Friday, July 26, 2013

Strange Bedfellows

In light of the recent unauthorized disclosures, the President has said that he welcomes a debate about how best to simultaneously safeguard both our national security and the privacy of our citizens. The Administration has taken various proactive steps to advance this debate including the President’s meeting with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, his public statements on the disclosed programs, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s release of its own public statements, ODNI General Counsel Bob Litt’s speech at Brookings, and ODNI’s decision to declassify and disclose publicly that the Administration filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. We look forward to continuing to discuss these critical issues with the American people and the Congress. However, we oppose the current effort in the House to hastily dismantle one of our Intelligence Community’s counterterrorism tools. This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process. We urge the House to reject the Amash Amendment, and instead move forward with an approach that appropriately takes into account the need for a reasoned review of what tools can best secure the nation. White House statement - Office of the Press Secretary 7/23/13

Wow. The President let us know that the Administration filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. It is going to be a new day in Washington...

Funny how things are shaking down in Washington re: surveillance. Republican Rep Justin Amash's bill to limit NSA data collection methodology was narrowly defeated the other day, 215 to 205. The bill would have allowed agency officials to continue collecting telephone records, but only for people connected to relevant ongoing investigations.

The proposal would also have required that secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court opinions be made available to lawmakers and that the court publish summaries of each opinion for public review. The two programs in question both allowed the government to collect the data records of hundreds of millions of Americans and also allowed the NSA to sweep up internet usage data from around the world that goes through nine major U.S.-based providers.

As noted by many, the left wing joined the right wing against the middle on this one. You had Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss parading around like bff''s representing the surveillance status quo establishment on one side and Amash and John Conyers representing the wingnuts on the other. Very strange bedfellows.

I don't have the energy to run this into the ground this afternoon but one thing about the Obama administration's response regarding this crap really makes me laugh.

The White House called the amendment an attempt to “hastily dismantle” counterterrorism tools and “not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process.” Oh now you want to have an informed, open or deliberative process? Now that you have been Snowdened, after years of rebuffing Udall and Wyden, now you are suddenly putting your cards on the table. And we are supposed to believe you? Because things are going to be somehow different now that you have been caught and found out.

People are pissed and the issue is not going to simply go away. According to a McClatchy-Marist poll, 56 percent of Americans now believe that the government has gone too far in its collection of personal data. A Washington Post-ABC News poll this week shows that 74 percent of those surveyed believe NSA surveillance of telephone records intrudes on the privacy rights of some Americans. The Patriot Act will not be renewed in its current form. Supposedly, we have a say in all this too. We assume certain candidates will represent our interests and sometimes we guess wrong. Our bad.

Obama promised transparency and then went Dick Cheney on us. Remember that Obama Change website that made all sorts of transparency promises? It has mysteriously disappeared from the internet. Luckily, cached copies live forever.

The fact that there is a FISC does not reassure most americans concerned about this literally unwarranted intrusion. Not with their perfect batting average. When people have attempted to sue the government they are told that they can not prove standing or that their suit's disclosure would somehow negatively impact national security.

Sorry Mr. President, we have seen the Prism wizard behind the curtain. We will have a hard time ever trusting or believing you again.
"Have 12 years gone by and our memories faded so badly that we forgot what happened on Sept. 11?" Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, the Republican chairman of the Intelligence committee, said in pleading with his colleagues to back the program.
We keep getting 9/11 thrown in our faces. You remember 9/11, don't you? The part where Richard Clarke warned the Bush administration that terrorists were planning on flying planes into our buildings? The information was already there. The failure was in getting Condoleeza Rica and the administration to get off their asses and do something about it. Data was not the problem. Smarts was the problem. Every american was distraught about 9/11, if we thought that it was worth trading our freedom for we would certainly let you know.
"We Should Have Had Orange or Red-Type of Alert in June/July of 2001"
By Eric Boehlert 3-26-4
A former FBI translator told the 9/11 commission that the bureau had detailed information well before Sept. 11, 2001, that terrorists were likely to attack the U.S. with airplanes.
A former FBI wiretap translator with top-secret security clearance, who has been called "very credible" by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has told Salon she recently testified to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States that the FBI had detailed information prior to Sept. 11, 2001, that a terrorist attack involving airplanes was being plotted.
Referring to the Homeland Security Department's color-coded warnings instituted in the wake of 9/11, the former translator, Sibel Edmonds, told Salon, "We should have had orange or red-type of alert in June or July of 2001. There was that much information available." Edmonds is offended by the Bush White House claim that it lacked foreknowledge of the kind of attacks made by al-Qaida on 9/11. "Especially after reading National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice where she said, we had no specific information whatsoever of domestic threat or that they might use airplanes. That's an outrageous lie. And documents can prove it's a lie."
Report Warned Of Suicide Hijackings CBS News 5-17-22

"Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al-Qaida's Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives ... into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the CIA, or the White House." --1999 federal report
(CBS) Two years before the Sept. 11 attacks, an analysis prepared for U.S. intelligence warned that Osama bin Laden's terrorists could hijack an airliner and fly it into government buildings like the Pentagon.
"Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al Qaeda's Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House," the September 1999 report said. The Bush administration has asserted that no one in government had envisioned a suicide hijacking before it happened.
     * RICE CLAIM: "I don't think anybody could have predicted that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile." National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, 5/16/02
* FACT: On August 6, 2001, the President personally "received a one-and-a-half page briefing advising him that Osama bin Laden was capable of a major strike against the US, and that the plot could include the hijacking of an American airplane." In July 2001, the Administration was also told that terrorists had explored using airplanes as missiles. [Source: NBC, 9/10/02; LA Times, 9/27/01]

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