Trust Us, We’re The Government: The Administration Multiplies Claim of “One Plot” To “Dozens” Foiled By The Warrantless Surveillance Programs

220px-Keith_B._Alexander_official_portraitIt appears that, as opposition grows to the surveillance programs, the Administration is increasing the claimed successes under the programs. The wonderful thing about secret massive databanks is that its use is . . . well . . . secret. After the surveillance programs involving all calls from citizens and hundreds of millions of emails were disclosed, congressional allies came forward to claim that “a possible plot” was foiled by the program. Of course, they could not tell anyone about the plot even after other members of the Senate said that they doubted that claim. National Security Agency director Army Gen. Keith Alexander, however, has decided that just one potential plot is not enough. So he testified this week that “dozens” of potential plots have been foiled in an effort to get citizens to redefine privacy in a more surveillance friendly image.

For many civil libertarians, the Administration and Congress will have to forgive the feeling that this is like asking “who are you going to believe a court or the people who were secretly spying on you?” What makes this particularly fascinating is the small problem of the past false testimony on surveillance given by intelligence officials in congressional hearings — testimony known to be false by the Senators in attendance. This is also the same Administration that only in February blocked a major effort to seek judicial review dismissed in the Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote because any confirmation of such programs would endanger American lives.

Yet, now we are told to simply accept on faith that dozens of “potential” plots were stopped. Putting aside the past exaggeration of intelligence claims, this testimony (and the hearing itself) seemed designed to (as with the prior torture program under Bush) to get the public to forget about privacy and constitutional protections by keeping fear alive.

Much like Putin’s defense of the American surveillance programs, Alexander insisted that this is the new normal. Alexander repeated the position of the White House that “We do not see a tradeoff between security and liberty. We are trying to protect Americans.” That is a fascinating — and chilling — statement. It suggests that there is no balancing needed if you “are trying to protect Americans.” Of course, everything the government does in the area (as with criminal non-terrorism cases) is to protect the public.

Moreover, despite Obama’s suggestion that there is a balancing, there is no evidence of it. All of the steps like reading content of emails referenced by Obama is not some concession made by his Administration: it is a power that he does not possess. Those concessions are in fact prohibitions. Obama went all the way up to (in my view, over) the line of maximum power. It is like saying to a police officer that you balanced you desire to get to your location by speeding but not moving into approaching traffic. That really is no more a concession for a driver than it is to say that you are not reading mail without a warrant for a president.

Now back to Alexander. In a repeat of what occurred after the disclosure of the torture program, the Democratic senators structured the hearing to avoid the broad questions of legality and privacy. Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski reminded everyone that they would not address such questions being discussed “in the news.” Instead, they wanted the focus to be on the benefits of the massive surveillance system and of course attacking Snowden.

Yet, no one asked Alexander what constitutes a “potential” plot. We have not seen dozens of prosecutions. What happened to them? Likewise, no one asked for details on the plots. After all, he just said the programs uncovered the plots and presumably the plotters know that they were found out. So why not lay the facts bare for the American public?

Then there is the assumed proposition that if “a plot” or “dozens of plots” were uncovered, it would excuse a massive surveillance of the population and the creation of a fishbowl society.

By the way, various lawyers and intelligence experts with direct knowledge of two intercepted terrorist plots have said that they do not believe the program played a significant role. The two cases cited by allies of the White House involve the arrests and convictions of would-be New York subway bomber Najibullah Zazi in 2009 and David Headley who received a 35-year prison sentence for his role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. However, court documents in the US and UK show an array of more important sources, including informants and conventional surveillance.

However, I am still struck by the spectacle of these hearings after the disclosure of false testimony by people like James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence. Clapper has recently said that his testimony was “the least untrue” statement that he could make. Yet, of course that would still make it an untrue statement — which most people call a lie and lawyers call perjury. Indeed, when Roger Clemens was prosecuted for untrue statements before Congress, he was not told of the option to tell the least untrue statement on steroid use.

Yet, it is important to note that Senators have come forward to admit that they knew of the massive surveillance program. So, when Clapper was given untrue testimony, these Senators sat quietly and allowed the public to be lied to. They are now holding hearings that assure the public that it can trust them that these programs have foiled “dozens” of plots. It is asking rather a lot from any citizen, but it may be the last measure of devotion demanded by this President.

88 thoughts on “Trust Us, We’re The Government: The Administration Multiplies Claim of “One Plot” To “Dozens” Foiled By The Warrantless Surveillance Programs

  1. Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
    Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
    Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
    One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
    In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
    One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
    One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
    In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

  2. Even if true, are the expense of said program and the sacrifice of fundamental civil rights an appropriate cost for preventing twenty-four crimes?

    Keep in mind that your own furniture is as likely to kill you as terrorism.

    I anxiously await the government’s next phase: removal of your remaining rights in name of the War on Loveseats.

    It’ll only cost a few billion dollars a year according to private contractor estimates and they expect no one to mind sitting on the floor.

  3. Here is lengthy, informative piece on The General in charge of all this:

    “I am concerned that this is going to break a threshold where the private sector can no longer handle it and the government is going to have to step in.”

    “In 2007, the then secretary of the Air Force pledged to “dominate cyberspace” just as “today, we dominate air and space.” And Alexander’s Army warned, “It is in cyberspace that we must use our strategic vision to dominate the information environment”

    Domination. Not cohabitation. Not information sharing. Rather, it’s the need not just to defeat invented enemies, but to break the will of real people.

    Cyberspace, the General will find, cannot be dominated. We can protect our vital resources without scaring people half to death, and watching every single bloody thing they say.

    For those still quaintly enrolled in the “metadata only” argument, the General’s actions suggest other, far more nefarious curricula. I think STUXNET, for example, was an illegal attack.

    And there remains so much we do not know.

  4. ” Clapper has recently said that his testimony was “the least untrue” statement that he could make”

    Clapper makes it sound as though he lied because he had no alternative under difficult circumstance.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    The fact is that he was given the questions prior to the day of his testimony specifically to give him time to prepare an answer.

    There is a clear, long established and respected paradigm for public officials who are asked question about classified material.

    In the past we have seen public officials clearly state that the subject is classified and offer to discuss the material further in closed session under appropriate security conditions.

    Clapper chose to lie in front of congress and the American people. He could have given the right answer in the right way. Instead he did his best to mislead the nation.

    Why would anyone trust Clapper on any subject?

    The question turns to the elected officials who listened passively to Clappers sworn, false testimony. Did they violate their sworn oath to protect the constitution. When they failed to challenge Clapper’s lies on matters that go to the very essence of the constitution, did they violate the most basic principles of their office?

    Who is the greater threat to our constitution and the open, democratic society it protects, Clapper, Feinstein, or Snowden?

    Perhaps Clapper could explain the concept of “least untrue statement” to Martha Stewart. I am sure she would like some tips on where she went wrong.

  5. The greatest threat to America and Americans are organizations like the NSA and CIA that pretend to protect us from all sorts of dangers by invading our lives. That it is all done in secret allows them to make any number of claims about their successes without any means to verify if they are true.

  6. JT, keep up the good work on this. Don’t let the apparatchiks try to blind us with science, actually junk science.

    The administration is so deep in sht, it is trying to shovel its way out and in the process causing more sht to cave in on themselves.

    Their defenses have been hypocritical, contradictory, outright admitted falsehoods, and have the smell of a cornered animal.

    This scandal needs to go to the next level. I can only hope a good coalition of federal legislators spearhead this into an investigation and indictments on the coverups. And hopefully to be followed by court decisions and statutory change.

  7. It is almost interesting to note that Ron Weyden asked these direct questions, giving Clapper advance notice, and a chance to correct them post hoc, almost in anticipation of a set up. Weyden likely knew the correct answers, and asked them in a way giving Clapper the best chance to exonerate himself. But Clapper went down the path that he most incriminated himself.
    Clapper, et al, NEEDS to be prosecuted for lying to Congress, a felony I understand.

  8. I am … Really, really trying to give some benefit of doubt…. But my reasoning mind tell me not to trust a word they say….

  9. Administration: “Dozens of potential plots were revealed”
    Charlatan: “You have unlimited earning potential in selling widgets”

    I guess they believe they have to destroy the constitution in order to save it.

  10. Thank you for your digging into this important news story and sticking with it. I see that for the most part the news media has turned this off and the closest they are coming to it now is to discuss the girlfriend that Snowden left behind. Maybe it will take a recorded conversation of a news reporter (preferably not Fox as they aren’t considered “news”) to get the news media back on track.

    So I have little hope much will come from this. The news media and the public seem far more interested in movie stars than their Constitutional rights.

  11. Excerpt from “The Snowden Principle” by John Cusack

    At the heart of Edward Snowden’s decision to expose the NSA’s massive phone and Internet spying programs was a fundamental belief in the people’s right-to-know. “My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them,” he said in an interview with the Guardian.

    From the State’s point of view, he’s committed a crime. From his point of view, and the view of many others, he has sacrificed for the greater good because he knows people have the right to know what the government is doing in their name. And legal, or not, he saw what the government was doing as a crime against the people and our rights.

    For the sake of argument — This should be called The Snowden Principle.

    When The Snowden Principle is invoked and revelations of this magnitude are revealed; it is always met with predictable establishment blowback from the red and blue elites of state power. Those in charge are prone to hysteria and engage in character assassination, as are many in the establishment press that have been co-opted by government access . When The Snowden Principle is evoked the fix is always in and instead of looking at the wrongdoing exposed, they parrot the government position no matter what the facts

    The Snowden Principle just cannot be tolerated…

    Even mental illness is pondered as a possible reason that these pariahs would insist on the public’s right to know at the highest personal costs to their lives and the destruction of their good names. The public’s right to know—This is the treason. The utter corruption, the crime.

    But as law professor Jonathan Turley reminds us, a lie told by everyone is not the truth. “The Republican and Democratic parties have achieved a bipartisan purpose in uniting against the public’s need to know about massive surveillance programs and the need to redefine privacy in a more surveillance friendly image,” he wrote recently.

    We can watch as The Snowden Principle is predictably followed in the reaction from many of the fourth estate – who serve at the pleasure of the king.

  12. Senate gave their imprimatur to perjury. They have done it many times, although in this case, they seem to have been in on it, when the oil companies execs testified, when Ollie North et al testified and so on. This is a long standing tradition.

  13. It does not appear that Congress will be defending the Constitution nor applying the rule of law. I encourage you to support the ACLU.

  14. So..if members of congress, constitutional officers of the government as authorized by the founding fathers are aware that a testifier is testilying while under oath, and do nothing, could they be prosecuted for suborning perjury ?

    Where are those House Managers who wanted to impeach Clinton for quibbling on what the meaning of “is” is ?

  15. Now the leaders of House Intelligence Committee are saying Snowden is simply lying . . . and a traitor.

    The NSA leaker is lying about both his access to information and the scope of the secret surveillance programs he uncovered, the heads of the House Intelligence Committee charged Thursday.

    Emerging from a hearing with NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander, Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and Dutch Ruppersberger (Md.), the senior Democrat on the panel, said Edward Snowden simply wasn’t in the position to access the content of the communications gathered under National Security Agency programs, as he’s claimed.

    “He was lying,” Rogers said. “He clearly has over-inflated his position, he has over-inflated his access and he’s even over-inflated what the actually technology of the programs would allow one to do. It’s impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do.”

    “He’s done tremendous damage to the country where he was born and raised and educated,” Ruppersberger said.

    Asked how much additional information — including other Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act verdicts — Snowden has in his possession, Rogers said, “No one really knows the answer to that today. I think we will know the answer to that shortly.”

    That last quoted sentence?

    Is what puckering sounds like.

    But this guy who stepped forward at great personal expense to reveal that the government is violating the 4th Amendment as if the Constitution was merely a suggestion is a liar and a traitor and the guys who ordered and committed torture are, what? Heroes deserving of a pass on prosecution instead of treasonous war criminals?

    If I didn’t have friends in the D.C, area I care about, I’d swear that that the best thing for this country might be for a moderately sized rock from space to fall right square on top of Congress while it was in full session.

  16. *The alleged effectiveness of a program is irrelevant when its constitutionality is in question.*

    (That line of argument, by the way, smells similar to those in favor of water-boarding, for instance.)

  17. Tennessee First District Republican Congressman, Phil Roe, just came down on the side of being more open and does not think Snowden is a traitor. Interesting. Before he became a politician, Phil was a physician (OB/GYN). His response to this issue is interesting. It is worth noting that he voted against the Patriot Act and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

    Roe does not believe Snowden is a traitor. Newspaper story at the link. Here is the money quote:

    Roe cited the Tsarnaev brothers — alleged masterminds of the Boston Marathon bombings — as another example of shortcomings within the U.S. intelligence gathering system.

    “We had the Russian intelligence community make a phone call to our intelligence community saying ‘We think those guys are terrorists’ and we missed them,” Roe said.

  18. Dave: That line of argument smells nothing like being in favor of water-boarding, torture, or any other illegal activity.

    That line of argument is precisely the argument against murder: The effectiveness of just killing somebody is irrelevant, it is against the law.

    In fact, the reason for MOST laws that a super-majority of common people believe need to be in place is precisely because the acts are, in fact, effective, from the point of view of those committing them. Otherwise people would seldom have engaged in such acts in the first place. The fact is that stealing works, one can get wealthy stealing, or enslaving people, or by killing those that get in their way, or defrauding people. Effectiveness is irrelevant if it is against the law.

  19. Somehow… I have my doubts. My issue isn’t that they are “listening” in. My issue isn’t even with collecting the data.

    My issue is with KEEPING the bloody data, you know.. “just in case”.

    Tools are being developed that given the right set of meta data one won’t NEED to listen IN to your conversations, one will be able to correctly GUESS your very thinking processes over a short time.

    If they have information on everything you do, to whom you speak, where you go, links you click, search engine data and who knows what else, and apply it to these tools then your very psyche can be discerned.

    Science Fiction, right? Nope. It’s not. Even if it IS, it won’t be soon enough. If you don’t believe that, look at the science news in the last few months. Cloaking devices, teleportation, completely mapping the human genome, and more. ALL of these things were Science Fiction not that long ago.

    It won’t be too long before E.E. Smith’s Lensman Series becomes fact.

    Folks… this crap has to stop. It stops with us. Not on TOP of us.

  20. I can understand how Snowden might have jeopardized national security by revealing capabilities we have that our adversaries did not know.

    And I can understand that Snowden might have lied.

    If Snowden lied, it must have been to claim we have capabilities that we in fact do not have. And Clapper, himself, agrees, we do have these capabilities or at least we do not used them.

    So my question is how, exactly, does one jeopardize national security by claiming capabilities that we do not have?

    The administration is claiming that before Snowden lied we did not have the capability and therefor we could not monitor the activities of our adversaries. And the administration is claiming that after Snowden lied our adversaries changed their behavior and we cannot monitor them – with the capabilities that we do not have. So help me now. Where, exactly is the damage to national security that results from lying about capability that we do not have? It seems to me that we are in exactly the same situation both before and after Snowden lied. In either case the result is the same – we cannot monitor the activities of our adversaries.

    I think the administration can claim that Snowden lied. Or the administration can claim that Snowden damaged national security.

    But what the administration, Clapper, Feinstein, and the entire congress cannot do is claim both that Snowden lied and that Snowden damaged national security – not unless they want the make a ‘least untrue statement’.

    Or maybe a that is a ‘maximum untrue statement’. I am still studying this innovative concept and not sure I have yet grasped all the subtleties.

  21. Gene,

    ” … your own furniture is as likely to kill you as terrorism.”

    We’re talking cyber warfare operations … remember Sayano–Shushenskaya Dam in Russia … check out what Bamford has to say about that and General Alexander:

    “To me what scares me most now is that you have this director of the NSA who now has under his authority the ability to actually destroy things. It’s a thing called cyber kinetic warfare where you’re using cyber not just to erase someone’s hard drive but to actually blow things up. The largest dam in Russia for example, was destroyed. It wasn’t cyber warfare but it was an accidental cyber event. The U.S. used that in Iran and destroyed the Iranian centrifuges…now you have this General who can not only eavesdrop on everybody but he can blow things up.”

    You can check out Bamford’s articles in Wired Magazine.

    So my boy, your electronic furniture like a computer, cell phone, vehicle can become a weapon in the hands of those who wage Cyber Warfare. Poof … citizens disappear. Reagan’s Star Wars (Strategic Defense Initiative) is now operational and golly. gosh. geewhiz, everybody thought it was about missiles.

    And finally, one of the main requisites for advancement in spy careers is the ability to lie … Alexander heads up what is quite possibly the most powerful spy agency in the world … of course he’s a constant liar.

    Also, just for the fun of it, I remind you that Michele Bachmann is a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Talk about scary.

  22. “So my boy, your electronic furniture like a computer, cell phone, vehicle can become a weapon in the hands of those who wage Cyber Warfare.”

    So can an ottoman wielded by a lunatic, but the statement holds all things being equal. Besides, technically a computer is a tool, not furniture. Unless you’re doing something really against the manufacturer’s suggested use.

  23. my question is why arent people upset by the IRS? They have far more data than the NSA does and they are willing to use it against us.

    The IRS knows about our bank accounts, our health, just about everything we do they know about. If they wanted, they could tell us where we had dinner, assuming we used a check or credit card, on October 15, 2008.

    That seems to me to be more worrisome than some military geeks who are just gathering phone numbers to figure out who is calling whom.

    Maybe the NSA is much more of a safe bet to bad mouth than the IRS?

  24. Blouise:

    can they litterally blow things up or do they just make them work beyond the intended capacity?

  25. Gene,

    I was using literary license to segue … if your cell phone or computer are sitting on your ottoman … poof … your ottoman is lethal. Of course, if your cell phone is up to your ear then your head is lethal.

    BTW … Alexander is a buddy of that infamously adulterous CIA Director, Petraeus. I wonder if Alexander collected the clandestine couples’ emails?

  26. The more the government’s intelligence services do to try and keep us f\safe and free from radical terrorists, the more conspiracy theorists seem to pop up on this blog.

  27. Bron: In the case of the centrifuges, I believe there was insufficient safeguards within the code and hardware, so a virus that set various voltages on the rail (maximum or minimum) could force the centrifuge to spin so fast it literally broke parts that could not be replaced.

    Quite a bit of electronically controlled equipment relies on its software to keep inputs within reasonable specifications, because hardware safeguards, brakes, fuses and such all cost money and take up space, and increase maintenance and repair costs. But of course that makes them vulnerable to malware.

  28. Tony,
    They weren’t doing it right. The centrifuges had the wrong kind of governor on them. One of these days, we are going to need to go back to this, so might as well get psychologically prepared.

  29. You don’t say . . .

    Isn’t that you wearing the /Hqsa3kqTYyLu+n37li25v3H81iqwDcFgCTLngX9nLmMk6zIATR3CgHRGe1toPrt7ytL?

  30. “… this is like asking “who are you going to believe: a court, or the people who were secretly spying on you?” — Jonathan Turley

    Nope. Ask instead:

    “Who are you going to believe: the people who were secretly spying on you or the secret court which routinely issues blanket permission for them to secretly spy on you?”

    There. Fixed it.

  31. OS: Cool video. But that mechanical governor, albeit genius (and no software to hack), is expensive compared to a fifty cent chip controlling a flow solenoid.

    But yeah, as for steam, I am in, I think it is the future. By far my favorite form of alternative power is solar concentration that acts as the heat source for a boiler that drives a steam engine that produces electricity. Zero emissions, and more importantly, the tech is so simple it can be built, machined and repaired by a typical garage mechanic (and local electrician). That is even true for closed-system engines (spent steam is recycled to the boiler, which increases efficiency since the residual heat is not wasted).

    It also a distributable tech, it does not require centralization and although there is some economies of scale, they are mostly about keeping full time technicians on site and busy with maintenance and repair, it does not get much more efficient by making truly giant steam engines.

    Another advantage is that the desert areas, in Arizona, Texas, Cali, New Mexico — are wastelands that could be power plants. We could probably use steam to get off oil, and it would be beneficial for reducing Global Warming to boot: Not only do we burn nothing and have zero emissions, we are converting heat into electrical power. We have the equivalent of negative emissions.

  32. I think one reason that it is so important that we discuss NSA’s role is that in can only be usefull against a very narrow range of adversaries.

    According to Clapper, himself, our front line, powerful adversaries are too knowledgeable. They do not need a Snowden to tell them what the NSA can and is doing. They have capability that rivals our own.

    At the other end of the spectrum, by definition NSA data collection techniques cannot be effective against the lone wolf operative running silent. A person who does not discuss his capability and does not reveal his intentions in blogs, on social media, or through telephone communication is impervious to NSA data collection. That kind of adversary will fall to ordinary intelligence and police method – if at all.

    It is clear that NSA data collection techniques are most useful against unsophisticated adversaries and wannabe terrorists.

    The important question is do we need to eviscerate the constitution to protect ourselves form the least sophisticated adversaries that we face?

    Is it possible that we could be as successful with more traditional intelligence and police methods.

    People like Clapper think it is appropriate to lie to prevent that discussion from taking place.

    It is vital that we clearly discuss what NSA can and cannot do. It is necessary that we evaluate to see if more ordinary techniques can be as effective.

    If you want to live in an open, democratic society it is necessary that we develop the information to discuss thoroughly the choices we make.

  33. Resorting to the “body count” — or its equivalent, the “foiled plot” — statistic as a demonstration of “success” inevitably fails as the need to show increasing success leads to hyper-inflation of the number of bodies or “foiled plots” claimed until one reaches the point that:

    “If it’s dead and Vietnamese, it’s Viet Cong,”


    “If it’s secret and a ‘plot,’ it’s been ‘foiled.'”

    Behold the militarized “mind” at work. How I have come to loathe the military stuffed shirt pontificating about anything to do with national “security.” These clowns can’t even keep their own soldiers from raping each other or killing themselves in record numbers.

  34. Arrest Obama Under NDAA For Supporting Terrorists in Syria

    ( I would also add Sen McCain & Sen Graham to this piece)

    President has violated section 1021 of act he signed into law

    Paul Joseph Watson
    June 14, 2013

    Under the terms of the National Defense Authorization Act that he personally signed into law, President Barack Obama should immediately be arrested and indefinitely detained for providing support to Al-Qaeda terrorists in Syria.

  35. raff,

    As far as I know, asteroids are not sentient and ergo lack the requisite intent to terrorize. It’s just being a rock caught in a gravity well doing what rocks do under gravity. Namely fall down and go boom. Besides, would you want to be the one who has to handcuff one of those things?

  36. “Al Gore: NSA Programs Unconstitutional, ‘Not Really The American Way’

    Igor Bobic 4:45 PM EDT, Friday June 14, 2013

    “Former Vice President Al Gore weighed in on the matter of National Security Agency surveillance programs on Friday, calling them a massive illegal undertaking that violate Americans’ constitutional rights.

    “I quite understand the viewpoint that many have expressed that they are fine with it and they just want to be safe but that is not really the American way,” Gore said in a telephone interview with The Guardian. “Benjamin Franklin famously wrote that those who would give up essential liberty to try to gain some temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

    “This in my view violates the constitution. The fourth amendment and the first amendment – and the fourth amendment language is crystal clear,” he added. “It is not acceptable to have a secret interpretation of a law that goes far beyond any reasonable reading of either the law or the constitution and then classify as top secret what the actual law is.” ” Talking Points Memo

  37. The General is a serial LIAR to Congress.

    Hank asks NSA director tough questions about wiretaps, e-mail intercepts
    Posted March 20, 2012
    Congressman Hank Johnson (D-Georgia) questioned NSA director and CYBERCOM commander General Keith Alexander regarding reports that the NSA is intercepting U.S. citizens’ phone calls and e-mails.

    JOHNSON: Does the NSA routinely intercept American citizens’ emails?

    JOHNSON: Does the NSA intercept Americans’ cell phone conversations?


    JOHNSON: Google searches?


    JOHNSON: Text messages?


    JOHNSON: Amazon dot com orders?


    JOHNSON: Bank records?


    JOHNSON: What judicial consent is required for NSA to intercept communications and information involving American citizens?

    ALEXANDER: Within the United States, that would be the FBI lead. If it were a foreign actor in the United States, the FBI would still have to lead. It could work that with NSA or other intelligence agencies as authorized. But to conduct that kind of collection in the United States it would have to go through a court order, and the court would have to authorize it. We’re not authorized to do it, nor do we do it.

  38. MM,

    You have a post pending in moderation for containing one of the four disallowed words, namely a slang term for fornication. If you’d like to edit that and repost, you should have no problem.

  39. If I were to write a letter and send it via e-mail, the NSA will know who sent it, where it was sent FROM and TO, and who is the recipient.

    If I put it in the mail, the NSA is clueless and I am safer from unwarranted searches of MY PERSONAL PAPERS AND AFFECTS.

    Protect your client/attorney privileges. GO POSTAL!

  40. I’m living for the day the Lawyers of America storm the DOJ…
    … The Bastille of America, where all your client data are belong to the NSA.

  41. Bron
    1, June 14, 2013

    The old Romans cherished their honor…
    … But we aren’t Rome and this isn’t the 100’s.

    American modern Politicians cherish the sword and the blood it draws.

  42. bigfatmike
    1, June 14, 2013

    I have an old saying:
    “Half truths are told to hide whole lies.”

    “The least untruth” = half truth to hide a bigger sin/lie/illegality.

  43. Gene H.,

    I figured as much. Thanks but no thanks. “We’re fornicated” just doesn’t work for an ex-sailor like me. Think I’ll just revisit George Carlin’s classic stand-up routine “Seven Dirty Words” (1977) for inspiration. Since you’ve only got four taboo noises, though, I suppose one could call that “progress” of a sort. That the language-police software has no problem with the obscene word “kill,” on the other hand, clearly indicates a failure to recognize the truly “dirty” when confronted by it on a daily basis.


    Hey! How’s it going? I’m all right.

    My job is so chitty I wish I could overthrow my boss. It’s like this oppressive regime where only true believers in his management techniques will stay around. I work marathon-length hours and he’s made all these changes that have made it the worst architecture firm to work at in Manhattan. Like he moved the office to the Financial District and fired my assistant. She was the only one who knew where the blueprints were! I need access to those blueprints to complete my job! F my life, right? And he keeps trying to start all these new initiatives to boost revenue, but seriously we just need to stick to what we do best. There’s only one true profit center. I seriously feel ready to go on strike at any second.

    I just read this article about how these free radical particles can cause the downfall of good health and accelerate aging. These could actually cause death to millions of Americans. If these particles are flying around undetected everywhere, does that mean we’re all radicalized?

    Have you seen the second season of Breaking Bad? I just finished it. I couldn’t believe that episode where they poison the guy with ricin! That was the bomb! I won’t say any more because I don’t want to reveal the earth-shattering events to come.

    Oh! So I’ve been planning a big trip for the summer. I’m thinking of visiting all of the most famous suspension bridges in the United States. So probably like the Golden Gate Bridge, The Brooklyn Bridge, and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. I’m gonna bring my younger brother and I know he’ll want to go to bars, so I’m thinking of getting him a fake drivers license, but I hope that doesn’t blow up in my face.

    Okay, I gotta run! I’m late for flight school. I missed the last class where we learn how to land, so I really can’t miss another one. Talk to you later!

  45. James Bamford on NSA Secrets, Keith Alexander’s Influence &Massive Growth of Surveillance, Cyberwar

    Published on Jun 14, 2013 – As the U.S. vows to take “all necessary steps” to pursue whistleblower Edward Snowden, James Bamford joins us to discuss the National Security Agency’s secret expansion of government surveillance and cyberwarfare. In his latest reporting for Wired Magazine, Bamford profiles NSA Director General Keith Alexander and connects the dots on PRISM, phone surveillance, and the NSA’s massive spy center in Bluffdale, Utah. Says Bamford of Alexander: “Never before has anyone in America’s intelligence sphere come close to his degree of power, the number of people under his command, the expanse of his rule, the length of his reign, or the depth of his secrecy.” The author of “The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America,” Bamford has covered the National Security Agency for the last three decades after helping expose its existence in the 1980s.

  46. MM,

    I’m of the Carlin school in that “[t]here are no bad words, bad thoughts, bad intentions, and wooooords.” However, I don’t make the rules here and that policy was instituted after a group of drive by trolls spent a few days doing little else but spewing profanity simply for the sake of disruption. You don’t have to go full edit either. F**k is perfectly acceptable and gets the image (and the sound) across.

  47. Larry asked:
    Would your rock falling on Congress be considered a terrorist rock?”


    Yes, but only if sufficiently amped.

  48. As for official government statements — especially those made by the U.S. military — I learned long ago to disregard them as self-serving careerism run amok. Given the opportunity to tell the truth, with no adverse consequences either way, our officials will lie, just to keep in practice; just so they won’t forget how. One has to wonder, however, why our current crop of official liars hasn’t gotten any better at their prevarication, given all the practice they insist on having at our expense.

  49. Rep. Alan Grayson on the NSA: American As Apple Spy
    (Not sure if someone else may have posted this.)

  50. During my fourteen months spent languishing at “Solid Anchor” — a remote US Navy ATSB deep in the Mekong Delta — a shipmate had a pet Anaconda that he kept in a long wooden ammunition crate. Every Sunday, he would take it out for a feeding, which event usually passed for the highlight of our dreary existence for the week. A bunch of bored, bearded, half-dressed sailors would form a ring into the center of which someone would throw a live duck. Then the Anaconda would slowly slither over to the petrified fowl and then take an hour or so enveloping, crushing, and swallowing it. I still have pictures. As I recall, the guy who owned the pet Anaconda had stenciled on the side of its wooden-crate home, in all-caps military-style lettering:

    SNAKE, BIG ****-ING

    In Uncle Sam’s Canoe Club, no one can even begin to communicate without using that **** word — as noun, pronoun, adjective, verb, adverb, preposition, conjunction, and interjection. Readjusting to the “outside” world with its pompous pretensions and pious prevaricating took a long time and in my case, obviously, never entirely succeeded.

  51. leejcaroll,
    You beat me to it. :)

    Dear Congressman Grayson,
    I can’t say this enough… WELCOME HOME!!!!!
    I’ve been asking, and thank you for asking too, since when do American Citizens fall under the purview of the FOREIGN Intel Courts?

  52. At noonish today, Gene H. posted some excerpts from John Cusacks article entitled “The Snowden Principle”. I read the excerpt and then punched the tab and went to the whole article on Huffington Post. This is a great article and Cusack (sp) discusses his organization formed this year on behalf of the free press and the First Amendment. Cusack quoted JT several times. It seems that Cusack gets some space on Huffington Post on a regular basis.

    This topic is not going away. These skunks in Congress and in the mainstream media are exposing themselves as the Rats which they are. To call Snowden a traitor is like some Brit in 1776 calling Ben Franklin a traitor.
    Perjury in Congress on issues of national security is traitor speak. Clapper is a liar whose pants are on fire. Thank you Gene H. for posting that material this afternoon. I was just able to get on the Dogalogue Machine and catch up. I read the Huffington Post every day but it is a busy blog with lots of commercials and pop ups.

    Cusack’s organization is to promote the First Amendment and our free press rights. I would point out here that often the capitalist media outlets will put themselves on a pedestal when the “Free Press” clause of the First Amendment is invoked or discussed. They wish that only “true journalists” are protected and only newspapers and perhaps television and radio is protected. I say that this blog is an organ of the Free Press and our discussions and publications here are protected under that Prong of the First Amendment. We also have a right to assemble here and a right to speak freely and a right to petition our government for redress of grievances.
    Yesterday I posted some blurb from a First Amendment organization which set forth the five prongs of the First Amendment. What these jerks in government are doing with their metadata assault on our privacy violates all of our rights under the First as well as our rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. That statute which the jerkoffs in government rely upon authorizes the inspection of foreign persons and entities not Americans.

  53. An ode for the democrats, and republicans, who support the Obama administration’s continuation and/or enhancement of military spying on Americans.

    An olde spiritual:

  54. Gene H. 1, June 14, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    If I didn’t have friends in the D.C, area I care about, I’d swear that that the best thing for this country might be for a moderately sized rock from space to fall right square on top of Congress while it was in full session.

    I think you are talking about Cosmik Debris:

  55. Going Postal ?
    According to a recent article, the merry mailman makes a copy of the front and back of every piece of first class mail.. and what are those little bar code type things on the bottom of many envelopes for ? So they know where to find you in case there may be any postage due ?

  56. michael murry:

    “a shipmate had a pet Anaconda that he kept in a long wooden ammunition crate.”

    how long was it? did he catch it?

  57. Mr.Prison,
    Ah yes, all the better to find you with my dear. What was that address? Who saw me fill THAT out? And how I dotted my eyes and crossed my tees inside? NOBODY! That’s who.

    Try to do that via e-mail. They know time sent who to where you sent it from down to the seat you sat in when writing it. USPS, I cos have written it last week month year. The NAA is clueless of the contents. Heck, I could postal drop it across the Nation… Who’s the wiser, then?

  58. Ms.Prison: The little bar code things are there to save you money, so the mail can be sorted and routed by high speed robots with inexpensive bar-code readers. That reduces personnel requirements, and the particular robots used by the post office, if they were people doing the same work, would be working for less than one cent per hour. (translating the costs of maintenance, electricity, and the cost of fluids consumed over the life of the robot, along with it ratio of productivity versus a human, into a hypothetical cost of employment.)

  59. Bron,

    Over forty years have passed, but i still have a few pictures and some memories from life at the bottom of the barrel, so to speak. Since I don’t know the policy for posting images here on Professor Turley’s blog, i’ve put up one on my own site that you can check out >here. I have no pictures of the ammo crate used to house the creature, nor do I remember how its owner came into possession of it.

  60. Bamford in 2009:

    The New Thought Police

    The NSA Wants to Know How You Think—Maybe Even What You Think

    By James Bamford
    Posted 01.01.09

    The National Security Agency (NSA) is developing a tool that George Orwell’s Thought Police might have found useful: an artificial intelligence system designed to gain insight into what people are thinking.

    With the entire Internet and thousands of databases for a brain, the device will be able to respond almost instantaneously to complex questions posed by intelligence analysts. As more and more data is collected—through phone calls, credit card receipts, social networks like Facebook and MySpace, GPS tracks, cell phone geolocation, Internet searches, Amazon book purchases, even E-Z Pass toll records—it may one day be possible to know not just where people are and what they are doing, but what and how they think.

    The system is so potentially intrusive that at least one researcher has quit, citing concerns over the dangers in placing such a powerful weapon in the hands of a top-secret agency with little accountability.


  61. michael murry:

    thanks for the link.

    I think that is some type of python though, I am guessing a Burmese Python []. I believe anacondas are only found in the amazon basin of south america.

    When you were in Vietnam I was a 12 year old and loved to collect snakes.

  62. Bron,

    Thanks for the info. Forty years ago, I did not know a python from a Boa from an Anaconda. I still don’t. Just Big F***-ing Snakes to me. I’ll change the wording on my site, though. Thanks again.

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