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The panel has made 46 recommendations; Vladimir Putin says surveillance needed to fight terrorism

The presidential review panel tasked with creating recommendations for limitations on the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has spoken, and it's looking to end the bulk collection of data

According to CNN, the panel has made 46 recommendations regarding greater restraint on the NSA's surveillance programs, which will have to be accepted by President Barack Obama and U.S. Congress before being put into practice. 

One of the major recommendations involves the elimination of bulk collection of phone call records (known as "metadata"). The NSA said it collected metadata in bulk and filtered through it afterward in an attempt to make connections when searching for terrorist threats.

However, the panel said that this method of data collection hasn't proved to be more effective or beneficial than more targeted forms. It further stated that the program has made "modest" contributions at best, and that there's no proof the outcome would have been any different without the metadata bulk collection. 

"The question is not whether granting the government (this) authority makes us incrementally safer, but whether the additional safety is worth the sacrifice in terms of individual privacy, personal liberty and public trust," said the panel. 

The NSA has defended the bulk collection of metadata, saying it's necessary to keep the country safe. NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander even said it's the only way the NSA can "connect the dots." 

"How do we connect the dots?" said Alexander. "There is no other way that we know of to connect the dots. Taking these programs off the table is absolutely not the thing to do."

Last month, Democratic Sens. Mark Udall (Colo.), Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Martin Heinrich (N.M.) filed a brief in support of a lawsuit that aims to end the NSA's bulk collection of phone records. 

Another big recommendation from the panel was to conduct five tests before Washington decides to spy on foreign leaders: U.S. leaders should determine whether such surveillance is merited by major threats to national security; whether the other nation involved has leaders we should accord a high degree of respect and deference; whether there is reason to believe the foreign leader has been deceitful; whether there are other ways to obtain the information, and weigh the negative consequences if the surveillance were to become public knowledge. 

Yet another major recommendation is the limitation of on National Security Letters, which allow certain government agencies demand business records from both individuals and companies without any independent or judicial review. The panel said these letters should only be issued after a judicial review, and gag orders should also be limited.
Russian President Vladimir Putin recently weighed in on the NSA recommendations, saying that surveillance programs are necessary to combat terrorism and that monitoring large numbers of people will expose terrorist links. However, he also mentioned, "on a political level, it's necessary to limit the appetite of special services with certain rules."
He further added that Moscow is not "controlling" Snowden, and that the Russian government has not asked Snowden for NSA secrets. 
The NSA has been under the microscope ever since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details about the NSA's secret spy programs to the media earlier this year. In August, reports said that the NSA admitted to touching 1.6 percent of total globe Web traffic. Its technique was to filter data after harvesting it, which led to over-collection on a major scale. It was later revealed that Snowden conned between 20 to 25 NSA employees to give him their login credentials and passwords while working at the NSA regional operations center for a month in Hawaii last spring. Snowden reportedly told the NSA employees that he needed their passwords in order to do his job, and after downloading secret NSA documents, he leaked the information to the media.
The NSA is debating whether to grant Snowden amnesty if he promises to keep his mouth shut. It is believed that Snowden had access to about 1.7 million files, and only about 1 percent of those files have been published by the media. Recognizing that a lot more could roll down the pipeline, the NSA is likely trying to prevent further catastrophe. 
Obama met with tech leaders earlier this week to discuss partnerships and solutions for major technical issues in the government, such as, the NSA surveillance programs and unauthorized intelligence disclosures. 

Sources: Reuters, CNN, Yahoo News

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By JasonMick on 12/20/2013 12:17:31 AM , Rating: 2
Russian President Vladimir Putin recently weighed in on the NSA recommendations, saying that surveillance programs are necessary to combat terrorism and that monitoring large numbers of people will expose terrorist links. However, he also mentioned, "on a political level, it's necessary to limit the appetite of special services with certain rules."
And after seeing Putin put these kind of powers to use in order to eliminate political choice, political change, sexual orientation, freedom of speech, and free of the press the quote is unintentionally perfect in illustrating why we shouldn't trust Obama's policy, just as we recognize how wicked Putin's policies have been.


In reality he surely recognizes the irony and means this "support" as a subtle way to provoke the public against his foreign adversary.

However, that doesn't really change the fact that it does serve to highlight why you can neither trust him or Obama as long as they try to sell their respective huddled masses on stripping away privacy and civil liberties in exchange for nebulous promises of protection that can never quite precisely be pinned down to a hard number, constantly decreasing when called into question. Those who would gladly take such hollow promises in exchange for blind trust that our political leaders will never violate the powers they hold should if nothing else stop to consider the fact these leaders are working equally hard to make the application of such powers illegal to disclose so you'll never know if they did abuse them.

Sure, uh huh.


Newsflash: politicians will tell you anything. A general rule of thumb? You can't trust most of them when you don't know what they're doing.

The will never TELL YOU they're abusing powers. They'll procure powers that allow abuse and then use them when they feel like until they get caught or experience real fear that they might be caught.
Putin and Obama aren't all that different. Nor would Romney be (given the rhetoric he gave). It's all about money -- the ever increasing consolidation of wealth and political corruption that increasingly picks the winners in both states.

Russia and the U.S. are both more capitalist than not, but neither country has a fully free market. And they're both slowly gravitating towards controlled-markets. Both countries are currently republics, but they're not democratic and are looking increasingly rotten even as far as republics come. Both are trending towards a future in which nationalism is used to justify funneling money from a serf/slave class to a coalition of wealth rulers who convince the people they're choosing their masters and the pet politicians who serve them.


In terms of the spying issue, more spying accelerates us along this path. First even if it is not abused, it's basically just a money suck, vacuuming up taxpayer dollars and handing them to bureaucrats, while providing no noticeable improvement in safety.


Second, it risks further consolidation of wealth, possibly even eliminating some large players from the mix so the few can be even fewer and have more. This why we're seeing tech companies reacting so strongly -- they recognize how real the possibility of corporate espionage is, if these powers are used to gain campaign donations in exchange for information that harms competitors -- be they big or small.

If Obama or Romney or whoever other president comes along were to order a trusted agent within the agency to business secrets from Google and Microsoft to pass along to Oracle, it would likely never be discovered given how many discrepancies there are with current surveillance. Likewise if Oracle then turned around and donated $3M USD to the Democratic party it wouldn't really be that extraordinary, amidst all the money throwing. After all, in D.C. you can hardly turn around without smacking into a) corruption (lobbyists) and b) the politicians they're paying for.


Lastly, I think you're pretty foolish if you allow Putin and Obama to shove the belief that political suppression won't occur "cuz they said so" down your throat. If you choose not to suck down that ridiculous lie, you will see reality is actually exactly what your instinct tells you.

There is, of course, absolutely a real threat to political suppression lies in trying to silence true political change, e.g. protest movements like the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, or the libertarian party, green party, etc. Such movements tend to be self-limiting for lack of well-spoken leaders, dismissal by current for-profit corporate media, and various other reasons. However, given how many things are wrong with the nation, there is the chance that they may gain some momentum, even if it's small. In other countries you sometimes see third and fourth place reform parties that seem to be on the opposite side of the fence come together in support of a common effort to block some efforts by the ruling coalition. In Britain that SOMETIMES happens for example, but probably not enough.

However, if such a threat to America's two ruling parties were to emerge someday and NOT self-destruct or be ruined by biased media coverage, it would almost certainly see suppression efforts.

RE: 2+2=5
By JasonMick on 12/20/2013 12:35:42 AM , Rating: 2

AND IT WILL eventually happen.

It's just a matter of time before things get dire enough that people will open their eyes and choose to see.

America's top two parties are paid into office by massive special interests that are either driving the problem (e.g most corporations) or are parasitic side affects of that problem (e.g. unions).

I'm not union bashing, just pointing out it's a false debate in the long run as most corporations would eventually organically disolve into a host of small, more efficient small to mid-size business were the market truly free, and not constantly manipulated in on direction by the collusive two-headed beast currently in charge. Unions are far rarer at such businesses as competition is strong and employees can go to other choices. When you only have choice A, B, and C and two or three of them are colluding and the government is O K with that, the parasitic, if marginally beneficial union arises.

Such is often the case many problems that some believe the government needs to "solve" are heavily government created. When both parties cooperate to enact an arbitrary and punitive tax and regulatory code in which small businesses are beaten down while large controlling interests are lovingly protected, you're not cleaning up the mess, you're making it.

And at the end of the day this how the government became the massive bloated tumorous mess it is today, blending blue and red into one ugly purple mess who tries desperately to create fictitious internal debate on issues that don't affect 90 percent of Americans in order to provide we the people with our cherished illusion of choice.


Republicans say the market should have less regulation, so they increasingly have worked to remove regulations from the largest businesses, while doing far less to remove onerous restrictions from SMALL businesses or establish an equal (flat) tax code on earnings. The situation gets worse as the big guys are now free to do whatever and the little guys are shackled with the same regulations.

Than the wonderful "other choice" -- the Democrats comes along as says "those evil Republicans, what we really need is more regulation. Of course -- you guessed it -- not more regulation for everyone. Somehow big players are often magically exempt. And the cycle continues, with the occasional debate on useless talking point e.g. abortion/gun control on which the legal position shifts predictably back and forth stirring public feelings that their will is being fulfilled and that they have a choice.

A large number of people are content to live in this "Matrix world", so to speak. They are, in essence, like the frog in the pot, thinking he is going for a nice swim as he is slowly boiled by slow and patient efforts of America's special-interest backed federal government, which if it wasn't before has increasingly become a one-party system with two checkboxes left to comfort you and try to convince you that hot water you're swimming in is just a nice comfortable bath.

Of course people aren't frogs and at some point as things get worse and worse something people open their eyes and choose to see the world they live in. Some of us have already made that choice.


When enough do, something will break and change will be had one way or another... that's been the way of things historically. In such cases things haven't always gotten better, but there-in lies the catch-22. Modern technology could enable us to enter an era in which man has unimaginable freedoms and prosperity. Or it could be used as a yoke to accomplish the dream that no plutocracy in history ever could -- slowly install the means and permissions to crush any rebellion and free thought in the name of security and national good.


Technology could be mankind's liberation or its ticket to global slavery via spying-backed suppression.

The deciding factor is how proactive the public chooses to be. Should we choose to trust a President, who like his predecessor, continuously restates his position when it is clear the thing he first stated was a lie?

Should we trust a agency under the guidance of a director (Gen. James Clapper) who said UNDER OATH TO CONGRESS that it used this information to foil 52 terrorists plots, then only once that was shown to be impossible, "corrected itself" to say that "possible one or two plots" were stopped after billions spent and countless freedoms trampled? I'm guessing the real number of foiled plots has a round hole in the middle, kind of like the orifice these numbers seemed to me to be emerging from.

If we choose to gratefully accept the government -- the President, members of Congress who vote in support of such activities, and the defense/intelligence special interest money vacuum -- sucking up our dollars in exchange for showering down that kind of disgustingly dishonest filth on us -- if we choose to rob ourselves of our own freedoms and side with Obama -- then without question we are clearly on the same road as Putin's Russia and might as well start viewing 1984 less as a cautionary tale and more as a corporate forecast for the nationalist-thumping, freedom-devoid plutocratic hellhole that our father's fathers, and their father, and so on all the way down to the Founding Fathers fought so hard to protect us from.


Are we at risk? Of course. We always have been. Until mankind learns to lay down greed and hatred and love each other unconditionally, only a fool would assume blind safety.

But we are tremendously lucky to have something that makes living with this reality of risk worth it. We have the greatest protection in the world -- freedom.

The Constitution gives us true protection; that is our simple truth.

We the people receive from it due process. We the people are entrusted with free speech. We the people are guaranteed a trial by jury.

That is protection. That is our GREATEST protection. That is what so many have given their lives for.


And now we are going to throw it away because some politician tells us he can protect us better with his philosophies?

He and others seek to redefine what protection means and hope Americans will not to realize.

Their freedom?

It gives us free speech zones, where we can only speak out of eartshot and within our pen. It gives its police unlimited powers of search and seizure, like an army occupying the land. And it puts our privacy on trial secretly and silently by a court where guilt is assumed.


Not that long ago certain World leaders preached this brand of protection to their people. They offered it to the world.

But armed with the Constitution they were beaten back and wipe from this Earth. But to day we are on the verge of history repeating itself.

My grandfather was a World War II veteran he fought to protect the Constitution against that kind of logic. And unlike today's political correct lot, I know what he'd say about them were he still alive -- "That's not protection. That's a load of fascist shit."

RE: 2+2=5
By SSDMaster on 12/20/13, Rating: -1
RE: 2+2=5
By JasonMick on 12/20/2013 12:11:39 PM , Rating: 2
T... - Jason Mick has opinions
I think that's kind of an ironic thing to say as I think therein lies the root of the problem.

That sentiment -- not wanting to have to read and think about political opinion -- is prevalent in America today.

Too long? Not a meaningless, but catchy short sound bite? Ignore it.

Of course it is long. And of course many won't read it. That's pretty much the excuse Congress is using for passing these bills and later saying they didn't realize what they were voting for.

Put on your big boy pants and learn to skim for context, or something. Any professional in scientific fields is expected to be able to parse long written documents. By contrast a political opinion, even one this long should be "light reading".

RE: 2+2=5
By SSDMaster on 12/23/13, Rating: -1
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