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"We could tell you, but then we'd have to"

The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) implied in a letter this week that it can not answer to Congress fully due to national security.

I. Dissolving the Senate

Some members of Congress are beginning to contemplate if they made a mistake in passing the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act Additional Reauthorizing Amendments Act of 2006, even as others argue the NSA needs less accountability and more freedom to spy on Americans to secure the nation.

The NSA put its Congressional supporters in awkward spot this week, when it basically claim Congress gave it powers of secrecy that trumped Congress's own powers to govern.

Bernie Sanders
The NSA basically refused to answer to Congress regarding whether it spies on them.  Senator Bernie Sanders is demanding the agency come clean about its activities.

Specifically, the NSA refused to (for now, at least) answer a direct question from U.S. Senator Bernard "Bernie" Sanders (D-Verm.) regarding whether the NSA "spies" on Congress.

Sen. Sanders wrote in a leter addressed to retiring/resigning NSA chief General Keith Brian Alexander:

Has the NSA spied, or is the NSA currently spying, on members of Congress or other American elected officials?  “Spying” would include gathering metadata on calls made from official or personal phones, content from websites visited or emails sent, or collecting any other data from a third party not made available to the general public in the regular course of business?

The NSA implies it has turned on Congress, spying on the nation's elected officials.
[Image Source: NYPost]

In a preliminary reply, given to CNN, the NSA more or less shot down the Senator's request.  It refused to directly answer his question, instead stating:

NSA's authorities to collect signals intelligence data include procedures that protect the privacy of U.S. persons. Such protections are built into and cut across the entire process. Members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all U.S. persons.

The NSA has already claimed it does not "spy" on Americans or "collect" their data in the language of the NSA, but it does "touch" their data.  In plain English this means it does spy on Americans and collect their data.  The NSA has also stated that any intercepted data from Americans is held only "temporarily".  Recent leaks reveal "temporarily" in plain English means it is housed in an NSA deep storage facility for 15 years.

II. "Innocent" Lies?

Gen. Alexander -- an official who once fashioned himself a "throne" of sorts to command his "information dominance" strategy -- and his cohorts may be wary of being ruled in contempt of Congress, should they deliver false information.

Gen. Alexander
NSA chief, Gen. Keith Alexander fought his whole career to seize the world's data, including the data of all Americans.  He is at last close to suceeding in this quest for power. [Image Source: Fox News]

NSA administrators, Gen. Alexander, and the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Gen. James Robert Clapper, Jr., have already given false testimony to Congress several times.

For example Gen. Alexander claimed that NSA spying on Americans had stopped 54 attacks, then later drastically cut that figure, asserting that he "believed" it actually "might" have stopped one or two attacks.  DNI Clapper told Sen. Ronald Lee "Ron" Wyden (D-Oreg.) in Mar. 2013 that the NSA did not collect information on "millions" of Americans -- or at least not willingly.  He later "corrected" that statement, which his office called an innocent error.

James Clapper
Director Clapper's office blames Congress for Director Clapper's false information he shared with Congress.  They argue the former General shouldn't have been forced to answer such tough questions.
[Image Source: AP]

The DNI's general counsel Robert Litt in a letter to the editor of The New York Times this week seemed to say that the falsehoods were Congress' fault for putting intelligence administration officials under pressure and forcing them to prioritizes the need to obey national security laws versus their duty to the Constitution.  He writes:

As a witness to the relevant events and a participant in them, I know [the allegation that DNI Clapper lied under oath] is not true because the program involved was classified.

This incident shows the difficulty of discussing classified information in an unclassified setting and the danger of inferring a person's state of mind from extemporaneous answers given under pressure.

The NSA's refusal to answer Sen. Sanders' question indicates it is highly likely that the NSA is indeed "spying" -- in the traditional sense of the word -- on members of Congress.

III. Senator Wouldn't Let NSA Play Word Games

The NSA collects such information via digital interception and attack scripts, which use automated cybercriminal tactics (such as malware) to attack Americans.  Recent reports also indicate that the NSA is intercepting Americans' electronics, as well, and implanting bugs in them, or "implants" as the NSA calls them.

Assuming that the NSA is spying on Congress, as the NSA's comment would seemingly suggest, Sen. Sanders' letter would put Gen. Alexander in an awkward spot as it was clever enough to cut through the NSA's jargon game, which it has used to dodge past questioning.

Congress Buillding wide
Congress is afforded the same level of liberty as average Americans when it comes to spying, the NSA says. [Image Source: U.S. Congress]

Specifically the NSA and other executive branch intelligence agencies have written their own dictionary of sorts, dubbed United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18, a document classified above top secret.  The document creatively redefines many terms related to spying to obfuscate the federal intelligence community's intent and actions.  In many cases -- including how the NSA collects Americans' data -- the agency definition appears to be remarkably different from the common sense definition.

As President William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton (D) famously remarked about his testimony to Congress during questioning about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is."

But Sen. Sanders was wise to the NSA's game and specifically defined the word "spying" hismelf in the traditional it means to most of his staffers, most of his constituents, and most Americans, for that matter.  In doing so he may have provoked a new strategy from the NSA -- silence.

IV. Ultimate Power?

If it indeed chooses to claim the need for secrecy has trumped the need to give Congress information, the NSA spying program will have entered a new era where in effect it argues that the laws passed by Congress have basically nullified the Constitution, by granting part of the Executive branch (spy agencies) unlimited secrecy from public courts (most of the justice branch), the legislative branch, and the people at large.

The NSA claims that absolute power under the provisions of the PATRIOT Act's 2006 renewal.  The same language in the bill has also been justified for making the FISA Court (FISC) created by the bill a "secret" court, in a sense.  Under the bill, it's a crime to reveal decisions of the FISC.  The FISC has used this threat to drape its general warrants program in a cloak of secrecy.  However, leaks from Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA's general warrants cover all Americans.

Secret courts
 At least the British gave the colonies the courtesy of passing general warrants in a public court.
[Image Source: Before Its News]

Such mass warrants were common in the colonial U.S. as British authorities tried to crack down on American colonies' political and economic freedoms.  A common misconception is that imperial England in the 1700s had no courts; much like America today it did in fact have courts and a legislature, and even offered limited versions of both to the U.S. government.

The general warrants issued by English courts (a plot hatched in the mid-1700s by Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden a prominent UK justice at the time) were remarkably similar to the FISA warrants of today, sharing the same two crucial problems -- the assumption that everyone might be a criminal without evidence and a lack of accountability/oversight.  And the king, for all his powers, was arguably no more powerful that President Obama is today, in many regards.
Founding Fathers
The Founding Fathers rebellion from England a decade after the colonial nationalist power stepped up its mass warrants. [Image Source:]

The NSA has admitted to violating the law "accidentally" thousands of times a year. Agents have spied on former lovers.  And documents show the last two Presidents have spied on political rivals (including Quakers and Occupy Wall Street activists).  And yet despite that, it refuses to give Congress full information on its classified spying program.

In fact, it appears the NSA is likely spying on Congress.  The question now becomes whether the NSA's assertion -- that it is the supreme law of the land, above the officials elected by the people and above the Constitution, is correct and whether such a complete surrender of liberty in the name of security is a trade that benefits America. 

Should Americans -- including members of Congress -- pledge blind fealty to the NSA and continue to spend billions in taxes to support its campaign of complete data conquest? 

We The People
There's warring feelings on the relevance of the Constiution in the digital age within both parties.
[Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech LLC]

Or should Americans -- including the members of Congress -- fight back to uphold the Constitution?

Sources: Sen. "Bernie" Sanders [press release], The New York Times, CNN

Comments     Threshold

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Defund the NSA
By Duncan_Macdonald on 1/6/2014 4:38:39 AM , Rating: 5
Possibly the only way to get the NSA to behave is to cut its funding - TO ZERO. Congress still has this power despite the NSA.

RE: Defund the NSA
By troysavary on 1/6/2014 4:40:38 AM , Rating: 5
Obama would likely sign another of his executive orders to fund them anyway.

RE: Defund the NSA
By EasyC on 1/6/14, Rating: -1
RE: Defund the NSA
By marvdmartian on 1/6/2014 10:04:02 AM , Rating: 5
Bush started, Obama expanded, and refuses to back down on anything he's been caught doing, or take the blame. 5 years later, he still blames Bush....or has his people do it, evidently.

RE: Defund the NSA
By Argon18 on 1/6/2014 11:09:31 AM , Rating: 5
Yep, Barack "hold Washington accountable" Obama has greatly expanded all of GWB's spy programs, tripled the number for foreign CIA drone strikes, and fumbled and fubar'd plenty of huge issues too (Fast n Furious, Benghazi, Syria, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, ObamaCare, etc) and all the while, has dodged responsibility for any of it.

Neither Obama nor his appointed cronies are ever responsible for anything. All they can do is point the finger and blame "the system" or their tired old standby, blame Bush. Obama and his cronies are a pack of criminals taking a shit on the American people.

RE: Defund the NSA
By Amedean on 1/6/14, Rating: 0
RE: Defund the NSA
By Alexvrb on 1/6/2014 10:15:54 PM , Rating: 2
My word, that must be the tallest horse I have ever seen. Seeing as how the "real" journalists don't do any investigative work anymore, I'd say he's on even footing. We wouldn't have uncovered any of this without Snowden.

Someone like you would have scoffed at any notion of the NSA absconding with so much data, were it not for those leaked documents. Blindly rejecting all that you read is not all that dissimilar to blindly accepting the same. Before you question the gullibility of others, you might want to look in a mirror, he-who-is-happy-to-turn-a-blind-eye.

RE: Defund the NSA
By Amedean on 1/8/2014 11:58:47 AM , Rating: 2
Tall horse, sure. Real journalists do however research and investigate, however they are a dying breed. Fear mongering is where the real money is.

On my advice about rejecting these articles with heavily photoshoped images.... it is sound! North Korea's propaganda arm does the same thing.

If your standard for labeling something as credible is less than my own who is truly at fault here?

RE: Defund the NSA
By jonesy1152 on 1/9/2014 8:21:28 AM , Rating: 2
I'm curious as to whether you read any of the sources shown (and yes, like you I would have liked to have seen specific cites, but then I've been trying to pay attention since June) or have been following the material published therein and elsewhere these past months.

Anyone can cop a stance.

In my opinion this was one of the better researched and written articles to show up here in a while now - even given the lack of detailed cites. A cursory search will return tens of pages of all the specifics you may require as to the validity of various assertions found in the article.

To help get you started:

The topic of intelligence officials lying, misstating, obfuscating, or otherwise dodging direct questioning by members of Congress has been well-documented for some time now. The larger topic of generalized, wholesale collection, storage, and examination of various bits of, er, bits from the population of this country has also been reported and discussed at some length, increasingly so as more facts surface, for a good half-year now.

I fully understand that in the midst of getting through one's day of living a life that it's very easy to miss things. I do that all the time; I'd tell you what they are but I've missed them.

As for fear-mongering, who's doing that? Jason? The NSA? Our entire national leadership, who instead of flipping off the 'terrists', cowered at their risks at next election and instead imposed by far the most Draconian laws since Prohibition or the Sedition Act, for examples? Our own collective polity, who rather than face some realities simply hid their heads under the covers crying, "Daddy, Daddy, save me!"?

I find it interesting that Jim Sennsennbrenner, who tabled the Patriot Act in the House, now regrets and repudiates, and is seeking to have overturned, significant portions thereof. Now why is that, do you imagine, if, as you assert, this article and those like it are but fear-mongering and agenda promoting?

It's a doubly-sad fact that more people died on the nation's roads in the month of September 2001 than in that horrid attack (3,555 vs. ~3000; sources via results of a search on "september 2001 deaths automobile accidents").

Where is our War on Cars? They are large, massive, lethal, ubiquitous, and often piloted by careless, distracted, sleep-deprived or otherwise-impaired individuals. When you cross a street or leave your driveway you are at significantly higher risk of mortal danger.

To add another death vector, depending on how one classifies and tots up the numbers, anywhere from 50,000 to 150,000 people die annually through medical error in hospital (I'll let you source that yourself, it's educational). Good luck to you should you suffer the misfortune of a car accident.

RE: Defund the NSA
By Amedean on 1/11/2014 4:19:18 AM , Rating: 2
It's a doubly-sad fact that more people died on the nation's roads in the month of September 2001 than in that horrid attack (3,555 vs. ~3000; sources via results of a search on "september 2001 deaths automobile accidents").

Of the many questions, I have to highlight your weakest argument. The country was attacked, and the military responded. Is 3000ish an acceptable collateral damage to you?

If this was a public debate I would slaughter this logic, but because of its the internet you can feel as comfortable as any other pedophile downloading child pornography.

RE: Defund the NSA
By inperfectdarkness on 1/6/2014 11:45:29 AM , Rating: 3
I think the lesson here is that neither party has the interests of the public in their hearts. As much as everyone hated pretty much everything W did--and as much as O ran on a platform of opposing everything W did--here we are, and the train keeps rolling.

RE: Defund the NSA
By EasyC on 1/7/2014 6:09:10 AM , Rating: 1
Exactly, but you have to give them credit for peeling their eyes away from Faux News enough to type that. *rolleyes*

RE: Defund the NSA
By Dorkyman on 1/9/2014 4:16:13 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, brother, here we go again. By the way, "faux" is pronounced "fowe" so the liberal's favorite throwaway term of "Faux News" isn't very clever.

As for "everyone" hating W, better re-check your data. He is currently more popular than your Affirmative-Action guy in the White House. Smarter, too.

RE: Defund the NSA
By JPDSLC on 1/10/2014 3:40:23 AM , Rating: 2
Ex-presidents are almost always more popular than sitting presidents. It's really a meaningless comparison though. But as long as we're referencing irrelevant information, former President Bush enjoyed the dubious honor of having the single highest point drop in approval in the history of recording such things - an ignominy which stands to this day. I think he bottomed out at around a 25% approval rating, coming in third behind Truman and Nixon. President Obama is at what? 41% at the moment?

What does that mean? Not much, really. He had the single highest point drop because he had an incredibly high approval rating when the country banded together after 911.

It's very easy to spin a number one way or another depending on whatever bias you're trying to push. Since situations are wildly different for each president - often situations which are outside the control of the president - comparing approval ratings aren't a super good indicator of character or quality. (Essentially, President Bush had a super high approval rating because the country got attacked while he was president. Go figure.)

As far as the "Smarter, too." comment... what, this is a poll of what people think? Or you're just asserting, for other reasons you're not disclosing here, that President Bush is smarter?

Oh, and I think most people get the common pronunciation of faux. I rarely heard it said, though. Only written. And I think everyone gets what they're trying to say. Interesting tidbit: while nearly every authority will say it's pronounced "foe", the fox pronunciation is sometimes cited as a third pronunciation.

Anyways. So yeah. President Obama. Worse than President Bush? Yeah I think so, because at least President Bush didn't preach how bad these programs were, and then go ahead and make the Executive even less transparent while expanding all the programs he had previously campaigned against.

RE: Defund the NSA
By Rott3nHIppi3 on 1/6/2014 10:10:58 AM , Rating: 5
Indeed Bush did... and at the time, it was something to monitor US Citizens in foreign countries (for terrorist activity). Obama vehemently campaigned against it; then extended it for another 4 years once in office. So if the NSA has run amok between the years 2010 through now (which most of Snowdens leaks seem to imply), then Obama is somewhat responsible for signing it (autopen... remember?).

RE: Defund the NSA
By Spuke on 1/6/2014 10:24:56 AM , Rating: 2
I could see a partial de-funding happening or at least a threat to do so.

RE: Defund the NSA
By nafhan on 1/6/2014 10:12:46 AM , Rating: 5
Obama is the cause of everything
Bush is currently making weird paintings on a ranch in Texas not presiding over the country.

If you want a historical account of the surveillance state getting out of control, looking at the Bush administration (and further back) is important. If you want to fix things in the short term, we're talking about Obama. He's the president and he's done some things that are not good - even if he didn't start it.

RE: Defund the NSA
By bah12 on 1/6/2014 10:54:11 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly at least Bush was fairly transparent in that he was going to spy, and this act would allow him to do so in the name of terrorism. Obama actively fought it, then got elected and expanded it. I don't agree with Bush on most things, but I'd rather someone hold different values, than someone that is a blatant liar and hypocrite.

RE: Defund the NSA
By AssBall on 1/6/14, Rating: 0
RE: Defund the NSA
By Jeffk464 on 1/6/2014 1:06:30 PM , Rating: 2
Whats a trillion or two dollars down the drain?

RE: Defund the NSA
By tanjali on 1/6/2014 2:44:30 PM , Rating: 2
It is not a waste!!
How do you think we found our GOV expenditure if not for drug money laundering, controlling Afghanistan, keeping valueless debt driven $US like main currency for oil trading and reserve in countries like Iraq, Libya, Saudis, OPEC... so FED's can print $85 B. a month, sustaining banks to survive. Tax dollars are gone before year end.

RE: Defund the NSA
By RedemptionAD on 1/6/2014 10:26:03 AM , Rating: 3
Actually it began before 1997 (1997 is around the time Omnivore ended) with the Omnivore program under Clinton, not Bush or Obama. Bush and Obama however expanded and enhanced that line of intelligence gathering into what it has become today.

RE: Defund the NSA
By FITCamaro on 1/6/2014 10:31:19 AM , Rating: 4
And in the past 5 years when OBAMA, NOT BUSH, has been President, this stuff has only expanded. Not contracted.

So don't give me your "It's all Bush's fault" crap. Bush did things many conservatives didn't agree with. What's sad about people like you is you refuse to acknowledge that Obama is just as complicit and supportive of these programs.

Then you get the media harping on "Oh he didn't know." He's the President. If he didn't know it's because he is incompetent.

RE: Defund the NSA
By Jeffk464 on 1/6/2014 1:05:34 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, he lowered taxes and massively increased spending, which means even more tax down the road.

RE: Defund the NSA
By deltaend on 1/6/2014 10:37:32 AM , Rating: 4
by EasyC on January 6, 2014 at 9:40 AM

You do realize Bush started this after 9/11, right? Oh right, Obama is the cause of everything. I forgot

Wow, I'm not sure that we have enough time (or crayons) to explore this out of the blue statement in therapy, but let's just try to hit the high points shall we?

Obama is a 2 term president who has increased the national debt more than any combination of two term presidents before him. The government has expanded and accountability has dropped. Like Steve Jobs, Obama refuses to admit when he is wrong and reverse course on his actions (at least, to date). Like other politicians, Obama plays a fast and loose game of blame shifting and term definition in order to retain power. It's disgusting, it's transparent, and it needs to stop, no matter who you voted for. The NSA itself really isn't to blame for where they ended up, they are a product of leadership and pressure to prevent another 9/11 from happening. Without accountability and a blank check any organization is going to cross the line simply due to the fact that they can, it's just human nature.

RE: Defund the NSA
By jmanbro on 1/6/14, Rating: -1
RE: Defund the NSA
By AssBall on 1/6/2014 12:00:27 PM , Rating: 2
Said the sheeple, right before every major governmental revolution in history.

RE: Defund the NSA
By Rott3nHIppi3 on 1/6/2014 12:51:17 PM , Rating: 2
Regan tripled, yes tripled the National debt in his 2 terms, and its been going up ever since. Obama's numbers are high, but not if you look at percentages

Pesky facts... still high! Even as a percentage.

RE: Defund the NSA
By SpartanJet on 1/6/2014 3:30:25 PM , Rating: 1
Yes those pesky facts like the way W pushed the old "ooops we invaded the wrong country" war debt to this current administration. Lets face it the Patriot act which was passed under W is the real start of this downward spiral. Not that president has clean hands, but he certainly has less blame then Bush.

RE: Defund the NSA
By ClownPuncher on 1/6/2014 3:34:22 PM , Rating: 2
No, he doesn't.

RE: Defund the NSA
By Rott3nHIppi3 on 1/7/2014 2:06:13 PM , Rating: 2
eh... I was simply proving the debt is still high, even as a percentage of GDP. You can either follow the chart and agree, or throw out random opinions to argue against (which you clearly chose to do). If the PA was a downward spiral, then how does Obama not share some blame by extending it (and abusing it to some extent)? And the next president will inherit this current mess as well. Regardless, What's your point? Doesn't matter who led before him. Some presidents manage to bring the debt back down. In this specific presidency, it has not.

Now, I realize Obama's low poll numbers and complete mismanagement of the gov't system has got you looking for a scapegoat, but the "Bush's Fault" excuse worked in 2008 (and quite well). It's 2014. Time to take ownership.

RE: Defund the NSA
By nafhan on 1/6/2014 1:28:30 PM , Rating: 3
And this NSA thing, who F****ing cares. it doesn't affect my day to day life.
This attitude right here almost perfectly exemplifies why the NSA has been allowed to do what they are doing, and why the president is defending it. Congrats on being part of the problem.

FYI: historically speaking, once something like this gets to the point where it effects your daily decisions, you're gonna' have a bad day (a REALLY bad day, likely followed by many more bad days).

Does it make my world safer or worse.
Probably not, but they are spending a lot of money on it, anyway. That by itself is another good reason to end these programs.

RE: Defund the NSA
By cyberguyz on 1/6/2014 1:39:34 PM , Rating: 3
So how do you suggest to cure this problem?

Revolt? Look what happened in the last American civil war: The rebels lost.

Vote the president out? Tried that. Problem started with one party, was expanded upon by the next. You think voting the party that introduced the problem will solve it?

Move somewhere that the NSA does not reach? This one has merit, but for the live of me I have no idea where that 'somewhere' is.

The only way to get rid of them is to cut their funding to zero. And I am not envisioning any current or future administration that will do that.

RE: Defund the NSA
By ritualm on 1/6/2014 2:05:02 PM , Rating: 2
Revolt? Look what happened in the last American civil war: The rebels lost.

The rebels didn't lose. The real losers were everyone else.
The only way to get rid of them is to cut their funding to zero.

Do you seriously and truthfully believe that not funding the spy agency entirely will stop the NSA's shenanigans? There are ways to sneak funding into a budget even if the official funding figure is zero, and the best part is these earmarks are frequently swept under the table as far as public awareness is concerned.

RE: Defund the NSA
By Monkey's Uncle on 1/6/2014 3:35:59 PM , Rating: 2
The rebels didn't lose. The real losers were everyone else.

Go back to grade school son - you slept thru your history classes. The history books are tellining something more like confederacy throwing up their hands and saying "Please suh! Don't spank me no mo! Ah'll free all ma slaves suh!".

Yep, slavery. Really big loss there. We are all much worse off for it, right? /sarcasm

RE: Defund the NSA
By ritualm on 1/6/2014 3:50:41 PM , Rating: 2
Read those history books again, kid.

There are no winners in wars, only losers.

RE: Defund the NSA
By Monkey's Uncle on 1/6/2014 4:05:49 PM , Rating: 2
LOL. kid.

I like that. Thanks.

And in your imaginary history textbook, what may I ask do you think the outcome of the American civil war was?

RE: Defund the NSA
By Reclaimer77 on 1/6/2014 4:32:11 PM , Rating: 1
There are no winners in wars, only losers.

That's such an intellectually vacuous cliche feelgood BS line, for shame.

Of course there are winners in wars. Calling someone a kid while viewing the world through the eyes of one is hysterical.

"oooh people die in wars, nobody wins, whaaa whaaaa!"

RE: Defund the NSA
By ritualm on 1/6/2014 6:57:34 PM , Rating: 2
Of course there are winners in wars.

Spoken like a total illiterate, brainwashed neophyte.

Not like it matters at this point. The rich profits handsomely from wars regardless of their outcomes, while the rest of us needlessly die to reinforce their end goals. Then the rich write history books claiming how we won those BS wars.

RE: Defund the NSA
By Reclaimer77 on 1/6/2014 9:45:51 PM , Rating: 1
Yes and "the rich" have never had entire fortunes wiped out from wars either. It's all a conspiracy to keep us stupid "illiterate brainwashed neophytes" in the dark.

And "the rich" write the history books now? I mean really, it seems you rather practice class warfare than discuss war.

When you stated "there are no winners in wars", I just assumed you were making a philosophical bridge. Not that I agree, but at least you would have had two brain cells to rub together. But this rubbish 1% bit? Boo.

RE: Defund the NSA
By Monkey's Uncle on 1/7/2014 10:38:31 AM , Rating: 2
The rich profits handsomely from wars regardless of their outcomes,

So, what is this? You doing a bit of backpedaling there son? Looks to me that there ARE winners in wars after all, huh?

You really shouldn't have dropped out of grade school. Your education is sorely lacking.

I agree with you that a lot of the so-called wars that have been fought (Vietnam, Korean & Iraq - No political leader actually declared these as wars - they were "military Actions") had absolutely nothing to do with the freedom of the United States.

Others like the secession from Britain and the American civil war had a direct and profound bearing on your freedom and the rights you are supposed to have today. Problem is your are stuck with one corrupt governemnt after another getting into power and slowly stripping those rights away from you.

So I will ask you : Do you actually like bending over while the NSA and expanded presidential power reams your butthole for you?

Yes? Make sure you keep lots of KY handy.
No? Then what are you going to do about it?

RE: Defund the NSA
By Chaser on 1/7/2014 3:28:47 PM , Rating: 2
There are no winners in wars, only losers.
After you read then jump on a plane to Israel for instance and remind them of your over-simplistic, pretentious views of war.

RE: Defund the NSA
By Reclaimer77 on 1/7/2014 9:20:38 PM , Rating: 2
Good point. Or skip on over to South Korea and tell them losing the war wouldn't have made a difference to them...

RE: Defund the NSA
By AssBall on 1/6/2014 5:41:30 PM , Rating: 2
The rebels did lose the war, but they ended up getting what they really wanted, lots of reform from years of economic repression from the union states' misgoverning.

You are a simpleton and a poor student of history if you think it was a war about whether or not we should have slavery. That was just nicely worked media propaganda for a war that was almost purely economic in nature.

RE: Defund the NSA
By Reclaimer77 on 1/6/2014 5:18:52 PM , Rating: 2
You think voting the party that introduced the problem will solve it?

Excuse me but both parties supported the wars, the TSA, the Patriot Act and everything else, almost unanimously. The voters of this country damn sure supported it, because they were scared out of their minds after seeing those Towers fall and the devastation organized terrorism could do in America.

This is why nearly everything passed under Bush had an expiration date and needed a vote to be extended. So that in the future, when Americans were safe, we could eliminate some of these programs.

So the real question is, why didn't Obama? Especially after Osama Bin Laden was taken out.

Move somewhere that the NSA does not reach?

Well that place was supposed to be here. The NSA has a charter to spy on others, but it's illegal to spy on US citizens.

Cutting funding, yeah, that's an idea. But how about we start throwing people in jail who broke the law?

RE: Defund the NSA
By nafhan on 1/6/2014 5:41:59 PM , Rating: 2
The only way to get rid of them is to cut their funding to zero.
I think this a great idea, but pretty limited and likely to be ineffective long term. If we just cut the funding for the NSA and leave the legal environment as is, the CIA or some new group will eventually start doing the same type of stuff to us.

I'd say:
--New laws specifically forbidding domestic spying
--More transparency regarding action against US citizens
--Either dissolution or serious reorganization of the NSA
--Some time in the slammer - possibly for treason - for those currently responsible for this mess

An executive order absolving Snowden would also be a nice gesture.

RE: Defund the NSA
By NellyFromMA on 1/6/2014 1:43:05 PM , Rating: 3
Did this really just devolve into a 2008-style "Bush's fault" / "But Obama did too" finger point. You are DRASTICALLY missing the REAL issue here, folks. Stop crying about miniscule details and start talking about the correct way to address the matter at hand. It's irrelevant at the moment HOW we got here, it's how do we GET OUT.

RE: Defund the NSA
By cyberguyz on 1/6/2014 1:47:22 PM , Rating: 2
Good luck with that. The patriot act gives the Emperor emergency powers.

Look how the last guy to get those turned out:

RE: Defund the NSA
By MrBlastman on 1/6/2014 3:27:15 PM , Rating: 2
Good heavens, BOTH of you are wrong.

The cause of the NSA, our Government problems, our crap society of political correctness and more isn't Bush's fault, nor is it Obama's fault. Impossible, right? Nope. Look in the mirror. WE the PEOPLE are the cause of all these problems.

The problem is WE, as Americans, DO NOT CARE anymore. That's why we have the NSA and our violated rights.

RE: Defund the NSA
By Monkey's Uncle on 1/6/2014 3:55:18 PM , Rating: 2
So what do you propose to do about it?

I know what your founding fathers did about governmental oppression a few hundred years ago. They went to war over it and fought to free themselves from British rule. So here you have your democratically-elected gooberment oppressing you every bit as much - and more - than that early British monarch ever did. Where is your freedom? What rights and liberty do you have left?

NSA has been around since Truman's administration in the early 50s. You aren't going to get rid of them so easy. The problem is that Bush instigated the Patriot Act and with it gave his administration & the NSA almost unlimited power over its citizens. Did you, the American people vote for him to do that? Obama made this worse by using the Patriot act by focusing the NSA activities more and more internally rather than externally. Is anyone really expecting Obama's successor in the oval office to actually repeal the Patriot act? There are limits to the patriot act, yet every person elected to the white house seems to be more than happy to use the patriot act to give themselves more and more power. How long will it be before they use the patriot act to ban the 4-year election cycle? How long will it be before the 2 consecutive presidential term limit is removed? How long will it be before the United States is ruled by a dictator or emperor?

It is one thing to rant and rage about this situation, but it is there regardless of all the outrage you or I can show in forums like this.

So the only question that ALL Americans should be asking themselves is what are they prepared to do to win their freedom back from this tyranny?

RE: Defund the NSA
By nafhan on 1/6/2014 5:48:11 PM , Rating: 2
A small thing you and I can do is to ask that question in places other than online forums full of like minded individuals. Post it on Facebook for your Aunt to see. Talk about it in class/church/work/social gatherings. Make sure people know.

RE: Defund the NSA
By itzmec on 1/12/2014 9:28:16 AM , Rating: 1
how's bush going to sign an executive order to fund nsa?

RE: Defund the NSA
By TSS on 1/6/2014 6:04:39 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah right. And risk leaks about the private lives of congressmen?

Think for a second. You're a guy in charge of the most powerfull spy machine ever created in the history of man. The only people capable of stopping you are humans with human vices. We already know most of them are corrupt to the core so they *must* have plenty of stuff to hide. At the very least they authorized the creation of said machine to spy on others. We also know they'll go to extra-ordinairy lenghts to get, secure and keep their position in office, including but certainly not limited to running their home country into the ground.

Can you still say you, or anybody else, wouldn't turn that machine loose onto it's masters from the first second it was turned on?

Otherwise how do you even explain people lying to congress's face multiple times, and not even being fired ? Not being prosecuted, fine, we all know by now the judiciairy branch is political to all hell. But not even being *fired*?

Suppose you'd work at McDonalds, your manager suspects you of stealing burgers, you say no, then they bring out video footage of the act and you say you didn't steal but you did "toutch" a few burgers. If not charged with theft outright do you think You'd be able to keep Your job?

Now imagine the same situation but with you having some explicit chats between your manager and his boss's wife. Still think you'd be fired?

There's no way no how no chance this whole thing will go away without blood being spilled. It's grown far, far too large for that. It's up to the american people to decide now wether it's their leaders blood or alot of theirs. I'd say "And some foreign blood too" but a little drone told me it was too late for that. Though, historically speaking, it's good to see human lives are now worth a couple of million dollars. Those missiles they get hit with are expensive.

RE: Defund the NSA
By japlha on 1/6/2014 11:20:37 AM , Rating: 3
Or even better make the payment of taxes voluntary.

This would allow citizens to decide which products and services they want.

Currently, the government can only get money from us at the point of a gun and threat of incarceration. Doesn't say much about their product or service does it?

RE: Defund the NSA
By nafhan on 1/7/2014 9:58:34 AM , Rating: 2
Currently, the government can only get money from us at the point of a gun and threat of incarceration. Doesn't say much about their product or service does it?
So... what's your idea? Make everyone happy all the time?

RE: Defund the NSA
By Solandri on 1/6/2014 12:48:03 PM , Rating: 2
Possibly the only way to get the NSA to behave is to cut its funding - TO ZERO. Congress still has this power despite the NSA.

The NSA is behaving and Congress does still have power over it. As an intelligence agency dealing with classified materials, the NSA (and CIA, NRO, etc) answers to the two Intelligence Committees:

You'll notice Sanders is not a member. Since the information he's requested is still classified (despite Snowden having already blown it), the NSA is not authorized to disclose it to him nor Congress at large. They are only authorized to disclose it to those committees in closed-door hearings. If NSA were to answer his question in public, that would be misbehaving.

Anyway, this whole thing is part of an orchestrated CYA campaign to dump the fallout from all this onto the NSA, instead of the politicians in Congress and the White House who conceived of, authorized, and funded the spying programs. Get the public to think this was some rogue NSA operation, when it fact the politicians were in control of it the entire time. And given the response here and in other online forums, it's working brilliantly. The NSA will emerge battered and bruised with a bloody eye, and the politicians will be squeaky clean in time for the 2014 election. "What, me spy on you? Never!"

RE: Defund the NSA
By jonesy1152 on 1/9/2014 8:52:10 AM , Rating: 2
I can think of a place where you'd get +5 Insightful for that. Thanks for the injection of clarity (and meaning no offense to other posters, but you've cut to the heart of the matter.)

RE: Defund the NSA
By Jeffk464 on 1/6/2014 1:00:18 PM , Rating: 2
Oh hell no, who do they think they are. They have become a rogue agency.

RE: Defund the NSA
By cyberguyz on 1/6/2014 1:15:23 PM , Rating: 2
Well, the U.S. have elections coming up soon.

Let's see if the next guy to sit in the oval office does it.

Anybody want take bets the next president doesn't (don't really make a difference if their mascot is an elephant or a jackass - either one will hose us all)?

RE: Defund the NSA
By Dr of crap on 1/6/2014 2:49:26 PM , Rating: 3
Oh how naïve,
To think an elected official might change things.
Do you still believe in the tooth fairy?

RE: Defund the NSA
By Monkey's Uncle on 1/6/2014 3:22:58 PM , Rating: 2
Not sure where that came from, but ... wutever.

RE: Defund the NSA
By KFZ on 1/6/2014 2:18:18 PM , Rating: 2
Even if it's argued as a realistic option that's still an illogical response.

The people who guide this ship, the executive branch, are the NSA's biggest pushers. The reality just so happens to be that they (specifically the DOJ) need to be the ones to investigate and prosecute; ideally that should happen until the agency is a shell of its former self so it can be rebuilt.

So using the de-fund logic, we would need to de-fund this entire administration so it learns its lessons (what a joy that would be).

RE: Defund the NSA
By SAN-Man on 1/6/2014 2:53:35 PM , Rating: 3
Forget about defunding. The NSA is a Federal Agency under the Executive Branch - they report directly to the President, not Congress or the Judicial. If the President told the head of the NSA to immediatly HALT all spying on US Citizens, the head of the NSA would be obligated to do this. If this person refused the President, the President could FIRE HIM. Just like if you refuse your boss at your job you can be FIRED.

People act like the NSA is accountable to no one and this simply isn't true. Just like ANY OTHER FEDERAL AGENCY UNDER THE EXECUTIVE, the NSA works for and takes direction from the Executive - specifically, the President of the United States.

Obama can stop ALL this sh!t any time he wants to. Congress, the Patriot Act, it doesn't matter - it can ALL stop TODAY on the President's word. He doesn't even need to give an "Executive Order" he simply needs to pick up the phone, CALL the head of the NSA and say "Stop spying on Americans IMMEDIATELY". Simple, end of story.

But this won't happen, because our President is a spineless hack.

RE: Defund the NSA
By JPDSLC on 1/10/2014 3:41:42 AM , Rating: 2
I think you're absolutely dead on right. It's the only thing that would possibly make them listen. They could probably shuffle money around for a while, but you could only do that for so long if you had a committed and unified Congress.

By ballist1x on 1/6/2014 4:55:00 AM , Rating: 1
The Patriot act even be repealed?

RE: Can...
By cfaalm on 1/6/2014 6:51:08 AM , Rating: 2
That's what I was thinking. Their actions would be illegal immediately after that. Cutting the funding significantly would be a nice addition. This has got to stop. I've had a bad feeling about the Patriot Act from the start.

RE: Can...
By FITCamaro on 1/6/2014 8:01:32 AM , Rating: 2

The law wasn't passed indefinitely. It has a time limit.

RE: Can...
By Rott3nHIppi3 on 1/6/2014 10:15:24 AM , Rating: 2
I think its the law (no time limit).. .with certain provisions requiring overview and re-authorization per year.

RE: Can...
By Spuke on 1/6/2014 10:29:15 AM , Rating: 2
with certain provisions requiring overview and re-authorization per year
It's not per year but there are certain provisions that have to be renewed every so often. The NSA is stepping on their own dicks right now. They need to tread lightly.

RE: Can...
By PaFromFL on 1/6/2014 8:13:26 AM , Rating: 2
The first step in repealing the "Patriot" act is to more accurately rename it the "Treason" act.

RE: Can...
By cyberguyz on 1/6/2014 1:44:39 PM , Rating: 2
Not going to happen as long as the powers that be are gaining political power from it.

After all - the Emperor Obama has been given permanent emergency powers by his predecessor.

RE: Can...
By MrBlastman on 1/6/2014 3:28:36 PM , Rating: 3
It is probably one of the most un-patriotic acts ever passed, ironically.

Shiite Happens
By RapidDissent on 1/6/2014 10:16:04 AM , Rating: 3
They came for the alleged pedophiles; I did nothing for I thought it good.
They came for the alleged drug dealers; I did nothing for I thought it good.
They came for the alleged terrorists; I did nothing for I thought it good.
Then for some reason they came for me and no one did anything.

RE: Shiite Happens
By FITCamaro on 1/6/2014 10:32:23 AM , Rating: 3
According to the DoHS, I'm a domestic terrorist.

RE: Shiite Happens
By AssBall on 1/6/2014 12:07:48 PM , Rating: 2
Burn Gasoline, be educated about your rights, earn an honest living, and logically disagree with everything the government does from legislation to justice?

This is the new face of terror?

RE: Shiite Happens
By nafhan on 1/6/2014 5:50:22 PM , Rating: 2
You and every other US citizen...

Obama can do nothing
By Rage187 on 1/6/2014 10:41:34 AM , Rating: 2
Obama can do nothing but drop to his knees and cup the NSA's balls. They have some stuff on him.

RE: Obama can do nothing
By lucyfek on 1/6/2014 2:53:20 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately the only plausible possibility.
It's really sad that this places USA ahead of USSR when it comes to spooks controlling the head of the state. Soviet dictators seemed to always manage to purge the head of intelligence of military before these could take over the state. USA seems to have lost all checks and balances and NSA's reign can't be disputed now, all we can do is watch our tax money being spent by their contractors or burned on some other military/industrial complex projects.

RE: Obama can do nothing
By ClownPuncher on 1/6/2014 3:42:26 PM , Rating: 3
Odd, I thought Putin was KGB old guard.

RE: Obama can do nothing
By roykahn on 1/8/2014 3:57:59 AM , Rating: 2
That could easily become the plot for a South Park episode...

The biggest joke out there
By FITCamaro on 1/6/2014 8:02:45 AM , Rating: 2
Is that all the Obama drones think he's on their side here. That he is against this. When in reality he's for it.

RE: The biggest joke out there
By cyberguyz on 1/6/2014 1:25:36 PM , Rating: 2
Problem is that no matter who has the presiding administration, there will be mo change here as long as the NSA continues to provide that administration more power over you.

In a way it kinda makes me glad to be on the outside looking in. I have no doubt however whatever the U.S. gooberment gets away with that ours will be trying out on us shortly after.

I don't want Canada's gooberment doing this. So please my U.S. brothers - don't take it! Revolt now before the cancer spreads to us too!

Greek Paradox.
By drycrust3 on 1/6/2014 2:27:20 PM , Rating: 2
In fact, it appears the NSA is likely spying on Congress

When you look at what the NSA is collecting, "metadata" and not "call records", this is pretty unusual. Why are they interested in the path a call takes?
In January 2005 one of the telecom switches in Greece printed out an error message stating that it couldn't deliver some text messages to a phone off another network. To put this into context, these sort of messages could print out quite regularly and are probably considered a low priority. For some unknown reason someone bothered to investigate these and what they discovered is truly a marvel in the history of spying. Someone, as in some organisation, had added some software into 4 switches of the Greek Vodafone network that allowed them to listen in on, or to record, the conversations of around 100 of the top persons in the Greek Government at that time. The software created an extra path in the call train, I guess its a bit like the "3-way" call feature some PABXs have, so you can talk to a caller and some other person at the same conversation. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), when the software was discovered the switch technicians removed the software and in doing so not only alerted the "somebody", but, in a series of serious blunders, the Greeks also destroyed the records of where the intercepted calls went, giving the someone a clean getaway. All that is left is the actual code, which apparently is written by a top of the line programmer.
So now we have somewhere in the world a someone who not only has some software they can install in a mobile phone network switch that allows them to use the 3 way calling features for their own purposes, but also the Greeks have copy too. In addition, if that someone can do it, others would be able to as well.
If this can happen to the top 100 people of the Greek Government, then it doesn't take a huge step of faith to think that maybe it could happen to the top 100 people in the America Government.
The problem with this "Greek intercept" attack (I'll use that term here, although it probably has a defacto name), from the perspective of someone employed to find one, is it could easily not show up in call records (yes, the programmer was thoughtful and set it up so you avoided the phone charges), meaning there is almost no trace of one it after the call has ended. Only by recording metadata do you get to know one is there because it records the call path between the target's phone and the spyer.
Okay, so we now can see the benefit of metadata over normal phone company billing data, so the question for America is "Could this happen here?". Of course!
So the question you need to ask isn't "Is the NSA spying on Congress?" but "Do you want to know if anyone is doing a Greek Intercept on the US Congress?" Remember, this is almost a traceless crime, so if the answer is "Yes, we want to know" then you need to entrust someone with the task of recording metadata and analysing it. The paradox of this is that if you don't spy on yourself then you can't tell if you are being spied upon.

RE: Greek Paradox.
By jonesy1152 on 1/9/2014 8:42:58 AM , Rating: 2
Good catch.

And fine, let's have that discussion between the intel shops, the national leadership, AND the American people. The "Greek attack" and others are known to the pros and those they brief; official governement studies done over the past fifty years have shown that the great bulk of matters classified is known to all the relevant actors except the very populace in whose name those things are classified - and the very same populace entrusted by the Constitution to make the decisions concerning what their government does in their name and upon their behalf.

No lives or precise methods or ensuing product need be put at risk to have this discussion, now, in the past, or the future.

By Ammohunt on 1/6/2014 1:54:50 PM , Rating: 3
If it indeed chooses to claim the need for secrecy has trumped the need to give Congress information, the NSA spying program will have entered a new era where in effect it argues that the laws passed by Congress have basically nullified the Constitution, by granting part of the Executive branch (spy agencies) unlimited secrecy from public courts (most of the justice branch), the legislative branch, and the people at large.

Complete and utter nonsense! sessions such as these are matters of public record! of course the NSA is not going to discuss Classified information during such. The congressman knows this as well. This is nothing more than a put on to make it appear congress is doing something and to stir the pot the author fell for it hook line and sinker.

NSA is not the Stasi nor will it be...ever!

Enemy of the State
By max_payne on 1/6/2014 9:02:31 AM , Rating: 2
I know don't know why the Americans are so surprised about this kind of power since we were warned by Gene Hackman in the 1998 movie "Enemy of the State". No one believe him at that time ...

Worldwide concern?
By majorpain on 1/6/2014 2:18:18 PM , Rating: 2
I am more concern about how some countries might react (if not already reacting); to all of this, regular USA friends or not. And i am talking about commercial&political actions from them.

You all are just confused!
By tanjali on 1/6/2014 2:32:52 PM , Rating: 2
C'mon guys, that all is just a conspiracy! NSA, CIA, FDA, GMO, U.S. Government, car dealers, FEDs, Wall Street, Media... are good guys. Don't be looney conspiracy conspirator!

Your all just a bunch of communists!

hostage situation?
By lucyfek on 1/6/2014 2:39:41 PM , Rating: 2
I would not be surprised if all politician (and public alike) were held hostage by the organization with access to true or fabricated (that can't be disproved) information and influence that can ruin any carer.
Welcome to UnSA world and please move only in the direction specified by the overseeing power - your future has already been decided.

Follow the MONEY!!!
By tanjali on 1/6/2014 2:52:01 PM , Rating: 2
By BSMonitor on 1/6/14, Rating: -1
By FITCamaro on 1/6/2014 10:36:49 AM , Rating: 5
Anyone with a brain acknowledges this. But what exists now is beyond what existed in 2008. When Bush left office. Obama has had 5 years to get rid of it. Has he? No. He's supported expanding it. And has.

You wanted "Hope and Change". You got it. Just not what you thought.

Now I hope you have some change left. Because that's all they're going to leave you with. Begging for change without any hope of it getting better.

There is far more than the Patriot Act that Bush did that was wrong. Bailouts and TARP (things Democrats supported and screamed for as well). No Child Left Behind (again Democrat led effort that Bush signed). None of that is any excuse that in 5 years Obama has done nothing to get rid of what you're talking about.

By cyberguyz on 1/6/2014 1:33:23 PM , Rating: 2
So if the next election brings in a republican administration, is anyone here really expecting this situation to change or lessen?

I'm not. In fact I am expecting it to spread like cancer. Let's just hope any political chemo doesn't kill us all before the NSA cancer does.

By majorpain on 1/6/2014 2:21:53 PM , Rating: 2
Totally agree with you. Obama thought he could change till he arrived to the snake pit... Presidents don't command anything important anymore there i guess. A monster was created, lets see how they can even slow him down...

By retrospooty on 1/8/2014 5:10:42 PM , Rating: 2
" Obama thought he could change till he arrived to the snake pit... "

I call BS on that. He didn't try to change anything. After campaigning against earmarks, waste, lobbyists and their special interests, the first thing he did when he got in was push that horrible stimulus plan that was 90% benefitting nothing but earmarks, waste, lobbyists and their special interests. Transparency is another one, zero change. The only thing he changed was his stance on "change". Another typical politician. Bush3.0.

"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook

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