Snowden Is A Whistleblower . . . Just Not In The United States

228px-Picture_of_Edward_Snowden220px-Pea_WhistleThese are certain things that you will not easily find in U.S. media like Jimmy Carter declaring that we no longer have a functioning democracy in this country. Another is reading about Snowden as a whistleblower. The White House has been highly successful in telling media not to refer to Snowden as a whistleblower and enlisting various media allies to attack him as a clown and a traitor or mocking his fear of returning home. This week you had to read Moscow Times or other foreign sites (or a link on Reddit) to learn that Snowden has won this year’s Whistleblower Award established by German human rights organizations.

The award handed down by the Association of German Scientists (VDW) and the German branch of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA) comes with a small financial reward that will be given to Snowden’s legal representatives. Such awards will bolster his claim for asylum.

While there is no evidence thus far of any motivation by Snowden except his desire to reveal an unconstitutional program, the media has largely complied with a demand of the White House that he not be called a whistleblower as Obama officials and members of Congress denounce him. The problem is that many Americans and foreigners view him as a whistleblower and some as a hero. Likewise, the effort to get Americans to embrace a new surveillance-friendly model of privacy has largely failed though most average Americans feel helpless in a system with a locked monopoly of power by two parties.

As I have noted before, it brings to mind the successful effort to convince media to call waterboarding “enhanced interrogation” in the media rather than “torture” as it has long been defined by courts. Snowden is a whistleblower in my mind. It is true that the Administration can argue that these programs were lawful to the Supreme Court’s precedent stripping pen registers of full constitutional protection in Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735 (1979). Many of us disagree with that ruling, but this is a new application of the precedent. While the government has long sought the information for individuals, the Administration is essentially issuing a national security letter against the entire population. Moreover, it does appear that violations have occurred in these programs.

Putting aside the legality issue, whistleblowers are defined more probably by public interest organizations. For example, The Government Accountability Project, a leading nonprofit handling whistleblowers, defines the term as “an employee who discloses information that s/he reasonably believes is evidence of illegality, gross waste or fraud, mismanagement, abuse of power, general wrongdoing, or a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety. Typically, whistleblowers speak out to parties that can influence and rectify the situation. These parties include the media, organizational managers, hotlines, or Congressional members/staff, to name a few.”

Snowden clearly fits that more common definition of whistleblower, even if the government contests the application of statutory protections. Many can legitimately question Snowden’s chosen means for objecting to this program. However, the hostile and dismissive treatment by the establishment reflects an obvious fear of the implications of this scandal. We saw the same full court press in defining Julien Assange in a way that avoids calling him a journalist or a whistleblower. He is just an Assange. Well Snowden is just a Snowden in the view of U.S. media . . . until he can be called a prisoner.

140 thoughts on “Snowden Is A Whistleblower . . . Just Not In The United States

  1. The Snowden Effect, Continued
    By Charles P. Pierce
    7/23/13
    http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/chevron-gets-access-to-private-data-for-lawsuit-072313

    Ultimately, the Snowden Effect is about personal data, and privacy, and who gets to know what about you, and how, and when. Most of the hootin’ and hollerin’ has been about the government getting to know what about you, and how, and when. However, given the way government and corporations are becoming more closely entwined here at the Stephen J. Field Memorial Cotillion, it was only a matter of time before the latter got into the act.

    This information forms part of a larger fishing expedition by Chevron to go after those who won an $18 billion judgment against the company in Ecuador in February 2011 for dumping 18.5 billion gallons of highly toxic waste into the streams and rivers in the rainforests of eastern Ecuador. In its retaliatory lawsuit, Chevron claims that “this judgment is the product of fraud.” And it is seeking the IP addresses of individuals involved in the suit over a nine-year period. In particular, the subpoena calls for the production of all documents related to “the identity of the users of the email addresses, including ‘all names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, billing information, date of account creation, account information and all other identifying information.”

    In brief, if the government — which, theoretically, at least, is us — decides to destroy the lives of whistleblowers, that will become the common currency of all centers of power, including the least accountable ones. If the government — which, theoretically, at least, is us — decides to pry into the private lives of citizens willy-nilly, that will become the accepted practice by all centers of power, including the least accountable ones. In a democracy — where, theoretically, at least, government is only that which we choose to allow — the government leads the way, including the development of a culture of informers. For all of his maladroit PR, that’s the thing against which Snowden is pushing back. It’s a fight worth having.

  2. Chevron Gets Access to Private Data for Revenge Suit
    13
    By Tina Gerhardt, July 17, 2013
    http://www.progressive.org/chevron-gets-access-private-data-for-revenge-suit

    Excerpt;
    On June 25, a federal judge approved a subpoena, to be served by Chevron to Microsoft, granting the oil company private Internet and phone data related to 30 email addresses, including those related to environmental nonprofits, activists, journalists and lawyers.

    This information forms part of a larger fishing expedition by Chevron to go after those who won an $18 billion judgment against the company in Ecuador in February 2011 for dumping 18.5 billion gallons of highly toxic waste into the streams and rivers in the rainforests of eastern Ecuador.

    In its retaliatory lawsuit, Chevron claims that “this judgment is the product of fraud.” And it is seeking the IP addresses of individuals involved in the suit over a nine-year period.

    In particular, the subpoena calls for the production of all documents related to “the identity of the users of the email addresses, including ‘all names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, billing information, date of account creation, account information and all other identifying information.

  3. “torture” = “enhanced interrogation”
    “whistleblower” = “traitor”
    “Newspeak” = “English”

  4. Court: Chevron Can Seize Americans’ Email Data
    In an almost unprecedented decision, a federal judge has allowed Chevron to subpoena Americans’ private email data—and said the First Amendment doesn’t apply.
    —By Dana Liebelson
    | Mon Jul. 22, 2013
    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/07/chevron-ecuador-american-email-legal-activists-journalists

    Excerpt:
    Thanks to disclosures made by Edward Snowden, Americans have learned that their email records are not necessarily safe from the National Security Agency—but a new ruling shows that they’re not safe from big oil companies, either.

    Last month, a federal court granted Chevron access to nine years of email metadata—which includes names, time stamps, and detailed location data and login info, but not content—belonging to activists, lawyers, and journalists who criticized the company for drilling in Ecuador and leaving behind a trail of toxic sludge and leaky pipelines. Since 1993, when the litigation began, Chevron has lost multiple appeals and has been ordered to pay plaintiffs from native communities about $19 billion to cover the cost of environmental damage. Chevron alleges that it is the victim of a mass extortion conspiracy, which is why the company is asking Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, which owns Hotmail, to cough up the email data. When Lewis Kaplan, a federal judge in New York, granted the Microsoft subpoena last month, he ruled it didn’t violate the First Amendment because Americans weren’t among the people targeted.

    Now Mother Jones has learned that the targeted accounts do include Americans—a revelation that calls the validity of the subpoena into question. The First Amendment protects the right to speak anonymously, and in cases involving Americans, courts have often quashed subpoenas seeking to discover the identities and locations of anonymous internet users. Earlier this year, a different federal judge quashed Chevron’s attempts to seize documents from Amazon Watch, one of the company’s most vocal critics. That judge said the subpoena was a violation of the group’s First Amendment rights. In this case, though, that same protection has not been extended to activists, journalists, and lawyers’ email metadata.

  5. NSA Says It Can’t Search Its Own Emails
    by Justin Elliott
    ProPublica, July 23, 2013
    http://www.propublica.org/article/nsa-says-it-cant-search-own-emails/single#republish

    Excerpt:
    The NSA is a “supercomputing powerhouse” with machines so powerful their speed is measured in thousands of trillions of operations per second. The agency turns its giant machine brains to the task of sifting through unimaginably large troves of data its surveillance programs capture.

    But ask the NSA, as part of a freedom of information request, to do a seemingly simple search of its own employees’ email? The agency says it doesn’t have the technology.

    “There’s no central method to search an email at this time with the way our records are set up, unfortunately,” NSA Freedom of Information Act officer Cindy Blacker told me last week.

    The system is “a little antiquated and archaic,” she added.

    I filed a request last week for emails between NSA employees and employees of the National Geographic Channel over a specific time period. The TV station had aired a friendly documentary on the NSA and I want to better understand the agency’s public-relations efforts.

    A few days after filing the request, Blacker called, asking me to narrow my request since the FOIA office can search emails only “person by person,” rather than in bulk. The NSA has more than 30,000 employees.

    I reached out to the NSA press office seeking more information but got no response.

    It’s actually common for large corporations to do bulk searches of their employees email as part of internal investigations or legal discovery.

    “It’s just baffling,” says Mark Caramanica of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “This is an agency that’s charged with monitoring millions of communications globally and they can’t even track their own internal communications in response to a FOIA request.”

  6. Senator Slams Domestic Spying: ‘Secret Law Has No Place In America’
    By Hayes Brown
    Jul 23, 2013
    http://thinkprogress.org/security/2013/07/23/2342801/wyden-nsa-cap/

    Excerpt:
    WASHINGTON, DC — Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) warned an audience at the Center for American Progress on Tuesday of the threat that the post-9/11 surveillance state could not only become permanent, but extend far beyond even its current reach.

    Wyden was one of only ten senators to vote against the re-authorization of the PATRIOT Act in 2006. And in March of last year, he and Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) said Americans would be “stunned” to learn how the Executive Branch was interpreting certain provisions of the law to expand its surveillance power using programs such as the National Security Agency’s sweeping collection of metadata from cell phone and internet companies recently revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

    At CAP’s event on Tuesday, Wyden claimed — as he did during the debate over drones earlier this year — that there’s a large gap between what the American people believe a law to be and how the Executive Branch interprets it. When it comes to the siphoning up of data from American citizens, “the public was actually misled,” Wyden said, in statements from top intelligence officials including NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

    That secret interpretation of the law is upheld, Wyden said, through the use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court, which saw its powers expanded greatly after 9/11. While originally meant to rule on wiretap petitions against possible foreign agents under FISA, the Court has now become the source of broad rulings backing the gathering of information from broad swaths of Americans indefinitely. “There is no other court in America that has strayed so far from the adversarial process,” Wyden said, pointing out that since its rulings are secret, they’re almost impossible to appeal.

  7. If you don’t want to hear it…. You’re a traitor….. If you are honest he’s a classic example of a whistleblower ….

  8. http://www.wyden.senate.gov/news/blog/post/wyden-on-nsa-domestic-surveillance

    July 23, 2013

    Wyden on NSA Domestic Surveillance at Center for American Progress
    by Communications Office

    On July 23, 2013, Senator Wyden’s gave remarks on NSA domestic surveillance and the PATRIOT Act at the Center for American Progress. In his speech Wyden warns that “if we don’t seize this unique moment in history to reform our surveillance laws and practices, we will all live to regret it.”

    “So, my question to you is: by allowing the executive to secretly follow a secret interpretation of the law under the supervision of a secret, non-adversarial court and occasional secret congressional hearings, how close are we coming to James Madison’s “very definition of tyranny”? I believe we are allowing our country to drift a lot closer than we should, and if we don’t take this opportunity to change course now, we will all live to regret it.” -Ron Wyden

  9. If you go back thirty years you will see the installation of cameras all over the major cities in Europe. When France installed its new satellite phone system in the late 70’s and early 80’s they amalgamated several outdated system into one system that went directly from the phone to the satellite and to the phone, through a system that could be accessed by their security system. Great Britain, Germany, and other countries did the same. The US trailed behind in that technology but is now just like the European countries. This is not a new thing. The Constitution is also not a new thing. It is, however, highly interpretable depending on which way the wind blows. One way the wind has always blown is that if you are not a threat, not breaking the law, not conspiring to do harm to anyone and/or the country then what does it matter? Snowden violated the supreme basic tenant while working for the supreme caretaker of this country’s security. He screwed up due to the same megalomania that showed up in Zimmerman. He stepped out of his place as a citizen and smeared the hand that protected him. Unfortunately, this is a necessary part of our fabric, to bring to the attention of the citizens of the US, what is going on, just as Zimmerman brought it to the attention of the US how easy is is for someone as dangerous as he is to be able to carry a concealed weapon. The only difference is that there is nothing we can do about the secret service, they will simply take more care in not getting exposed and continue doing their job as they see it. With Zimmerman’s actions, taking a gun to a fist fight, well I suppose a lot more innocent people will have to die before LaPeter and the NRA and those that believe that guns come without social responsibility will be seen for who they are. This brings us to Carter’s comment and the NRA proves his point along with all of the other oligarchical aspects of our system of election. Politicians, judges, and other officials are elected through the media, the media costs money, the media allows lies and fabrication of the truth. There is virtually no limit on what can be spent to elect an individual. There is an industry designed to implement the connection of money to elections-Carl Rove for example. There is blatant proof Wisconson and the Koch Brothers, Diaz and his place on the supreme court of Mississippi, and practically every other important election in every state in this country including the federal government. We are not elected by the democratic system, unless you look at it this way. Americans are too complacent to oversee their system so as Aristotle said, I the citizen is too complacent to take care of their democratic system then they deserve to be ruled by tyrants. In this case it is oligarchs. The French population was bought off by cheap wine and tobacco in the last few decades of the monarchy. We are bought off by cheap flat screen tv’s and budweiser at less than a buck a bottle. One incredibly fantastic way to attack the increasing costs of health care would be to put a 10% ‘Crap Tax’ on alcohol, cigarettes, potato chips, twinkles, etc. Another would be to get rid of the parasitical health care insurance companies and move to a single payer two tier system. But the cheap booze and potato chips keeps the individual complacent and the health insurance companies are some of the oligarchs that run this country. So, what is more important, someone listening in on an innocent conversation or voting for someone because they smothered the media with lies and persuasion and you are too laid back sucking on a cheap beer watching a movie on a cheap tv made in China instead of here in the USA.

  10. IMO, I am not sure he can be defined as a hero. What did he hope to accomplish? Jail time for the rest of his life? Overthrowing our oligarchial government? Hoping other federal employees/contractor do the same? If he was aware of the consequences, then why not come home and ‘face the music.’ Or is there more to the story?

  11. TPM LiveWire
    Poll: Americans Turn On Snowden, Majority Supports Criminal Charges
    Tom Kludt
    July 24, 2013
    http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entry/poll-americans-turn-on-snowden-majority-supports-criminal?ref=fpb

    Amid reports that Edward Snowden has been granted permission to enter Russia, a poll released Wednesday found that American attitudes toward the National Security Agency leaker have shifted markedly in the last month.

    The latest ABC News/Washington Post found that 53 percent of Americans are in favor of criminal charges being brought against Snowden, a jump from a poll in June that found a plurality of 48 percent opposed to charging the 30-year-old former government contractor with a crime.

    Moreover, the latest ABC/WaPo survey found that 57 percent of Americans believe it’s more important for the government to investigate potential terrorist threats than for it to protect privacy rights. Nearly half of Americans — 49 percent — said that Snowden’s disclosures of top secret surveillance programs harmed national security either a “great deal” or “somewhat.”

    A poll earlier this month from Quinnipiac University found that a wide majority of Americans considered Snowden a whistelblower and not a traitor. Reports out of Russia on Tuesday indicated that Snowden has been given documents to leave the Moscow airport, where he’s been staying for the last month.

  12. Kafka’s America: Secret Courts, Secret Laws, and Total Surveillance

    By John W. Whitehead
    July 22, 2013

    https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/kafkas_america_secret_courts_secret_laws_and_total_surveillance

    In a bizarre and ludicrous attempt at “transparency,” the Obama administration has announced that it asked a secret court to approve a secret order to allow the government to keep spying on millions of Americans, and the secret court has granted its request.

    Late on Friday, July 19, 2013, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC)—a secret court which operates out of an undisclosed federal building in Washington, DC—quietly renewed an order from the National Security Agency to have Verizon Communications hand over hundreds of millions of Americans’ telephone records to government officials. In so doing, the government has doubled down on the numerous spying programs currently aimed at the American people, some of which were exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, who temporarily pulled back the veil on the government’s gigantic spying apparatus.

    The runaround and circular logic of the courts, Congress, the intelligence agencies, and the White House calls to mind Franz Kafka’s various depictions of bureaucracy gone mad, which have colored our civilization’s understanding of the shortcomings of a government which is only accountable to itself. As Bertolt Brecht wrote, “Kafka described with wonderful imaginative power the future concentration camps, the future instability of the law, the future absolutism of the state Apparat.”

    One of Kafka’s most famous novels, The Trial, tells the story of Josef K., an ordinary middle manager who one morning awakes to find himself accused of a terrible crime – a crime which is too awful for his accusers to speak of. While at times absurdly funny, The Trial is ultimately a frightening depiction of what it means to live under a regime which operates on a circular logic that prevents outsiders, including those subject to its rule, from understanding – let alone challenging – the rules of the game, and who is making them.

    Legal scholar Daniel J. Solove has expounded upon this metaphor, pointing out that:

    “The problems captured by the Kafka metaphor… are problems of information processing–the storage, use, or analysis of data–rather than information collection. They affect the power relationships between people and the institutions of the modern state. They not only frustrate the individual by creating a sense of helplessness and powerlessness, but they also affect social structure by altering the kind of relationships people have with the institutions that make important decisions about their lives.”

    Josef K’s plight, one of bureaucratic lunacy and an inability to discover the identity of his accusers, is increasingly an American reality. We now live in a society in which a person can be accused of any number of crimes without knowing what exactly he has done. He might be apprehended in the middle of the night by a roving band of SWAT police. He might find himself on a no-fly list, unable to travel for reasons undisclosed. He might have his phones or internet tapped based upon a secret order handed down by a secret court, with no recourse to discover why he was targeted. Indeed, this is Kafka’s nightmare, and it is slowly becoming America’s reality.

  13. On day one, it was that schmuck on CNN named Jeffrey Toobin who called Snowden a Clown and a Traitor. Jeffrey Toobin purportedly has a law degree and purportedly worked as some assistant U.S. atty. Whistleblowers inside CNN, where he is mocked incessantly, say that he never tried a jury trial in his life. CNN puts this schmuck on the air each night and day to tell the viewer the “ins” and “outs” of the legal system.

    CNN and Jeffrey never mention the fact that the government has a Sealed Affidavit attached to its Complaint filed in federal court against Snowden. The government wont tell us the name of the “enemy” to which Snowden revealed “secrets”. He did reveal that the NSA was spying on our ally Germany. The Germans did not know that we considered them enemies. Now they do.

    It is time for Americans to demand the details in the Sealed Affidavit attached to the Complaint in the criminal case against Snowden which is sitting on a shelf in a federal district court in Virginia. So, readers, write your President and demand that he Show Us Your Papers! No, not the birthin papers. The papers which allege that Snowden is a traitor and which details who our enemies are. Inquiring Germans want to know.

  14. Is there anyone on the Blog old enough to recall the Saturday Night Live skits when they ridiculed Jeffrey Leonard? JEFFREY! That is what the dogpac barks when Toobin comes on television here at the marina on the CNN so called news. Who is the Clown? Its Jeffrey.

  15. Somewhere recently I read that the Russians have been amazed over time at how much more powerful and effective US media along with the television networks and Hollywood are in controlling American social behavior, not to mention thought than any methods the Russians have ever come up with. I can’t find the source for that so the statement has to stand on its own, but given the fact that so many in this country .believe, act and vote with amazing consistency against their own self interests, it struck me as perfectly plausible. Indeed, the fact that I still catch myself imagining that voting has any effect is perhaps another such supporting argument.

    That said, I suspect the administration, and thus the obsequious – can’t lick it fast enough – media, are overplaying their hand at this point. People are catching on even if for most what little security they have left still outweighs taking action by quite a bit.

  16. He is indeed a Whisteblower.

    The US government is run by tyrants, thieves and traitors.

    Revolution is the only answer that can insure their defeat and throw out the corruption.

  17. Yeah, CNN and Jeffrey can not wait until Eric Stock Holder files a criminal complaint against Zimmerman. Then they can gin up the mobs and then the right wing will react with the Lee Atwater Southern Strategy and the RepubliCons will put up some new Ronnie Raygun type and sweep into the White House because the liberals will be fed up with the Democrats over FISA and other transgressions and CNN, FOX and NBC will be happy as Clowns. Its all fixed. The networks have bringing you this Zimmerman folly 24/7 to stir up the redneck backlash. Google: Lee Atwater and The Southern Strategy for the Grand Ol Gophers.

  18. CNN truly has become a disgrace.
    It used to be a fairly reputable network that had achieved better balance than FOX. Now it is merely another propaganda network. I will no longer watch it and encourage many others to turn the channel.

    What is rather sad is the fact that we must now turn to foreign news sources for proper coverage of US affairs.

    I suggest watching and subscribing to this channel for example.

  19. Also this should be a front page story here in my honest opinion.

    Further evidence that the people of this country must truly put ‘Revolution’ on the table as a considered action.

    http://www.examiner.com/article/us-military-blocks-troops-from-entire-guardian-website

    US military blocks troops from entire Guardian website

    The US military and the Pentagon told the Guardian that it has completely blocked troops abroad from accessing the Guardian’s website after Edward Snowden revealed some of the truth about widespread US surveillance, according to a Guardian report Monday.

  20. I guess it depends on who your blowing the whistle on. This administration is nothing but a bunch of crooks

  21. We have a wonderful, yet in some ways flawed Constitution. Many other countries have had similar documents. The problem though is that documents alone do not ensure freedom. In any society of humans there are those who glorify power and will do anything to achieve it. The Constitution is only as good as the people who are sworn to uphold it. We have seen in this country a corporate oligarchy that usurps unto itself more and more power by buying our politicians and our political system. The power of our Constitution to protect us has been diminished and those who are to uphold it are in fact aiding in this decline. Our “Press” which was given freedom in our Constitution has lost that freedom through corporate control and serves more as a source of corporate propaganda. Our public school system which was relied on to teach people their rights and duties as citizens, has been under attack for many years by corporate interests, dumbing down our people. In this context for his effort I must commend Edward Snowden as not only a whistle-blower, but also for having performed a heroic feat. I wish him well.

  22. ap,

    Thank God … you’re back. I was deeply worried … and am now going to pour myself an unscheduled can of coke as I quietly celebrate!

  23. Bruce I would not argue against that.

    However in the interest of fairness, I would suggest the prior few administrations are “nothing but a bunch of crooks”
    The primary politicians in both parties are hypocrites, liars and thieves. I trust none of them.

    For too long the people of this nation have supported and backed the politicians in their party because, well, ” the other party are evil bad guys etc etc”. It is foolish behavior.

    Partisan politics have allowed for nefarious interests to seize control of both major parties under the guise of fighting the ‘big bad other party’.

    I am a Liberal who finds most of the politicians in the democratic party to be absolutely repulsive. I refuse to engage any longer in the game of hypocrisy and deception. People like Obama or Feinstein to be vile, evil hypocrites and crooks who lie and manipulate through bogus partisan or political issues to keep us from throwing them out collectively. They use party politics to shield themselves from being revealed as the vermin they are.

    If there were true justice, both would be standing trial for treason against the Constitution. Along with Bush, Cheney, Graham and so on and so forth.

    How can we ever hope to clean out the corruption from within the system if we all refuse to hold our own parties accountable for their hypocrisy and crimes? As soon as any of them begin to feel heat from their own party they rally the troops behind them with cries of “abortion, gays, religion, guns”.

    We have become an easily fooled nation of emotionally charged ‘sheep’.

    For example, above I noted as how as a Democrat I find Feinstein to be a repulsive vile criminal. Now I am quite sure until that point that I had the agreement of many people reading this. However as soon as I said that I can assure you that somewhere one reader immediately thought” NO she is a good person fighting to good fight!”.

    No she is a crook who has no respect for the Bill of Rights and only seeks to secure and guard her power and money.

    We witness those who shout and carry the Civil Rights flag while ignoring the chains of slavery being slipped around all of our necks.

    When we look within at our own party, we choose to see only what we wish to see, not what is reality.

    We go to the polls and pull levers for Democrat or Republican and walk away feeling good that we are fighting the power when in fact we are only enabling it further.

    New York City is a microcosm of our future. It is not very pretty. It is a fascist corporate led totalitarian government of tyranny. It is just getting started too.

    Bloomberg has been one of the most dangerous and horrible politicians to ever emerge within this nation. He is however, the template of all future politicians. That is truly frightening.

    I no longer love or respect what this nation has become. I fear my own country.

  24. Correct Mike S.

    If you wish to see a further example of what you express as well as what I have stated, I would suggest to any Democrat here to look deeply into the likes of Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

    A truly repulsive piece of corporate fascist hiding under the guise of Democrat and Women and Gay rights. She is a tyrannical crook. Pure and simple. She will use partisan issues to rally the troops behind her while she continues to erode our rights to make her corporate backers wealthier. She is the definition of corruption. She is a Democratic version of ALEC.

  25. There is a lot of money involved in the private contractors involved in the pervasive spying on Americans. Follow the money to the source and keep blowing the whistle on who is profiting and why private corporations are allowed access to this information and why spying on my phone calls helps keep America safe? We need to be kept safe from ourselves. Where is Pogo when you need him?

  26. rafflaw 1, July 24, 2013 at 11:14 am

    There is a lot of money involved in the private contractors involved in the pervasive spying on Americans. Follow the money…
    ==========================
    The NSA is not private, it is military.

    They hire contractors as a cover up or diversion so the public does not know that the military is spying on them.

    Sometimes it is too hard to follow the money, but it is much easier to follow the immunity.

  27. http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/daniel-ellsberg-nsa-leaker-snowden-made-the-right-call/2013/07/07/0b46d96c-e5b7-11e2-aef3-339619eab080_story.html

    Snowden made the right call when he fled the U.S.
    By Daniel Ellsberg,

    Daniel Ellsberg is the author of “Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.” He was charged in 1971 under the Espionage Act as well as for theft and conspiracy for copying the Pentagon Papers. The trial was dismissed in 1973 after evidence of government misconduct, including illegal wiretapping, was introduced in court.

  28. There will never be an end to the disproportionate influence a corporation has in government. There are examples of this influence contained, however. The problem is the collective ego of the American people. They will not look to other countries that have developed election processes that limit or disallow private or corporate funding of elections. In Canada and Great Britain, two countries that in no way match the economic might of the United States, there is to be found truer democracies. The elections are funded primarily through government dollars decided by the number of votes the candidate received in his or her last election, or how popular they are. With the government limiting the political campaigning, the exposure tends to be focused on the issues and not the bs one sees in the United States’ elections. There is not enough money to spread the lies that the hundreds of millions of dollars spent in the U S media spread. Canadians and Brits are not inundated by smear campaigns. Politicians are not held hostage by oligarchical groups such as the NRA, big oil, corporations that use the U S to fund global enterprises that do not benefit the citizens that pay for them. Our system, theoretically, is among the best in the world, however, it is broken, hopefully not beyond repair. When one sees judgeships, governorships, and other political seats purchased by two brothers-Koch-or other select and self important groups, on this scale, then it is time to revisit how we elect our representatives, or perhaps more correctly who elects their representatives.

  29. “Sometimes it is too hard to follow the money, but it is much easier to follow the immunity.”

    They usually go hand in hand, Dredd.

  30. “ap,
    Thank God … you’re back. I was deeply worried … and am now going to pour myself an unscheduled can of coke as I quietly celebrate!”

    Blouise, Please, drink in moderation.

    Anyway it is good to see your comments again AP.

  31. “I would suggest to any Democrat here to look deeply into the likes of Debbie Wasserman Schultz.”

    G. Mason,

    I couldn’t agree with you more about Debbie, she is a nasty piece of work. I’m a Floridian from south Florida by the way so we get more news of her down there.

  32. Mike S.,

    One can a week is the discipline but my concern for ap’s continued good health is such that once reassured, I turn to a poor health celebration.

    F*cked up reasoning? Certainly.

  33. “They came for the Communists, and I didn’t object – For I wasn’t a Communist;
    They came for the Socialists, and I didn’t object – For I wasn’t a Socialist;
    They came for the labor leaders, and I didn’t object – For I wasn’t a labor leader;
    They came for the Jews, and I didn’t object – For I wasn’t a Jew;
    Then they came for me – And there was no one left to object.”
    [Martin Niemoller, German Protestant Pastor, 1892-1984]

    ——-

    These spyings are not new…and beyond the spying, how many communications get deliberately messed with? We are going collectively off grid as land lines are replaced by Corporately owned wireless and satellite servers…. the repercussions are chilling if we are governed by the sorts who are easily bought and/or haven’t the tater tots to stand up to big greedies.

  34. I am conflicted about Snowden. Here is a guy who reportedly deliberately sought out a defense contractor to do what he did. So while he might perform some “whistleblowing” that can be appreciated, I think the intended criminality (mens rea) makes him less of a whistleblower and more of a criminal.

    I think some of civil libertarians on both sides of the political aisle are blinded by their own grandiose idealism. And while I do think that government secrecy and surveillance has run amok, that doesn’t mean any old joe blow Edward Snowden has the right to put people in danger by stealing massive amounts of top secret information and then making freely available for the world to see.

  35. Congress members (not to include the “intelligence” committee) have said they did not know what the NSA was doing. Their briefing consisted of 8 lines “explaining” the program. IMO, these members of Congress were remiss in their duty to our Constitution and our nation, nevertheless they did not know this information until Snowden leaked it.

    Further, each court case brought against the administration to release the information was blocked. So the American public had little way of knowing this information when the ways to know about it were shut down by the executive.

    We also see clearly that this is an administration who is going after people who expose wrongdoing and even people who report about it. In this climate I can see no other accurate description of Snowden than, whistleblower.

    Below are two things I do not believe would have been possible without Snowden’s release of information, that we the people have ever right to know:

    “Debate was due to begin on Wednesday afternoon on an amendment tabled by congressman Justin Amash, a two-term libertarian Republican from Michigan, that would prevent the NSA from collecting bulk phone records on millions of Americans.

    The vote on the amendment provides the first test of congressional opinion about the widespread NSA surveillance revealed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden and reported in the Guardian.

    “This is the moment,” said Michelle Richardson, a surveillance lobbyist for the ACLU.

    Even if Amash’s push to limit the NSA program fails, civil libertarian groups are preparing for a long battle, fueled by the belief that public opinion is finally tipping their way. On Thursday, a court in New York was due to hear preliminary legal arguments on a case brought by the ACLU that challenges the constitutionality of the NSA’s mass collection of phone records.

    It is the first court challenge since the Snowden revelations, and the ACLU believes it has a strong case because of the publication by the Guardian of a secret court order authorising the bulk collection of Verizon records, and because it is a Verizon customer.” (guardian)

  36. I have to note that it is not only the government which is pushing for propoganda in our media. One of the most obnoxious things I have seen is the push to purge the term illegals or illegal immigrants from the media. The AP finally gave in to the censors of big corporations, and decided that undocumented is the term to be used, despite the FACT that 40% of illegals entered the US legally, and have more documdents than most Americans. I guess that they like New Speak better than the truth.

    The media also refuses to even acknowledge the existence of the Jordan Commission which put forward a real bipartisan program, and Congress is now trying to re-invent the wheel. They also demonize any who are opposed to enforcement as bigots and rightwingers. I doubt that such folks would call Rep. Jordan anything other than a liberal, yet they have no problem surpressing any mention of her last great work for the USA.

  37. ARE,

    The Jordan Commission hasn’t been around for sixteen years. Barbara Jordan died in 1996. But she was on the right track as far as immigration reform goes and I agree that news organizations trying to purge the terms “illegals” and “illegal immigrants” is little more than corporate sponsored PC nonsense. A=A. An immigrant who is here without documentation and without following the process is here illegally and ergo an illegal immigrant. Without question, immigration needs reform. It’s a mess. But covering the truth with euphemistic language helps no one but those interested in maintaining a cheap labor force based on illegal immigrants. Such a practice is not only inherently unfair, it damages the economy by stifling wages in the larger economy. Once again, greed proves to be shortsighted and stupid. The Jordan Commission proposals need to be revisited.

  38. Jordans illness and death was a real tragedy of Texas and the USA. She was remarkable that a gay, black woman could get the respect and admiration of all parties in the Texas legislature to such an extent that they would name her Governor for a short time when the Governor was out of state. It shows that there is still hope for Texas politics and politicians, though the latest crop of GOPers does not give one any hope for that now.

  39. @MikeS : “The Constitution is only as good as the people who are sworn to uphold it….”
    —-
    It occurred when read this comment that there are 2 types of “people, as good as… ”
    Those who consciously and intentionally use their positions of power for some ill and/or corrupting purpose. Getting something for themselves, their company, getting a corporate position later.. Small view vs some larger commitment to the welfare of the country. Standard stuff.

    And then the other deeper and more pernicious meaning:
    That we truly have men and women in power who simply have no internal stuff. There is no substantial character in our body politic. Daily in this blog examples are reported illustrating not just the venality of those in power, but more critically, the simple inability to know how to do or be anything better.

    We are governed by people who… are not good.

    Not necessarily in a moral way. They are not “bad people”. You’d have a beer with them. But they are not good for the country. They do not seem to understand the larger points of principle beyond the small confines and definitions of party dogmas.

    Your right Mike… dead on. It is a cancer that has been in the body for a v.long time. One could make a case starting, I suppose, from basically any point in our history. But I don’t think it is possible to deny that the trajectory of our nation, and its relationship to the underlying values as embodied in our founding documents, has taken a discernible shift onto a different trajectory since 9/11.

    Something changed then. The powerful used it as an opportunity to instantiate policies and beliefs that had been resisted, like some viral cancer, by the body politic to that point. (Thinking of Naomi Klien’s Shock Doctrine).
    A common reference point is the insidious Patriot Act. I would add that we allowed other pathogens in at that time as well, including our double-think dealing in such matters as torture, homeland, hate us for our freedoms, “its our due”, citizen, privacy, off budget wars, and etc.
    Well known stories, at least by this crowd.
    All imposed on the nation by these 2 types of “not good” people. The unwitting and dull. The venal and focused. And few in opposition, like maybe Bernie Sanders, who try to counter the forces….with only limited or symbolic success.

    To me the question that is raised by the overwhelming stories and points in this blog and other places is whether the trend can actually, not just theoretically, be reversed? And if it can, how could it? It is going to take some uncharacteristic truth telling. Not something we are known for – as is the point of the original post.
    And we are dealing with the very roots of power and the powerful. And they are not much inclined to let it go. When the issues like Snowden, Privacy, Laws, Police power and like start getting exposure the push back is swift, monolithic, and shrill. And it induces fear into the body politic. (Ted Cruz comes to mind.)

    Fearful then. Instilling Fear into the daily dealings of our public square. It is this fearfulness that I take to be the essential shift in our public consciousness in the 9/11 era. And we have xenophobic responses to it. THEY, are out to get us. And THEY must be destroyed. Fear is the hallmark of these days. (It is all reminiscent of “The Grand Inquisitor”)

    And this, I take to be the essence then, of “not good men/women” in positions of power. They are too often fearful and reacting in fearful ways – which sometimes become laws and policy, or in the other case are the ones who are inculcating the fear.

    “The Constitution is only as good as the people who are sworn to uphold it….”

    We are not in good hands.

    So it seems to me.

    Feeling a bit dark today I suppose in light of this well articulated post, and other more focused examples like the Hastings case.

  40. Gene H. 1, July 24, 2013 at 11:31 am

    “Sometimes it is too hard to follow the money, but it is much easier to follow the immunity.”

    They usually go hand in hand, Dredd.
    =============================
    Indeed.

    But try following the Dick Cheney bank accounts through the chasms and mazes within the secret banking systems around the world.

    Then notice that he brags about torture and other war crimes in public utterly unfettered by any fear of accountability.

    Anyone can follow the immunity, but it takes magic to follow the real money trail of the epigovernment.

    That is why they want us to follow the money.

    When all we have to do is observe the obvious immunity.

    They point is that we can’t touch them or their money.

    We can still blow the whistle from time to tiem, but it doesn’t make music anymore like it once did.

  41. @Ken

    When one sees judgeships, governorships, and other political seats purchased by two brothers-Koch-or other select and self important groups, on this scale, then it is time to revisit how we elect our representatives, or perhaps more correctly who elects their representatives.

    Your point received detailed treatment by Dan Carlin. Here are some links to his work. He is a good thinker on these subjects, and has a distinctly different angle on these conversations ….

    In short he makes the point about our elections that we , the citizenry, do not get to actually vote for anyone that the parties, and the powerful, have not already “allowed” to be voted upon.
    So the sham is that while we have every appearance of free elections and democracy, in practical fact we are not actually exposed to ideas or people who do not essentially meet with the upper level approval.

    I think most on this board will appreciate this fellow.
    http://www.dancarlin.com//disp.php/csarchive

    This one is particularly good in flipping our arrogance, in the form of David Brooks in this instance, on its head and doing some serious reflection.
    http://www.dancarlin.com//disp.php/csarchive/Show-257—Monopolizing-the-Democracy/Egypt-Coup-David%20Brooks

    Michael

  42. typo: “They point is that we can’t touch them or their money.”

    should be” “The point is that we can’t touch them or their money.”

  43. Dredd,

    Not magic. Patience, perseverance and an attention to detail. Locard’s Principle still applies.

  44. @Elaine M.

    Court: Chevron Can Seize Americans’ Email Data
    In an almost unprecedented decision, a federal judge has allowed Chevron to subpoena Americans’ private email data—and said the First Amendment doesn’t apply.

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/07/chevron-ecuador-american-email-legal-activists-journalists

    First: Amazing. Thanks? for the post.
    The rot is systemic, and it is most epidemic in the places that were meant to be the keepers and holders of the core principles.
    When such violations of core principles are decreed to not be, there really is no hope.
    —–
    In stories like this I sometimes will try and understand the underlying rational for the decision. Not to agree w it but to understand the thinking that it is based upon. I do this under the notion that there must be some other unifying principle in play that I don’t see, and certainly I am not utilizing in my assessments.

    I wonder if anyone knows or can articulate what that might be in this case. Something beyond the simple accusations that it is all corrupt. Yes. Of course. But what is the express justification/thinking for this decision.

    In this, and in all such cases, many of which show up as blog posts by JT here, we are told What happened, but we don’t often get to see Why it happened. And that leaves us with the sense of being informed without actually being informed.

    ——
    Does anyone know of a good site to find out the details of cases like this.
    I tried to find the actual court case, dockets and whatever info/source material might be available not only on this case but in others.
    I notice that most often while reporting on these cases the reporters don’t always provide court and docket references.

    I tried Findlaw.com. Searching for Chevron. Or Chevron Microsoft returned no results.

    I will try and send emails to the reporters. Perhaps someone here knows the court and case nbr?

  45. Gene H. 1, July 24, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    Dredd,

    Not magic. Patience, perseverance and an attention to detail. Locard’s Principle still applies.
    ======================
    Then please give me some examples of Cheney bank accounts through following the money.

    I have already given you examples of his immunity.

  46. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-23430126

    White House attacks plans to curb NSA data collection

    The White House is urging Congress to reject an attempt to stop the National Security Agency (NSA) collecting Americans’ phone records.

    With a key vote coming up, President Barack Obama’s spokesman said curbs on the NSA would “hastily dismantle” a vital counter-terrorism tool.

  47. “A bipartisan amendment to the defense authorization bill to curtail the NSA’s surveillance power has been approved for a vote, possible as soon as Wednesday. The amendment, introduced by Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), co-sponsored by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and over 30 other bipartisan members, would substantially curtail the NSA’s domestic spying.

    The amendment [pdf] basically defunds the NSA’s dragnet collection of every bit of metadata on all phone records as well as other bulk records that have not yet been revealed. The amendment still would allow the NSA to collect information under the original intent—and understanding—of the law, that is information actually related to actual investigations.

    The NSA and its supporters are, of course, fighting back. They’ve introduced a second amendment intended to peel support away from the Amash amendment. What this second amendment, from Rep. Richard Nugent (R-FL), does is to pretend that it will withhold funding for bulk collection, but it actually just reiterates what’s already in the law, and it just reiterates the status quo.” Daily Kos

  48. Latest from the Guardian, live blog: ”

    Watching this rapid-fire debate, it’s almost impossible to determine the party of any given speaker. Roughly, it’s a liberal Democrat and far-right conservative coalition vocally in favor. But exceptions abound, and a number of far-right stars, like Michele Bachmann, oppose it.

    The supporters of the amendment appeal to the program’s unconstitutionality. Opponents argue that (a) metadata collection isn’t intrusive at all and (b) we’re at war, with terrorists.”

  49. John
    1, July 24, 2013 at 1:22 pm
    I am conflicted about Snowden. Here is a guy who reportedly deliberately sought out a defense contractor to do what he did. So while he might perform some “whistleblowing” that can be appreciated, I think the intended criminality (mens rea) makes him less of a whistleblower and more of a criminal.

    I think some of civil libertarians on both sides of the political aisle are blinded by their own grandiose idealism.
    ———————-
    What grandiose idealism? Snowden wasn’t the law breaker….and the facts ‘ve heard are directly oppositional to ” stealing massive amounts of top secret information and then making freely available for the world to see.”

  50. Gene H. 1, July 24, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    Halliburton.

    For details, I’d need subpoena power (and you know this).
    =========================
    Indeed.

    So, the case is made.

    Following the immunity is an easier way to show a linkage to the realm of “too big to jail” … i.e. immunity from prosecution.

    So don’t waste your time trying to get a subpoena to look at bank records so as to “follow the money.”

    Just ask who has immunity from prosecution (whether they should have such immunity or not under our old laws) and you know who is epigovernment (epi (above) + government) = epigovernment).

    PS: If I am getting paid by the hour I would not mind the “follow the money” thingy, but contract work is my Forte’ …

  51. The point is, Dredd, is that the money trail is discoverable without supernatural methods, but it does take time, manpower and legal tools.

  52. “The House Dem leadership channels Dick Cheney in urging vote against Amash/Coneyrs bill to defund NSA bulk spying” read the rest at Glenn’s twitter feed

  53. The Amash-Conyers amendment is narrowly defeated, 205-217.

    6.53pm ET

    Each party is highly split on the vote.

    guardian

  54. Nancy Pelosi is a No on @repjustinamash amendment.
    6:51 PM – 24 Jul 2013

    The Amash-Conyers amendment is narrowly defeated, 205-217.

  55. RT if you agree- We can protect Americans without shredding our civil liberties. Rein in the NSA today. pic.twitter.com/Wp8g4HlTJ6

  56. Only a 12-vote margin to reject a bill to DE-FUND a major NSA program. Amazing coalition of left-wing and right-wing civil libertarians (glenn)

    I am encouraged that it was this close of a vote.

  57. “Rep Rush Holt (D-NJ) introduces “Surveillance State Repeal Act” (glenn)

    I don’t believe any of this would be happening if Snowden had not released the docs/information.

  58. “Rep Rush Holt (D-NJ) introduces “Surveillance State Repeal Act” (glenn)

    I don’t believe any of this would be happening if Snowden had not released the docs/information.

    Bingo! It is absolutely certain it would not be.

    Snowden is certifiably a whistle blower! And apparently some have heard the whistle blow.

    This is certainly better than nothing. Now to get something.

    Only a 12-vote margin to reject a bill to DE-FUND a major NSA program. Amazing coalition of left-wing and right-wing civil libertarians (glenn)

    Jill? What are the next steps? Does this end the effort?

  59. Michael,

    Holt’s bill would repeal the “Patriot Act”. That would get to the heart of many abuses.

    I am encouraged by the coalition which is forming between right and left wing civil libertarians, both in Congress and in our population at large. It shows more and more people understand what it means to lose the rule of law. People are speaking out and more information is still going to come out.

    That said, we are up against it here. There is another coalition running things and their power is great. They have private armies, a spying apparatus the world has never seen and gobs of money and connections. I never underestimate them.

    As powerful as they are, they must still be opposed, both by Congress members and other citizens. We do have a clear vision of who in Congress is part of the surveillance state because of this vote. Those people should lose all support and I’m hoping voters will not give them time, money or their voice. This is also true of Obama. Time to be honest, clear headed and strong as citizens. If a person doesn’t support the rule of law, they should not get our support-period.

    That’s my opinion, what is yours?

  60. So, voters should withdraw support from any Democrat or Republican who voted against the amendment. We have their names and it’s time to take action. They showed us who they are, literally and figuratively, now let us show them who we are!

  61. “David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress — which helped organize a coalition of dozens of groups to take to activism in support of the Amash anti-surveillance amendment this week — issued this statement upon today’s 205-217 vote on that amendment.

    “While ultimately not successful, this vote showed that more than 200 members of Congress — including the author of the Patriot Act — oppose these programs. These programs barely survived after a full court lobbying campaign by the White House, the Intelligence community, and the NSA proper.

    And it couldn’t be more clear why these institutions acted so desperately: If Amash supporters had shifted but seven votes, we’d have won the day.

    “Today’s vote shows that the tide is turning, that the American people, when they are aware of these programs, overwhelmingly reject them, and the expiration date on these programs is coming due.” (guardian)

  62. rafflaw, maybe yes, maybe not. Here’s an interesting take on things:

    David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress — which helped organize a coalition of dozens of groups to take to activism in support of the Amash anti-surveillance amendment this week — issued this statement upon today’s 205-217 vote on that amendment.

    “While ultimately not successful, this vote showed that more than 200 members of Congress — including the author of the Patriot Act — oppose these programs. These programs barely survived after a full court lobbying campaign by the White House, the Intelligence community, and the NSA proper.

    And it couldn’t be more clear why these institutions acted so desperately: If Amash supporters had shifted but seven votes, we’d have won the day.

    Today’s vote shows that the tide is turning, that the American people, when they are aware of these programs, overwhelmingly reject them, and the expiration date on these programs is coming due.”

    (guardian)

  63. David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress — which helped organize a coalition of dozens of groups to take to activism in support of the Amash anti-surveillance amendment this week — issued this statement upon today’s 205-217 vote on that amendment.

    “While ultimately not successful, this vote showed that more than 200 members of Congress — including the author of the Patriot Act — oppose these programs. These programs barely survived after a full court lobbying campaign by the White House, the Intelligence community, and the NSA proper.

    And it couldn’t be more clear why these institutions acted so desperately: If Amash supporters had shifted but seven votes, we’d have won the day.

    Today’s vote shows that the tide is turning, that the American people, when they are aware of these programs, overwhelmingly reject them, and the expiration date on these programs is coming due.” (guardian)

    can’t get this to post under my own name (Jill)

  64. Bad news, but I too am impressed by the narrow margin.

    That’s narrow enough to make traditional citizen based efforts to pressure Congress possible, bypassing the lobby/graft mechanisms.

    The Patriot Act has got to go, the DHS needs to be dismantled, and the NSA put back on their leash.

  65. David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress — which helped organize a coalition of dozens of groups to take to activism in support of the Amash anti-surveillance amendment this week — issued this statement upon today’s 205-217 vote on that amendment.

    “While ultimately not successful, this vote showed that more than 200 members of Congress — including the author of the Patriot Act — oppose these programs. These programs barely survived after a full court lobbying campaign by the White House, the Intelligence community, and the NSA proper.

    And it couldn’t be more clear why these institutions acted so desperately: If Amash supporters had shifted but seven votes, we’d have won the day.

    Today’s vote shows that the tide is turning, that the American people, when they are aware of these programs, overwhelmingly reject them, and the expiration date on these programs is coming due.”
    (guardian)

  66. I actually think this is good news. I never would have believed in the closeness of the vote. With the media spewing propaganda and defaming Snowden, many more people and legislators get it than I ever would have suspected. This is a sign of opportunity that we all should take. Find out which way your Congreesman voted and call their office tommorrow. Praise them if they voted for it and berate them if their vote was negative. Let them hear from the people. Their aides will keep score.

  67. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/24/justin-amash-amendment_n_3647893.html

    Excerpt:

    Although Amash’s amendment was defeated, civil liberties advocates found something to cheer in the closeness of the vote. Just two years ago, the House voted by a comfortable 250-153 margin to reauthorize the Patriot Act, which the administration uses to justify its phone metadata collection. On Wednesday, by contrast, a swing of just seven votes would have put Amash’s amendment over the top.

    Back then, said Conyers, “we didn’t know about it.”

    Conyers also noted that this time, on the Democratic side, members up to and including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) pressured members to vote against the Amash amendment.

    In 2005, Pelosi was stridently opposed to the section of the Patriot Act under debate now. She called the provisions being reauthorized a “massive invasion of privacy.” But on Wednesday, she voted against reining in the Patriot Act.

    A sign of how dimly the Democratic leadership viewed Amash’s amendment could be seen in an email from the office of House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). The email described the sweeping NSA program approvingly as merely collecting phone records “that pertain to persons who may be in communication with terrorist groups but are not already subject to an investigation.”

    Conyers said the lobbying “was heavy. They were very worried about it.”

    But, he added, “the fact that they won this narrowly means they still are worried — because this thing isn’t over yet. This is just the beginning.”

    ——-

    (Debbie Wasserman Schultz also voted against the amendment.)

  68. Yeah.

    Let’s hear about how &*(%ing great Nancy “Impeachment Is Off The Table” Pelosi is now! I told you she was part of the problem and not the solution but noooooooooooo! (to be read in the voice of the late John Belushi)

  69. Well I guess Speaker Boehner, Pelosi’s replacement, and the republican house leadership are preferable to some here. By the way they all voted no. .Pelosi is wrong on this but good on a variety of other issues. Boehner and Cantor are on the wrong side of just about everything..

  70. Blouise and Mike S.,

    Thanks for your respective nods. Busy fightin’ the good fight, as it’s said. No significant health problems, yet, fortunately. I might trade them for this other mess that I’m in, but we don’t get to make those choices, do we?

    Blouise, I, too, had a Coke today — a little 8 oz bottle, give or take… (It was great!) A toast to you from afar. Thanks again.

    I hope that those of us who are older live long enough to see things come around in this country. As Gene, rafflaw and others have said, we need to get rid of the Patriot Act, DHS, and rein in the NSA, CIA, government contractors, and others.

    Michael Hayden’s gone, but his understanding of the 4th Amendment apparently remains intact.

    “Well, maybe they have a different Constitution over there at the NSA.” -Keith Olbermann

    Apparently, they do.

  71. Happened to see the following in the list of videos after the Hayden clip and was reminded of what brought me here, years ago:

    Warrantless, physical searches of homes (an attorney’s home, in the clip) are absolutely taking place.

  72. ap,

    I was devastated by the vote … perhaps I’ll feel differently tomorrow but right now I just can’t talk about it.

    Good health were code words for good fight … I worry about “disappeared”, if you know what I mean, and how would I ever know.

    The little bottles are cute … reminds me of the old days when I’d pull one out of a cooler full of melting ice.

    Onward!

  73. Earlier this evening I checked the Aircraft Owners and Pilot’s Associaition web site to see if there is any new development on the story I posted on June 9. The AOPA sent in an FOIA request to the CBP to find out exactly what their rules were, and why they were targeting individuals in places like Iowa City, Iowa who had never been out of the country. They got a reply. Actually it was a non-reply. The Border Patrol told the AOPA in so many words it was a law enforcement matter and that the FOIA request was being ignored. Sort of like, “We know what is best, so be good little sheeple and keep your nose out of it.” Weekly news video from the AOPA. It is the first segment, and includes an interview with their attorney.

    http://www.aopa.org/AOPA-Live/AOPA-Live-This-Week.aspx?watch=#ooid=UyM3I3ZDoUzQrkcgZQ5CRpk0gwPc_yvS

  74. “[H]e and Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) said Americans would be “stunned” to learn how the Executive Branch was interpreting certain provisions of the law to expand its surveillance power…”

    Nope. We’re to busy stuffing our faces with junk food, jerking off to internet porn (of one sort or another) and screaming at the top of our lungs about phony-bologna bullsh*t to notice the rise of fascism. We’re only stunned that Hollywood hasn’t offered us our own reality show, ’cause like, you know, we’re totally cuter than Honey Boo Boo. The republic will be giggling at its own fart bubbles as it slides into the sea.

  75. The AOPA link only takes you to the weekly news web page, not the video itself. As of right now it is about the second one down, dated July 11, 2013

  76. ap,

    I’m glad you’re back at it too.

    ___________

    Blouise,

    As Buddha said, “Strive on with diligence.”

  77. I want to echo the comments above to say welcome back AP!
    Dredd, I believe it is easier to follow the money when corporations are involved. You just have to have the will and the political stones to delve into the morass. Edward Snowden’s employment by a contractor is a beautiful example of where we should start looking.

  78. i see you all are talkers here, why would not some of you would get together and take legal action against people who you believe are destroying the constitution?

  79. observer,
    When one takes legal action, there are lengthy, complicated and expensive procedural steps. It is not like suing a neighbor over a property line or the guy who rear-ended you at a stop sign. The process you are asking about has to start with legal grounds for even filing, so it will not be thrown out as a frivilous lawsuit. That is what happened to people such at Orly Taitz. Persist in that long and hard enough, and one can end up on the wrong end of fines and even jail time for being a vexatious litigant.

    A court of competent jurisdiction must be found. You don’t just go straight to the Supreme Court as you suggested upthread. Once you find a court, and have time and money, you try to bring people to trial. Members of Congress, the White House and Judges all have immunity from lawsuits, from practically everything except murder. To file criminal charges require that one must find a willing prosecutor. That is a lot harder than one might think. Try getting past the Secret Service to serve the President a summons. Hope you like jail food if you try it, assuming they only arrest you instead of shooting you.

    To put it mildly, the folks we have been discussing have little to fear from either civil or criminal liablity. Obama only has a matter of months left on his last term in office. No one knows who or what will replace him.

    It is not a matter of not wanting to do what you suggest, it is a practical matter of not being able to implement it. Obama may have had the power to do it when he first came into office, but there was no way he could turn his predicessor and his advisers over to the Hague. Had he done so, he knew full well he could be setting a dangerous precident by himself and future Presidents at risk. Himself in particular, because justifiec or not, the Republicans would make sure he was tried for war crimes either before or after he leaves office.

  80. —- AYES 205 —

    Amash
    Amodei
    Bachus
    Barton
    Bass
    Becerra
    Bentivolio
    Bishop (UT)
    Black
    Blackburn
    Blumenauer
    Bonamici
    Brady (PA)
    Braley (IA)
    Bridenstine
    Broun (GA)
    Buchanan
    Burgess
    Capps
    Capuano
    Cárdenas
    Carson (IN)
    Cartwright
    Cassidy
    Chabot
    Chaffetz
    Chu
    Cicilline
    Clarke
    Clay
    Cleaver
    Clyburn
    Coffman
    Cohen
    Connolly
    Conyers
    Courtney
    Cramer
    Crowley
    Cummings
    Daines
    Davis, Danny
    Davis, Rodney
    DeFazio
    DeGette
    DeLauro
    DelBene
    DeSantis
    DesJarlais
    Deutch
    Dingell
    Doggett
    Doyle
    Duffy
    Duncan (SC)
    Duncan (TN)
    Edwards
    Ellison
    Eshoo
    Farenthold
    Farr
    Fattah
    Fincher
    Fitzpatrick
    Fleischmann
    Fleming
    Fudge
    Gabbard
    Garamendi
    Gardner
    Garrett
    Gibson
    Gohmert
    Gosar
    Gowdy
    Graves (GA)
    Grayson
    Green, Gene
    Griffin (AR)
    Griffith (VA)
    Grijalva
    Hahn
    Hall
    Harris
    Hastings (FL)
    Holt
    Honda
    Huelskamp
    Huffman
    Huizenga (MI)
    Hultgren
    Jeffries
    Jenkins
    Johnson (OH)
    Jones
    Jordan
    Keating
    Kildee
    Kingston
    Labrador
    LaMalfa
    Lamborn
    Larson (CT)
    Lee (CA)
    Lewis
    Loebsack
    Lofgren
    Lowenthal
    Lujan Grisham (NM)
    Luján, Ben Ray (NM)
    Lummis
    Lynch
    Maffei
    Maloney, Carolyn
    Marchant
    Massie
    Matsui
    McClintock
    McCollum
    McDermott
    McGovern
    McHenry
    McMorris Rodgers
    Meadows
    Mica
    Michaud
    Miller, Gary
    Miller, George
    Moore
    Moran
    Mullin
    Mulvaney
    Nadler
    Napolitano
    Neal
    Nolan
    Nugent
    O’Rourke
    Owens
    Pascrell
    Pastor (AZ)
    Pearce
    Perlmutter
    Perry
    Petri
    Pingree (ME)
    Pocan
    Poe (TX)
    Polis
    Posey
    Price (GA)
    Radel
    Rahall
    Rangel
    Ribble
    Rice (SC)
    Richmond
    Roe (TN)
    Rohrabacher
    Ross
    Rothfus
    Roybal-Allard
    Rush
    Salmon
    Sánchez, Linda T.
    Sanchez, Loretta
    Sanford
    Sarbanes
    Scalise
    Schiff
    Schrader
    Schweikert
    Scott (VA)
    Sensenbrenner
    Serrano
    Shea-Porter
    Sherman
    Smith (MO)
    Smith (NJ)
    Southerland
    Speier
    Stewart
    Stockman
    Swalwell (CA)
    Takano
    Thompson (MS)
    Thompson (PA)
    Tierney
    Tipton
    Tonko
    Tsongas
    Vela
    Velázquez
    Walz
    Waters
    Watt
    Waxman
    Weber (TX)
    Welch
    Williams
    Wilson (SC)
    Yarmuth
    Yoder
    Yoho
    Young (AK)

    —- NOES 217 —

    Aderholt
    Alexander
    Andrews
    Bachmann
    Barber
    Barr
    Barrow (GA)
    Benishek
    Bera (CA)
    Bilirakis
    Bishop (GA)
    Bishop (NY)
    Boehner
    Bonner
    Boustany
    Brady (TX)
    Brooks (AL)
    Brooks (IN)
    Brown (FL)
    Brownley (CA)
    Bucshon
    Butterfield
    Calvert
    Camp
    Cantor
    Capito
    Carney
    Carter
    Castor (FL)
    Castro (TX)
    Cole
    Collins (GA)
    Collins (NY)
    Conaway
    Cook
    Cooper
    Costa
    Cotton
    Crawford
    Crenshaw
    Cuellar
    Culberson
    Davis (CA)
    Delaney
    Denham
    Dent
    Diaz-Balart
    Duckworth
    Ellmers
    Engel
    Enyart
    Esty
    Flores
    Forbes
    Fortenberry
    Foster
    Foxx
    Frankel (FL)
    Franks (AZ)
    Frelinghuysen
    Gallego
    Garcia
    Gerlach
    Gibbs
    Gingrey (GA)
    Goodlatte
    Granger
    Graves (MO)
    Green, Al
    Grimm
    Guthrie
    Gutiérrez
    Hanabusa
    Hanna
    Harper
    Hartzler
    Hastings (WA)
    Heck (NV)
    Heck (WA)
    Hensarling
    Higgins
    Himes
    Hinojosa
    Holding
    Hoyer
    Hudson
    Hunter
    Hurt
    Israel
    Issa
    Jackson Lee
    Johnson (GA)
    Johnson, E. B.
    Johnson, Sam
    Joyce
    Kaptur
    Kelly (IL)
    Kelly (PA)
    Kennedy
    Kilmer
    Kind
    King (IA)
    King (NY)
    Kinzinger (IL)
    Kirkpatrick
    Kline
    Kuster
    Lance
    Langevin
    Lankford
    Larsen (WA)
    Latham
    Latta
    Levin
    Lipinski
    LoBiondo
    Long
    Lowey
    Lucas
    Luetkemeyer
    Maloney, Sean
    Marino
    Matheson
    McCarthy (CA)
    McCaul
    McIntyre
    McKeon
    McKinley
    McNerney
    Meehan
    Meeks
    Meng
    Messer
    Miller (FL)
    Miller (MI)
    Murphy (FL)
    Murphy (PA)
    Neugebauer
    Noem
    Nunes
    Nunnelee
    Olson
    Palazzo
    Paulsen
    Payne
    Pelosi
    Peters (CA)
    Peters (MI)
    Peterson
    Pittenger
    Pitts
    Pompeo
    Price (NC)
    Quigley
    Reed
    Reichert
    Renacci
    Rigell
    Roby
    Rogers (AL)
    Rogers (KY)
    Rogers (MI)
    Rooney
    Ros-Lehtinen
    Roskam
    Royce
    Ruiz
    Runyan
    Ruppersberger
    Ryan (OH)
    Ryan (WI)
    Schakowsky
    Schneider
    Schwartz
    Scott, Austin
    Scott, David
    Sessions
    Sewell (AL)
    Shimkus
    Shuster
    Simpson
    Sinema
    Sires
    Slaughter
    Smith (NE)
    Smith (TX)
    Smith (WA)
    Stivers
    Stutzman
    Terry
    Thompson (CA)
    Thornberry
    Tiberi
    Titus
    Turner
    Upton
    Valadao
    Van Hollen
    Vargas
    Veasey
    Visclosky
    Wagner
    Walberg
    Walden
    Walorski
    Wasserman Schultz
    Webster (FL)
    Wenstrup
    Westmoreland
    Whitfield
    Wilson (FL)
    Wittman
    Wolf
    Womack
    Woodall
    Young (FL)
    Young (IN)

    —- NOT VOTING 12 —

    Barletta
    Beatty
    Bustos
    Campbell
    Coble
    Herrera Beutler
    Horsford
    McCarthy (NY)
    Negrete McLeod
    Pallone
    Rokita
    Schock

  81. observer, I agree. A lawsuit is a great idea and there are already several in the works covering a broad coalition of right and left–example Unitarian church and a gun group.

    Lawsuits are expensive so perhaps you would be willing to donate to eff.org?

  82. Democratic establishment unmasked: prime defenders of NSA bulk spying

    by Glenn Greenwald, Thursday 25 July 2013

    NYT: “The Obama administration made common cause with the House Republican leadership”

    Excerpt:

    “…as soon as the House vote was over, Rep. Rush Holt, a long-time Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, introduced “The Surveillance State Repeal Act” that would repeal the legislative foundation for this massive spying, including the once-and-now-again-controversial Patriot Act, which the Obama administration in 2011 successfully had renewed without a single reform (after Democrat Harry Reid accused opponents of its reform-free renewal of endangering the Nation to The Terrorists).

    To say that there is a major sea change underway – not just in terms of surveillance policy but broader issues of secrecy, trust in national security institutions, and civil liberties – is to state the obvious. But perhaps the most significant and enduring change will be the erosion of the trite, tired prism of partisan simplicity through which American politics has been understood over the last decade. What one sees in this debate is not Democrat v. Republican or left v. right. One sees authoritarianism v. individualism, fealty to The National Security State v. a belief in the need to constrain and check it, insider Washington loyalty v. outsider independence.

    That’s why the only defenders of the NSA at this point are the decaying establishment leadership of both political parties whose allegiance is to the sprawling permanent power faction in Washington and the private industry that owns and controls it. They’re aligned against long-time liberals, the new breed of small government conservatives, the ACLU and other civil liberties groups, many of their own members, and increasingly the American people, who have grown tired of, and immune to, the relentless fear-mongering.

    The sooner the myth of “intractable partisan warfare” is dispelled, the better. The establishment leadership of the two parties collaborate on far more than they fight. That is a basic truth that needs to be understood. As John Boehner joined with Nancy Peolsi, as Eric Cantor whipped support for the Obama White House, as Michele Bachmann and Peter King stood with Steny Hoyer to attack NSA critics as Terrorist-Lovers, yesterday was a significant step toward accomplishing that.

    ===========

    Again:

    “What one sees in this debate is not Democrat v. Republican or left v. right. One sees authoritarianism v. individualism, fealty to The National Security State v. a belief in the need to constrain and check it, insider Washington loyalty v. outsider independence.” -Glenn Greenwald

  83. Ah, the secrets that we keep. And the U.S. gov is still sitting on a whopper.

    http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/312929-wyden-warns-data-collection-under-patriot-act-is-limitless#ixzz2a2mI2mxB

    Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on Tuesday urged the United States to revamp its surveillance laws and practices, warning that the country will ‘live to regret it’ if it fails to do so.

    “‘If we do not seize this unique moment in our constitutional history to reform our surveillance laws and practices, we will all live to regret it . . . The combination of increasingly advanced technology with a breakdown in the checks and balances that limit government action could lead us to a surveillance state that cannot be reversed,’ he added. . . .

    “The government has essentially kept people in the dark about their broad interpretations of the law, he said. Wyden tells constituents there are two Patriot Acts: One they read online at home and ‘the secret interpretation of the law that the government is actually relying upon.’

    “‘If Americans are not able to learn how their government is interpreting and executing the law then we have effectively eliminated the most important bulwark of our democracy,” he said. . . .

  84. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/25/nsa-vote-house-amash-amendment-live

    Excerpt:

    In Edward Snowden news, an amendment by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, to levy sanctions against any country offering Snowden asylum has unanimously passed out of the Senate appropriations committee, the Associated Press reports.

    “I don’t know if he’s getting a change of clothes. I don’t know if he’s going to stay in Russia forever. I don’t know where he’s going to go,” Graham said. “But I know this: That the right thing to do is to send him back home so he can face charges for the crimes he’s allegedly committed.”

    Graham, who is running for reelection, has been scrambling around throwing rhetorical stink-bombs all year in a seeming effort to top himself for jingoism and manufactured hysteria (and firearms enthusiasm). Last night on Fox News he went one better on the Bush “axis of evil” by describing a “trifecta from hell,” Think Progress reported:

    “The trifecta from hell is unfolding in front of us,” Graham said. “Iran is about to get a nuclear weapon. Syria is about to infect the entire region, taking Jordan down, and Egypt could become a failed state.”

  85. http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/07/25/closing-arguments-in-bradley-mannings-trial-live-updates/

    12:55 PM EST Over the recess, fellow journalists in attendance are sending reporter Alexa O’Brien emails saying that there is now a soldier stationed right behind her with a gun. @carwinb

    An armed military police officer leaned over me during the closing argument and said, “Don’t have Twitter open at all.”

    I wonder if individuals who signed up for the military ever thought they’d be policing the press (as if they were an ‘enemy’).

    I’m looking at the rules I signed. For what it’s worth, the rules don’t say “Keep Twitter windows closed while court is in session”.

    Frankly, the press deserve an explanation from public affairs on why they are now, after months of court martial, all of a sudden having armed MPs patrol the press.

  86. Off Topic:

    Jeremy Scahill Condemns White House Opposition To Freeing Of Abdulelah Haider Shaye (VIDEO)
    The Huffington Post
    By Jack Mirkinson
    Posted: 07/25/2013
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/25/jeremy-scahill-abdulelah-haider-shaye_n_3653414.html

    Jeremy Scahill blasted the Obama administration on Thursday for its opposition to the release of Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye from prison.

    Shaye was jailed on terrorism charges after he reported on an American cruise missile strike in Yemen that killed many civilians. Though the charges were widely seen as trumped up, Shaye remained in prison at the behest of President Obama, who told Yemen’s president that he should back off of a planned pardon of the journalist.

    Shaye was finally freed on Tuesday; the White House said it was “concerned and disappointed” about the release.

    Speaking on “Democracy Now,” Scahill said that Shaye had been imprisoned “because he had the audacity to expose a U.S. cruise missile attack that killed three dozen women and children, and the United States had tried to cover it up.” He harshly criticized Obama for pressing for his continued imprisonment.

    “My question for the White House would be you want to co-sign a dictator’s arrest of a journalist, beating of a journalist, and conviction in a court that every human rights organization in the world has said was a sham court?” he said. “That’s the side that the White House is on right now. Not on the side of press freedom around the world. They’re on the side of locking up journalists who have the audacity to actually be journalists.”

  87. http://longstrangejourney.com/2013/07/25/the-amash-amendment-legislative-history-and-the-surveillance-state/

    Excerpt:

    These Members voted against extending the expiring PATRIOT Act provision reauthorization bill in 2011 but also against the Amash amendment (a much less ambitious amendment/proposition) in 2013 (i.e., contradictory votes):

    Pelosi
    Engel
    Schakowsky
    Wasserman Schultz
    Thompson (CA)
    Andrews
    Al Green
    Guitierrez
    Hanabusa
    Larsen
    Jackson Lee
    E.B. Johnson
    Kaptur

    Members no longer in the House who almost certainly would have voted for Amash include Baldwin, Hinchey, and Markey, among others.

    But the 13 who are still House members and who voted against the PATRIOT Act reauthorization in 2011 and against the Amash amendment today provided the margin of victory for the White House and the supporters of NSA’s current surveillance programs. By comparison, in 2011 only 27 Republicans voted against reauthorizing expiring PATRIOT Act provisions, while today 93 voted with Amash, a radical swing clearly fueled by Edward Snowden’s sensational revelations about PATRIOT Act and FISA Amendment Act abuses.

  88. Whistleblowers like Private Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden threaten the totalitarian corporate state’s obsessive pursuit of Milieu Control:

    The most basic feature of the thought reform environment, the psychological current upon which all else depends, is the control of human communication. Through this milieu control the totalist environment seeks to establish domain over not only the individual’s communication with the outside (all that he sees and hears, reads or writes, experiences, and expresses), but also – in its penetration of his inner life – over what we may speak of as his communication with himself. It creates an atmosphere uncomfortably reminiscent of George Orwell’s 1984.

    Such milieu control never succeeds in becoming absolute, and its own human apparatus can – when permeated by outside information – become subject to discordant “noise” beyond that of any mechanical apparatus. To totalist administrators, however, such occurrences are no more than evidences of “incorrect” use of the apparatus. For they look upon milieu control as a just and necessary policy, one which need not be kept secret: thought reform participants may be in doubt as to who is telling what to whom, but the fact that extensive information about everyone is being conveyed to the authorities is always known. At the center of this self-justification is their assumption of omniscience, their conviction that reality is their exclusive possession. Having experienced the impact of what they consider to be an ultimate truth (and having the need to dispel any possible inner doubts of their own), they consider it their duty to create an environment containing no more and no less than this “truth.” In order to be the engineers of the human soul, they must first bring it under full observational control.

    Robert Jay Lifton, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism

    In President Obama — following his several immediate predecessors — we see the quintessential totalist administrator bent on bringing every aspect of human communication under his full observation and control. I hope and expect that he will fail — miserably and spectacularly — and when this vicious and vindictive little man fails in his attempts to control our every word and thought, the credit for that necessary and salutary failure will accrue most properly to the little “nobody” whistleblowers Bradley Manning and Edward Snowdon, among a select few others, and those hardly independent journalists, like Glenn Greenwald, who remain thankfully and effectively uncontrolled in either thought or word.

  89. “Feds tell Web firms to turn over user account passwords”

    “Secret demands mark escalation in Internet surveillance by the federal government through gaining access to user passwords, which are typically stored in encrypted form.”

    Except for Microsoft none of the big Telcoms are responding to questions and neither is the FBI. No one knows when this began, how widespread it is, if it’s specific to individuals or wholesale data dumps and nobody is talking.

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57595529-38/feds-tell-web-firms-to-turn-over-user-account-passwords/

    I wonder if Snowden knows? I wonder what else he knows.

  90. “Journalists at Bradley Manning trial report hostile conditions for press”

    ….” have tweeted about armed guards standing directly behind them as they type into laptops in the designated press area, being “screamed at” for having “windows” open on their computers that show Twitter in a browser tab, and having to undergo extensive, repeated, invasive physical searches.

    I visited the trial two weeks ago. While there were many restrictions for attending press that I found surprising (reporters couldn’t work from the courtroom, mobile devices weren’t allowed in the press room), it wasn’t this bad. I was treated respectfully and courteously by Army Public Affairs Officers and military police, and was only grumped at a few times for stretching those (silly) restrictions. I was physically searched only once, when entering the courtroom, and that’s standard for civilian or military trials.

    But the vibe is very different today….”

    http://boingboing.net/2013/07/25/journalists-at-bradley-manning.html

  91. A Bipartisan Warning on Surveillance
    By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
    Published: July 25, 2013

    Lawmakers have given the Obama administration a bipartisan warning: patience is growing thin with its expansive and unwarranted surveillance of Americans.
    Related

    House Defeats Effort to Rein In N.S.A. Data Gathering (July 25, 2013)

    Today’s Editorials

    Editorial: Inching Forward in the Mideast (July 26, 2013)
    Editorial: The Gun Lobby Takes Vengeful Aim (July 26, 2013)
    Editorial: Bait and Switch in the House (July 26, 2013)

    For Op-Ed, follow @nytopinion and to hear from the editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, follow @andyrNYT.

    In one of the most unusual votes in years, the House on Wednesday barely defeated an amendment to curtail the National Security Agency’s collection of every phone record, limiting it to records of people targeted in investigations. The vote was 205 to 217, and what was particularly remarkable was that 94 Republicans supported the limits, along with 111 Democrats who stood up to intense lobbying by the White House and its spy agencies.

    The amendment was sponsored by Representative Justin Amash, a Republican of Michigan, one of the most anti-government libertarians in the House. On this issue, he found common ground with Democrats and moderate Republicans who are also concerned that the N.S.A. is needlessly violating the privacy of ordinary citizens.

    Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., a Republican of Wisconsin and an author of the Patriot Act, said the measure imposes the standard for collecting data in a criminal trial. Representative Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat of New York, said the amendment would reimpose the original intent of Congress.

    “No administration should be permitted to operate above or beyond the law as they have done in this respect,” Mr. Nadler said.

    The arguments for unlimited record keeping were remarkably thin. A White House spokesman said the amendment was not “the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process” — a laughable assertion considering how uninformed the administration wants the public to be about the loss of privacy. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, said supporters seemed to have forgotten Sept. 11.

    But the closeness of the vote suggested that a growing number of lawmakers no longer respond reflexively to the waving of the 9/11 flag, or the patronizing insistence of government officials that they should be trusted implicitly. That reflects an increasing skepticism in the public, as reflected in several opinion polls, as people become aware that the N.S.A. isn’t following the common-sense practice of spying only on those suspected of terrorism.

    A 51 percent majority in the House with strongly bipartisan opposition is hardly a vote of confidence in a program as intrusive as universal phone-record collection. More and more lawmakers and voters are starting to pay attention to the arguments of longtime intelligence critics like Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, who said on Tuesday that the opportunity had finally arrived to stop an omnipresent surveillance state that once seemed irreversible.

  92. Roberts’s Picks Reshaping Secret Surveillance Court
    By CHARLIE SAVAGE
    Published: July 25, 2013
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/26/us/politics/robertss-picks-reshaping-secret-surveillance-court.html?_r=1&

    Excerpt:
    WASHINGTON — The recent leaks about government spying programs have focused attention on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and its role in deciding how intrusive the government can be in the name of national security. Less mentioned has been the person who has been quietly reshaping the secret court: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

    In making assignments to the court, Chief Justice Roberts, more than his predecessors, has chosen judges with conservative and executive branch backgrounds that critics say make the court more likely to defer to government arguments that domestic spying programs are necessary.

    Ten of the court’s 11 judges — all assigned by Chief Justice Roberts — were appointed to the bench by Republican presidents; six once worked for the federal government. Since the chief justice began making assignments in 2005, 86 percent of his choices have been Republican appointees, and 50 percent have been former executive branch officials.

    Though the two previous chief justices, Warren E. Burger and William H. Rehnquist, were conservatives like Chief Justice Roberts, their assignments to the surveillance court were more ideologically diverse, according to an analysis by The New York Times of a list of every judge who has served on the court since it was established in 1978.

    According to the analysis, 66 percent of their selections were Republican appointees, and 39 percent once worked for the executive branch.

    “Viewing this data, people with responsibility for national security ought to be very concerned about the impression and appearance, if not the reality, of bias — for favoring the executive branch in its applications for warrants and other action,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat and one of several lawmakers who have sought to change the way the court’s judges are selected.

  93. “The folks from the Sunlight Foundation have noticed that the Change.gov website, which was set up by the Obama transition team after the election in 2008 has suddenly been scrubbed of all of its original content. They noted that the front page had pointed to the White House website for a while, but you could still access a variety of old material and agendas. They were wondering why the administration would suddenly pull all that interesting archival information… and hit upon a clue. A little bit from the “ethics agenda”:

    Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process. “

  94. Gene, I recommend reading about the CIA whistleblower as well. She certainly is no choirgirl but she has evidence going straight to the top of the Bush administration.

    However, this story is very important. I’m glad information about the scrubbing is in the public domain. We need to understand what is actually happening with this govt. This scrubbing is part of propagandizing our people–literally erasing the past. Thanks for writing about it.

  95. Jill,

    Then you should appreciate the forthcoming column as it addresses the data scrubbing in the terms of propaganda. It’s titled “Propaganda 104 Supplemental: Just Because You’ve Forgotten Doesn’t Mean You’re Forgiven”. I’ll be posting it later today or tonight.

  96. ” Bill Black: Is it Legal Malpractice to Fail to Get Holder to Promise Not to Torture your Client?

    Yves here. I wonder whether Black’s pointed analysis still manages to be too charitable. After all, we don’t do torture in the US or elsewhere. It’s “enhanced interrogation”.

    By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One and an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Cross posed from New Economic Perspectives

    One of the things I never expected to read was a promise by any United States official that a potential defendant in a criminal prosecution by our federal courts “will not be tortured.”

    The idea that the Attorney General of the United States of America would send such a letter to the representative of a foreign government, particularly Russia under the leadership of a former KGB official, was so preposterous that I thought the first news report I read about Attorney General Holder’s letter concerning Edward Snowden was satire. The joke, however, was on me. The Obama and Bush administrations have so disgraced the reputation of the United States’ criminal justice system that we are forced to promise KGB alums that we will not torture our own citizens if Russia extradites them for prosecution.

    The standard joke that came to mind when I read Holder’s letter was the bartender who brings out glasses to three customers and asks “which of you ordered his whiskey in a clean glass?” We take it for granted that no restaurant or bar will knowingly serve us our drinks in a dirty glass. I always took it for granted that no U.S. attorney general would knowingly allow a criminal suspect in U.S. custody to be the victim of torture, raped, branded, or a host of other forms of brutality.

    It is difficult to conceive of why Holder would humiliate America by promising Russia that we would not torture Snowden were Russia to extradite him. Perhaps it was a clever propaganda ploy by Russia that Holder fell for like a rube (reprising his infamous failure when he was “played” by the fugitive Marc Rich’s lawyers to deliver via President Clinton one of the most embarrassing pardons in presidential history).

    More likely, Holder is under so much pressure from the intelligence “community” to punish Snowden that he thought he was being clever by promising Russia that we would not torture our own citizens – in this particular case. Holder phrased his explanation in a manner that suggests he was trying to be clever: “Torture is unlawful in the United States.” “Gitmo,” of course, is not “in the United States.” The locations of the many secret prisons the U.S. established in other nations were chosen so that we could torture suspects. The infamous historical parallel for this is that it was unlawful to hold slaves in England – but England could dominate the Atlantic slave trade and hold millions of slaves in the Caribbean islands because slavery was unlawful only “in” England under English law.

    More subtly, note that Holder says that torture is “unlawful” – not “illegal.” An act that is merely “unlawful” cannot be prosecuted as a crime. It may provide the basis for a civil suit. An “illegal” act can be prosecuted. After World War II, the United States prosecuted members of the Japanese military for torturing U.S. POWs (particularly by “waterboarding” our men). Those found guilty received severe sentences, often execution by hanging.

    The CIA officials who conducted and ordered that we torture suspects through means that included waterboarding”, in at least one case roughly 100 times, are understandably anxious to escape prosecution for acts that the U.S. has taken the position constitute war crimes warranting execution. Holder, therefore, claims that torture is merely “unlawful” (and only if inflicted “in the United States”). Torture, of course, is illegal. It involves the intentional infliction of intense pain and terror. It is designed to produce severe physical and psychological trauma. It inherently constitutes aggravated battery. It often leads to death even when the torturer does not desire that the victim die (at least prior to the extraction of additional statements from the victim). These forms of homicide are illegal and range from second degree to first degree murder.

    Holder’s letter promising the Russians that we would not torture Snowden also raises a practical question for the defense bar. Is it malpractice for defense counsel not to demand written assurances from the U.S. attorney general in any extradition case that the United States will not torture the suspect – in any nation? Do defense lawyers need to extract a written promise that the suspect will not be assassinated by the U.S. prior to trial? How about a promise that the United States will not hold the suspect’s family hostage (or worse) if they agree to waive extradition? It is obscene that Holder promised not to torture Snowden, but the underlying obscenity is that the United States did torture suspects and Holder has refused to prosecute those who ordered and conducted the torture. When a nation engages in torture the consequences for its honor are long-standing and lead to a series of disgraces.” (naked capitalism)

  97. @Jill. The “kids” have a way of saying ‘yeah… what you said is so true it is summed up in this simple saying:

    Word.

    This bit of yours is dead on. More could be said, little more could be added to this horrific example of a nation afraid of its shadow (double entendre’ intended) … afraid of its citizens that it has to do what it is doing. It is so blinkered in its fear and rage that it cannot see how stupid it is acting.

    You have, in your closing, caught the original sin of this administration (who knows what pressures there were that we cannot see, nor imagine. They must be immense.)

    It is obscene that Holder promised not to torture Snowden, but the underlying obscenity is that the United States did torture suspects and Holder has refused to prosecute those who ordered and conducted the torture When a nation engages in torture the consequences for its honor are long-standing and lead to a series of disgraces.”

    This is the shadow. We will not acknowledge the truth of nearly anything important. Consequently we must come up with another narrative to explain what happened/ is happening. When that welter of lies becomes unsustainable the only choices are to admit it, and start afresh… or lash out and attempt to “kill” anyone who can see or knows what is actually going on that might expose the system.

    We originally allowed “newspeak” level redefinitions of words to cover/justify our actions: Torture in this example, and when the new administration came in promising to tell the truth and make changes… And then did not…the game was over right then. The rest that has happened since is simple consequence of being unwilling or unable to tell the truth. Even the truth that “Everybody Knows”.

    It is this underlying dynamic that, I believe, is driving everything pertaining to this entire subject : NSA, the faux “War on Drugs”, Total Information Awareness Agency – in fact, though they were forced to change the name-, Snowden, Manning, Grenwald, AP journalist scandal, criminalization of journalistic practices. And that does not begin to tap into the explicit underpinnings of the various off book Wars, Financial Crisis and etc.

    Back to yours.

    Word.

  98. Michael,

    I can’t take credit for those eloquent words. They were written by Bill Black.

    I really like what you wrote: “The rest that has happened since is simple consequence of being unwilling or unable to tell the truth. Even the truth that “Everybody Knows”. ”

    The failure to speak honestly about the truth has been such a disaster. It’s starting to change, but there is a very long way to go.

  99. Mr. Turley, is it true that you and Gerry Spence and Daniel Sheehan have agreed to be a dynamo defense team for Jonathan Edwards?

  100. Glenn Greenwald: Even low-level NSA analysts can spy on Americans
    “And it’s all done with no need to go to a court,” he told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos
    BY KATIE MCDONOUGH
    7/28/13
    http://www.salon.com/2013/07/28/glenn_greenwald_even_low_level_nsa_analysts_can_spy_on_americans/

    Excerpt:
    Glenn Greenwald said during a Sunday appearance on ABC News’ “This Week” that even “low-level” National Security Agency analysts have access to a “powerful and invasive” tool that allows them to spy on the private emails and phone calls of Americans.

    “The NSA has trillions of telephone calls and emails in their databases that they’ve collected over the last several years,” Greenwald told George Stephanopoulos. “And what these programs are, are very simple screens, like the ones that supermarket clerks or shipping and receiving clerks use, where all an analyst has to do is enter an email address or an IP address, and it does two things. It searches that database and lets them listen to the calls or read the emails of everything that the NSA has stored, or look at the browsing histories or Google search terms that you’ve entered, and it also alerts them to any further activity that people connected to that email address or that IP address do in the future.”

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