done WITHIN guidelines. Similar guideline standards for certain government agency BIG BROTHER surveillance_ telephone calls, length, & sometimes recording.

    Our Rights ARE _con·tin·gent _upon circumstance. Same for government. My land IS MINE if I pay for including paying taxes. Live within its zoning restrictions. Follow the law. Conservation department has rights to enter my property. One can be required to get rid of septic tank & spend $$$ to hook up to city sewer. Government can confiscate my land for OTHERS needs. I can not smoke certain weeds & eat certain types of mushrooms. For awhile drink no alcoholic beverage. They can even limit where I take a leak on my OWN property.

    I wish phone conversation was simple as doing only in legally confined facilities. Constitution DOES LIMIT our rights & that of government. Some assign Federal papers to the magnitude status as Constitution. Certainly Amendments our Fathers provided for change. With Supreme Court providing guidance.

    Under certain conditions government can put gun in my hand possibly leading to my death. Government can TAKE MY LIFE THROUGH due process.

    Due process. Many meanings. Many requirements. Much responsibilities. Often written in pencil with eraser attached. With separate entity called Judicial to monitor & strike down if need arises…

  • Bob

    While the Heritage Foundation has every right to their own OPINION on how to handle national security lets not confuse “preventing attacks” with the reality of padding numbers. Below you will find an article entitled “FBI Organizes Almost All Terror Plots In The US”.It tells of how the Bureau is responsible for plotting terrorist schemes by encouraging and providing terrorist with funds and weapons for entrapment purposes.

    http://rt.com/usa/fbi-terror-report-plot-365-899/

  • Bob

    Looking over Bill’s beliefs on what rights you possess and where the limitations of the government authority ends I can understand why he has the go with the flow establishment views that he does.

    “We the sheeple” was not what our founding fathers had in mind and from my past experience it would take to long to straighten his stubborn views out.

    • Bill Hedges

      bob wrote:

      “my past experience it would take to long to straighten his stubborn views out.”

      Non responsive rely. Put DOWN WITHOUT with out SUPPORT provided by bob.

      MY SUPPORT SHINES in my previous comment…

  • Bill Hedges

    bob I do not _ par·take _ in automatic dismissal of your comments AS YOU DO MINE. I rely on FACTS.

    YOU do know I read links provided ???

    This is bob’s link ATTEMPTING to discredit my Heritage Foundation article. bob WONDERS why so many of his links I TRASH !!! Observe & learn WHY:

    NOTE_ LIBERAL HEAVEN

    “A recent report put together by Mother Jones and the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California-Berkley”

    1. “The problem with the cases we’re talking about is that defendants would not have done anything if not kicked in the ass by government agents,” Martin Stolar tells Mother Jones. Stolar represented the suspect involved in a New York City bombing plot that was set-up by FBI agents. “They’re creating crimes to solve crimes so they can claim a victory in the war on terror.” For their part, the FBI says this method is a plan for “preemption,” “prevention” and “disruption.”

    A LAWYER trying to destroy FBI case against his client. Why would I distrust his statement ? Especially when the lawyer’s client was found GUILTY. Reasons needed for appeal after all.

    I watch COPS on tv nearly nightly. They sometimes sell dope. NOT ENTRAPMENT. Same for prostitution. Same for cars to steal. Etc.. SOP_ Standard Operational Procedure.

    2. “Experts note that the chance of winning a terrorism-related trial, entrapment or not, is near impossible. “The plots people are accused of being part of — attacking subway systems or trying to bomb a building — are so frightening that they can overwhelm a jury,” David Cole, a Georgetown University law professor, tells Mother Jones. Since 9/11, almost two-thirds of the cases linked to terrorism have ended with guilty pleas. “They don’t say, ‘I’ve been entrapped,’ or, ‘I was immature,’” a retired FBI official remarks.”

    Lawyer using CRY ME A RIVER excuses. Stronger the case MORE LIKELY the lawyer will accept a plea bargain if offered.

    4. “All of this and those guilty pleas often stem for just being in the right place at the wrong time. Farhana Khera of the group Muslim Advocate notes that agents go into mosques on “fishing expeditions” just to see where they can get interest in the community. “The FBI is now telling agents they can go into houses of worship without probable cause,” says Khera. “That raises serious constitutional issues.”

    Maybe Landreaux knows of Farhana Khera. Khera IS a “Muslim Advocate”. Call him HONEST ABE ??? NOT LIKELY. His job is to give Muslims squeaky clean image with FBI opposite character.

    http://rt.com/usa/fbi-terror-report-plot-365-899/

    THIS be your proof bob ? Forget about it. Ties to liberal bleeding hearts is overwhelming. Conjecture without HARD EVIDENCE…

    • Bob

      Bill:

      There seems to be a lag between when you send your post and when it shows up on my screen. The last two post you sent dated 23rd January @4:37Pm and @9:28PM I didn’t receive until 24th January @ 9:45 AM.

      I have noticed this for some time now and it is the reason some of your responses don’t get immediate answers. I don’t believe it is on my end because other post and “E” mails come through immediately. Have you noticed anything in this regard?

  • Bob

    “The RNC called on republican lawmakers to immediately take action to halt the unconstitutional surveillance programs and provide full accounting of NSA data collecting programs.”

    From the article entitled: “RNC Slams Unconstitutional NSA Spying”

    http://www.politico.com/story/2014/01/rnc-nsa-spying-102571.html?hp=l9

    I would have loved to see the faces of establishment republicans like Senator McCain, Gov.’s Huckabee and Barber and Rep. King who backed the NSA in their spying when this passed……….LMAO

  • Bill Hedges

    Landreaux wrote:

    “I’ve not been in a kerfuffle over NSA revelations for a number of reasons. The first of which is, I assumed it was going on beginning quite some time ago. If a school district can turn on the camera on your computer, I was reasonably sure the NSA could do it as well.”

    “Not been in a kerfuffle” because perhaps__ Supreme Court ruling of “no reasonable expectations” of privacy seemed to be logical extension.

    Is not ALL encompassing & has many stipulations. I like to compare it to Founding Fathers had fractalize Chrystal ball of what would come about more than a century later & beyond. My own father would be amazed at the chances since his death. Laws attempt to adapt to changing technology as well out new threats to our national concerns.

    In comparison, eminent domain can be done properly or NOT. Properly it interferes with the rights of an individual BUT for the good of the community. Legal process is in place to LOOK OUT for the individual. Proper payment IS PAID if government & individual can not reach settlement. Eminent domain has been tested & stood the test of time & court challenge. Amended of course as is our Constitution. That is the nature of the beast & legislators bills are enacted with INTERPRETATION of bill ON GOING.

    Bush exceeded restraints as did buma concerning privacy RIGHTS. Both said/did scale back and joined the legal limitation. Difference seems to be buma preferred to GO THE EXTRA off road miles after being alerted he’s out of legal boundaries. There IN lies ABUSE OF POWER & POSSIBLE … sanctions.

    When Checks & Balances are followed we’re traveling the correct road as our founding fathers laid the ground work in fundamentals SO LONG AGO so Constitution could stay current with the times…

  • Bob

    My question here is:

    How does post get erased?