A Big Day for Snowden: Two New and Misleading Revelations About Government Spying

It’s been a big day for Edward Snowden. Not only did The Guardian, in cooperation with The New York Times and Pro Publica, publish details about how the National Security Agency and the British GCHQ uses data from “leaky” apps like Angry Birds, but a separate story for NBC News and co-authored by Glenn Greenwald revealed how the GCHQ could monitor YouTube and social media.

But, naturally, the buried details make these revelations far less outrage-worthy.

Let’s start with this one: “NSA and GCHQ target ‘leaky’ phone apps like Angry Birds to scoop user data.” The headline says “user data” instead of the more accurate “data from terrorist targets” for one possible and very specific reason: to mislead people into believing NSA is spying on them personally. We’ve been following this deceptive headline practice since June when all of this began.

Then the bulletpoints below the headline include the line: “Details can include age, location and sexual orientation.” Again, this makes it appear as if NSA is collecting highly detailed information about everyone who uses these apps, but there’s no evidence of anything like that going on.

Dig down to paragraph 18 and you’ll find this:

The documents do not make it clear how much of the information that can be taken from apps is routinely collected, stored or searched, nor how many users may be affected. The NSA says it does not target Americans and its capabilities are deployed only against “valid foreign intelligence targets”.

So just because this information is available via the apps doesn’t mean NSA is collecting it. If it is, there’s no confirmation of it in the article.

Next up, Greenwald and NBC News reported that the GCHQ is watching YouTube and reading Facebook. The hyperbolic headline: “Snowden docs reveal British spies snooped on YouTube and Facebook.” Specifically, the GCHQ examined (past tense) what videos are popular and where, geographically, viewers are watching them.

Once again, however, if you read a little further within the article, the revelation unravels into nothingness.

First of all, it was pilot program that was demonstrated once.

Secondly, if you read way, way down to paragraph 17, you’ll find that the GCHQ used a “commercially available analytic software called Splunk” to analyse the data. And, more importantly:

The presentation showed that analysts could determine which videos were popular among residents of specific cities, but did not provide information on individual social media users.

So this revelation wasn’t a case of the GCHQ or anything else spying on individual targets or innocent U.S. persons or whomever.

Neither revelation presents any evidence whatsoever that Americans are being illegally and individually targeted. So the question needs to be asked again: why, if there’s no evidence of these operations being used unlawfully against the general public, are these articles in the public interest?

Exposing the methods by which NSA or the GCHQ gathers intelligence on terrorist targets obviously tells us what the government is going, sure, but it also tells the targets of these operations that they’d better be more careful, thus rendering the operations impotent. Put another way: exposing national security secrets like these only manages to shut down the operations. Likewise, there’s nothing here that suggests these programs wouldn’t have been effective in thwarting terrorism and therefore unnecessary, even if they had remained secret.

We also have to ask why mitigating details are buried almost every time? Back in June, Farhad Manjoo wrote a fascinating and troubling post for Slate that showed how online readers hardly ever read through an entire article. Most readers, in fact, only read half, while many readers don’t even bother to scroll. It’s becoming increasingly clear that this phenomenon is being exploited to the benefit of inciting outrage and paranoia, and thus clicks.

By the way, on the Slate page there’s a side-bar headline that reads: “NSA Could Be Watching You Play Angry Birds.”

[Facepalm.]

  • D_C_Wilson

    How exactly does one “spy” on Facebook and Youtube? 99% of what is posted there can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection.

  • Jack Carlton

    Bob,
    Once again I have to thank you for your efforts. You are, quite honestly, the only person exposing the deliberate lies and distortions that permeate the coverage of the NSA. Thank for you everything you have been doing.

    By the way, I’m sorry to hear ABL won’t be a show regular on your podcast, but I do look forward to any future appearances she can make. I hope you also invite Driftglass and Blue Gal back to the show sometime — it was great having them on with you and Chez.

    In the meantime, I’ll be sending a link to this story to my friends at work. I’m always repeating your points to them to explain how the news is reported in a distorted, deceptive fashion. Thanks for another example.

    Hey, you should think about writing a book at some point, chronicling exactly how this story has been misreported since the beginning.

  • Trulyunbelievable2020

    1. “Let’s start with this one: ‘NSA and GCHQ target ‘leaky’ phone apps like Angry Birds to scoop user data.’ The headline says ‘user data’ instead of the more accurate ‘data from terrorist targets..’”

    Your proposed headline is LESS accurate than the one you are criticizing. The NSA isn’t just using this program to collect “data from terrorist targets.” They’re using it to collect data from anyone who they regard as a legitimate target of foreign intelligence (whether they are right or wrong) and undoubtedly from other people who happen to be in contact with people who are rightly or wrongly regarded as legitimate foreign intelligence targets. Since the NSA collects data on many, many non-terrorist targets, your headline would be inaccurate. However, the data that is collected is, without exception, “user data.” Therefore, their headline is accurate.

    2. “Then the bulletpoints below the headline include the line: ‘Details can
    include age, location and sexual orientation.’ Again, this makes it
    appear as if NSA is collecting highly detailed information about
    everyone who uses these apps…”

    In what world does “details can include age, location, and sexual orientation” in any sense imply that the NSA is collecting this data on everyone who uses these apps? I read it to mean just what it says: “data CAN INCLUDE.”

    • formerlywhatithink

      Wow, the level of, well, I’d say ignorance, but I think it’s more a sense of arrogance (as in you so dumb, me smarter, hue, hue, hue…), in this is sky high.

      The title of the article says:

      NSA and GCHQ target ‘leaky’ phone apps like Angry Birds to scoop user data.

      That immediately says, definitively, that the NSA and GSCHQ is vacuuming user data, willy nilly, via popular apps like Angry Birds…and strongly implies that the NSA and GSCHQ is vacuuming up any and all user data. Pretty strong accusation no matter how you cut it. Now, when someone looks at the title, they’re thinking “Holy shit! I play Angry Birds…the government is scooping up all my data while I play? Well, fuck!!!!” Which is exactly what the headline is meant to generate.

      Then, buried in the article, is the caveat that the information may contain. It’s bait and switch, pure and simple. Pull them in with a scary headline and hope that they just gloss over the caveats and qualifiers which pretty much contradicts their headline.

      The fact that you thought you could, oh so cleverly, take Bob to task by playing semantics while ignoring the semantics between what’s in the headline and what’s contained in the article which was a central part of Bob’s article pretty much proves you’re bad at semantics.

      You did exactly what Bob posited: “Most readers, in fact, only read half, while many readers don’t even bother to scroll. It’s becoming increasingly clear that this phenomenon is being exploited to the benefit of inciting outrage and paranoia, and thus clicks.” And proved him right. Congratulations.

    • Badgerite

      Oh, Jesus. The 4th Amendment does not apply to communications of foreigners.
      Never has. So how is this even about protecting our constitutional rights.
      Short answer is that it is not and never has been about that. It is about attacking American intelligence gathering around the world as if America, by doing what other nations do with impunity and certainly do not propose to stop doing, is somehow engaging in ‘human rights’ violations, which is ridiculous.

  • repugnicant

    Interesting that the center of all things Snowden, the Huffington Post, doesn’t even bother to link up the Angry Birds story, opting for a mere 4 short paragraphs after their doomsday headline.

  • CygnusX1isaHole

    …So this revelation wasn’t a case of the GCHQ or anything else spying on individual targets or innocent U.S. persons or whomever.

    —————–

    According to my read of the article the software Splunk is part of Squeaky Dolphin and therefore individuals could be targeted with the program.

    Starting with paragraph 19:

    More than a year prior to the demonstration, in a 2012 annual report, members of Parliament had complained that the U.K.’s intelligence agencies had missed the warning signs of the uprisings that became the Arab Spring of 2011, and had expressed the wish to improve “global” intelligence collection.

    During the presentation, according to a note on the documents, the presenters noted for their audience that “Squeaky Dolphin” was not intended for spying on specific people and their internet behavior. The note reads, “Not interested in individuals just broad trends!”

    But cyber-security experts told NBC News that once the information has been collected, intelligence agencies have the ability to extract some user information as well. In 2010, according to other Snowden documents obtained by NBC News, GCHQ exploited unencrypted data from Twitter to identify specific users around the world and target them with propaganda.

    • repugnicant

      You have the ability to take all your clothes off and run down the street naked. Am I to assume the worst?

      • Jason

        well…i guess we could just take the NSA’s word for it. Like, it isn’t as if the head of the NSA, James Clapper, has ever lied to congress or anything.

        • formerlywhatithink

          well…i guess we could just take Greenwalds and Snowdens word for it. Like, it isn’t as if Greenwald and Snowden has ever lied or anything.

        • http://www.au.org ReACTIONary

          If congress wants to ask serious questions about classified programs, they should do so in closed session. Clapper was set up. He did the best he could do under the circumstances.

          • Jason

            He is supposed to be able to answer “No” to that question and not be lying.

          • http://www.au.org ReACTIONary

            Since it is (or was at the time) a secret program, he had the responsibility under the law to not to reveal it. Doing so would have been a crime. The question should not have been asked in public, and it was a deliberate set-up to embarrass him.

      • S in DC

        Yeah, bingo. You can’t really bitch about people looking at public data or unecrypted data. If it’s not secure it’s free game.

        Just as you can’t leave a locker unlocked and expect it not to be opened, or you can’t expect privacy in your apartment with the blinds up, the same logic applies online.

        A huge portion of our population keeps doing the online equal of publishing multiple daily personal ads and life updates with their personal information, life history, and location attached. Then they act all up and arms when it turns out the government reads it.

        People need to be taking steps to make sure their information is private and not public. Some of those steps might involve giving up a few habits, but it doesn’t mean moving into siberia.

        • CygnusX1isaHole

          …You can’t really bitch about people looking at public data or unecrypted data. If it’s not secure it’s free game.

          ———–

          Does this mean that if I leave my front door unlocked the government is free to enter my house and search my possessions?

          How can you argue that my communications (encrypted or unencrypted) can be monitored, intercepted and stored by the government without a warrant based on probable cause and not also grant the government the right to enter my unlocked (or locked) home and monitor, inspect and take inventory of my belongings without a warrant based on probable cause?

          Both are flagrant violations of the 4th amendment.

          The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized

          If you’re willing to surrender your 4th amendment rights when it comes to your unencrypted communications where do you draw the line? Your home? Your person? Do you just surrender your 4th amendment rights entirely because you’re afraid of terrorists?

          • Badgerite

            The operative word here is “UNREASONABLE searches and seizures”, which, of course, does not outlaw all searches and seizures. And the reasonableness of the search depends on many factors one of which is what expectation of privacy a person may presume to have with respect to what is searched or seized.
            There are legally recognized exceptions to the warrant requirement. Quite a few. And the warrant requirement doesn’t even apply to information that one could be said to have NO REASONABLE EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY IN. POSTED YOU TUBE VIDEOS WOULD HAVE TO FALL WITHIN THE CATEGORY.
            Those are posted on a public website, after all. For any and all to see. To proclaim that covered by the 4th Amendment is so ridiculous as to defy description.

          • CygnusX1isaHole

            Can’t you at least wait until Scalia, Roberts, Alito and Thomas are allowed to rule in favor of warrantless mass surveillance before you celebrate the death of the 4th amendment?

          • Badgerite

            No reason to reply to gibberish.

          • Jason

            And yet here you are.

          • Badgerite

            And yet I am. Whatever that is supposed to mean.

          • Badgerite

            On second thought, I think you presume too much when you presume how any one of these justices will vote on this issue. As was stated by Eric Posner ( professor of law, Chicago University) the SCOTUS could go either way on the metadata case. And Scalia can surprise you sometimes. He was one of the votes on a split court that found the burning of the American flag in a protest was an act of political speech and thereby activity protected by the First Amendment. The case was
            Texas v Johnson 491 US 397 (1989). The case was a 5/4 vote.
            The opinion was written by Justice Brennan, and he was joined by Justices Marshall ( That’s Thurgood Marshall, the man who argued Brown vs Board of Education before the Supreme Court) , Blackmun,
            Kennedy AND Scalia. So. If you know how those particular justices are going to vote on such an case of first impression, you are far more prescient than I.

          • formerlywhatithink

            You understand that YouTube does not guarantee any confidentiality with respect to any Content you submit.

            For clarity, you retain all of your ownership rights in your Content. However, by submitting Content to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content in connection with the Service and YouTube’s (and its successors’ and affiliates’) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Service (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels. You also hereby grant each user of the Service a non-exclusive license to access your Content through the Service, and to use, reproduce, distribute.

            These blurbs are from Youtubes TOS. Google can do whatever it wants to anything you upload to Youtube, and you have no say in it. In fact, by uploading, the user explicitly gives those rights to Google. Therefore, anything the government access through Youtube, the only one who can make any grumbles about it is Google, not you because you signed away those rights.

            Almost any digital communication system will have similar terms in their TOS. You’re arguing about the 4th Amendment, but when the government goes through a service like Youtube, there is no 4th Amendment right involved. Now, if the government wants the identity of the youtube user, then they need to get a warrant. But trawling through Youtube? Nope, you gave away your rights when you uploaded the video by agreeing to the TOS.

            Maybe if people actually read the TOS’s involved with their digital lives, they would have a better understanding of how, when and why the 4th Amendment gets involved and when it doesn’t. At least it would let them sound like they actually know what they’re talking about instead making knee jerk pronouncements which just makes them look foolish.

          • CygnusX1isaHole

            Therefore, anything the government access through Youtube, the only one who can make any grumbles about it is Google, not you because you signed away those rights.

            ————–

            The only way I can sign away my constitutional rights is if I renounce my citizenship.

            A TOS agreement between YouTube and its users does not supersede my constitutional rights.

            To make such a claim is beyond ridiculous.

          • Badgerite

            You have no constitutional right to have what you post on a public website NOT viewed by the government. That is ridiculous.
            It is a public website. There IS no expectation of privacy there. Christ.

          • CygnusX1isaHole

            I was refuting your claim that a TOS agreement between YouTube and its users cancels out or supersedes my 4th amendment rights.

          • formerlywhatithink

            As for who can view what you put on Youtube, as Badgerite has been saying, YOU HAVE NO 4TH AMENDMENT RIGHTS TO CLAIM. You gave consent to let anyone view what you posted. Putting up a video on Youtube then claiming your 4th Amendment rights are violated when the government looks at it is idiotic. Jesus, following your argument, every reporter, writer, blogger, newscaster, actor, et al can claim 4th Amendment violations because the government looked at something they themselves put into the public domain.

          • Badgerite

            That was the artist known as formerlywhatithink’s comment, not mine
            Leave aside for the moment the fact that what you post on a public forum like You Tube has no reasonable expectation of privacy which is necessary for the law to consider the perusal of it a ‘search’ within the meaning of the 4th Amendment, a TOS agreement whereby you are informed by the operator of the site that they retain the legal right to do what they wish with your content does indeed sign away your 4th Amendment rights. That was the basis of the SCOTUS decision in Smith v Maryland ( ring a bell). And that basis is that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in information that is voluntarily given to a third party with the expectation that that information can be used or shared with whoever the third party chooses.
            Here is what you need for the 4th Amendment to be triggered:
            a REASONABLE EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY IN THE THING TO BE SEARCHED. Without that, what occurs is not a ‘search’ within the meaning of the 4th Amendment.
            THERE IS NO REASONABLE EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY WHERE THE AGREEMENT YOU ACCEPT EXPRESSLY STATES OTHERWISE. That would be your TOS.

          • angriestdogintheworld

            So tired of the NSA’s bedwetting defenders.

      • Badgerite

        Oh, that’s good. Kudos.

  • CL Nicholson

    Wow, it must be a really slow news day, because Obama now cares how often you’re playing Angry Bird. Uh-uh. This Snowden stuff is the network talking head /liberal think piece equivalent of the 11:00 local news where its basically one over-inflated scare piece after another.

  • formerlywhatithink

    Anytime some idiotic, hyperbolic “story” based on Snowden is published, it should be mandated that the line:

    **Not Intended To Be A Factual Statement

    should have to be part of the title in the same size font. It would save a lot of time: the morons who eat that crap up would still eat it up with the same zeal and gusto, and the rest of us can go about our day without the din of “reporting” ( which has now morphed into sensationalist headlines which are actually contradictory to the facts) that organizations which have hitched themselves Snowden and Greenwald routinely engage in.

    My second question is does the average user of apps like Angry Birds understand the level of information that apps like it cull from their devices and transmit back to the developers? And do they also understand that that data is up for sale to the highest bidder? I seriously doubt it. Now, without a doubt, there’s going to be some sanctimonious douche libertarian who’s going to argue that people chose to download the app, which is a bullshit argument. There’s a reason why TOS’s are pages and pages long crammed full of legalese which would make most lawyers despair, let alone granny who wants to play Angry Birds: to confuse and obfuscate what the software does with information you may or may not know it is accessing.

    Given a choice between a government agency who must get a warrant to access any specific information about me or a corporation that has absolutely no reins on what information it can take from me and do with it as it wills, with no recourse for me to pursue to stop it, yeah, I’ll go with the court overseen government agency. And for you douches libertarians who argue about free market rules and accountability, hopefully it won’t take a piece a of junk mail addressed to the man who lost his daughter in an accident to change your mind. I highly doubt that man gave that information to OfficeMax, which means OfficeMax bought it from another company, who probably paid another company to sift and correlate any data on that particular individual. And of course OfficeMax won’t say what company they got the data from.

    http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-officemax-mail-20140119,0,6457094.story

    • David Atkins

      There is a reason that tech entrepreneurs are billionaires; it’s not because they are nice guys and it’s not from the sale of cool toys.

      There is a lot of value in those scraps of data, and the tech boys have moneterized it to the hilt.

  • elgallorojo

    > doesn’t mean NSA is collecting it

    Of course it doesn’t. The NSA’s operational philosophy is “Collect It All,” but those are only words, and not the bulletproof evidence against it that Bob presents here in this article. Score one more for #TeamNSA!

    • formerlywhatithink

      You’re at the wrong website. For moronic, hyperbolic screeches not grounded in reality, you want to go here —-> dailykos

      • bbiemeret

        HAHAHAHA!

      • elgallorojo

        “Collect it all.” That’s how an anonymous former senior intelligence officer describes National Security Agency Director General Keith Alexander’s approach to personal data in a story in today’s Washington Post.

        • trgahan

          Really? Buying a no context quote from an “anonymous senior intelligence officer”?

          Confirmation meet bias. Bias meet confirmation.

          • David Atkins

            An anonymous former senior intelligence officer tells me that elgallorojo pees in his own cornflackes, to the dismay of some on the left.

          • Kitty Smith

            Why the fuck do you pee in your cornflakes, elgallorojo? That’s *disgusting*.

        • Badgerite

          And what personal data would that be. Foreign or domestic?
          Or is that with respect to metadata ( call patterns )? Not very specific and no link, which would be appreciated or at least title of the article and who wrote it.

      • David Atkins

        Sounds to me like he’s more of a firebagger than a kossack.

        But that’s quibbling, as all the hysterical goobers get along together just fine. For all we know he’s a regular on the Smirking Chimp – where even the moderator is getting exasperated at the gibbering loons and the comments they hork up.

  • Scopedog

    Bob, once again you’ve done it–putting things in perspective so the rest of us don’t have to lose our s**t. Thanks.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bobcesca_go Bob Cesca

      My pleasure.

      • CygnusX1isaHole

        …So the question needs to be asked again: why, if there’s no evidence of these operations being used unlawfully against the general public, are these articles in the public interest?

        ——————

        Are you honestly asking the question if wholesale government monitoring of internet activity is something the public should know about?

        Again, from the article:

        “Governments have no business knowing which YouTube videos everyone in the world is watching,” said Chris Soghoian, chief technologist for the ACLU. “It’s one thing to spy on a particular person who has done something to warrant a government investigation but governments have no business monitoring the Facebook likes or YouTube views of hundreds of millions of people.”

        • formerlywhatithink

          Really? Monitoring internet traffic for trends and patterns is an abuse of government? You do know how information gathering, whether by the government or corporations, is done, right? It’s done by monitoring internet trends and traffic. If a youtube video or a facebook site generates a large number of views, yes, people will be interested in the why of it. Now, if it turns out that the video was of someone’s cat licking a baby, chances are the government will move on, whereas a corporation will hoover up all the user names, try to match it with real world identities and then sell that information to the highest bidder (I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty tired of Google asking me to use my actual name on Youtube). If it’s a particularly controverservial video or facebook page, and the government wants to dig deeper into the users, they will need a court order concerning any American citizens. For foreign citizens, no court order as the Fourth Amendment doesn’t applly. But corporations, again, will vacuum up all the user names, try to match it with real world identities and then sell that information to the highest bidder, no court order needed.

          And it’s not as if governments were locked up in a secret room somewhere, furtively pounding away on keyboards, tracking youtube videos. They were using commercially available software. What’s next? How dare governments use Google to search the internet? Or how about we light torches and polish pitchforks over government use of, gasp, MS Office?!?!?! After all, what right does the government have to have the ability to read any document generated by private citizens (dun, dun, dunnnn)…everyday?!?!?!?! Then we’ll have to make sure that governments can’t watch or monitor news stations, newspapers, magazines…

          • David Atkins

            The truth doesn’t matter. The goobers are convinced that the NSA is watching them masturbate via radio frequency hardware hacked into their computers, and they are determined to freak out over every lurid allegation until Congress pulls the plug on the whole internet.

            We have become a nation of bed wetters: can it be true that our fathers once put a man on the moon?

          • CygnusX1isaHole

            Why are you so terribly frightened of a virtually non-existent threat called terrorism that you’re willing to surrender your constitutional rights? Stop being so afraid. It’s pathetic. Don’t you understand that your constitutional rights are the only source of your safety?

          • Badgerite

            Non existent? If it is non existent right now it is for a reason and that reason would not be because the people who attacked New York and Washington have lost interest or intent. It is because they are otherwise occupied fending off the pursuit of people like those in the NSA. In order for the constitution to protect my rights, the United States must exist and be protected from attack by those who do not agree with those rights, one of which is freedom of religion.

          • CygnusX1isaHole

            Investigation after investigation has found that bulk collection of metadata has not proven effective in stopping terror attacks and is most likely unconstitutional.

            http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/nsa-surveillance-obamas-experts-recommend-end-nsa-phone/story?id=21265133
            http://news.yahoo.com/u-privacy-board-says-nsa-phone-program-illegal-122726527–sector.html

            A federal court judge also ruled the program unconstitutional.

            http://www.politico.com/story/2013/12/national-security-agency-phones-judge-101203.html

            If you want to make terror attacks as rare as asteroid strikes the U.S. needs to stop trying to control every country on the globe. Remove all troops, bases, special forces, stop interfering in the affairs of other nations and propping up dictators. Pay reparations to the nations we’ve destroyed and hold our leaders legally accountable.

            The world would celebrate our dedication to the rule of law and decency and this would become the framework for all nations to follow.

            The trillions of dollars thrown down the crapper of needless wars, illegal spying and black budget operations could be used to feed the world lifting billions of people from lives of desperation. Terror attacks would ground down to nothing as people who aren’t forced to fight for life every day are far less inclined to resort to acts of violence.

            Humanity might then have just enough time to avoid catastrophic climate change extinction by refocusing its intelligence, effort and money on building a clean energy infrastructure for the centuries beyond.

          • formerlywhatithink

            This:

            “The world would celebrate our dedication to the rule of law…”

            from one of the biggest cheerleaders for someone who broke countless numbers of laws by stealing and disseminating classified material.

            And this:

            “A federal court judge also ruled the program unconstitutional.”

            is a blatant lie. Even the title of the article you linked to proves it:

            Judge: NSA phone program likely unconstitutional

            The judge punted and sent to the Appellate Court.

            And, this judge ruled what the NSA does as being,completely Constitutional (not likely but is).

            http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/nsa-collection-of-phone-data-is-lawful-federal-judge-rules/2013/12/27/4b99d96a-6f19-11e3-a523-fe73f0ff6b8d_story.html

            And this one, too, will end up at the Appellate Court. And, one or both will end up in the Supreme Court.

          • Badgerite

            Formerlywhatithink has replied pretty well to your misrepresentations. But I’ll weigh in as well.
            The federal courts, as of this writing have not decided the issue as your say. One judge found the program in question MIGHT be unconstitutional and another judge found that it WAS constitutional and when the lower courts disagree, the issue is, in all likelihood going up to the SCOTUS for resolution.
            Likewise the two judges who have heard evidence in the case disagree as to the effectiveness and therefore the need for the program.
            I, myself, am content to wait for the arguments before the SCOTUS and to see what the arguments are. And, for their decision. Unlike you, I am not convinced as to what they will rule. I have no idea. They could go either way.
            As to your last paragraphs, OMG. That is just bizarre.
            So when was it that the Saudi millionaire Bin Ladin was forced to “fight for life everyday”? Al Qaeda is not now, nor has it ever been motivated by any ‘humanitarian’ concerns. It was the United States that tried to bring some order and therefore some humanitarian relief to a starving Somalia when Al Qaeda was working with war lords there who stole and hoarded the food, attacked and killed US soldiers and left their own people to starve by roadside.
            Al Qaeda was not interested in feeding people in Somalia. They were then and are now trying to impose and Islamic theocracy on the people who live there.
            And if the US “removes all troops, bases, special forces, and stops interfering in the affairs of other nations” what would result is not some great Pax Non Americana. What would result is a power vacuum that would be filled by some other nation.
            We did withdraw from Iraq. It has not resulted in peace. It will not result in peace if we withdraw from Afghanistan. Pakistan and India are mortal enemies and they seem to care more about that than following a noble example set by a peaceful, withdrawing United
            States. Yemen will not suddenly stop its civil war if the US suddenly is nowhere to be found in the region. Somehow in your mind you make the US the cause of these conflicts. The US is not the cause. All of these conflicts will continue, whether the US is involved or not.
            “The world would celebrate our dedication to the rule of law and decency.”
            Oh please. One of the reasons that Bin Ladin advocated striking the US is because he argued that America was a ‘paper tiger’ and that if he hit us hard, the US would simply withdraw from the region. And this would give Al Qaeda a free hand to remold the governments of the region into fundamentalist Islamic theocracies, which is their ultimate goal. I don’t think global warming is on the list of what they are fighting for.

        • Badgerite

          Why not. It is kind of public information, isn’t it? What’s more the person who killed Theo Van Gogh viewed a lot of Islamic snuff videos on line. So they actually do have a reason for looking at these things.

      • trgahan

        By actually reading the entirety of each article….good job!

        To me, the degree in which both articles are engineered takes them out of the realm of journalism and into the neighborhood of propaganda.

        • Badgerite

          I think they have been in that area for a long time. These ‘revelations’ just don’t have anything to do with the 4th Amendment. Not really. They divulge tactical methods used by western intelligence services, mostly.