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Snowden NSA Claims Partially Confirmed, Says Rep. Jerrold Nadler 337

Posted by timothy
from the they-deeply-care-about-privacy-violation dept.
bill_mcgonigle writes with this news from from CNET: "Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D NY) disclosed that NSA analysts eavesdrop on Americans' domestic telephone calls without court orders during a House Judiciary hearing. After clearing with FBI director Robert Mueller that the information was not classified, Nadler revealed that during a closed-door briefing to Congress, the Legislature was informed that the spying organization had implemented and uses this capability. This appears to confirm Edward Snowden's claim that he could, in his position at the NSA, 'wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president.' Declan McCullagh writes, 'Because the same legal standards that apply to phone calls also apply to e-mail messages, text messages, and instant messages, Nadler's disclosure indicates the NSA analysts could also access the contents of Internet communications without going before a court and seeking approval.' The executive branch has defended its general warrants, claiming that 'the president had the constitutional authority, no matter what the law actually says, to order domestic spying without [constitutional] warrants,' while Kurt Opsahl, senior staff attorney at EFF claims such government activity 'epitomizes the problem of secret laws.'" Note that "listening in" versus "collecting metadata" is a distinction that defenders of government phone spying have been emphasizing. Tracking whom you called and when, goes the story, doesn't impinge on expectations of privacy. Speaking of the metadata collection, though, reader Bruce66423 writes "According to the Washington Post, the Bush administration took 'bulk metadata' from the phone companies under voluntary agreements for more than four years after 9/11 until a court agreed they could have it compulsorily." Related: First time accepted submitter fsagx writes that Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive has calculated the cost to store every phone call made in the U.S. over the course of a year: "It's surprisingly inexpensive. It puts the recent NSA stories (and reports from the Boston bombings about the FBI's ability to listen to past phone conversions) into perspective."
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Snowden NSA Claims Partially Confirmed, Says Rep. Jerrold Nadler

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 16, 2013 @12:20PM (#44022151)

    "So they HAVE been listening. That has got to stop, but we'll keep the metadata collection, because that's not so bad."

    • by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Sunday June 16, 2013 @12:38PM (#44022257) Homepage

      Biden believes that collecting metadata is extremely disturbing and provides huge opportunities for abuse:

      Biden in 2006 schools Obama in 2013 over NSA spying program [youtube.com]

      • by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @01:03PM (#44022389) Journal
        It's a good thing his running mate, the guy at the top of the ticket [cnet.com] is completely opposed to warrentless wiretapping. It's like they're agreed.
        • by osu-neko (2604) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @01:17PM (#44022473)

          Now now, don't confuse Senator Obama with President Obama. They're entirely different people...

          (I'm not sure to what extent I'm joking...)

          • by dreamchaser (49529) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @01:18PM (#44022479) Homepage Journal

            Now now, don't confuse Senator Obama with President Obama. They're entirely different people...

            (I'm not sure to what extent I'm joking...)

            Senator Obama was made up. President Obama is the real person.

            • by geogob (569250) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @04:08PM (#44023481)

              When you sit in the chair, you'll never be the one you wanted to be while looking up to it. And it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.

              There's a simple reason while politician change and change their speech once they get (re)elected. It's only then that they are faced with reality, whereas all the speeches before are totally disconnected from it. In the end, it's the same person, but facing different realities. I don't excuse them really for it... it rather have candidates saying the things how they are, but that won't get them elected.

              • by kermidge (2221646) on Monday June 17, 2013 @03:48AM (#44026887) Journal

                I've long thought it funny, in a perverse way, that one can get arrested for speaking the truth but never elected for doing so. Screwy system - our hypocrisy of demanding honesty of our elected yet refusing to vote for truth-tellers. We vote for a daddy who'll kiss the boo-boo and make it better, but woe betide the adult who tries to tell us the facts of life. Just as scary, we vote for people who want the job - which by rights ought to disqualify them.

                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by doccus (2020662)
                  The problem wouldn't exist without the complicity of an uninformed and uneducated public, who believe the role of government is not to provide liberty opportunity and freedom from oppression *for* all, but "protection" and security *from* all ..ie: to keep us safe from the "monster in the closet"
            • by Pseudonym (62607) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @11:43PM (#44025865)

              Senator Obama was made up. President Obama is the real person.

              That's at best partly true.

              The American people thought they were voting for an idealist constitutional scholar, but actually voted for a politician. Not a career politician, admittedly, but still a politician. That's the true part.

              The untrue part is that they are different people. Actually, Senator Obama is just as real as President Obama; they are the same person working under different conditions.

              We know this because the psychological forces are extremely well-understood. When you are in a position of great responsibility, the temptation is always there to bend your ethics just a bit in response to a true moral dilemma. The job of POTUS involves weighing up the lesser of multiple evils, and you don't get to punt the choice to someone else. You have to compromise your ethics one way or another.

              When you break the rules, even ostensibly for the greater good, you run the risk of becoming desensitised to breaking rules. Eventually, you can get to the point where you know that you only ever break the rules in the service of a good cause, so any rule-breaking you do must be in the service of a good cause. The logical extension of this is the Nixon theory of the legality of the exercise of presidential power.

              That's if you don't have a check on your conscience like, oh, a culture of pervasive over-broad secrecy and being surrounded by yes-men.

              TL;DR Senator Obama == lawful good. President Obama == chaotic good.

          • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gma i l . com> on Sunday June 16, 2013 @11:59PM (#44025945) Journal

            Ya know the way he did such a huge 180 on...well pretty much every thing he believed in? makes me wonder if that old Bill Hicks joke didn't have some truth: "Ya know why they always change once they get in the white house? The CIA sits them down and says 'you should watch this film and maybe rethink your position' and then plays him a film they shot of Kennedy getting offed in Texas, complete with the actual shooters. Once they see how easily they can be replaced? they read from the cue card just like the last guy".

            Honestly after all the shit we have found out, from Gulf Of Tonkin being a false flag to Fast & Furious? It frankly wouldn't surprise me, not one bit. Hell the only truth we get anymore is from whistleblowers, our MSM makes Soviet era Pravda look anti-establishment, and both parties seem to be in a race to see which can use more plays in the dictatorship playbook [youtube.com] than the other. Anybody who hasn't seen the lecture I just linked to really ought to watch, Naomi Wolf lays out how many of the same plays used by Franco, Stalin, the crazy Austrian, are being used right here and the scary part? The video is from 2007, its much worse than that now. Even scarier? She is on the watchlist now for this lecture and one she did on what rights you have under the constitution, how is that for fricking scary?

      • Sure, they've been listening to the words of your conversation, but the words are just meta-data. Just like the words we get from government: they're simply a wrapper and have only a cursory relationship to their actual content and meaning.

  • Actions to take (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Okian Warrior (537106) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @12:24PM (#44022169) Homepage Journal

    From a previous post, here's the collected list of suggested actions people can take to help change the situation.

    Have more ideas? Please post below.

    Links worthy of attention:

    http://anticorruptionact.org/ [anticorruptionact.org]

    http://www.ted.com/talks/lawrence_lessig_we_the_people_and_the_republic_we_must_reclaim.html [ted.com]

    http://action.fairelectionsnow.org/fairelections [fairelectionsnow.org]

    http://represent.us/ [represent.us]

    http://www.protectourdemocracy.com/ [protectourdemocracy.com]

    http://www.wolf-pac.com/ [wolf-pac.com]

    https://www.unpac.org/ [unpac.org]

    http://www.thirty-thousand.org/ [thirty-thousand.org]

    Suggestion #1:

    (My idea): If people could band together and agree to vote out the incumbent (senator, representative, president) whenever one of these incidents crop up, there would be incentive for politicians to better serve the people in order to continue in office. This would mean giving up party loyalty and the idea of "lessor of two evils", which a lot of people won't do. Some congressional elections are quite close, so 2,000 or so petitioners might be enough to swing a future election.

    Someone added: Vote them out AND remove their lifetime, taxpayer-funded, free health care. See how fast the health care system gets fixed.

    Someone added:You can start by letting your house and senate rep know how you feel about this issue / patriot act and encourage those you know to do the same.

    If enough people let their representivies know how they feel obviously those officials who want to be reelected will tend to take notice. We have seen what happens when wikipedia and google go "dark", congressional switchboards melt and the 180's start to pile up.

    I added: Fax is considered the best way to contact a congressperson,especially if it is on corporate letterhead.

    Suggestion #2:

    Tor, I2dP and the likes. Let's build a new common internet over the internet. Full strong anonymity and integrity. Transform what an
    eavesdropper would see in a huge cypherpunk clusterfuck.

    Taking back what's ours through technology and educated practices.

    Let's go back to the 90' where the internet was a place for knowledgeable and cooperative people.

    Someone Added: Let's go full scale by deploying small wireless routers across the globe creating a real mesh network as internet was designed to be!

    Suggestion #3:

    A first step might be understanding the extent towards which the government actually disagrees with the people. Are we talking about a situation where the government is enacting unpopular policies that people oppose? Or are we talking about a situation where people support the policies? Because the solutions to those two situations are very different.

    In many cases involving "national security", I think the situation is closer to the second one. "Tough on X" policies are quite popular, and politicians often pander to people by enacting them. The USA Patriot Act, for example, was hugely popular when it was passed. And in general, politicians get voted out of office more often for being not "tough" on crime and terrorism and whatever else, than for being too over-the-top in pursuing those policies.

    Suggestion #4:

    What I feel is needed is a true 3rd party, not 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th parties, such as Green, Tea Party, Libertarian; we need an agreeable third party that can compete against the two majors without a lot of interference from small parties. We need a consensus third party.

    Suggestion #5:

    Replace the voting system. Plurality voting will always lead [wikipedia.org] to the mess we have now. The only contribution towards politics I'v

    • Re:Actions to take (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ganjadude (952775) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @12:32PM (#44022213) Homepage
      Dont forget about the class action suit that rand paul is bringing against the NSA. might as well sign up for that as well
      • Thanks. I've added that to the top of the list:

        Join Senator Rand Paul's class action suit [randpac.com] against the government for invading our privacy. (!!!)

    • by poity (465672)

      On one hand you have the public backlash if/when an attack succeeds due to inadequate intelligence gathering.
      On the other you have the public backlash if/when the depth and pervasiveness of intelligence gathering is revealed.
      As long as the former consequence is considered more severe and career-threatening, politicians will continue to put up with the latter.

      • Re:Actions to take (Score:5, Insightful)

        by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Sunday June 16, 2013 @12:58PM (#44022379) Homepage

        On one hand you have the public backlash if/when an attack succeeds due to inadequate intelligence gathering.

        I don't know about this. Take 9/11 for example -- did GWB get voted out? Did he have his power limited? Did Congress refuse to let him do whatever wars he wanted?

        No. He was re-elected. He expanded executive power. And even Democrats like Clinton were not reading the Intelligence Estimate calling into question GWB's push for Iraq and falling all over themselves to start a pointless war. All those private contractors profited handsomely. The revolving door between cabinet posts and VP of this or that is lubed up and spinning.

        So, perhaps the opposite is true. Perhaps an attack results not in backlash, but in uplift for these DC fuckwads.

      • Re:Actions to take (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Rick Zeman (15628) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @01:04PM (#44022393)

        On one hand you have the public backlash if/when an attack succeeds due to inadequate intelligence gathering.

        I'll take my chances. Statistically this century I've had a greater chance of drowning in my bathtub than being an American killed by a terrorist. And no, that's not evidence that the spying is working.

        • Over a ten year period including 9/11, you were 100 times more likely to die of a gunshot than terrorism.
        • by cnettel (836611) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @02:37PM (#44022975)

          On one hand you have the public backlash if/when an attack succeeds due to inadequate intelligence gathering.

          I'll take my chances. Statistically this century I've had a greater chance of drowning in my bathtub than being an American killed by a terrorist. And no, that's not evidence that the spying is working.

          It's evidence that bathroom surveillance is not what it should be (or at least not used properly).

      • Re:Actions to take (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ebno-10db (1459097) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @01:06PM (#44022409)

        you have the public backlash if/when an attack succeeds due to inadequate intelligence gathering

        "Intelligence gathering" is much too broad of a term. Call this blanket electronic eavesdropping. If the government could defend this program by citing cases where it foiled a terrorist plot they would. But they can't.

        Plain old-fashioned police work and people reporting things that are genuinely suspicious (that does not include your Muslim neighbor saying his prayers in his backyard) are the key, as amply demonstrated by history. Before 9/11 a flight instructor reported to the local FBI field office that it was suspicious that he had students who weren't interested in learning to take off and land. The problem was that FBI headquarters ignored the report. Listening to their own field agents could have averted 9/11, but blanket electronic eavesdropping wouldn't have. The bombing of LAX in 2000 was averted by an alert customs inspector, who didn't find it necessary to "disappear" the wannabee perpetrator. A plain old-fashioned arrest did just fine. The attempted Times Square bombing was averted by a couple of street vendors who reported a car with smoke coming out of it. Etc., etc., etc.

    • Re:Actions to take (Score:4, Interesting)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @12:58PM (#44022375) Homepage Journal

      A good list.

      I would add,

      Suggestion #7: Use your power as a consumer strategically. If corporations learn that there is a price to pay for their political actions, you'd see a big positive impact.

      A big part of the surveillance state has been created in service of corporate interests. We would benefit from having these companies learn that consumers are paying attention. Right now, too many of them believe tyranny is good for business.

    • Re:Actions to take (Score:5, Informative)

      by cffrost (885375) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @01:02PM (#44022387) Homepage

      ACLU anti-surveillance petition:
      https://www.aclu.org/secure/repeal-the-surveillance-state2 [aclu.org]

    • EFF Action: Demand Answers Now! [Direct e-mail form to contact POTUS and your senators+House rep]:
      https://action.eff.org/o/9042/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=9260 [eff.org]
      https://action.eff.org/o/9042/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=9297 [eff.org] [Form for non-US citizens; directed at implicated corporations]

      The links below are to resources of the personal-privacy type, as opposed to the those intended to help bring about change:

      EFF Surveillance Self-Defense Project [Guide to surveillance-avoidance tools and techn

  • by russotto (537200) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @12:29PM (#44022199) Journal
    There's precious little we can do about traffic analysis. But as for content, we can at least make the NSA work for it.
    • How do you propose to achieve secure key exchange when the man in the middle is literally plugged into the Internet backbone?

      • by cnettel (836611)
        Asymmetric encryption (like all sane network protocols rely on) does not require secure key exchange. However, NSA has had more than one finger in the development of the schemes actually used, for hashing, encryption and handshaking protocols, so it is hard to exclude a backdoor. And, of course, you need to assume that both terminals are secure. And depending on what CAs you trust, the point might be moot.
  • Gosh! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @12:35PM (#44022227) Journal

    You mean to say that the initial story about Snowden just being a narcissistic traitor who couldn't possibly have known about those things that weren't happening in any case weren't entirely true?

    And that, despite Senator Pelosi, wicked witch of the west's, assertions, congress was not in fact clued in to what was going on?

    Color me shocked.

  • At this point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ganjadude (952775) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @12:35PM (#44022229) Homepage
    It is really sad but I simply assume anything that they deny in public, they are actually doing. they have no credibility at all about anything. Say what you will of bush, he opened the doors on this, but there is no way anyone should be able to support the over reaching, unconstitutional abuses of power that the current administration is doing.
    • Re:At this point (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @01:07PM (#44022417) Journal

      Bush bears his share of the blame; but he was still a hard-drinking, draft-dodging, daddy's boy when the US clandestine services were already in up to their eyeballs in seriously dodgy shit.

      The Church Committee and the Rockefeller Commission(both reactions to things that had already been going on for some time, but had begun to seep out to the point where they couldn't be ignored) were ~1975. On the domestic side, the FBI was squelching 'radicals' more or less the moment Hoover oozed onto the scene. And, of course, almost as soon as WWII ended, we started up the Cold War secrecy-and-ethically-troubling-activities division in a serious way, and never really recovered.

      Bush certainly contributed his push in the wrong direction, when his turn came; but the rot goes a lot deeper.

    • Re:At this point (Score:5, Informative)

      by Bartles (1198017) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @01:44PM (#44022639)
      The person in charge of the Executive Branch can stop this with the stroke of a pen. It could have been stopped by not renewing the Patriot Act in 2011. It could have been stopped by following through on promises made in 2008. It could have been stopped by holding the president accountable in 2012, for not following through on promises made in 2008. The time for blaming Bush is over. If you voted for this guy it's time to start blaming yourself.
      • by NotBorg (829820)

        I'd like to see more of these finger pointing exchanges. It means we're no longer debating the existence of the problem which is a step forward.

        I've thrown fuel on such fires around the Internet just to reinforce the notion that it's such a big deal that blame needs to be assigned.

  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @12:37PM (#44022239) Journal

    BY THE WAY, they've been recording calls for a long time. Maybe not everyone's, but a lot of them. Right after 9/11, they admitted that in the aftermath they went into these recordings to find out vital information.

    This scary revelation was largely ignored at the time because of the go get 'em attitude in the nation as a whole, but I made a mental note of it.

    • by coId fjord (2949869) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @12:43PM (#44022277)

      A frightening number of people seem to have a 'It's okay if it saves lives!' mentality. We're supposed to be the land of the free and the home of the brave, but supporters of this sort of nonsense never got the memo.

    • If you go back to the 70s, the phone company would send you a bill with a list of all long-distance calls you made that month (they still do). So that information has been used for a long time to solve crimes, and this fact wasn't hidden.
  • phone-call metadata (Score:5, Informative)

    by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot AT hackish DOT org> on Sunday June 16, 2013 @12:38PM (#44022251)

    Tracking whom you called and when, goes the story, doesn't impinge on expectations of privacy.

    This is true under current 4th amendment interpretations, but severely curtailed by statutes that are still in force.

    Much of the law on the subject was developed in the 1960s and 70s over the use of pen registers [wikipedia.org] and trap-and-trace devices, which would record a list of all incoming and outgoing calls (the numbers and times, but not the call contents). The Supreme Court ruled in 1979 [wikipedia.org] that pen registers were not "searches" under the 4th amendment, because there was no reasonable expectation of privacy in phone-call metadata (as opposed to recording the call itself via a wiretap, which was held in 1967 [wikipedia.org] to require a warrant).

    However, Congress added statutory restrictions on the use of pen registers and similar devices in 1986; the current statute can be found here [cornell.edu].

    • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @01:10PM (#44022425)

      > This is true under current 4th amendment interpretations, but severely curtailed by statutes that are still in force.

      The reasoning goes back to old law which is based on the idea that when you mail a letter, you have no expectation of privacy regarding with respect to the outside of the envelope, however the contents of the envelope are protected unless a warrant specific to the person involved is authorized by a judge.

      So packet headers and phone call metadata really wouldn't seem protected under this precedent. However contents should be. For IP that really means even looking at email headers should be forbidden without a warrant.

      Now the idea that the executive isn't bound by the 4th Amendment is preposterous. By common law it certainly is. What do people think the Magna Carta is about? This was settled 898 years ago. The authors of the Constitution surely believed what they wrote was binding on every member of the Federal Government.

  • by Sardak (773761) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @12:41PM (#44022263) Journal

    claiming that 'the president had the constitutional authority, no matter what the law actually says, to order domestic spying without [constitutional] warrants,'

    Where on earth does the constitution say this? Once found, it needs to be removed immediately, in my opinion. Further, any president willing to use such an outrageous power should also be removed immediately. And anyone who supports them using it.

    I am a bit curious about the past tense wording (had the authority), though.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947)

      Where on earth does the constitution say this?

      It doesn't, but there is enough ambiguity in the language that layers upon layers of court cases have created this authority.

      If someone exceeds constitutional authority and then it's upheld by the Court, it becomes de facto Constitutional until further suits are brought to challenge it.

      It's not like the Constitution is a rule book, and it's certainly not like the Supreme Court is anything but a bunch of politicians in robes. We have too much faith in both.

      • by BlueStrat (756137)

        Where on earth does the constitution say this?

        It doesn't, but there is enough ambiguity in the language that layers upon layers of court cases have created this authority.

        There is no ambiguity in the Constitutional language. Just because they (courts & politicians) try to muddy the water with semantic word games, solipsist reasoning, and tortured re-interpretations of the meaning of plain words and got some judges to buy it is meaningless. It's just a way to render the protections granted under the Constitution, and the restrictions upon government power, meaningless.

        If someone exceeds constitutional authority and then it's upheld by the Court, it becomes de facto Constitutional until further suits are brought to challenge it.

        Yes, that's the way it has traditionally worked. But by

        • by PopeRatzo (965947)

          There is no ambiguity in the Constitutional language.

          You must be one of the Dominionists who believe that the Constitution is the inspired Word of God.

          Of course there's ambiguity. Words like "liberty" and "common good" and "pursuit of happiness" are completely open to interpretation. In fact, if you read some of Madison's correspondence with Jefferson after the Convention, you'll see them both bemoaning (and in Jefferson's case) celebrating the ambiguity that was left in the ratified document.

          Doesn't ma

          • by BlueStrat (756137) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @04:10PM (#44023501)

            You must be one of the Dominionists who believe that the Constitution is the inspired Word of God.

            No. I believe that the Constitution is a giant leap forward in human civilization. It is the first time in 5,000 years of human history where men rule themselves by common agreement and their natural rights recognized and protected, and where the government is the servant and answerable to the people it governs. When it dies, it may well be another 5,000 years before it happens again.

            I would like you to cite where Jefferson says that hangings "should occur every 20 years or so".

            Maybe what you're thinking of is that Jefferson wanted, every 20 years or so, for the whole Constitution to be thrown out and rewritten by future constitutional conventions.

            ""I do not know whether it is to yourself or Mr. Adams I am to give my thanks for the copy of the new constitution. I beg leave through you to place them where due. It will be yet three weeks before I shall receive them from America. There are very good articles in it: and very bad. I do not know which preponderate. What we have lately read in the history of Holland, in the chapter on the Stadtholder, would have sufficed to set me against a Chief magistrate eligible for a long duration, if I had ever been disposed towards one: and what we have always read of the elections of Polish kings should have forever excluded the idea of one continuable for life. Wonderful is the effect of impudent and persevering lying. The British ministry have so long hired their gazetteers to repeat and model into every form lies about our being in anarchy, that the world has at length believed them, the English nation has believed them, the ministers themselves have come to believe them, and what is more wonderful, we have believed them ourselves. Yet where does this anarchy exist? Where did it ever exist, except in the single instance of Massachusets? And can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of it's motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20. years without such a rebellion.[1] The people can not be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. We have had 13. states independant 11. years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century and a half for each state. What country ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve it's liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it's natural manure. Our Convention has been too much impressed by the insurrection of Massachusets: and in the spur of the moment they are setting up a kite to keep the hen yard in order. I hope in god this article will be rectified before the new constitution is accepted." - Thomas Jefferson to William Stephens Smith, Paris, 13 Nov. 1787

            BlueStrat, I think you have a childish, mythical view of what the Constitution is and does.

            I think you have a solipsist and cynical view of what the Constitution is and does, and are all too ready to allow whatever re-interpretation allows government to do whatever it wants as long as it's "your team" in power.

            The Constitution was written in plain language and does not require advanced education to understand the plain meaning of it's words. All the tortured re-interpretations that seek to redefine the plain meaning of the Constitution are attempts to circumvent the Constitution and avoid the Amendmen

    • Where on earth does the constitution say this?

      Apparently there's also a secret constitution we're not allowed to see...

    • Article X (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DaveAtFraud (460127) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @02:47PM (#44023047) Homepage Journal

      Mr. Obama and company need to review article X of the U.S. constitution:

      The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

      This is understood to mean that just because there isn't a specific prohibition on some action doesn't mean that the action is allowed. Thus, there is NO constitutional authority that allows the President (or any one else) to ignore the constitution and, especially, the fourth amendment:

      The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

      I'd say that's pretty clear to me but I'm not a lawyer.

      Cheers,
      Dave

  • So... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    When will these taxpayer-funded criminals be arrested and prosectued?

  • Is that even true? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @12:48PM (#44022313) Journal

    'the president had the constitutional authority, no matter what the law actually says, to order domestic spying without [constitutional] warrants,'

    This quote suggests two (independent) things:
    1) that the constitution authorizes the president to order domestic spying.
    2) that congress can [in essence] make no law that the president must obey (short of modifying the constitution).

    Is that actually true? It would mean that when Bush (and Obama) made signing statements that they didn't need to follow certain laws, they were 100% correct. It means Reagan acted 100% legally in Iran Contra. It means that even if Obama directly ordered the IRS to harass certain groups, it was 100% legal. That's kind of scary.

    • Your first point implies that Nixon would have been perfectly legal in ordering the Watergate break-in, wiretapping, etc. As I recall, the final answer was that he didn't order, but did try to cover-up that it happened.

      Your second point would also imply that the cover-up of which Nixon was a part, was not illegal.

      I agree with you; kind of scary. Once started, where does it end?

      • Your second point would also imply that the cover-up of which Nixon was a part, was not illegal.

        It makes me wish the Nixon case had gone through the courts just to see what had happened.

    • by jma05 (897351)

      Nixon is said to have argued during Watergate that it is legal if the president does it. Nobody bought that argument then. I don't see why it should be legal now.

    • by Shavano (2541114) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @01:33PM (#44022555)

      'the president had the constitutional authority, no matter what the law actually says, to order domestic spying without [constitutional] warrants,'

      This quote suggests two (independent) things: 1) that the constitution authorizes the president to order domestic spying. 2) that congress can [in essence] make no law that the president must obey (short of modifying the constitution). Is that actually true? It would mean that when Bush (and Obama) made signing statements that they didn't need to follow certain laws, they were 100% correct. It means Reagan acted 100% legally in Iran Contra. It means that even if Obama directly ordered the IRS to harass certain groups, it was 100% legal. That's kind of scary.

      No, it's not the least bit true. The fact is that the Constitution specifically forbids spying without a warrant, and that the Congress can remove a President if they find his exercise of power to be illegal. But it's also a fact that unless Congress acts the President as a practical matter can and will flout the law.

      • So basically the checks and balances break down when all three branches of government gang up against the people.

  • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @12:53PM (#44022335)
    With a government like this, it's tough to make a living as a conspiracy theorist anymore.
    • by houghi (78078)

      It is even harder for the medical sector. How can they say we need medicine for paranoia? After all, we ARE being followed.

      Perhaps that is why we are not allowed soft drugs. It does not make us paranoia. It makes us see the truth.

    • by AlgUSF (238240) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @01:19PM (#44022489) Homepage

      So much for "Hope and Change". I was looking forward to the end of the Patriot Act, and the closing of Guantanamo Bay.

      I say this as the United States Government is staging "advisors", on the border between Syria and Jordan. I guess our Government didn't learn much from Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Remember, the enemy of our enemy isn't necessarily our "friend".

    • by PopeRatzo (965947)

      With a government like this, it's tough to make a living as a conspiracy theorist anymore.

      Let's not forget that the entire surveillance state is first and foremost a huge grift.

      There are companies getting very very rich from all of this. It's the old military/industrial complex on steroids, because these new cyber-spook companies don't even have to build anything. They pay a bunch of guys like this Snowden character and pocket the rest as profit.

    • Which is why I have the created the greatest conspiracy theory of all: "We have a representative government that respects the rule of law, and its direction and actions are controlled via free and fair elections by the people."

      Seriously, there is no statement more likely to get you scoffed at and called crazy for today.

      • Which is why I have the created the greatest conspiracy theory of all: "We have a representative government that respects the rule of law, and its direction and actions are controlled via free and fair elections by the people."

        There is a difference between a mere conspiracy theory and a wild fantasy that flies in the face of all evidence.

  • the president had the constitutional authority, no matter what the law actually says, to order domestic spying without [constitutional] warrants

    "no matter what the law actually says" - is that seriously what the people in charge think nowadays?

  • Telcos (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rick Zeman (15628) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @12:57PM (#44022367)

    ""According to the Washington Post, the Bush administration took 'bulk metadata' from the phone companies under voluntary agreements for more than four years after 9/11 until a court agreed they could have it compulsorily.""

    For those who don't read TFA, the missing context is huge:
    When the New York Times revealed the warrantless surveillance of voice calls, in December 2005, the telephone companies got nervous. One of them, unnamed in the report, approached the NSA with a request. Rather than volunteer the data, at a price, the “provider preferred to be compelled to do so by a court order,” the report said. Other companies followed suit.

    And then they got immunity.

  • The biggest damage (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @01:04PM (#44022397) Homepage Journal
    they are turning private life into something illegal. And like drugs, or in the past alcohol, its turning the environment where you can have privacy into fertile ground for crime. So you have a catch-22, or don't have privacy and be caught by sneezing in public or equivalent things, or think that have, but while doing so being in the neighbourhood of real criminals, so you become a prey for both groups.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 16, 2013 @01:38PM (#44022595)

    "When asked by Maine Senator Susan Collins if Edward Snowden's claim that he could he could tap into virtually any American's phone call or e-mails. True or false?" Alexander said, "False. I know of no way to do that. "

    The system is knowns as DCSNet, it lets them tap any phone in the country remotely:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DCSNet

    NSA general is fucking liar.

  • What is MetaData? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chill (34294) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @02:05PM (#44022801) Journal

    So what exactly is metadata?

    Many years ago I was a telecommunications engineer for a large company and worked CALEA. [wikipedia.org] For the uninitiated, that is law-enforcement wiretapping.

    My job was to make sure CALEA functioned properly on the new cellular network. We tested on an internal, micro-cell network that was isolated from the real world. The end result was to make sure targeted devices sent CDR (call data records, or metadata) and voice to the destination. This was all piped thru IPSec tunnels to the appropriate destination law-enforcement agency.

    In the event of a tunnel failure, CDRs were required to buffer but voice was not. Saving voice during an outage required too much storage space, but the text nature of CDRs meant they were small and largely compressible.

    Metadata consisted of EVERYTHING THAT WAS NOT VOICE.

    To be clear, it included the following:

    called number
    calling number
    time of call
    duration of call
    keys pressed during call
    cell tower registered to
    other cell towers in range
    gps coordinates
    signal strength
    imei (cell phone serial number)
    codec
    and a few other bits of technical information.

    Everything above "cell tower registered to" applies to traditional, POTS land line phones. This information seems to be what the disinformation campaign currently going on seems to revolve around. They never mention that there are over 327 MILLION cellular phones in the U.S., which is more than one per person. They never mention the bottom set of metadata.

    Capturing all key presses makes sure things like call transfers, three-way calls and the like get captured.

    It also grabs things like your voicemail PIN/password, which never seems to get explicitly mentioned.

    But the cellular set is more interesting. This data come across in registration and keep-alive packets every few seconds. This is how the network knows you're still active and where to route calls to.

    But by keeping all this metadata it allows whomever has it to plot of map of your phone's gross location and movements.

    By "gross", I mean the location triangulated from cell tower strength and not GPS coordinates. Towers are triangular in nature and use panel antennas. They know which panel you connect thru and can triangulate your location down to a few meters just by the strength of your signal on a couple different towers.

    GPS coordinates are "fine" location. For the most part the numbers sent across are either zeroed out or the last location your phone obtained a fix.

    GPS isn't turned on all the time because it sucks batteries down. If you own a phone you know how long it can take to get a fix, so this feature isn't normally used.

    HOWEVER, it can be turned on remotely and is a part of the E911 regulations pushed to help find incapacitated victims after 9/11.

    [There is a reason the baseband radio chip in your phone has closed, binary-blob firmware -- whether or not the OS itself is FOSS. We wouldn't want the masses to be able to disable remote activation, would we? Or let them start changing frequencies and power levels.]

    So, are we comfortable with the government knowing where we, thru our cell phones, are at every moment of the day? Because that is what metadata allows.

    Think of what can be learned by applying modern pattern analysis to that data set.

  • ... just fscking shoot him. Well, maybe not. But you might ask him how we got from Smith v. Maryland, which determined that the police could legally collect dialed numbers from suspects without a warrant, all the way to where we are, where the NSA and FBI can legally collect everything about phone calls except the actual voice, on EVERYBODY, ALWAYS?

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