Report: Pelosi Killed Privacy

220px-nancy_pelosiThe respected Foreign Policy magazine details how the recent close vote on the NSA warrantless surveillance program was heading to a victory for privacy when the White House called in Nancy Pelosi. With heavy pressure from Pelosi, the White House was able to get just enough votes to kill privacy. Even with her ignoble role in this vote (and prior work to reduce civil liberties), many democrats are still supporting Pelosi in what is now a robotic form of politics. As their leader takes an axe to privacy, Democrats are again adopting the mantra that the other guys are worse and she is still good on other issues — making privacy just another item to trade off as part of the blue state/red state paradigm maintained by our duopoly of government.

Rep. Justin Amash came close to stopping the NSA with a 205-217 with many Republicans joining Democrats to fight for privacy. THe White House put on a full court press to block the effort. However, it came down to Pelosi to deliver the death blow for civil liberties — establishing once again that she is entirely untethered to any principle beyond blind loyalty to Barack Obama and the continuation of her own political ambitions. Roughly 60 percent of voters would get rid of all of the incumbents but we have a system that perpetuates the power of politicians like Pelosi. It does not matter that the public hates Congress or that people like Jimmy Carter have said that we no longer has a functioning democracy. The Democratic operatives just hold up some conservative nut case on YouTube like a shiny thing to distract the public from another blow to civil liberties by Democrats.

Think of it. Here is a representative from San Francisco (one of the bastions of civil liberties) fighting to cripple privacy as the California Senator, Dianne Feinstein, leads the fight to expand warrantless surveillance and shield the security state from review. Their public roles against civil liberties shows how successful the Democratic party has become in convincing voters that they have to continue to support them because the Republicans are worse. It is the ultimate expression of the relativism that has taken hold of the party. With Congress at a record low in popularity, the incumbents continue to be reelected because they have convinced voters that it is all a matter of red states and blue states — not abstractions like due process or privacy. It is the easiest concession to make: you do not have to take a principled stand in opposing people like Pelosi so long as you can point to bad people in the other party. It is the sharks and the jets and you have to “stick with your own kind” even if you can’t quite remember what that kind is. You just can’t let the other side win even if our politicians are cleaving off fundamental rights and protections.

I also must confess to some suspicions about the closeness of the vote. Often when Congress is doing something shameful, leadership will engineer a close vote to allow members to vote on the right side in districts that are vulnerable. I expect Pelosi worked to allow as many Democrats to vote for privacy while the result was locked in by the White House. These members can now return and assure voters that they fought for privacy even though they did nothing for years despite prior reports of such surveillance. The security state gets to keep its massive surveillance system and Pelosi gets the continued support of President Obama as leader of her party in the House. Everyone wins accept the public, but they hardly matter.

Source: FP

100 thoughts on “Report: Pelosi Killed Privacy”

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  2. Nancy Pelosi is a complete scumbag along with her California buddy, Dianne Feinstein. They have become multi-millionaires/billionaires from their crimes in Congress.

  3. Just a little propaganda test for those of you who follow the Propaganda threads, especially the Sound of Silence edition … “propaganda is not always language or images. Sometimes it is the lack of words.” (Gene)

    Okay, what is missing from this column that by its absence suggests propaganda might be at work here.

    No need to post an answer for this is mainly a question designed to make you think.

  4. Jill,

    Too many are fiddling while Rome burns, it would seem. Thanks for your “on point” comments here, as always.

  5. I agree that people do not or will not understand the nature of the people running things. The “leadership” commits murder and torture, then they laugh about it. It was disgusting to read about the Fox newz woman who yuked it up after hearing about murder and torture by govt. officials. But that’s what most of the press is like–subservient suck-ups to officials who engage in all manner of cruelty and illegality.

    The CIA whistleblower has documents implicating officials at the highest level of govt. She is talking about how the govt. lied repeatedly, and used their own lies to excuse rendition and torture. Yet, this govt. is out to convince people they are trustworthy.

    We have a president, some Congress people, and corporations colluding in torture, murder, massive spying. Yes, we do need to focus on that as citizens.

  6. It has been said that when we lose our democratic principles and ethics as a nation, it will NOT be due to an outside force, but from within: “Like a rotten fruit that falls from the tree of liberty, eaten to the core by worms of corruption.”

  7. Posted on Saturday, July 27, 2013

    U.S. allowed Italian kidnap prosecution to shield higher-ups, ex-CIA officer says


    According to De Sousa, the Bush administration had two thresholds for an extraordinary rendition: A target had to be on a U.S. list of top al Qaida terrorists who posed “a clear and imminent danger” to American and allied lives, and the nation where an operation was planned had to make the arrest.

    Neither occurred with Nasr, De Sousa said.


    Repeating that: “Neither occurred with Nasr.”

  8. They’re playin’ hardball while many of the rest of us “make nice”. Many underestimate the utter ruthlessness of some of these folks.

    Shocking ‘Extermination’ Fantasies By the People Running America’s
    Empire on Full Display at Aspen Summit

    Security Forum participants expressed total confidence in American empire, but could not contain their panic at the mention of Snowden

    By Max Blumenthal


    Another forum sponsor was Academi, the private mercenary corporation formerly known as Blackwater. In fact, Academi is Blackwater’s third incarnation (it was first renamed “Xe”) since revelations of widespread human rights abuses and possible war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan threw the mercenary firm into full damage control mode. The Aspen Institute did not respond to my questions about whether accepting sponsorship from such an unsavory entity fit within its ethical guidelines.

    ‘Exterminating People’

    John Ashcroft, the former Attorney General who prosecuted the war on terror under the administration of George W. Bush, appeared at Aspen as a board member of Academi. Responding to a question about U.S. over-reliance on the “kinetic” approach of drone strikes and special forces, Ashcroft reminded the audience that the U.S. also likes to torture terror suspects, not just “exterminate” them.

    “It’s not true that we have relied solely on the kinetic option,” Ashcroft insisted. “We wouldn’t have so many detainees if we’d relied on the ability to exterminate people…We’ve had a blended and nuanced approach and for the guy who’s on the other end of a Hellfire missile he doesn’t see that as a nuance.”

    Hearty laughs erupted from the crowd and fellow panelists. With a broad smile on her face, moderator Catherine Herridge of Fox News joked to Ashcroft, “You have a way with words.”

    But Ashcroft was not done. He proceeded to boast about the pain inflicted on detainees during long CIA torture sessions: “And maybe there are people who wish they were on the end of one of those missiles.”

    Competing with Ashcroft for the High Authoritarian prize was former NSA chief Michael Hayden, who emphasized the importance of Obama’s drone assassinations, at least in countries the U.S. has deemed to be Al Qaeda havens. “Here’s the strategic question,” Hayden said. “People in Pakistan? I think that’s very clear. Kill ’em. People in Yemen? The same. Kill ’em.”


    So who were the “bad guys” who “walk among us,” and how could Americans be sure they had not been ensnared by the NSA’s all-encompassing spying regime, either inadvertently or intentionally? Nearly all the Security Forum participants involved in domestic surveillance responded to this question by insisting that the NSA had the world’s most rigorous program of oversight, pointing to Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) courts as the best and only means of ensuring that “mistakes” are corrected.

    “We have more oversight on this [PRISM] program than any other program in any government that I’m aware of,” Alexander proclaimed, ramming home a talking point repeated throughout the forum.

    “I can assure these are some of the judges who are renowned for holding the government to a very high standard,” John Carlin, the Assistant US Attorney General for National Security, stated.

    But in the last year, FISA courts received 1,856 applications for surveillance from the government. In 100 percent of cases, they were approved. As for Congress, only two senators, Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, demanded the NSA explain why PRISM was necessary or questioned its legality. Despite the fact that the entire regime of oversight was a rubber stamp, or perhaps because of it, none of those who appeared at the Security Forum to defend it were willing to consider any forum of independent civilian review.

    “You have to do [domestic surveillance] within a closed bubble in order to do it effectively,” Dennis Blair, the director of National Intelligence conceded under sustained grilling from the Washington Post’s Barton Gellman, one of the reporters who broke Snowden’s leaks and perhaps the only journalist at the Security Forum who subjected participants to tough scrutiny.

    When Gellman reminded Alexander that none of the oversight mechanisms currently in place could determine if the NSA had improperly targeted American citizens with no involvement in terror-related activity, the general declared, “we self-report those mistakes.”

    “It can’t be, let’s just stop doing it, cause we know, that doesn’t work,” Alexander maintained. “We’ve got to have some program like [PRISM].”

    The wars would go on, and so would the spying.

    Reinstituting Public Confidence

    During a panel on inter-agency coordination of counter-terror efforts, Mike Leiter, the former director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCC), suggested that one of the best means of preserving America’s vast and constantly expanding spying apparatus was “by reinstituting faith among the public in our oversight.”

    Even as current NCC director Matthew Olsen conceded, “There really are limits in how transparent we can be,” Leiter demanded that the government “give the public confidence that there’s oversight.

    Since leaving the NCC, Leiter has become the senior counsel of Palantir Technologies, a private security contractor that conducts espionage on behalf of the FBI, CIA, financial institutions, the LAPD and the NYPD, among others. In 2011, Palantir spearheaded a dirty tricks campaign against critics of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, including journalists, compiling electronic dossiers intended to smear them. Palantir’s target list included progressive groups like Think Progress, SEIU and U.S. Chamber Watch.

    In the friendly confines of the Aspen Institute’s Security Forum, Leiter did his best to burnish his company’s tarnished image, and do some damage control on behalf of the national security apparatus it depends on for contracts. Like most other participants, Leiter appeared in smart casual dress, with an open collar, loafers, a loose-fitting jacket and slacks.

    “Just seeing us here,” he said, “that inspires [public] confidence, because we’re not a bunch of ogres.”

  9. Published on Friday, July 26, 2013 by Common Dreams

    America’s Real Subversives: FBI Spying Then, NSA Surveillance Now

    As the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington nears, let’s not forget the history of agency overreach and abuse of power

    by Amy Goodman

    (Old “games” with new “toys”… Now’s the time to keep up the pressure. Some of what’s taking place in the U.S. hasn’t yet see the light of day. We need to make sure that it does. If ever there was a time for Americans to “focus”, this is it.)

  10. This is amazing! A CIA officer has come forward and blown the whistle! ” WASHINGTON — A former CIA officer has broken the U.S. silence around the 2003 abduction of a radical Islamist cleric in Italy, charging that the agency inflated the threat the preacher posed and that the United States then allowed Italy to prosecute her and other Americans to shield President George W. Bush and other U.S. officials from responsibility for approving the operation.

    Confirming for the first time that she worked undercover for the CIA in Milan when the operation took place, Sabrina De Sousa provided new details about the “extraordinary rendition” that led to the only criminal prosecution stemming from the secret Bush administration rendition and detention program launched after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

    The cleric, Osama Mustapha Hassan Nasr, was snatched from a Milan street by a team of CIA operatives and flown to Egypt, where he was held for the better part of four years without charges and allegedly tortured. An Egyptian court in 2007 ruled that his imprisonment was “unfounded” and ordered him released.

    Among the allegations made by De Sousa in a series of interviews with McClatchy:

    – The former CIA station chief in Rome, Jeffrey Castelli, whom she called the mastermind of the operation, exaggerated Nasr’s terrorist threat to win approval for the rendition and misled his superiors that Italian military intelligence had agreed to the operation.

    – Senior CIA officials, including then-CIA Director George Tenet, approved the operation even though there were doubts about Castelli’s case – Nasr wasn’t wanted in Egypt and wasn’t on the U.S. list of top al Qaida terrorists.

    – Condoleezza Rice, then the White House national security adviser, also had concerns about the case, especially what Italy would do if the CIA were caught, but she eventually agreed to it and recommended that Bush approve the abduction.”

    Read more here:

  11. Some good news! “The Obama administration has been rebuffed at the first hearing of a landmark case into the constitutionality of the mass collection of telephone data.

    Justice Department lawyers argued for the case to be delayed because the intelligence community is busily working through classified material related to surveillance to see what can be made public. Some of that declassified material could be pertinent to the case, but it is a time-consuming effort, they said.

    But at the US district court in New York, judge William Pauley dismissed the request and set a schedule, with motions to be filed by 26 August and oral arguments to begin on 1 November.

    The 40-minute hearing in courtroom 20B could be the start of a long process that could go all the way to the supreme court unless the NSA abandons major parts of its surveillance programme or Congress changes the law.

    The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit five days after the Guardian revealed the NSA is engaged in the mass collection of US phone records.

    Jameel Jaffer, representing the ACLU, said: “We are arguing that the programme is not authorised by statute…” (guardian)

  12. kay sieverding 1, July 26, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    … the CIA … is the parent agency of the NSA … The NSA is part of the CIA.

    The military NSA has always been Pentagon based, always had a minimum of a 3-star General as its commander.

    A military commander who has always reported to the Secretary of Defense in the Pentagon (On The Origin of Security – 2).

    Facts are important for the foundation of arguments.

    Pelosi, Hoyer, and other leading democrats, if the story JT presents in this post is true, are joining the ranks of the rank republicans who seem to want the U.S.A. to go down the path Egypt has taken in their current wilderness.

    Egypt: currently a nation where the military is seen as a savior when the national politics become publicly unsavory and morph into an oppressive regime.

    So, the military gets rid of the authoritarian civilian government.

    What could go wrong?

  13. Oky,

    What’s there to defend? Both are reputable organizations with everyone but the lunatic fringe. My karma is just fine, but thank you for your concern.

    Thanks, seamus. You’re a good guy in my book too.

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