The Positive and Negative Sides of the President’s NSA Commission Report

Guess what? I agree with Glenn Greenwald on something. Specifically, I agree that, overall, the report issued Wednesday by the president’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies is a positive event in this ongoing NSA saga.

That said, I believe it’s positive for different reasons than Greenwald does, but there it is. He believes it’s positive because, as he said to the BBC, it’s a rebuke of the NSA’s surveillance operations and, like the Larry Klayman court decision earlier this week, it’s a vindication of Edward Snowden. On the other hand, I believe it’s positive because it’s an important step toward having a rational, reasonable debate about how exactly to reform NSA and the FISA Court (FISC).

First of all, what exactly is in the report?

The commission, which includes Richard Clarke, Cass Sunstein and the former deputy director of the CIA Michael J. Morell, recommended the following steps, among others:

–Congress and the president should strengthen the background check system to prevent another Snowden-style leak, as well as to move the system back within the federal government. Positive, though predictable, news.

–The NSA director should become a Senate-confirmed post, and, preferably a civilian. Not a terrible idea.

–A “Privacy Czar” position should be established as part of the White House staff. Okay, not bad, though the Republicans will totally love the idea of another “czar.”

–A public advocate should be present during FISC deliberations. Again, fine, but will this idea trickle out to all courts and for all law enforcement requests for search warrants, since, at this point, such a post doesn’t exist anywhere in a similar context?

–The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversigh Board (PCLOB) should be replaced by the Civil Liberties and Privacy Protection Board (CLPP), which would enjoy broader oversight power. Sounds like a backstop for FISC. Oversight is good.

–The president should have to personally authorize eavesdropping on foreign leaders. Fine.

While Snowden disciples might see this as a satisfying "FACE!" to the wicked evil federal government, the commission is further enabling unaccountable, oversight-free corporate power to collect and store our personal data.

–And finally, but not least of all, the panel recommended that the notorious “bulk collection and storage” of phone metadata, based on Section 215 of FISA and revealed initially by USA Today would have to end.

It goes without saying that the Section 215 recommendation is a huge victory for Snowden and Greenwald who have successfully fooled a short-attention-span public into believing that they, in tandem, are solely responsible for revealing this program to the public. They weren’t. USA Today broke the story in 2006. It was indeed Snowden and Greenwald’s well-calculated addition of melodrama, hyperbole and sensationalism that resurrected the story.

Yes, I do believe there are problems with court-authorized bulk collection and storage of metadata, in so far as it’s not all that effective and therefore not necessary. But the fact that it’s happening with court and congressional oversight, and that the data is minimized, doesn’t freak me out. I’ve always been considerably more concerned with the very notion that corporations store and share all of this information in the first place — and much, much more data that NSA never attains.

And that’s precisely why the following recommendation by the commission troubles me the most:

“We recommend that Congress should end such storage and transition to a system in which such metadata is held privately for the government to query when necessary for national security purposes.”

While Snowden disciples might see this as a satisfying “FACE!” to the wicked evil federal government, the commission is further enabling unaccountable, oversight-free corporate power to collect and store our personal data. It’s, in effect, further privatizing and expressly authorizing corporate data collection. Sure, corporations are already collecting and distributing information about us that’s light years beyond anything NSA has ever achieved in terms of volume and intimate details, but now the commission has called on Congress to further sanction that activity.

As we’ve observed, Greenwald has made a lucrative career out of condemning relatively (underscore “relatively”) moderate government operations while totally ignoring the egregious level of data collection being conducted by banks, retailers, credit rating agencies, ISPs, social media and even the sites upon which Greenwald and Snowden have published their so-called revelations. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the data collection and distribution by online payment services like Pierre Omidyar’s PayPal. The disparity not only further reveals a merger between the radicalized far-left and Ron Paul libertarianism, but it also highlights the observation that Greenwald, with a history of malicious lawsuits and the like, is simply using the NSA documents as another cudgel in his personal vendetta against the United States government.

Then again, polling appears to support Greenwald’s lopsided priorities. According to a new Gallup poll, 72 percent of respondents, including 56 percent of Democrats, said “big government” is the greatest threat to the U.S., while only 21 percent said it’s “big business.”

So, while we should probably be concerned about this specific recommendation from the panel, I think the report remains a positive development in the process of the overall debate. Whether it will translate into actual reforms is more problematic. I’m not sure that many lawmakers will want to attach themselves to legislation that shoehorns more speed-bumps into the intelligence community’s ability to thwart terrorism, especially when, following another potential attack, a lot of angry, shellshocked voters will loudly demand to know why it happened and who failed to prevent it. That’s not to say Congress shouldn’t do it — it should absolutely act on some of these recommendations; it’s simply one reason why it might not.

  • Tom Carberry

    Cesca seems to see some difference between corporate and government spying, but in the end the information goes to the same narrow set of sociopaths. Obamabots may defend this right wing sociopath as much as they want, but he remains a right wing sociopath no matter what they say. He makes Ronald Reagan look like a dope smoking hippie.

    Obama has continued the W administration, which continued Clinton’s, which continued, GHWB’s etc, each one building on and increasing the oppression of the one before. People who believe their vote or voices matter live in worlds of happy delusion, far from the misery caused by their actions. Whenever you here about war, or spying, or oppression anywhere in the world, you can find western capitalism behind it.

    The democratic party has engaged merrily in the mass slaughter of poor people for decades, claiming to do it for “freedom and justice and the American way.” Except for hundreds of years the “American way” has meant slavery and oppression for everyone except a tiny handful. Look at the “liberation” of Libya, the richest country in Africa before the “liberation,” and now a hell hole. The US demonized Gaddafi for decades, solely because he resisted them and gave his oil money to the people instead of to a handful of rich families.

    Around 50% of the people in America live in poverty. Most Americans have no savings. Most single mothers don’t have a month’s rent in the bank.

    What a country.

    • Jason

      I don’t agree on Obama being a “right wing sociopath.”
      I tend to think of Obama simply as an establishment corporate stooge. But i do agree that there is little difference between corporate and government spying. Those two realms are merging nicely.

      • nicole

        You are either very young, or the stupid has you by the throat.

        Regardless, the terms you toss around, such as “corporate stooge” or “centrist liberal” are so far off the mark, you provide us with laughter as a bonus for even reading your ignoramus, silly ass ramblings.

    • David Latona

      You weren’t that off the mark until you name-dropped Gaddafi. Personality cults are irrational and extremely dangerous, especially when talking about authoritarian Heads of State who remain in power for 42 years. I assure you that genocidal billionaire son-of-a-bitch didn’t rake in his estimated $70 billion+ net worth from his “president’s” salary paid by Libyan taxpayers. Fuck all murderous autocrats like that swine.

      • nicole

        He was pretty damn far “off the mark” . He either hasn’t read anything besides the crap coming from the emos, or he knows next to nothing re political history.

        • David Latona

          Bad phrasing. I don’t agree with the rest of his arguments either, but the Gaddafi thing just stunned me.

          • villemar

            Funny, I stopped reading after the word “Obamabot” was used. That’s as much of an automatic nullifier as “Illuminati!” or “Wake up Sheeple!”

          • Badgerite

            Illuminati! I love it. LOL

    • Badgerite

      “Whenever you hear about war, or spying, or oppression anywhere in the world, you can find western capitalism behind it.”
      So in Syria, you think that is ‘western capitalism’ that is at the root of the problem?
      And Mumbai, that was western capitalism? And the attack on the Kenyan shopping mall?
      Western capitalism? North Korea and the ‘Dear Leader’? Western capitalism?
      The girl in Pakistan shot in the head for trying to go to school? Western capitalism?
      And what is making Libya a ‘hell hole’ now? Western capitalism? I doubt it.

  • MrDHalen

    Oh, America!

    I see some positives in the report as well, but I do worry about overreacting and diminishing our foreign intelligence ability. The NSA should be allowed to collect electronic data and skim it for possible treats against our nations foreign interest and protection from foreign attacks. I will join the Greenwald’s and Snowden’s of the nation when the US government starts using the information they collected via the NSA to charge US citizens without warrants.

    All I see in those poll numbers are people who have forgotten 9-11 and fear a black president in charge of our national intelligence. Bush was doing this without court oversite and we saw no where near the level of freakout that we are seeing with Obama in office. Like you said Bob, when the next attack happens, the same people on the fainting couch will be at the gates of Washington demanding to know how the government could not see it coming and how they let it happen.

  • repugnicant

    Basically, not much will change. More of a public display to ease the tinfoil minds. Obama is playing the long game here. 2014 is an important mid term, and he can see the possibilities of a Nancy Pelosi House slipping away with all this whining and crying, the end of days, tyranny… Even the Senate is now in play. A good majority of the populous doesn’t even bother to read past the headlines. All they see is ‘the government is spying on you’, so they assume, like Greenwald expects you to do, that the government IS spying on you personally.

    IMO, Greenwald is an enemy of the State, trying to sway the upcoming elections to keep Republicans in control of the House and maybe gift them with the Senate. A Democratically controlled Congress could do a lot of damage to the corporate world, a world Greenwald is wholeheartedly immersed in. He’ll keep this up all the way to next November.. and the dumbasses on the Left will unwittingly play along.

  • nicole

    As I’ve stated many times, the private data collection concerns me far more than the government’s data collection.
    Personally, I would love to see the corporate monsters forced to stop the collection of our data prior to any concerns re public data collection being addressed.

    • sealiagh

      I agree and this kind of stuff is quite scary

      • nicole

        Yeah, it really is.

        The link ^^^ isn’t working, so I’m posting a hopefully working link.

        • sealiagh

          I think it is still not working or it could be my computer which has been sluggish….but in a comment below I posted a link to the Commerce Committee report which I am now having trouble manipulating again :( need one of my millennial children! Anyway it is below……

          • nicole

            The article you linked to is a good piece, and well worth reading!
            You’re doing fine without the millennials. :)

    • Jason

      Facebook can’t put you on a no fly list.

      • JozefAL

        Maybe not, but Facebook CAN sell your name to businesses interested in “cultivating” you as a customer and YOU can’t “opt out” of everything. In point of fact, there’s probably a hell of a lot that goes on with Facebook that YOU–even as a Facebook user–do NOT know about. And that Facebook feels is NONE of your business even when it involves you. (And given the number of sites that now require you to “log into your Facebook account” simply to comment on stories or articles, it’s becoming more and more difficult to keep your private data out of the hands of corporations.)

        • Jason

          If your arguing in favour of tighter controls over corporations and what they can do with personal information, then i am very much on board.

        • ultraviolet_uk

          There is a very apposite saying: if something is free, then you are the product being sold.

  • MorganleFay

    Isn’t this also old?

    The 308-page full report made by
    the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies is available
    online. In August, President Barack Obama commissioned the review
    group of independent legal and technology experts to “assess whether, in
    light of advancement in communications technologies,” national security
    surveillance by U.S. intelligence agencies fails to maintain the public trust.
    The group of five legal and technology experts met with Obama Wednesday to
    discuss their report.


    privacy: Americans worried about Facebook, not NSA, poll finds

    users are more concerned about hackers, Facebook advertisers, and family
    members violating their online privacy than they are about the government,
    according to a new survey.

    By Katherine Jacobsen, Contributor / September 5, 2013

    • Badgerite

      Those would really be my concerns.

    • feloniousgrammar

      I’m certainly not worried about the government taking money from my bank account. Fortunately, when someone was stealing from me, the bank alerted me because it was odd compared to my normal spending habits. The FBI was onto the scam, they were using some people’s money to buy ads for a car, and then getting people who were interested in the car to pay for a delivery that never happened. If I remember correctly, the thieves had stolen account numbers from Zappos. I got hit over a pair of rain boots.

      I still shop on-line, but trust that I’ll have recourse should this happen again.
      That my bank recognizes deviations from my spending habits is kind of creepy, but it also protects me. Without federal powers to investigate electronic records and prosecute internet fraud, we would all be sitting ducks and there would be precious little commerce on-line.

  • trgahan

    Geeze…appointing a Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies specifically to review NSA and U.S. Government policy and present the results publically? WORSE THAN BUSH!!!
    Not a very authoritarian, Nazi, Matrix, Orwellian, etc move by our Kenyen, usurper President. Obama only has a few more years to get his UN sponsored grand fascists/commie police state up and running. Setting up task forces to publicly critize policy isn’t moving in the right direction.

    Maybe he should talk to those corporate interests who have convinced us to focus blame on the black guy in the white house who wants to give us cheaper health care while they rifle through our pockets with impunity?
    ..or is this just another “false flag”…Mr. Jones, your comments?

    • feloniousgrammar

      Yeah, he’s slipping, not what I want in a totalitarian dystopian nightmare. He should cackle or something.

  • Jason

    You can’t do a review of the NSA commission report without mentioning Greenwald 8 times and Snowden 11 times. But they are the ones that are clouding the conversation?….that apparently required their personal touch in order to “resurrect”.
    But pay no attention to the NSA because…..TERRORISTS!!!….oh… and big business

    Your narrative is all over the shop buddy…time to tighten it up a bit.
    But hey, at least we can all agree that “Oversight is good”

    • WiscoJoe

      Huh? You do realize that even Greenwald can’t do a review of the NSA commission report without mentioning Greenwald 8 times and Snowden 11 times.

      Also, how dare you criticize a journalist like Bob Cesca? What, you can’t even respond to his support for most of the findings of the NSA commission report without launching into a personal attack against him? What do you have against journalism and free speech? I mean, can’t you have an opinion about the NSA commission report without mentioning Bob Cesca? Hrmmm?

      And why are you going out of your way to defend the ability of big business to put us under constant total surveillance for fun and profit? I mean, clearly since you are so focused on only bashing Cesca and the NSA, logic follows that you don’t care about paying attention to terrorism or plutocrats. Right? (Obvious snark. Just wanted to challenge some of your assumptions….)

      And yes, we can all agree that oversight is good. Even without putting it in quotes! (Also, those straw men out there that are trying to convince people to pay no attention to the NSA are terrifying! Thanks for taking such a brave stance against people that don’t exist.)

      • feloniousgrammar

        Or forced pregnancy, or minority disenfranchisement, or Citizen’s United, or fracking, or the Keystone pipeline, or states’ responsibilities…

    • Badgerite

      Pay no attention to the NSA because in order to look beyond who called whom and into whatever personal data is also stored they would need to get a warrant. Not so Facebook or private hackers.
      And, Yeah, terrorists. Let’s see, being Aussie, you might recall the Bali bombing or possibly the Mumbai attack. And then, of course, there was the more recent attack on Kenya. You talk as if no threat of terror attacks existed and the NSA is just after everyone’s metadata to spy on peoples porn habits. I believe that was one of Snowden’s big revelations. That the NSA spied on the porn habits of 6 whole fundamentalist proselytizers. And therefore everyone’s porn habits were being spied on. You define melodrama. So do Snowden and Greenwald’s ‘revelations’. And that is really Bob’s point. Greenwald’s ‘reporting’ has been all over the place. Depending on what he thought could get attention. And melodrama and hyperbole generally do get attention. So he did a lot of ‘flogging’. (Flogging = melodrama, hyperbole and sensationalism). The one significant thing he did was provide information that provided standing to the plaintiff’s in the Klayman and other cases. And that particular case is probably headed to the Supreme Court because there are opinions from other courts that conflict and the Supreme Court is going to have to settle the issue of whether information disclosed to a third party in this context (digital communications) has any expectation of privacy. Currently, notwithstanding Judge Leon’s decision, the law says no. So the NSA had a solid legal basis for their actions in collection of information disclosed to a third party ( metadata). They were not out of the ball park on that.
      By the by, are you people involved with Julian Assange?. Still curious.
      PS If you,, as you claim, ‘respect’ Bob, you might try talking with a little more respect and intelligence, if you can.

      • Jason

        What i remember most of all about Bali, Mumbai and Kenya, and lets put Boston, Fort Hood and that notorious underwear bomber, is that they happened despite all of the NSA spying.
        And as Politico found buried in the fine print of that report, Obamas own commission agrees.
        From politico. “Our review suggests that the information contributed to terrorist investigations by the use of section 215 telephony meta-data was not essential to preventing attacks and could readily have been obtained in a timely manner using conventional section 215 orders,” the report says.

        In a footnote a few pages later, the panel members are even more blunt: “The section 215 telephony meta-data program has made only a modest contribution to the nation’s security … and there has been no instance in which NSA could say with confidence that the outcome would have been different without the section 215 telephony meta-data program.”
        Read more:

        Perhaps if NSA wasn’t so busy spying on Petrobras and tapping Angela Merkels phone they would actually find some terrorists.

        • mrbrink

          You’ve exaggerated this from the beginning. If the collection of metadata is only a modest contribution to national security, your belief that it’s the most important civil liberties issue we face today could stand some more pointing and laughing at.

        • Badgerite

          I believe these last entries (Petrobras and Angela Merkel ) happened exclusively during the Bush years. And these two instances are in no way shape or form addressed in this report. This has to do exclusively with collection of AMERICAN CITIZEN telephony metadata. Not foreign.
          Programs to spy on Brazil or Germany are unaffected by the recommendations or the court case. Except that if they spy on a foreign leader they have to get the President’s ok. Personally, I would have thought that one obvious, but. Other than that those programs of foreign spying are not mentioned, and they certainly have nothing at all to do with the court case. Guess what is not questioned. Any kind of spying on China or the UN or the EU or foreign intelligence sharing arrangements, etc.
          This is the criticism of Snowden and precisely why he is still guilty of the espionage charge. Half, if not more, of his leaking had to do with exceedingly legal and constitutional programs. Foreign spying would be that part.
          And let’s include Fort Hood and the underwear bomber.
          Hassan has always credited Al Awlaki as his inspiration and the person who called for him to take the murderous actions he did. He was following his internet ‘teachings’ which were actually incitements to murder. Likewise the Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (the underwear bomber) also credited Al Awlaki with being in the planning stages and the spiritual guide behind his attempt to blow up an airliner full of people over an American city if possible. But I digress.
          I believe the question was effectiveness of the bulk collection of telephony metadata of American citizens. This actually was the offspring of the Total Information Awareness System that Poindexter sought to create. And it was based on the idea that there would be hidden clues as to terrorist activity that would come to light if bulk collection of digital metadata were analyzed for these clues. It was based on previous successful ferreting out of other Chinese espionage issues in the 1990s. But it’s effectiveness with respect to terrorist issues has never been shown. And if they can’t show it to a judge, then it probably isn’t there.

  • Tom Blue

    Noted in the discussion of that particular recommendation is the fact that the telecoms already collect the data and is “willingly” provided to the company by the consumer, by virtue of their use of the service. They think that the NSA should justify specific data for a specific purpose with a higher standard of justification. (Note, this is the task force’s argument, not mine.)

    So the data is already stored with the telecoms now. It’s really inconceivable that they wouldn’t retain it for awhile. Just how long to keep it is the salient question.

  • CygnusX1isaHole

    “…Snowden and Greenwald who have successfully fooled a short-attention-span public into believing that they, in tandem, are solely responsible for revealing this program to the public.”…


    Nowhere in the article you link to does it say anything of the sort. Here are the relevant paragraphs.

    Paragraph #3:

    The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

    Paragraph #7:

    Under the Bush administration, officials in security agencies had disclosed to reporters the large-scale collection of call records data by the NSA, but this is the first time significant and top-secret documents have revealed the continuation of the practice on a massive scale under President Obama.

    Any literate person can read that Greenwald is highlighting the fact that the documents reveal for the first time the continuation of the program under the Obama administration, not the first time to the public as you deceptively claim.

    Additionally in paragraph #25 Greenwald writes:

    The request for the bulk collection of all Verizon domestic telephone records indicates that the agency is continuing some version of the data-mining program begun by the Bush administration in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attack.

    Clearly Greenwald is NOT attempting to fool anyone into believing that he and Snowden are “solely responsible” for bringing this program to the public’s attention. Your claim is completely and utterly false.

    The “melodrama, hyperbole and sensationalism” are yours to own for continuing this ongoing (and failed attempt) at impugning Greenwald’s reputation.

    • Frito

      Bob has this weird thing with Greenwald and Snowden. Maybe Greenwald use to steal his lunch money in school. Or give him wedgies. Who knows. It’s weird.

      • Bob Cesca

        On the other hand, your only comments on this site are on my posts, anonymous troll.

        • Jason

          You do seem to have an obsession with greenwald though don’t you Bob?
          I am using my real name and i comment on other posts. I only mention that because you seem to find it important.

          • nicole

            Trolling is what you do as your primary focus, Jason, and as to commenting on other posts, meh………maybe one or two, but most of your 255 comment count is arguably focused on your idiotic trolling. Personally, I believe that your time would be better spent on your knees in front of Greenwald since your primary goal seems to be to defend your hero from truth.

            FYI, using a first name which does NOT identify you IS commenting anonymously.

          • Bob Cesca

            I have a problem with bad journalism, whether it comes from Fox News, MSNBC, CNN or, yes, Glenn Greenwald.

            But thanks for clicking on everything I write about this topic. I appreciate the views.

          • EthanAllen1

            Bob Cesca – This article of yours is my first exposure to both your prose and this site, as well as those who offer comments. While I sincerely applaud your willingness to monitor and actually participate in the discussion fostered by your published opinions, it does appear to me that you do, indeed, “..have a problem with bad journalism…”; one that cloaks unsubstanciated opinion in the garb of journalistic credibility. Such intentional conflations are the stuff of dissemblers and propagandists, whose tradecraft requires that they disguise their superfluous ideological beliefs within a facade of reason.
            Although it is obvious that you have attracted a cadre of adherents to what appears to be your variation of “third rail” “New Democrat” NeoLiberal orthodoxy, the tortured logic involved in any further examination of this particular screed begs a more constructive use of time.
            As Usual,

          • Badgerite

            Now that’s not very ‘respectful’ Jason. It seems to me that you have an obsession with Bob.
            Are you involved with Julian Assange?

          • Frito

            Now that’s not very ‘respectful’ Badgerite. It seems to me that you have an obsession with Jason.
            Are you involved with Bob Cesca?

          • Badgerite

            “He just smiled and made me a vegemite sandwich.”

          • Jason

            Well i wouldn’t call it an obsession. Bob is just a particularly convenient centrist liberal. It is useful having a web site i can go to to get the prevailing establishment talking points. And while i don’t agree with the crew here terribly much, they do have their genuinely amusing moments.

            Julian and i haven’t talked in years.

          • Badgerite

            Ah, I thought so. You have that America sucks point of view he is so well known for.

          • Jason

            ok, just in case i am not reading the snark correctly, and so to clarify the matter. I am not and never have been in anyway “involved” with Julian Assange. And even if i had, it would have been during the Bush administration which means it doesn’t count.

          • Badgerite

            That’s cryptic. “Even if I had”?

        • Frito

          Sure Bob. I’ll expose my private information on your blog to comply with your arbitrary minimum standards for acceptable criticism. Sounds like a great idea to me.

          • Bob Cesca

            No courage of your convictions. How nice it must be to snipe from the protective cover of a pseudonym.

          • Frito

            Bob, the problem here is that my personal convictions might not be in tune with potential future employers. And we all know that it’s commonplace for prospective employers to use “The Google” to see what applicants have been up to. The same reason it’s a bad idea to post a picture of yourself smoking a gigantic doobie on Facebook. Am I going to risk it because anonymous comments make you sad? You should know better than that.

          • JozefAL

            So Frito, what do you think of the idea that no one’s successfully sued to prevent employers from using your Facebook information–or even the very idea that an employer, or a POTENTIAL employer, has a right to request your Facebook information? There’s currently NOTHING illegal about not hiring a person because that person has no Facebook account or other social media presence.

          • Frito


          • Badgerite

            ‘Potential future employers’? Holy Snowden.

          • Badgerite

            Well, you guys are here so it must be pretty minimum.

        • oregoncharles

          Surely you’re aware that this site allows anonymous posts – and most commenters are anonymous?

          this is called a “red herring” – an irrelevant attempt at distraction. I note that you did NOT reply to CygnusX1, who nailed you for distortion, and for failing to acknowledge that documentary confirmation is a big deal, even if something has been previously reported.
          Don”t they teach that in Journalism 101?

      • nicole

        Bob, re Frito’s post — are 5-year-olds allowed to comment here without their mommy pushing the buttons?

        • Frito

          Ouch. That’s going to leave a mark.

          • Jason

            hehe i have noticed these centrist establishment types really don’t come up with the quality burns like those right wingers.

          • Badgerite

            That is because they are not filled with bile like the ring wingers whom Julian says are our ‘only hope’.
            I’m going to have to do a lot of ‘Julian says’ sayings for you.

    • MorganleFay

      The only difference between Obama and Bush is that it is legal under Obama.

      But Glenn Greenwald never let facts get in the way of his agenda, which is to promote Glenn Greenwald.

    • Badgerite

      Ah, the usual suspects. Last time we heard from your contingent you were commenting on Snowdens ‘People of Earth’ letter to Brazil. I believe the claim then was that the US government was preventing him from speaking because they pulled his passport.
      Travel and speaking are, of course, not the same thing unless you are Snowden, in which case they are. According to your group.
      Snowden, of course, can’t imagine WHY his passport was pulled even though he thought that the American government might try to kill him. He had reason to believe they would kill him (ergo a ‘dead man’s switch’), but he couldn’t imagine why in the world they would pull his passport. Why it was totally unexpected and that is why he ended up in Russia where there was no real chance of extradition.
      Are you all Aussies and do you have anything to do with Julian Assange? Just curious.

      • feloniousgrammar

        His letter to Brazil read like B-grade fiction. He flatters himself. Whatever makes him think he can help Brazil? He really knows precious little about the NSA.

        I’m glad to hear that they’re going to do better background checks and, perhaps, will be using contractors less.

  • sealiagh

    Also, the recommendation to transition to a system of privately held metadata is, I agree, troubling. And, I think, calls for a discussion of what data should be collected and what limitations should be placed on data collection by either a public or a private entity. Let us throw that into the mix because it is important. I am just as worried about abuse of private power as I am of abuse of public power.

  • sealiagh

    I too think these are all reasonable recommendations and look forward to having a good, honest, well-reasoned discussion on them. I do share your concern about the idea of a “Public Advocate” spilling over into other law enforcement efforts. For example, the FBI is tracking a serial killer and seeks a warrant to tap his mother’s phone. Do we want and/or need a Public Advocate in such a case? That is, should we say that anytime the government (law enforcement branches of the government, really) seeks a warrant via a secret hearing an advocate for the other side should be present. So, in my hypothetical, I suppose it would be a representative of the criminal defense bar?

  • Vipsanius

    Good article.
    I think the recommendations are sound and should be put in place.
    As for GG, he likes to be in the limelight. Which is his good point.