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First, let me get it out of the way that I support Ed Snowden, so you'll need to read a little further.

Ed Snowden broke the law.  Section 215 of the Patriot Act allows the FISA court to approve applications that require businesses to turn over business records.  The FISA court apparently read this authority as being broad enough to require telecom companies to turn over all "meta" information in their possession about all Americans' activities all the time.  So:  (1) Congress passed the law; (2) the Executive branch exercised its authority under the law; and (3) the Judicial branch approved the exercise of that authority.  All three branches of government agreed that this information gathering was legal, and Ed Snowden broke the law by revealing it.

More importantly, some commenters note, Ed Snowden did not reveal illegal conduct by the government, and thereby can't be considered a true "whistleblower."  Thus, if he revealed confidential information and is not a whistleblower, there is no excuse for him breaking the law.  

So what's the problem with this situation?  Let's see...

The problem with this situation is:  The law allowing the intelligence agencies to gather information about all Americans was made in secret.

But wait, you say, we're talking about the Patriot Act, which was properly passed by Congress in open session.  It was reported in newspapers.  How can you say that it was made in secret?

Well, when any law is passed by a legislature, it starts with a certain meaning.  But that meaning evolves and is molded by how people use the law, and how courts interpret the law.  You can't find a requirement for law enforcement to provide Miranda rights anywhere in the Constitution, and yet the Constitution as interpreted requires that Miranda rights be provided.

Normally this process is transparent to the public.  Everyone can see the search warrants being served.  Everyone can watch O.J.'s trial on TV.  Everyone can read the Supreme Court's opinions.   But  that process of evolution and molding was done in secret here, and that makes all the difference in the world.

Let's take the relevant part of Section 215 of the Patriot Act as an example, since that's the basis for collecting information on all Americans:

SEC. 215. ACCESS TO RECORDS AND OTHER ITEMS UNDER THE FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE SURVEILLANCE ACT.
 Title V of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1861 et seq.) is amended by striking sections 501 through 503 and inserting the following:  

`SEC. 501. ACCESS TO CERTAIN BUSINESS RECORDS FOR FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE AND INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM INVESTIGATIONS.
 `(a)(1) The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or a designee of the Director (whose rank shall be no lower than Assistant Special Agent in Charge) may make an application for an order requiring the production of any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items) for an investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities, provided that such investigation of a United States person is not conducted solely upon the basis of activities protected by the first amendment to the Constitution.

 

This is the law.  You can open any current edition of the U.S. Code and see it right there.  It actually seems fine to me as written.  If there is a specific "investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities" then I think the government should be able to obtain records needed to investigate that specific set of circumstances.

But that's not what happened.  Despite the clear (at least to me) intent of the law to allow records to be produced only when they have some rational relationship to an actual investigation, the process through which the true meaning of the law evolved and was molded by the Executive and Judicial branches occurred in secret.  And we ended up with the actual law (i.e., the law - as interpreted and applied) being broad enough to allow the government to collect all information about all citizens.  Cell phones track their location in order to operate.  Do you know where you were on Sunday, October 9, 2011, at 6:37 p.m.?  The government does.

Ask yourself this:  When Congress was considering the Patriot Act, if Section 215 said "The FBI shall have the right to obtain all information pertaining to all phone calls, locations and internet use by all Americans, regardless of whether or not those Americans are suspected of any wrongdoing," do you think people would have supported it?  Would you have supported it?  That's the result we got, regardless of the otherwise mundane way the law was written.  

I normally would say that I hoped the law would be challenged at the Supreme Court. The law as written seems ok, but the law as applied seems unconstitutional to me.   However, with a secret law (i.e., the law as applied here) that's not possible.  You can't appeal a law you don't know about.  Same thing with appealing a court decision.  The FISA court issued its authorization for these seizures.  Normally the losing side in a court battle can appeal to a higher court, all the way to a state supreme court or the federal Supreme Court.  The "other side" in the FISA court battle was us.  But we didn't know we'd lost.

So to those people who say Snowden revealed conduct that was perfectly legal and thus cannot be a whistleblower, I say Snowden revealed the problem of secret laws.  Laws that evolve outside of the public view.  Outside of the view of the people from whom the Constitution and all other laws in our country derive.  The people who have the direct and indirect power to change laws they perceive as improper or unfair.  

Now many of those people see what has happened to this specific law - the monster it has become - and they're angry.  Hopefully they will demand that their representatives take action to re-insert the concept of personal privacy into the important framework of counterterrorism.

Ed Snowden broke the law by revealing this information.  But he's a true whistleblower, maybe the most important one of our lifetimes, and we're better off for it.

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  •  Tip Jar (241+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, PBCliberal, Shahryar, JekyllnHyde, NYFM, jayden, phonegery, blueoasis, greengemini, on the cusp, SneakySnu, science nerd, Chi, sceptical observer, DeadHead, LeftHandedMan, Simplify, Jim P, kevinpdx, kaliope, philipmerrill, Ginny in CO, HCKAD, SueM1121, mrsgoo, Publius2008, gloriana, CalGal47, soros, catilinus, AmBushed, WheninRome, out of left field, Tony Situ, markthshark, 3rdOption, AaronInSanDiego, MrJayTee, Medium Head Boy, bula, J M F, Another Grizzle, standingup, Eric Stetson, markdd, Truedelphi, basquebob, Renee, Dumbo, ask, SadieSue, OutcastsAndCastoffs, MissTrial, cama2008, Dobber, Rosaura, Rick Aucoin, ciganka, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, One Pissed Off Liberal, Rogneid, PhilK, ItsSimpleSimon, Just Bob, nswalls, commonmass, tobendaro, profh, AlyoshaKaramazov, temptxan, Egalitare, third Party please, dharmafarmer, sawgrass727, Seneca Doane, big mouth, RuralLiberal, achronon, 88kathy, CTDemoFarmer, ChemBob, politik, mikeconwell, jamess, inclusiveheart, Smoh, gerrilea, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, Kristina40, jrooth, IrishGreg, palantir, TealTerror, letsgetreal, Floande, kamarvt, mollyd, anodnhajo, bluesheep, aaraujo, Jimdotz, Aspe4, ybruti, jasan, icebergslim, psnyder, lunachickie, boadicea, claude, Don Quixote, cslewis, Susipsych, MufsMom, Lady Libertine, hungeski, CroneWit, Joieau, Kevskos, Knucklehead, NBBooks, flitedocnm, MRA NY, greenbastard, Stentorian Tone, just another vet, psychodrew, RichterScale, triv33, young voter, phrogge prince, Oye Sancho, elmo, Ed in Montana, mythatsme, blue91, CA Nana, Stripe, leonard145b, mconvente, hubcap, caul, poleshifter, Ozymandius, jfromga, TracieLynn, think blue, brainwave, david78209, Blazehawkins, joelgp, No one gets out alive, Gowrie Gal, blue aardvark, peregrine kate, GeorgeXVIII, annan, Leftcandid, greenbell, SeaTurtle, hkorens, A Man Called Gloom, livingthedream, eru, run around, Slightly Wobbly, kimoconnor, SteveLCo, bleeding blue, Kentucky Kid, boran2, Loudoun County Dem, native, llbear, MKinTN, CT Hank, Suzanne 3, hyperstation, Montreal Progressive, SouthernLiberalinMD, wader, leftist vegetarian patriot, Kombema, Pithy Cherub, Lost and Found, Debs2, JayBat, marina, dsb, Involuntary Exile, Pescadero Bill, BlueDragon, gulfgal98, wavpeac, gooderservice, Panacea Paola, VeggiElaine, wayoutinthestix, cactusgal, USHomeopath, greycat, sydneyluv, schumann, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, Shockwave, Bob Friend, Timaeus, FindingMyVoice, Yellow Canary, ffour, rhutcheson, Nebraskablue, LucyandByron, nickrud, 43north, 3goldens, roses, huttotex, Quicklund, LaFeminista, nellgwen, peachcreek, Thinking Fella, AntonBursch, MsGrin, sebastianguy99, dansk47, Rhysling, myeye, JDWolverton, congenitalefty, trumpeter, BachFan, YucatanMan, radmul, JVolvo, TexDem, asilomar, martini, tabbycat in tenn, never forget 2000, Faroutman
  •  Daniel Ellsberg also broke the law (73+ / 0-)

    Times v. United States never clearly gave us guidelines on when the public interest is served by the release of government secrets that the public may reasonably need to govern itself.

    Perhaps this one will result in a more unified decision, but given who is sitting on the court, I'm not very hopeful.

    More information on my views on this and other topics available 24/7 at the NSA.

    by PBCliberal on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:16:16 PM PDT

  •  The Problem? (4+ / 0-)

    It's a hit & run affair.  He did his whistle blowing duty then scampered off to Hong Kong.  He thinks China is going to give him a fair shake & won't extradite him.

    We'll see.  If you know you're right & you've done nothing wrong as Mr. Snowden says, why run off?  Bradley Manning Part Deux?

  •  Wrong. (4+ / 0-)
    More importantly, some commenters note, Ed Snowden did not reveal illegal conduct by the government, and thereby can't be considered a true "whistleblower."
    That statement, plainly false, hurts your diary.
  •  What law did he break? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tom Anderson

    The law used to require intent to harm the United States before a disclosure of secret information could be illegal.

    Sneaking legitimately secret material to the KGB? That was intent to harm.

    This? I could be convinced but not easily.

    Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

    by Dogs are fuzzy on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:32:12 PM PDT

  •  Others have addressed or alluded to this (22+ / 0-)

    conceptual Orwellianism but you presented it the mostly clearly that I've read so far.

    Your argument would be helpful to many if they have the opportunity to read it and especially to those who so far haven't been able to set aside either their obsessive partisanship or conservatism, or perhaps both, to look at the reality.

    More matter, with less art. Hamlet, 2. 2

    by blueoasis on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:37:43 PM PDT

  •  I'm an Anti-Patriot Act Democrat (21+ / 0-)

    and growing more militantly so.

    I'm betting that a lot of Democrats who just voted "yes" cast one of the most ignorant and un-informed votes of their lives just to avoid being smeared as "soft on terrorists" or whatever crap Dick Cheney would have called them to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday Morning back when it was first proposed.

    Every time Diane Fienstein opens her mouth I feel my take gets confirmed and I'm a little more embarrassed to be in her party each time.  

    If this was the way I viewed the world, I'd be a Movement Conservative Republican. I can get a Men in Black with Black Bags World from the Kochtopus if that is the America of my dreams and desires.

    That said.

    I'm wary and worried. About my country.

    It's galling how much all this, born of the Bushie Right, done by Democrats who claimed to be coming in to clean up the mess and usher in an age of transparency and hope and change, actually helps the Right make the anti-Government argument that is so easy to sell and so hard to debunk.

    About getting played by a person on the run as much as getting a come-hither to join a lynch mob chorus by the "We Hate It When It Was Bush, But Love It Because We Trust Our Guy Now" crowd.

    I think Snowden, like Bradley Manning before him, is going to eventually get taken into custody, treated very badly as a feature and not a bug of our Great WOT mindset, and then seriously hosed and then hung up by his heel as a warning to others. There is a part of me that thinks if you are going to do something like this, you should be willing to come forward and accept the excoriation and ire as a part of the process of trying to change the system.

    March right in if you are doing it for the angels.

    If you are in fear for your life, you can get a bullet in the back of your head by wetworking goons anywhere on Earth.

    I think his running to Hong Kong was a desperate mistake, or a reason to be skeptical of hailing him a hero. I don't know which. I do think it will aid in the ease of demonizing him no matter what his true motivation.

    His running off to Hong Kong is deeply troubling in that, if you did what you did for the reasons that you cite, as a point of a greater principle, why run to a foreign nation? Especially to a country the same sort of people who are doing what you are objecting to are trying to cement an adversarial relationship with in the eyes of the public to further their security objectives and military industrial complex fueled outcomes?

    Will there be others? That is the question.

    I don't think when Bradley Manning's identity was revealed, and he was eventually taken into custody, that the powers that be thought there would be a Snowden.

    I hope you are right. I hope he is what he appears to be, or seems to be.

    But I feel duped and conned right now. By people I voted for especially who said 'trust us' and 'we aren't like them'. And they are full of shit.

    I am a Loco-Foco. I am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.

    by LeftHandedMan on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:38:57 PM PDT

    •  From the Guardian: (15+ / 0-)
      Snowden said that he admires both Ellsberg and Manning, but argues that there is one important distinction between himself and the army private, whose trial coincidentally began the week Snowden’s leaks began to make news.

      “I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest,” he said. “There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn’t turn over, because harming people isn’t my goal. Transparency is.”

      It's also starting to come out that he was a Ron Paul supporter who donated to his Presidential campaign.

      Funny that a Ron Paul supporter would want to go work for the NSA. Kind of like a Vegan and PeTA person going to work on the casing-to-mix feeding line of a sausage factory.

      I am a Loco-Foco. I am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.

      by LeftHandedMan on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:57:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Or maybe not (7+ / 0-)
        Funny that a Ron Paul supporter would want to go work for the NSA. Kind of like a Vegan and PeTA person going to work on the casing-to-mix feeding line of a sausage factory.
        I just find it weird that somebody who might be a Paulite would gravitate to the very intelligence state denounced and condemned by the Paulites.

        I am a Loco-Foco. I am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.

        by LeftHandedMan on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:59:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Do we know the extent of his support? (7+ / 0-)

          Because if this fact has any bearing on the the substance of his actions, which I believe it does NOT, then we should at least determine the degree to which he espoused Paul's worldview.




          Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
          ~ Jerry Garcia

          by DeadHead on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 11:54:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yeah, it doesn't matter one whit. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            43north

            But it won't stop the Usual Suspects around here from desperately using it to derail.

            Just like they've been trying to suck people into pedantic arguements about the definition of the word "whistleblower", and casting aspersions on Snowden's character for having bailed to Hong Kong and so on.

            Snowden could be a serial killer and it wouldn't have anything at all to do with the validity of the information he revealed.

            But to people around here who believe everything has to do with the personal individual sitting in the Oval Office, everything about criticisms of that individual has to do with the personal individual making those criticisms.

            Look at their kneejerk loathing of Greenwald and others who are well known critics of the Administration from the left.

            It's not about the content of the message, it's about the person delivering the message to them.

            Because their not defending an Administration or a Policy, they're defending an individual who they hero worship.

            The right wingers are far worse about this than the left is, but it's PLENTY present on the left, and around here, as well.

            Who the hell wants to be part of a political movement that has as its most obvious feature politically correct prune lipped moral scolds and incessant guilt trips about how much we all suck?

            by Rick Aucoin on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 10:28:41 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Don't let them distract you with shiny objects (6+ / 0-)

        I don't care about his character or motivations but the powers that be will try to make us focus on those to keep our eyes off of their secret projects to destroy our civil rights.  

        If I wanted to focus on character and motivations, I put my eyes squarely on the members of Congress who know what is going on and are either complicit or spineless.

        For that matter, I'd include the upper echelons of the intelligence community who don't have the guts to put their careers on the line in the interest of the public's right to know.  

        It's darn pathetic to live in a country where the only people trying to defend your constitutional rights are misfits.  

    •  Did you see the video or read his (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TealTerror, mythatsme, gerrilea

      comments in response to going to Hong Kong? I think he knew that staying here was VERY likely to get him captured. Hong Kong has a very capitalist history -  it is still not fully assimilated into China's laws, etc.(if it ever is). It is one of the most densely populated places on earth, very wealthy and quite possibly a place he could get covert assistance to leave.

      Tokyo could have been good too.

      "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

      by Ginny in CO on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 11:42:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Iceland (5+ / 0-)

        is offering him safe haven, if this lady gets her way...

        “Whereas IMMI is based in Iceland, and has worked on protections of privacy, furtherance of government transparency, and the protection of whistleblowers, we feel it is our duty to offer to assist and advise Mr. Snowden to the greatest of our ability,” their statement reads. “We are already working on detailing the legal protocols required to apply for asylum, and will over the course of the week be seeking a meeting with the newly appointed interior minister of Iceland, Mrs. Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir, to discuss whether an asylum request can be processed in a swift manner, should such an application be made.”

        "The “Left” is NOT divided on the need to oppose austerity and the Great Betrayal. The Third Way is not left or center or even right. It is Wall Street on the Potomac."--Bill Black

        by lunachickie on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 06:15:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks! I had seen that but didn't book mark. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gerrilea

          I feel badly that he might spend decades of his life there to avoid being arrested. Could be worse. I've heard since that Iceland is not the only option.

          It's far beyond unfair that Cheney and Bush, who can't go out of the states because of charges in so many other countries, have the whole US to run around freely in, instead of having been tried and sentenced to some very long prison terms.

          Ha, radio news just reporting that the Booz company's stock is falling because they will probably loose contracts over this. :)

          "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

          by Ginny in CO on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 11:03:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Sadly, no (8+ / 0-)
      'm betting that a lot of Democrats who just voted "yes" cast one of the most ignorant and un-informed votes of their lives just to avoid being smeared
      they were part and parcel of the whole operation - more than being willing dupes of some sort, they were eager participants.

      just the tip of the iceberg, to give two well know examples, are Ms. Feinstein's husbands hundreds of millions of dollars investment in the MIC and Mr. Edwards co-sponsoring the Iraq Clusterfuck.

      You think the others were different?  Hardly.

  •  The Government Broke the Constitution (24+ / 0-)

    We either have a forth amendment or we don't.  You can't have rule of law when the law only applies to certain people at certain times (and yes, that does apply more broadly than this context).

    http://www.aeinstein.org/organizations/org/FDTD.pdf From Dictatorship to Democracy, Guide to Non Violent Protests.

    by sdelear on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:44:54 PM PDT

    •  No it didn't (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sebastianguy99

      Even James Risen in the times said in his story neither the law nor the Constitution were violated.

      Your comment, like that of many others, reveals that you don't know how the Fourth Amendment applies to electronic communication.

      Since electronic communication was obviously not mentioned in the Constitution, the only constitutional law about it is judge made.

      The controlling law therefore is Katz v. US.  And Katz simply says that intercepted electronic communication that was intercepted without a warrant cannot be introduced into evidence in a criminal trial.

      That's it. That's the extent of the Fourth Amendment's application to electronic communication.

      Moreover -- and this amazes me that no one seems to notice this, so I'll write it in all caps -- THE GLENN GREENWALD ARTICLE WAS BASED ON A LEAKED FISA COURT WARRANT.

      It was not a warrantless wiretap. You may not like FISA, but it is counterfactual to say that  anything revealed so far was illegal or unconstitutional.

      •  The Constitution doesn't mention many things (5+ / 0-)

        It can still be applied to new developments.

        You're right that our current judicial system does not consider the 4th amendment to apply strictly to electronic communication. That is a huge mistake and I hope it will be corrected eventually. As written, I believe the 4th amendment applies just as much to electronic communication as to any kind of communication--so a case can be made that PRISM (if the Guardian's reporting is accurate) is indeed unconstitutional.

        And if the FISA Court's ruling is unconstitutional--and again, a case can be made that it is--it's still illegal, warrant or not.

        "He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing."--Socrates

        by TealTerror on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 06:09:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The first amendment doesn't mention electronic (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sebastianguy99, gerrilea

        communication either, so there's similarly no protection for Internet free speech.

        What are you doing to fight the dangerous and counterproductive error of treating dirtbag terrorist criminals as though they were comic book supervillains? I can't believe we still have to argue this shit, let alone on Daily Kos.

        by happymisanthropy on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 11:02:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Similarly, there's no fifth amendment rule (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gerrilea

        against electronic executions.  The government can kill people without trial, as long as they're using technology that didn't exist in 1798.

        That's every bit as reasonable as your argument.

        What are you doing to fight the dangerous and counterproductive error of treating dirtbag terrorist criminals as though they were comic book supervillains? I can't believe we still have to argue this shit, let alone on Daily Kos.

        by happymisanthropy on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 11:04:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My argument is based on (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sebastianguy99

          what the Supreme Court has actually said.

          Do you know of some other higher authority on the interpretation of the Constitution that the rest of us are not aware of?

          •  No it's not (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            gerrilea

            Your argument is based on filling in inferences based on what the Supreme Court neglected to answer either way.

            What are you doing to fight the dangerous and counterproductive error of treating dirtbag terrorist criminals as though they were comic book supervillains? I can't believe we still have to argue this shit, let alone on Daily Kos.

            by happymisanthropy on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 11:47:29 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  The American People are higher than our paid (0+ / 0-)

            public servants.

            FDR threatened the SC with social uprising against the government IF it didn't approve of his "New Deal".  They understood and complied.

            See how that works?

            -7.62; -5.95 The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.~Tesla

            by gerrilea on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 02:18:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Katz was issued by the Warren Court (0+ / 0-)

              If you know your history, you know that the Warren Court was the court that issued Brown v. Board of Education, the voting rights cases, environmental cases, and was generally the most liberal Supreme Court in American history.

              Are you suggesting an uprising against the Warren Court was necessary? That places you in the company of George Wallace and Lester Maddox.

              •  I know history, you're accusing me of being (0+ / 0-)

                a racist, insulting, intentionally so to distract from what I said.

                The point you fail to discuss is that FDR DID threaten the SC to get his New Deal "approved".  The people are the supreme authority in this nation, not the government.

                The Katz decision you reference, when decided, we had no internet, no cell phones, no interactive televisions, devices that can track your every move, every moment of every day, including your buying habits, your likes & dislikes, whom you hang out with, etc, etc.

                What do you think the decision would be today, if the Warren Court still existed?  What makes you believe that today, the American people won't get pissed enough if these abuses continue?

                Bush V Gore proved to me that the SC and the government we created needs to be cleaned out, all of them, at every level and every position.  It's become a self-serving entity that we no longer control.

                Americans are the power.  Maybe you don't like this truth, that's your problem.  Many are finally seeing that neither party represents us. Our petty differences pale in comparison to the tyrannical powers this government has assumed.

                Why are you trying to stop us from coalescing into a unified nation? The outrage both sides are experiencing at these revelations IS key to us wrestling control away from our Corporate Overlords and their New American Police State.

                -7.62; -5.95 The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.~Tesla

                by gerrilea on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 07:05:31 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  OK, I get it (0+ / 0-)
                  Why are you trying to stop us from coalescing into a unified nation?
                  I get it -- you're nuts.

                  Opinion polls are showing that this entire issue is a huge "nothing burger" for the overwhelming majority of Americans -- especially those who were paying attention and knew these programs existed and what the law governing them is.

                  the government we created needs to be cleaned out, all of them, at every level and every position.
                  Even my local city councilman?

                  OK, koo-koo for coconuts.

                  •  Reported for violating our site rules. (0+ / 0-)
                    I get it -- you're nuts.

                    OK, koo-koo for coconuts.
                    This "conversation" is over.

                    -7.62; -5.95 The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.~Tesla

                    by gerrilea on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 07:41:23 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

      •  INTENT, intent, intent. (0+ / 0-)

        The 4th A's INTENT is to protect us from these types of things, just because a court said otherwise doesn't mean the decision can't be reversed or made illegal by the Congress itself.  Katz was over 45 yrs ago...it's dated.

        If I can be prosecuted for "wiretapping" for videotaping a Police Officer while on duty.  Why can't these people, agencies, contractors be prosecuted as well???

        As for the "leaked" info...why was it secret in the first place???

        If the government has nothing to hide, then it should not fear disclosure.

        -7.62; -5.95 The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.~Tesla

        by gerrilea on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 02:15:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Broke faith with the people! /nt (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gerrilea

      "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold...The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity" -W.B. Yeats

      by LucyandByron on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 11:45:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  None should expect anything but more of the same (13+ / 0-)

    Ds are going to be far more ruthless in implementing this secret data regime (and crushing its occasional apostates) than any R administration.

    I am old enough to recall 40 years of Republicans calling Ds soft on defense, soft on Communism, soft on terrorism, etc.  This has an affect.  D administrations will go much further to the extremes to avoid these charges.

    Also combined with this is the growing technological power to conduct this data gathering, which as time progresses, grows ever more tempting to implement.  When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.

    The one exception is torture -- I think this is purely a matter of personal choice on the part of President Obama himself.  There was a sort of delight that the Rs seem to have in relishing the torture of suspects that I don't see here with the Ds in charge.

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:53:14 PM PDT

  •  Of course it's illegal to do something (15+ / 0-)

    That may restrict the power of the government, even indirectly. I'm glad he broke the law and I hope he doesn't go to jail for it.

    If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

    by AoT on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 11:05:17 PM PDT

  •  Yes, and let's hope the State Secrets (17+ / 0-)

    doctrine gets ash-canned along with the Patriot Act.

    He who would trade liberty for security deserves great customer service.

    by Publius2008 on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 11:10:34 PM PDT

  •  It's a blatant violation if the 4th Amendment (35+ / 0-)

    The 4th amendment does not allow for blanket trawling of the entire populations records.

    This is the problem. They are building vast databases of illegally acquired information.

    The Fierce Urgency of Later

    by Faroutman on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 11:17:06 PM PDT

    •  Everything else is window dressing (12+ / 0-)

      to obscure that essential point.

      But getting a copy of everything is soooo easy... Kind of like doing a drone strike on a "suspected terrorist" instead of capturing and trying him.

      Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

      by Simplify on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 11:44:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What about David Simon's piece, where he (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NYFM, ybruti

      says that in the 1980's policed culled the records of thousands and thousands of calls made from pay phones in Baltimore?
      http://davidsimon.com/...

      That wasn't considered "blatant violation of the 4th amendment", so, David Simon argues, the NSA "trawling of entire populations records" would be nothing new, just larger scale.

      •  At least that was a response to one (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lunachickie, MRA NY, mythatsme, gerrilea

        specific incident, and it was limited as much as was feasible. I'm still a bit uncomfortable with it, but I can see the argument.

        From what we know, this is a regular authorization, not in response to a specific incident but on a continuous basis. That, plus the much larger scale, makes it a lot worse.

        "He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing."--Socrates

        by TealTerror on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 06:03:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You are getting hung up (3+ / 0-)

        on a lie-by-omission in this. It's NOT just the "metadata" that's being scooped up wholesale and taking up ridiculous amounts of room in the gub'mint's Mormon-Like underground Vault Of Lives (ours). It's also the text and audio - Snowden said very clearly any cubicle flunky could, if bored enough, listen in on anyone's phone conversations, including the President's, at any time. Or read emails, sift through any of the data being collected on anybody and everybody in the country or outside of it.

        Yes, we have known about NSA's capacity for decades. What we didn't know is that they're using it against every single one of us.

        Think about it. If they want to actually - 'legally' per secret law - listen to that phone call or read that email exchange, they have to go to the FISA court to get a rubber stamp. Then they can listen/read to their heart's content. But that does not involve going back to Verizon or gmail to then get the actual data, because Verizon doesn't keep recordings of all phone calls on file for months or years (apply to whoever here).

        NSA already has everything, it's just that the 'meat' (texts of emails, voice recordings of the phone calls) is zipped for storage and has to be un-zipped before it can be accessed. Mere keystrokes for the watchers.

    •  The fourth amendment? what's that? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TealTerror, Aspe4, gerrilea

      I am sure that you must be aware that the second amendment is the only one still in force . . ..

    •  Absolutely factually wrong (0+ / 0-)

      Most people screaming about the Fourth Amendment have absolutely no idea what it means. As I wrote above:

      Even James Risen in the times said in his story neither the law nor the Constitution were violated.

      Your comment, like that of many others, reveals that you don't know how the Fourth Amendment applies to electronic communication.

      Since electronic communication was obviously not mentioned in the Constitution, the only constitutional law about it is judge made.

      The controlling law therefore is Katz v. US.  And Katz simply says that intercepted electronic communication that was intercepted without a warrant cannot be introduced into evidence in a criminal trial.

      That's it. That's the extent of the Fourth Amendment's application to electronic communication.

      Moreover -- and this amazes me that no one seems to notice this, so I'll write it in all caps -- THE GLENN GREENWALD ARTICLE WAS BASED ON A LEAKED FISA COURT WARRANT.

      It was not a warrantless wiretap. You may not like FISA, but it is counterfactual to say that  anything revealed so far was illegal or unconstitutional.

      •  One of the authors of the Patriot Act (4+ / 0-)

        said that the business records provision was never intended to be used in the way that the NSA interprets it, nor should the FISA judge be granting those requests on that basis. The idea is that the massive records dump is not particular in it's scope. I know that the NSA claims that they have additional safeguards before the data is actually queried, but it does seem that the law is being interpreted beyond it's plain meaning. This is the fault of the lax congressional oversight of course, but also the outright lying by the NSA head to Congress. I think the warrant is incorrectly granted and the law is being stretched beyond it' intended boundaries.

        The Fierce Urgency of Later

        by Faroutman on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 07:57:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Also, this law needs to be taken to (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wayoutinthestix, HamdenRice, gerrilea

        the Supreme Court and the Constitutional issues settled. I am not so sure the SC will grant that wholesale confiscation of people's private records, without probable cause.

        Of course, as you know, the Justice Dept blocks all attempts to take this to the court.

        The Fierce Urgency of Later

        by Faroutman on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 08:04:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Interesting point (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sebastianguy99, Faroutman

          In my research on this, one of the fascinating tid bits I came across is that the Justice Dept and NSA don't think that FISA would withstand a Supreme Court case. So they are extremely cautious in using it in ways that won't cause appeals, and it's even been argued that this has led to some self regulation.

  •  Good diary. (8+ / 0-)

    I agree that Swoden is a "whistleblower".
    At the same time, I also think that that SCOTUS would not rule the law as unconstitutional.  I think that their take would be, "If Congress is upset that the Executive and Judicial branches have evolved the implementation of the law in a way that Congress did not intend, then Congress is free to revise the law.  Don't bother us with it."  In other words, the SCOTUS might see this as an inter-branch dispute, and tell Congress to fix it themselves.  They've done this many times before.

    It's not clear that Congress is upset at the implementation of FISA (some Congressmen have said they have no problem with it, others have said that they do), but it would be good for them to have a FULL debate about it again before the next reauthorization.  The reauthorizations have had almost no debate, but the next one should have full debate as if an entire new law were being debated.  And maybe the law can be revised to allow more transparency or oversight or whatever at that time.  (I read somewhere that the law is reauthorized every three months, so the next reauthorization isn't that long from now; the full debate should take place before then.)

  •  Do I really need to remind people (30+ / 0-)

    that the constitution is the law? It's not a guiding principle. It's not a mission statement. It's the fucking law or, more precisely, set of laws. And it's the most important, resounding set of laws we have.

    And second, did everyone's brains just fall the fuck out? Ed Snowden is only the latest in a whole string of whistleblowers, some from the Bush era, some from the Obama era, who have come out on the singular issue of the NSA violating the constitution, the LAW, by massively surveilling people.

    And this is just in this century. The NSA and other intelligence agencies got busted back in the 70s, as revealed by the Church Committee investigations, spying on left wingers, progressive activists, and Democratic politicians.

    It was those Church Committee investigations that gave us the FISA law in the first place. Now, post-911, they're at it again.

    One whistleblower, Russell Tice, revealed that the NSA was recording phone calls of journalists. This was only in 2009. There were big diaries on it. He, Tice, came on Olbermann. It created a diary frenzy here.

    And now, all that's been erased from people's minds apparently. Along with all the revelations from Jesselyn Raddick's clients, which has been posted about regularly here for the last 4 years.

    But all the sudden, it's Verizon and PRISM and nothing else. I keep looking to see if brains have spilled out of the computer onto my floor.

    •  Now, now. We already know (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hyperstation, gerrilea

      the attention span of the American public is set by television programming at somewhere close to 48 hours. Memory lasts maybe a week at the most unless the given subject is constantly reinforced by said television.

      Averages, of course. The average IQ of Democrats is generally a few points higher than Republicans, so we may have a few hours' more attention span and a couple of days more memory on average too. Exceptional people paying close attention and remembering details for years at a time is not what it takes to stir up the great unwashed masses of the public on any issue. And on Big Issues like this grand wall of tyrannical bricks, it'll take the bulk of the great unwashed masses to finally knock it down.

      Brains haven't turned to mush and fallen out of skulls, they're just firing neurons now that haven't been used much and are feeling the burn. Be patient, it's good for them in the end... §;o)

      •  Eh, I don't care for blaming "the public". (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gerrilea

        "The public" is far more savvy and aware than people generally give it credit/blame for.

        The media makes it seem we don't pay attention to things, with their ADHD-like attention span, but it is not a given that such reflects the general populace, not at all.

        Besides, blaming our neighbors is just too fucking easy, it's lazy.  I won't do it.

        Who the hell wants to be part of a political movement that has as its most obvious feature politically correct prune lipped moral scolds and incessant guilt trips about how much we all suck?

        by Rick Aucoin on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 10:24:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Just sayin' (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rick Aucoin, gerrilea

          that the great mass of "The Public" doesn't NEED long-term photographic political memory. Heck, most pay very little attention to politics beyond news item-of-moment as it's blowing through. Any more than a large percentage of "The Public" average person NEEDS reliable recall of all those obscure factoids they were taught in school, then promptly forgot or filed far back in the Trivia cabinet never to be recalled or put to use again.

          S'okay. This is a society of humans, not some kind of master race. It takes the participation and contributions of the many to build and maintain a great society. One where we can actually BE that which this nation's most prized ideals describe, for all our people.

          So - in the context of what I was commenting to above - I am not dismayed that this sort of spying is just now getting the kind of public attention it requires. I'm not disappointed that it's take this long for things to get bad enough that the public outrage meter pegs out, either. One of the things I have learned from 6+ decades of life on this planet is that society moves glacially slow in the view of the awake and aware among us. Impatience with the glacier is pointless - it's a force of nature. Just be thankful when the beast awakens. It looks pretty grumpy about all this, as well it should.

          What I hope for is that it doesn't get put back to sleep. We're bound to see some pretty impressive distractions incoming. Keep our eyes open, in case this sudden spying concern turns out to be a distraction all by itself...

  •  Thanks for this diary. (6+ / 0-)

    It helps me clarify my thinking on this issue, when there is a lot that is still unclear.

    Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

    by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 11:47:47 PM PDT

  •  over all the patriot act needs to be completely (10+ / 0-)

    repealed and then a new discussion needs to be had. One that isn't fueled by fear and terror

    In the time that I have been given,
    I am what I am

    by duhban on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 12:00:28 AM PDT

    •  In my lifetime there's never been (7+ / 0-)

      a time when our policy wasn't fueled by fear and terror.  Started with WWII, morphed into the Cold War and Red Scare to be replaced by fear of Middle Easterners.  In each case there was reason to be afraid that was then milked and exaggerated to maintain a high level of fear.

      Several colleagues who fled the USSR said that its weakness and imminent collapse were evident to everyone.  No spying or intelligence needed.  But it was useful in the US to keep the bogeyman alive.

    •  Damn, stop the presses! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gerrilea

      You and I agree on one of your written points :)

      "The “Left” is NOT divided on the need to oppose austerity and the Great Betrayal. The Third Way is not left or center or even right. It is Wall Street on the Potomac."--Bill Black

      by lunachickie on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 06:21:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Just out of curiosity (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    merrywidow, Tom Anderson, lunachickie

    what kinds of things do you consider it OK for the government to keep secret and under what circumstances, particularly as related to intelligence gathering?

    Let's not fuck around.  The NSA and CIA are spy organizations, pretty much by definition.  Are you saying that spies should do what they do in public (in which case I'm not sure they'd even qualify as spies) or that there should be no spies?

    If other countries with less respect for individual liberties develop intelligence capabilities exceeding our own, what are we supposed to do to protect ourselves, exactly.  I'm not talking about the Taliban here but about China, Russia, India, Israel, etc.  

    Sure Denmark can get away without having this kind of intelligence apparatus, but Denmark isn't the world's lone remaining superpower.  All the nations of the world don't use Denmark's currency.    

    Pretty much, given the realities of the world, what is or is not OK?

    •  What the constitution allows and makes sense (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TealTerror, gerrilea

      is ok. The rest is wrong, even if it puts us in greater danger--which I dare anyone to prove is so, because I think that argument's utter bullshit.

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 04:13:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  We don't have to keep wasting our resources (6+ / 0-)

      on maintaining a status as a hyperpower that does absolutely nothing to benefit 99.9% of us.

      Our Government locks men in cages and has them isolated, raped, beaten, and terrorized for decades because they have grown medicine. Only a complete fucking idiot would not fear it.

      by JesseCW on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 04:36:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do you truly understand what it would (0+ / 0-)

        be like to live in the USA as a non-superpower?  I think you should get a cup of coffee and a nice bench somewhere quiet and think about it.

        Listening to the NRA on school safety is like listening to the tobacco companies on cigarette safety. (h/t nightsweat)

        by PsychoSavannah on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 08:57:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You mean like Canada? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wayoutinthestix, JesseCW, gerrilea
        •  Like living in a sane Developed Nation. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gerrilea

          Our Government locks men in cages and has them isolated, raped, beaten, and terrorized for decades because they have grown medicine. Only a complete fucking idiot would not fear it.

          by JesseCW on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 02:00:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  We can still keep all our "toys" however. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JesseCW

          We don't need to use them.  We can still destroy the planet a thousand times over, if need be.

          Our military assets can be maintained, not expanded.

          What's being ignored here is that our power is economic today.  And that economic power is no longer absolute, by design.

          Today, it's smoke and mirrors to obfuscate the fact we don't make anything anymore except war and death.

          More Americans have moved into poverty than in anytime since the Great Depression.  Most, including myself, can't afford that "cup of coffee" on a park bench any longer.

          -7.62; -5.95 The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.~Tesla

          by gerrilea on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 02:33:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Here's a shot at it.. (4+ / 0-)

      Here are some of my thoughts on that question.

      The NSA and CIA can keep the information that they have obtained on U.S. citizens secret, if the method by which it was obtained is lawful, and if they do not attempt to use the information in an arrest, court proceeding, incarceration, etc. against the citizen.   But, I do not feel that they can keep information relating to the general scope of information  that they are gathering on U.S. citizens secret, nor should they keep secret their process for acquiring permission to gather information on U.S. citizens, nor should they keep secret who can access this information, and under what circumstances it can be accessed, and what purposes it can be used for.

      I'm sure there are many more caveats, but that's a start.

      In other words, if the government is gathering call metadata, then the public should now, in general, that the government is gathering call metadata, because there is no other way, as a democracy, that the citizens of the United States can consent to be governed, if we don't know what we are consenting to.

      Yes, more ruthless dictatorships can be less concerned with civil rights.

      If we, as a nation, decide that are willing to give up our privacy and liberty in order to be more ruthless than the most ruthless of our enemies, then what is the difference who wins?    We will still be living under a ruthless dictatorship, regardless.   We will have cut off the nose to spite the face.

    •  Here's the bullshit in what you are saying... (0+ / 0-)

      CIA comes to Dick Cheney and says... Osama Bin Laden is going to attack the US, and Dick Cheney says... I wanna go to war with Iraq so go fuck yourself.

      So all that fancy intelligence is totally subsumed by politics and self-interest anyway. The US has kept itself safe without infinite record gathering of its citizens.

      Do you really think that in the long run this is about the US keeping itself safe from China? I mean, really? China has mounted a pretty successful attack against our country with the full complicity and knowledge of the US government.

      "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

      by shmuelman on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 06:23:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Edward Snowden speaks (5+ / 0-)
    Manning 2.0? Former NSA consultant behind massive US surveillance leak

     The former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, had asked the Guardian to reveal his identity and had never planned on hiding.

    I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” he said in an interview.

    Snowden predicts that the government will launch an investigation against him, however it was “a matter of principle” for him because he believes that the people should know how the government intrudes into their privacy. According to Snowden he acted out of a desire to protect "basic liberties" and to “send a message to government that people will not be intimidated.”

  •  The law broke the law. (16+ / 0-)

    This interpretation of the Patriot Act conflicts with the Constitution.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

    by FishOutofWater on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 12:31:09 AM PDT

  •  Exactly right. You have identified the key issue. (13+ / 0-)

    Thank you for an excellent diary. The government should have to follow the law as written, not just do whatever they want whenever they want. That's the difference between a society with the rule of law, which is the very foundation of democracy, as opposed to a tyranny. Mr. Snowden may have broken the law, but it appears the government itself may have been breaking the law too.

    If Mr. Snowden will have to face judicial consequences for his lawbreaking, what about the political leaders who authorized a program of all-encompassing domestic spying without legal authorization to do so? Will they also face judicial consequences if they broke the law by spying on all Americans? And if not, does that mean we are now living in a country whose "public servants" are above the law they are supposed to be making and and enforcing?

    This is a gut-check moment for America. It goes to the very heart of the issue of what kind of a government we want to have: democracy (the people make the laws) or tyranny (political leaders make things up as they go along).

    If America chooses the path of tyranny, then heaven forbid an unethical person should ever occupy the office of president, for without the restraint of the law, the outcome of such unchecked power could be horrific.

    The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

    by Eric Stetson on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 12:32:26 AM PDT

    •  America chose tyranny (8+ / 0-)

      when Congress passed The Patriot Act.

      The ones now being accused of law-breaking and espionage for revealing some of the consequences of that Act are those seeking to liberate us from it.

      It is quite clear that government have to keep secrets.

      It is also clear that the interpretations of laws, and the manner in which information is gathered, and the justifications for those methods cannot and should not be secret.

      There is no security protocol that requires secret interpretations of the law, or a secret court to implement them.

      In a democratic republic this cannot happen unless we give up the "democratic bit, because for democracy to work the people have to make informed choices ... not possible unless someone give us the information.

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      Who is twigg?

      by twigg on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 02:11:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The rationale for the gathering of telephony (5+ / 0-)

    metadata did not occur in secret. In fact, it predates the Patriot Act by over 20 years.

    In 1979, in Smith v. Maryland—a case involving an automobile theft—the Supreme Court said that it was not a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches, for the government to ask a phone company to install a “pen register” to track the incoming and outgoing calls of a particular number, because there was no reasonable expectation of privacy for information given voluntarily to a third party—in this case, the phone company. Justice Harry Blackmun wrote:
    Telephone users, in sum, typically know that they must convey numerical information to the phone company; that the phone company has facilities for recording this information; and that the phone company does in fact record this information for a variety of legitimate business purposes. Although subjective expectations cannot be scientifically gauged, it is too much to believe that telephone subscribers, under these circumstances, harbor any general expectation that the numbers they dial will remain secret.
    http://www.newyorker.com/...

    The existence of a database of telephony metadata has been known publicly since at least 2006.  

    I agree that it's problematic for the government to justify its legal rationale for surveillance in secret, but the Patriot Act is hardly the first law codifying clandestine intelligence gathering, so I don't understand how you can claim that Mr. Snowden uncovered an unprecedented secret legal framework when he clearly did nothing of the sort.

    The FISA court itself, and the legal framework that enables it to operate in secret also predates the Patriot Act, so your whole argument is premised on misinformation.

    The United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA court, AKA FISC) is a U.S. federal court authorized under 50 U.S.C. § 1803, Pub.L. 95–511, 92 Stat. 1788, enacted October 25, 1978. It was established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA). The court oversees requests for surveillance warrants against suspected foreign intelligence agents inside the United States by federal law enforcement agencies (primarily National Security Agency and the F.B.I.). FISA and its court were inspired by the recommendations of the Church Committee.[1]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    Mr. Snowden hasn't informed us of any unlawful activity, and your claim that the Patriot Act introduced a secret law that's without precedent is founded on ignorance.

    Also, we all fucking know about the goddamned Patriot Act, and we have the ability to elect a Congress that will repeal it. The fact of its existence is ultimately our responsibility, and not that of some secret fucking law or some secret fucking court.

    •  It's an unconstitutional law (7+ / 0-)

      being carried out and protected from judicial scrutiny in unconstitutional ways, e.g. secret legal findings even congress can't see, "states secrets" privilege, etc. It's a naked power grab by the executive and signed off on by a cowardly and incompetent congress and judiciary and mostly ignored by the public and media. That's why Snowden probably felt he needed to do this, to light a fire underneath all their pathetic fat cowardly asses.

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 04:09:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The law may very well be unconstitutional (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HamdenRice

        but its constitutionality has been debated for years. There have been challenges to the Patriot Act, and there will be more. There have been challenges to Smith and there will be more. These challenges are a testament to the fact that our democracy is working in an age of electronic surveillance. The claim that we had no clue that the FISA court acted in secret or that the government was conducting surveillance on a massive scale is simply untrue. The claim that surveillance, in and of itself, is an existential threat to democracy is laughable.

        I don't like the government's ability to justify surveillance in secret indefinitely (if indeed there is no time limit on the time documents may be classified), and I don't trust people who break the law because they don't like laws enacted by a freely elected government.

        •  It's not a question of surveillance or secrecy (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          fou

          It's a question of constitutionality, necessity and extent. I WANT them to spy on potential terrorists and other criminals, based on substantive probable cause, armed with warrants and such. I DON'T want them to have massive trolling operations sweeping up most Americans in the hope of landing a big fish. It's unconstitutional, it doesn't work, it's an invasion of privacy, and it takes away from more promising ways to get the "bad guys". I think they like the power, they like the toys, and they want to be able to look like they know what they're doing. It's national security theater pretending to be the real thing, like Reagan's invasion of Granada.

          If they truly believed it was necessary, effective and constitutional, they'd allow the courts to scrutinize and rule on it and not pull this bogus states secrets nonsense. In the history of the republic there's never been a national security leak from the courts to my knowledge. And I don't just mean FISA courts, but regular Article III courts that do judicial review.

          They do not believe it.

          "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

          by kovie on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 03:09:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Good points. (0+ / 0-)

            It occurred to me this morning that perhaps there should be a limit on the amount of time information can remain classified. Perhaps such a limit exists already (I'm anything but a lawyer), but the aspect of these programs that bothers me most greatly is the ability of the government to maintain indefinite secrecy, and declassify information when it sees fit. If we knew that we'd eventually know the government's rationale, we'd be better off.

            I must say though, that the existence of a massive database, in and of itself, doesn't bother me in the slightest. I'm not disturbed by the existence of information and tools to analyze it. At all.

            •  It bothers me (0+ / 0-)

              I don't want them collecting information they're not constitutionally entitled to, and I don't want them "big data" analyzing it. If they want to find terrorists, there are other, constitutional, non-intrusive, arguably more effective ways. They're just not as ego-boosting or "sexy".

              "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

              by kovie on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 05:53:28 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  You fundamentally don't understand the internet (0+ / 0-)

            There are not separate "pipes" for foreign emails and internet traffic and domestic traffic. The most interesting fact mentioned in the Prism powerpoint presentation is that communications between, say Pakistan and Afghanistan, are likely to pass through nodes and switches in the US.

            For the NSA to intercept an Afghan-Pakistan message in the US, it has to screen everything passing through that node -- including domestic traffic. The header (data about where it came from and where it's going) can't be "read" unless it is recorded, even if only for a microsecond.

            That's why the NSA often talks about "over collection" of data. It can't get data on the bad guys without also getting data on routine US to US communication.

            •  Nonsense (0+ / 0-)

              It may have to read every header to find the ones it's looking for, but it doesn't have to save every packet of every communication. It need only save the ones it was looking for and has legal authority to save and read.

              Plus, we're talking about voice call metadata here, which has already been stored and indexed by the telcoms, so the NSA doesn't have a need to sift through it all. It need only get the ones it's legally entitled to.

              "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

              by kovie on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 05:39:23 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Weyden has been making (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TealTerror, mythatsme, gerrilea

      the claim for some time now that what the public thinks it knows about the Patriot Act and how it is being administered vs what is actually going on are vastly different.  

      The problem is that even elected officials have not been allowed to speak about what they know in any detail because all of the activities are secret.

      I actually think that the details of what this vast dragnet spying apparatus does should not be a secret.  You'd have to be a moron not to understand that it is more than possible given the technology that exists today.

      The only reason that the government has for keeping it a secret is that they want completely unchecked power.  They know they are pressing or even crossing Constitutional boundaries and so an honest public debate is counter to their cause and purpose.

      With respect to tracking, stopping and catching terrorists it seems to me that having terrorists think that they could be tracked could be more disruptive if they were forced to communicate by carrier pigeon for fear that modern technologies would reveal their activities.  So, the notion that keeping this spy program a secret is helpful is kind of bullshit, really.  If these capabilities did not exist, it would still be in the government's best interest to have people think that it does.

      But with respect to the Patriot Act being something that is understood clearly by the American public, that's just not true, I'm afraid.  If it were, then Snowden's revelations would not have made even a minor ripple of an impact.  Most people believed until recently that the attention was focused exclusively on bad guys - not on everyone in the US.

    •  First of all, what Snowden's given us is proof (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mythatsme, gerrilea

      We did "know" about these programs for some time, but now we have physical evidence. That matters.

      Second, while gathering phone metadata has been going on for a while, the scope of such gathering has radically expanded since 9/11 and the Patriot Act.

      Finally, just because something's been going on for a while doesn't make it right. If you disagree with these programs, I don't see the point of critiquing the people who are now attacking those programs for not doing so sooner. If you agree with the programs, make your case for them. "Why are you talking about this now??" is just a distraction.

      "He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing."--Socrates

      by TealTerror on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 06:13:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, he hasn't given us proof. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sviscusi

        The existence of the database he reported was public in 2006. It's scale was public in 2006. I'm not arguing for the rightness or wrongness of electronic surveillance. I'm arguing that Mr. Snowden's claim that we did not know, and thus did not decide this is completely false.

        •  So what (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          hyperstation, gerrilea

          The American people have never understood either The Patriot Act or FISA.  And many who opposed them assumed naively that electing a Democrat was somehow going to mitigate them.  

          The people need to be reminded.  The people need examples.  They need the dots connected for them, repeatedly.   In this, the guns aren't so crazy.  They howl fire at every infringement on the 2nd amendment while we assume somewhere in Washington there is one of those "better" Democrats to defend the 1st and 4th.

          How many people had to commit acts of civil disobedience and public protest to start making an impact on segregation?

          You can take a picture of a woman being denied a seat on the bus.  You can't take a picture of someone's life being invaded in secrecy.  

          The gay rights movement never took off until people had the courage to stop living their lives in secret and others got to understand how their rights were being infringed.  

          Secrecy is corrosive to liberty.  And since our Congress is corrupt and spineless we're left with flaky misfits defending our liberties however ineptly.

          •  The American people have understood that the (0+ / 0-)

            Patriot Act creates a framework allowing the government to collect massive amounts of data for surveillance since 2006 if not before. The American public has understood that the government can justify legal rationales in the secrecy of the FISA court since 1978.

            Those aspects of electronic surveillance have never been secret. The public can, at any point, elect representatives to repeal this legal framework. We can't scream that our elected officials are criminals when we voted for laws we don't like.

        •  Before now, all the information we had (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          greenbell, hyperstation, gerrilea

          on the program was related to us by leakers. Now, we have hard evidence. That's all I'm saying.

          And for you to say, or imply, that "we decided" on this is disingenuous. Most Americans had no idea this was happening. Wyden and Udall have been saying for years Americans would be shocked if we learned how the Administration was interpreting (in secret, of course) the Patriot Act.

          Third, the fact that so many were surprised by this information shows that many Americans didn't know it was going on. That's an indictment of our media, and perhaps our educational system--but that's the world we're living in.

          Finally, why does it matter whether or not the information was out there already? What's important is the issue itself. If you support electronic surveillance and the gathering of phone metadata, say so; if you don't, say that. This whole "Why is everyone so surprised??" thing (and you're not alone by any means) is just false cynicism.

          "He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing."--Socrates

          by TealTerror on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 08:42:48 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Now where would the FISA Court (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gerrilea

      have the jurisdiction to approve any warrant for any communications details between two citizens on American soil?

    •  Thanks for common sense and legal facts (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fou

      My head is exploding at how much ignorance of the law and the Constitution this whole issue has revealed.

    •  The courts have not ruled on this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gerrilea

      The courts have never ruled these programs constitutional because the courts accept the government's argument that truly secret programs are beyond court review. If your view of the Constitution is that any law that infringes on citizen's rights can be challenged in court, then you must accept that the courts have found ways to slip outside the Constitution's bounds.

      The government is the party that has (successfully) asserted before the court that the implementation of the law is so secret that no citizen can prove standing in a suit against it.

      Now, your argument is to do...........what?

  •  When the law is used as a tool to subordinate (6+ / 0-)

    individual persons, the law needs to be broken. We need to always remember that slavery was legal, child labor was legal, sterilizing the mentally deficient was legal, killing humans is legal, as long as the right process has been followed.
    The proponents of the rule of law appreciate that when the law rules, humans, especially those who write the laws, get taken out of the equation. The laws can be as arbitrary and capricious as they like and there are no persons against whom recourse can be had. The impersonal law is like a secular godhead. There is no-one with whom to contest and, best of all from the would-be potentates, nobody's head to be offed.
    What the rule of law people conveniently ignore is that natural persons are not to be ruled. Along with the presumption of innocence, there's a presumption of probity. That is, the framers of the Constitution assumed that human beings are naturally good, until there is proof, based on a particular action, that they are not. It is this assumption which the rule of law people implicitly reject. They see the role of the law as telling people what to do and any action that's inconsistent is, in their lights, illegal.

    Basically, it's a matter of which comes first. Do people act and then their acts are judged, or are people given directions to act and their level of compliance is then judged?  The latter is the regime by which the culture of obedience operates. It is attractive to many people because it relieves them of being self-directed and the possibility of making mistakes that comes with that. The culture of obedience is ideally suited to the endemically insecure, as well as the authoritarian.

    How do we distinguish an authoritarian from an authority? The authoritarian gives instructions without knowing what he's talking about. That the instructions are likely to be wrong doesn't matter because both the givers and the takers are mainly interested in disclaiming responsibility. Though this may seem inconsistent with the "personal responsibility" refrain, it's not. "Personal responsibility" merely means that some person, rather than fate or chance, is responsible for results. It does not specify who that person might be. In the political realm, the person is he with whom the buck stops. In other words, the President is the scape goat, which is why much is forgiven him. It's a convenient fiction.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 02:46:39 AM PDT

  •  if he ran to China for asylum after he broke the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    merrywidow

    law by disclosing significant national security information to the press, it will raise questions in many minds what his true motive was.

    Why run and seek help from the country that is the greatest rising geopolitical national security threat to the USA and our Pacific allies?

  •  Not a whistleblower by a long shot. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sixty Something

    You had me right up to this point...

    So to those people who say Snowden revealed conduct that was perfectly legal and thus cannot be a whistleblower, I say Snowden revealed the problem of secret laws.  Laws that evolve outside of the public view.  Outside of the view of the people from whom the Constitution and all other laws in our country derive.  The people who have the direct and indirect power to change laws they perceive as improper or unfair.
    This loose interpretation of a whistleblower doesn't hold up. First of all, we already had reporting of this NSA culling of information as far back as Bush's 2nd term in office. It was described as unethical yet legal by way of secret rulings through the FISA court and deemed legit. We as a public were aware of it then and Congressmen were briefed on it and then "nothing happened" to change it.

    Snowden did nothing new to that overall problem of the secret FISA court, the secret legal briefs authorizing this use of telecom information and actually the overall process was pretty well known anonymously. What we didn't know were the specific names of the companies involved and the code name of the classified NSA program that it was under. That "process" and "methodology" were classified and legal following rulings through the FISA court.

    So what this ends up being is a 29 yr old IT techie deciding that he wants to be famous and lays out classified information to the press. It would have been a great deal more ethical if he took it to the Inspector General and complained. But the IG likely would have cited the FISA court approval of the whole process and told him there was nothing wrong.

    The next step would have been to do what we all do as citizens, complain to our Congressman albeit in an 'unclassified' manner. Simply letting him or her know that  they need to revisit this issue as it's immoral and unethical to be monitoring every American this way. But again, that's not what happened.

    Snowden broke the law, not by telling the world what they already knew, but by giving them classified information about the NSA.

    "I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately." -- George Carlin, Satirical Comic,(1937-2008)

    by Wynter on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 03:45:19 AM PDT

    •  Legal legal legal legal legal... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mythatsme, hyperstation, gerrilea

      It's all legal, Congress passed some sort of law that was used to enforce something and prosecute somebody and spend billions of dollars on something else. It is all legal, when they take you away and put you in isolation, have "free speech zones" until they pass a legal law that is legal not to allow it and then you are legally incarcerated for the rest of your life. Then, the death squads, because legal is getting expensive and too slow, and the trials were all held by military tribunal in secret anyway, so why not just cut to the chase, because the legal legality of it is that it is legal to do anything that can't be stopped.
      Never, happened before, there has never been a totalitarian government that passed laws in secret and circumvented them for their own benefit. There's a word for this, oh yeah, police state.

      "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

      by shmuelman on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 06:09:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Who made Snowden reveal this information? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    merrywidow, Sixty Something

    There is so much missing from this situation. The main one I would like to hear more on is the actual "motive" Snowden had to reveal this information.

    I have heard from some that he may have done this to resolve a court case problem brought forth by Amnesty Intl. But was turned down because they couldn't prove the secret program really existed. If that is the case, then we have a problem by which Snowden was coerced to reveal classified information by an outside group. That would make these individuals (ie. Amnesty Intl) likely to face charges as well.

    The whole process by which the government can cull information from our private lives is an abuse. Of that I am sure. But currently it's a legal abuse. Congress was aware more than the rest of us of it's existence and yet did not represent us well in protecting us from this invasion of privacy. As Representatives of the public they should be held responsible for failing to enact laws to protect our privacy in the face of such knowledge that they had on these programs.

    Who is to blame? There is enough to go around. But Snowden is no hero, and no whistleblower in my book. He is just another problem in our system whereby a single techie can get access to this level of information then divulge it as he sees fit. There are rules in place and he broke them and will have to pay the cost.

    "I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately." -- George Carlin, Satirical Comic,(1937-2008)

    by Wynter on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 03:59:21 AM PDT

    •  You understand that the Constitution is the (5+ / 0-)

      highest law in this land, right?

      And that any law conflicting with it is not valid?

      Our Government locks men in cages and has them isolated, raped, beaten, and terrorized for decades because they have grown medicine. Only a complete fucking idiot would not fear it.

      by JesseCW on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 04:44:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What makes you think anyone "made him do it?" (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shmuelman, TealTerror, mythatsme, gerrilea

      His own statements seem to make clear this was an act of conscience.

      And we'll have to disagree on the whistleblower/hero thing.  He revealed clear evidence that what many have suspected is true - the administration is interpreting provisions of the PAA and FAA in what is arguably an unconstitutionally broad fashion and is acting on that interpretation in a way that poses extraordinary risk of abuse.

      “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?” - Sherwood Rowland

      by jrooth on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 05:46:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Coerced by Amnesty Intl to break the law... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gerrilea

      Like those movies where they kidnap some guy's daughter and give him one hour to assassinate some politician.

      "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

      by shmuelman on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 06:12:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not that macabre... (0+ / 0-)

        More like talking him into doing something because "it's the right thing to do".

        The whole "can't sue a secret agency's practice if the practice is not proven to exist" excuse. But that is most likely in my reading to be the driver to why Snowden dropped this information out there.

        Much of the information was already available in the Press, but the exact program wasn't and that was the main reason Amnesty Intl couldn't have their case tried and won. Did someone convince Snowden this was "the right thing to do"? It's a distinct possibility.

        "I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately." -- George Carlin, Satirical Comic,(1937-2008)

        by Wynter on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 09:24:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Rosa Parks and MLK also broke the law (7+ / 0-)

    So did Washington, Jefferson and Adams.

    And Harriet Tubman.

    I rest my case.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 04:05:40 AM PDT

  •  The law of the jungle will take care of Ed Snowden (5+ / 0-)

    Let's stop talking about the messenger and talk about the message.

    Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

    by Just Bob on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 04:15:35 AM PDT

  •  The Republican majority in the House has voted (9+ / 0-)

    to "repeal 'Obamacare'" 37 times.

    37 times.

    Knowing that doing so is nothing more than a toddler's rattle-banging tantrum with no chance at achieving anything except self promotion.

    How many times has the Republican majority in the House voted to repeal the USA PATRIOT Act and FISA?

    Zero.

    That would be zero.

    Yes, Ed Snowden broke the law. Now it's time for Congress to repeal the law. I'm sick of the self-serving Republican pearl-clutching over this because "Obama's doing it". The fact is, they're doing it. Because they want to do it.

    Republicans want to spy on Americans and mine their personal data.

    In all the reauthorizations of FISA and the USA PATRIOT Act, a far greater percentage of Republicans voted for these grotesque, unnecessary, and unconstitutional invasions of privacy than the percentage of Democrats. For example, in 2008, 47 Republicans - 100% of voting Republicans - voted FOR reauthorizing FISA. Only 22 democrats voted "for", while 27 voted "against".

    Unfortunately, as we know all too well here at Daily Kos, Senator Obama was one of the 22 "Aye" votes.

    So we have multiple problems. And President Obama is far from blameless.

    But I'm sick of Republicans - again - ignoring their own deep 12-year-long complicity, nay leadership, in this hideous spying.

    "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

    by blue in NC on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 04:22:12 AM PDT

    •  Having the "authority" to abuse us does not force (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TealTerror

      the Executive Branch to abuse us.

      Our Government locks men in cages and has them isolated, raped, beaten, and terrorized for decades because they have grown medicine. Only a complete fucking idiot would not fear it.

      by JesseCW on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 04:45:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  AS I SAID, "President Obama is far from blameless" (0+ / 0-)

        However, bowing to and embracing the latest opportunistic Republican propaganda is not a legitimate strategy.

        "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

        by blue in NC on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 04:55:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There is no "propoganda" here. Just massive (4+ / 0-)

          government wrongdoing involving the Executive and Legislative branches.

          What we do not know is how much most of Congress, outside of the intelligence committees, knew or when they knew it.

          Our Government locks men in cages and has them isolated, raped, beaten, and terrorized for decades because they have grown medicine. Only a complete fucking idiot would not fear it.

          by JesseCW on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 05:09:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Rand Paul wants to sue the government (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            PsychoSavannah
            A chief critic of the efforts, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), said he is considering filing a lawsuit against the government and called on 10 million Americans to join in.

            “I’m going to be asking all the Internet providers and all of the phone companies, ask your customers to join me in a class-action lawsuit,” Paul said on “Fox News Sunday.” Link

            The same comprehensive Washington Post article has this:
            After opponents of the programs questioned their value last week, anonymous administration officials pointed to the thwarting of a bomb plot targeting the New York City subway system in 2009. Soon after, though, reporters noted that public documents suggested that regular police work was responsible for thwarting the attack, rather than a secret government intelligence program.

            The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

            by ybruti on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 06:46:47 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Put the partisan politics down for once (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gerrilea

          and recognise the scale of what is happening.

          The cave, the Matrix, America.

          by Grassee on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 06:21:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I fully recognize "the scale of what (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            PsychoSavannah

            is happening". And I have never, as far back as 2008, given Senator/President Obama a pass on his culpability.

            However, the Republicans - who are the original authors, enablers, and perpetrators of the most egregious of the policies - are the ones playing the "partisan politics" on this.

            And if we fail to fight their "partisan politics" with accurate "partisan politics" of our own, we will be living under a Republican Senate and a larger Republican majority in the House in 2015, and a Republican presidency in 2017. That's the Republican strategy, and that's why the Republicans are ramping up their own deceptive, inaccurate, and downright dishonest version of "partisan politics" on this...even though these are predominantly Republican laws.

            The Republicans have the megaphone of Fox News with which to spew their version of events and, to make matters worse, they have most of the mainstream media as well (as Bob Cesca points out in his column that was linked in today's "Abbreviated Pundit Round-up").

            We have...well, just us...and a few thinking opinion writers and a few relatively small left-leaning media outlets.

            I've never suggested that we not hold "our own" responsible to the extent that they are responsible, but blindly playing into the Republicans' game will hurt the nation even more than this intrusive domestic spying has done. I shudder to think, for example, what a President Jeb Bush or Chris Christie or Rand Paul would replace Justice Breyer or Ginsburg with.

            "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

            by blue in NC on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 07:06:39 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TealTerror, mythatsme

      I searched for a quote of his when questioned on his vote in 2008.  He joked he wouldn't want republicans to have such power but he could be trusted with it.

      All I could find was this-

      Every democracy is tested when it is faced with a serious threat. As a nation we have to find the right balance between privacy and security, between executive authority to face threats and uncontrolled power. What protects us are the procedures we put in place to protect that balance, namely judicial warrants and congressional review. These are concrete safeguards to make sure surveillance hasn’t gone too far.

      Source: In His Own Words, edited by Lisa Rogak, p. 99 Mar 27, 2007

      God knows I need a crutch at times To help this gimpy soul of mine along But not a Burning Truth That we must kill each other over.-Ric Masten

      by deminmarineland on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 05:27:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Careful ... (5+ / 0-)

      I don't think repealing FISA as a whole is a good idea.  After all, FISA was originally passed to curtail the abuses of the 50s, 60s and 70s.

      I do support repealing the Patriot Act and making some major revisions to FISA that strengthen rather than weaken the law.

      “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?” - Sherwood Rowland

      by jrooth on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 05:51:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  OK, I'll agree with that... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TealTerror, jrooth

        in the context of my comment, the 2008 reauthorization weakened the law, if "weakened" means "allowed more potential abusive spying on Americans".

        "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

        by blue in NC on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 06:07:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Rosa Parks broke the law too (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Just Bob, DFWmom, gerrilea

    The diarist is parsing the argument too finely.

    With the 4th Amendment in mind, should the government collect anyone's communications without a warrant?  

    That's the only question here--everything else is details.

    "Did the government pass a law subverting the 4th Amendment"  and "was such a law passed in a dishonest and non-transparent way" are  separate secondary and tertiary questions.

    We kidnap. We torture. It's our policy. Embrace it or end it!

    by Mosquito Pilot on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 04:25:58 AM PDT

  •  Agree. Now since what he said is known by the (0+ / 0-)

    world since the following was printed

    "In May 2006, USA Today reported that the NSA, under then-CIA Nominee Gen. Michael Hayden's leadership, had, since 9/11, secretly collected tens of millions of phone call records from the nation's three largest telephone companies -- Verizon, AT&T and BellSouth."

    and was assumed conversations could be listened in it if could lead to a threat, he cannot be a whistleblower to what is common knowledge.

    •  There is an immense difference between (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DFWmom, gerrilea

      "tens of millions of phone call records" and "Everybodies phone records".

      That shouldn't be hard to see.

      Our Government locks men in cages and has them isolated, raped, beaten, and terrorized for decades because they have grown medicine. Only a complete fucking idiot would not fear it.

      by JesseCW on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 04:46:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  He exposed a perfectly legal and open data (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deminmarineland

    collection effort by the US government...???  Then why the fuss?  

    By the way - there are loopholes in your above observations a mile wide:

    may make an application for an order requiring the production of any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items) for [snip] clandestine intelligence activities,
    Take out the first clause justifying intelligence gathering, and the second clause is more visible: intelligence gathering can be made simply to support clandestine intelligence activities.  The act justifies itself.

    Now the last bit:

    provided that such investigation of a United States person is not conducted solely upon the basis of activities protected by the first amendment to the Constitution
    This is easy to bypass: don't launch an investigation on any person based solely on the collected data without evidence of a crime.

    It is a blank check to record everything now, prosecute later.  And what you will eventually see is selective prosecution based on political agenda.  People who live meaningless lives and are too happily told what to do will find out way too late what this can lead to.

    I also don't see how this can be legal and meet unreasonable search criteria.  It is like saying 'it is not unreasonable to search everyone for everything all of the time and throw it all into a locker for future potential use'.

    To any wingnut: If you pay my taxes I'll give you a job.

    by ban48 on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 04:40:31 AM PDT

  •  His story just doesn't add up. (0+ / 0-)

    A guy with a GED and no degree gets a job with the CIA????

    He's an IT guy who can't pass some basic IT certification tests????

    Same guy later goes to work for contractors in the intelligence community for a $200K salary????

    Ron Paul supporter too????

    This is all too fishy sounding. Guy's a criminal. HE belongs in prison, IMO.

  •  no more free press with meta data (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gerrilea

    track down all the contacts with a reporter

    have to be Ed Snowden to talk with the press

    give up my freedom for the country's good?

    give up my freedom so I can vote in the next election for "more and better democrats" ?

  •  Unconstitutional laws must be broken (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DFWmom, TealTerror, gerrilea

    If they are not challenged, if they are allowed to stand, then we lose our civil rights. The law was broken because it had to be.

  •  Your legal analysis is incomplete (8+ / 0-)

    On Section 215, you forgot the "relevance" requirement. The FISA Court order we saw also did,

    On PRISM, the Administration's interpretation of Section 702 also seems flawed.

    Finally, I quibblle with your definition of whistleblower. IT does not have to be about "illegal" activity, just hidden activity.

    The Pentagon Papers did not reveal illegal activity.

  •  To quote Dickens' Mr. Bumble... (5+ / 0-)
    The law is an ass.
  •  Thank you. Very well said. nt (0+ / 0-)

    “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?” - Sherwood Rowland

    by jrooth on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 05:52:25 AM PDT

  •  There are a lot of laws passed all over the world, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TealTerror, mythatsme, gerrilea

    and "legality" is not the ultimate judgement of justice and human and civil rights and moral and ethical standards. All legality means is what the people holding in power may wish to adjudicate.

    "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

    by shmuelman on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 06:00:36 AM PDT

  •  And this will NOT STOP until the law is changed. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TealTerror, stevej, Quicklund

    that is what this is about.

  •  I certainly agree (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Radiowalla, Catte Nappe

    So far, what we know about the NSA program seems to have been legally authorized, and does not involve any wrongdoing.

    We should have a public discussion about what is actually going on and whether we accept it as a nation. Of course, most people don't realize that there hasn't been any reasonable expectation of privacy in the phone numbers we dial since the 70's anyway.

    What concerns me is the rampant speculation about other possible activities that would be invasions of privacy. I suspect this Mr. Snowdon is something of a flake. He considers himself a "spy."

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/...

    but what I have seen of his resume suggests that he was an IT guy. There are other suggestions in what he's said that also make me go "hmmm."

  •  Paranoia (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    helfenburg, Catte Nappe

    One problem that the nation has in thinking about this issue is that people remain extremely paranoid in the wake of the cold war and 9/11. It is easy for people to imagine a terrorist or simply a crazy person willing to inflict mayhem on thousands of innocent people. To know that this is really possible, we just have to remember 9/11, and more lately, Boston. In reality, we are almost powerless to stop this from happening. Nevertheless, the concept that the government would try to stop it provides some of the American people with a feeling of security. It really isn't more than a feeling because rationally we know that a determined and smart terrorist who is willing to sacrifice himself will undoubtedly succeed in causing harm.

    Rather than accept our inherent vulnerability, the nation is willing to commit to insane levels of action and expense, such as screening everyone who boards an airplane for explosives, even little old ladies in wheel chairs. It is our culture, wherein we believe that we can accomplish the impossible, that spurs us on to these kind of actions.

    What we are seeing now is the recognition that the power that tries to protect us also has the ability to do us harm. Of course, this has always been the case, and we always knew it. Indeed, the republic itself was founded on re-imagining this premise.

    Moreover, anyone who has lived with some reflective capacity through the cold war would realize that once human created the ability to destroy all life on the planet with small devices, it would in the future be difficult to balance freedom and security. If the threat is total annihilation, then what security could possibly be too expensive or oppressive? One of our most endearing qualities as a people is to destroy those things we love in the effort to protect them.

    And of course, the military industrial complex is waiting to get paid vast sums to provide the false sense of security, and also to reinforce the paranoia that produces its gigantic paycheck.

    So, if we are going to change this equation, we will have to come to terms with our inherent vulnerability and our inability to have real security. If we cannot, then this tension will persist, as will our reduced privacy.

    The only thing required for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing.

    by DavidMCastro on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 07:01:02 AM PDT

    •  And believe me, they are waiting to cash in (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DavidMCastro, PsychoSavannah

      because our government is constructing a vast computerized spying infrastructure.  

      A new computing facility at the National Security Agency will help the country better defend against cyber attacks , agency officials and members of Congress said Monday.

      The High Performance Computing Center-2 will assist in "front-line defense against immediate threats" in cyberspace, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency and head of U.S. Cyber Command, said during a groundbreaking ceremony Monday at Fort Meade.

      The 600,000-square-foot facility, similar in function to an existing computer center, is scheduled to open in 2016. Officials said it would be used to help identify and combat cyber attacks — computer-based incursions into U.S. computer networks for purposes of stealing identities, intellectual property or state secrets.

      Read more: http://www.baltimoresun.com/...

      The elevation of appearance over substance, of celebrity over character, of short term gains over lasting achievement displays a poverty of ambition. It distracts you from what's truly important. - Barack Obama

      by helfenburg on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 07:46:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It is such a boondoggle too... (0+ / 0-)

        It is like the computer virus protection industry. Systems that do nothing but monitor other systems and people who hack the systems and then get hired by the security people because they are experts in the hacking. But the hackers were only trying to expose weaknesses, so they were helping... sure they were. The technology equivalent of pest control scamming.

        Construct a massive computer infrastructure to monitor threats! No one will actually be able to understand what it does and doesn't do, but they will pay billions of dollars for it anyway.

        The only thing required for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing.

        by DavidMCastro on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 08:43:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And that's the way our government wants it. (0+ / 0-)

          The elevation of appearance over substance, of celebrity over character, of short term gains over lasting achievement displays a poverty of ambition. It distracts you from what's truly important. - Barack Obama

          by helfenburg on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 11:20:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  are you a lawyer? do you have (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shigeru

    access to the details which any lawyer would insist as part of being "on" the case?

    Having an opinion on this is your inalienable right, but really, I think we need a bit more than apparently reasonable analysis and some references to snippets of law.

  •  I wonder what the politicians are saying. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PsychoSavannah, gerrilea

    I wonder what the (overwhelming majority of) politicians who voted for the PatRiot Act, the FISA laws, the NDAAs, etc., are saying in their phone calls, email, Twitter.  Who are they talking to?  Where are there phones at noon, 3 PM, 3 AM?  

    "What's fair for the goose is fair for the gander";  I'd be fine with Anonymous or some other people extracting, and publishing, every snippet of communication from every one of the politicians involved.   Forget national security;  the Chinese probably already have every word ever said by anyone in DC.

    C'mon, Obama.  Let's see some transparency!  :-)

    I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

    by tle on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 07:08:52 AM PDT

  •  What is legal is not always moral and vice-versa (3+ / 0-)

    Economics is a social *science*. Can we base future economic decisions on math? @AardvarkBlue on Twitter.

    by blue aardvark on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 07:25:10 AM PDT

  •  This guy has more guts than all the members of (4+ / 0-)

    Congress combined.

    The elevation of appearance over substance, of celebrity over character, of short term gains over lasting achievement displays a poverty of ambition. It distracts you from what's truly important. - Barack Obama

    by helfenburg on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 07:39:15 AM PDT

  •  Pen Registers and Trap/Trace (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PsychoSavannah, Catte Nappe

    Everyone interested in this issue should read this:
    https://ssd.eff.org/...

    The ability of law enforcement to track phone numbers and dialing info has not been protected by the 4th Amendment since 1979 (Smith v. MD).  Some laws were passed by Congress to tighten this up some, but the standard for allowing law enforcement to obtain the info is not as high as the probable cause standard for the usual warrant.

    The PATRIOT Act expanded surveillance to the internet.

    Bottom line, I don't think the NSA was doing anything illegal, though perhaps not ethical or moral.

    To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

    by dizzydean on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 07:52:18 AM PDT

  •  If you want to talk about breaking laws (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gerrilea

    Let's talk about all the laws the US government is breaking on a daily basis.

    It's not a law when it is enacted under duress. Even further, when it is abused - and cited - by the same group of liars that rammed it through a corrupt political body, it is not a law. It's just an excuse on paper for some of the worst human beings on earth to justify their malfeasance.

    And rest assured, that when people - including me - know that expressing their political beliefs in public forums is not in their best interest, the "laws" are being abused. And if its parameters can be stretched by the government, its parameters can be stretched by the public.

    Much of the set of constructs around the laws in this country relies on the conceptual ceding of power to it by the public. The political body that enacted these "laws" is corrupt, isolated, power mad and out of control.

    The law he "broke" is just a tool of oppression. The criminals here are the NSA and the US government. That people are so weak minded that they can only imagine within the boundaries their oppressors have set is pretty bad news.

    Slap happy is a platform.

    by averageyoungman on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 07:56:11 AM PDT

  •  Once again...do the math (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    side pocket, gerrilea

    How many terrorists were apprehended as a result of the blanket surveillence that's occurring? To the best of my knowledge, none. How many additional Americans are under surveillence as a result of these laws? 300,000,000.  

    From my perspective, any government that sees ALL it's citizens as potential terrorists, in essence, has no genuine concern for it's citizens at all. That governments real concern is protecting itself FROM it's citizens.

    There is little difference between how this law is being applied and surveillance techniques used by the former Soviet Union or any current authoritarian government.  In fact it's worse because of the technological advances that have occured.  All the above being the case, democracy in America has died. We live under an authoritarian government, whether democratic or republican, whose primary goal is to ensure it's own survival, even at the expense of it's own citizens. How esle can torture be justified? How else could we start a voluntary war with Iraq? Or begin targeting US citizens for assasination, or hold prisoners without charges or trail at Guantanamo? Or rationalize spying on ALL it's citizens in violation of the US Constitution, with the only defense offered is we've be doing it for years (Feinstein), not that it's being applied in a legal manner.

    This is the REAL face of modern America. This is what we've allowed ourselves to become i.e. a nation of cowards, frightened by phantoms created by a government whose sole concern is it's own survival.

    No being has inherent power, only the illusion of power granted by others who similarly have none.

    by Mark701 on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 07:58:58 AM PDT

  •  Well done. (0+ / 0-)

    Tipped, recc'd.

    I'm not always political, but when I am I vote Democratic. Stay Democratic, my friends. -The Most Interesting Man in the World

    by boran2 on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 08:04:53 AM PDT

  •  I'm of two minds on this. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, Quicklund

    The Pentagon Papers, a history of the Vietnam War, had been classified solely because they were embarrassing to the military, not for any legitimate national security purpose.
       Making them public revealed some information that two administrations had smothered with constant propaganda. Ellsberg did an unalloyed public service.
       The AP and Rosen cases involved leaks that revealed "sources and methods" of national intelligence. The leaks contributed nothing particularly useful to the American people and they compromised intelligence gathering.
       Wikileaks/Bradley went two ways...useful information regarding what were arguably war crimes as well as information that might compromise US forces.
      The info released by Snowden was an elaboration of something we already knew and which broke in 2006.It drew attention to NSA spying, but much of what Americans believe about it is factually incorrect.
       The whole police state is a net social bad. This particular NSA operation is, in context, relatively innocuous. Snowden was heroic, and good hearted.
       But it's hard to see how the empire can function if the low level functionaries can't be trusted with secrets.

  •  Whether one has acted legally, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, Quicklund

    is the matter of a judge and jury interpreting the law and evidence. Whether one has acted virtuously is another story.

    It is not events that disturb us, but our interpretation of their significance.

    by Montreal Progressive on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 08:23:39 AM PDT

  •  Snowden Signed An Oath (0+ / 0-)

    He is a traitor to the US.  The oath that a contractor takes and what a government worker takes are different.  A contractor can get away with a lot more.  He should be extradited and put on trial.  Government workers work for the US.  Contractors work for their company.  Contractors make twice as much as Government workers and they have no loyalty to the Government.

    "Don't Let Them Catch You With Your Eyes Closed"

    by rssrai on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 09:07:46 AM PDT

    •  Technically he did not commit treason under (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ChadmanFL, gerrilea

      the Constitution as he was not in the employ of a foreign government and did not belong to an organization which sought the violent overthrow of the US government.

      He might or might not be guilty of violating a law such as the Patriot Act, but he is not guilty of treason under the US laws.

      "Oh, I am heartily tired of hearing about what Lee is going to do..... Go back to your command, and try to think what are we going to do ourselves, instead of what Lee is going to do." Grant

      by shigeru on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 10:04:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Am I a traitor, as well? I have no loyalty (0+ / 0-)

      to oppression, no matter if it's made "legal" or not.

      The government made oppression "legal", they reneged on our agreement.   It's really that simple.

      Besides isn't it the duty of every American to protect this nation against enemies both foreign AND domestic???

      I most assuredly think so.  Whether or not we take any oath or work for our government.  It's our duty to protect ourselves from the oppressive tendencies of the authoritarians amongst us.

       

      -7.62; -5.95 The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.~Tesla

      by gerrilea on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 02:50:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Does make it tough to argue the pros and cons (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gerrilea

    of the actions when we didn't even know they existed until they were leaked.

    "Oh, I am heartily tired of hearing about what Lee is going to do..... Go back to your command, and try to think what are we going to do ourselves, instead of what Lee is going to do." Grant

    by shigeru on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 10:01:14 AM PDT

  •  Why he's not techincally a whistleblower (0+ / 0-)

    It's not that what he revealed was perfectly legal, it was that he revealed it to the media, rather than to proper authorities within the system. Had he done so, and it not gotten any results, he might have had a case to go public; but not as a first step.

    “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

    by Catte Nappe on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 10:11:43 AM PDT

  •  the courts will prevent you from bringing a case (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gerrilea

    because you can't prove you have been harmed. It's secret after all.

    This can't be right. Whatever it takes, this NEEDS to change. Blanket surveillance is not compatible with Democracy.

    Good diary, IMHO.

    We don't inherit the world from the past. We borrow it from the future.

    by minorityusa on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 11:34:36 AM PDT

  •  He may be a Ron Paul supporter (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gerrilea

    NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden May Be a Ron Paul Supporter (and Libertarian?)

    We know from the reports in the Guardian and from Booz Allen, itelf, that he worked most recently in Hawaii, and OpenSecrets lists an Edward Snowden of Waipahu, Hawaii, making a $250 donation to then-Rep. Ron Paul on May 6, 2012. An Edward Snowden of Columbia, Maryland, made a contribution to the Ron Paul campaign in the same amount two months earlier.
    Then again, like a broken clock, Ron Paul is right twice a day.  (And I am a bit of a libertarian according to Political Compass).

    Snowden is a hero in my book.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 11:36:12 AM PDT

  •  The real problem is that it is a BAD law (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gerrilea

    And if we had a decent Supreme Court it would have been ruled unconstitutional.

      But we shouldn't need the SC to protect us because the law should never have been passed, much less renewed.

    “Wall Street had been doing business with pieces of paper; and now someone asked for a dollar, and it was discovered that the dollar had been mislaid.” ― Upton Sinclair

    by gjohnsit on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 12:02:24 PM PDT

  •  The diary author asked: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gerrilea
    Ask yourself this:  When Congress was considering the Patriot Act, if Section 215 said "The FBI shall have the right to obtain all information pertaining to all phone calls, locations and internet use by all Americans, regardless of whether or not those Americans are suspected of any wrongdoing," do you think people would have supported it?  Would you have supported it?  That's the result we got, regardless of the otherwise mundane way the law was written.  
    The answer, as posed in comments above is a resounding "yes".  Others have commented that the cause is to not feed Dick Cheney a high cholesterol Sunday Talk Show snack.

    I believe that's 10% of the reason, the 90% is split in two:

    a) Demonstrate a pro-active response - as called for by the MSM - since noon on 11 Sept 01.

    b) Assure the constituents that a repeat of 11 September is unlikely, as "we're gathering all sorts of new data".

    Like FDR putting the Japanese-Americans in confinement, guarding them with WWI weapons and uniforms, people saw ACTION!!11! damnit.  Thus Government is good, despite the fact that the same bureaucratic forces which ignored the facts leading to 11 September, were still at-play.

    For how many weeks were we assailed by every talking-head on the MSM, calling for ACTION!!11! damnit.

    Well, everyone other than Russ Feingold bought it.  Hook, line and sinker.
    What was Feingold's fate?  Twice-round the bowl and down the drain.

    So no.  No one's going to buck this system.  A system which can tell a Congressman or Senator - that this information is ABOVE YOUR PAYGRADE - and thus the Security Apparatus is appropriated money without effective Congressional oversight.

    Disagree?  With a half-trillion-dollar enterprise?
    I'd bet you could be stalled in Committee, Primaried by well-funded Hawkish Democrats, and campaigned-against by the well-funded Republicans.

    Eisenhower was right.  

    In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

    We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

    The full text.

    The country was in peril; he was jeopardizing his traditional rights of freedom and independence by daring to exercise them.” ~ Joseph Heller, Catch-22

    by 43north on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 12:24:25 PM PDT

  •  I suspect he would be happy to face a trial (0+ / 0-)

    from the interview it sure seems like his eyes are open on the big picture here.

    But he understandably does not want to be assassinated or sent for rendition ... both are in America's post 2001 wheelhouse, thus the current deal.  The whole court burden for treason is a quaint inconvenience these days.

  •  Yeah, he did (0+ / 0-)

    One can be a hero (or at least an inspiration) while breaking the law. But the fact remains Snowden has confessed (publicly) to the crime of leaking classified information. He noted how he did it, that he did it with intent, and that he knowingly harmed our national security. I appreciate his courage and honesty and I'm sure he knew the consequences of his actions.

    I certainly hope he can get a generous plea agreement.

  •  Not clear yet whether he was a whistleblower (0+ / 0-)

    But this diary is an improvement in that it correctly identifies that the main problem as not that the NSA did anything illegal.  The problem is whether we give too much power away to these agencies to operate in secret.

    That is a legitimate debate and we should welcome it.

    In the meantime - and here I imagine I part company from the diarist - I think Snowden needs to face prosecution.  He is an adult and went into it with his eyes open.  He signed waivers and affirmations up the ying-yang to get a security clearance.  Either the laws mean something or they don't.

    Furthermore, Snowden doesn't live in a tyranny that prevented him from leaving his employment and legally taking a position adverse to the current laws.  We have plenty of former CIA and NSA people working for outfits like the Electronic Frontier Foundation.  They work to observe the secrecy laws they agreed to and then they go on to exercise their 1st Amendment Rights.  

    It wasn't so long ago we were urging Vice President Cheney be prosecuted for allegedly "outing" Valerie Plame.  

    Be careful about making rule of law itself a political football.  It can come back and bite you.

    One last point - the facts are still unfolding here about who Mr. Snowden is.  I would not jump to conclusions yet as to his motivations.  CNN, for example, just reported Snowden shows up as a Ron Paul contributor in last year's elections.  

    "Hidden in the idea of radical openness is an allegiance to machines instead of people." - Jaron Lanier

    by FDRDemocrat on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 02:18:58 PM PDT

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