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When Edward Snowdon's revelations about pervasive NSA surveillance first came to light, I thought the worst thing that could happen would be for people to be faux-raged for a little while and then to turn their attention to the next big news story. Has that already happened? Sometimes I think so, sometimes I don't.

What I'm sure of is that, even as the revelations keep coming, I keep hearing from smart, educated, responsible, thoughtful people -- friends, family, and acquaintances -- that pervasive surveillance is old news; not a meaningful invasion of privacy; and/or a 'necessary compromise' to keep evildoers in check.

It's not a gimme to push back against these arguments. It's complicated. There are multiple aspects of what's worrisome about a pervasive surveillance state, some of them are related in non-obvious ways, and even the most avid newshound is hobbled by the simple truth that civilians and even most experts are working from incomplete information. The reasons we ought to take pervasive surveillance seriously are complex. Some of the complexity is technical, while some is social or political.

I think that several months after Glenn Greenwald first broke the Snowdon leak story in The Guardian, it makes sense to examine aspects of the most consequential issues his leak raised, through some of the best journalism that has emerged since. By "best" I mean "most clarifying" or "most illustrative"; there's some wildly speculative and hyperbolic muck out there ... and while I recognize that not everyone will award golden "most clarifying" stars to the same pieces I do ... well, that's why there's a comments section.

I'm not going to try to examine all the important aspects of pervasive NSA surveillance. I'm not that smart. And there's no room for that thorough an examination in a single essay, not even this ridiculously long one!

Here are key points I'll touch on in this post:

  1. The data that's being gathered reveals an enormous amount about an individual's activity in social, economic, and political spheres.
  2. Surveillance data being harvested today places ordinary people at risk of persecution by the present and any future government.
  3. Nefarious use of surveillance data could easily look like current "civil forfeiture" practice applied to ordinary people.
  4. The strategies used by the NSA to enable pervasive surveillance may have already undermined the trust and security of the internet itself, on which enormous sectors of economic, political, and social activity depends.

More below the fold...

Metadata mining is much more invasive than airport body scans

Days after the Snowdon leak story broke, I posted a diary titled Not your granddaddy's metadata: don't believe the PRISM anti-hype, in which I pointed to expert opinions and studies indicating how much can be learned about a person's activities from a very little bit of metadata. Since then, this topic has been treated extensively in many public forums, so it would be silly to belabor the point.

However, a very clever analysis just came to my attention a week ago (thanks to B-- and S-- of Madison, WI -- which is probably enough metadata for the NSA to figure out to whom I'm referring, if they care).

The analysis is worth sharing.

In Using Metadata to Find Paul Revere, Kieran Healy, Associate Professor of Sociology at Duke University, details in farcical form how social network analysis (SNA) -- an analytical technique applicable to social media and similar metadata to discover roles and relationships in any given group of people -- might have been used by the British in the 1770s to unmask (and perhaps nip in the bud) Paul Revere's catalytic role in the American Revolution ... if the Redcoats had actually known how to perform SNA.

The gist is this: applying social network analysis techniques to eighteenth-century data about memberships in seven Boston-area organizations -- covering a mere 260 persons in toto -- surfaces Revere's importance as a central, brokering, key individual in the mobilization that led to the revolution that freed the United States from British subjugation. Had they been in possession of information surfaced by SNA, a British special ops team, had one existed at that time, might have set out to garrote Paul Revere in order to disrupt, and perhaps incapacitate, revolutionary activity in Boston.

Here's how Prof. Healy puts it in a faux-18th-century voice:

So, there you have it. From a table of membership in different groups we have gotten a picture of a kind of social network between individuals, a sense of the degree of connection between organizations, and some strong hints of who the key players are in this world. And all this—all of it!—from the merest sliver of metadata about a single modality of relationship between people. I do not wish to overstep the remit of my memorandum but I must ask you to imagine what might be possible if we were but able to collect information on very many more people, and also synthesize information from different kinds of ties between people! For the simple methods I have described are quite generalizable in these ways, and their capability only becomes more apparent as the size and scope of the information they are given increases. We would not need to know what was being whispered between individuals, only that they were connected in various ways. The analytical engine would do the rest! I daresay the shape of the real structure of social relations would emerge from our calculations gradually, first in outline only, but eventually with ever-increasing clarity and, at last, in beautiful detail—like a great, silent ship coming out of the gray New England fog.
But perhaps that's too whimsical or allegorical an approach for flinty-minded readers.

In that case, I recommend an academic paper (to which Prof. Healy links in an afternote to his piece) by Shin-Kap Han, an Associate Professor of Sociology at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: The Other Ride of Paul Revere: The Brokerage Role in the Making of the American Revolution (PDF). This dense, 20-page treatment with tables, graphs, 19 footnotes, and dozens of cited references, was published in June 2009 in Mobilization, a "a review of research about social and political movements, strikes, riots, protests, insurgencies, revolutions, and other forms of contentious politics" run out of San Diego State University. The review's purpose "is to advance the systematic, scholarly, and scientific study of these phenomena, and to provide a forum for the discussion of methodologies, theories, and conceptual approaches across the disciplines of sociology, political science, social psychology, and anthropology."

Prof. Han's article builds on membership data about five organizations to which Paul Revere and 136 others belonged (a subset of data Prof. Healy used). His paper describes through detailed illustration and analysis of this data how SNA is applicable to real-world activities, and how a seemingly small quantity of metadata can reveal a very great deal indeed.

What government surveillance means to you, today and in the future

In the case of Paul Revere, the revelations provided by sparse metadata comes long after the fact of his political activity. But the same methods apply to individuals alive today (and tomorrow), and an enormously greater body of metadata concerning today's activities is available to those -- like the NSA -- who collect it.

For a summary of what is known about what the NSA is collecting, I'd recommend the Electronic Frontier Foundation's How the NSA's Domestic Spying Program Works and the ACLU's A Guide to What We Now Know About the NSA's Dragnet Searches of Your Communications (the latter report is dated 9 Aug 2013). My summary of key elements of this week's bottom line includes:

  • metadata about telephone communication (names, addresses, detailed records of calls) is being vacuumed up by the NSA;
  • the NSA has real-time surveillance access to just about everything that a typical person does on the internet, and search tools that make it possible to zero in on any name, e-mail address, or IP (computer network) address, etc. that an analyst wishes to examine ("without prior authorization"), whether that data/activity originated in the United States or elsewhere;
  • the NSA is building a huge ($2Bn) data facility in Utah to store the data it has been collecting over the past decade or so and into the future.

What this means to your average person may be best summarized by Edward Snowden himself, in a widely viewed video interview published by the Guardian on 9 June 2013. The following is my own transcription of what Snowden said beginning at 7'12" into the interview:
... even if you're not doing anything wrong you're being watched and recorded, and the storage capability of these systems increases every year, consistently, by orders of magnitude to where it's getting to the point you don't have to have done anything wrong, you simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody, even by a wrong call, and then they can can use this system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you've ever made, every friend you've ever discussed something with, and attack you on that basis, to sort of derive suspicion from an innocent life, and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer.
Will the grim picture Snowden paints necessarily happen?

Well, no. If the people who hold the power to "derive suspicion from an innocent life, and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer" decide not to exercise their power in that way, then it won't happen.

But -- even if you trust the current U.S. government to do the right thing today -- you need to ask yourself whether you similarly trust next year's or next decade's government (details persons and policies TBD) to take a similarly trustworthy approach.

As they say in the investment world, past performance does not predict future returns.

If pervasive surveillance data is collected, and stored, and accessible to analysts, then whatever agency or agencies have the data and tools also have the means to "derive suspicion from an innocent life, and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer." Any agency or agencies who have the data and tools. Not just the ones whose politics and policies one might like.

Whether this is worrisome enough to do something about it is a political and sociological call that each of us as individuals and citizens, and we collectively as a nation and society, need to make.

Imagining nefarious use of surveillance data: consider civil forfeiture

It's hard for many people to imagine the path from the United States they inhabit to a nation with a Soviet-scale gulag or to the world depicted in Neill Blomkamp's dystopian thriller, Elysium. It's therefore useful, I think, to consider repression at less dramatic scale. Doing so helps one put police-state-creep into real world perspective.

An article titled Taken, by Sarah Stillman in The New Yorker of 12 August 2013, takes a hard look at certain current practices of some state, county, and city law-enforcement agencies. These practices fall under the general category of "civil forfeiture."

What is "civil forfeiture"? In a nutshell, quoting from the sub-title of Stillman's article:

Under civil forfeiture, Americans who haven’t been charged with wrongdoing can be stripped of their cash, cars, and even homes.
In Taken, Stillman describes the experience of American citizens and residents whose property was seized under circumstances that are functionally indistinguishable from being forced to pay authorities a bribe to be released from a police investigation and/or a threatened prosecution. But not an illegal bribe. Civil forfeiture sufficiently conforms to the letter of the law that it's difficult or impossible to fight for many individuals whose legal property is taken from them by agents of law enforcement.

The examples Stillman gives in her article take place in Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Arizona, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, Virginia, et al. In other words: all over the country.

Here's how civil forfeiture works in greater detail, again from Stillman's article:

The basic principle behind asset forfeiture is appealing. It enables authorities to confiscate cash or property obtained through illicit means, and, in many states, funnel the proceeds directly into the fight against crime. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, cops drive a Cadillac Escalade stencilled with the words “this used to be a drug dealer’s car, now it’s ours!” In Monroe, North Carolina, police recently proposed using forty-four thousand dollars in confiscated drug money to buy a surveillance drone, which might be deployed to catch fleeing suspects, conduct rescue missions, and, perhaps, seize more drug money. Hundreds of state and federal laws authorize forfeiture for cockfighting, drag racing, basement gambling, endangered-fish poaching, securities fraud, and countless other misdeeds.


In general, you needn’t be found guilty to have your assets claimed by law enforcement; in some states, suspicion on a par with “probable cause” is sufficient. Nor must you be charged with a crime, or even be accused of one. Unlike criminal forfeiture, which requires that a person be convicted of an offense before his or her property is confiscated, civil forfeiture amounts to a lawsuit filed directly against a possession, regardless of its owner’s guilt or innocence.

The pattern of the many examples Stillman cites leads the reader to conclude that in some jurisdictions, civil forfeiture is practiced in order to fund law enforcement budgets:
[...] civil-forfeiture statutes continued to proliferate, and at the state and local level controls have often been lax. Many states, facing fiscal crises, have expanded the reach of their forfeiture statutes, and made it easier for law enforcement to use the revenue however they see fit. In some Texas counties, nearly forty per cent of police budgets comes from forfeiture. (Only one state, North Carolina, bans the practice, requiring a criminal conviction before a person’s property can be seized.) Often, it’s hard for people to fight back. They are too poor; their immigration status is in question; they just can’t sustain the logistical burden of taking on unyielding bureaucracies.
Now.

Take a deep breath (especially if you followed the link and read Stillman's descriptions of the devastation to real people's lives caused by civil forfeiture practices). And, with a clear mind, consider local incentives to inflict civil forfeiture proceedings on helpless individuals against Snowden's description of what pervasive surveillance enables.

Quoting again from Snowden's June 9th Guardian interview, with ellipses to get us right to the heart of the matter:

... even if you're not doing anything wrong you're being watched and recorded [...] it's getting to the point you don't have to have done anything wrong, you simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody, even by a wrong call, and then they can can use this system to [...] derive suspicion from an innocent life, and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer.
The heart of the matter, of course, is that it doesn't even have to be criminal or political. You don't have to be regarded by powerful authorities as a political 'problem' or a 'terrorist' to have your life ruined when your activities are recorded and maintained by government spies.

You might not even fall under actual suspicion. Maybe you just look like a juicy target.

What civil forfeiture in these United States tells us is that pervasive surveillance of the sort the NSA practices enables subjugation of average, innocent civilians by authorities who are motivated by ... budget cuts. Or call it greed. Or call it lust for power. You know, the kind of crooked timber that human beings are built from.

Are you worried yet?

The other cost of NSA surveillance 'techniques': destruction of the internet?

If the risk to individuals doesn't worry you, how 'bout the news that the NSA has been secretly undermining technology that enables trust between merchants and customers, and between participants in social media activity that powers huge sectors of the 21st century's economy, political dialog, and social activity? By "trust" I mean the secure knowledge that things I willingly tell or give to a business or person won't be pirated by a malicious actor who will then do me harm.

So-called "security guru" Bruce Schnier is a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School and board member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. In a post on his blog, Schneier on Security, dated 5 September 2013, titled The NSA Is Breaking Most Encryption on the Internet ... well, the title pretty much says it all.

What does that title mean? It means that the secure connection that you use when you give your credit card information to a vendor, like Amazon or PayPal, is not actually secure. Surprise!

It means that the intricate, clever password you use to protect your on-line bank account or your 401(k) can't possibly be intricate or clever enough, because the secure connection you use when you type it in is permeable to bad guys. Whee!

See, it's not a matter of only the NSA being able to sniff out your credit card info. That would be creepy, yes; and in a civil forfeiture context, in which not just the NSA but the local sheriff might be able to sniff it out too -- that might be really creepy ... and materially risky as well.

The problem is that the NSA, we've now learned, has made it possible to break the encryption that protects your commercial transactions by subverting the standards on which most encryption technology is built. The encryption technology that everyone uses is weak because the NSA secretly gamed the system so the agency could play Peeping Tom ... with the unavoidable and completely foreseeable side effect that other, unknown, clever bad guys can exploit the same weaknesses.

Oh, I'm not saying I could do it myself (I'm not a clever enough geek, and I'm not a bad guy ... really, I'm not!). I'm not even saying the whole department of programmers with whom I work at UC Berkeley could do it. But, oh, how about an army of cryptographers hired by organized crime syndicates (pick your favorite here, I won't risk naming favorites...)? Or how about a literal army of cryptographers run by a national government?

If you're up for a lot of tech talk, you can get the geeky details of the NSA's insanely reckless subversion of internet security in On the NSA. This is a 5 Sept 2013 post on the blog A Few Thoughts on Cryptographic Engineering, written by Matthew Green, cryptographer and research professor at Johns Hopkins University (it's the post that launched a kerfuffle in which his academic dean first demanded that Green remove the post from the internet, then abjectly apologized for making that demand).

An alternative to this thickly techie post would be to read the news stories to which Prof. Green refers in the excerpt included below, summarizing those articles' revelations (TL;DR, for those unfamiliar with the meme, means "too long; didn't read"):

If you haven't read the ProPublica/NYT or Guardian stories, you probably should. The TL;DR is that the NSA has been doing some very bad things. At a combined cost of $250 million per year, they include:
  1. Tampering with national standards (NIST is specifically mentioned) to promote weak, or otherwise vulnerable cryptography.
  2. Influencing standards committees to weaken protocols.
  3. Working with hardware and software vendors to weaken encryption and random number generators.
  4. Attacking the encryption used by 'the next generation of 4G phones'.
  5. Obtaining cleartext access to 'a major internet peer-to-peer voice and text communications system' (Skype?)
  6. Identifying and cracking vulnerable keys.
  7. Establishing a Human Intelligence division to infiltrate the global telecommunications industry.
  8. And worst of all (to me): somehow decrypting SSL connections.
Back to Harvard's Bruce Schnier, in an article published by the Guardian on the same date (things were pretty busy on 5 Sept). Prof. Schneir, who reviewed many of the leaked documents himself, responds to the NSA's stunning betrayal by calling his fellow eggheads to arms:
By subverting the internet at every level to make it a vast, multi-layered and robust surveillance platform, the NSA has undermined a fundamental social contract. The companies that build and manage our internet infrastructure, the companies that create and sell us our hardware and software, or the companies that host our data: we can no longer trust them to be ethical internet stewards.


[...] I have resisted saying this up to now, and I am saddened to say it, but the US has proved to be an unethical steward of the internet. The UK is no better. The NSA's actions are legitimizing the internet abuses by China, Russia, Iran and others. We need to figure out new means of internet governance, ones that makes it harder for powerful tech countries to monitor everything. For example, we need to demand transparency, oversight, and accountability from our governments and corporations.

If you're not worried yet? I don't know what more I can type.....

And so....

What we've got is a military/industrial/security complex that is running off its rails. Just like President Eisenhower warned about half a century ago. It's putting individuals -- any and all individuals -- at perilous risk, and it's corroding key foundational elements of 21st century economic, political, and social life.

As Snowden said in June (video, 11'59" - 12'34") -- remarks for which he was unjustly ridiculed when he was just telling the plain truth -- we are perilously close to a situation in which:

...a new leader will be elected, they'll flip the switch, say that because of the crisis, because of the dangers that we face in the world, you know, some new and unpredicted threat, we need more authority, we need more power, and there will be nothing that people can do at that point to oppose it, and it'll be turnkey tyranny.
Turnkey tyranny.

Yup. We should worry about that.









This diary is cross-posted from the author's blog, One Finger Typing

Originally posted to Steve Masover on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 09:05 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (175+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LibrErica, Horace Boothroyd III, stevemb, Matthias, Lisa Lockwood, onionjim, Rachael7, kyril, albrt, eru, sillycarrot, JVolvo, MKinTN, kharma, Nebraskablue, JayBat, shigeru, burlydee, foresterbob, side pocket, Stwriley, NoMoreLies, native, Brown Thrasher, rhutcheson, Einsteinia, Sunspots, Arrow, cslewis, greenbastard, joegoldstein, manwithlantern, run around, DRo, Thomas Twinnings, R rugosa alba, Norm in Chicago, lotlizard, Tool, Simplify, mzinformed, rasfrome, Shockwave, DeadHead, magnuskn, cybrestrike, FarWestGirl, J M F, poligirl, magnetics, bronte17, mosesfreeman, YucatanMan, lunachickie, gulfgal98, StateofEuphoria, Kentucky Kid, spacecadet1, 3goldens, hubcap, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, zerelda, Blicero, DrTerwilliker, jadt65, kbman, LucyandByron, bobswern, Joieau, Ray Pensador, barbwires, Lost Left Coaster, expatjourno, limulus curmudgeon, bleedingheartliberal218, jamesia, Jim Riggs, profewalt, myrmecia gulosa, clutch1, MusicFarmer, timethief, zerone, MsLillian, Medium Head Boy, bobdevo, 4kedtongue, KenBee, Youffraita, Throw The Bums Out, Alumbrados, Ageing Hippie, AoT, Nisi Prius, bryduck, democracy inaction, OLinda, OrdinaryIowan, high uintas, blueoasis, phillies, koNko, Kristina40, AuroraDawn, Desolations Angel, RFK Lives, River Rover, slathe, decisivemoment, jbsoul, Liberal Thinking, kamarvt, kck, BlueDragon, Mentatmark, SpecialKinFlag, Chaddiwicker, hazzcon, carpunder, kdnla, cynndara, Fairlithe, Carol in San Antonio, Jarrayy, NearlyNormal, dharmafarmer, Chi, bluedust, Dumbo, xynz, flowerfarmer, jerseyjo, Demeter Rising, wayoutinthestix, George3, prfb, Knucklehead, chuckvw, crackpot, janis b, Oaktown Girl, also mom of 5, Faroutman, sceptical observer, aliasalias, HarpboyAK, Floande, elwior, out of left field, KJG52, kurt, caul, Johnathan Ivan, PaloAltoPixie, JimWilson, Amor Y Risa, HCKAD, sunny skies, lostinamerica, Crimson Buddha, david78209, shortgirl, tommymet, Ironic Chef, Robynhood too, Sandino, Sun Tzu, Rosaura, Fishtroller01, lysias, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, Lcohen, jessical, shenderson, 3rock
  •  This is a very comprehensive diary (61+ / 0-)

    I don't know why it isn't getting more traction.

    None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

    by gjohnsit on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 09:42:31 AM PDT

  •  Excellent post. I noticed that (14+ / 0-)

    Mandiant has several downloadable 'tools'. Have you/do you use any of them, and if so, have you got an opinion on 'em? (I just took a very quick peek and assume they're for sys admin/IT folks).


    Information is power. But, like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. Aaron Swartz

    by Lisa Lockwood on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 10:05:38 AM PDT

  •  Great job and conclusion (19+ / 0-)

    turnkey tyranny.

    The ability to use the surveillance to break protests.

    One question, why do you use the term "metadata"? They collect all the data, including the content, word for word of all calls. Its all digital data and it all gets sucked up.

    The idea of civil forfeiture is really scary. Its done in the drug war, already.  

    A true craftsman will meticulously construct the apparatus of his own demise.

    by onionjim on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 10:20:06 AM PDT

  •  Too scared to comment further... (13+ / 0-)

    Ha! I'm already "known.."

    About those uCF's (un civil forf.)..

    http://host.madison.com/...

    Medicaid &/or budget shortfalls? Not in WI.. your "body" costs whatever you have left... there is no more passing down of "family" assets..

  •  Excellent diary! (8+ / 0-)

    Bookmarked for reference material later.  Thanks.  

    When the reality is unpleasant and hard to believe, it's easiest to cloak it in the camouflage of CT.

    by kharma on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 10:59:40 AM PDT

  •  for the length it's not well enough formatted (0+ / 0-)

    I think...

    I can't read it now, though I am sure it's worth doing so.
    Will do later.

    "It's what you do, not what you say, that makes your nation" - some dude

    by mimi on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 11:03:37 AM PDT

  •  Good diary thanks. em (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FarWestGirl, 3goldens, Ray Pensador

    “Never argue with someone whose livelihood depends on not being convinced.” ~ H.L. MENCKEN

    by shigeru on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 11:07:49 AM PDT

  •  Excellent post (6+ / 0-)

    which I hot listed. Good linking of the civil forfeiture to the data collection outrages. I had difficulty finishing the New Yorker article because I kept thinking "This just can't be happening in America". Oh, but it is.

    Ceiling Cat rules....srsly.

    by side pocket on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 11:17:43 AM PDT

  •  If the United States were a totalitarian state (8+ / 0-)

    you would not dare to post this.

    Ask people in China about that.

    I'm on a mission! http://www.dailykos.com/comments/1233352/51142428#c520 Testing the new site rules.

    by blue aardvark on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 11:20:11 AM PDT

    •  Obviously they don't know what the word means. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      erratic, Bush Bites, Hey338Too, caul

      Even China is more aiuthoritarian than totalitarian nowadays.  

      I might take this issue more seriously without the stupid attempts to compare living in the United States to living in Nazi Germany or the Stalinistic Soviet Union.   That is what totalitarian means.

      Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

      by TomP on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 11:30:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  seizing property without charges (16+ / 0-)

        has shades of totalitarianism.  Is the US all the way there yet? No.  Is it taking its newly self-granted powers for a test-drive? Yes.  That is what the article is about.

        •  No, it really doesn't. Not even close. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          erratic, Bush Bites, TomP

          For all the issues raised by civil forfeiture laws, the fact is that there's a judicial procedure and statutes approved by an elected legislature pretty much takes it out of the whole concept of totalitarianism.  It's' more like getting fined for not cutting your grass than Stalin.  

          HEY COGNITIVE INFILTRATORS! I googled "confirmation bias" and Daily Kos raided my house! And and and smashed my hard drives! Ask CNN, it's all truthy!

          by Inland on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 02:11:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  or (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            caul, lostinamerica, corvo

            like having $5000 taken from you just for being in a car. Either way.

            •  No, not "either way". (4+ / 0-)

              The idea of having a large sum of cash taken because you're in a car transporting drugs is not the same idea as a totalitarian state.  One isn't the slippery slope to the next.

              I have no idea why people can't just argue that something is bad without a false comparison to totalitarianism, or a police state, or dragging poor Neville Chamberlin into it.  Can you explain it?  It's as mystifying a tactic as it is universal.

              HEY COGNITIVE INFILTRATORS! I googled "confirmation bias" and Daily Kos raided my house! And and and smashed my hard drives! Ask CNN, it's all truthy!

              by Inland on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 02:17:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  "a car transporting drugs" (10+ / 0-)

                If you had actually read the New Yorker article, then you would have seen that the people who had their money seized were not transporting drugs. They were simply accused on the spot of having drug money, and the money was taken by the police, supposedly in exchange for not filing charges.

                In other words, a legally sanctioned shakedown.

                "As the madmen play on words, and make us all dance to their song / to the tune of starving millions, to make a better kind of gun..." -- Iron Maiden

                by Lost Left Coaster on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 02:47:19 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Graft= Test drive for totalitarianism. Not. (0+ / 0-)

                  I already said the laws have issues, having read the New Yorker article when it first came out.

                  I don't know why those issues aren't worthy of note on DK unless someone makes a really bad case for that it's the harbinger of totalitarianism.  Can you explain that to me?

                  HEY COGNITIVE INFILTRATORS! I googled "confirmation bias" and Daily Kos raided my house! And and and smashed my hard drives! Ask CNN, it's all truthy!

                  by Inland on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 04:18:44 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  try bothering (9+ / 0-)

                to know what you're talking about first.  As LLC mentioned already, the people who had their money stolen from them were simply accused of transporting drugs, even though no formal charges were ever filed, and searching of their vehicles turned up bupkis amount of drugs.

                •  And totalitarianism is? (0+ / 0-)

                   I already said the law had issues but that has nothing to do with a silly assessment of coming totalitarianism.

                  Maybe you should learn what "totalitarianism" is before you confuse it with police graft a second time.  

                  HEY COGNITIVE INFILTRATORS! I googled "confirmation bias" and Daily Kos raided my house! And and and smashed my hard drives! Ask CNN, it's all truthy!

                  by Inland on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 04:21:44 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  a political system in which the state holds total (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Steve Masover

                    authority over the society and seeks to control all aspects of public and private life wherever possible... - Wiki

                    Now you can quibble with that definition if you want.  
                    My take is this: a state that can spy on its populace without constraints (admittedly this is probably not the case as of now, but it is what concerns a great many people, including the author of this diary), and could then use that information to confront any citizen and accuse them of crimes without actually having gathered evidence per Constitutional requirements, and can then confiscate property without a conviction of criminal activity or without even leveling charges of a crime (which has already happened in many cases in multiple states), that is the authority over society to control public and private life.
                    Feel free to disagree with that if you please, but don't belittle my intelligence, or think that i don't understand the concept.  And no, that is not simple police graft.
                    The entire diary was not about the individual actions that are currently taking place in isolation, it was about trying to connect the dots of 2 different strains of expanding police state powers.  Perhaps you don't agree with that vision, but that doesn't mean that others are simple-minded for being concerned about the risks of an ever-expanding police state mentality from our government.

                    •  I don't think you understand the concept. (0+ / 0-)

                      Yes, I suppose that if in fact there were a state that could spy on its populace without constraints and had the authority to expropriate property at will, yeah, you'd a) have a threat of a totalitarian state and b) someplace that's not the US.    

                      No doubt, if things were totally different, things would be totally different.

                      So did you have any comment relevant to the United States?  Or is this just a case of slippery slope argument gone wild?  

                      Basically, I still don't get why it's necessary to make up some bull (or "connect the dots") in order to get people to be against illegal police graft.   Can you explain it to me?

                      HEY COGNITIVE INFILTRATORS! I googled "confirmation bias" and Daily Kos raided my house! And and and smashed my hard drives! Ask CNN, it's all truthy!

                      by Inland on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 07:47:26 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

      •  Sad that the truth bursts your bubble. n/t (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        snoopydawg, caul, lostinamerica, corvo
      •  I looked all over the diary (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DeadHead, AoT, aliasalias, caul, corvo

        for references to living in Nazi Germany or Stalin's USSR. Didn't see them. Not sure what you're referring to in regard to this diary. Maybe I missed something.

        "As the madmen play on words, and make us all dance to their song / to the tune of starving millions, to make a better kind of gun..." -- Iron Maiden

        by Lost Left Coaster on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 03:02:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Lol, moronic winger type arguments come to Kos! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xynz, corvo
    •  Good thing then that this diary (9+ / 0-)

      doesn't say that totalitarianism has already arrived in the USA. But it does make a key connection between two issues (NSA surveillance and civil forfeiture) that I haven't seen analyzed so well anywhere else.

      "As the madmen play on words, and make us all dance to their song / to the tune of starving millions, to make a better kind of gun..." -- Iron Maiden

      by Lost Left Coaster on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 02:45:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Incentives for arrest or prosecution, in plain (9+ / 0-)

    language.  If your budget and paycheck depend on your writing a lot of tickets or convicting a lot of people, your actions may be influenced by more than what is right.

    Law enforcement shouldn't profit from its actions or inactions, it should only be motivated by doing the right thing.

    True, that's an ideal, but it gets harder to reach it when economic incentives get involved.

  •  Apple handing over fingerprints to NSA (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bush Bites, caul

    topinfopost.com/2013/09/25/apple-admits-iphone-5s-fingerprint-database-to-be-shared-with-nsa

    When Mr. Richardson asked for a response to individual’s concerns about privacy, he told:

    “Frankly, if a person is foolish enough to allow something as specific and criminally implicit as their fingerprints to be cataloged by faceless corporations and Government officials… Well, you can’t exactly blame us for capitalizing upon it, can you? Personally, I believe this effort will support a greater good. Some of the folks they’re hoping to apprehend are quite dangerous. Besides, it’s not like this is covered in the Constitution.”

    Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. --Edward Abbey

    by greenbastard on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 11:40:54 AM PDT

  •  I still have no idea... (15+ / 0-)

    how civil forfeiture can be legal, much less constitutional. Besides the obvious problems of seizing private property without just compensation or a criminal conviction (the constitutional complaints most often raised against civil forfeiture) there is another problem that I seldom see discussed but that is directly relevant to the debate: how can anyone (even a government entity) name an inanimate object as a party to a civil suit under the rules of the Common Law that govern our courts?

    Under the rules of the Common Law, it is only possible for people or their specifically created surrogates (like corporations) to be party to any suit (civil or criminal) under the law. Yet these actions are often couched as "the state v. an object", which seems to me to be a gross violation of the very legal concept being used.

    It's also worth noting that Congress actually tried to reform this whole process with the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000, which at least made Federal prosecutors need to show a substantial connection between property and a crime in order to exercise civil forfeiture, but this does not extend to state law which seems to be where most of the abuses are now. It seems to be high time that the public was made more aware of just how broad this power now is and how far it has strayed from the rules, ideals, and constitutional underpinnings of our system.

    Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. Sun Tzu The Art of War

    by Stwriley on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 11:42:08 AM PDT

  •  Do ya think? Of course it's totalitarian. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Pensador, bobdevo, caul

    "Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens," -Friedrich Schiller "Against Stupidity, the Gods themselves contend in Vain"

    by pengiep on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 11:47:18 AM PDT

  •  Let's imagine that I am a harmless sort of guy (11+ / 0-)

    and not of interest to the US government. And also let's imagine that no one has wrongly implicated me so that the government has no excuse to dig out all the dirt in my perfectly ordinary life. Then do I have to worry about the totalitarian state?
    Well, no. How about all of the bloggers and columnists I read that are helping to shape public opinion, including mine? Perhaps they are pulling their punches and not digging out all of the dirt on the government because THEY are worried about government surveillance. I think this danger to our public discourse is as much if not more damaging than what may or may not happen to my private life.

  •  Here's why I'm not worried (in the long term) (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, Throw The Bums Out, KJG52

    The fact of the matter is that I agree with your diary.  But let them try it.  Things can get really bad. They have before and seems like the trend may be that they will again.  

    But evil contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction.  Let them come and try to implement this world that has been sketched here.  Plenty will scoff and say "not in America!" right up until it's their family in the cross hairs of a faceless security bureaucracy.  Do it too much (and they inevitably will) and you'll finally get those fine people off the coach and into the streets where they have been needed for the last 20 years.  

    I'd rather settle this at the ballot box personally.  But if it comes to the 1% versus the 99%.... well, frankly, that's not even a contest.

    "If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people." -Tony Benn (-6.38,-6.36)

    by The Rational Hatter on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 12:17:17 PM PDT

    •  Yeah, but (4+ / 0-)
      evil contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction
      how much damage is done to everyone until that happens?

      "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

      by bryduck on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 04:49:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Soviet Union took quite a while (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      caul, corvo

      to disintigrate. In the meantime 10's of millions of people were "dealt with" by the security apparatus. Read about Stalin's police state.

      The Fierce Urgency of Later

      by Faroutman on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 11:30:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not for a second saying that we ought to (0+ / 0-)

        not fight tooth and nail against the fascist trend in world politics.  I'm just stating my conviction that fascism and totalitarianism are such deeply flawed ideologies that they will never succeed over a long enough time line.  

        Things like the internet will accelerate the demise of fascism in the modern era too, I think.

        "If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people." -Tony Benn (-6.38,-6.36)

        by The Rational Hatter on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 12:30:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Wow. Superb diary. (7+ / 0-)

    Thank you.




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

    by DeadHead on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 12:23:17 PM PDT

  •  The 1% is in the drivers's seat today (9+ / 0-)

    They will NOT relinquish this power nicely if we just ask them because we are the 99%.

    First of all the 99% is deeply divided.  Strangely enough, this is an area that cuts through traditional parties.  We can join forces with the libertarians (as Snowden is) to fight the Nancy Pelosis and John McCains of both parties (as in the issue of Syria).  I saw plenty of Rand Paul people at Occupy LA for example.  

    The 1% controls both parties establishments from Obama, Romney, McCain, Huckabee on down.

    OWS had a unique organization framework that did not promote visible leaders.  Fine, but in America we need the MLKs to get a movement to a point where it can make a difference.  

    Withe the powers of the NSA/FBI/CIA/DIA/HS/ATF/DEA on their side, the 1% can destroy any emerging 99% leadership in its infancy.

    A new J.Edgar is all that they need.  Clapper? Alexander?

    And forget about it if a new Joe McCarthy emerges on the side of the 1%.  Cruz?

    In the long term the 1% or the far right can destroy America to the degree that it may never recover.

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

    by Shockwave on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 12:30:25 PM PDT

    •  Agree with everything you wrote except (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shockwave, caul, corvo

      it's .01%. Really, you need about $500 mill or more in assets to be in the plutocratic class that matters.

      Top 1% includes shmucks pulling down a couple mill a year. They aren't the plutes.

      •  It's not a unified class (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        caul

        We need to look at the 1%, and the 0.1%, and the 0.01% not as unities, but as fractured. Because we need to get the wedge in, divide, and conquer them.

        I've known people with millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions, and even had slight acquaintence with a friend of a friend with billions. Many of such people do not find common cause with the Kochs, or the GOP, or even what you'd think they'd recognize as their own class, however defined.

        We can use this. We'll do best not to drive them together, gettting them to circle the wagons in self defense, but to split them widely apart. Many of them are already in serious dissent from the current course of things, not the least the economic injustices. We can reach out to them. They'd welcome political friends less obnoxious and corrupt than the ones from Washington.

        •  This is just a tactical difference (0+ / 0-)

          We have the same ultimate goal.

          My personal tactic would be to get the 99.99% together. Including the people worth $10, 15 mill total.

          We need to totally reign in the depredations of the $750 million and above class. These are the ones literally dictating everything going on right now.

          Once we've lined up 99.99%, then we fracture that tiny sliver.

          But I would assure the medium rich that we aren't after them.

    •  This is simply not true (0+ / 0-)
      OWS had a unique organization framework that did not promote visible leaders.  Fine, but in America we need the MLKs to get a movement to a point where it can make a difference.  
      People can lead in OWS, they simply aren't allowed to dictate. The members collectively decide policy. But individuals certainly can get up in front of a group and lead, and inspire. People can give talks, motivate the attendees, and influence.

      Do you really think MLK did it all by himself, as if it wasn't the people themselves who rose up and fought for civil rights? Leaders are nothing  if not for the masses of supporters. It is the people, collectively, who made it all possible.

      Ironically, MLK was influenced by Thoreau (considered to have been an individualist anarchist) and Gandhi (influenced by Tolstoy and Kropotkin, both anarchists).

      "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

      by ZhenRen on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 11:35:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  as Al capone got sent away for tax evasion, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    caul

    take the NSA playpen away and force it into FBI jurisdiction.

    There is very little discussion via the Guardian or wired critics, etc. about how it can be that the U.S. military is the agency owning and controlling the 'facilities' on u.s. soil that are sending all this data to 'Utah'

    I think this is the achilles heel in this whole deal.  There's no way they keep everything secret and create their own word salad that nobody can understand unless they keep the programs buried in military architecture.  & 99% of population will not abide by the military running domestic spying.  and they already admitted they send data to DEA, IRS.  So right on it's face the equipment and mgt should be FBI, and they should provide access to the data to NSA.  in which case problem solved, the civilian fbi would never be able to maintain the level of illegality that NSA has done.

    what lincoln said http://cleantechnica.com/2012/10/10/abraham-lincoln-was-on-to-wind-power-long-before-the-rest/

    by rasfrome on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 12:33:17 PM PDT

    •  FBI screwed up on 9-11. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      caul

      I don't think anybody wants them in charge of keeping track of potential terrorists again.

      •  EVERYBODY screwed up on 9/11 (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        caul, rasfrome

        so that's neither here nor there. The question is, are any of our "intelligence" agencies less corruptible/corrupt than others?

        If it's
        Not your body,
        Then it's
        Not your choice
        And it's
        None of your damn business!

        by TheOtherMaven on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 08:32:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  that was well planned and executed, but (0+ / 0-)

        i think it was an fbi field agent that uncovered the whole deal. but superiors didn't pay attention.

        but my point is if the spying apparatus was put under its proper jurisdiction, there would be very little of this spying apparatus.

        what lincoln said http://cleantechnica.com/2012/10/10/abraham-lincoln-was-on-to-wind-power-long-before-the-rest/

        by rasfrome on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 09:28:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Better idea (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aliasalias, caul

      Don't build that $2 billion building and all the costs it will take to run each year and invest it in safety programs, work programs ect.
      Really?  Building it in a very hot area?  
      We just went thru a very hot summer.
      Imagine the air conditioning bill to keep the computers and employees cool in the summer.
      And UT is very cold in the winter.
      While they are at it, dismantle DHS, all the Acts that took away our freedoms.
      The FBI, CIA didn't stop 911.
      DHS and the rest of those costly agencies didn't stop Boston.
      Even after they were warned.

      Passing a law that the Constitution doesn't allow does not negate the Constitution, it negates the law that was passed. Secret courts can't make up secret laws. SORRY FOR THE TYPOS :)

      by snoopydawg on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 10:24:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The FBI is supposed to do domestic law enforcement (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      caul

      and counterterrorism on US soil. The NSA is supposed to be limited to foreign intelligence. Only after 911 has it creeped into domestic areas supposedly because of the interaction between US persons and foreigners in calls emails etc.

      They are separate to avoid a domestic surveillance apparatus.

      The Fierce Urgency of Later

      by Faroutman on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 11:37:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Verbose Overkill (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Inland, Hey338Too

    to get across a rather simple idea: "Anything you do on the internet can be used against you."

    Does that not encapsulate the whole argument?

    "There is no confusion like the confusion of a simple mind." F. Scott Fitzgerald

    by upperatmos on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 01:05:23 PM PDT

    •  It's simple, but wrong: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Drocedus, Hey338Too

      The "anything you do on the internet can be used against you", they mean even innocuous and innocent activity, when collected over a number of years, can be used to damn you for something.  

      As if the sheer weight of information provides an inference of wrongdoing that can be used in a court.  Prosecutor: "Look at all the info we have on this person!" Court: "My God, there's gigabytes of data there!  No need to look at it! Guilty of whatever it is the government says!" Accused: "But it's just my gaming files plus LOLcatz!"  

      I'm really not seeing how collecting data is bad.  I didn't get it when the teabaggers complained about the census.  I don't get it now.  

      HEY COGNITIVE INFILTRATORS! I googled "confirmation bias" and Daily Kos raided my house! And and and smashed my hard drives! Ask CNN, it's all truthy!

      by Inland on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 02:05:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Depends on three things: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        caul

        1) Who's collecting the data; 2) Who's analyzing the data; and 3) For what purpose(s) are 1) and 2) being done? The census, most sane people agree, is done harmlessly at worst, and for good at best. This kind of thing? For no good reason at all, and we have no idea about the answers to the first two, really.

        "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

        by bryduck on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 04:52:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you for the census comparison. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Hey338Too

        The paranoid reaction to the census is mirrored in the outrage over the NSA.  The census issue is easier for people to understand.

      •  No Inland (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        caul, corvo

        you don't get it.
        Maybe someday you will when they finally start using the info against someone.
        Hasn't the action against the persecution of the whistleblowers taught you anything?  

        Passing a law that the Constitution doesn't allow does not negate the Constitution, it negates the law that was passed. Secret courts can't make up secret laws. SORRY FOR THE TYPOS :)

        by snoopydawg on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 10:27:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Why wait? (0+ / 0-)

          Just tell me how the sheer collection of innocuous information gets me prosecuted. I'll be sorry right now if anyone can give me a hypothetical.

          HEY COGNITIVE INFILTRATORS! I googled "confirmation bias" and Daily Kos raided my house! And and and smashed my hard drives! Ask CNN, it's all truthy!

          by Inland on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 04:23:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  umm, maybe you haven't been reading (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          snoopydawg

          his/her commentary on said whistleblowers . . .

          Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

          by corvo on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 06:30:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  If you must call your own... (0+ / 0-)

    diary ridiculously long I would suggest doing it at the end. I stopped reading at that point. Hopefully I'll have time later.

    Tipped for writing an NSA diary without slinging shit in the first 5 paragraphs.

    Please pretend that I don't give a shit.

    by Jim Riggs on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 02:52:06 PM PDT

    •  "Slinging shit in the first five paragraphs" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      caul, corvo

      In which diaries did that occur?

      The "Snowden is a traitor" ones?

      Or are you still upset about that one diary from OPOL awhile back that, while blunt, hit too close to the truth for some around here?




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

      by DeadHead on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 04:58:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Snowden is a traitor/Snowden is a saint (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        caul

        All of them. Some are more subtle than others.

        Btw, I don't get upset about diaries on Dkos and I usually enjoy OPOL's. Did I comment in that one?

        I'm not paranoid or anything. Everyone just thinks I am.

        by Jim Riggs on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 05:33:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't know if you did or not (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          caul, corvo

          I referenced that one because it seems to be the best known example of a diary coming from the anti-NSA/surveillance side of the argument that many considered to be "shit slinging," and the one that caused the most lasting offense for a lot of people here.

          And I did so in an effort to figure out what diaries have shaped your views to the point where you consider this one to be a refreshing change of pace.




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

          by DeadHead on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 05:56:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Not even in the ballpark of totalitarianism (6+ / 0-)

    Look, if you really want to be taken seriously by more than just a few, put in the Round File the following terms:

    Fascism
    Neo-Fascism
    Totalitarianism
    Neo-feudalism

    There are probably several more I am missing.  Why?  Because we've had REAL totalitarian states in the 20th century.  They were very bad, and thousands, if not millions died due to their excesses.  Exceptionally brave people struggled against them, often losing their lives in nameless horror.

    You using the term as a way of comparing it to the NSA or other governmental agency looking into what you do on the internet is just plain ridiculous and an affront to the sacrifices of the past.

    There are legit concerns over what has been going on.  However, it's no worse than what has been in place in the UK for decades--though no one complains about the Brits running a totalitarian state.

    So cut the hyperbole and deal with the issue as it really is.  

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

    by dizzydean on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 03:21:42 PM PDT

  •  A huge reason for lackluster response... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    caul

    ...is that there doesn't seem to be anything we can actually do about it.

    Everything you wrote right here is being logged and attached to your file for use if needed later.

  •  Such an excellent diary on NSA dangers (8+ / 0-)

    Superb work!  I had no idea about the 'civil forfeiture' practice -- and by now we know that NSA info is available to state/local governments.

    I don't know if the NSA issues fell off the radar as much as they were forced off by the Syria saber-rattling, which came right after Obama's press conference and the political theater of establishing the NSA Review Group, NCLOB, etc.

    Your diary is a great way to revitalize dialogue on the NSA Surveillance State.  a big THANKS for your contribution.

  •  People Are Making a Fetish of the NSA (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    duhban, Drocedus, Bush Bites, Hey338Too, Anna M

    I am not going to defend all the actions of the NSA, since from what we know so far they have gone beyond what their guidelines and rules are.  Congress needs to get involved and citizens need to get involved, and those rules on privacy need to be observed and enforced.

    That said, people need to understand that we are in a new age.  And to a great extent, citizens themselves are complicit in making themselves vulnerable to having their privacy or data compromised or stolen.

    The vast majority of networks over which this data travels is privately owned and operated.  Many of the actions people find objectionable, both in how the data is protected and how information is presented (or censored) are not actions of the government.  

    The Harvard Berkman Center breaks it down here:

    https://www.youtube.com/...

    Every day diaries get posted on DKOS about NSA.  And every day, people are giving up their information, willingly and sometimes willy-nilly, to these corporate networks.

    Then they complain about others getting their data?  It is akin to putting all your goods on a table outside your house and then complaining when people come by and take them.

    The reality is this:  we could abolish the NSA tomorrow and it would not result in better privacy or security for anyone.  No NSA still means we have:

    - every other intelligence agency in the world out there, including ones like the Russians and Chinese that are every bit as capable as NSA (although they may currently lack some of the NSA's toys, that will change)

    - every cyber crook, identity thief, totalitarian despot who wants your data will still be after it (and in many cases, getting it - see skyrocketing criminal profits in identity related crime)

    - some very good technology which can be used to censor and invade privacy is in the hands of private entrenpreneurs; authoritarians and crooks do not need to get this from the NSA or any government - they can buy it from business; and there are many "dual use" techologies

    - the corporations and corporate networks are not bound by sovereign concerns, these are basically global and multinational entities

    What is the upshot of this?  

    I think the obsessive focus on the USA and the NSA will ultimately end up harming privacy and civil liberties.

    Why?

    For all our faults, the US Government at least attempts to strike a balance between the various interests.  And for all its faults, we have a Congress we can call on to act.  And we expect our public to be part of the debate (unlike some nations)

    The NSA has to be seen in the context of this larger picture.  And we have to realize that the problems are not going to go away just by "fixing" the NSA.  And finally, that people's own behavior in willingly exposing their information by giving it to corporations and sending it over corporate networks makes them complicit.

    Ultimately, we have a greater stake in reforming the NSA than abolishing it.  Intelligence collection is something we need to have.  But we need to realize the problems are far, far greater and go beyond the US sovereign borders.

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

    by FDRDemocrat on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 04:23:17 PM PDT

    •  "we are in a new age" (8+ / 0-)

      Which doesn't matter. We still deserve privacy to the extent that we want it. Just because some people post everything about their lives online doesn't mean everyone does.

      The reality is this:  we could abolish the NSA tomorrow and it would not result in better privacy or security for anyone.
      Given that the NSA actively undermined security standards I'd say this is flat wrong. The NSA has actively been making us less safe in regards to the people you mention. Not to mention that the government is the only group that can arrest you based on the information they get. And lock you up. And there ain't shit you can do to change that.

      Yes, there are other issue beyond the NSA. We have to start somewhere. Throwing up our hands and saying "It's a new age" is about the worst plan I can think of.

      The first thing we need to do is make sharing classified info with private companies illegal. No one even seems to want to talk about that.

      •  I never said we didn't - but let's be realistic (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Hey338Too

        The problem is not mainly government.  Government has in fact taken largely a "hands off" approach to much of what goes on with the Internet.  This is the multi-stakeholder model that basically recognizes that these technologies develop best with least government interference.

        Many countries around the world want to change this.  They want to establish sovereign boundaries and controls.  Many, for example, would like to put the UN in charge.

        This would be a mistake.

        All the US-bashing goes way overboard.  If people pulled their heads out of the sand, they would realize that there are worse ways to go.  At least we are debating these issues here.

        Instead, on DKOS you have hero-worship of Assange (who is being housed in an embassy of a country which has plunged to one of the worst rankings in press freedoms) and Snowden (who is likewise under the wing of that great civil libertarian Putin).  The glee in US bashing is coupled with ignoring how we rank - with all our imperfections - compared to other nations.

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

        by FDRDemocrat on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 06:47:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  This all misses the point (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DeadHead, aliasalias, caul, stevemb

          sure, I don't like corporations having a ton of information on me, but except to the extent that they are a part of the government now through privatization they can't force me to do anything based on that information. The government can.

          This is total access to everything for the government. Corporations don't have that. Google may be able to read my gmail but they can't correlate it with Facebook and twitter and my bank statements. Again, except for the corporations that work with the government. And then of course there's all the stuff we don't know anything about. Now that these records are all electronic who knows who has access. Certainly the CIA if they're any good as a spy agency. Any other agency can just gin up a warrant of someone close to their target and the three step rule means their target is included. And they get all the metadata, no warrant necessary.

    •  Yes, you were an early pooh-pooher. (7+ / 0-)

      So it comes as no surprise you're reciting the same lines you were when this story first came out.

      In your case, once a yawner, always a yawner, apparently.




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

      by DeadHead on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 05:03:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I never discounted NSA wrongs (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Hey338Too

        However I do disagree that the supposed "cure" (abolishing NSA or making intelligence collection itself go away) is going to improve things.  It is akin to cutting off one's head to cure the cold.

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

        by FDRDemocrat on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 06:41:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Of course. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          KJG52, caul, kdnla, corvo

          You were absolutely shocked that the government could do such things, and you knew, all along, that whatever the NSA's been up to, it's something we should be very concerned about.

          And words have never bothered you before, so I guess you're right, you weren't an early pooh-pooher, after all.




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

          by DeadHead on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 07:43:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Please see movie "Casablanca" (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            richardak

            ...as the phrase "shocked, shocked" is meant as satire, not to be taken literally.

            Your cherry-picked cites of my past comments don't disprove my point, which was that at the time what we knew did not merit the sky-is-falling reaction.

            And it still doesn't.

            The "NSA is coming to get us" mentality that pervades these diaries goes way, way beyond the evidence.  It is fear-mongering akin to the kind of pitches the NRA makes, where the government is "always coming to get your guns."

            I realize Fear Of Government is more or less a cottage industry these days.  But usually you see it more on the right wing web sites.

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

            by FDRDemocrat on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 07:10:37 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yeah, It's Just Exactly Like That (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              DeadHead

              Since you're asserting that the rhetoric about NSA snooping is no different from NRA rhetoric about gun-grabbing, I assume you have evidence to show that the latter has the same foundation in fact at the former. Specifically, I'm looking for cites to establish:

              1. That the government was caught red-handed sabotaging gun designs to make them less safe.

              2. That the government conspires with gun manufacturers to install hidden "back door" override controls in guns.

              3. That gun control regulations are drafted and enacted in secret, with the rules not communicated to gun owners.

              4. That legal adjudications concerning gun ownership are routinely conducted behind closed doors, with only the anti-gun side invited to present arguments.

              On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

              by stevemb on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 11:54:54 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Of course I picked comments of yours (0+ / 0-)

              That illustrated the general impression I got from your commentary at the time, which was "don't blame Obama or Democrats" and "it's no big deal."

              And this comment you now make only further confirms it, in my view.

              I don't know what kind of evidence you need before you're convinced. What you see as "fear-mongering" I see as attempts to get people to understand the magnitude of the issue by relating it in ways they might personally be affected by it.

              And the diary we're commenting in certainly isn't lacking in substance, or links.




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

              by DeadHead on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 01:05:51 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I agree with a lot of the NSA diaries... (0+ / 0-)

                ...except when people reach the conclusion that this is all part of an evil totalitarian plan to take away our freedoms.

                If you read the transcripts of the hearings, even critics of the NSA realize they have a legitimate mission and that a balance has to be struck.

                Then you read the anti-NSA diaries on DKOS that make it sound like we are living in George Orwell's Oceania.  Scare-mongering based on building the worst possible motivations out of the thinnest of evidence.  That's the part I have taken issue with.

                Most of the critics of NSA on DKOS don't acknowledge there is common ground and the need to balance.  That would mean recognizing that people that disagree with them have legitimate views to be taken into account.

                It is easier to demonize and dismiss.

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

                by FDRDemocrat on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 09:49:20 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  O RLY? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DeadHead
          I never discounted NSA wrongs
          That statement seems a bit dubious to me... oh, wait....
          we could abolish the NSA tomorrow and it would not result in better privacy or security for anyone
          The NSA has to be seen in the context of this larger picture
          Is that apologia you wrote two and a half hours before this starting to come back to you?

          On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

          by stevemb on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 11:48:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Wrong (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aliasalias, caul, corvo

      Putting my info on what is supposed to be a secure site is not the same as putting my stuff outside.
      The securecsite states my info is secured.
      And if I am stupid enough to put my stuff outside w/o watching it, I can blame myself.
      No age, my ass.
      They are breaking the law.

      Passing a law that the Constitution doesn't allow does not negate the Constitution, it negates the law that was passed. Secret courts can't make up secret laws. SORRY FOR THE TYPOS :)

      by snoopydawg on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 10:45:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not This Nonsense Again (0+ / 0-)
      For all our faults, the US Government at least attempts to strike a balance between the various interests.
      Assertion of fact not in evidence.
      people's own behavior in willingly exposing their information by giving it to corporations and sending it over corporate networks makes them complicit
      When your argument is indistinguishable from "she had it coming for being such a tramp", you really need to take a step back (a great many steps back will probably be required, actually) and find the point where you went wrong.

      On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

      by stevemb on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 11:44:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Some of us are in this for the long run (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dharmafarmer, wayoutinthestix, KJG52

    Because the problem is long-standing and systematic, and will not be solved overnight.

    In fact, quite a few of us here have and continue to publish diaries on the subject, but they tend to attract a certain devoted audience pro and con.

    As for myself, I decided at a point to step back and not publish at a point the fame wars were getting out of control and bide my time while the drip-drip-drip of information continues and using the break to organize a group.

    I think the right approach will be to stick to the topic for the long run because, while the story may be fading from the news cycle at this point, it's not going away and we can be certain to face a second round when the ad hoc group comes to it's conclusions.

    As for your question, let me answer it with one of my own: Totalitarianism or Thoughtcrime?

  •  when you use 'totalitarianism' you lose me (4+ / 0-)

    and will every time.

    More over I question whether you and the rest of the people using that word even know what it really means. Not to mention invoking the constitution isn't a magic catch all.

    •  Yes. Hung-up on one word. (6+ / 0-)

      Like you've been from day one of this debate.

      Surprise, surprise.




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

      by DeadHead on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 06:06:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  words on important (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        richardak

        especially when that one word is a core part of the argument.

        But then again you being dishonest about that is nothing new. I mean this is what you do when you can't meet my argument on the merits you try and obfuscate and misdirect.

        I'd say I am surprised but at this point you're predictable.

        •  Ha ha. Classic. (4+ / 0-)

          Turn the same gripes people have had with you into a gripe that you have with them. All of the sudden.

          Countless kossacks have been BEGGING you to make something other than brainless commentary for as long as I've had the displeasure of interacting with you, and now you've miraculously become Professor Duhban, the pinnacle of logic, reason, and sound argumentation.

          Hilarious.




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

          by DeadHead on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 07:16:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  you don't offer arguements (3+ / 0-)

          You are the one that obfuscates and misdirect in every NSA. Thread.
          But then you are that predictable.
          NSA good, Constitution bad.

          Passing a law that the Constitution doesn't allow does not negate the Constitution, it negates the law that was passed. Secret courts can't make up secret laws. SORRY FOR THE TYPOS :)

          by snoopydawg on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 10:51:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  utter bullshit (0+ / 0-)

            it's not my fault that you are so irrational on the topic that you can't read what I write.

            •  Oh, but it IS your fault... (1+ / 0-)

              Those of us who've witnessed your blathering in many of these diaries know of what we speak.

              But you now decide to go into asshole mode and lash out at people by placing the blame on THEM for being too "irrational" to understand you.

              Everyone ELSE is the problem, not you. Countless subthreads involving numerous other kossacks show otherwise.




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

              by DeadHead on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 03:48:15 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  rotfl (0+ / 0-)

                yeah it's my fault for your deficiencies.

                That makes about as much sense as usual from you. And you of all people have no room to talk about 'asshole mode'.

                Get over pompous zealous self Deadhead. I interact with kossacks all the time and you know what? It's only your small pompous arrogant group that seems to have an actual problem with me.

                Odd isn't it? I mean if your smears were even half true I would have been kicked off the site a long time ago and yet here I am.

                I'm sure you will have a nice rationalization for that just like you do for your hypocritical behavior.

                •  Don't worry, duhban (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Free Jazz at High Noon

                  I'll be bookmarking your thread failures from now on. Heck, I may even browse through your comment history and look for some of your more epic threadjacking accomplishments. There's a lot to choose from.

                  You see, it's precisely because I'm an admitted, case-specific asshole that I'm able to call you out when you do it.

                  Why?

                  Because you run around whining about people insulting you, harassing you, and otherwise being mean to you, yet when YOU do the same kind of shit, everyone else is the bad guy for pointing it out to you.

                  Be an asshole all you want, I personally don't care. What I DO care about is when you expect to be given a pass when you do it, while concurrently crying about your supposed mistreatment by others.

                  In other words, nobody likes a hypocrite.




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

                  by DeadHead on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 10:00:24 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  You write "words on important" -- (2+ / 0-)

          the irony is doubly delicious.

          Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

          by corvo on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 06:32:34 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Because Mussolini's Italy was very far from (0+ / 0-)

      dominating all of life in Italy, does that mean we can't use the word "totalitarian" for his rule?  Wasn't it the Italian Fascists who coined the word in the first place?

      The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

      by lysias on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 11:24:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If this is what totalitarianism is it's negative (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bush Bites, richardak

    image has been grossly exaggerated.

    •  They figure they'd violate Godwin's law... (0+ / 0-)

      if they used Nazi or fascist, so they substitute totalitarianism instead. Some difference.

      Don't use the extreme and loaded terminology unless you mean it, and anyone other than an idiot would acknowledge that totalitarianism falls under that category.

      You honestly believe that the US is totalitarian, with all that that word entails?  Well then, assuming that, adding the fact that that we are also the world's most powerful nation, and the fact that we use that power to influence world events by military, spying and other means, one must also conclude that the US is the greatest force for evil on this planet.

      Given that premise, it seems that, for the good of humanity, perhaps Snowden and his pals should release all of his documents unredacted to the world. Let's destroy this totalitarian state's ability to carry out intelligence operations forever, while allowing unfriendly actors access into our inner workings so that they can punish us for our evil.  

      The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. -- John Kenneth Galbraith

      by richardak on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 08:04:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If we don't fix this, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wayoutinthestix, snoopydawg

    we won't be able to fix anything else.  
    This is the central issue of our time.

    Rivers are horses and kayaks are their saddles

    by River Rover on Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 05:51:17 PM PDT

  •  Only applying a virtuous rule of law with rigor... (0+ / 0-)

    ...has a chance of redirecting the country back toward reliable liberty. Not dismantling but harnessing. Obvious pitfalls to liberty must be removed - things like civil forfeiture, prison privatization, one national health data interchange, and the obsolescence of cash - things that can't be kept with integrity no matter what.

    I really like your US Revolution scenario. Surely if the current state of surveillance and the rule of law existed at the time, the union movement would never have happened.

    Most people, even most writers on US gov't surveillance excesses, fail to come close to is describing the genesis and morphological evolution of intelligence previously unsought and undefined that happens with larger and larger data stores with more and more interfaces. Time and connectivity create information we don't know about yet. The notion that even harnessing the NSA will prevent corporate development and access to such power is fictional already.

    At some point the far left and the far right will see the depth and breadth of the threat, add Europeans, and maybe a coalition could be possible. Most politicians, centrists, Dems and Reps, and the apolitical will simply be bamboozled into a defacto new order - whatever the right terminology is for which you're using totalitarianism, I don't know. The party organizing stage fascists had to employ will no longer be necessary, is no longer necessary, because at some point the underlying technical infrastructure to our lives will have been reorganized underfoot. The notions of authoritarian or nationalism will be replaced by a sustainable automation of what is "right". We'll recognize it when we see it and the system is so beneficial to so many people and so massive that it's already self-sustaining, has a life of its own (the mix of present and future tense will become more comfortable).

  •  I have two important comments, so I'll separate (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KJG52, corvo, lysias, WB Reeves

    them into two posts.

    The analogy of Paul Revere is a good one.  But you have to remember that this is an analogy that only seems useful if you revere good old Paul and don't see him as a potential villain.

    Imagine, for a moment, making the case against such surveillance by the British to a Boston baker or cooper or whatever small businessmen did back then.  He might say, "Well, this Revere guy sounds like he could be dangerous.  Somebody has to protect us from such dangerous people.  Who am I to judge such things?  That's the job of the King's viceroy!"

    I think that most of the arguments we are engaging in about how bad or not bad the surveillance is are mostly a big waste because there is an underlying position that can't be changed.  Either you trust the government to do what's best on your behalf, or you don't.  If you do, then all the war criminals at the NSA must ultimately only really have your best interest at heart, and whatever inconveniences are caused by it are going to be seen as exaggerations and paranoia.  In fact, if you believe in the need of such people to protect you and society from disorder, then there's almost no length too far that can cause you concern.

    Your bringing civil forfeiture into this is an example of this.  Most people don't care about that, or they think it a mildly disturbing part of maintaining order in society.  It won't bother them much because they can't possibly believe that it could ever happen to them.  Civil forfeiture is almost designed to say, "You're the cops, and we trust you to make the right decisions when dividing the good people from the bad people."  And who cares if they take Cadillacs from drug dealers?  They shouldn't have been dealing drugs in the first place, right?  

    If you perceive yourself as being part of that class of people for whom the government will never make you a target, then all of this is bullshit.  And there's no amount of arguing about the nature of metadata or the breadth and depth of the spying that will move that.  

    The only thing that can change that is to undermine the trust of the American people in the goodness of the hearts of the people running the show.  It seems to me like a stupid way to for us to have to argue, but I think it's the only effective way to change people's minds.  That's why we need hearings.

    •  Remember "trust but verify"? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dumbo

      I think you are right about most people's "it ain't me, babe" attitude toward civil forfeiture, if it's on their radar at all. Stillman's article last month in the New Yorker was powerful because it blew that attitude to pieces, and was pitched to a group of readers who are very likely to believe themselves immune to that kind of policing. It yanked my chain, for sure.

      Prez Reagan liked to use the phrase trust but verify. It has crept into IT security vernacular too, at least in my circles.

      I think that a better, broader, more durable -- if harder to realize -- strategy for changing the hearts and minds of the many people who delegate power and judgment to "the people running the show" is to cultivate a better understanding of how no person or organization is immune from its own biases. That everybody and every organization needs transparency and critique to stay on an acceptable track. The point being it's not just these particular actors or this particular organization that is problematic, it's the nature of people and organizations to go off track. And so, broad citizen engagement, active scrutiny, and -- yes -- whistleblowers to alert a community to wrongdoing when and where an organization is failing itself ... that's the ticket.

      I had in mind a whole separate section of this post dealing with that question, but decided I'd gone on long enough. Maybe I'll come back to that in a future diary.

    •  Imagine how we'd view Paul Revere... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dumbo

      ...if the colonists hadn't won the revolution.

      Non futuis apud Boston

      by kenlac on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 02:43:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  About the NSA and the tainting of the Internet. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KJG52, corvo, Fishtroller01, lysias

    There's no real chance that the NSA will destroy the Internet, nor that the world will just come to accept it.  I think many people here just assume the latter case is more likely -- it's still not true.  It's not true because the Internet is a global phenomenon and marketplace, and there are and will be alternatives as it continues to develop.  Large business interests will have a stake in this, and other countries with an interest in their own state security will have a stake as well.

    So this situation can't stand.  I'm not saying I wish it won't stand.  It just won't.  Something is going to give.  A lot of tech business that might have been trusted to American businesses before are going to be sourced elsewhere, and even overseas, their reliability will be placed under greater scrutiny, not because anybody's tender feelings are hurt or concerns about civil liberties, but because the Internet is both a marketplace and a product.  You can't sell a tainted product when there are alternative vendors.  You can't sell things in a marketplace where people have no faith in the business ethics of the vendors.

    Here's the EU Parliamentary report on the NSA disclosures.  It's pretty long, but just skip to page 29 where it talks about recommendations.  It's in the interest of the EU to stimulate their own economy by fostering their own tech industry to create non-US, non-NSA-corruptible businesses, like the emerging cloud tech industry.  

    That's where this is heading.  I suspect, at some point, probably a bit too late, the US government will realize, "Jeez, this NSA bullshit is costing us real money!!!" and they'll take cosmetic efforts to clean up their act, which will be insufficient and will convince nobody and not ameliorate the problem.

  •  I'll say it again - "totalitarianism?" (0+ / 0-)

    People attacked Kerry for going "Godwin" on the Syria thing, but this is ok?

    ...a new leader will be elected, they'll flip the switch, say that because of the crisis, because of the dangers that we face in the world, you know, some new and unpredicted threat, we need more authority, we need more power, and there will be nothing that people can do at that point to oppose it, and it'll be turnkey tyranny.
    That's amusing coming from Snowden, who seemed to be totally cool with the security state and persecuting leakers when we had a white Republican president who was collecting all of that authority.

    When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

    by PhillyJeff on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 05:05:34 AM PDT

    •  I guess the question is: (0+ / 0-)

      Is it true?

      Sure describes what happened after 9/11.

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 06:37:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think you would need a timeline (0+ / 0-)

      on where Snowden was during the Bush years before you jump on him for not acting sooner.

      That being said, what he describes is exactly what our country has gone through at least 6 times since the Alien and Sedition Acts.  Madison and Jefferson fought big time against those acts and Madison discussed leaders using fears "real or imagined" to whip up citizen support for actions and legislations that basically cause a wholesale handing over of our Constitutional rights.  A good read on this is Perilous Times by Geoffrey R. Stone.

      The question is when are the American people going to wise up to this? We have had otherwise good and popular leaders like Theodore Roosevelt lapse into huge Constitutional violations (Japanese internment, special curfews and other restrictions on German American citizens), so it doesn't take an "evil" leader to pick up the fear/control stick.   It is just too tempting of a "solution" to our "perilous times", and it will continue to happen unless people take Snowden and others seriously on their basic message and warnings.

    •  A person isn't entitled to change his mind (0+ / 0-)

      and decide that he was wrong?

      The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

      by lysias on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 11:19:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's fine for a person to change his or her mind (0+ / 0-)

        All I've really heard about it was "Obama was elected and then he disappointed me."

        Snowden aside, the shame is the diarist actually makes some good points about NSA surveillance. But the constant hyperbole that it's "totalitarianism" just hurts your messaging. We do not live in a totalitarian state any more than President Obama is some kind of Marxist communist.

        It's amazing how people on one hand can believe we're living in a "totalitarian state" but on the other hand believe that a small % of the liberal netroots forced our supposedly totalitarian leader President Obama to stop airstrikes on Syria.

        It's amazing how in our totalitarian state we can rail against it on sites like this without brownshirt thugs breaking down our door and arresting us.

        When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

        by PhillyJeff on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 08:22:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Hmm, makes me wonder . . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lysias

    It's no secret that if you're an American residing in America, it's virtually impossible (although not illegal) to establish a bank account in a foreign country.  Most countries have instructed their banks not to allow it.

    It can't be because of tax evasion; all of those banks obediently report American holdings and interest payments on them to the IRS.

    So why would that be?

    Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

    by corvo on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 06:39:12 AM PDT

  •  Look what already happened under LBJ and (0+ / 0-)

    Nixon: Declassified NSA files show agency spied on Muhammad Ali and MLK:

    The National Security Agency secretly tapped into the overseas phone calls of prominent critics of the Vietnam War, including Martin Luther King, Muhammad Ali and two actively serving US senators, newly declassified material has revealed.

    The NSA has been forced to disclose previously secret passages in its own official four-volume history of its Cold War snooping activities. The newly-released material reveals the breathtaking – and probably illegal – lengths the agency went to in the late 1960s and 70s, in an attempt to try to hold back the rising tide of anti-Vietnam war sentiment.

    That included tapping into the phone calls and cable communications of two serving senators – the Idaho Democrat Frank Church and Howard Baker, a Republican from Tennessee who, puzzlingly, was a firm supporter of the war effort in Vietnam. The NSA also intercepted the foreign communications of prominent journalists such as Tom Wicker of the New York Times and the popular satirical writer for the Washington Post, Art Buchwald.

    Alongside King, a second leading civil rights figure, Whitney Young of the National Urban League, was also surreptitiously monitored. The heavyweight boxing champion, Muhammad Ali, was put on the watch list in about 1967 after he spoke out about Vietnam – he was jailed having refused to be drafted into the army, was stripped of his title, and banned from fighting – and is thought to have remained a target of surveillance for the next six years.

    The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

    by lysias on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 11:17:07 AM PDT

  •  My only immediately coherent comment on this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Steve Masover

    worthwhile diary is that I think it's interesting to wonder where we'd be right now if someone other than Greenwald had brought this information to us.

    Perhaps instead of a spectacular splash regarding inaccurate claims and then a disinterested fade out we'd instead be having a slow build-up of accurate information that would lead to reforms.

    And as usual, xkcd has some insight.

    Non futuis apud Boston

    by kenlac on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 02:47:06 PM PDT

  •  BIG (0+ / 0-)

        difference? The change is happening. WE (you younger gens, I'm 62, tagging way behind but yelling COOL!) are rebooting.
        The change is, in my gens revolution, that stopped the war, one got info from .25, .35, .50, 1.00 cent rags a hippie would sell on a street or head shop, that moved up the "media" ladder. My point being, really intelligent people provided constructs, keys and ideas. What's so HUGE now, the intelligent idea energy travel the internet and reverberate.
        Maybe I could explain it by; the other day I read an article, that although Egypt is a mess, there are these young gen techie's who are doing things, it's,  like panning a diamond outta the mud, there's a lotta mud but a lotta start points also. I.e. a lotta brilliance. I'm thinking to myself, "Now how fucking cool is that?"
        Propaganda: Worst is when you don't see or realize. WE see it. Big strike against the manipulators.
        They then try to disillusion. Whose delusional?
        So the the "media" ladder is gamed, what's new? Who in the fuck cares? Are there not other plateaus?
        Realize remember, mind over matter, nothing is set in stone, especially in these incredible times.
        I'm 62. I wouldn't know how to encrypt my right hand from my left. I know I'm now on the shit lists because I'm callin the SELLouts. I think "they" are petrified because I'm not the only one. I still stand proud. That freaks them more than anything. It's the sheer numbers and their number$ game is up. I wouldn't know that except by how freaked out they are. What a ludicrous spectacle of a show. Yeah, yeah, six hop me. Hop, hop, hop. Rabbit ears on a tin foil hat. Seen that before?
        U.S.-flavored  :) :) :) :) :)  : )
        I'm 62, as I moon away :)

    March AGAINST monsatanOHagentorange 3/25/13 a time warp

    by 3rock on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 05:34:34 PM PDT

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