Senate Why do we complain about the NSA

Discussion in 'Community' started by beezel26, Jan 29, 2014.

  1. beezel26 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2003
    star 7
    Not really, we spy on everyone including our friends. That is why patriots are bad. They won't have the stomach to do the things that loyalists do for the company and for our country. Make no bones about it, its a necessary evil. Something idealists can stomach. Remember patriotism is an ideal.
  2. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    I agree that on-forwarding criminal data, which was outside their mandate is questionable and would call for an expanded mandate if there's deemed to be sufficient value in the end ELINT and SIGINT. However, I would caution against assuming you have the full picture. The simplest phrasing is "we don't know, what we don't know". It's reasonable to assume the national security adviser, President, and key Senate Committee members, have insight into the full scope of NSA surveillance and that what's publicly disseminated is not the full extent of the information. Why? Simply because it would be crazy to compromise any strategic or tactical advantage that information yields. If you have penetrated a communications network for al-Qaeda affiliates, the last thing you want to do is tip off those affiliates that you can read their emails and text messages.
  3. Espaldapalabras Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2005
    star 5
    Still haven't learned to bother editing myself before hitting post.

    Funny how the "realists" have to rely so heavily on secret knowledge to make their case.

    And to me the debate is between statists and libertarians. As a former die hard statist who thought we should declare war on Assange to a Snowden fanboy, technology has simply moved far faster than effective political theories. I think you'll have a hard time convincing the civilian populations of nominal allies that our programs are serving them, even their elites are not buying it. It is hard to make out Brazil and Germany as anything but economic rivals, so when our hand is caught in their cookie jar if they had a valid excuse they would have used it. Sure they are naughty children themselves who wish they were tall enough for our cookie jars, but that is hardly an excuse.

    I agree we need effective intelligence. A system that will never be accountable to the public in any meaningful form is not effective. Snowden didn't cause the NSA's problems. The NSA caused those problems by bureaucratic overreach.
  4. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    Well, sadly, international politics only has one paradigm and I'll give you a hint - Hans W Morgenthau.

    Liberalism, Marxism, etc simply does not have a seat at that table.

    And if you think that countries who were outraged about US spying allegations need convincing of the benefit of programs or were actually outraged... then allow me to laugh at you in a condescending fashion. German outrage was a necessary reaction to the public outing of the spying. Not that the spying occurred. Jesus H Christ, do you really think the Germans don't have intelligence records on US leaders? I'll tell you a dirty secret - every time German diplomats met senior US leaders on US soil, the First Secretary (Politics) would absolutely cable a top secret REFTEL back to BDN and BfV.

    Hell, if the UK ambassador sat down with Mr Obama for a meeting, or even Mr Biden, I guarantee you he sends one normal REFTEL to the Home Office, Foreign Office, Downing St etc and one across their secure networks to Five and Six.

    Every. nation. spies. on. each. other.

    If you think the US was being bad by spying on allies, and it was wrong, then please don't get ever get into international affairs. I did and it bled the idealism out of me quickly.

    Oh, and if you want to know how I know that intelligence agencies collect data on friends and enemies? Well, see, I would guess because I had to cable back on my meetings with US officials to our secret squirrels. That would, to me, be a clear indicator.
    Last edited by Ender Sai, Feb 5, 2014
  5. Rogue_Follower Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2003
    star 6
    There's a fairly substantial difference difference between what you are describing (routine intelligence reports created manually on an ad hoc basis) and what the NSA is doing (persistent, automated data capture on a global scale). I'm not sure anyone objects to ambassadors and other officials gathering intelligence in the way you describe, so that feels like a bit of a strawman.

    Even limiting the discussion to the espionage specifically targeted at the German Chancellor and other foreign officials, I doubt that the situation is as symmetrical as you imply. I have no doubt Germany, and every other country, would love to do do what the NSA and GCHQ are doing, but I question whether they can actually pull it off. Nations do spy on each other, but not every nation gets equal results from said spying, and that's partially what the Germans, Brazilians, et al. are upset about. They dislike that the US and its partners have capabilities that give them an advantage.

    Unless you would suggest that the Germans have extensive call logs for President Obama's cell phone, which seems doubtful. If they do, then the NSA isn't doing their job right---they're in charge of encryption too, after all. :p
  6. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    Sure, but they're not idiots. They know damn well the US has that kind of access.
  7. Espaldapalabras Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2005
    star 5
    I meant to say even IF their elites are not buying it. I understand all nations spy on each other. But in the past this was just spying on people who were in power or who mattered. It just wasn't possible to have eyes on every person on the planet, so what governments did to each other was inherently limited. And perhaps if the US security services has implemented effective controls so that they really were only spying on foreign nationals, then we could take Snowden to task for revealing our hand when everyone else has their own cards hidden. But the issue is this game of international poker spies play on each other has reached the point where it is entirely possible the tail is wagging the dog.

    What good is the best security service in the world if it is so powerful it has taken over the supposedly democratic government meant to control it? Why should I care that it is the NSA spying on me instead of the KGB? If neither is serving the general public and instead is suppressing civilian unrest for oligarchs, should I as a civilian care whether they are on Wall Street or the Kremlin?

    I get that in the big bad world it is a wolf eat wolf world. But the status quo is not acceptable and the institutional interests are not interested in meaningful reform that would return the control to the general population. Our security services may be the biggest baddest wolf on the street, but we find out they are eating our sheep as well and we are all just supposed to be glad it wasn't someone else doing it. They certainly won't collar themselves.

    If secret control systems were effective, then the Church committee reforms would have worked. Instead under the cover of secrecy they became a rubber stamp and the regulators were captured by industry. If there are real reasons to preserve the programs rather than the made up ones they've been trying to feed us, time to come out with those. Sure it might hurt whatever program it is they are running, but then they can turn around and tell us they told us so and they'd win the debate forever.
  8. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    I think it's hard for me to respond because your concerns are vague and a bit nebulous. In that in practical terms, the NSA is not spying on you any more than you being caught on CCTV footage in New York or London means the intelligence apparatus has a dossier on you.

    For the sake of clarity, I won't talk about Australia's agencies because the most relevant one are proxies for the more famous British ones, MI5 (the security service), and MI6 (the secret intelligence service or SIS).

    There's not really a US proxy for the service MI5 provides. To an extent, the FBI assumes an element of their role but not all of it, and the FBI has duties beyond this so it's not really an appropriate comparison.

    On paper, an oversimplification is to state that the purpose of the security service is to spy on its own citizens. The KGB and Stasi's directorates for internal security certainly fostered this image, but in the West, it's inaccurate.

    I need you to envision a scenario for me.

    You have kids who go to a local school. Your kids become friends with the kids of a Pakistani Muslim, who seems like an affable chap. You decide to invite him and his wife over for dinner so you can get to know another parent from the neighborhood who your kid is friends with.

    He seems nice enough and everything. No issues there. However, he is being investigated by the security service because his accountancy firm may have laundered funds in breach of international AML-CTF provisions. Upon seeing that you have spoken with him,and had him over, the security service surveils you. They investigate to see if you're a person of interest to the investigation or not.

    Now, you have done nothing wrong so you end up as a footnote in a wider file. But they did a background check on you, interviewed neighbors or colleagues, and looked to see if you'd been affiliated with any organisation that could be tied back to terrorism.

    Assuming this scenario, can you tell me:

    1) Do you feel the investigation into your background was fair?
    2) Do you feel the investigation into your background was warranted?
    3) Do you see a scenario in which the service could have carried out its operation without ruling you out as a person of interest?
  9. Espaldapalabras Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2005
    star 5

    While it may certainly be more efficient to have one security service make unilateral decisions for just this type of case, is any investigation fair if an agent of the state decides it must be so? Do they have the sole power to determine what is and is not warranted? If instead of inviting them over for dinner, I talk to him on the phone during my job. So while I certainly can see plenty of fair, warranted, and needed investigations, there must be some type of real controls on those police powers. There is no crime that warrants the removal of civil rights. Terrorism, money laundering, spying, all of these potential harms are less than the harm caused by unaccountable state power.

    When I walk through a scanner that sends images of my naked body to a bored TSA employee to possibly laugh at, is this a serious concern for my ability to express political views or travel? Maybe not but it is still a violation of my fundamental rights enshrined in the US Constitution's 4th amendment. I don't think I should need to be able to specify specific concerns when it comes to intrusion of my rights without real meaningful review by courts and elected leaders. I simply can't know all the ways those powers once given can or will be abused. If I meet a girl in a bar who happens to work at the NSA server, are there effective controls to prevent her from capricious use of her investigative power? Records management policies at a police department as well as police powers to get information about me are limited. Here in the US we aren't comfortable with the idea of total surveillance by CCTV. I think it is important to think about what a world with total lack of privacy for any private citizen means when all government actions are private. If privacy is an outdated concept, then lack of it should be as good for the government goose as it is for the private gander. I bet you can come up with all sorts of reasons for state secrecy. Citizens deserve secrecy unless the state can prove some legitimate state interest in a public forum for denying it.
  10. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    That was indeed, a most verbose and dexterous way to dodge the question I was asking. My congratulations in that regard, I suppose.
  11. dp4m Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 2001
    star 9