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Monday, September 26, 2016

With the conviction of Bradley Manning and asylum granted to Edward Snowden in Russia, it may be time to turn attention away from the controversy over their actions and toward the government — specifically, the intelligence community. Whatever ultimate judgment is leveled on Manning’s or Snowden’s actions, they have raised real questions about the ways that the United States gathers, uses, and classifies information.

The first order of business is to restore a semblance of democratic order within the government itself. Somehow amid the hunt for Snowden and the trial of Manning, the misconduct of James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, has seemingly been excused. But if the actions of Manning and Snowden required prosecution, then what Clapper did deserves investigation and censure at the very least.

Testifying on surveillance by the National Security Agency last March, Clapper appeared at a Senate committee hearing where Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) asked: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

“No, sir,” Clapper replied, adding, “Not wittingly.”

Not only was that response false, but the nation’s highest ranking intelligence official gave that false answer in public, with ample warning from Wyden that he would be asked about that sensitive issue. Rather than speaking truthfully about the collection of telecom “metadata” — or even deflecting the question — Clapper lied. By doing so he aroused even greater anger and suspicion about the government’s motives when the lie was exposed, although the outlines of the NSA domestic surveillance program have been known for several years.

As Senator Wyden recently told The National Memo, Clapper was repeating the same misleading reassurances about widespread surveillance offered in other public remarks, which disturbed Wyden — who knew better already. And of course Clapper knew that Wyden and other senators were aware of the NSA’s collection programs, which only made his behavior more brazen. By attempting to implicate the Senate in an ongoing attempt to mislead the American people, he mocked the concept of legislative oversight — the only real check against intelligence abuses.

  • sigrid28

    The problem with congressional oversight is that many, many members of Congress lack the integrity to oversee their own conduct, let alone that of the intelligence community that serves the United States. Senator Wyden and a few of his colleagues in the Senate, and even fewer of this colleagues in the House, have shown the requisite probity to investigate a huge apparatus that may need some fine-tuning but still has its work cut out for it, especially since on this Sunday numerous U.S. embassies and their annexes have to be closed down because of a plausible threat. During yet another hearing today on the IRS phony scandal, I heard Darrell Issa and his cronies browbeat the acting head of the IRS and barely stop themselves from insulting Representative Lewis to his face. These disrespectful imbeciles could not babysit my outdoor cat, who tells me when he wants to go out and when he wants to come in, because they are so self-involved and disinterested in the fate of the country much less other Americans. Until a respectful group can be gathered to review NSA procedures, I’d put my faith in the galaxy of information floating around us to provide me any cover I might need, for the time being. I don’t want Darrell Issa and his ilk having anything to do with any function of government ever again.

  • m8lsem

    “not wittingly” … maybe he meant something like the following, i.e. what the committee is interested in protecting was in fact protected.

    Let’s say that billions of e-mails, billions of web visits, and billions of phone calls are logged in terms of source and destination identities. That’s something neither NSA, nor indeed all of the government’s employees, are numerous enough to be capable of reviewing. Therefore, there has to be computerized winnowing down. We are told the winnowing down was in terms of contacts with overseas locales on our list of harbors of Jihadists. Only those meeting that indexing were looked at with a warrant from that court.

    The telephone companies, the ISP’s, and all switch points/intermediate servers already ‘knew’ of these contacts. Scarcely private information in terms of what gets logged for billing, or is seen by those who maintain servers.

    The point of critical concern is the winnowing down formula, and whether bored government employees are in a position to do something more or else. That’s where the attention must go.

    Further, the warrant-issuing court is worthy of review. A very high ratio of government requests to warrants issued indicates either excellent work by government attorneys, or bias of the court. That’s also where attention must go.

    The fact that the database of contacts includes a large amount of irrelevant data is itself irrelevant, as that superficial data, metadata, reveals nothing that is private.

    • dadhoover

      They don’t need the metadata when the having of it without warrant opens this wide open for abuse, a simple requirement of the phone company’s internet providers to keep 3 to 5 years would have taken care of this abuse of our privacy rights. THEY HAVE NO RIGHT TO MY OR YOUR METADATA WITHOUT CAUSE ——PERIOD !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • m8lsem

        So NSA could find out, if they frame a computer inquiry properly, that someone at my number called my brother’s phone number at x hour on y day and talked for z time (though given the volume of data, they aren’t going to do that without having some other reason to be interested in me or my brother much more so than millions of other people). My phone company per se already ‘knows’ that call was made, and any employee of that phone company who has anything to do with billing, and any other employee of that company who’s curious also know it. BFD. The information was not private to start with.
        The sheer volume of data makes privacy real, unless the phone or data source is already of interest from other information.

        • dadhoover

          The point is that it is OURS, metadata, hooplywata and whatever, it is OURS and the government has no business with it unless they have a suspicion against us and get a warrant, they can get it from a phone company after they get a warrant. This snooping of the NSA’s has already be used to assist American Company’s such as Boeing on overseas bidding and etc. YOU MISS THE WHOLE POINT, THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PHONE COMPANY HAVING OUR METADATA STORED FOR A FEDERALLY REQUIRED AMOUNT OF TIME TO SERVE WARRANTABLE PURPOSES UNDER NSA IF THEY NEED TO DO A SEARCH. BUT GOVERNMENT AND ROGUE OFFICIALS CAN ABUSE SUCH POWERS AND THAT IS WHY IT WAS WRITTEN IN THE 4th AMENDMENT TO KEEP THAT FROM HAPPENING. WAKE UP TO YOUR OWN INTERESTS AND THOSE WHO WILL FOLLOW YOU. NEVER IN EARTHS HISTORY HAS SUCH POWER WORKED OUT WELL FOR THE MASSES AND WHETHER THIS IS THE USA OR NOT, PEOPLE ARE STILL PEOPLE AND SOME WILL CROP UP THAT ARE POWER CRAZED AND YOU DO NOT LEAVE OPEN SUCH A DOOR FOR ABUSE AS IT STOOD.

          FOR CHRISTS SAKE THE SENATE AND CONGRESS ARE IN THE PROCESS OF INTRODUCING BILLS TO FIX THIS PROBLEM OF GOVERHMENT INTRUSION SO BE HAPPY THAT ITS HAPPENING. AS IT WAS IT WAS TOTALLY SECRET EVEN FROM CONGRESS AND THAT ALSO IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL. READ !!!!!!!!!!! http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/04/congress-nsa-denied-access

  • scrivenerNP

    Don’t stop there. Real reason for deep domestic spying: nefarious electromagnetic celltower radio frequency weapon slow-kill genocide, according to this veteran MSM journalist; viclivingston.blogspot.com/2011/12/u.html.

  • DurdyDawg

    What were you expecting? (hands together) Clapper on, Clapper off.. Simple. Just another semi-working moron in the stash box of corrupt gubment.

  • midway54

    This morning on ABC’s Sunday morning talkfest, Martha Reddish mercifully sat in for the ubiquitous George S., the regular host. A good deal of conversation was had on the subject of the worldwide alarms about a potential terrorist strike. In that conversation, Glenn Greenwald was a guest who broke some news that there is in existence an 81-page opinion by the FISA court that the NSA program(s) is unconstitutional and that a number of congressmen have been blocked from obtaining a copy of or even from reading it. Afterwards came two other guests, King of NY a notable hack, and a democratic congressman from Maryland who is the ranking member of the intelligence committee.
    When she asked in her conversation with the two guests about Greenwald’s remarks concerning Snowden’s status, she chose not to include anything directly or indirectly about the Court opinion Greenwald had just revealed, both men replied about how often and regularly they receive information and answers to their specific questions from the NSA. King, the mental lightweight, as usual commented in a clear reference to Greenwald that the remarks from some were only based on a need for publicity and were not accurate (if anyone seeking publicity and notice there are few that can match King himself). Again, not Reddish nor her two guests who surely heard Greenwald’s remarks had anything voluntarily to say about the court’s opinion and about certain congress members being blocked in their efforts to inquire about and obtain a copy of it. I guess we will need to await more details from Greenwald in his column for The Guardian. Once the column is published, the political and media stooges will once again go on the attack against the messenger Greenwald (who King said a couple of weeks ago should be charged with treason along with Snowden).

    • sigrid28

      How like Representative King to concentrate on the theatrical aspects of Glen Greenwald’s roll-out of Snowden’s disclosures. Both King’s remarks and Greenwald’s technique could have been easily anticipated by the U.S. intelligence apparatus, which remains curiously silent, except for Clapper’s (I think) rehearsed and purposefully misleading comments, meant to get the real enemy off the scent of what is going on. The Maryland representative from the intelligence committee also gave Greenwald’s disclosure a pass. I think these slights are smarter than they seem, as the only effective means of confusing U.S. enemies is by keeping them guessing about the U.S. response to Greenwald/Snowden’s disclosures. This places these disclosures in doubt, as far as our enemies are concerned–which is a perfect plan given the imperfections of the NSA’s options. This way anything an enemy might latch onto, and act upon as credible intel, could disintegrate immediately or later on. Americans hate ambiguity, but the intelligence community thrives upon it. In this case, lives endangered by Snowden and Greenwald can be protected both by moving them out of danger and by cloaking the intel about them in uncertainty.

      • dadhoover

        WHAT LIVES ENDANGERED BY SNOWDEN AND GREENWALD ? Where did you pull this out from ? There’s no such problem that exists and that point has even been dropped by the government. DO YOU ALWAYS GO AGAINST YOUR OWN INTERESTS TO PROMOTE YOUR CROOKED LEADERS GIVING IT TO YOU UP THE _____ ?

      • midway54

        Good points. In late May it was reported in the press that China had hacked the DofD system and gained access to some of the latest weaponry. Add to that, China’s stealing intellectual property and producing much of the sophisticated electronic devices, it would seem that China would have some time back become aware of the NSA program(s) and for all we citizens know may have discovered at that time much of the details of what Snowden has been turning over to the Guardian and WaPo. This of course does not excuse Snowden’s criminal act of stealing the data from the government and then turning it over to the said newspapers, and not instead secretly going to either of the said countries with it for personal financial reward. The only evidence that the United States and its allies have been placed in jeopardy thus far that I have seen is the ipsi dixit evidence given us by certain high officials of NSA and of our federal government.

    • dadhoover

      We effectively have a STATE MEDIA, who are not doing their duty to the American people. How can the people vote intelligently when the major media are so remiss and it appears purposefully so in reporting the facts, not just what the corporate and government talking points are. We are so misinformed here in the US that its pathetic.

      • midway54

        A big amen to that, dad!

  • Vazir Mukhtar

    No matter how good Mr Clapper may be in evaluating intelligence, in providing succinct recommendations to the president, in managing his subordinates, he should be dismissed. No one is irreplaceable, and for the intelligence community to get the message that answering questions honestly, without carefully couching the answer so as to mislead (does any member of Congress ever grill a witness to get a truthful answer?) Mr Clapper must go. Too often superiors will go no lower than they must to find someone to throw under the bus. The buck stopped on Mr Clapper’s desk. He must go.

    • dadhoover

      AGREED

  • Dominick Vila

    The problem with the NSA Director statement is that he should have made a stronger case for robust surveillance, the benefits derived from it, and the technical and procedural limitations that impair our ability to identify threats before they become reality.
    Thankfully, the latest threat against our diplomatic missions and interests was identified while there is time to act upon it. My only concern is that we should expand the scope of the preventive measures that are being taken. AQ has shown time and again that it can strike anywhere and at any time. While there is a distinct possibility that the next attack may take place in countries like Pakistan, Iraq, or Libya, we must make sure increased security measures are taken everywhere, including the USA.

    • dadhoover

      He cannot make a stronger case for roping in our metadata, because when closely questioned the NSA officials couldn’t give proof of even one solid case that this mass collection of innocent Americans Metadata even in and of itself led to just one block to terrorism. their was one that came close and the rest merely assisted or verified what was found out otherwise. THIS IS A VAST WASTE OF MONEY FOR VERY LITTLE GOOD – NOT MUCH MORE THAN JUST A DUPLICATION — when the same could have been obtained from a standard warrant. YOU APOLOGISTS AGAINST YOUR OWN RIGHTS ARE A TROUBLING GROUP OF VOTERS. READ !!!! ” all members of Congress – not just those on the Intelligence Committees – are responsible for making choices about the NSA and for protecting the privacy rights and other Constitutional guarantees of Americans. “I did not take an oath to defer to the Intelligence Committee,” Rep. Griffith told me. “My oath is to make informed decisions, and I can’t do my job when I can’t get even the most basic information about these programs.”

      In early July, Grayson had staffers distribute to House members several slides published by the Guardian about NSA programs as part of Grayson’s efforts to trigger debate in Congress. But, according to one staff member, Grayson’s office was quickly told by the House Intelligence Committee that those slides were still classified, despite having been published and discussed in the media, and directed Grayson to cease distribution or discussion of those materials in the House, warning that he could face sanctions if he continued.

      It has been widely noted that the supremely rubber-stamping FISA court constitutes NSA “oversight” in name only, and that the Intelligence Committees are captured by the agency and constrained to act even if they were inclined to. Whatever else is true, members of Congress in general clearly know next to nothing about the NSA and the FISA court beyond what they read in the media, and those who try to rectify that are being actively blocked from finding out.”http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/04/congress-nsa-denied-access

      THE ABOVE IS TOTALLY AGAINST OUR CONSTITUTION FROM SEVERAL FRONTS AND ONLY THE IGNORANT WILL ALLOW THIS TO GO ON WITHOUT REIGNING IT IN SO THE NSA SYSTEM ANSWERS TO OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS AND DOES NO LONGER COLLECT ANYTHING OF OURS WITHOUT AT WARRANT.

  • dadhoover

    Go after Clapper and Alexander, either they resign for lying to congress and the American People or they face the repercussions that you and I would if we lying to congress about even a small matter. EITHER THE LAWS ARE THERE THAT APPLY TO ALL OR THEY APPLY TO NONE !!!!

  • bestofandy

    “Damage done” ??? What damage was done, what a JOKE !!!
    Show me the blood and I will assess for myself. All I can say that when an extremist blows up an embassy, that is REAL damage done. It seems that the NSA inflicted damage to the average citizen of the US and around the world. What harm they have done is what really matters.

  • dadhoover

    Not just Clapper and Alexander need to go but who at NSA is ordering the refusal to cooperate with information to our own congress members. There’s an 85 page FISA Court opinion that the NSA Metadata Sweep up of all Americans Metadata is Illegal and the NSA officials would not give it to Congressmen. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/04/congress-nsa-denied-access

    Here’s two congressmen’s statements:

    ” “I did not take an oath to defer to the Intelligence Committee,” Rep. Griffith told me. “My oath is to make informed decisions, and I can’t do my job when I can’t get even the most basic information about these programs.”

    In early July, Grayson had staffers distribute to House members several slides published by the Guardian about NSA programs as part of Grayson’s efforts to trigger debate in Congress. But, according to one staff member, Grayson’s office was quickly told by the House Intelligence Committee that those slides were still classified, despite having been published and discussed in the media, and directed Grayson to cease distribution or discussion of those materials in the House, warning that he could face sanctions if he continued”

    JUST EXACTLY WHO IS IN CHARGE OF WHOM ?