Good news, everyone:
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has declared
the National Security Agency’s program to collect bulk phone call records has provided only “minimal” benefits in counterterrorism efforts, is illegal and should be shut down.
But in its report, the board lays out what may be the most detailed critique of the government’s once-secret legal theory behind the program: that a law known as Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the F.B.I. to obtain business records deemed “relevant” to an investigation, can be legitimately interpreted as authorizing the N.S.A. to collect all calling records in the country.
The program “lacks a viable legal foundation under Section 215, implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments, raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy matter, and has shown only limited value,” the report said. “As a result, the board recommends that the government end the program.”
I find it difficult to believe that any entity connected to this administration should demonstrate such rare rationality. Question: Why did Obama give his Big Speech on the surveillance state before
this board released its findings?
Second question: Why is the Patriot Act still, like, a thing
? Almost nobody likes it. Yet there it is.
The Right-Wing News
response is not without interest:
Does anyone think Team Obama will shut the program down? Remember when the media and Democrats went apoplectic over the Bush admin listening to calls originating overseas between people who were not citizens of the USA, and referred to it as “domestic spying”? Yet most, not all, mind you, but most Dems aren’t showing the same anger over a programs that just scoops up data on most citizens calls and retaining them. And there is so much data that the program really doesn’t work.
Come off it. If a prominent liberal had expressed an exactly similar sentiment in 2004, Ann Coulter would have accused said liberal of taking a pay-off from Saddam or Bin Laden.
It was Bush who gave us the Patriot Act in the first place. Until very recently, pretty much all
of the arguments against it came from lefties like me.
No one can fairly claim that the progressive blogosphere teems with NSA apologists. Obama's see-no-evil stance toward the Fort Meade gang has alienated his Democratic base. A brief glance at the comments published on sites like Daily Kos and Democratic Underground should prove my point.
On the other side of the aisle, most conservatives have not
embraced the cause of privacy. Have you seen any right-wing bloggers lambaste Mike Rogers as gleefully as I have been known to wallop Dianne Feinstein? If Obama were to "shut the program down," he would receive a furious
response from Michael Ledeen and the folks at National Review.
Those few conservatives who speak of an "NSA scandal" do so for reasons of partisan advantage, not out of any deep regard for our constitutional protections. Conservatives, not liberals, continue to call for Ed Snowden's head.
Speaking of which...
Ed Snowden, Russian spy:
We've discussed this meme
previously. What obvious, laughable disinformation!
Speaking from Moscow, where he is a fugitive from American justice, Snowden told The New Yorker, “This ‘Russian spy’ push is absurd.”
Snowden, in a rare interview that he conducted by encrypted means from Moscow, denied the allegations outright, stressing that he “clearly and unambiguously acted alone, with no assistance from anyone, much less a government.” He added, “It won’t stick…. Because it’s clearly false, and the American people are smarter than politicians think they are.”
If he were a Russian spy, Snowden asked, “Why Hong Kong?” And why, then, was he “stuck in the airport forever” when he reached Moscow? (He spent forty days in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo International Airport.) “Spies get treated better than that.”
The only people who could believe the latest propaganda line are rubes who have never read a single book about espionage. If Snowden worked for the Russians, they would have kept him in place as long as possible, they would have arranged for a clean exit if the need arose -- and no documents would have shown up in the Washington Post.
Snowden on the couch.
Skydancing is one of the all-time great blogs, but this
is garbage. The post quotes this piece of spy-flavored psychobabble
by Dan Verton:
But when viewed through the prism of the last 25 years of insider espionage, the Edward Snowden we do know seems to fit the typical profile of the trusted insider struggling to overcome personal and professional shortcomings, and suffering from a warped sense of moral superiority.
More than a decade worth of studies into the psychological profiles of malicious insiders...
And so on. Christ, my dog
can poop better than that, and she's sick again.
Verton's nonsense about Snowden is almost as bad as the inanity we heard about Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning. Remember when well-paid babblers in the media called Manning a narcissist
with -- get this! -- an inability to show empathy
? Of course, he got in trouble precisely because
his rare gift for empathy led him to expose a massacre which the brass wanted to keep covered up. His self-sacrificing stance is the reason why he so many of his fellow citizens came to loathe him. Small people hate what they envy.
Americans have been programmed since birth to be self-centered hedonists, when not functioning as mindless robot killers or corporate drones. Manning broke free of that programming. So did Snowden. Snowden's evolution has been particularly astounding, since he, not long ago, was just another Randroid automaton with delusions of individuality.
If you don't agree with what Snowden or Manning did, fine. But don't justify that stance with psychobabble. This trend is, I think, new: When low and petty functionaries of the plutocracy snipe at their moral betters, they now do so under the guise of what they are pleased to call science
The true cause of global warming.
The Daily Beast
Compared to other Photoshop jobs in women’s glossies (many of which Jezebel has singled out), these were so anti-climatic that we can’t help but roll our eyes when Coen calls them “insidious.”
Many years ago, when Photoshop 1.0 came out and I took it upon myself to learn the program, my first trick was to bestow ludicrously massive breasts on the image of a naked woman. Right then and there, I knew that Adobe would be the root cause of climax change.