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Patrick Richardson

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June 8, 2013 - 8:30 pm
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On the heels of the revelations regarding the NSA, the Electronic Frontier Foundation – the leading digital rights organization in the U.S. – is demanding a “new Church Committee.” This 1975 commission was chaired by Sen. Frank Church (D-ID), and investigated illegal spying on American citizens by the CIA, the NSA, and other government entities.

Church said at the time:

[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.

In a press release, the EFF said:

Following on the heels of the Guardian reporting that the NSA is collecting all U.S call data records of Verizon customers, the Guardian and Washington Post yesterday reported that nine of the biggest Internet companies, including Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, are also working with the government in a vast spying program, where a massive amount of online data flows to the NSA, all in secret. The revelations not only confirmed what EFF has long alleged, they went even further and honestly, we’re still reeling. EFF will, of course, be continuing its efforts to get this egregious situation addressed by the courts.

This situation has been in place for years, according to Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein:

We have debated this several times — more than a dozen times — in the intelligence committee. It has been the subject of judiciary committee hearings. It has been the subject of extended floor debate and votes. There is nothing new in this program. The fact of the matter is, that this was a routine three-month approval under seal that was leaked.

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All Comments   (16)
All Comments   (16)
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Thing is, I no longer trust the EFF. They've tied themselves to too many far-left causes, including having their "Middle East expert" a rabid Palestinian booster.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bingo.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
What is taking place is not happening in a vacuum, nor for spying sake. There is a defined end goal in mind, therefore, all political dissents must be purged, one way or another. And the first way to do this is to compile an "enemies list". Heading this task is not the NSA (they are just the designers) but the following players -http://adinakutnicki.com/2013/06/10/cias-muslim-convert-brennan-his-spooky-skeletons-creep-to-the-fore-commentary-by-adina-kutnicki/

Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think a mistrust of the administration is the problem. The
Church committee dismantled some worthwhile aspects of our intelligence system and really destroyed morale. That is probably at a pretty low point now. I don't know if it is true, but I heard a lot of the "manned" aspects of the spy system were destroyed and there had to be greater reliance on the computerized aspects of spying. Apparently, there is no substitute for the "man in the street" and that network takes a long time to establish. I would hate to see that happen again.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
"The man in the street" is now an OFA person, walking American streets, organizing American citizens to "keep an eye" so to speak on other American citizens.

The overall intelligence effort isn't declining, but is being conducted differently and is being redirected internally to the country. This, even though President Obama declared that the War on Terror is winding down.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think the problem is far more complex, and important, than that which the Church Committee addressed. It is not so much how the data is gathered, or even the method in which it is used by the intelligence community. I think we can all agree that a certain amount of intelligence gathering is necessary to counter those entities which want to conduct asymmetrical warfare against this country.

What is badly needed is some guarantee that the Obama regime, or some future wannabe dictatorship, won't be able to use that intelligence against Americans in order to [punish them for dissenting. And by "guarantee" I don't mean secretly briefing Congress once a year, or some secret court issuing secret orders which no one gets to read. The current regime has demonstrated that it is folly to trust it to conduct itself in a manner consistent with the Constitution and the values inherent in our system of government.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
The author, judging from his photo, must've been a very small child when that Senator caused such luridly sensational headlines. My own memories of that time are that our Soviet and Red Chinese enemies of that era loved every bit of it, ate it up. Couldn't wait for the next revelation which saved them so much expensive clandestine effort. I believe the murder of the C.I.A.'s station Chief in Athens or Beirut (correction required here) was only one direct result.

Times have changed, really, really changed.

It's more than a bit rich right now that our society which so gleefully and voyeuristically publishes the most intimate details of their sex lives including photos of their genitals on the Internet via Facebook and other "social" websites is now so shrilly and loudly proclaiming, "Invasions of privacy!" by Verizon and Facebook and Google at the hands of the inherently evil Intelligence Community.

Those gleeful U.S. intelligence-proceedure-absorbing communistic boots are now the sandals of our Muslim enemies.

The knives are out again, apparently. The liberal anti-Ameddican [sic] Guardian and the Washington Post are reaching out for their Watergate-days notoriety. The New York Times is writhing in absolute envy that they were somehow left out this time around.

45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
So, are we to assume from your comments that the age of the author negates the need to deal with NSA abuses of power? Shall we decline to investigate for fear of what our enemies might learn? Depend upon it, if the NSA and other alphabet soup agencies are this corrupt, our enemies already know because they have their own agents nicely embedded - when the US news media isn't spreading the details to further their favored candidate.

You also appear to have missed the admittedly subtle difference between sharing something between friends and having Big Brother Government listening in. In addition, there is supposedly Constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure of private data. We've been tolerating ever more blatant violations of that protection in the name of "the drug war" - this is where it ends: a surveillance state where you can never tell if some casual comment is going to get you or someone you know into trouble. The mindset that says it's okay to spy on phone calls and password-secured data is the same mindset that led to a quarter of the East German population informing on their fellows. The only difference - so far - is in degree. Let this pass, and that will change.

Oh, and those who seem to think it's okay because it's being done for "their" side will probably be among the first against the wall if the worst does happen. Historically that's how it works. Useful idiots first, then the real enemies.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
..repeating here:

"My own memories of that time are that our Soviet and Red Chinese enemies of that era loved every bit of it, ate it up. Couldn't wait for the next revelation which saved them so much expensive clandestine effort. I believe the murder of the C.I.A.'s station Chief in Athens or Beirut (correction required here) was only one direct result."
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm not sure I get your point.

It's okay to turn our country into a police state, which everyone being monitored, because otherwise, our spies in other countries will get assassinated?

Frankly, if someone wants to be a spy and go to another country spy, I fail to see why I (or any other citizen of the US) should give up our basic rights.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
The first graf got truncated -- it should be "but because the current situation is not simply set up on Republican-vs.-Democratic grounds, the debate isn't on pure partisan ground, and has created unusual short-term alliances."
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
We could also benefit from a Fish, McCormack-Dickstein, or Dies Committee.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
AKA the House Un-American Activities Committee, HUAC.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Be careful what you wish for -- the pendulum swinging too far in the other direction under Carter as a result of the Church Committee reforms led to the intelligence failures of the late 1970s and early 1980s. If the same thing happens here, expect the same results 5-10 years down the line.

(This situation is different, though, in that with Church, it was the post-Watergate Democrats looking to gut the CIA and other intelligence-gathering operations, because it was their parting shot at the Nixon Administration, and the media happily went along -- sticking it to the CIA and NSA were seen as simply sticking it to the Republicans. Here, you've got the media hugely conflicted and Democrats split, because all this stuff that's coming out was done under their hero, as much as they want to push the "Bush did it too!" meme. That might actually mean that, in the end, there's a better chance to real reform here that doesn't go overboard and dismantles both the illegal domestic surveillance and the needed checking up on actual threats both inside the U.S. and to American interests overseas.)
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
John, the problem that came out of the Church committee was to limit who the US could use and pay for intelligence work. For some reason, the Church committee believed we could find people of the highest integrity and honesty to do such work. We couldn't. So, the decision was made to reduce human intelligence gathering and focus on electronic spying. That is not the same thing as protecting Americans from out own government, a government we already know to be untrustworthy.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
I agree it was more of a boots on the ground situation, but that was due to the technology of the times that was being employed. Nearly 40 years after the fact the parameters are different in terms of what an NSA can do with 21st Century technology, so the reforms are necessarily going to be different. My point was the same over-reaction can happen now that happened then, but because the current situation is simply set up on Republican-vs.-Democratic grounds.

Conservatives' concerns about U.S. surveillance are, long-term, different that Glenn Greewald's concerns about surveillance. Greenwald would be happy if America never snooped on anyone, anywhere ( http://www.politico.com/story/2013/06/glenn-greenwald-us-privacy-92400.html?hp=l1 ). At the moment he and many conservative are on the same side, but if you switched the questioning to the matter of surveillance in connection with the Tsarnaev brothers and the Boston bombings, I think you'd see a definite disconnect between Glenn and others on the right.

If hearings and reforms of the current spying tactics were to give Greenwald everything he wanted, that would not be good for the U.S. in the long-term. But the fact that the current positions on the NSA don't divide down into simply right-vs.-left lines means there's a better chance some constructive reforms might actually get accomplished.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
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