Sunday, June 9, 2013

Patriot Act Won't Allow Patriots: Needs New Diagnosis

Bush Started NSA Snooping. Obama Has Made It Worse. Why????

Let's fact it; it is extremely hard to keep up on this fast-paced story as well as keep it in context.

The old we have to have a "balance between safety and privacy" lurks in the shadow all over again and apparently all across the country relating to our phone calls, Internet activities, and who knows what other areas?

I strongly believe we need to re-examine (the new diagnosis I suggest) the whole NSA-FISA-PATRIOT ACT deal with a new focus and emphasis on National Security that is coupled with common sense about how to do that (i.e., how to safeguard our nation's secrets (the documents) and stop the damn leaking as well as stop the damn snooping without due and probable cause). 

Surely that can't be that difficult. A complex problem to solve, yes; but. if we can fly to the Moon and return safely, we darn sure can solve this mess to meet the goals of maximum National Security, secure government documents, stopping the leaks of our most-sensitive materials, and protect personal privacy for innocent citizens. 

Most people, I believe can support that approach, if we take the rabid politics and red meat journalism out of the mix. Just my view.

This today from NBC News got me to thinking again with these points taken from the article in mind:

1.  "... most Americans aren't aware of many of the government's anti-terrorist practices."
2.  "... most Americans don't know the extent to which they are being surveilled."
3.  "... we ought to reopen the Patriot Act and put some limits on the amount of data that the National Security Administration is collecting."
4.  "... defenders of the programs from both parties countered that the programs were carefully monitored already by both Congress and the courts, and struck a reasonable balance between civil liberties and pursuing terrorists."

This good summary from Sen. John McCain is also my view:  "It's a careful balance between individual liberties and responsibilities. I believe that the FISA court system is an appropriate way of reviewing some of these policies."

The outcome of any review and update must include the public as much as possible, and more importantly, not reveal anything sensitive to our sworn enemies ... if we are engaged and following this story, which the public sure is right now, then be assured our sworn enemies are, too, and probably closer than we'd like. That is the most critical point we all must agree on ... the bottom line: How to do get the balance we all want and yes, we all need, and should be able to agree on and accept.

Original Posts Begin from Here:

Wow - talk about a major about face - this is it. That update headlines (June 7, 2013):  "U.S. declassifies phone program details after uproar..." Details still oozing out from here, but this what we know today - who knows about tomorrow? Some of those details follow from one pissed off man: Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence James Clapper. Clapper. At least now he knows how the general public feels, right? Let's hope so. More follows from Mr. Clapper (seen next) - one really pissed civil servant:

FYI:  Clapper may be really pissed off, but, you know what? Not more than the public, and he'll get over it, or he'll leave office ... it's up to him. I could care less.

Clapper's angle is not about the program itself (he loves it), but the leak about the program that caused this uproar. So, let me see if I have this right: Letting the public know is harmful to us. So, for our own good, we should shut the f**k up and let Uncle Big Brother do his thing? Sorry, guys, I ain't buying that, and now Big Brother thinks so, too, with this caveat:

From Mr. Clapper:  "The unauthorized disclosure of a top secret U.S. court document threatens potentially long-lasting and irreversible harm to our ability to identify and respond to the many threats facing our nation." (referring to the phone-tracking program). And, this nugget of info from Mr. Clapper (please refer to my sister blog on this subject here - the so-called PRISM program:

Mr. Clapper offered new information about the phone program and another one that collects the audio, video, email, photographic and Internet search usage of foreign nationals overseas who use any of the nine major Internet providers, including Microsoft, Google, Apple, Yahoo and others (the Weasel program I reference above), saying, in part: "I believe it is important for the American people to understand the limits of this targeted counter-terrorism program and the principles that govern its use."

Among the previously classified information about the phone records collection that Clapper revealed:

—  The program is conducted under authority granted by Congress and is authorized by the Foreign intelligence Surveillance Court which determines the legality of the program.

—  The government is prohibited from "indiscriminately sifting" through the data acquired. It can only be reviewed "when there is a reasonable suspicion, based on specific facts, that the particular basis for the query is associated with a foreign terrorist organization." He also said only counter-terrorism personnel trained in the program may access the records.

—  The information acquired is overseen by the Justice Department and the FISA court. Only a very small fraction of the records are ever reviewed, he said.

—  The program is reviewed every 90 days.

My note today on this: I am big on secrecy and I know the importance of  marketing program we saw in WWII: "Loose lips might sink ships" based my years of service in the intelligence field myself, but at the same time and we all my years of government service, I also know the bounds of common sense and in these two cases, we stepped over it big time, as well as stepping it. The public demands safety, but with common sense, decent programs: this phone tapping was not one of them and neither is the Internet snooping. This is not the way to run our country or ship (whether it might sink or not, in this case, is self-inflicted).

My original post follows after these two updates: I call this one, "Outrage, We don't need no stinkin' outrage."

This update (June 6, 2013):  The summary sentence from this update from best summarizes the entire issue, I think.

It says:  "As the last 13 years have proven, regardless of who is in the White House the security state will continue to expand. And it will take some hypocrisy on both sides to finally end it."

So, who or whom to blame - Perhaps the nearest mirror provides the answer???

Second quick, major update (June 6, 2013): Talk about a turn of events ... these remarks just about take the proverbial cake:

This first quote comes from the Senate's #1 worm, pretending to give a shit. His words underscore what I have posted about earlier:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): ‘Glad’ NSA Gathering Phone Records: ‘I Know I’m Not Talking to Terrorists’

My memo to Sen. Graham: Senator, I could give a flying crap which phone provider carries your calls. You are one man and so am I, and sir, you are flat out wrong to say what you did. It insults the entire country, but apparently not enough to anger you. So, I'm a guessin' you voted for this sort of stuff, right? I thought so.

But nitwits like Graham forget we have plenty to protect .... add to that list: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who heads up the Senate Intelligence Committee ... did I say "Intelligence" committee ... what a misnomer in this case.

But, get this from the author of the Patriot Act; the proverbial flip side of the argument: 

So, who's right and who's wrong. Quite frankly security is paramount, for sure, but this congress has an obligation to protect us as Americans for not only our physical safety, but our personal safety (i.e., erosion our rights that make Americans in the first place). This is literally "unwarranted" invasion of privacy and hit on our "presumption of innocent" until proven guilty.

Original Post Starts from Here:  Lead-in from two sources (see the links). The first is really a good scoop from Glenn Greenwald at The GUARDIAN here (the three emphases are mine):

"The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April."

"The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries."

"The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing."

The basic story Guardian link is from here. Sample from there:

"The order cites Section 215 of the Patriot Act as justifying the request, but as Cindy Cohn of the Electronic Frontier Foundation told the Washington Post, “Section 215 is written as if they’re going after individual people based on individual investigations.” Michael A. Mason, Verizon’s chief security officer, is a former FBI official who joined Verizon in 2008, months before Congress retroactively legalized President George W. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program with then-Senator Barack Obama’s support."

As for me, it seem really hard to claim to be a patriot, or act like one, when the very government that wrote the "Patriot Act" seems to be preventing that. Don't you think.

Innocent until proven guilty; not presumed guilty first, then we'll prove your innocence later - so, hand over your phone records.

I cannot in good faith support this policy as currently implemented. Can you? Some say, "I have nothing to hide," okay, perhaps that is true, but we sure have plenty to protect, don't we?

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