Tag Archives: John Mccain

Midterms & Mass Surveillance, Part II: CIA and Elite Torturers Win, The Rule of Law Loses

DilbertCorporateCulture2002

We lack in this country a major party that offers wholehearted and universal support for the protections embodied in the Bill of Rights, and the choices offered are often highly constrained. To take the last two presidential elections as an example, the more pro-civil-liberties of the major-party candidates has launched more Espionage Act prosecutions than all previous presidents combined; indefinitely detains legally innocent people, for fear of what they might do if released; allows agencies to gin up fake terror plots; calls the idea of actually prosecuting torturers “sanctimonious“; and would prefer a cosmetic surveillance reform that legitimates most of what the deep state is doing and that, of course, wouldn’t punish anyone. The less pro-civil-liberties candidates argued for unending war in the Middle East, invited warmongers and torturers to introduce them at campaign stops, and argued that affording due process to prisoners of war would be a kind of treason.

There’s a reason for this constrained choice set: The elites of both parties no longer, if they ever did, believe that laws apply to them, their colleagues, their funders, or the intelligence agencies. As a result of this culture of lawlessness, no candidate that genuinely seeks to have laws apply universally will garner the insider support needed to advance their candidacies.

We will see the effects of this constrained choice set in the new Congress most clearly in the field of prosecutions for US government acts of torture.

Let’s review the history.

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Quit Throwing 9/11 In Our Faces

This letter makes me sick at heart. The very people who were supposed to defend our country, who even now parade onto talk shows and give interviews about the NSA scandal like people of authority, stand revealed as corrupt and depraved.

WTC_memorial_0906+

They failed to prevent 9/11. Perhaps even then the volume of data was so great that they simply didn’t notice, or were unable to integrate, the information they had. But they should have been able to learn from their failure, and instead, they covered it up, and their cover-ups and their lies have cost many thousands more lives. Michael Hayden, Dick Cheney, Robert Mueller, and all the people who have made it so easy for the NSA to lie to us for so long, shame on all of you.

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

The NSA had collected critical information (relating to calls made by AA-77 hijacker Khalid al-Mihdhar from the US to Yemen) that could have thwarted 9/11, but decided for unknown reasons not to share that information beyond the NSA. They then covered it up, instead of admitting it so that we could learn from it and improve what we were doing.

Before 9/11, the NSA had developed a surveillance program called THINTHREAD, which would have integrated intelligence findings while automatically encrypting all US persons’ communications, and which would have required a court order based on probable cause for their decryption. Gen. Michael Hayden, the same Hayden whose understanding of the Fourth Amendment was so poor that he insisted that it doesn’t contain the words “probable cause,” scotched THINTHREAD in favor of unencrypted bulk surveillance of Americans (STELLARWIND), and a boondoggle called TRAILBLAZER that previewed our occupation of Iraq by failing massively while massively enriching Hayden’s contractor friends.

Now, thanks to their addiction to mass collection, the NSA has admitted that it is indeed drowning in data it cannot process. Its apologists scurry round spreading fear about reforms that would actually make their work more restrained and effective, and in a last, desperate throw of the dice, they are invoking the shadow of 9/11 – the same 9/11 that their bulk surveillance failed to thwart last time around. These days, the only terrorist attacks they seem capable of thwarting are the ones they gin up in advance, but no matter: making the NSA conform to the Constitution will not KEEP US SAFE.

You know that on this blog I tend not to use the swears. This time, I do use the swears:

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