Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Friday, January 17, 2014

Restoring confidence

by digby

These are among the people we are supposed to believe will uphold their oath to the constitution and whom we are being asked to "trust" will not violate our civil liberties:
Edward Snowden has made some dangerous enemies. As the American intelligence community struggles to contain the public damage done by the former National Security Agency contractor’s revelations of mass domestic spying, intelligence operators have continued to seethe in very personal terms against the 30 year-old leaker.

“In a world where I would not be restricted from killing an American, I personally would go and kill him myself,” a current NSA analyst told BuzzFeed. “A lot of people share this sentiment.”

“I would love to put a bullet in his head,” one Pentagon official, a former special forces officer, said bluntly. “I do not take pleasure in taking another human beings life, having to do it in uniform, but he is single handedly the greatest traitor in American history.”

That violent hostility lies just beneath the surface of the domestic debate over NSA spying is still ongoing. Some members of Congress have hailed Snowden as a whistleblower, the New York Times has called for clemency, and pundits regularly defend his actions on Sunday talk shows. In intelligence community circles, Snowden is considered a nothing short of a traitor in wartime.

“His name is cursed every day over here,” a defense contractor told BuzzFeed, speaking from an overseas Intelligence collections base. “Most everyone I talk to says he needs to be tried and hung, forget the trial and just hang him.”

One Army intelligence officer even offered BuzzFeed a chillingly detailed fantasy.
“I think if we had the chance, we would end it very quickly,” he said. “Just casually walking on the streets of Moscow, coming back from buying his groceries. Going back to his flat and he is casually poked by a passerby. He thinks nothing of it at the time starts to feel a little woozy and thinks it’s a parasite from the local water. He goes home very innocently and next thing you know he dies in the shower.”
Ok, so it's just a few bad apples who think in these terms. All the others surely believe that the worst thing that should happen to Snowden is that he is held liable by the Justice System, as the constitution they swore to uphold, requires.

Well ...
There is no indication that the United States has sought to take vengeance on Snowden, who is living in an undisclosed location in Russia without visible security measures, according to a recent Washington Post interview. And the intelligence operators who spoke to BuzzFeed on the condition of anonymity did not say they expected anyone to act on their desire for revenge. But their mood is widespread, people who regularly work with the intelligence community said.
That's nice that they don't expect anyone to act on their revenge fantasies.

Kevin Drum nicely organized the president's proposed "reforms" in his big speech today:

  1. The Director of National Intelligence will conduct an annual review of FISA court opinions with the aim of declassifying opinions that have "broad privacy concerns."Obama will ask Congress to create a "panel of advocates" that will represent the public's privacy interests in FISA cases.
  2. New restrictions will be placed on the use of "incidental" collection of surveillance of US persons in criminal cases.
  3. National Security Letters will remain secret, but secrecy won't be indefinite unless the government demonstrates a "real need" to a judge. Companies receiving NSLs will be allowed to release broad reports about the number of requests they get.
  4. Bulk telephone records will continue to be collected. However, in the future the database can be queried only after getting FISA approval. The NSA will be allowed to perform only 2-hop chaining rather than the current 3-hop standard. A new group will investigate alternative approaches to the government itself holding the telephone database.
  5. Within some unspecified limits, there will be no more bugging of foreign leaders.

As Kevin says, "pretty weak tea." In fact, the speech seemed more designed to placate the intelligence agencies than anything else. (Comparing the radical revolutionary Paul Revere to the NSA is especially rich.) He normalized the concept of "bulk collection", pretty much telling us that it's here to stay and we may as well get used to the idea that if we become targets of the government, there will exist a file on our movements and communications going back years with which to build cases against us.  Best be good boys and girls and don't do anything that might be suspicious. (High tech panopticon ....)

On the other side of the coin, the president acknowledged that the US has at least come responsibility to observe basic privacy rights for humans that aren't Americans and aren't VIPs. This is a step in the right direction.  I've been gobsmacked in recent days by elite opinion that basically says, "fuck a bunch of foreigners. We can do whatever we want to 'em." So, while this is a fairly tepid policy move,  it may be an important rhetorical one.  The idea that everyone in the world is subject to American intrusion is unlikely to make America any friends.  And we do need at least few friends.

Finally, the president and others' insistence that Snowden is a traitor while simultaneously patting themselves on the back for reforming, changing, investigating, extolling and criticizing the secret surveillance state based entirely on his revelations is now beyond fatuous.  There was no mechanism in place aside from the one he chose, obviously, and it's exactly the reason we have freedom of the press in this country in the first place. It is time for these powerful government officials to grow up and recognize that the mere fact that they are making changes proves that he is a whistleblower and at least allow him to obtain long term legal asylum in a foreign country. We are strong enough to allow our faults to be exposed without persecuting those who expose them. In fact, doing that is downright unAmerican.