Sunday, July 7, 2013

How to Make People Hate and Distrust Their Government

Can you hear me now? Not good.

It doesn't take much. Abuse of power is one easy step:
In one of the [FISA] court’s most important decisions, the judges have expanded the use in terrorism cases of a legal principle known as the “special needs” doctrine and carved out an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of a warrant for searches and seizures, the officials said.
The special needs doctrine was originally established in 1989 by the Supreme Court in a ruling allowing the drug testing of railway workers, finding that a minimal intrusion on privacy was justified by the government’s need to combat an overriding public danger. Applying that concept more broadly, the FISA judges have ruled that the N.S.A.’s collection and examination of Americans’ communications data to track possible terrorists does not run afoul of the Fourth Amendment, the officials said.
That legal interpretation is significant, several outside legal experts said, because it uses a relatively narrow area of the law — used to justify airport screenings, for instance, or drunken-driving checkpoints — and applies it much more broadly, in secret, to the wholesale collection of communications in pursuit of terrorism suspects. “It seems like a legal stretch,” William C. Banks, a national security law expert at Syracuse University, said in response to a description of the decision. “It’s another way of tilting the scales toward the government in its access to all this data.”
As Charlie Brown used to say, good grief.

Former presiding FISA Court judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly.

While trying to find a picture of the FISA court judges -- man, it is a secret court -- I could only find one of the former presiding judge, pictured above. I recall she also presided over the Microsoft anti-trust case after the original judge was removed. She gets around.

What was fun, though, while searching, was coming across a decidedly quaint article in Wired -- from June 6, 2008! -- that talked about how the FISA court questioned the actions of the FBI. Here's a sample:
Among other things, the declassified documents reveal that lawyers in the FBI’s Office of General Counsel and the Justice Department’s Office of Intelligence Policy Review queried FBI technology officials in late July 2006 about cellphone tracking. The attorneys asked whether the FBI was obtaining and storing real-time cellphone-location data from carriers under a "pen register" court order that’s normally limited to records of who a person called or was called by.
The internal inquiry seems to have preceded, and was likely prompted by, a secret court hearing on the matter days later. Kevin Bankston, a lawyer with Electronic Frontier Foundation, says the documents suggest that the nation’s spy court shares the reluctance of federal criminal courts to turn everyday cellphones into tracking devices, in the absence of evidence that the target has done something wrong.
"I hope that this signals that the FISC, like many magistrate judges that handle law enforcement surveillance requests, is growing skeptical of the government’s authority to conduct real-time cellphone tracking without probable cause," says Bankston.
Oh, brother. It seems the FISA court has seriously moved on. Seriously.

If only Bush were the end of the problem. See Obama, Barack Hussein.

An interesting thing about the Edward Snowden case is that since it's happened leakers are coming out of the woodwork. Is this because the Obama administration's over-the-top reaction to leaks -- that is, when they don't do the leaking to support their side of the story -- has caused a "you can't lock us all up or drive us into exile" reaction? Is American Journalism regaining its spine? I hope so. After all, when our dear leader has the gall, in light of Snowden and the steady drip, drip, drip of revelations, to deny them on national TV, well, it causes some people, as Atrios might say, to declare that shit is fucked up and bullshit.

What's funny is how well I made my case for why people might hate or distrust their government, and I didn't even get to the Republicans or incompetence yet. So, then...

Oh, what the hell. Shouldn't let this one go by:

Totally makes me trust my government -- and I'm a big-government liberal! Sheesh. What really is a hoot is James Clapper's response when he got caught:
During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on March 12, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked the intelligence czar if the NSA gathers "any type of data at all on millions of Americans.”
"No, sir," Clapper responded. "Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly."
Clapper's response appears to contradict recent revelations about the agency's large scale phone records collection program, first reported on by the Guardian last week. However, during the NBC interview, Clapper said Wyden's question did not have a straightforward answer.
"I thought, though in retrospect, I was asked -- 'When are you going to start -- stop beating your wife' kind of question, which is meaning not -- answerable necessarily by a simple yes or no," Clapper said in the interview, which aired Sunday. "So I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner by saying 'no'."
That's just the kind of man I want running secret programs that spy on Americans, you know, someone whose idea of being truthful is to be the "least untruthful" he can be. Good grief, shit is fucked up and bullshit. Then again, it's not "wittingly."

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