Archive for the ‘NSA’ Tag

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Jon Stewart talking about Obama’s speech about the NSA “Hey, you know what would undermine all this reform talk? If these changes contained any glaring loopholes.”

Obama “The database can be queried only after a judicial finding, or in the case of a true emergency …It will terminate within a fixed time, unless the government demonstrates a real need for further secrecy.”

Stewart “So, basically the rule is we will totally follow the rules, until such time that we determine we will no longer follow the rules. But don’t worry about it, you won’t hear about it, ’cause we’re going to do it in secret. You know what? I’m sorry. I’m being pessimistic. Are these safeguards perfect? Of course not, but at least the President is trying to earn back the trust of the American people by demonstrating the seriousness of purpose. So, how do we move these reforms forward?”

Obama “I’m open to working with Congress to insure that we build a broad consensus for how to move forward.”

Stewart “So, we’re never doing this.”

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-january-20-2014/watchman—surveillance-state-history

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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: But, first, here’s my take: President Barack Obama gave a much- anticipated speech on Friday outlining reforms in the American government’s surveillance activities. Before I give you my reaction to the speech, I want to give you some context.

The American government and many U.S. companies are routinely the targets of cyber-attacks from all over the world. For example, the National Nuclear Security Administration, which is an arm of the Energy Department and monitors America’s nuclear power plants, was the target of 10 million cyber-attacks every day in 2012.

By contrast, the entire United Kingdom suffered 44 million cyber- attacks in the entire year of 2011.

Some of these are efforts to spy on America, enter into communication systems, telecom systems, steal secrets from the government or from private companies, look at phone records, e-mails.

Others are efforts to disrupt normal life or kill civilians. Last year, the head of the FBI testified that cyber-attacks from foreign sources, often including terrorist groups, had surpassed traditional terrorism as the single most worrisome threat to the United States.

I’m trying to remind you that this debate about American policy cannot take place in a vacuum. There are other countries out there, and groups of militants and terrorists, and they are actively using whatever cyber-tools they have to tap into phone systems, emails, bank records, power plant operation systems, nuclear facilities, and more.

In that context, President Obama has taken on a worthy task, to see if American intelligence has gotten out of control as it deals with these threats and challenges there. His speech suggests that, no, the NSA is not a rogue outfit.

But he acknowledged that two facts need to be kept in mind. First, that the United States has unique capabilities in this area and second, that after 9/11, the American government went too far in its efforts to search for and counter terrorist threats.

So he’s proposed a series of reforms that strike me as a good balance between security and liberty. He’s preserved the basic structure of American intelligence gathering while putting in more checks and safeguards.

One case where he may have gone too far is in limiting America’s ability to spy on foreign leaders. This was probably inevitable and a political sop to foreign heads of government like Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff and Germany’s Angela Merkel.

It’s a good idea for the United States to protect civil liberties, institute checks and balances, and have periodic reviews of the whole system. But let’s also keep in mind that I haven’t heard much about the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s intelligence reform proposals, and I don’t expect we will be hearing much from him, or President Vladimir Putin or many other foreign leaders.

Intelligence is called the world’s second oldest profession for a reason. Everyone does it.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1401/19/fzgps.01.html

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President Barack Obama on Friday will call for ending the government’s control of phone data from millions of Americans, a senior administration official said. The move marks a significant change to the National Security Agency’s controversial bulk phone record collection program.

Obama will announce the move in a highly anticipated speech Friday morning at the Justice Department. However, the official said Obama will not recommend who should control the phone data and will instead call on the attorney general, intelligence community and Congress to make that determination.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/obama_end_nsa_phone_data_control

Posted January 17, 2014 by tmusicfan in Politics, Quote of the Day

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Posted December 27, 2013 by tmusicfan in Politics, Quote of the Day

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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST:

But, first, here’s my take: The revelations about the National Security Agency and its spying on foreign, even allied leaders, has been embarrassing for the Obama administration at a time when it hardly needs more bad news.

But is it more than an embarrassment? Should it raise alarms abroad and at home?

At first glance, this is a story that is less about ethics and more about power, the great power gap between the United States and other countries, even rich European ones.

The most illuminating response to the revelations came from Bernard Kouchner, formerly the foreign minister of France. He said in a radio interview, “Let’s be honest, we eavesdrop too. Everyone is listening to everyone else.”

Kouchner went on to add, “We don’t have the same means as the United States, which makes us jealous.”

America spends tens of billions of dollars on intelligence collection. It’s hard to get the data to make good comparisons, but it’s safe to assume that Washington’s intelligence budget dwarfs that of other countries just as it does with defense spending.

It has seemed particularly strange that this rift should develop between the United States and its closest allies in Europe. But it was predictable and in fact, in a sense, predicted.

In 2002, the British diplomat Robert Cooper wrote an influential essay in which he argued that Europe had become a “postmodern” international system in which force was no longer a serious option.

Instead, economic interdependence and cooperation were the governing ideas of statecraft. And certainly when one looks at the European Union, this does seem to describe its reality. The prospect of war between France and Germany, which had gone to war three times between 1870 and 1950, seems utterly impossible.

But outside of Europe, the world is not post-modern. Cooper argues that the solution is “double standards.” Within Europe, one set of rules. Outside it, he recommends “rougher methods of an earlier era, force, preemptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary.”

“Among ourselves we keep the law, but when operating in the jungle, we must use the laws of the jungle,” he wrote.

This is what was violated by the NSA activities. Washington was playing by the laws of the jungle, but inside Europe’s “postmodern” system. Partly this is because the distinction is not easy to maintain. What if you’re looking for terrorists within Europe, that is, people who still play by the laws of the jungle or even worse?

You see, America as a global power is operating all over the world, trying to tackle some of the nastiest threats out there. Perhaps it doesn’t have the luxury to retreat to a garden and renounce nasty tactics.

If it did, it’s not likely that China, Russia, Iran, not to mention al Qaeda would follow suit. But precisely because Washington has to get its hands dirty, it should be smart about this.

You don’t stop terrorists in Europe by listening in on Angela Merkel’s cell phone. The rewards of spying on friendly heads of government are probably outweighed by the risks.

And most troubling, it’s not clear that many of these specific activities were clearly thought through and directed by the White House. Nor do they appear to have been vetted by Congress.

In the wake of 9/11, America got scared and dropped any sense of constraints on its intelligence activities. It is not an accident that the eavesdropping on Chancellor Merkel began in 2002.

But the fact that technology now allows the NSA to do anything doesn’t mean it should do everything. We need a better and clearer set of rules for intelligence activity. And we need confidence that these rules are being followed and observed.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1311/03/fzgps.01.html

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COLCHESTER, Vt. — BY leaking details of the National Security Agency’s data-mining program, Edward J. Snowden revealed that the government’s surveillance efforts were far more extensive than previously understood. Many commentators have deemed the government’s activities alarming and unprecedented. The N.S.A.’s program is indeed alarming — but not, from a historical perspective, unprecedented. And history suggests that we should worry less about the surveillance itself and more about when the war in whose name the surveillance is being conducted will end.

In 1862, after President Abraham Lincoln appointed him secretary of war, Edwin M. Stanton penned a letter to the president requesting sweeping powers, which would include total control of the telegraph lines. By rerouting those lines through his office, Stanton would keep tabs on vast amounts of communication, journalistic, governmental and personal. On the back of Stanton’s letter Lincoln scribbled his approval: “The Secretary of War has my authority to exercise his discretion in the matter within mentioned.”

But part of the reason this calculus was acceptable to me was that the trade-offs were not permanent. As the war ended, the emergency measures were rolled back. Information — telegraph and otherwise — began to flow freely again.

So it has been with many wars: a cycle of draconian measures followed by contraction. During the First World War, the Supreme Court found that Charles T. Schenck posed a “clear and present danger” for advocating opposition to the draft; later such speech became more permissible. During the Second World War, habeas corpus was suspended several times — most notably in Hawaii after the Pearl Harbor attack — but afterward such suspensions became rare.

This is why, if you are a critic of the N.S.A.’s surveillance program, it is imperative that the war on terror reach its culmination. In May, President Obama declared that “this war, like all wars, must end.” If history is any guide, ending the seemingly endless state of war is the first step in returning our civil liberties.

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) drew boos and heckling from members of the crowd at a progressive conference on Saturday while defending President Barack Obama’s administration and the recently-discovered surveillance policies by the National Security Agency (NSA).

About 47 minutes into Pelosi’s speech at Netroots in San Jose, California, a growing commotion can be heard coming from the audience. While moderator and MSNBC contributor Zerlina Maxwell urged the audience to submit questions online instead of shouting, Pelosi continued, saying, “I think it’s really important to subject all of this to the transparent and harshest scrutiny, to say, ‘We want a balance between privacy and security.’”

At that point, a man identified by Politico as 57-year-old Marc Perkel can be heard shouting, “It’s not a balance. It’s not constitutional! No more secret laws!”

Perkel was ejected from the room by security, while other audience members shouted for him to be left alone. Shortly thereafter, loud boos can be heard coming from the audience after she said former NSA contractor Edward Snowden ” did violate the law” in releasing details about NSA programs like PRISM. The government charged Snowden with crimes related to the Espionage Act on Friday.

“I know that some of you attribute heroic status to that action,” she said of Snowden’s leaks to the Guardian and the Washington Post. “But, again, you don’t have the responsibility for the security of the United States. Those of us who do have to strike a different balance.”

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/06/22/pelosi-booed-at-netroots-while-defending-espionage-charges-against-snowden/