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Last post Author Topic: Worth Reading: Trevor Pott's editorial on NSA PRISM and its real ramifications  (Read 64715 times)

IainB

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40hz

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The only cure I can see is to neuter the beast: take away its strength. And the way to do that is to shrink it, so it's no longer the 800-lb gorilla that can push everyone around.

Sounds good - but like putting the proverbial bell on the cat - exactly how do you accomplish that?

You have a government that has gradually centralized all real power in the Executive Branch. And this Executive Branch has become increasingly uncontrollable due to it's assumption of unprecedented privileges and its deliberate defiance of any attempts to enforce a workable system of checks and balances over it.

You also have a "representative" Legislative Branch that no longer even feels the need to do more than pay lip service to the notion of acting on behalf of its electorate, let alone represent it.

You have a feckless and divided federal judiciary, burdened by age and a love of definition that borders on the pathological, that freely admits (often with a note of pride) how very little it understands about the many of the crucial things (education reform, software, patents, the Internet, modern communications, women, children, families, etc.) it so glibly rules on. And so often with such disastrous consequences.

Then you have an ever increasingly powerful, arrogant and secretive government bureaucracy - consisting of many obscurely named agencies - which also have their own enforcers in the form of duly sworn "agents"  (or independent security "consultants" and "contractors") who do what they're paid to do - with no questions asked. And this bureaucracy (which is not accountable to the electorate and is now becoming increasingly difficult to rein in because of it) has more and more come to believe that IT rather than the PEOPLE is what constitutes The United States of America.

dont.jpg

So maybe I sound cynical, but what exactly can you do to shrink a monster that is incapable of internal reform - and is actively hostile towards any outside attempts reform it? Especially when it has access to guns, drones, wiretaps, secure communications, is willing to defy the elected branches of government when push comes to shove, and has a documented history of lying whenever asked an inconvenient question?

Walt Kelly absolutely nailed it back in 1971:

pogo.jpg

"It's a big problem." as my 5-year old niece likes to say.

So...anybody have any good workable ideas about how to fix this mess that wouldn't be interpreted as "seditious speech" under The Patriot Act? :huh:

TaoPhoenix

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Well, all I can offer is "proto-ideas".

1. "Feckless and Divided", but maybe the Judiciary is our first stop for hope. Legal precedent does work differently from both legislative and executive precedent. The latter two can just do absolutely whatever they want whenever they want. But the judges do get grumpy when someone violates precedent too badly. So occasionally a judge gets to lodge a nugget of precedent in the right direction. A nice simple example is the judge who got grumpy at Prenda Law. *Theoretically* the Judiciary can knock down both Exec and Legis side stuff with the "Unconstitutional Cannon". One problem is that if you misfire that cannon, it takes a long time to repair the damage. And figuratively they only get to fire it twice vs 100 proposed cases. So then they have to let a lot of stuff slide for another day. Sometimes they "code this" with a strange looking ruling that seems too narrow, but then a few of the smarter reporters have decoded it to say "we're with you, right idea, but one election cycle too early for the political gestalt. Watch this space in about three years." Meanwhile the "next level down" a "Federal Judge" can have a great time repairing medium sized problems, before the rather large wheelbased Powers of Mean finally encircle him/her and take the judge down.

2. "Sleeper Agent President (for good)"
Cynicism is what it is, but *theoretically* you do get a new chance for a new direction each eight years, if not each four years. (Incumbent effect.) So get one of those Big Dogs that we have "never heard of" who found out that he'll die of cancer in two years to blow out his entire fortune to fix the country, and then you do have about a 2 year window to go all Katrina on the establishment before anyone quite realizes what's going on. It's a Sacrificial President. He doesn't WANT to be re-elected.

The basic way that works is:
A. Executive Orders. The President "Says Things" and off they go to be done. So just go all Gambit from the comics and start wheeling out Exec Orders For Good. Someone in Congress will panic and try to make a bogus law to prevent "too many exec orders", but it will take them a long time to override a veto.

B. Sacrificial Political Capitol.
The things with this approach is, it basically works exactly once. Blast a broad swath of groundwork laws into place as fast as possible. Get the mood of the country excited that finally some stuff will change. Then get the mood of the country that any congressperson "Against Healing the Country" will get voted out.

It's a bit of a wild animal, but maybe we need a wild animal.


wraith808

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40hz

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On a very related note, here's a prime example of the problem with extensive 'databasing' done in the name of security and law enforcement. This is a classic case of "Who guards the guards?" And yet another example of how the NYPD has become somewhat notorious for circling the wagons whenever called to task for violating the very laws they are sworn to uphold. (They are not the only police agency that has done so either.)

This article from the Village Voice:

Quote
NYPD Sergeant Convicted of Misusing Terror Database Now "Integrity" Officer in Brooklyn Precinct
By Graham Rayman Fri., Jun. 14 2013 at 11:56 AM


Five years ago, NYPD Sergeant Haytham Khalil was indicted for illegally accessing the FBI criminal records and terrorism database on behalf of a friend in a child custody dispute. He pleaded guilty in 2009.

Today, Khalil not only is still with the police department, despite his conviction, but he is an integrity control officer in a Brooklyn precinct.

In sum, an officer convicted of abusing his position to access confidential information for a private purpose is now monitoring whether other officers are following the rules.

We asked the NYPD's public information office for comment, but received no response.

The National Crime Information Center maintains a database filled with sensitive information used by law enforcement agencies across the country in investigations.

Khalil, 37, of Brooklyn was convicted of using another sergeant's password to access the NCIC database and retrieved an entry which identified an individual as being on the terrorist watch list. He then sent that document to a female friend in a child custody dispute in Canada. That dispute was with a man who was being monitored by the feds. The friend then filed the document in court records in Canada.

Khalil pleaded to accessing a computer beyond his authority, a misdemeanor. He faced a maximum of one year in jail and a $100,000 fine. He was sentenced in 2009 to one year probation and a $500 fine.

Under state law, if he had pleaded guilty to a felony, he would have been fired. But since he pleaded to a misdemeanor, the NYPD could decide to keep him on the job.
:-\


wraith808

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Nevermind :)
« Last Edit: June 17, 2013, 09:44:36 AM by wraith808 »

wraith808

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3 NSA veterans speak out on whistle-blower: We told you so

Apparently these three paved the way for Snowden- trying to leak the exact same information, but failed.

Quote
For years, the three whistle-blowers had told anyone who would listen that the NSA collects huge swaths of communications data from U.S. citizens. They had spent decades in the top ranks of the agency, designing and managing the very data-collection systems they say have been turned against Americans. When they became convinced that fundamental constitutional rights were being violated, they complained first to their superiors, then to federal investigators, congressional oversight committees and, finally, to the news media.

To the intelligence community, the trio are villains who compromised what the government classifies as some of its most secret, crucial and successful initiatives. They have been investigated as criminals and forced to give up careers, reputations and friendships built over a lifetime.

Today, they feel vindicated.

Excellent article- and it explains a lot of what his thinking was, and why he went public immediately rather than trying to handle this internally.

mouser

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Thanks for sharing that article wraith, that's a great find.

TaoPhoenix

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I'm actually a bit amazed/amused at the lack of unity in the dismissal spin stories.
Agencies deny it, companies deny it, then they admit it, but "only a little bit", etc.
Newspapers edit their own stories in the archives, etc.

Meanwhile here on another angle the Washington Post says that driver's ID's are in a searchable database at the local level.

So wait a min ... the big dogs "only look at 300 numbers", but the locals search millions of licenses?!

(Slashdot's version)
Officials Say NSA Probed Fewer Than 300 Numbers - Broke Plots In 20 Nations
http://news.slashdot...-plots-in-20-nations



CWuestefeld

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A good Q&A with Snowden

Quote
Edward Snowden Q and A: NSA whistleblower answers your questions

The whistleblower behind the biggest intelligence leak in NSA history answered your questions about the NSA surveillance revelations

http://www.guardian....-files-whistleblower

Stoic Joker

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You just gotta love this bit from the Snowden interview:
Quote
Bathtub falls and police officers kill more Americans than terrorism, yet we've been asked to sacrifice our most sacred rights for fear of falling victim to it.

wraith808

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CWuestefeld

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Thought y'all might appreciate this.
ObamaTransparency4.jpg

wraith808

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^ Getting a bit too political and such for outside of basement IMO.  :-\

There's a whole thread for political jokes there.  Two reasons to stay away from that.  One, to keep focused.  And two, it's not a party thing.  Even if Romney had gotten elected, the same would be going on.  See: the fact that this was started in 2006.   I'm even cynical enough to believe that if a Libertarian was on the other side of this, the program would *still* be in place.

CWuestefeld

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it's not a party thing.  Even if Romney had gotten elected, the same would be going on.

No doubt. I didn't mean to make it partisan, the GOP would no doubt have similar measures, although I think the way they'd try to frame the discussion would differ. But they'd sure as heck be doing it -- after all, it was GWB that got this round kicked off.

Like I said, this wasn't intended to be a GOP/DEM thing at all, but rather a "look how absurd the guy at the top is, trying to justify this nonsense with obvious double-talk". I would have said the same thing regardless of what party he came from.

40hz

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Like I said, this wasn't intended to be a GOP/DEM thing at all, but rather a "look how absurd the guy at the top is, trying to justify this nonsense with obvious double-talk". I would have said the same thing regardless of what party he came from.

 :Thmbsup: Bingo! There is where CW hits the nail right on the head about what the real problem (and danger) is with something like PRISM and the NSA.

Anything in government that is allowed to operate (or even exist) without real oversight and legal scrutiny inevitably abuses the power entrusted to it. And over time, unsupervised power almost always takes on a life of its own totally divorced from the intent that originally created and authorized it.

And please note I say power entrusted rather than given it.

That's because I'm still enough of an American to remember what this country is supposed to be about and stand for.

wraith808

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Quote
You're not to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.
- Malcolm X

TaoPhoenix

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Let me introduce our guest prophets from 30 years ago!

Wait for it ...

Styx!

I'll use this link because it has a couple of interesting mashed pics (next to a bunch of cheesy ones!) But it just shows someone was already thinking what I am and beat me to the next step.

http://www.youtube.c.../watch?v=IHT382x8Foo


Stoic Joker

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They must have found themselves that Crystal Ball...

Tinman57

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  It's all just a "Grand Illusion"....

IainB

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I read a post in another discussion forum (Samizdata) where they suggested that the NSA had merely implemented TIA (Total Information Awareness)  via the Information Awareness Office.

I had never heard of this concept before.

barney

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That concept was developed pretty much in conjunction with the original Internet plans, as I recall.  Remember, the Internet was originally developed by/for DARPA as a distributed communication system to be used in case of an attack on US infrastructure - wonder of any of 'em foresaw just how distributed 'twas to become? - and in order to facilitate total communication, although that latter concept was pretty hazy.  The IAO (Information Awareness Office) was pretty much conceptualized at the same time, by many of the same folk, but didn't really get much attention 'til the World Trade Center was destroyed.  Then later, when the congressional lights realized just what IAO could become, they tried to put the genie back in the bottle by defunding it - kinda like unspilling the milk - but by then the security wights had a taste of what it could be and liked the flavour  :(.

40hz

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I think it's reached the point where the only way to get the message across is to seriously consider impeachment proceedings and removal from office 

Problem is, who exactly in our government is really qualified to honestly conduct such a trial?

Because from where I'm sitting it looks like virtually our entire Executive and Legislative brances are guilty of staging what amounts to a coup d'etat in the wake of 9/11. And our Judicary has been asleep at the wheel pretty much throughout.

Kruchev was right. We did destroy ourselves from within

CWuestefeld

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I think it's reached the point where the only way to get the message across is to seriously consider impeachment proceedings and removal from office 

(trying to walk a thin line separating this from partisan politics...)

The only way that would work is if a really large portion of the electorate were willing to put their foot down and say "No. You've done something bad. You can't be in office anymore.".

But we've been through crises before. What always happens is that once they get into the voting booth, they actually decide that even though the guy from their party did a bad thing, they still must support him, because the alternative is to let the guy from the other party get into office. And there's no doubt that the other party is outright evil, and must not be allowed into office at all costs.

What's not actually admitted here is that this sort of logic in voting is giving your own party a license to just one unit of evil better than the other party.

If you're not willing to stand up for right versus wrong, then you are what's enabling the problem! Put partisanship behind you, and start voting for demonstrated ideals and against actually observed wrong-doing.

wraith808

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I think it's reached the point where the only way to get the message across is to seriously consider impeachment proceedings and removal from office 

This is not a single person problem though, and the programs and such were not enacted by one person, nor even a conspiracy.  That's the biggest problems with even starting to think along those lines.  It becomes a blame game and quickly devolves into partisan politics.

This isn't about party.  It's about the whole government.  And unless we can/are willing to throw them all away and start over, that type of thing only exacerbates the problem.