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  (Source: Paramount TV)
Gen. Alexander effectively argues sometimes you have destroy a citizen's civil liberties to save them

The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) is by no means spying on Americans or authorized to do so... as long as you don't consider it "spying" to record virtually every detail of a call record (including location information, according to some reports) and virtually all unencrypted digital messages (and work to weaken global encryption standards to get that encrypted traffic as well).  

Of course, storing the information is one thing, but actually digging into the details of law-abiding Americans' lives is illegal right?  Okay, so maybe the NSA violated this law 3,000+ times a year with an undetermined number of Americans targeted in each incident, with no criminal penalties for agents who broke the law.  But we're safer from terrorists, right?  Maybe?

If you catch the drift, Americans are learning the hard way that their country is engaging on massive spying -- including on 99 percent of its own citizens (depending on your definition of spying).  

I. Generals Gone Wild -- How NSA Chief Fancied Himself Captain Picard

But even for those who have come to terms with this newly realized loss of privacy and the frustration that your government is (according to some) robbing from the working class and giving to the rich owners of intelligence contractors, the government still finds new and special ways to make your stomach turn.

Take Gen. Keith Alexander, the NSA's 61 year-old chief, who was profiled in a new exposé on Foreign Post.  The piece describes how Gen. Alexander -- a West Point graduate, holding masters degrees in physics and systems technology, and proud owner of a sterling record as an Army Intelligence Officer -- was a key instigator in steering the nation towards its current path of Orwellian, ubiquitous spying on its own citizens.

General Keith Alexander
Gen. Keith Alexander is viewed by critics as a naive, power-hungry proponent of Orwellian spying. [Image Source: DefenseTech]

Gen. Alexander's exploits began in part in 2001.  While serving as the top commanding officer stationed at the Army's Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Gen Alexander had seized on the political momentum from the terrorist attacks of 9/11 to demand the NSA (then under Gen. Michael Hayden) give it access to data on U.S. citizens.  

At the time (as mentioned previously) the NSA was collecting this data, but unlike today it had much stauncher data scrubbing procedures, to try to erase any collected traffic from American citizens.  Gen. Alexander wanted that traffic, even if that data grab would technically was not authorized by acts of Congress and could be unconstitutional.  Recalls sources:

Alexander tended to be a bit of a cowboy: 'Let's not worry about the law. Let's just figure out how to get the job done.' That caused General Hayden some heartburn.
Keith wanted his hands on the raw data. And he bridled at the fact that NSA didn't want to release the information until it was properly reviewed and in a report.  He felt that from a tactical point of view, that was often too late to be useful.

NSA Director Gen. Alexander
Gen. Alexander climbed the ranks to seize his current post as NSA director, creating monitoring programs that today are at a firestorm of controversy.
[Image Sources: NSA (left); Reuters (right)]

Another source who served at INSCOM under Gen. Alexander recalls:

He said at one point that a lot of things aren't clearly legal, but that doesn't make them illegal.

Most amazingly, Gen. Alexander -- an avid science fiction fan, like many DailyTech readers -- spent taxpayer money to outfit his command office to resemble the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.  The story describes:

When he was running the Army's Intelligence and Security Command, Alexander brought many of his future allies down to Fort Belvoir for a tour of his base of operations, a facility known as the Information Dominance Center. It had been designed by a Hollywood set designer to mimic the bridge of the starship Enterprise from Star Trek, complete with chrome panels, computer stations, a huge TV monitor on the forward wall, and doors that made a "whoosh" sound when they slid open and closed. Lawmakers and other important officials took turns sitting in a leather "captain's chair" in the center of the room and watched as Alexander, a lover of science-fiction movies, showed off his data tools on the big screen.

"Everybody wanted to sit in the chair at least once to pretend he was Jean-Luc Picard," says a retired officer in charge of VIP visits.

A PDF has pictures of this wild splurge:

NSA Star Trek Room

Star Trek

NSA Star Trek room

NSA Star Trek
[Image Source:]

These claims were also confirmed by military documents.  It has not been disclosed how much was spent on this science fiction makeover, but the results appeared to please Gen. Alexander greatly.

II. Gen. Alexander's Predecessor Tried to Punish Him For Spying

While Gen. Hayden wasn't exactly known as an angel on privacy, Gen. Alexander's efforts trouble Gen. Hayden so much he allegedly filed a complaint against the mid-level general to his commanding officer.  But rather than being demoted or otherwise punished, Gen. Alexander was apparently rewarded to Gen. Hayden's dismay.  In 2005 when Gen. Hayden stepped down President George W. Bush (R) tapped Gen. Alexander to take over.  Gen. Hayden was reportedly very concerned about Gen. Alexander's lack of respect for Congressional authority and the Constitution.

Once installed, Gen. Alexander reportedly lobbied President Bush and his successor President Barack Obama (D) to grant him ultimate power.  He argued that by having the ability to see all digital activity, he could safeguard America.  In a sort of "sometimes you have to destroy a village to save it" argument, he pitched that as a responsible party he could use the apparent compromise of civil liberties of Americans on a massive scale to defend Americans' civil liberties against foreign terrorists.

NSA spying taxpayers
Gen. Alexander was critical in instituting PRISM, a sweeping surveillance program -- which at times "accidentally" spied on U.S. citizens. [Image Source: The People's Cube]
Under Gen. Alexander's leadership the NSA was kind of like a Pokemon trainer -- "gotta catch them all".  Except rather than capturing video game monsters, the NSA was capturing the communications of Americans and foreigners alike.  Recalls one source:

Alexander's strategy is the same as Google's: I need to get all of the data.  If he becomes the repository for all that data, he thinks the resources and authorities will follow.

Some of Gen. Alexander's supporters defend him, arguing that he is simply too naieve to realize the giant mountains of data he's grabbing could be abused.  One comments:

He believes they have enough technical safeguards in place at the NSA to protect civil liberties and perform their mission.  They do have a very robust capability -- probably better than any other agency. But he doesn't get that this power can still be abused. Americans want introspection. Transparency is a good thing. He doesn't understand that. In his mind it's 'You should trust me, and in exchange, I give you protection.'

But naive or not, Gen. Alexander has reportedly received many of the sweeping powers of surveillance he sought.  Under the PRISM program companies like Google Inc. (GOOG) and Facebook, Inc. (FB) who were reluctant to hand over valuable customer data to the government were legally forced to do so.  And it was illegal for them to talk about these data grabs.

Google and Facebook became coerced deputies for the NSA. [Image Source: Inquistr]

The program never would have come to light had it not been for the leaks of program slides by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Supporters also say that Gen. Alexander failed to understand that simply paying or ordering a company to do something that would be unconstitutional for the government to demand did not make that monitoring more unconstitutional.  Gen. Alexander often leaned on AT&T, Inc. (T), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), Oracle Corp. (ORCL), and other friends to spy on users in what he viewed as an ethical third party approach.  In return for their help, under the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) program Gen. Alexander provided resources to help mitigate intellectual property and trade secrets theft by hackers from China, Eastern Europe, and other major hacking hubs.

III. James Heath, the Mini Me to Gen. Alexander's Doctor Evil

According to the Foreign Policy story, Gen. Alexander's anti-privacy campaign has been enabled by a close colleague, civil engineer James Heath.  Sources called Mr. Heath the "mad scientist" of Gen. Alexander's ranks, or the Scotty to Gen. Alexander's Cpt. Kirk.

Until recently Mr. Heath had reportedly followed Gen. Alexander from post to post since at least 1995, hopping agencies in unison with his friend.  Most recently he served as the senior science advisor to the NSA director before his retirement last year.  Comments one source:

He's smart, crazy, and dangerous. He'll push the technology to the limits to get it to do what he wants.

Comments retired NSA technical director Richard "Dickie" George:

The general really looked to him for advice.  Jim didn't mind breaking some eggs to make an omelet. He couldn't do that on his own, but General Alexander could. They brought a sense of needing to get things done. They were a dynamic duo.

At the NSA, Mr. Heath worked to develop new data visualization tactics.  Used properly these methods might catch terrorists.  But given the NSA's trove of information obtain by possibly unconstitutional methods, these tools could also be turned against American citizens to further political agendas and consolidate power.

Mr. Heath began testing an "automatic ingestion manager" in 1999, while with Gen. Alexander at the Information Dominance Center.  The "ingester" crawled the internet, picking up traffic as it went.  In one test, the tool scoured pages associated with the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) so aggressively; it was mistaken for a hostile cyberattack.

And while Mr. Heath's tool often succeeded in dredging up a slew of data, the results were often shoddy.  The report states:

Heath had developed a reputation for building expensive systems that never really work as promised and then leaving them half-baked in order to follow Alexander on to some new mission.

Comments a retired officer:

He moved fairly fast and loose with money and spent a lot of it,  He doubled the size of the Information Dominance Center and then built another facility right next door to it. They didn't need it. It's just what Heath and Alexander wanted to do.  It's a center in search of a customer.

But ultimately Mr. Heath's efforts may have been a clever exercise in reaping taxpayer dollars.  At the time of his NSA appointment, he ran a contractor named Object Sciences Corp. -- an SAIC subsidiary that provided data mining services to the NSA.  

With his recent retirement, Mr. Heath left behind PRISM and other programs, yet more controversial achievements in his campaign against data privacy.

IV. Gen. Alexander Defends Spying, Insists Massive Data Grabs are Needed

Critics argue that Gen. Alexander and his colleague's actions were nothing short of "criminal" and that Gen. Alexander and Mr. Heath can be viewed as "two guys who blew a monumental amount of money."

NSA Badge
[Image Source: Sodahead]

As for sanitizing its collection by ordering service providers to handle data, critics point out that these companies were essentially acting as deputies or agents of the government.  They assert that in many cases federal court cases asking a company to do something unconstitutional on behalf of the government was still ruled as still unconstitutional.

Gen. Alexander is unapologetic about the spying, though, which he views as both necessary and not strictly unconstitutional.  He responds to the story commenting:

The missions of NSA and USCYBERCOM are conducted in a manner that is lawful, appropriate, and effective, and under the oversight of all three branches of the U.S. government.  Our mission is to protect our people and defend the nation within the authorities granted by Congress, the courts and the president. There is an ongoing investigation into the damage sustained by our nation and our allies because of the recent unauthorized disclosure of classified material. Based on what we know to date, we believe these disclosures have caused significant and irreversible harm to the security of the nation.

Of course Gen. Alexander is only one part of the vehicle that's driving this massive data collection.  Presidents Bush and Obama played intimate roles in promoting the data collection, although each has tried to downplay that contribution.

And of course Congress -- who receives much of the "donations" from defense contractors and intelligence contractors has been more than generous in showering these projects with money and new authorizations.  Even if some aspects of the surveillance may remain unconstitutional many have become officially installed in laws passed by Congress.

Obama spying
President Barack Hussein Obama received records amounts of money from private contractors who have profited off of the massive gov't spying programs. [Image Source: Reuters]
Unsurprisingly President Obama -- who received a record amount of campaign contributions from top defense and intelligence contractors -- and many members of Congress awash in these special interest dollars, have noisily defended these efforts.  While Gen. Alexander certainly enjoys a share of the culpability of the shortcomings of these efforts, it's important not to forget the other hosts of the party, lest they look to seize on the General's unpopularity and sacrifice his political career to sate and outraged public.

After all, big data spy spending would never have been possible without the right mix of good intentions, bloodthirsty jihadists, lapses of police competence, political payola, cronyism, and a lust for power.  Good intentions or not, Gen. Alexander may have fallen victim to that latter sin -- but then again, many would say the President and many members of Congress have as well.

Source: Foreign Policy

Comments     Threshold

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By Masospaghetti on 9/17/2013 10:24:44 AM , Rating: 2
That use of taxpayer's dollars to create a hollywood set is so despicable it almost doesn't even seem real.

What else is the government wasting money on?

RE: Disgusting
By Reflex on 9/17/2013 10:31:36 AM , Rating: 3
I know it sounds odd, but this is actually a really common setup for any company that does realtime monitoring of services. I know for a fact that PayPal has a room set up almost exactly like this, for instance, as do several other banks and ecommerce operations.

I thought it was a joke too, but it turns out the configuration is remarkably useful for realtime monitoring and fraud, as well as site outages, etc, when staffed with a team of engineers.

That said I can't speak to how effectively it was being used here. Only that the configuration itself, despite its roots in a tv show, is remarkably effective according to the people I've worked with who have been at companies that use it. Given that, I'm not surprised that the NSA would have a room like this.

RE: Disgusting
By Mitch101 on 9/17/2013 11:16:51 AM , Rating: 2
RE: Disgusting
By Cypherdude1 on 9/20/2013 11:04:03 AM , Rating: 2
I wonder if the NSA has cracked/broken PGP 4096 bit DH/DSS key encryption. That's something I would like to know. If the NSA has broken PGP, I don't think we are going to find that out for 20 years.

RE: Disgusting
By Samus on 9/17/2013 1:10:31 PM , Rating: 5
I'm really not so sure a captain chair in the center of operations with no workstation is a practical setup for a work environment. If there is a chair, a console should be in front of it. This setup is good for one thing: dictating commands to everybody and doing no real work on your own.

RE: Disgusting
By MrBlastman on 9/17/2013 1:20:38 PM , Rating: 5
The chair is so he can stroke his peen as he watches Americans being violated. He likes to watch.

RE: Disgusting
By Argon18 on 9/18/2013 11:46:42 AM , Rating: 2
There is a console in front of it; the massive screen at the front of the room. Presumably real-time monitoring requires complex software, something that the geeks are expected to operate, not the decision-maker in the captain's chair.

The decision maker gives an order to display certain information on the screen, and the workers do so, providing the decision-maker with the information he needs to make decisions. After all, even the POTUS doesn't have a computer at his desk; it isn't necessary when you've got a staff whose function is to gather and provide information.

RE: Disgusting
By Dug on 9/17/2013 3:24:28 PM , Rating: 4
Yes, the doors making the swooshing sound when they open and close is really effective :)

RE: Disgusting
By Reclaimer77 on 9/17/2013 3:57:36 PM , Rating: 2
And companies can use these setups to their hearts content. They are the ones paying for it.

We don't need our Government spending money on lavish setups like this. They should have the bare minimum that's required to do the job, and only that.

RE: Disgusting
By Reflex on 9/18/2013 2:27:28 PM , Rating: 2
Some of us support the use of government funds when it makes a government employee more efficient at their job. After all, that gives the taxpayer more bang for the buck.

I cannot speak to whether this setup was justified or used effectively or not. What I can say is that it is often a setup that is justified and used effectively in other areas, especially in IT. Given that it is not a stretch to say that it was likely used effectively here(especially if you believe all the stuff coming out about just how good the NSA has gotten at their job).

There is being frugal and being cheap. The former is a good use of money, the latter rarely works out well.

RE: Disgusting
By Reclaimer77 on 9/18/2013 5:00:35 PM , Rating: 2
There's no such thing as an efficient Government worker. Efficiency and Government don't go in the same sentence.

In a bubble your arguments have some merit. But in real life, we're facing a looming debt crisis and the shrinkage of our economy due to Government spending. We better start thinking of ways to make our Government cheaper , and fast, or this will all be semantics.

RE: Disgusting
By dgingerich on 9/18/2013 7:19:19 PM , Rating: 2
A while back, I was doing repairs for Dell, and I got a ticket for a Dell in need of repair at a Passport processing office in downtown Denver. (The guy had to have his personal laptop repaired, so he brought it to work to have me come and repair it during business hours.) They had 15 people working there, and the guy I talked to commented that they had a quota system to process 7 passports per week, making sure the person is a US citizen, they don't already have a passport, and the application isn't fraudulent. They had moved from a fully manual system, going through paper files of various types to a computerized system about three years before.

Back in the paper days, they'd be going non-stop processing 7 passports per week, but when the computer system came in, it cut their workload considerably, and they could get a passport done in a couple hours. However, they didn't change the processing quota when moving to the computer system because it they had to test to see how much things improved. They never bothered to change it later on, leaving the 7 per week quota. At that time, they figured out they could do 6 or 7 on the first day, and have the whole rest of the week to slack off.

So, while people wait for weeks or even months to get a passport, these people who actually process them, slack off for over 70% of their time on the job.

Sound like government?

RE: Disgusting
By Reflex on 9/19/2013 1:58:07 PM , Rating: 1
So in your mind we should put them all on typewriters because they are cheaper than computers?

Bullshit. I've known plenty of people who work in government who give a damn about their job. I've met lots of people in private industry who last for decades doing the minimal amount possible. Pride in one's work has little to do with whether someone is private or public sector. Some people care, some do not. I want the ones who care, in either sector, to be able to do their job to the best of their ability, and spending on fixed one time costs to enable increased productivity is almost always a worthwhile investment over time.

RE: Disgusting
By retrospooty on 9/17/2013 10:55:05 AM , Rating: 4
"What else is the government wasting money on?"

The list is endless... Most of it goes to overpaying things they don't need to run bureaucracies that don't need to exist... But the term "waste" implies that it is an accident, and it is certainly now... Things like this are done on purpose.

RE: Disgusting
By retrospooty on 9/17/2013 10:55:30 AM , Rating: 2
derp... But the term "waste" implies that it is an accident, and it is certainly not

RE: Disgusting
By Shig on 9/17/2013 11:53:51 AM , Rating: 2
The US government is Godzilla and the mega corporations are Mothra, and I'm 1000's of fleeing Japanese getting stomped.

RE: Disgusting
By retrospooty on 9/17/2013 3:04:10 PM , Rating: 3
" I'm 1000's of fleeing Japanese getting stomped"

Yup... pretty much. The other half (if not more than half) sits on their couches totally unaware that its even happening.

RE: Disgusting
By JediJeb on 9/18/2013 10:38:32 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, most Americans now are like the person sitting on the couch watching the game show as Godzilla walks past the window behind them.

RE: Disgusting
By Motoman on 9/17/2013 11:57:43 AM , Rating: 4
What else is the government wasting money on?


RE: Disgusting
By Jeffk464 on 9/17/2013 12:06:03 PM , Rating: 3
What's with the chrome, it gives the office a cold evil look, oh wait I get it. Star Trek always used warm colors on the sets to give the enterprise a warmer more welcoming feel.

RE: Disgusting
By geddarkstorm on 9/17/2013 5:39:17 PM , Rating: 2
Well, it is the Information DOMINATION Center, after all. It's got to at least look the part; and chrome is the best substance for giving evil laughs that perfect reverb.

RE: Disgusting
By Cerin218 on 9/17/2013 6:54:32 PM , Rating: 2
COBRA!!! Oh wait, that was the WEATHER Dominator. My bad.

RE: Disgusting
By maugrimtr on 9/18/2013 11:17:21 AM , Rating: 2
Recent FT article quote:

By establishing two companies registered in low-tax Ireland, Adobe slashed its tax bill on $2.1bn profits earned outside the US over the three years to the end of December 2012 to $144m, giving it an effective tax rate of 6.9 per cent. During this period the company paid $527.1m in US federal taxes on $1bn in profits – an effective tax rate of 52 per cent.

If I, as a company, were paying 52% of my profits to support what passes for government in the US, I'd also do my best to protect my foreign earnings by keeping them abroad. This is the basic problem with the US tax code. It's too expensive and it hasn't adapted to the globalized nature of modern business. Why would anyone be stupid enough to repatriate profits home?

Here's another example of tax avoidance by Apple in the UK:

Avoiding tax is perfectly legal. If the UK and US got together, agreed a tax treaty, maybe invited Ireland along for the ride to discuss their definition of a "resident company" (the Apple holding company in Ireland in non-resident for tax because it's managed from Cali), they might actually be able to patch their respective tax codes. The US could fix its transfer pricing issues on patents, the UK could tax profits on Irish non-resident cos and/or Ireland could state companies registered in Ireland are resident if they operate within the state (not merely have their management located there).

It's actually quite straight forward if you ignore politics and other things like why the US has a weird transfer pricing system so favourable to exporting patents or why Ireland sort of likes having huge companies bring jobs to their state...

RE: Disgusting
By Fritzr on 9/20/2013 3:24:01 AM , Rating: 2
It is nowhere near that straightforward. EU governments have been throwing fits for a couple of years now due to companies playing the shell game with their official headquarters to minimize, sometimes completely eliminating taxes in countries where they do business. The US government is getting a lot more in taxes than the EU is currently receiving from these IT multinationals.

This has been an ongoing discussion in European capitols for quite some time. This is without even adding the US/Canada tax avoidances to the mix.

RE: Disgusting
By kattanna on 9/18/2013 3:32:06 PM , Rating: 2
That use of taxpayer's dollars to create a hollywood set is so despicable it almost doesn't even seem real.

whats funny.. is that in the picture of him on the right, the one without the glasses.. he almost looks like Q


By Rage187 on 9/17/2013 9:32:26 AM , Rating: 3
Ever wonder why big tech companies get out of paying huge sums of taxes? Because they sell your privacy to the government. Taxes are easy to get out of when you have the government telling you how to avoid them. I'm sure each tech company is assigned a slew of tax "professionals" that direct them to safe havens and loopholes created specifically for them.

Absolute power...

RE: loopholes
By Spuke on 9/17/13, Rating: -1
RE: loopholes
By Rage187 on 9/17/2013 9:59:28 AM , Rating: 2
Did you even read the article? It's not paranoia if it is all true.

RE: loopholes
By Apone on 9/17/2013 11:15:21 AM , Rating: 3
@ Rage187

Well I read the article and couldn't find anything about not having to pay taxes in exchange for selling information to the government. And Spuke is correct, tax loopholes allow a company to have a reduced (or zero) corporate tax payment if they understand tax laws and know how to (legally) get around not having to pay them.

This is why GE paid zero corporate taxes in 2010 and also why Apple paid zero corporate taxes in the UK for 2012. It sounds shady but it's not illegal.

RE: loopholes
By Cerin218 on 9/17/2013 6:56:28 PM , Rating: 3
GE paid zero because the head of GE was Obama's Jobs Czar. Of course that was before he shipped a couple divisions to CHINA.

No Consequences
By bitmover461 on 9/17/2013 1:08:54 PM , Rating: 5
There don't seem to be consequences for trampling the Constitution. "Oh, darned, you caught me - OK, I'll stop." Things would be much different if there were jail time involved.

RE: No Consequences
By ClownPuncher on 9/17/2013 2:18:52 PM , Rating: 2
I think Alexander should commit ritual suicide.

RE: No Consequences
By JediJeb on 9/18/2013 10:44:53 PM , Rating: 2
I like the "Man without a country" approach. Put him in a prison ship off shore and revoke his citizenship so he no longer is afforded the rights of the Constitution he violated, feed him bread and water and let him reflect on just what the Constitution should stand for.

Love the CRTs
By superflex on 9/17/2013 10:17:27 AM , Rating: 5
I'm guessing the Commodore 64's are under the desks.
We need some rope and a strong tree branch.
These .gov types are a serious threat.

similar story
By DocScience on 9/17/2013 3:19:51 PM , Rating: 3
As a young design engineer in the 1970's, I had a job designing a central control room for a large modern factory in Europe.

The job was INCREDIBLY overfunded as it was originally been budgeted to be designed in Europe, not the US. The plant manager wanted something really eyecatching for his control room.

I had a set of "Star Trek" blueprints from my geek youth and ran them through the blue print machine with new descriptions for each console. It was intended to be a joke within the US design team.

The Germans found the prints sitting on someone's desk and the plant manager (who had never SEEN the show) declared it PERFECT.

We ended up building the bridge for real, which in the 70's was pretty difficult, good thing we had that huge budget.

At the time, the viewscreen cost over $20,000 alone and pixel graphic displays ran over $15K each.

Watch out for jokes.

Is Alexander the Q?
By GeekWithFire on 9/17/2013 11:27:10 AM , Rating: 2
Unless I missed a joke in the post, doesn't that shot of Alexander with the glasses on look just like Q?

By Pneumothorax on 9/17/2013 2:14:18 PM , Rating: 2
Is it me or are those $1000 Herman Miller chairs on that NSA 'set'?

By Cerin218 on 9/17/2013 6:52:34 PM , Rating: 2
I still say spending problem. Good thing our politicians prove me right constantly. Keep whining to raise taxes people, the government will be glad to have your money. Slaves.

Star trek huh?
By TSS on 9/18/2013 2:15:33 PM , Rating: 2
Couldn't help myself... This shouldn't be a laughing matter, but star trek wasn't the first thing that popped into my head seeing that first picture. I don't usually make memes, but this does deserve one.

By Ammohunt on 9/17/13, Rating: -1
RE: Sigh
By retrospooty on 9/17/2013 10:39:15 AM , Rating: 4
"we as a people need to decide if what the NSA is doing is important enough to tolerate or petitioning our legislators to have them stop what they are doing "

This is so true. 10 years ago, it was all the cowardly masses worried about terrorism and blaming the govt for not doing enough to stop it. This is how they do it. There is no way in a free society to find subversive elements without monitoring what's going on. I personally am against all this monitoring, but realistically can see that the end result would be easier for terrorists to strike... So be it. We cant stop everything, and trying to do so is an expensive failed, and Orwellian venture. We are putting WAY too much emphasis on stopping terrorism. It exists, and the nutjobs that carry it out will always find a way. It doesn't end our way of life and it doesn't harm us in the long run.

It's alot like the pointless war on drugs. 100's of Billions spent, millions jailed, thousands dead, and the end result is zero... Anyone with a few bucks can get any drug they want anywhere int he country.

Same with this, all the spying, defense, 100's of billions spent, wars wages, thousands dead and in the end, some asshole buys a pressure cooker, some nails and bolts and household chems and plants a bomb at a marathon in Boston.

RE: Sigh
By Jeffk464 on 9/17/2013 12:10:16 PM , Rating: 2
Who said we are living in a free society?

RE: Sigh
By retrospooty on 9/17/2013 3:05:26 PM , Rating: 2
I am pretty sure I read it somewhere... Oh yeah, in every history book and anything at all talking about the founding of the USA.

RE: Sigh
By Mint on 9/17/2013 12:13:31 PM , Rating: 2
I just wish we as a people realized this 12 years ago when the patriot act came to fruition.

Not sure why it's such a scandal now when they've been doing this for so many years. If anything, the Justice Department has to go through a few more hoops after Obama adopted some of the Leahy-Paul Amendment provisions after it failed to become law.

It's just the steady march of technological progress that has made spying more powerful now versus a decade ago, not big changes in the NSA's operation.

People saw this happening in 2001:
(sorry for the huffpost link, but it's just a raw cspan video)

RE: Sigh
By Jeffk464 on 9/17/2013 12:13:33 PM , Rating: 5
No amount of government spying can ever stop the lone terrorist, the fact is anybody at anytime can pull off a mass shooting. Personally I think all of this is much more about controlling the population than it is about stopping terrorism.

RE: Sigh
By Schrag4 on 9/17/2013 1:33:05 PM , Rating: 2
Personally I think all of this is much more about controlling the population than it is about stopping terrorism.

You may or may not be right. The point isn't whether it is being used to control the population today, it's that it very easily could be used that way in the future. So maybe you trust the people in power today (HA!), what about the ones that come after them? Why put a system in place today that might help the govt enslave tomorrow's generation?

RE: Sigh
By Ammohunt on 9/17/2013 6:16:21 PM , Rating: 1
We are the government so you are saying we will enslave ourselves?

RE: Sigh
By Cerin218 on 9/17/2013 6:59:34 PM , Rating: 2
How are we the government? It's so CUTE you think that.

RE: Sigh
By Ammohunt on 9/17/2013 10:24:17 PM , Rating: 2
It not about what I think its whats written in the constitution ya'know "We the People"?

RE: Sigh
By TSS on 9/18/2013 2:11:50 PM , Rating: 2
Yes all this spying totally stopped that bombing at the Boston Marathon.

That one seemed to be hushed up in a hurry... Gee i wonder why...

RE: Sigh
By Cerin218 on 9/17/2013 6:58:45 PM , Rating: 1
We tried that. Our representatives actually voted a MAJORITY to keep spying on us. Now what?

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson

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