Sunday, June 09, 2013

NSA and the absence of law

I've been saying this for a while now, so it's interesting to see others openly observing it in the mainstream media.  The US government does not respect the Constitution or any law, it is not the Constitutional entity everyone assumes it to be, and the US justice system is one giant game of make-believe:
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Friday that the US justice system was suffering from a "calamitous collapse in the rule of law", as Washington reeled from the sensational exposure of vast spy agency surveillance programmes. Speaking in an interview with AFP at Ecuador's London embassy, where he has been holed up for almost a year, the founder of the whistleblowing website accused the US government of trying to "launder" its activities with regard to the far-reaching electronic spying effort revealed on Thursday.
Assange doesn't know the half of it, but he knew enough to try to stay out of the clutches of a Big Brother machine that kidnaps people around the world, kills others with drones, and spies on everyone with Internet access.  It is somewhat astonishing, to the average person who grew up amidst the Manichean struggle of the forces of freedom and light versus the evil empire of the Soviet Union, to gradually realize that the evil empire of the USA is more insidious and pernicious, with a greater global reach, than the Soviet version.

Tyler Durden observes that the administration has been caught lying in all of its responses to news of the NSA scandal:
There's one reason why the administration, James Clapper and the NSA should just keep their mouths shut as the PRISM-gate fallout escalates: with every incremental attempt to refute some previously unknown facet of the US Big Brother state, a new piece of previously unleaked information from the same intelligence organization now scrambling for damage control, emerges and exposes the brand new narrative as yet another lie, forcing even more lies, more retribution against sources, more journalist persecution and so on.

The latest piece of news once again comes from the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald who this time exposes the NSA's datamining tool "Boundless Informant" which according to leaked documents collected 97 billion pieces of intelligence from computer networks worldwide in March 2013 alone, and "3 billion pieces of intelligence from US computer networks over a 30-day period."

This is summarized in the chart below which shows that only the middle east has more active NSA-espionage than the US. Also, Obama may not want to show Xi the activity heatmap for China, or else the whole "China is hacking us" script may promptly fall apart.
As usual, the government is hiding behind the fact that it is hiring contractors to do what it is prohibited by that ever-so-effectual "law" from doing itself.  The government is entirely lawless; to the last two presidential administrations, "law" is simply another weapon in its war on the American people.



Blogger Lambert June 09, 2013 4:50 AM  

It's simply a jobs program to handle the 100 million intercepts per day. We should see the results in the U-6 soon.

Blogger Frank June 09, 2013 4:53 AM  

I haven't written anything in a while, but I feel like I have to say something about the recent PRISM/NSA stories.

META: I think this is an improvement over the previous 3 bullshit Obama scandals. Even if its not really a scandal or even news really, it is still a story that deserves some attention.

I can't remember all the back story that I'm aware of but I do remember a bit. I first became aware of the general shape of the thing somewhere around 2005 I think. There was a POOR MAN post about data that also talked about people in the Bush administration threatening to resign over the, then without any legal cover, program and people trying to get Ashcroft to sign off on it in his sickbed.

In 2007 there was the washington post story about how the NSA had installed splitters in a trunk line (fiber optic) for sweeping up internet communications.

Which lead to my insight that maybe the NSA doesn't have a "back door" they just get copies of the latest proprietary software from facebook et al so that all that traffic they are sweeping up (ie all of it) makes more sense.

Anonymous The CronoLink June 09, 2013 4:57 AM  

I can only hope Mexico's government is incompetent enough to fail at spying its own citizens. I think my chances are good enough. For now.

Blogger Shimshon June 09, 2013 5:03 AM  

All true, Vox. And eventually the FEDGOV will collapse of its own weight. Since MPAI, the Useful Idiocy available to advocate for the same government, even in the face of an endless stream of abuses that even the idiots object to, is quite limitless, regardless of who is in power. It's amusing to see it play out.

The stuff I hear personally, particularly from people I know on the left, is literally one talking point after another, without considering a single deviation from the PC script. And the absolute reverence for government from people whose common bond in college was campus graffiti (we were almost all white kids, with a few Asians, from working through independently wealthy backgrounds; the SWPL version of graffiti, as done by college students, in various building stairwells). I kid you not. Just jarring. Not all are so dogmatic today, to be sure. More than a few show independent thought. Regardless of political persuasion then, everyone, left and right, had quite a healthy disrespect for authority. It was fun. The ones on the hard left though are drones today. And they have had the fun sucked right out of them.

Since MPAI, when the collapse ultimately comes, some of the more cogent ones will finally see through the fox of the Matrix, but I suspect to the great masses, it will be a complete and shocking surprise to them.

Blogger Shimshon June 09, 2013 5:13 AM  

I guess that was a long-winded way of saying, plenty of people, even MOST people, will not see it. Or, they will see it, until Candidate R wins in 2016. The supporters of President D seem have the ability to experience an infinite amount of Cognitive Dissonance , as long as he has the starring role. The supporters of the future Candidate R (and they will circle the wagons, regardless of which is Chosen), do not seek to end the system that makes such evil possible. They seek only to make it right, by having their candidate assume the starring role.

If Assange, who is caught in the grips of the system, doesn't know the half of it, what does that say about the vast hordes, who are probably quite a bit less intelligent than him?

Anonymous kh123 June 09, 2013 5:34 AM  

The potential for, sure. Where is the US' Archipelago.

Anonymous liljoe June 09, 2013 6:25 AM  

When you have comedians as the most trusted dispensers of national propaganda saying openly that the Bill of Rights is "obsolete" and should be done away with to cheering audiences, yes, you pretty much have a lawless State, along with a corrupt electorate that has neither the appetite or courage to defend their own Rights. It's remarkable how uninterested the general U.S. population seems regarding these revelations, one more shocking than the next. I believe only the imminent dollar collapse will awaken the American sheeple, and of course then it will be all too late anyway. Dark Ages 2, here we come....

Blogger JACIII June 09, 2013 7:29 AM  

It's people buying in to the idea that all these secret warrants and secret internal review panels will be above board and self regulating that is so astonishing.

Where ever did the idea gain traction that politicians and political appointees could be trusted with secret unassailable power?

Blogger IM2L844 June 09, 2013 7:29 AM  

Clapper: "PRISM is not an undisclosed collection or data mining program." It's the computer system that we use for undisclosed collection and data mining. There, that makes it all better.

This administration never tires of subjective weasel words, terms and phrases. It's liberal thang.

Blogger tz June 09, 2013 7:38 AM  

We aremaccelerating (maybe a 3rd wave in Elliott-Prechter speak) down the slippery slope?

There is never an argument the constitution be shredded to do evil, but there is some good that is so important and urgent that we must open the gate to let us go out and accomplish it.

The exorcism of demon rum was an intra-constitution version. That was repealed, but we still have the direct election of senators and the income tax and women's suffrage (which was NOT banned but up to the states - the women of Wyoming voted in 1890).

On a geek commentary site I wrote a comment that basically, why should I care about the NSA and Aaron Swartz when these things have been happening from the EPA, endangered species act, guns, taxes, and even Obamacare and not only were the geeks silent, they endorsed and applauded.

Similarly, on Christian sites that claim persecution for paying for contraception, I point out that there are muslim clerics who are innocent that have died and will die in prison at GITMO and that Al Awlaki and his son were assassinated in the public square (but you trust Obama has evidence of actual involvement instead of preaching?).

The problem is we are them. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is the golden rule. Permit the government to do unto others what you would permit it to do to you is the corrolary. And in order to keep your two most cherished amendments of the constitution, you must defend the other eight, and even the two when it is your enemies exercising them.

If you polled about violated rights, I'm sure that it would be about 300% of the american people (more than one right) would call a particular thing tyrannical. But each one would only garner 20% support itself, with a majority not caring, and a similar but different minority supporting the same tyrannical policy.

We are conquered because we are divided. All trying to grab the reings of leviathan instead of slaying it.

We can only have liberty with a small government, and that only if we take responsibility for ourselves and our neighbors (because you won't help the elderly woman next door, we have medicare), and if we all agree that liberty for all is more important than having a leviathan to sic on people we fear or dislike.

Anonymous boomer June 09, 2013 7:49 AM  

Since MPAI, the government has to spy on them to prevent these idiots from harming themselves or others.
The people are to stupid to have rights.

Anonymous trk June 09, 2013 8:19 AM  

now we know why homeland security is buying up the ammo...

Anonymous RC June 09, 2013 9:43 AM  

There is more evidence for U.S. government tyranny than for global warming. So why do the people en masse believe the earth is warming and the government is good?

Anonymous The other skeptic June 09, 2013 9:46 AM  

They had help from someone.

Maybe 911 was outsourced as well.

Anonymous the wiz June 09, 2013 9:47 AM  

OT ...Left embraces Boy Scouts, appeasement works! oh wait....

Anonymous Susan June 09, 2013 9:47 AM  

Tying in to what VD said yesterday that when the DC tells us something, it should be taken as lying, this morning a headline appeared that said that the WH welcomes public attention in regards to PRISM.

Yeah, they welcome attention like a normal person would welcome a toothache or smashed thumb.

JACIII I totally agree. Especially the idiots at NRO. Several of them have written stuff that makes them seem so gullible. They still won't totally accept the fact that the government is going after them and us to shut us all down under their thumb. Nice to see you and your brother back to commenting again.

Anonymous The other skeptic June 09, 2013 9:54 AM  

The problem is we are them. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is the golden rule. Permit the government to do unto others what you would permit it to do to you is the corrolary.

If you disagree with the USGOV you are a terrorist.

Anonymous Orville June 09, 2013 10:04 AM  

I wasn't surprised that Fedgov was watching, but I was surprised by how ubiquitous it is reading about Prism, Boundless Informant, and most interestingly the Post Orifice scanning images of every piece of mail handled in the country. That one surprised me most of all.

Blogger JACIII June 09, 2013 10:04 AM  

It is somewhat disconcerting, even to a longtime cynic, to hear folks in charge and the press discussing universal government surveillance, secret courts, secret court decisions, secret policies in the context of, "It's OK because they checked off all the boxes."

Even after confronted with evidence of their abuse by government the press still worships at its feet. "Boots, Yum!"


Anonymous The other skeptic June 09, 2013 10:07 AM  

And the will be using gangs to keep the sheeple in line.

Anonymous The other skeptic June 09, 2013 10:14 AM  

Even after confronted with evidence of their abuse by government the press still worships at its feet. "Boots, Yum!"


Did you swallow the story about the press being independent?

Anonymous Orville June 09, 2013 10:18 AM  

Being a "data" guy, it's always more interesting to me to find the useful ways to slice and dice the data, than the mundane collection practices.

I'm not saying anything new here, but think of the power to harm inherent in this data. On a micro level if someone pisses off a person with access to this data, it is a small matter to plug that person's name into the query and see what comes up from the NSA and all the fusion centers. There is bound to be enough to blackmail or outright destroy that person in the public arena.

Then on the macro level when "they" want to take the dictatorship to the next level, "they" can just distribute out lists to the DHS goons to kill or disappear large groups of people based on weighting algorithms such as commenting on Vox Day, or owning a gun, etc.

So at this point, I believe I'm probably on a list of some sort, or at the very least the data is already there to put me on one in the future. Happy thoughts!

Anonymous Dan in Tx June 09, 2013 10:23 AM  

The so called "main stream" media is nothing more than the propaganda arm of the power elite. As Vox has already pointed out, we've all been aware of/talking about the NSA spying on everyone's information for years now, none of this comes as a surprise to those of us who don't get our news from the propaganda networks. So my thing is this; why now? Why is the propaganda wing deciding to go after Obama with this now? As for me personally, I believe it has more to do with Obama's reluctance to plunge head first into Syria on command than the press suddenly having a come to Jesus moment on Constitutional rights. You note the so called main stream media isn't reporting so much on money being funneled to Israel to build a nuclear bunker for themselves.

We find out about that via a Defense Department leak. It seems perhaps some in the government are beginning to get sick of the extend our system has been co-opted and now we're having a war of opposing leaks.

Anonymous Oh, Snap! June 09, 2013 10:29 AM  

I'm sure none of this has anything to do with the many internment camps built within the United States.

Anonymous Orville June 09, 2013 10:32 AM  

Sometimes a sock puppet decides to be his own man, and needs to be brought back in line. Other times it's the chess master sacrificing a bishop to set up an attack 4 moves later. Let's not forget that all these leaders in the world are just chess pieces and not the actual player.

Blogger JACIII June 09, 2013 11:51 AM  

"Did you swallow the story about the press being independent?" - TOS

Hardly. Even a worm turns, though. These scum, on the other hand, would lick the boot on the way down on top of them.

Anonymous David of One June 09, 2013 11:51 AM  

Rand Paul wants to file to Supreme Court

Anonymous Kel June 09, 2013 12:10 PM  

The Feds' response to this exposure will be an upgrade of the system. It'll be PRISM 2.0, and the main feature of the system will be to auto-sweep the internet for references to itself. That way, the Feds will be able to secretly and quietly disappear anyone who leaks or writes or thinks about the system. Because disclosure of secret information is a crime.

In fact, this is so obvious to me that I wonder if the entire point behind disclosing PRISM was to make it palpable for an enhanced upgrade. What they are doing is literally laying out the steps to make thoughtcrime possible.

Blogger Laguna Beach Fogey June 09, 2013 12:41 PM  

I would say it's time to put THEM on a list. Find out who your local security force/IRS/DHS/FBI operatives are, and where they (and their families) live, go to school, shop, hang out, etc.. Network, and use the grape vine.

Cultivate contacts with sympathetic individuals with access to large institutional databases--police departments, government offices, financial institutions, credit card companies--and start collecting details on the opposition.

The System is teetering. This would be a good time to start developing an alternative infrastructure, a 'shadow government' if you will.

Blogger Unknown June 09, 2013 12:48 PM  

...the administration has been caught lying in all of its responses to news of the NSA scandal...

This is actually the good news amid the massive helping of bad. There's still a need to claim they are following the law. There are certainly hordes of leftists who don't give a damn about any law and just want power, but the bulk of the population still expects to have leaders instead of rules. Sure, sure, they don't pay enough attention and willingly turn too many blind eyes, but that still represents the conditions necessary for a preference cascade to topple the tinpots.

A majority of the populace no longer things fedgov is legitimate. The only reason nothing has happened is nobody has presenting a convincing case for something better (though "better" may of course actually be "worse"). As things deteriorate (as they must when you are going broke at a breakneck pace) that hurdle will be lower and lower.

If we're lucky, someone will be able to work within what's left of the system and make relatively peaceful changes. We've been lucky often enough in history.

Blogger Unknown June 09, 2013 12:49 PM  

bah, that should be "expect to have leaders instead of rulers"

Anonymous Obvious June 09, 2013 1:25 PM  

Shit, you mean the nation's premier intelligence agency is actively collecting, collating, and analyzing data?

Blogger TontoBubbaGoldstein June 09, 2013 1:26 PM  

We are conquered because we are divided. All trying to grab the reings of leviathan instead of slaying it.

Now you're just messing with me....

Anonymous VD June 09, 2013 1:43 PM  

Shit, you mean the nation's premier intelligence agency is actively collecting, collating, and analyzing data?

And yet, strangely enough, you'll probably be very upset about this when there is a Republican in the White House.

Anonymous Anonagain June 09, 2013 3:22 PM  

One would expect no less from a government comprised of, and supported by, godless control freaks for whom government is God.

Godvernment is omnipotent and has the right, nay, the obligation, to obtain all information about everyone so that it may wield its mighty and benevolent power for the good of all and deliver us from evil. People are subject to the law, not God.

Anonymous A Visitor June 09, 2013 3:31 PM  

What gets me is that Clapper had the audacity to lie to us and try to explain that PRISM is something else.

Does he not realize that the government has lost all credibility in the citizens' eyes? It does not matter if what he is saying is the truth or not. The government has lied to us so many times that we no longer believe it.

You'd think he'd just keep his mouth shut. What a moron!

Anonymous Anonagain June 09, 2013 3:48 PM  

Also, Godvernment has no obligation to explain itself nor its actions to the people. As a matter of fact, questioning or otherwise doubting the motives of Godvernment is blasphemous.

Anonymous Anonagain June 09, 2013 4:53 PM  

The Millennials strike back! Hopefully, this will not be the last case of the old guard villains being outed by their Millennial techies:

Edward Snowden, Prism whistleblower. Watch the youtube video.

Anonymous Obvious June 09, 2013 5:31 PM  


I'm about as much of a Democrat as you are.

I just like my spy agencies to be, you know, spying.

Anonymous Xer June 09, 2013 5:45 PM  

The whistleblowers all seem to be Xers and Millennials. Where's the big brave boomers now? Fracking joke. Told ya they were dumb sheep.

Anonymous Stilicho June 09, 2013 7:28 PM  

This type of activity by the NSA used to be verbotten. Here's part of the declassified version of the directive:


5.1. (C xxx) The Director, NSA, will consider requests to collect the communications of U.S. persons, or communications that refer to U.S. persons, only if one of the following criteria is satisfied:

a. The U.S. person has given consent...

b. The U.S. person is a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power... In this case, the Director, NSA, may:

(1) Submit an application for the collection in accordance with the FISA when the U.S. person is in the United States and the communications sought are those of that U.S. person (see Annex A).

(2) Request the Attorney General to authorize collection when the U.S. person is outside the United States, when the U.S. person is in the United States and only communications that refer to that person are sought, or when a U.S. person as defined in Section 3.31.b. is in the United States

(3) Authorize the collection if an emergency situation exists and the U.S. person is outside the United States.

5.2. (C xxx) In emergency situations, the Director, NSA, may approve for foreign intelligence or counterintelligence purposes the collection of communications of U.S. persons, or communications that refer to U.S. persons, when such persons are outside the United States and when securing the prior approval of the Attorney General is not practical.

a. An emergency situation exists when:

(1) The time required to secure Attorney General approval would cause failure or delay in obtaining significant foreign intelligence or counterintelligence and such failure or delay would result in substantial harm to the national security;

(2) Any person's life or physical safety is reasonably believed to be in immediate danger; or

(3) The physical security of a Defense installation or government property is reasonably believed to be in immediate danger.

b. The Director, NSA, shall notify the DoD General Counsel and the Attorney General as soon as possible of the nature of the collection, the circumstances surrounding its authorization, and the results thereof.

c Such collection may not continue longer than the time required for a decision by the Attorney General and in no event longer than 72 hours.

[12 lines censored]


6.1 (C xxx) Foreign communicarions of, or concerning, U.S. persons must be processed in accordance with the following limitations:

[11 lines censored]


9 (C2 JUL 86)


20 October 1980

[24 lines censored]

6.3 (C xxx) Except as approved under this USSID and its annexes, no collection may be directed that brings about the intentional interception and recording of communications solely between U.S. persons. [8 lines censored] Those non-foreign communications that may indicate threat of death or serious bodily harm to any person, or xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx reveal a potential vulnerability to United States Communications Security, should be forwarded to NSA/CSS,

[23 lines censored]


Here's the whole thing if you are interested:

In my experience, this directive was followed, once upon a time. I'm even aware of specific instances of operatives being reprimanded for reporting U.S. based intercepts that involved criminal activity which had some relationship to potential national security breaches. At least, that was how things were at my level. I was primarily deployed in the field and did not spend much time at the puzzle palace. I did always wonder if our allies were encouraged to conduct surveillance that was forbidden to our government as long as they would share with us in return for various favors. You know, just doing the jobs Americans wouldn't do.

Anonymous Athor Pel June 09, 2013 7:55 PM  

If you're interested in this subject I have a book you should read.

You will notice that the first edition came out in 1983. This book is the history of the NSA.

In it you will find that the things being presently disclosed aren't really all that new. Some organ inside the USGOV has been doing deals with communication companies since their inception and the post office before that. In fact spying on communications domestic and foreign has been going on for centuries.

The only thing truly new are the technologies being used. They allow a scope and scale of operation that has been the fondest but previously unreachable dream of every crypto spook throughout history. And of course the obvious lawlessness of it all, that's new.

Blogger James Dixon June 09, 2013 8:43 PM  

> I just like my spy agencies to be, you know, spying.

So do I, on the people they're supposed to by spying on.

I guess it's possible you don't know who that is. The Wikipedia article ont he NSA may prove informative in that case:

"The National Security Agency (NSA) is a cr"yptologic intelligence agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the collection and analysis of foreign communications and foreign signals intelligence, as well as protecting U.S. government communications and information systems, which involves information security and cryptanalysis/cryptography."

The NSA was never supposed to be spying on US citizens. any more than the CIA was.

Anonymous Obvious June 09, 2013 8:56 PM  

If you had actually read the Guardian article and FISA, you'd know that there were safeguards in place in regards to information gathered on US citizens.

Anonymous L1veW1re June 09, 2013 9:01 PM  

@Obvious if you'd been paying attention to the remarks the NSA has made over the last few years, you'd know Gen. Alexander stood in front of a room of Hackers at last years DEF CON conference and...

Anonymous L1veW1re June 09, 2013 9:03 PM  

The NSA has a history of "slips" when it comes to monitoring the right people.

Read: The Shadow Factory: The NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America (2009)

Blogger Unknown June 09, 2013 9:45 PM  

I just like my spy agencies to be, you know, spying.

Possibly you've seen the Facebook post going around that has a picture of the two Boston Bomber Bros with the caption "Apparently Not Verizon Customers?"

Anonymous Stilicho June 10, 2013 8:32 AM  

In the end, this is just another example of the phenomenon of a government being unable to resist using any tool it has at its disposal against its own people, legalities and moralities be damned. "Trust us"... "It's for your own good"... "We will only use this power when absolutely necessary"... "There are safeguards in place"... "If you have done nothing wrong, then you have no reason to be worried"... "We cannot let a 200 year old document interfere with keeping the American people safe in the face of 21st century threats"... "Trust me, baby, I'll pull out"... etc.

Blogger James Dixon June 10, 2013 1:42 PM  

> If you had actually read the Guardian article and FISA, you'd know that there were safeguards in place in regards to information gathered on US citizens.

And if you believe that I have some ocean front property in Arizona for you.

Anonymous Obvious June 10, 2013 2:12 PM  

James Dixon, tell you what, if you can bring some instances where the NSA and their voracious appetite for data has brought harm upon a US citizen, I'd consider joining you in the belief that the NSA is violating our Constitution. I mean, they've been doing this since WWII so you should have a large time frame to work with.

Blogger James Dixon June 10, 2013 3:28 PM  

> ...if you can bring some instances where the NSA and their voracious appetite for data has brought harm upon a US citizen...

And how would I do that with all of their activities being classified? Why don't you prove to me they haven't? It's an equally plausible request.

> I'd consider joining you in the belief that the NSA is violating our Constitution.

Where did I say they were violating the Constitution? I could make a very good argument they are, I could even make a very good argument that their very existence violates the Constitution, but I never made that claim in either case.

And I see you're not interested in that ocean front property. What a shame. I guess your gullibility must only extent to the proclamations of our government.

Anonymous Obvious June 10, 2013 6:19 PM  

James, because if you believe that the NSA has brought harm upon a US citizen, then you have the burden of proof for that. That's basic level shit.

I merely pointed out that the FISA prevents the information gathered by the NSA from being used against US citizens. Since I know of no cases where that isn't the case, and you don't either...

Blogger James Dixon June 10, 2013 9:13 PM  

> James, because if you believe that the NSA has brought harm upon a US citizen, then you have the burden of proof for that. That's basic level shit.

For something that's at such a basic level it's strange that you are apparently incapable of understanding it.

I have no burden of proof for a belief. I can believe anything I damn well want, with no concern for what anyone else thinks.

I have a burden of proof if I state something as a fact. The only fact I have stated is that the NSA has no authority to spy on US citizens. And I've provided a readily verifiable source which confirms this.

> I merely pointed out that the FISA prevents the information gathered by the NSA from being used against US citizens. Since I know of no cases where that isn't the case, and you don't either...

So the standard is being used against now rather than gathered? Move your goalposts often? The NSA isn't supposed to be spying on US citizens at all. Misusing the data so gathered when they do is another matter entirely.

And I know of lots of cases where they're spying on US citizens. 90+% of the Verizon information gathering for starters. Or are all of Verizon's customers now non-US citizens? There have been lots of other cases made public over the years, including during the Bush administration. Now as to whether you know that or not, I'll accept your claim that you don't.

Anonymous Obvious June 11, 2013 4:05 PM  

The amount of ignorance on how data and intelligence operations works is astounding.

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