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Letter to "Extended Family" Assures That NSA Will "Weather This Storm" 286

An anonymous reader writes "The National Security Agency sent a letter to its employees, affiliates and contractors to reassure them that the NSA is not really an abusive and unchecked spying agency engaged in illegal activity." Whatever you think of the commentary, you can read the original, attached to the linked story.
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Letter to "Extended Family" Assures That NSA Will "Weather This Storm"

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  • by ameyer17 ( 935373 ) <> on Saturday September 21, 2013 @04:47PM (#44913369) Homepage

    Seriously, though, just because you say it doesn't make it true.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 21, 2013 @04:48PM (#44913373)

    Actions speak much, much louder.

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <> on Saturday September 21, 2013 @04:54PM (#44913395) Journal

    Not surprised. Not surprised at all.


  • by The_Star_Child ( 2660919 ) on Saturday September 21, 2013 @04:56PM (#44913411)
    Acknowledging the problem doesn't exist, it most certainly does.
  • Snowjob (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Saturday September 21, 2013 @04:57PM (#44913421)

    >>> It was intended to reassure them that the NSA is not really the abusive and unchecked spying agency engaged in illegal activity that someone reading former NSA contractor Edward Snowdenâ(TM)s disclosures might think...

    Uhh what? Snowden just released existing documents, he didn't create them.
    It stands to reason that the NSA should be judged exactly by their actions, i.e. the content of the documents they themselves created.

  • by d33tah ( 2722297 ) on Saturday September 21, 2013 @04:58PM (#44913425)
    Of course they're not "engaged in illegal activity". They control the law.
  • I am sure (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 21, 2013 @04:58PM (#44913427)

    I am sure that the NSA sees itself as the good guy, and I am sure it does serve some useful, protective services. However, if those services come at the expense of civil liberties then the price is too high. And if it comes at a small cost to civil liberty, then it won't be too much longer until the bureaucracy feeds on itself until the small infractions become large ones.

  • by klingens ( 147173 ) on Saturday September 21, 2013 @04:59PM (#44913433)

    Of course the NSA will weather it, will continue to exist and will continue to spy. For them it's a (short) embarrassing time after which the news media will forget them and all will be the same for them again.

    The ones who pay for this are the US IT companies which will be distrusted world wide and the US government (politicians, diplomats, secretary of state, etc) who will be distrusted even by their closest allies. US companies will notice it in the long term bottom line e.g. when big foreign companies won't outsource to a US company. The public will forget the scandal soon like they forgot Echelon, the big companies who have actual trade secrets however won't, and if they do they will probably regret it soon when their secrets aren't secret anymore and their US competitors magically know everything they do. These losses are however far in the future: more than a quarter away so they will be denied, at least publically and especially by the ones responsible: the politicians.

    The politicians will have a lot less trust and goodwill from their foreign counterparts, even and especially from allied countries.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 21, 2013 @05:03PM (#44913459)

    This sounds more like they're saying "Don't worry, everything is fine. The US people are too spineless to jeopardize and of our business arrangements."

  • by pla ( 258480 ) on Saturday September 21, 2013 @05:07PM (#44913473) Journal
    I can't believe that Americans, the worlds greatest talkers of democracy, will tolerate such an uttlerly despicible act of totalitarianism, within their own country.

    Well, sure, in theory the people won't stand for this egregious violation of our rights, and come November, you can bet that... Omigawd, did you see what Miley did at the VMAs? And that new video of hers - That girl seems headed for trouble, mark my words! Hey, can you stop and McD's on the way over and get me two Big Macs, a large fry, and a large strawberry shake? No, wait... I need to lose a few pounds, make it a small fry. So, who do you think will win the big game tonight?
  • by tysonedwards ( 969693 ) on Saturday September 21, 2013 @05:12PM (#44913505)
    Of course they aren't an abusive and unchecked spying agency engaged in illegal activity.
    What is all this attention that they are under now if not being checked upon?
  • To paraphrase... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NoKaOi ( 1415755 ) on Saturday September 21, 2013 @05:14PM (#44913521)

    To paraphrase the letter:
    We're family, we love you, so you should love us. Everything said in the media (except for a few pundits who we are paying off) is lies, the leaks didn't really say what they said. Everything we do is legal because we have the power to define the meaning of legal as anything we do.

  • But is it genuine? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 21, 2013 @05:17PM (#44913537)

    Has anybody verified this letter is real? I smell a hoax.

  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Saturday September 21, 2013 @05:26PM (#44913583)


    The NSA have got files on everyone.

    Which politician is going to take them on and see all their dirty laundry thrown to the media?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 21, 2013 @05:28PM (#44913595)

    Actually a lot of what they do IS illegal, and not really debatable. When the Congress people who voted on the Patriot act and supported its renewal say what the NSA doing isn't allowed in the bill they passed that would be your first indication. The lying to judges to be allowed to continue should be your second clue. Then there is every time Obama or his people come out and say "what you are not seeing is abuse of power by the NSA" and the next day Snowden releases thousands of examples of illegal abueses should be the final nail in showing its illegal.

    What you are attempting to do is spin it that this was all perfectly legal started under Bush, because for some reason we shouldn't hold a black man accountable for his actions. What appears to really have happened is the LARGE majority of what has been shown to be illegal has happened in the last 5 years, ignoring Congress and the written laws.

    What the NSA letter SHOULD have said is:
    The media outlets will continue to call anyone who holds us responsible racist or they will shift the blame to the previous administration to allow us to continune what we are doing uninterrupted. Hopefully we will be able to rig the election so that Hillary wins the next presidency so any calls of what we are doing is illegal will be met with a "War on Women". Because in reality we can't justify what we are doing, all we can do is attack the character of the people pointing it out and about half of our citizens are so fucking stupid they will jump in on our side.

  • by ATMAvatar ( 648864 ) on Saturday September 21, 2013 @05:35PM (#44913635) Journal
    Checked implies the oversight actually has teeth for enforcing policy/law. The token oversight given to the NSA reports to... the NSA.
  • by ATMAvatar ( 648864 ) on Saturday September 21, 2013 @05:40PM (#44913661) Journal
    The mass surveillance apparatus which is unquestionably a violation of 4th amendment protections requires just a few more than 1 in 10,000 agents to carry out. There may very well be a large group of perfectly honest and upstanding agents in the NSA, but the corruption goes much deeper than a few rogue individuals. It goes to the very top, with the head of the NSA perjuring himself to Congress only very shortly before Snowden's documents started trickling out in the news.
  • shiny object (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Saturday September 21, 2013 @05:48PM (#44913715) Homepage Journal

    In 6 months we wont remember who the NSA is or what happened.

    Humans today have the attention span of a turnip.

  • Spin control (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Saturday September 21, 2013 @05:52PM (#44913739) Homepage Journal

    The NSA denied the spying flat out, until they were caught.

    The government claimed the court oversight was adequate, until FOI releases proved they're not.

    They said they were only using the surveillance data to catch terrorists, until it was revealed that the DEA was getting a feed.

    Why should anyone, even an NSA employee, believe anything these idiots have to say any more?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 21, 2013 @05:53PM (#44913745)

    Hitler's minions thought they were okay because they were just doing their job, also.

    That didn't help them much when it came time to hand out the war-crimes awards.

    Just something the NSA folks might want to think about. They also might want to take a gander at the Constitution and, in particular, the Bill of Rights. Read them all, including Amendment X. Unless they are too stupid to live, comprehending the meaning isn't particularly difficult - assume the words mean what they say they mean, no matter how many corrupt and pompous judges and bureaucrats there are trying to "reinterpret" words to make all the criminality okay.

    There may be an accounting, eventually. Eventually may come sooner than later.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 21, 2013 @06:20PM (#44913867)

    Is that completely unrelated to this story, or do we expect the US government to prevent similar from happening here on American soil while the NSA and FBI dutifully obey all laws on the books?

    The NSA didn't prevent the lunatic from perpetrating the shooting at the Washington Navy Yard.

    The NSA didn't stop those idiots from setting off an IED during the Boston Marathon.

    The NSA & FBI didn't help with the apprehension of the snipers in the D.C. area a few years back either.
    The skippers were caught because they were noticed acting suspiciously in a rest area.

    The FBI and NSA didn't prevent the events of September 11, 2001.

    I'm afraid you will need a few examples of actual successes in order to make your claims stick, but you are going to have a problem with this, because there are no examples of attacks being prevented.

    Oh, and how about that mess in Benghazi ? Yeah, all the NSA spying seems to be really working out
    well with respect to keeping Americans safe.

  • by Goonie ( 8651 ) <{gro.arbmaneb} {ta} {lekrem.trebor}> on Saturday September 21, 2013 @06:43PM (#44913983) Homepage
    There is no legal impediment to the NSA collecting, logging, analyzing, and possibly mischaracterizing *everything* I do online, and sharing the results of that analysis with the relevant local cops. The constitutional protections extended to American citizens do not apply to foreigners, from those living in other Western democracies, to those living in countries controlled by various "our-sonnfabitches" that the USA has supported over the years. It's well documented that the CIA has, on a regular basis, interfered in the domestic politics of other countries around the world, including aiding politically convenient despots in enforcing repression. In the old days, the computational tools to surveil everyone in the world simply didn't exist, so the CIA and NSA were naturally limited in who they could bother. Now, such limits apply to a much lesser extent. In terms of the technical capability (and I'm not implying equality of motives) it's heading in the direction of what the Stasi could do - to every single person on the entire planet. And, sorry, I am *not* happy that the United States government has that kind of reach. And nor should you be.
  • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <> on Saturday September 21, 2013 @08:12PM (#44914481) Homepage

    Constitution? What's that? Oh you mean that banned document that you can't hand out on some university campuses anymore?

  • by chihowa ( 366380 ) on Saturday September 21, 2013 @08:15PM (#44914491)

    Blackmail only works on criminals and sleazebags. If you're doing shit so bad that you're willing to sell out your entire country to keep it quiet you deserve to be strung up by an angry mob.

    Ordinary people do stupid and embarrassing stuff, but most people don't have histories that they couldn't come clean about if forced to. Only sociopathic assholes whose lives are entirely built on deception (eg politicians) are susceptible to this sort of treatment.

    Blackmail is like Danegeld. Only an idiot would choose to play that game and only a criminal would need to.

  • by kav2k ( 1545689 ) on Saturday September 21, 2013 @08:19PM (#44914505)

    And all it takes is a phone call from the NSA to leak some juicy blackmail on the President into the media.
    This is all interconnected pretty nicely, I'm afraid.

  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Saturday September 21, 2013 @09:23PM (#44914797) Journal

    Many critiques of the war crimes tribunals after WWII, including the chief prosecutor who was a judge but never had a law degree, claim the prosecutions were ex post facto law (law after the fact) and the trials constituted a victors justice.

    I'm not saying they didn't deserve what they got, but lets not pretend it was all on the up and up when comparing it to other things we find horrible too.

    As for the reinterpretations of the US constitution, it is an artifact of the liberal agenda (Roosevelt fought for it to preserve a lot of his unconstitutional new deal programs). They first attempted to amend the US constitution by interpreting wordings out of context and extending government reach and powers by construing meaning beyond what was traditionally present in it. This is because there was no support for legitimately amending the constitution to their favor. Unfortunately, their short sightedness has missed the problem of "if they can do it, others can too" so now it is a common thing to do by any political ideology and it seems to have no bounds as long as it can advance someone's cause.

    It is a sad day when the US constituion is reinterpreted in order to get around the limitations it imposes on government. This is true whether you like one, some or all of the reinterpretations or none of them at all.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday September 21, 2013 @09:37PM (#44914873)

    China's industry also doesn't violate any of their environmental standards. And as soon as they do, the standards get lowered.

    Same with the NSA. They don't break the law. And if they do, it's not them, it's the laws that change.

  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Sunday September 22, 2013 @12:54AM (#44915755) Journal

    The constitution has several mechanism built into it to amend it. There are only two ways it could be unconstitutional to amend it and those were based on time spans that have long passed.

    Now, if your bank decided that after 29 years, just one payment from your mortgage being paid in full and the house being yours, to reinterpret the contract so as you have another 30 years to pay or somehow have a balloon payment or they can repossess the house, you would be outraged. Even if it wasn't happening to you but others because the contract was a document of it's time and inevitably subject to subsequent reinterpretations, the vast majority of people would be outraged.

    That is what the US constitution is- a contract between the states and the people within them that forgo certain amounts of sovereignty to a federal government and if something needs changed, then it needs to be amended and changed. It really is that simple.

    I'm not against changing the US constitution, in fact, I would like to see several changes myself. I just think that we owe history the honesty of following the rules to do so. This means amending the constitution instead of all the sudden deciding the word "one" means two or three or something similar to make something constitutional that otherwise wouldn't be. Its a smoke and mirror game right now with what actually means something and what doesn't. When we ignore it, we have given license to ignore all of it. That does mean that when something you don't want ignored is, they can use the exact same justifications to ignore the search and seizure or due process clauses or free speech guarantees as they use to ignore the second amendment or rules to how legislation is made or war is waged.

  • They are only exceptional in the number of their own people they have killed in their history. And with all his bluster about great Russian history, I do very much tie Putin into that part of their history. They’re not fooling anyone with their faux peace blabber. They just one to keep one more client madman on his throne. Unfortunately, as there are no good options in Syria that do not involve

            a) killing the wrong side
            b) staying home and watching the carnage
            c) killing everyone

    Russian’s entertaining stupidity is just one of those three options. Taking away Syrians chemical weapons will just be like holding the bully’s gun while he knifes his victim to death.

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