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The NSA's spying is a Bush-era program that runs roughshod over our civil liberties.  Obama needs to stand up for US and stop defending his predecessor's programs.

Edward Snowden’s heroic revelations about the NSA’s spying sent a shudder through the military-spying complex.  Many, on both the left and the right, have stood up to oppose the NSA’s violations of the 4th Amendment.  Why isn’t President Obama among them?

The program captures Americans’ emails, takes in our metadata (who we talk to, from where, for how long), and even illegally obtains evidence against US citizens.  It is a holdover from the Bush administration that needs to be dismantled.

And the NSA doesn’t just target terrorists.  

In the wake of Edward Snowden’s NSA-related links, defenders of the program are claiming that the program’s narrowly tailored and only targets terrorists and associates.  For instance, Marc Thiessen of the Washington Post describedthe NSA’s surveillance as putting together a “field of dots”, where each dot represents a person.  “If you are not communicating with (a) terrorist”, he writes, “your dot is not touched”.   This same claim has been repeated a dozen times by different defenders of the program.

But statements like these are only true if you’re willing to radically redefine “communicating with”.  Testifying to Congress, National Security Agency Deputy Director Chris Inglis discussedhow the NSA might use a “three-hop” query to decide who to investigate.  What this means is that the NSA can examine people who communicate with the terrorists (one hop) and then everyone who communicates with that person (two hops) and then everyone who communicates with anyone in that second circle (three hops).

Here’s how that might play out in the real world.  Let’s say your buddy’s a journalist who interviews—not a terrorist—but the friends and family of a dead terrorist (as the New York Times did when they ran a story on Samir Khan).  That right there is two hops.  So they’ll automatically investigate your buddy’s data, even though he didn’t actually talk to a terrorist.  But because the NSA uses a three-hop system, they would then examine your data, as well as that of anyone else your buddy happened to call, email, or IM.

But let’s take this farther.  Let’s say that your buddy happened to actually interview a suspected terrorist.  That’s one hop.  You’re the second hop, along with everyone else your buddy spoke to.  The third hop is all of your friends and family, and the friends and family of everyone else who ever spoke to your buddy.

Washington’s Blog lays out the math: “If the average person calls 40 unique people, three-hop analysis could allow the government to mine the records of 2.5 million Americans when investigating one suspected terrorist”.

This is like that old game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”: it’s “Three Degrees of NSA”.  Only, if you win, you get to have your phone calls (and emails, and Facebook chats) monitored by the government.  Is the NSA’s dragnet spying a program we want to live under?

President Obama ran an amazing campaign in 2009.  He was more progressive than Kerry or Clinton or even Gore back in 2000. He railed against the Patriot Act and the sort of dragnet spying that the NSA regularly practices.  

I still praise him for a lot of what he’s done.  What I cannot understand is why he is defending a Bush-era program that violates our civil liberties.  For Gods’ sake, even many Republicans are attacking the NSA.  Representative Justin Amash (R—MI) spearheaded an effort to defund part of the NSA.  It’s time for Obama to join him.

Obama needs to stand up for the people who elected him.  Not defend Bush-era spying programs.


Would you support working with Republicans like Rep. Amash to roll back the NSA?

81%18 votes
18%4 votes

| 22 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  My question is WHY has Obama been so (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OldDragon, corvo

    hostile to whistle blowers and journalists?

    But NSA puppet or not, he could change course and get in front of this FOR-PROFIT rogue snoop industry.

    We have REAL PROBLEMS like climate change.  Why can't this amazing work force work on those types of issues.  I'm 100% for good jobs in this country.

    Separation of Church and State AND Corporation

    by Einsteinia on Wed Oct 30, 2013 at 08:27:36 AM PDT

  •  Wrong, it's a Clinton era program. (0+ / 0-)
    The NSA's spying is a Bush-era program that runs roughshod over our civil liberties.
  •  You forgot to include (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the 'other' question. The one that asks how fuzzy the definition of "terrorist" may be.

    Remember, these folks consider Quakers, environmentalists, homesteaders and vegetarians to be terrorists too. No telling who else falls under whatever their fuzzy definitions are. Which expands the "3-hop" bugaloo to include pretty much every single person over the age of 5 in the world. Plus a lot of the under-5's due to their familial relationships. They just don't have their own cell phone and computer yet...

  •  The last president who did that... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    had a very bad day in Dallas.  I think the NSA/CIA play the Zapruder tape at the first cabinet meeting...

    Fiat justitia ruat caelum "Let justice be done though the heavens fall."

    by bobdevo on Wed Oct 30, 2013 at 10:39:56 AM PDT

  •  hey, I'd be grateful if Obama would just stop (0+ / 0-)

    standing with the NSA.

    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 Wed Oct 30, 2013 at 11:17:11 AM PDT

  •  Spying on the world (0+ / 0-)

    Wouldn't like to know what your friends and enemies are going to do before they do it?  So does Obama.  That is the power of spying on the world.  Presidents love power.

    "The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power....The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power." -George Orwell, "1984"

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