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Belmont Club

The Nonsolution

January 17th, 2014 - 1:33 pm

Readers will note that President Obama’s announced NSA “reforms” to exempt foreign leaders, delegate the storage of phone records to a non-NSA entity and add more lawyers to the process of accessing communications records substantially follow the recommendations of Cass Sunstein as laid out in the document Liberty and Security in a Changing World. These recommendations were analyzed in the post The Black Chamber.

Do they help? I wrote that they did not.  They do nothing to reduce the main source of danger, which is the close relationship between domestic intelligence gathering and law enforcement.  Sunstein’s recommendations don’t really fix anything and perhaps that is the point of them.

I wrote in the earlier post:

The failure of oversight lies rather in the bureaucratic incentives in Washington. In particular it may suffer from the ambiguous mission of the FBI, which is not only an a de facto domestic intelligence agency, it is also a law enforcement organization. Intelligence gathering is by nature concerned with what the Minority Report called “pre-crime”. By contrast, law enforcement is by American tradition a post-facto affair.

You have the right to do the crime if you are willing to do the time. But until you actually do the crime you are still blameless. However this distinction vanishes when intelligence and criminal prosecution are vested in the same agency. When you come right down to it, the most important danger to losing privacy is the danger you will go to jail for something you don’t even know is a crime.

Sunstein’s recommendations does nothing to resolve or to separate intelligence from criminal investigation insofar as US persons are concerned. An FBI agent rises on the basis of convictions — those are his incentives. Sunstein’s recommendations about what and what cannot be collected are largely irrelevant if that problem is not addressed.

As the IRS investigations of political enemies show, it is what you are allowed to do with what you know that constitutes the major peril.  When the intelligence and law enforcement functions are mixed they constrain each other, as may have happened in the case of the Boston Bombers. The incentive of the FBI is to secure a conviction. The incentive of intelligence is to anticipate a threat.  Mix these two functions together and you sometimes get neither or if you get something, you get something very dangerous.

Nor does Obama’s plan to have some other entity technically hold records while awaiting for a request to search protect privacy. The Guardian described Obama’s plans thus:

In his widely anticipated address at the Justice Department on the future course of US surveillance policy, Obama said the government should no longer hold databases of every call record made in the United States, citing the “potential for abuse”.

But Obama did not say what should replace the databases and made it clear the intelligence agencies should still be able to access call records information in some unspecified way, signalling a new round in the battle between privacy advocates and the NSA’s allies.

This solves nothing. The Guardian notes that Obama has “made it clear the intelligence agencies should still be able to access call records information in some unspecified way”. The Black Chamber is still located over the Post Office. Now it’s been moved one room further away. As I wrote in my previous analysis, leaving the records with the communications company or some industry repository:

marks a return to the days of AT& T. What does it matter where the data is stored if it is in principle accessible anyway? This is solving the nonproblem part of the problem. The Federal Government was equally happy in the heyday of AT&T, which stored all the data in one place where the Feds could get at it anyway.

Today instead of a monopoly, there are hundreds of telecomms companies. The NSA has to store it themselves for ready access. Ordering their return could not be be effected without mandated database standards, software version control, coordinated patches, defined interfaces, and security regs. The private companies would in effect be deputized to store data for the NSA in order to achieve the useless task of making the physical location of the data more politically correct. Making companies store the data would really be to control them.

But it is perfect Obama. It echoes the kind of administration thinking on display in his suit against the Little Sisters of the Poor over the contraception mandate. The nuns, you will recall object to the substantial act they are being asked to participate in. In the Obama administratation’s view the objection can be met if the nuns sign a little slip of paper authorizing someone else to do the morally disputed action. Lyle Denniston in Scotusblog describes the administration’s thinking, which is almost exactly how Obama is approaching the NSA records problem.

It seems like a bureaucratic thing to do, but gaining an understanding of what it means to sign government form EBSA 700 is the key to a historic religious controversy now before the Supreme Court in the Affordable Care Act case of Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Sebelius (docket 13A691).

Signing that form, the federal government argues, is a simple way for a religious organization like the Little Sisters to avoid what they regard as a sin: providing contraceptives and other pregnancy-related services to their female employees. But signing, the Little Sisters counter, would be the very act of violating their faith by clearing the way for such services for those employees….

The government’s idea, of course, was to put a clear gap between the religious group and ultimate access to birth control and related health benefits. And the government drafted that form precisely to insulate the religious employer from the services, to “accommodate” its faith principles.

Twenty-nine lawsuits have been filed across the country by non-profit and religiously affiliated universities, schools, and charity groups who regard the duty to sign that form to be anything but an “accommodation.” They believe it puts them at the start of a chain of events that leads inevitably to mandated coverage of the disputed services. That filled-out form, they contend, simply “deputizes” a plan operator to provide the services.

The Obama administration’s argument in the NSA phone records storage case is analogous. They seem to argue that if you just deputize someone else to hold the records the impropriety disappears. In other words, “I shot the sheriff — but I didn’t shoot the deputy.” That makes it OK.

Just as the nuns can step away as long as they hand the authorization to someone else, in the case of the NSA they will no longer hold the records, but “somebody else” — the deputy — will.

And that solves the problem, doesn’t it? Operationally it changes nothing, but it adds a whole lot of moving parts and cost to the process of achieving essentially the same goal. The fundamental difficulty is not resolved, which is the possible abuse of intelligence by tax or police agencies. But it is coated with another layer and — out of sight, out of mind.

The NSA essentially performs a military function. It is part of the Department of Defense. The limitations imposed on it should focus not on what it can collect, but crucially, what it can do in peacetime with what it knows. Exempting foreign leaders from surveillance, as an example, is step in the wrong direction. NSA should surveil foreign leaders — the Chinese will surely surveil American leaders — but it should not act on it ordinarily in peace time.  Deputizing telecommunications companies really exacerbates the core problem because it further entails civilian or even private agencies in what is a national defense function. It blurs what should be made distinct.

But it looks good and that’s all that matters. Almost as if to emphasize the fatal conflation of law enforcement and intelligence gathering, Obama delivered his NSA announcement at the Department of Justice!

It was telling that the president chose to deliver his speech at the Department of Justice, which is something of a political haven for him. Earlier this week, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the administration would extend rules against racial profiling to include religious groups, a move sought by Muslim organizations that are upset about the federal government’s (limited) surveillance in mosques and Muslim neighborhoods.

There are already proposals to limit surveillance on grounds of religious or racial profiling. The ACLU charged that the “Federal Bureau of Investigation is collecting racial and ethnic information and “mapping” American communities around the country based on crude stereotypes about which groups commit different types of crimes.” The confusion between intelligence gathering and law enforcement — between a national defense function and charging people in court — is beginning to spread its fatal poison. The list of exemptions to surveillance — foreign leaders, Muslims, ethnic groups — will grow and grow. Most especially now that as Breitbart notes, John Podesta will be in charge:

President Barack Obama announced Friday that John Podesta, his new “counselor” and the political operative responsible for creating the institutional left in Washington, will be the appointed “to lead a comprehensive review of big data and privacy” in the aftermath of revelations about the National Security Agency’s electronic spying programs. When he joined the White House last month, Podesta’s focus was said to be “climate change.”

Those who fear a police state should remember that it arises best where military and police functions are combined. And yet there’s your “reform”: proposed by Sunstein, implemented by Podesta. What could go wrong? “I shot the sheriff, but I didn’t shoot the deputy.”

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Top Rated Comments   
Wretchard, I agree with you; but think you have not taken one point far enough.

>>>They do nothing to reduce the main source of danger, which is the close relationship between domestic intelligence gathering and law enforcement.<<<

I would make that " the close relationship between domestic intelligence gathering, law enforcement, and the political operations of the party in power".

Elsewhere a commenter [wish it had been me] noted that the "3rd Party" custodian for all the data collected was almost certainly the Democratic National Committee. And there is far more truth in that than humor. When you consider the recent formal and official change in mission of the FBI from Law Enforcement to National Security; you have [in combination with the NSA's ubiquitous spying on every American] the building blocks of a State Security Service [Staatssicherheitsdienst or Stasi for short in German] that is designed to function as the "Shield and Sword of the Party" to protect its rule. Which happened to be the exact mission of the German Stasi.

When you add in the illegal harassment of those opposed to the government by government bureaus; a known specific tactic of the Stasi called Zersetzung or "decomposition" which meant 'overt and covert measures, including hidden psychological warfare, to bring about the destruction of dissidents', and you have something akin to our present situation. Garnish with a press that while not officially state-controlled, is in all but name; and one can easily believe that somewhere in the private quarters of the White House there is a portrait of Erich Mielke in a place of honor.

Obama today called for us to remember that the employees of the NSA and allied agencies were "our neighbors and friends". Friends? Not if you are an American inside. I would note that the Stasi had 1 full time agent for every 166 East Germans, and 1 informer for every 6.5 East Germans. Neighbors? Yeah, probably if they get their way. While Obama may think we will be comforted to know that the government employees who are violating the Constitution are all around us; I am not so comforted.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sunstein believes that Internet "conspiracy theories" should be "monitored and dealt with".

For those who fear totalitarianism, the inability to even postulate the creeping police state...because the police state forbids it, gives rise to a bit of a quandary one would think.

Obama and Sunstein and Podesta have no problem with the Soros crowd postulating theories on the Koch brothers, for instance. Here is where the danger meets the armory. The State dictates which information gets the Full Monty in front of the the unleashed dogs...the IRS, the DOJ, the EPA, ...whichever agency can inflict the most punishment for thought crimes against the State...or that insult the czars and czarinas.

The military can be "instructed" to pay close attention to "threats" such as Catholics, Orthodox Jews and Evangelicals.

Exempting Muslims and radical leftists from "enhanced scrutiny", while slandering the Tea Party....circles the square.

The "show shuffle" of a rigged deck at the NSA to do precisely what Sunstein and the totalitarians wanted to do in the first place should be highlighted for the sleight of hand trick that it is.

The Propaganda Machine can be guaranteed to do the exact opposite. Which leaves the nation to the messaging skills of the Republican Party. Isn't that a comfort?

Totalitarianism isn't new. Pointing at it can get you ridiculed , scorned...and now...possibly investigated.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Terrific example of how government by incompetents works: Exempt foreign leaders from surveillance, but every American will continue under expanded surveillance, with the data being decentralized to third parties, which of course enables more opportunities for corruption, all in the name of National Security.

What American's fear is what's already happened, i.e. private information collected under color of authority being used under color of authority to deliberately harm innocent Americans. Americans KNOW this is happening, as evidenced by the political tampering of IRS investigations that the FBI just confirmed this past week as both legal and legitimate. The NTEU union and progressives now control IRS law enforcement and can legally use IRS coercion for political purposes, thereby shredding the 1st and 4th amendments.

The problem is trust. There can be no trust when the motto of the activists running the government is "the end justifies the means", as is the case now.

No matter what happens with the "big data" collected and processed by the NSA, conservative Americans can be fairly certain that this data will magically find its way over to Obama's and the Democrat's slime-machine database. We also know that such information is being collected by the DNC, as confirmed by a certain Democrat congresswoman. The link to the NSA is reasonable conjecture, given what's happened at the IRS.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano had good reason to be concerned about "right-wing extremists", "returning veterans", "those that are mainly anti-government, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority", and "groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration". While average Americans were scratching their heads about DHS reasoning, several years later in context, it's easy to understand the DHS warning as PROJECTION. The progressives projected that patriotic Americans would object to lawless, unconstitutional actions by the current President and his Administration, and that they would react. Hence the warnings, the billions of rounds of non-military JHP rounds bought by DHS and other agencies for use against American civilians, the MRAPs rolled out to civilian police agencies, and the like.

Obama and his progressives know that America is headed for another "Lexington Battle Green", and he wants to be certain that this time the Kings shock troops are better prepared for the war.

Am I extreme?? Or, am I merely reacting to a government run by extremists.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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The problem with pointing at police state activities is that painting the bullseye on the offenders simultaneously paints one on one's own forehead.

Take this article linked below. Scott Johnson at Powerline highlights Kimberly Strassel's weekly Wall Street Journal article.

The outline out to be chilling and the article itself should be frightening. Yet, the tepid response lacks rage, lacks outrage, lacks linked arms in defiance of tyranny. THAT is more frightening in some ways. We have grown to accept tyranny as part of the landscape.

The Republicans are hapless Keystone Kops being outmaneuvered at every turn, but, when one is in permanent retreat it's not easy to maneuver, I suppose.

In the underlying article, Strassel outlines how the leftists intend to put pro-Constitution, free market advocacy groups out of business for the upcoming election cycle.

They are going to use the IRS again, only this time...with force of law behind them. The police state is going to use the IRS to muzzle dissent.

"Kimberly Strassel’s weekly Wall Street Journal column “IRS targeting and 2014″ is something of a bombshell. As Mark Tapscott explains, Strassel reports that keeping the IRS “muzzle in place” for 2014 was Obama’s top priority during negotiations with House Republicans on the just-passed omnibus spending bill. The vehicle for keeping the muzzle in place is the recently proposed IRS rule that proscribes all kinds of educational activities that 501(c)(4) non-profits have routinely conducted.

In other words, the Obama administration seeks to achieve legally by regulation in 2014 what it achieved illegally by agents acting under orders in the 2012 election cycle. What were once vices are now to become the law."

Lawlessness comes in two flavors with totalitarians. The attacks outside the law, in which they ignore any rule, regulation, law or legal precedent. The ensuing scandal is then whitewashed and kept buried by the Propaganda Machine.

The second method is the Orwellian "rule change blackboard". The totalitarians pass "laws" that are Trojan Hearses for freedom, liberty, democracy. They do not like dissent of any kind. And, they are willing to crush any, by any means necessary.

How does one analyze this action WITHOUT resorting to a "conspiracy" theory? The theory of the intent by its very that they are conspiring to clamp down on principled dissent.

Either one points at it and postulates how it will come to pass...and then is ridiculed as a "tinfoil hat wearer"...or one ignores it and accepts the fate of a losing army, surrounded and outmaneuvered.

The Republicans will form a committee to study how best to write a stern note. And then,.... sound the retreat.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You are missing the point that politicians, in general, 'lead from behind'. Now comes news that Mitch McConnell, with Tea Partiers at his door, is finding his courage to fight the EPA.

"Sen James Inhofe, R-Okla., said the EPA's actions show a double standard by the Obama administration on climate change.

"On the one hand, the president says we don't have time to delay action on global warming," Inhofe said. "But on the other hand, his actions show it is OK to wait to finalize rules that will harm the economy until after the elections so they won't have an impact on vulnerable Senate Democrats who face voters this fall" in coal-producing states.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the agency submitted the rules for publication last fall and "tried very hard" to get them published in the Federal Register.

"As soon as that proposal was released, we had submitted it to the Federal Register office. The delay was solely the backup in the Federal Register office," McCarthy told the committee at a hearing this week. "

Now there is some counterpunching by Republicans. And the Administration is now blaming federal government bureaucrats, the Federal Register office, not Bush.

Big government is the problem. Reduce the size of government!

Remember the nine most terrifying words in the English language.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Not sure that I miss the point as much as I divorce from it.

Republicans don't so much lead from behind as they instead tend to lead from the gurney.

EMT politics waits until triage is a necessity, loads the patient onto a stretcher and tries to diagnose why all the vitals are crashing.

As for telemetry, they have two cans and a yard of string.

To a paramedic pol, everything is an emergency diagnosis. They react at a street level, content to treat symptoms.

It's not that ingratitude for being kept alive is unseemly, it's that the transport past the treatment center into the hands of the quacks is hardly better than transport directly to the morgue.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

There is another way to say this and Ace says it beautifully in his own inimitable style.

Two posts back to back, one on Scott Walker...both on leftists and how we are not confronting them. It's a must read, albeit not in wretchard's graceful style.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
--it's hard to find enough good things to say about Scott Walker. Calvin Coolidge for our times. Everything from policy through courage to humility, A+ all the way up and down and sideways.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
With regard to security, I am reminded of the chapter, Safecracker Meets Safecracker, from the book "Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman!" regarding "security' of national secrets at Los Alamos during the development of the atomic bomb.

And that reminds me of another great book, "What Do You Care What Other People Think?"

If you want secure communications, embed them in something that requires a familiarity with the context of the source (and a history of having done some reading). BC'ers seem quite capable of using "old age and treachery" because they have paid their dues and lived it.

They can do the associations "...from a fragment of a song..." and know " whom do they belong..."

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well.......... once again, it all comes down to the same thing.


We can no longer trust the media.
We can no longer trust the courts.
We can no longer trust the election process.
we can no longer trust the financial entities.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Quality assault muskets?

(Trusting God, is a given.)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
''Whom'', please (I know, I know--my wife tells me that all the time).
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Ourselves. Good old American self-reliance.


In God We Trust
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A basic principle in communications has been that there is no crime in merely receiving other people's communications. The airwaves are open to all who acquire the required equipment when it comes to reception.

When cellphones came out, commercially available receivers capable of receiving those frequencies were no longer manufactured. But it was impossible to destroy the knowledge of how to build your own, and anyone with any determination could acquire one. The technology was simple and easily available.

But a crime occurred when you used that knowledge you gained by that reception for your own gain.

This goes back to a previous post. The capability and even the use of it is not a problem. The problem is how the knowledge gained as a result of that capability is used.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
For Obama, the nonsolution IS the solution. He says so, right here.

My heart says the Constitution
Is the only resolution
To the problem facing us this very day
But the world is cruel and cunning
So the NSA is running
Just a simple thing to keep that world at bay
They collect phone calls and email
From each human male and female
And they put them in a box in a safe place
No one reads them, no one sees them
Till someone like Snowden frees them
Forcing NSA to then pick up the pace
We’re on top of this or will be
I’ve announced that someone will see
All the mail and texts the NSA has stored
He will read each text and email
And if needed he will remail
Any terror threats to a blue ribbon board
So I hope this clears the matter
Most of it’s just harmless chatter
So what difference does it make if you are heard
Saying rude things ‘bout my wife or
Spreading rumors ‘bout my life or
Thinking that we care, we don’t, don’t be absurd

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Many commenters here are professional IT developers. You tell me how this catastrophe could have happened unless the people behind it were not only brain dead but crooked.

When I first entered the field 30+ years ago I was advised by someone who had already been in it for 20+ years, since the first commercial computers, and he gave me half the answer, and it has proven true, and it is basically that operational organizations are not developmental organizations, everything they know contributes to development project failures, so they must outsource it - but how do they even do THAT?

Well, things went as they will, but over the last ten years or so apparently got worse. I went in search of the other half of the answer for the original question in that environment. If you want a looong story in a nutshell, it is that the complexity of these kinds of things is just beyond 99% of the population, and the 1% who CAN handle it, are not necessarily the 1% with the skills to become leading politicians or even corporate CEOs. Maybe the founders of things like Google are such people, maybe not - they are not, after all, leading politicans. Nor have Meg Whitman or Carly Fiorina proved much in the political sphere.

And yet the system tries, because it must. A smart politician (if any) might follow Dirty Harry's good advice and know their own limitations. Schmucks like our current POTUS, not so much.

I've talked about the disasterous project I was just on, that mirrored in almost every way the disasters in I had a closeup case to study! And I am still trying to understand it, but the basic story here is that the supposedly qualified executives (sic) of a multi-billion dollar company that does this for a living, hired and paid fifty people for two years to follow current best practices in agile/scrum as best they understood it - even if agile/scrum was known by most to be an inappropriate model for such a (relatively) large scale technological system. In brief, the technical level of the team was about 2 on a scale of ten, the management skill somewhere south of 1 on a scale of ten. Yet they THOUGHT they were doing more of what the company does every day, successfully (though if one looked closely at even their operational systems, ... well, better if one doesn't, even if it makes them money).

What I'm saying is that failure and mediocrity in the IT field at least now seems to be the norm, in that serious failures happen well more than 50% of the time on any large-scale projects.

Failure doesn't require explanation, it's success that is unusual.

This is a very zen thing, and I have more stories about its meaning and use, but not now.

Oh, and security? My last project at Megabank the REQUIREMENTS for the project were for it to defeat the bank's own security! My jaw was on the floor. I took it to four levels of management. They changed three words in the requirements and continued on. I assume that if and when it was completed they would find that either it would not after all defeat the system security, or it would defeat it and eventually be discovered and then? And then? I dunno. I would have fired all four levels of management for signing off in this in the first place. I seriously thought of taking it to Megabank's senior management if not the feds, but hey. Instead, I quit and ran away and have no idea how it worked out. Likely it was just two or three million dollars of wasted effort by a bunch of morons.

So, I am just completely underwhelmed by the failure story of, I am more offended by the NSA's failures, they are SUPPOSED to know better.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
“But due to widespread and endemic incompetence they created a monster that was far more flawed than they could ever have imagined with unanticipated deformities that dwarfed the magnitude of the intentional ones.”

My real conspiracy theory is that, trying to cover their az, ObamaCare was concocted to paper over the government’s failure of Medicare. The next most important issue to the CYA state is immigration, not because 3% of voters rank it as a high priority but because the leadership in Washington has raided the coffers of social security and the time the bill comes due is looming near. 20 million illegals suddenly being offered amnesty would do well to prop up the social security fund, tapping into a youthful, Catholic and fertile demographic below the border. This all the while preaching birth control and the yuckyness of young parenthood.

Amnesty runs cover and interference to obscure the pathologically incorrect statistics that have grown in their own falsification inflation since “The Summer of Recovery”. Each lie having to paper over the last and add to the dung hill of deceit in ever growing tales, or as Wretchard calls them, maintenance lies. This all smacks of the check kiter’s folly and each move by the administration tries to change the game as to fold in the old pot and open new wagers. This time double or nothing. Congress is paralyzed at the staggering consequences of defeat are culpable enough that they must play along or hang together as they say.

The devil’s last resurrection is to put the nation at war and to consolidate once and for all one vote, one time, for eternity. The options are growing fewer and the window for a miracle to appear narrow. The Democrats have been playing a game of erotic asphyxia with the economy, certain that she can be choked to an inch of death but always spring back. Obama stated straight out that it did not matter that his policies would bring less revenues into the coffers but that the proceeds and distributions be just. They have angled for a war and it is better for them to light the world on fire overshadowing the corpse in the living room then to have insurrection at home. As the derided Churchill ironically warned, “and you shall have both”.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Here's a neat circle for you:

George Soros founded and sponsors Podesta's Center for American Progress.

Soros also is/was (the company sold itself, cashed out, less than a year after the Corexit venture) a large & influential shareholder in Nalco, the producer of the Corexit dispersant used on the Macondo spill.

Early on during the 87 day spill the screaming of the coastal people of the Gulf about the Corexit forced EPA to issue restrictions to 25% of then-current usage pending further study of the effects. Maybe a third of the nearly 2mm gallons finally used had been used at that point. The other 2/3 went in under duress, Coast Guard allowing and expediting the usage while the EPA and BP wrestled on the memo mat.

The last two thirds would not have gone in had Coast Guard chosen the EPA official directive over the private BP request. Were there any consequences for that --did EPA make an issue of being ignored on an emergency crisis public health issue? Nope.

And it's not because the Corexit proved safe --do a simple search of effects of Corexit. It's a major hidden scandal, but hidden scandals are like grains of sand anymore --there's some number but who can count.

CG's Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen retired toward the end, about when Podesta's CAP published a big policy position paper asking for (among many other goodies) a seat at the joint chiefs for CG. Search "A Coast Guard for the 21st Century".

Thad Allen then took a job with Booz Allen, the same outfit which hired Snowden and sent him into the spy works (small world ain't it).

Booz is a heavily Democratic govt contractor. The Democrats are the party of the little guy, except for the little guys and gals and kids that Corexit has invaded the nervous systems of.

(show less)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
PS, to emphasize the point about Podesta, here we have the arch-Democrat, an apotheosis of all that party holds dear, up to his eyeballs in the environmental crime of the century. Now he's the president's left-hand man. Proceed with extreme caution, i guess, is the point. Well, Duh.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
W: "As the IRS investigations of political enemies show, it is what you are allowed to do with what you know that constitutes the major peril."

Well yes. But keeping tabs on domestic political enemies is what its all about. The Left has made it perfectly clear, as has every Marxist-Leninist regime in history, that internal political opposition is the REAL enemy they fear. The machinery is in place for domestic secret and not so secret police organizations to begin operations. It seems to me that those operations are still just beyond the nascent stage. They are conducting proof of concept operations and undoubtedly disseminating lessons learned.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Historically, the 'secret' part of 'secret police' refers in varying degrees to the ordinary meaning of the word. What is absolute, tho, is that they are secret to the existing legal system. No court will restrict them, except for an occasional theatrical release.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
delegate the storage of phone records to a non-NSA entity and add more lawyers to the process of accessing communications records
Way back in the 1760's, the American locals called that sort of practice "writs of assistance", wherein the government (the King's Customs Agents) issued non-expiring general warrants that let the government draft non-government help (the local sheriff and local citizens) to make unannounced searches of citizens' houses at any time, with no particular thing to search for, and that practice was one of the early triggers of American Revolution I. Although the King relented before the decade was out, that insult to British citizenship was memorialized in our 4th Amendment " Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
The NSA recording of citizens' communications has no warrant, no specific cause for suspicion, never mind no particulars, is non-expiring, and the hiring of an agent for storage makes it even more like those long ago, much hated writs.
Where's the outrage?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
... it's in a hundred million guts, grinding away.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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