Obama Administration Confirms Massive Surveillance Program Of U.S. Citizens

President_Barack_ObamaWhile the media in the United States (with some notable exceptions) have been criticized for relatively soft coverage of attacks on civil liberties by the Obama Administration, the British press appears to be filling the gap. The Guardian is reporting on a massive surveillance program by the Obama Administration where the government has ordered Verizon (and presumably other carriers) to turn over all calls made within the United States and calls between the United States and other countries. The surveillance was conducted under an order from our controversial secret court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and demanded by the Justice Department and the FBI. The Administration has confirmed the existence of the program — another blow to civil liberties under Attorney General Eric Holder and this president. It also adds another area where Obama officials appear less than candid with Congress. [Update: USA Today first revealed aspects of this program in 2006]

The order signed by Judge Roger Vinson requires the company to turn over the phone numbers, location, duration, time and unique identifiers for all calls for all citizens. There is no effort to confine the search for individuals connected to any investigation. It is a sweeping surveillance on all citizens. Of course, just as Democrats have remained quiet over the recent attacks on the free press, it is not clear if even this abuse will generate opposition in Congress. Civil libertarians have been complaining for years about these programs and have met a wall of silence from Democrats protecting President Obama and Eric Holder.

In February, the Administration succeeded in blocking a challenge to its surveillance policies by arguing that any confirmation of such programs would put American lives at risk. Now that the case is dismissed, they have simply acknowledged the program. The decision is Clapper v. Amnesty International, No. 11-1025, and it is a true nightmare for civil liberties. The Supreme Court rejected the standing of civil liberties groups and citizens to challenge the Obama Administration’s surveillance programs. President Obama has long been criticized for his opposition to such lawsuits and his Justice Department has continued a successful attack on the ability of citizens to challenge the unconstitutional actions of their government in the war on terror. The 5-4 opinion by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. insulates such programs from judicial review in yet another narrowing of standing rules.

Alito rejected the ability of an array of journalists, lawyers and human rights advocates to challenge the constitutionality of the 2008 law allowing secret surveillance without meeting constitutional standards of probable cause. Alito simply said that the parties could not prove that they were subject to surveillance — since the Obama Administration has classified such evidence — and insisted that their fears and precautionary actions are merely efforts to “manufacture standing by incurring costs in anticipation of nonimminent harms.”

Alito wrote that just because no one may be able to challenge the law is no reason to recognize standing — a position that guts the separation of powers principles underlying judicial review. He also cites to the secret FISA as judicial review — a truly laughable proposition. I have been in that court as a NSA legal intern and the thought that it constitutes any real form of review is a preposterous notion. I have written and testified on this court in the past.

Now we can see the inevitable consequence of this secret court and the Administration’s surveillance program. The Administration is creating a massive databank for all calls, including calls within the United States. This surveillance program is the result of a sense of political immunity reflected in this Administration. With some Democrats blindly following this President, there appears no concern over excessive surveillance or the ever-expanding security state. It is the final evidence of how Obama has truly crippled the civil liberties movement in the United States.

Source: NPR

118 thoughts on “Obama Administration Confirms Massive Surveillance Program Of U.S. Citizens

  1. I have a simple question exercise I sometimes do. It’s called, “What would the press do w/ Bush on this?” I’ve been playing the game a lot lately. Let me remind folks, I never voted for either Bush, although I liked the old man and have come to like him more every year. I had the historic honor of voting for Harold Washington when I lived in Chicago. One of his favorite words was “hubris.” It certainly applies to his fellow Chicagoan.

  2. One argument I have seen on The Guardian is this surveillance has to do with the Boston Bombing, so it’s O.K. Let’s accept that at face value for a moment, but here’s a problem with the argument. This FISA rubber stamp
    is just a scheduled 3 month renewal of the program that’s being going on since at least 2006.

    This is not law enforcement. This is not a terrorist related exercise. Sweeping up everything for years on end isn’t targeted at anything except control of the population. This is shameful.

    What is more shameful than the administration is the judiciary abdicating their role to our Constitution. Further shame belongs to any person who will justify this action because it is taken by a Democratic president. This also is an abdication of citizenship, a repudiation of our deepest, best values in our society. We are a society of laws, not men.

    Do you know that NSA gave NASA two of their left over space telescopes which were used to spy on the earth? They were much further advanced than anything NASA has today, yet they were much older pieces of technology.

    Our people need jobs, housing, education, food. We need to stop global warming on a dime. We need to repair our infrastructure. Instead, the losers who run things spend our money and talent on this type of BS.

    I am not surprised, just outraged and horrified. We could do something great with our nation. We have money, talent and resources. Because of the failure of these losers in power along with the failure of people to peacefully stop these losers, their destruction will continue.

    People must decide what they really want for our nation, other nations and this planet. If you keep wanting Democrats to destroy all these things, ask yourself why. I don’t want anyone, of any party, destroying these things. If you can’t speak up now, when?

  3. Good for Spencer Ackerman and Glenn Greenwald for scooping the story for the “Guardian’. If i recall correctly Russ Feingold was the only senator to vote against the Patriot Act.

  4. It is time. Time to take back control of our country and to liberate our Bill of Rights from the corrupt whom have hijacked it. Whether their intentions were noble or not, is irrelevant. They need to be removed from power regardless.

    It is time to have a Revolution in America. It does not need to be violent. We can change over the people in our govt without violence. We just need to make sure they leave.

    Afterwards the only changes we need to make to the system is to insure that our Liberties are restored and protected against future encroachment.

    It is time for both the Liberals and Conservatives, leftwing and rightwing, and all that remain in the middle, to set aside our differences, cease arguing over trivial issues and rise up together and unite as one loud strong voice. We must not allow them to racially divide us.
    It is time to become brothers in voice and if need be, in arms. In this hour we must not speak softly, but loudly, while still wielding a big stick.

    It is time to take Big Brother and crush it. It is time to take tyranny and drive it from our govt and from our shores. It is time to show the world that we truly are the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave….and not merely land of the fat, disinterested and preoccupied with our plastic toys.

    It is time to decide whether we are nation of cowards who wish to maintain their status quo and not risk their material possessions. Or whether we are a nation of Freemen who willingly would sacrifice our homes, our plasma tvs and our iphones and then lay down our lives if need be, to insure that our children and grandchildren can live their lives in a land of true Liberty.

    Our country is teetering on the edge of the descent into a fascist Police State. A monstrous hybrid of Totalitarianism and Corporatocracy. It must be stricken mortally and driven to oblivion.

    “A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. ” James Madison, June 29th. 1787, Debates in Federal Convention

  5. SWM, You are correct. I voted for him every time. And, he was the only Dem who voted for evidence to be heard in the Senate trial during the Clinton impeachment. The Dem party tried to challenge him w/ a primary after that. Russ said it was Alice in Wonderlandish to not hear evidence @ a trial.

  6. George Mason:

    Good luck with that, I wouldnt join a progressive if my life depended on it, the problems we have are directly related to progressive philosophy. Why would I want more of the same?

    I’ll gladly join with a 19th century liberal but a 20th century progressive? No way, they broke it. Bush, Obama and their ilk are the idealization of 20th century progressives in all their “glory”.

  7. I left a couple of comments at BoingBoing in response to Cory Doctorow’s post about this news last night. I won’t re-post those comment in full here (and without the context of the discussion thread they are in, they wouldn’t make complete sense anyway), but I will repost a few bits:

    When the people have collectively had enough and demand that these things stop, these things will stop.

    We are being ruled by fear of other. Fear of other is the tool used by governments time immemorial to get their people to comply. “Keep us safe” is the cry, and basic freedom and liberty the victim.

    Ultimately it is not the protesters, the fringe groups or the terrorists that are the greatest threat to democracy and the liberty it is charged to protect. As history has shown us repeatedly, the greatest threat is the unchecked power of the state over the people, unleashed in the name of security and preservation of the state.

    “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.” – George Washington.

    (Note that the Washington quote may be apocryphal. It’s been around for over a hundred years but it’s come under scrutiny the last few years and its providence is unsure. I use it because I like it. If Washington didn’t say it, doesn’t matter. Somebody should.)

  8. Bron, You won’t join the progressives and I won’t join the gun toting anarchist libertarians so I guess we can forget the revolution for now. lol Seriously FISA and the Patriot Act need to be revisited. They have bipartisan support so they are all to blame. Obama voted for Fisa when he was in the senate and Hillary Clinton did not.

  9. SM:

    I wouldnt join them either; the anarchist libertarians. I am ok with gun toters and might join a small government gun toting progressive but then he/she would be more of a 19th century liberal.

  10. The reaction to this Prez’s continuation and expansion of the Bush civil liberties war by the press and those on the left is completely amazing. It was only when the AP and Fox news were targets that they suddenly feigned interest. How fleeting that was, seems to have fallen by the wayside for the most part. I posted a question on some web site with a name like “media doesnt matter” or some such thing. I simply asked the question about the Verizon data gathering program. The response to my question was most amazing. I was accused of all sorts of things with several people saying in effect, I was lying. Too many on the left are simply following like sheep this great and wonderful leader that goes around the world and gives speeches, and plays golf on the weekends. Leader? Hardly by my standards but then again he sure does have a faithful following.

    I agree with so many of the comments above. We need to do something but I fear that way too many people would not give up their plasma TVs, iPhones, and potato chips for freedom. Arrest my neighbor, just don’t take me. So my response is that no DemoRepo or RepoDemo will get my vote. Both parties have proven themselves poor stewards of our collective money and both want to use government power to their and their friends advantage. I pass on links to this site to my friends. I talk to people when I get a chance. But too often the response is that I am some kook that is paranoid. I doubt anybody is watching my cell phone or reading my emails, but slowly over time we are loosing more and more of our freedom. I hope this will turn around, I fear it won’t.

  11. You can choose not to be a part of it but it is coming. America will have another Revolution and soon. We must not be afraid to cleanse our government. If we do not it will be lost forever. I do not advocate violence but I will not tolerate Tyranny.

    Only the selfish will cling to their material things as a reason to not stand up. You can choose to have honor and integrity or you can cling to your toys.

    The first step to the Revolution is to starve the beast. Everyone shall change their W2 to Tax Exempt status. Then proceed with a outright Retail strike. Do not make purchases that are not absolutely needed. Labor strikes and protests.

    For the record I am a Liberal and not an anarchist libertarian..

  12. Bron,

    You need to join forces with any person who wants to peacefully restore the rule of law. I don’t agree with your social policy and you don’t agree with mine. Guess what? Our visions are irrelevant unless we restore the Constitution.

    The Constitution is the way people redress grievances. If we are unable to speak and associate freely, you and I can’t duke it out in a public way about what role govt. has vis a vis corporations.

    I went openly as a Green party member to make common cause with local Libertarians. That is because we both have one thing in common, the restoration of the rule of law. Once that is accomplished, you can believe we will be at each other’s throat. They don’t like my social philosophy and I don’t like theirs. But all of our communication is monitored, we are all spied on equally and our govt. is our of control. If you can’t set aside your social differences for a larger good, then I urge you to reconsider your postiton about that.

    We need every person who cares about this nation and its people to come together right now.

  13. By the way, I blame the FBI for asking but I condemn Vinson for signing. He’s supposed to be the adult in the room and the one sworn to protect our freedoms. That’s what happens when you have a court system held in secret. There’s a reason the Star Chamber is a universal symbol of the evils of a corrupt judiciary.

  14. G.Mason:

    Calm down George. There will be no torches and pitchforks in the streets. This will be a quiet Revolution where responsible members of the judiciary who are aghast at this sort of corruption slowly and surely restore the protections of the Constitution. When the judges get sick of what they see, they move like a flock of birds in unison to correct the mess wrought by overzealous cops and trembling politicians — at least they always have.

  15. “Obama voted for Fisa when he was in the senate and Hillary Clinton did not.” (SwM)


    Well, shucks … with all the changes/tools the government has asked for and received, they still couldn’t manage to stop the strictly ameatuer Boston Marathon bombers.

    No matter how many tools one gives to the incompetent …

  16. mespo727272

    I’ve got Verizon and I talk to clients — though I won’t anymore. I want in on the class action suit on this one.


    I don’t have any clients but I’ve had Verizon since the 90’s and I want in also.

  17. And people call me a paranoid fruitcake for refusing to buy a cellphone. God bless TOR!

    I feel so vindicated now :b

  18. Jill:

    I agree with you. I am voting for the independent this year and in 2014 the same.

    The way I see it is that both progressives and conservatives want to get their hands in your pants. One reverse the other obverse. Both are a limitation on liberty.

  19. Mespo-

    Are you being serious? The judiciary is half the problem right now. The vast majority don’t care about anything but their cushy paychecks and their unbridled power. A few out there are still decent human beings, I’m sure. I just don’t know any. They’re kinda like a good cop- they’re out there, but it’s kinda like knowing that there has to be an honest politician somewhere. They are silenced by the vast majority of the corrupt.

  20. Blouise, The problem is those who have worked in govt., and then become libertarians like myself, are painfully aware of just how incompetent all govt is. That’s why it needs to be limited. I’m not a crazy libertarian, but I know it could be cut in half. The anti Solomon proverb.

  21. I am going to divest myself of Verizon products and get a different cell, office, internet and tv provider and tell them why I am doing it.

    They need to go out of business for this.

  22. Another scary aspect of this is that while the GOP were huffing and puffing about conservative groups being targeted by the IRS, why do I not hear them objecting to this en masse? Is it because this doesn’t affect their ability to get PAC money? Seems we really have nowhere to turn to combat this BS.

  23. Bron, I like your plan. The Verizon pr people are drinking espresso and working ’round the clock.

  24. “This is a sweeping surveillance program—the sort of activity that two Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee, Mark Udall of Colorado and Ron Wyden of Oregon, have been complaining about for years. The pair have warned that the government was engaged in a surveillance program under the Patriot Act that went beyond what most people would assume permissible given a reasonable interpretation of that law. They have not been able to reveal details of the classified activity in public, but the two senators have noted that Americans would be alarmed if they knew what was going on.

    That proposition will now be tested. The White House can expect civil liberties-minded Democrats (such as Wyden and Udall) and Republicans concerned about federal power (say, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky) and/or looking for another anti-Obama opportunity to howl about this secret program. In response, the White House, it seems, will make the case: Congress, was in on it, too.” David Korn, Mother Jones

  25. I applaud you Jill. You are correct. We must set aside differences and unite for the common good of the Bill of Rights and the US Constitution. We MUST restore it. To do that we must have a Revolution.

    There is no need to have violence in the revolt. We must simply starve the beast. First step is to deny them W2 Wage taxes. Next is to cut all retail spending. Then protest marches and labor strikes.

    We can no longer afford to be silent

  26. Sometimes my calls are dropped, friends can’t hear me, and sometime neither does Verizon…but I’m glad that our government can. Yup! It’s so nice that we the people give our consent to this. My two cents: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Ben Franklin. Major fail for a constitutional lawyer and our civil liberties. Maybe it will take something like this to change things. Not suggesting. Just saying.

  27. The Judicial is as corrupt as the rest of the branches.

    The Supreme Court renders one horrendous decision after another. They too must be replaced.

    It is time to make a stand America.

  28. Again, Goerge Orwell’s predictions are coming true, just a little later than 1984!! We must fight back against the tide of fascist-like actions!!


    … and remember the days during the Bush Administration when we all go mad because the Avignon Presidency didn’t get secret FISA warrants for their wiretapping. FISA was the last line of defense for liberty. Ah, as Mr. Dooley says, thim was the days. — and because Verizon is an American telecommunications company, and they’ve been operating with impunity in this regard for years, at least in part because they were granted immunity by Congress with the help of one Senator Barack Obama, who changed his position on immunity and infuriated a great many of his supporters, and around and around we go.

  30. SWM, Corn is a smart guy but has sycophant tendencies; dismissing the other scandals before we know all the facts. Investigations take patience and we are a very impatient culture. I had to train my attorney clients to this basic fact.

  31. Steve M

    Add that to Democratic versus Republican attitudes on women’s rights, gay rights, the rights of non-whites, the role of immigrants, the limitation of creeping Christian theocracy, guns, voting rights, etc., etc., and yes, I am still going to defend Democrats — even after this surveillance story, and even after all the civilian drone casualties and so on and so on.

    But no, I’m not a happy Democrat today.

  32. nick,

    Many members of the press have been asleep behind the wheel for years. What’s even worse is that some of them were cheerleaders for a war with Iraq. And let us not forget folks like Judith Miller.

    That said, I’m disappointed that there hasn’t been more outrage with the press–and citizens as well–regarding the diminishment of our civil liberties under this–or any other–administration.

  33. Damn….. I’ve been with Verizon for 16 years….. That relationship will end when my current contract is up next April.

  34. Elaine, The press was cheerleading on Iraq in the wake of 9/11 when this country was pretty bonkers. They quickly woke up and did their job, maybe overcompensated because of the embarrassment of being duped. It’s taken the press MUCH longer to stop cheerleading for this prez and it took their own being attacked to awaken them. However, in general we agree.

  35. “The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.”- Patrick Henry

    “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery” – Thomas Jefferson

  36. I am not afraid to say it. It must be said. I am openly calling for a Revolution by the American people. Non violent. Our government must be forced to resign. They no longer can be trusted or represent us. They are corrupt to the core

    “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
    Thomas Jefferson.

  37. My 21 year old granddaughter flew to Canada yesterday to see her fiance whose aged grandmother is nearing the end of her life. Since she did not know the exact return date in case grandma passes away, she did not get a return ticket. She was flying on a “buddy pass” which is an employee discount for the airline. They pulled her out of line at security for an “enhanced screening.” They checked her shoes for gunpowder and explosives. She was wearing flip-flops!?! She said she was given the third degree both by TSA and Canadian customs.

    Since the comment by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency Commissioner Alan Bersin, “In terms of the terrorist threat, it’s commonly accepted that the more significant threat” comes from Canada. That did not sit well with the Canadians, and since then, she says it has been tit-for-tat regarding making it difficult for even casual travelers. She was told by the Canadian customs people, after an extensive and unpleasant grilling, she could stay for three weeks, but if she is not out of the country by the 25th, an international warrant will be issued for her arrest. They gave her some kind of document she has to fill out, and I gather give it back to them when she leaves Canada.


    The paranoia has gotten completely out of hand. The TSA and CBP are behaving more like Stasi or KGB than I ever thought we would see in the US.

  38. Whassamatta U guyz?
    Doncha feel so safe that your Guvmint is watching U?
    Just in case you slip and fall in the bathroom we are installing telescreens in all bathrooms. You should be accustomed to and appreciative of the telescreens in all other rooms as installed previously.
    Our software will be watching out for any suspicious activities. If any are detected a protector-bot will be sent to respond appropriately.

  39. I don’t believe for a moment only Verizon was subjected to being coerced into handing over the data. The gov’t wants all data on everything. it is a matter of what comes to light.

    I have maintained for years the entirety of the elected federal politicians need to be voted out of office for every reason or any reason. Yet, I agree with others there are too many breads and circuses, plasma TVs, or whatever table scraps are served to people to placate them into indifference for this to happen.

  40. “The key quote this morning from Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), the ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, on The Guardian’s big story:

    This is nothing particularly new. This has been going on for seven years under the auspices of the FISA authority, and every member of the United States Senate has been advised of this.

    That essentially confirms that the order obtained by The Guardian was not a one-off, isolated order. Rather, it was one of many such orders, approved by a series of FISA court judges, directed to multiple telecom carriers over many years. Seven years, as Chambliss says.” TPM

  41. NAL, unless you stop defending any party who breaks the Constitution we will not get anywhere as women, people of color, LBGT, disability or any other civil rights issues.

    Redress of grievance requires a functioning govt. which follows the rule of law. You will not get that from this administration and you will not get that from a Republican administration. The belief in parties needs to go.

    This is a crisis of govt. in which members of both major parties are up to their neck in the destruction of our govt. There are individuals within each party who deserve our support but it is folly to believe a party, which as a whole, is undermining the rule of law, will save people’s civil rights. These are rights which require the rule of law to enforce. They may be granted to you for a while, by the Democratic party’s need to get your vote. But they are granted by fiat and the need to propagandize you, not by law.

    There is no comparison between rights which are doled out a whim and rights which are guaranteed by force of law. Your party doles them out for now by whim. Do not think that need remain true, as it does not and likely, will not.

  42. Senate Intelligence Vice Chair Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) backed up Feinstein, saying, “This is nothing particularly new.” TPM

    Well, there’s more to the story. This is just the tip of it.

  43. Mespo: “I’ve got Verizon and I talk to clients — though I won’t anymore. I want in on the class action suit on this one.”


    I find it particularly amusing that you reserve your objections to unconstitutional exercises of power (in the ”war on terror”) to the times when they affect you personally.

    Here’s to principle centered reasoning.

  44. June 6, 2013 10:32AM

    Your Congress, Your NSA Spying

    By Jim Harper


    The National Security Agency is collecting records of every domestic and cross-border Verizon phone call between now and July 19th. The secret court order requiring Verizon to hand over these records has been leaked to the Guardian.

    You may find that outrageous. 1984 has arrived. Big Brother is watching you.

    But the author of this story is not George Orwell. It’s Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, Senator Diane Feinstein of California, and you.

    Here’s what I mean: In June of last year, Representative Smith (R) introduced H.R. 5949, the FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act of 2012. Its purpose was to extend the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 for five years, continuing the government’s authority to collect data like this under secret court orders. The House Judiciary Committee reported the bill to the full House a few days later. The House Intelligence Committee, having joint jurisdiction over the bill, reported it at the beginning of August. And in mid-September, the House passed the bill by a vote of 301 to 118.

    Sent to the Senate, the bill languished until very late in the year. But with the government’s secret wiretapping authority set to expire, the Senate took up the bill on December 27th. Whether by plan or coincidence, the Senate debated secret surveillance of Americans’ communications during the lazy, distracted period between Christmas and the new year.

    Senator Dianne Feinstein (D) was the bill’s chief defender on the Senate floor. She parried arguments doggedly advanced by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) that the surveillance law lacks sufficient oversight. My colleague Julian Sanchez showed ably at the time that modest amendments proposed by Wyden and others would improve oversight and in no way compromise security. But false urgency created by the Senate’s schedule won the day, and on December 28th of last year, the Senate passed the bill, sending it to the president, who signed it on December 30th.

    The news that every Verizon call is going to the NSA not only vindicates Senator Wyden’s argument that oversight in this area is lacking. It reveals the upshot of that failed oversight: The secret FISA court has been issuing general warrants for communications surveillance.

    That is contrary to the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which requires warrants to issue “particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” When a court requires “all call detail records” to be handed over “on an ongoing daily basis,” this is in no sense particular. Data about millions of our phone calls are now housed at the NSA. Data about calls you make and receive today will be housed at the NSA.

    The reason given for secret mass surveillance of all our phone calls, according to an unofficial comment from the Obama administration, is that it is a “critical tool” against terrorism. These arguments should be put to public proof. For too long, government officials have waved off the rule of law and privacy using “terrorism” as their shibboleth. This time, show us exactly how gathering data about every domestic call on one of the largest telecommunications networks roots out the tiny number of stray-dog terrorists in the country. If the argument is based on data mining, it has a lot to overcome, including my 2008 paper with IBM data mining expert Jeff Jonas, “Effective Counterterrorism and the Limited Role of Predictive Data Mining.”

    The ultimate author of the American surveillance state is you. If you’re like most Americans, you allowed yourself to remain mostly ignorant of the late-December debate over FISA reauthorization. You may not have finished digesting your Christmas ham until May, when it was revealed that IRS agents had targeted groups applying for tax exempt status for closer scrutiny based on their names or political themes.

    The veneer of beneficent government is off. The National Security Agency is collecting records of your phone calls. The votes in Congress that allowed this to happen are linked above in this post. What are you going to do about it? -Jim Harper

  45. Here is one for you, ap: “http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/06/what-we-dont-know-about-spying-on-citizens-scarier-than-what-we-know/276607/

  46. To echo what was mentioned earlier, it won’t matter who is in the White House if the Patriot Act is not altered or repealed and the FISC court is brought under control and into the sunshine. If the court approved this broad surveillance program and reapproved it recently, it unfortunately may be legal. We have to change the law.
    Seriously, George W. Bush was a progressive???
    Every time I get on a plane at Ohare they check my shoes and my belt buckle. I have to take my belt off every time I enter a courthouse. It won’t end unless we end this war on terror and get control again.

  47. R E M E M B E R
    “They hate us for our Freedoms…”
    … And so Congress Legislated those Freedoms away.

    Secret laws…
    Secret Courts…
    Secret Memos…
    … Open society?

    “This is not the Bill of Rights you are looking for.”
    ~ Obi-won Obama

    Again I ask…

  48. Alright, I agree with most of what has been said, even though I find it amusing that you think there is a left in government. But where was your anger over the DNA swiping. Oh, you’re not criminals! You aren’t going to be arrested, so it’s not important. I hate how Americans are so incredibly self-centered.

    Turley, if you had something on this, I missed it and apologize. Please repost.

    Do you know what the DNA testing is going to do to those who have been filling our privately-owned jails? Do you understand how this will affect those who are mostly targeted by law enforcement? Swiped while black will create a racial database. How will that be used?

    Small-minded, self-seeking, self-involved Americans will never change things and if they by some miracle did, the change will not go far enough.

  49. Bob, Esq. 1, June 6, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    “Here’s to principle centered reasoning.”

    Let me see if I can craft a principled response.

    Once upon a time there was a friendly Constable On Patrol on every other corner who watched what was going on and was prepared to respond to any small scale disturbance. He wore a funny suit, a hat that looked like half a watermelon and carried a stick attached to a leather thong. The kids liked him, mostly, when he wasn’t rousting them for smoking or sending them back to school. This COP also had a pretty fair notion of who lived in his territory, what they did for a living, who their friends were and so on. It was almost as if he could see right inside the buildings.

    150 years later the cops don’t wear funny suits, funny hats or carry silly sticks. But, they do know who lives in their territory, what they do for a living, who their friends are and so on.

    And, so does your local Wal-Mart. And your local cable provider. And your wireless provider. And your mail-person. And your mother.

    Now, if we can believe that:

    “the published court order pertains only to data such as a telephone number or the length of a call, and not the subscribers’ identities or the content of the telephone calls . . .”

    then I am not sure that this is any worse than tracking a vehicle by means of its use of E-Z Pass, or tracking an individual by means of Metro Pass.

    I agree that the “if” is a big “IF”.


  50. Verizon Breaks Silence on Top-Secret Surveillance of its Customers

    By David Kravets
    1:48 PM

    Verizon responded to allegations that the telecom was served with a top-secret court order demanding it provide the FBI and the NSA with customer call records continuously, and in bulk, saying it respects “customers’ privacy” but must comply with the law.

    The telecom’s comments came a day after the Guardian disclosed that a secretive U.S. court, known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, issued a sweeping order requiring Verizon Business Services — formerly MCI — to give the NSA a feed of metadata on all calls within the United States and between the United States and foreign countries on an “ongoing, daily basis” for three months. Verizon declined to comment on the “accuracy” of the story, but noted that the order published by the Guardian “forbids Verizon from revealing the order’s existence.”

    “Verizon continually takes steps to safeguard its customers’ privacy. Nevertheless, the law authorizes the federal courts to order a company to provide information in certain circumstances, and if Verizon were to receive such an order, we would be required to comply,” Randy Milch, Verizon’s general counsel, said in a letter to employees.

    Presumably, all the nation’s carriers have been ordered to turn over such data that includes the phone numbers of both parties involved in the calls, the International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number for mobile callers, calling card numbers used in the call, and the time and duration of the calls. It does not include the name or address of the subscriber or other account information. Nor does the order allow the content of calls to be recorded and collected. It may, however, include the location of the calls through cell-site data.

    An anonymous Obama administration official told the AP today the data was a “critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats.” Wired

  51. Wyden’s recent press release:


    Thursday, June 6, 2013

    Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), released this statement following news reports alleging that the U.S. Government has collected the phone records of millions of Verizon customers. Wyden is a senior member of the Senate Intelligence committee.

    “The program Senators Feinstein and Chambliss publicly referred to today is one that I have been concerned about for years. I am barred by Senate rules from commenting on some of the details at this time. However, I believe that when law-abiding Americans call their friends, who they call, when they call, and where they call from is private information. Collecting this data about every single phone call that every American makes every day would be a massive invasion of Americans’ privacy.

    The administration has an obligation to give a substantive and timely response to the American people and I hope this story will force a real debate about the government’s domestic surveillance authorities. The American people have a right to know whether their government thinks that the sweeping, dragnet surveillance that has been alleged in this story is allowed under the law and whether it is actually being conducted. Furthermore, they have a right to know whether the program that has been described is actually of value in preventing attacks. Based on several years of oversight, I believe that its value and effectiveness remain unclear.”

    Ron Wyden ‏@RonWyden 1h

    RE: #NSA tracking- Who law-abiding Americans call, when they call, & where they call from is private information http://1.usa.gov/11v2CYb

  52. Thursday, Jun 6, 2013

    “Now we are all persons of interest”

    NSA whistle-blower Thomas Drake tells Salon why the Verizon surveillance is the new normal, and may never be undone

    By Natasha Lennard



    “I think there is a great irony that the Guardian — a U.K. newspaper — is holding a mirror up to U.S. policy, with a story written by Glenn Greenwald, who is based in Brazil.”

    But while Drake sees a slim silver lining in the growing attention paid to sprawling government surveillance, he stressed that reasserting Fourth Amendment protections in a meaningful way would be an uphill battle, requiring a government committee with the political will and resolve akin to the committee created by Sen. Frank Church in the 1970s.

    It was, after all, Church who cautioned in 1975, “The [National Security Agency’s] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.”

    Church’s dystopic projections are our reality. As Drake told Salon, total, blanket surveillance is “a cancer on the body politic” that will be very hard to remove indeed.

    End of excerpt

  53. While the igPays are spying on you the Dogs are taking care of business. Here is an article from the internet:


    Subscribe for instant access to PEOPLE

    Pui knew something wasn’t right.

    When the dog spotted a white plastic bag lying in a trash dump in Thailand’s Tha Rua district, he took it in his mouth, brought it to the patio of his home and barked as loud as he could.

    His owner’s 12-year-old niece came to see what the fuss was about, and discovered a newborn baby girl – still alive – inside of the bag, reports The Bangkok Post.

    Pui’s owner, Gumnerd Thongmak, and his niece, Sudarat, rushed the infant to Tha Rua Hospital, where doctors determined the baby was premature, weighing just 4 lbs. The infant has since been transferred to another hospital, and area officials are looking for her mother.

    Get more stories on your favorite celebrities by subscribing now.

    Meanwhile, Pui’s good deed hasn’t gone unnoticed. On Monday, he received a leather collar and a medal from the Tha Rua district Red Cross chapter as a sign of gratitude, and The Miracle of Life Foundation gave Gumnerd a $300 reward. But the heroics should come as no surprise to those who know Pui, a neighborhood watchdog of sorts: The district chief told The Bangkok Post that the pooch is regularly seen sniffing around the community.

  54. Hey “boys and girls” … Cheezus is bringin’ democracy to the world … unless … before “America scarfs it up a sh*ts on it” … the wee people prevail.

    OH! In the Sky!

  55. Chris Moody ‏@Chris_Moody 27m tweet

    We live in a neat world where a guy in Brazil, (@ggreenwald) writing for a British paper, (@Guardian) can shake up the US with one story.

  56. “The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times and under all circumstances. No doctrine involving more pernicious consequences was ever invented by the wit of man than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government. Such a doctrine leads directly to anarchy or despotism, but the theory of necessity on which it is based is false, for the government, within the Constitution, has all the powers granted to it which are necessary to preserve its existence.” — Ex parte Milligan

  57. Roots in the ’70s

    PRISM is an heir, in one sense, to a history of intelligence alliances with as many as 100 trusted U.S. companies since the 1970s. The NSA calls these Special Source Operations, and PRISM falls under that rubric.

    The Silicon Valley operation works alongside a parallel program, code-named BLARNEY, that gathers up “metadata” — address packets, device signatures and the like — as it streams past choke points along the backbone of the Internet. BLARNEY’s top-secret program summary, set down alongside a cartoon insignia of a shamrock and a leprechaun hat, describes it as “an ongoing collection program that leverages IC [intelligence community] and commercial partnerships to gain access and exploit foreign intelligence obtained from global networks.”

    But the PRISM program appears more nearly to resemble the most controversial of the warrantless surveillance orders issued by President George W. Bush after the al-Qaeda attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Its history, in which President Obama presided over “exponential growth” in a program that candidate Obama criticized, shows how fundamentally surveillance law and practice have shifted away from individual suspicion in favor of systematic, mass collection techniques. From the WAPO article

  58. http://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/us-intelligence-mining-data-from-nine-us-internet-companies-in-broad-secret-program/2013/06/06/3a0c0da8-cebf-11e2-8845-d970ccb04497_story.html?hpid=z1

    U.S. intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program

    By Barton Gellman and Laura Poitras, Thursday, June 6, 5:43 PM

    With Laura Poitras, board member of The Freedom of the Press Foundation co-reporting:

    Firsthand experience with these systems, and horror at their capabilities, is what drove a career intelligence officer to provide PowerPoint slides about PRISM and supporting materials to The Washington Post in order to expose what he believes to be a gross intrusion on privacy. “They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type,” the officer said.

    And what is the govt doing with PRISM?

    The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time.

    The highly classified program, code-named PRISM, has not been disclosed publicly before. Its establishment in 2007 and six years of exponential growth took place beneath the surface of a roiling debate over the boundaries of surveillance and privacy. Even late last year, when critics of the foreign intelligence statute argued for changes, the only members of Congress who know about PRISM were bound by oaths of office to hold their tongues.

    An internal presentation on the Silicon Valley operation, intended for senior analysts in the NSA’s Signals Intelligence Directorate, described the new tool as the most prolific contributor to the President’s Daily Brief, which cited PRISM data in 1,477 articles last year. According to the briefing slides, obtained by The Washington Post, “NSA reporting increasingly relies on PRISM” as its leading source of raw material, accounting for nearly 1 in 7 intelligence reports.

  59. Glenn Greenwald ‏@ggreenwald 20m

    Way past time that the Surveillance State sees the sun. Sun is really good for you. Enjoy it. Absorb the rays.

    Glenn Greenwald Glenn Greenwald ‏@ggreenwald 23m

    The dam has broke – let the water and sunshine flow

    Glenn Greenwald Glenn Greenwald ‏@ggreenwald 23m

    OUR STORY: NSA has direct access to tech giants’ systems for user data, secret files reveal … http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/06/us-tech-giants-nsa-data

  60. anonymously posted
    1, June 6, 2013 at 3:56 pm
    Yep, Blouise… “the straw” (I had intended to get back to you on that one.)

    Just don’t call … me thinks we’re going to have to resort to the old fashioned way:

    To make invisible ink:

    1.Pour lemon juice in a bowl. Dip a toothpick or straight pin in it, and with the lemon juice, write your message.

    2.You can see the lemon juice on the paper when it is wet, but when it dries, it is invisible.

    3.To read your message, put the paper containing your message over a 150 watt bulb and your writing will turn brown.

    But to ensure the creepy folk in government don’t catch on use a diary code too:


    This is the Diary Code. Look in the lower right hand corner of the box and read up. In between each word, put a Y W X Z or S.

    W x Y Y
    E S o S
    G I J E
    a H N P
    S T E O
    s Z S H
    E Y U X
    M w O I

    This might not post right … formating problem

  61. Surveillance? Of U.S. citizens?

    Well good.

    Then you won’t have to guess which finger I’m holding up, will you, Obama?

  62. Blouise,
    :-) I did, I did. And it’s the first time that I’ve laughed today.

    Note to arrive by carrier pigeon (whenever it gets there — you know the distance)… unless a “predator” takes it down first. (The juice is drying.)

    Thanks, Blouise. I needed that.

  63. AP,
    I edited out the computer language “hash” in your comment. The link to the video still works.

  64. OS,

    That wasn’t “hash” — it was specifically tailored for Blouise. But, thanks.

    Here you go, Blouise. This will please the censors. perhaps 😉

  65. I wish Vince would come aboard now…. He had good solid reasoning….

    I agree with what Jill said…. With out exception……

    The are very few things said I find issue with…. Except to defend these fools….

    Welcome to the US S of A …. Taking notes from the kremlin I’m sure….. Imperialistic power….

  66. BD, I salvaged one of the first amendment comments. I think I figured out why the spam filter kept snagging the comment. Explanation here: https://jonathanturley.org/2013/06/06/learning-to-love-the-matrix-feinstein-defends-warrantless-surveillance-of-all-citizens/#comment-581936

    ap, The spam filter has been acting up, and that looked like what happened to me earlier today when I copied and pasted a link on another blog. It copied the link, but then added a huge blob of machine code under it. I assumed that was what happened.

  67. I suppose President “Body Count” Obama must find it difficult to fathom why Americans should suddenly complain about him secretly vacuuming up all their telephone calls when (a) he has done if for years and (b) they don’t complain when he has people murdered whenever and wherever he wants, and for any “reason” that he decides to keep secret because he may not actually have one. I mean, once you’ve given yourself a license to kill and gotten away with it, doesn’t a license to spy just sort of come along as part of the tyrannical territory? I mean, after all:

    Don’t You Know We’re at AUMF?

    He’ll only kill some Muslims,
    not us, he — sort of — says;
    unless we travel overseas,
    in which case, when he slays
    on purpose or by accident,
    no law on earth delays
    or otherwise impedes our Prince
    who’s found that killing pays,
    although the Senator complains
    but then his crimes OKs.

    Michael Murry, The Misfortune Teller, Copyright 2013

  68. Trying to post the link to Glenn Greenwald on Piers Morgan.

    “There is a massive apparatus within the United States government that with complete secrecy has been building this enormous structure that has only one goal,” he told Piers Morgan. “And that is to destroy privacy and anonymity not just in the United States but around the world.”

    Visibly impassioned, and notably distressed by what he’s uncovered, Greenwald called for action, insisting something must be done to address the movements of the National Security Agency:

    “It’s well past time that we have a debate about whether that’s the kind of country and world in which we want to live,” he declared. “We haven’t had that debate because it’s all done in secrecy and the Obama administration has been very aggressive about bullying and threatening anybody who thinks about exposing it or writing about it or even doing journalism about it. It’s well past time that that come to an end.” -GG

  69. anonymously posted 1, June 6, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    My comments aren’t posting.


    Except the one-liners.

  70. “It’s well past time that we have a debate about whether that’s the kind of country and world in which we want to live,” he declared. “We haven’t had that debate because it’s all done in secrecy and the Obama administration has been very aggressive about bullying and threatening anybody who thinks about exposing it or writing about it or even doing journalism about it. It’s well past time that that come to an end.” -Glenn Greenwald on Piers Morgan tonight (The link won’t post.)

  71. “But always – do not forget this, Winston – always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.” — 1984

  72. On the Jake Tapper clip…
    … Why does Mr. Tapper appear shocked, like he just found out? Not like it wasn’t heavily covered back in 2004. Was he asleep at the Journalist wheel? never mind the answer… Or does he regularly play dumb for his audience?

  73. ap,

    I looked in the spam filter and moderation queue and found nothing from you either place. Are the comments up now? If not, they have been eaten by the WP Vortex of Doom. It has been known to happen from time to time. Maybe you should file a trouble ticket with WordPress. You can do so here: http://www.wordpress.org/support/

  74. The U.S. is one of the most violent countries in the world. We have huge numbers in prison and evidently we enjoy guns very much. It would be useful for Americans to learn how much we have spent on the haystack to find associations overseas that are real threats to this country by collaborating and correlate that to the real violence that we see and read about and live evey day in our cities and homes. Fusion Centers have admitted they have little impact on terrorists so they justify billions of dollars by fighting any criminal they can identify with their watch groups. Is that the real war that we are fighting for billions? At some point, the social contract has to include the wellbeing of the citizen. Threats from fanatics will always be but do we construct a society to toss everything at these people or do we start to rebuild our infrastructure and our defense so that fear of the fanatic is not the first concern — fear of loss of our values and our government should be our first concern.

  75. […] Alito wrote that just because no one may be able to challenge the law is no reason to recognize standing — a position that guts the separation of powers principles underlying judicial review. He also cites to the secret FISA as judicial review — a truly laughable proposition. I have been in that court as a NSA legal intern and the thought that it constitutes any real form of review is a preposterous notion. I have written and testified on this court in the past.” https://jonathanturley.org/2013/06/06/obama-administration-confirms-massive-surveillance-program-by-n… […]

  76. Why I’m Suing Barack Obama by Chris Hedges: It is a catastrophic blow to civil liberties.

    The act authorizes the military in Title X, Subtitle D, entitled “Counter-Terrorism,” for the first time in more than 200 years, to carry out domestic policing.

    With this bill, which will take effect March 3, 2011, the military can indefinitely detain without trial any U.S. citizen deemed to be a terrorist or an accessory to terrorism.

    And suspects can be shipped by the military to our offshore penal colony in Guantanamo Bay and kept there until “the end of hostilities.”

    The oddest part of this legislation is that the FBI, the CIA, the director of national intelligence, the Pentagon and the attorney general didn’t support it.


  77. Death of the Liberal Class 10/22/2010. Is Chris Hedges right? Have the pillars which protect a liberal democracy – the press, liberal religious institutions, labour unions, universities and the Democratic Party in the U.S. – sold out to corporate interests?

    Chris Hedges on the loss of democracy from major American institutions, including education, religion, politics and unions and of the growing corporate class.


  78. Machiavelli would have approved. The hoarding of data gathered on the general population merely hides the real goal: get the dirt on the recalcitrant legislator or bureaucrat or reporter, and suddenly everything works according to plan.

  79. Does this domestic policing and surveillance involve Fusion Centers and their law enforcement partnership? I would like to know if this is common information of confidential state by state.

  80. “Alito simply said that the parties could not prove that they were subject to surveillance — since the Obama Administration has classified such evidence…”

    But now, thanks to Snowden, they have the requisite proof.

  81. How is the information shared or used ? It is so massive that the explanation thus far seems to provide no information on this part of the activity. What value would this information be ? The assumption may be that information about individuals is already known so the collection can be correlated to that which is already known — but that appears to be only possible if something is already available to ready the collection. So what would that be? For instance, my ex-husband is head of the International Schools in another country. If I called him or he called me, that would provide no information whatsoever to anyone interested in bad actors. This seems to be an activity of the head chasing the tail. It would seems DHS has invested billions in data mining with hundreds of companies that are paid to do this and I want to know what impact this has on our economic recovery and I want to know exactly how this has made us more secure in this country. We are a company with thousands in jails, poverty and high crime, joblessness which correlates to these factors and just as important, a violent society that cannot even provide laws for those that wish to own a gun. We already spend billions on lawless countries like Pakistan and we now understand the risks of living in a free society amongst those that have no concept of choice or free will. What are we doing?

  82. Well tthose who never heard of what they are well
    no need to worry in basic terms its simply a white bboard that has
    touch screen technology behind it hence the name.
    Take Just use the secret to a phisher, which I think is quite simple.
    Unlike wireless internet which onjly offers a limited area of connectivity, a mobile internet’s broadcast features
    a wider range since thee signal emanates from internet towers
    very similar to the ones being utilized by cellular phone companies.

  83. Investing in surveillance of our population appears to correlate to fear of this population — not a foreign actor or group of terrorists. Fusion Centers have now shifted gears to focus on citizen crime. Not violent crime but anything that might catch the attention of the citizen troops. As child of the 50’s, this is particularly upsetting. I will never find a house in Mayberry U.S.A. now. But I did have a very different life prior to September 11th and knew lots of very friendly people in a small town. It is not just Government surveillance that has changed us — we have changed us by permitting it, looking at leaders that suspect the average person of being a potential criminal without any proof, simply because they can. The Constitution can only mean something if we believe in the rule of law. There is no “sort of” justice.

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