Free Markets, Free People

Welcome to the surveillance state

Not that the US hasn’t been one for quite some time, but lifting the veil or if you prefer an Oz reference, peeking behind the curtain, has been difficult, because most of it has been kept a secret.  Today the WSJ gives us a look at another “sliver” of the surveillance that apparently goes on routinely via secret orders:

The National Security Agency is obtaining a complete set of phone records from all Verizon U.S. customers under a secret court order, according to a published account and former officials.

The account provides fresh evidence that NSA’s far-reaching domestic surveillance effort has continued after Congress passed a law five years ago to institutionalize a post-9/11 warrantless surveillance program.

The revelation of the secret order appears to lift the veil on a broad NSA domestic collection program under way, which former government officials say represents just a sliver of the domestic data NSA is taking in and which includes all types of communications data, such as emails and records of Internet browsing. The data collection began after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to several former intelligence officials.

NSA is only one of many government agencies conducting this sort of surveillance.  And of course, we now have drones approved for domestic use.

I’ve said this many times, but terrorism has been the excuse for an vast expansion of government intrusion the like of which we’ve never seen before.

While I may fear a terrorist attack, the chances of being involved in one are almost if not completely statistically improbable.  The chance that I’ll be a subject of freedom stealing intrusion from government?  When’s you next plane trip?


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51 Responses to Welcome to the surveillance state

  • The Forms Of Kanly Must Be Properly Observed
    Kanly (kanli) is a Turkish word meaning sworn enemy. The act of kanly was originally created as a way of allowing bitter disputes to be resolved without any harm being brought upon innocent bystanders.
    Clearly, the Verizon record grab violates the “forms of Kanly”

  • What?  Like a random search over a three month period with no specific target is a problem….sheesh.
    I suppose it would be wrong to let the police come and sit around your house for a couple three months too, you know, if you’re not doing anything wrong, you shouldn’t have a problem with Officer Obie sitting at the table with you in the morning and evening for a month or so.  He’ll bring his own donuts, but you need to offer him supper.
    Verizon is the ONLY Telco they did this too, of course, nudge nudge grin grin wink wink.
    MOST TRANSPARENT ADMINISTRATION IN HISTORY!  (You just aren’t going to like what you manage to see…..)

    • Leno: “When I Was Growing Up, We Were Always Afraid Of Big Brother Watching Us. And Now With Obama, We Actually Have A Brother Watching Us”

  • While I may fear a terrorist attack, the chances of being involved in one are almost if not completely statistically improbable.

    Several fallacies here, seems to me.
    1. Quick-n-dirty game theory tells me that a successful terrorist strike with WMD could be immensely destructive and disruptive; ergo, it isn’t silly to pro-actively work to detect any potential strikes.  If you think we are “vastly” intruded on now, imagine how things would look post-THAT.
    2. “Surveillance” is WAY too loose a basket to carry definitive concerns in.  What KIND of surveillance, using what controls, and producing what ends?

    We agree on many forms and levels of intrusion.  I personally never had a problem with a system that thru-puts immense quantities of data while looking for items that could identify an attacker, but which does not store messages.  Or monitoring someone’s calls who we know has terrorist connections.

    • Then you should trust they’re not misusing the data man… you?
      That was rhetorical of course.
      I fear this government way more than I fear a terrorist attack.
      Besides, if it turns out to be an Islamist attack, no worries, it will be classified as “national living space violence” and no doubt the fault of the Tea Party and Fox News overreach.

      • I fear this government way more than I fear a terrorist attack.

        I fear them both, and especially in an interaction between another terrorist attack and what happens then in the government.

        • ” and what happens then in the government.”
          I thought that at first, now I think if it’s an Islamic attack, we’ll have to do some polling, get OFA involved to see how the public feels before we make it official.
          “Terror” or “Work place violence”.
          The way I feel about these clowns, the only reason they want to get numbers from terrorists phones is so they can call and say “By the blessed Beard of the Prophet!!  You’re embarrassing Barack!  Be patient!  If Allah wills, we shall rule soon enough!”
          Ah, then again, they’ll just get more intrusive to protect us from angry white conservative Tea Party voters.

        • Especially when the government is kissing the tushes of the terrorists.

        • The Truth: Clap on .. clap off … from Clapper, DNI

    • I can’t go with the whole house vacuum theory – how do you tell if the place getting those suspicious phone calls at 10:00pm is a Domino’s or an Al Queda cell without running the data down a little deeper?
      What did it mean when a flurry of after 10 o’clock phone calls to and from the Ibin Mahd family happened (when their father had a heart attack and subsequently died in Oman)…looks suspicious to me….it came up on the flag report….or how about the sons of the blue haired sick granny from Oklahoma, living in Idaho,  damn red state tea party radicals, how do I know those late evening calls aren’t signs of an impending Tea Party attack….it came up on the flag report
      Nor do trust this administration NOT to use this information for specifically targeted individuals.
      Nor do I trust them to get it right even if it DOES point to a terrorist plan.   Marathon bombing…QED
      War on drugs, war on terror, war on citizens that didn’t or won’t vote for me.

  • Ah, the irony, 69 years ago today we stormed ashore in Europe to defeat a government that excelled in this kind of behavior.
    Irhe papiere, bitte!
    Zeig Heil baby.

  • “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” –Benjamin Franklin

  • NBC’s Pete Williams reported on Morning Joe earlier today that the Department of Justice will “definitely” open an investigation into the leak of the NSA’s data-mining efforts with Verizon — and who knows how many other telecoms — that ended up in the Guardian last night.

    • Yeah….heh…they’ll use the phone records to figure out who leaked the data….

  • Let’s see what the low information voters make of this.   Assuming they hear about it of course.
    Ain’t no one wants to have their calls ‘watched’.

    • They won’t hear a single instance of this. There’s some sort of drama with a Jackson kid isn’t there?


    Here is what they don’t tell you. Telephone record information (e.g., the numbers dialed and duration of calls) is not and has never been protected by the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court held as much in its 1979 Smith v. Maryland decision. Understand: the phone record information at issue here is very different from the content of telephone conversations. Because the latter involve higher privacy expectations, they are heavily regulated under not only the Fourth Amendment but both Title III of the federal penal code and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Under these laws, the government is not permitted to access communications content absent court authorization based on probable cause either that a crime has been committed or that the surveillance target is an agent of a foreign power (such as a terrorist organization or a hostile government).

    Put stuff in perspective.  McCarthy has a LOT more good information.  Smoke a good cigar and take a breath.

    • Not to be a pain in the ass (I know, I know), but under the law, the IRS can’t ask you what you’re praying for when you apply for a 501(c)(4).
      Why would I believe they’re following the law here and only violating it over there?

      • “Trust, but verify.”
        Do NOT assume.  Not in either direction.  Don’t knee-jerk in any direction.
        This instance is…in some particulars…very different than what was done during the Bush era.
        Just like the IRS, the EPA, the…etc., etc.

        • I know…McCarthy’s article summed it up nicely, this administration’s lawlessness has me doubting any purpose, every reason.

    • Good article by the way.

  • “The chance that I’ll be a subject of freedom stealing intrusion from government?  When’s you next plane trip?”
    When is your next phone call?

  • What’s the big deal anyway? There’s not a Republican in office. What’s the worry?

  • I suspect they need a large amount of meta data like this in order to do statistical analysis to be able to extract what patterns are normal and which are abnormal.
    I really would like the War on Terror to be over. If it were truly over, then of course we could easily agree NOT to do this.
    Instead, I am ambivalent. I wish we could know if these activities stopped any actual terror operations.


    The author of the Patriot Act said the top secret court order to collect the phone records of essentially every call made by millions of Verizon customers is an abuse of the landmark legislation.
    “As the author of the Patriot Act, I am extremely troubled by the FBI’s interpretation of this legislation. While I believe the Patriot Act appropriately balanced national security concerns and civil rights, I have always worried about potential abuses,” Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) said this morning.

    “The Bureau’s broad application for phone records was made under the so-called business records provision of the Act.  I do not believe the broadly drafted FISA order is consistent with the requirements of the Patriot Act. Seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American.”

    Read the whole thing.

  • If the War on Terror is over, which I believe the President said and/or hinted at, why the current need for these records?

    • Somebody at the NYT didn’t get the memo…so they could write the story that would inform the Executive Branch.
      Just a mistake…

      • Obama gets his evening pre-weekend update on what’s going on tomorrow night at 5:00 PM Eastern.
        He’ll find out then there have been more hearings with Holder at that time, and that his wife beat down a protester who had been a lesbian, but found Jesus and became a straight white male tea party member.

        • … but Bush was EVIL and Barack Obama is … EVIL
          Now, they will define EVIL downward

          • If Bush was evil, it was evil in the way a tornado is evil….
            Obama, more like evil in the way Stalin was evil.

  • “Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it. That is one reason we have long argued that the Patriot Act, enacted in the heat of fear after the 9/11 attacks by members of Congress who mostly had not even read it, was reckless in its assignment of unnecessary and overbroad surveillance powers.”

    Bush did not do this. Ever.

  • Gotta keep an eye of them Tea Partiers!!

  • I’ve had a lot more contact with the IRS (the new N-word) than with al Qaeda or any of it’s affiliates.

  • The account provides fresh evidence that NSA’s far-reaching domestic surveillance effort has continued after Congress passed a law five years ago to institutionalize a post-9/11 warrantless surveillance program.
    This is part of the narrative to say this is in the same category or even a latent extension of what Bush did.  First, who is President right now.  And whether Bush overstepped or not, he was at least looking for terrorists in a misguided way.  What’s the rationale for getting this info on everyone?  There is none.
    Just irks me they are trying to deflect this behavior onto Bush or even put it and things like NDAA in the same category.

  • The US government are now the terrorists. This much is clear. Brown

    They haven’t just lied with numbers.  They’ve outright lied to Congress.

    • Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Thursday that he stood by what he told Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., in March when he said that the National Security Agency does not “wittingly” collect data on millions of Americans.
      “What I said was, the NSA does not voyeuristically pore through U.S. citizens’ e-mails. I stand by that,” Clapper told National Journal in a telephone interview.
      On March 12, at a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Wyden asked Clapper: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper responded: “No, sir.” When Wyden followed up by asking, “It does not?” Clapper said: “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could, inadvertently perhaps, collect—but not wittingly.” Clapper did not specify at the time that he was referring to e-mail.

      Yeah, no…  Bullshit.

      • Well, not VOYEURISTICALLY no….it’s more of an in passing thing, sort of like you know, picking up the National Enquirer while you’re in the grocery line….occasionally you see an article that’s interesting and you maybe buy it, you know?
        So it really depends on what your definition of the word voyeur is.

  • What people don’t grasp is, unless you collected ALL the data, you can’t go back over it for more detail once you find something interesting at the highest level.

  • I think “gun control” legislation is now dead, at least thru the 2014 election

    • I suggest maybe government control legislation would be a nice substitute.

  • “Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems. Some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave, and creative, and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can’t be trusted.”
    Pres. Snoop-Dog

    Where’s Erp when you need to kick somebody around…???

  • Now I see they`re trying the limited bad news damage control thing. “Sure we listened to innocent Americans, but it was only a couple and boy did that judge ever scold us!”

    • POTUS says “nobody’s listening to your telephone calls.” No one said the NSA was.

      Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) June 07, 2013
      As Twitchy told you, part of President Obama’s rehearsed answer to a reporter’s question about the NSA surveillance programs was, “Nobody is listening to your telephone calls.” Holy straw man! We’re pretty sure that’s going to violate all kinds of fire codes.
      It’s still early, but CNN’s Jake Tapper may win Twitter for the day.
      the chair recognizes the straw man from the great state of obfuscation—
      Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) June 07, 2013
      See, everybody has the measure of this Pres. Snoop-Dog now…!!!

  • There is no doubt that Holder LIED to a federal judge to get the Rosen warrant.
    That is ADMITTED.
    THEN he lied to Congress. That is on video tape.
    Why is Holder still free? He should be perp-walked to the DC lock-up, to face criminal charges.
    Congress can impeach ANY civil officer, and they have their own jail. Time to dust that off, and put it to good use!