NSA Admits: Okay, Okay, There Have Been A Bunch Of Intentional Abuses, Including Spying On Love Interests

from the and-we're-just-now-telling-congress dept

So, this week, we wrote about the NSA quietly admitting that there had been intentional abuses of its surveillance infrastructure, despite earlier claims by NSA boss Keith Alexander and various folks in Congress that there had been absolutely no "intentional" abuses. Late on Friday (of course) the NSA finally put out an official statement admitting to an average of one intentional abuser per year over the past ten years. The AP is reporting that at least one of the abuses involved an NSA employee spying on a former spouse. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal suggests that spying on love interests happens somewhat more often:
The practice isn’t frequent — one official estimated a handful of cases in the last decade — but it’s common enough to garner its own spycraft label: LOVEINT.
A handful is still significantly more than once. And it's a lot more than the "zero" times we'd been told about repeatedly by defenders of the program.

While the NSA says it takes these abuses seriously, there's no indication that the analyst was fired.

Much more troubling is that it appears that the NSA only told its oversight committee in the Senate about all of this a few days ago:
The Senate Intelligence Committee was briefed this week on the willful violations by the NSA's inspector general's office, as first reported by Bloomberg.

"The committee has learned that in isolated cases over the past decade, a very small number of NSA personnel have violated NSA procedures — in roughly one case per year," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who chairs the committee, said in a statement Friday.
Of course, this is the same Dianne Feinstein who, exactly a week ago, said the following:
As I have said previously, the committee has never identified an instance in which the NSA has intentionally abused its authority to conduct surveillance for inappropriate purposes.
Yeah. Because apparently the NSA chose not to tell the committee until a few days later, despite it happening for years.

And, of course, they release this all on a Friday night, hoping that it'll avoid the news cycle...

In the meantime, the NSA just made Senator Feinstein look like a complete fool. She's been its strongest defender in Congress for years, and has stood up for it time and time again, despite all of this questionable activity. Then, last week, it lets her tell lies about it without telling her beforehand that there had been such abuses. At this point, it's abundantly clear that Feinstein's "oversight" of the NSA is a joke. She's either incompetent or lying. Either way, it appears that the NSA is running circles around her, and isn't subject to any real Congressional oversight. At some point, you'd think that maybe she'd stop defending it and actually start doing her job when it comes to oversight. You'd think the fact that it let her make a complete fool of herself by claiming there had been no intentional abuses should make Feinstein realize that the NSA situation is out of control. But, tragically, this seems unlikely. Even her statement seems to want to minimize the seriousness of the fact that she -- the person in charge of oversight -- was completely kept in the dark about very serious intentional abuses. Senator Feinstein just got hung out to dry by the NSA. You'd think she'd stop going to bat for it and its lies.

Either way, we've now gone from General Keith Alexander and Feinstein claiming "no abuses," to them saying no "intentional" abuses, to this latest admission of plenty of intentional abuses, including spying on lovers. Perhaps, instead of lying, it's time for the NSA to come clean and to get some real oversight.


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  1.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 7:29pm

    Had to tweet this at her...

    How does it feel to have the NSA make you look like a fool? No abuse, no intentional abuse, huh? The NSA admits to abuse now.

    So, Senator, what is your response to all of this?

     

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    Namel3ss (profile), Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 7:55pm

    Feinstein should have been run out of town on a rail years ago. She's right up there with Schumer, Durbin, Rangel and the like.

    Let her keep it up, every time she carries the NSA's water she ends up all wet.

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 7:57pm

    isolated... ummm yeah
    How many times do they get to lie before we stop listening?

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 7:58pm

    Doing the job

    At some point, you'd think that maybe she'd stop defending it and actually start doing her job when it comes to oversight.

    At some point, you'd think that maybe voters would stop voting for this and actually start doing their job when it comes to elections.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 8:15pm

    With the way they lie

    An admission to one abuse is surely equal to thousands. Can't believe one damn thing any of them say.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 8:35pm

    Or celebrities

    Bet someone has had a look. Oooh -- maybe some UK types have been selling celebrity intercepts to the tabloid press! That would put a different spin on the phone hacking mess.

     

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  7.  
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    Uriel-238 (profile), Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 8:36pm

    One abuse a year...

    ...that they're willing to admit.

    As AC notes the NSA is not very good at coming clean about anything.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 8:43pm

    WSJ sources

    As part of the bigger picture, notice that the Wall Street Journal is developing their stories from non-Snowden sources. Brave and patriotic people seem to be talking to them about NSA abuses.

     

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  9.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 8:45pm

    Re: One abuse a year...

    ...that they're willing to admit.


    Or that they know about....

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 8:55pm

    Re: Re: One abuse a year...

    Would someone please go through whatever Marcy's on about with “NSA’s Inspector General Appears to Be Disappearing 299 Deliberate Violations a Year”.

    Somehow, I think whatever she's saying is relevant to this “one abuse a year” claim. But—but—it's late on a Friday, and I'm tired, and I can't quite figure it out. I've read through her post twice without any real comprehension, and have just come to the conclusion that it's late on Friday evening and I'm tired.

     

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    Postulator (profile), Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 9:03pm

    One has to wonder what exactly the NSA has on Feinstein. It must be pretty juicy to keep her in line.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 9:03pm

    So how does Feinstein feel about being thrown under the bus by those she's supposed to oversee? Doesn't take much of a fool to realize something is wrong when you get blindsided at a news conference with documented evidence that all she and the NSA have been saying is all a pack of lies.

    One news reporter claimed that the NSA was loosing it's believability. Sounds to me more like another trying to cover up what's already been exposed. No the NSA is far past loosing it's creditability and we are now looking at the government for how much is there. So far doesn't appear to be any to be found there either with a few rare exceptions.

    I'm still wanting to know what Obama knew and if he purposely lied to try and cover it all up. It's quite evident from his actions in trying to control whistle blowers what he thinks. He's uncomfortable with being exposed for what he is doing much less for what his underlings are doing.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 9:24pm

    Credibility [was Re: ]

    One news reporter claimed that the NSA was loosing it's believability.


    Back in June, the New York Times said that the Obama administration had lost its credibility on this issue. Past tense. “Lost”. That was back in June.

    President Obama’s Dragnet”, by the Editorial Board, New York Times, June 6, 2013
    The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue.
    That editorial position made news waves on its own. You can google for news stories covering that New York Times opinion.

    Now some other reporter —unnamed— says they're losing credibility? Present tense. “Losing”. Really?

     

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  14.  
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    Renee, Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 9:46pm

    No intentional Abuse? Did Feinstein read the FISC Opinion?

    I honestly cannot believe the position of Feinstein and others especially since the release of the FISC opinion on Wednesday. In paticular read page 16 footnote 14:
    "The Court is troubled that the government's revelations regarding NSA's acquisition of Internet transaction marks the third instance in less than three years in which the government has disclosed a substantial misrepresentation regarding the scope of a major collection program. In March 2009, the Court concluded that its authorization of the NSA's bulk acquisition of telephone call detail records from [redacted out] in the so-called 'big-business records' matter "ha[d] been premised on a flawed depiction of how the NSA uses [the acquired] metadata, " and "[t]his misperception by FISC existed from the inception of its authorized collection in May 2006, butressed by repeated inaccurate statements made in the government's submissions, and despite a government-devised and court mandated oversight regime" "Contrary to the government's repeated assurances, NSA has been routinely running queries of the metadata using quering terms that did not meet the required standard of querying. The Court concluded that this requirement had been "so frequently and systematically violated that it can fairly be said that this critical element of the overall...regime has never functioned effectively."

    The Court is troubled that the government's revelations regarding NSA's acquisition of Internet transaction marks the third instance in less than three years in which the government has disclosed a substantial misrepresentation regarding the scope of a major collection program. In March 2009, the Court concluded that its authorization of the NSA's bulk acquisition of telephone call detail records from [redacted out] in the so-called 'big-business records' matter "ha[d] been premised on a flawed depiction of how the NSA uses [the acquired] metadata, " and "[t]his misperception by FISC existed from the inception of its authorized collection in May 2006, butressed by repeated inaccurate statements made in the government's submissions, and despite a government-devised and court mandated oversight regime" "Contrary to the government's repeated assurances, NSA has been routinely running queries of the metadata using quering terms that did not meet the required standard of querying. The Court concluded that this requirement had been "so frequently and systematically violated that it can fairly be said that this critical element of the overall...regime has never functioned effectively."

    My question is why isn't the court penalizing the NSA for these flagrent abuses? Isn't there a legal charge for misrepresenting information to a court?

    When a court who regularly reviews requests to collect information writes something like this it's clear that the Emperor is running around in his underoos.

     

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    Rob McMillin (profile), Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 10:10pm

    Re: Had to tweet this at her...

    DiFi is either a tool or an idiot. Neither reflects well on her.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 10:27pm

    Re: No intentional Abuse? Did Feinstein read the FISC Opinion?

    Isn't there a legal charge for misrepresenting information to a court?


    It's not really a big deal when a government attorney does it.

    For instance, see “Federal Prosecutor Disciplined for Making False Statements”, Blog of Legal Times, August 8, 2013
    Earlier this summer, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Snyder received an informal admonition from the D.C. Office of Bar Counsel. He was accused of making false statements to a judge…

    An informal admonition is the lightest form of discipline available.…

    Not really a big deal for a government attorney.

    No big deal.

     

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    HegemonicDistortion (profile), Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 10:47pm

    Twice a fool

    Sen. Feinstein also claimed that she didn't know about the Inpector General's report that first reported the thousands of NSA violations. Great oversight there Dianne. Thank Cthulhu we have you to protect our rights.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 12:24am

    http://edition.cnn.com/2013/08/21/justice/west-virginia-judge-conspiracy-charge

    Abuse of power, we all know it happens, we all know why most of the time it happens, but somehow congress believes we should grant unprecedented access to people without any effective safeguards in place and it will magically.

    What is hysterical on all of this, is that the government is made up of people, the same people as people on the streets, with the same basic psychological characteristics of most of the population, so if you can't trust the public why do you trust a public servant in the first place?

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 12:31am

    guess who knows where ALL the skeletons are buried....

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 12:32am

    Re: Twice a fool

    You think she knows what day of the week it is?

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 1:21am

    I'd just like to point out, having worked with the kind of people who if things had gone differently could very well have wound up working for the NSA, the fact that the phrase LOVEINT exists doesn't even necessarily mean it happened once, just kidding around about spying on a (potential/ex) mate could very well have generated the phrase, and once it was uttered, it would never go away.

    That being said, having worked with those kinds of people, I'd be mildly surprised if it averaged out to only once per year per person.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 1:27am

    Re:

    I'd bet that anyone with access did it daily.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 2:51am

    Re: Credibility [was Re: ]

    "You can google for news stories covering that New York Times opinion."

    Or, you can search for news stories using a search engine that isn't run by a pack of lying, MAFIAA/NSA-collaborating fascist fucks who couldn't care less about privacy...

    DuckDuckGo and Ixquick/Startpage come to mind.

     

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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Aug 24th, 2013 @ 3:12am

    Re: Re: One abuse a year...

    Or that they know about....
    Or that they pulled out of their ass as a non-scary number they hope might be believable because in reality they don't care and don't count how much goes on...

     

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  25. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 3:56am

    A handful of cases in the last decade = worst thing ever.

    Millions of instances of copyright infringement in the last decade = no prob.

    Raging douchenozzle Mike Masnick in a nutshell.

     

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  26.  
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    Cory VanderYach, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 4:24am

    Re: Re: One abuse a year...

    ...that they can't cover up as a mistake.

    Is easy to cover up intentional administrative spying as an accident. They just have to get a court order for something close, then the operator or programmer inserts a "typo". That's where the thousands of "unintentional" abuses occur.

    In the case of LOVEINT, is pretty tough to try to cover that up, since it wasn't planned ahead of time, and fairly easy to call BS on.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 4:27am

    I really really hope they publish the right number in the news next week. I don't think 1 pr year is enough for it to be true... not pre snowden anyway. They don't even know what he took so how are they supposed to keep an eye on 1000's of analysts and millions of searches? There will be bad people in any group who can't resist to misuse power and I wonder if the NSA think we are so stupid that to think no misuse have ever taken place. It's almost like saying that no people have ever been wrongfully executed in the US like one politician tried to do once... No faults at all (or in the case of NSA: so few faults) are just not possible... especially given what we know about their oversight now.

     

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  28.  
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    I_am_so_smrt (profile), Aug 24th, 2013 @ 4:47am

    Re: Doing the job

    Elections? Where do you think all that campaign big-data came from?

     

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  29.  
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    Paul Renault (profile), Aug 24th, 2013 @ 5:11am

    It reminds me of that old joke..

    So, would you go to bed with me for a million dollars?
    -Oh yeah, I would.
    -Would you go to bed with me for a dollar?
    -No way! What kind of a girl do you think I am?
    -Oh, that's already been established, I'm just negotiating a price.

     

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  30.  
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    Chris-Mouse (profile), Aug 24th, 2013 @ 5:45am

    Is it past time to disband the NSA entirely?

    Given the NSA's willingness to lie to those in charge, it's pretty obvious that nothing the NSA says can be trusted. That would include the intelligence reports that are the NSA's entire reason for existing. There's no reason to pay for reports you can't trust, so why not fire the entire agency, and divert the money elsewhere to something that's at least useful for more than a good source of bird cage liner material.

     

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  31.  
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    fjpoblam, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 6:03am

    Re: Doing the job

    Yeah, indeed, you'd (I'd) think voters would stop voting for this...but they don't. And voters keep electing the likes of Mitch McConnell, one of the most corrupt. All these NSA-enabling congresscritters were put there and keep being put there by our "pards" at the ballot box. We have met the enemy and he is us.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 6:21am

    Re: No intentional Abuse? Did Feinstein read the FISC Opinion?

    Why bother reading when your internal headspace is God?

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 6:37am

    Re: Re: Doing the job

    We have met the enemy and he is us.

    Well then, maybe it's a good thing the NSA is spying the fuck all over those dirty enemies!

     

     

    ;-)

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 7:08am

    Re:

    What makes you think she's not in on it? Based on her history, I believe she hates Civil Liberties. I wouldn't be the list bit surprised if she was trying to work with the NSA to keep the program going.

     

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  35.  
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    Robert, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 7:40am

    Re: Had to tweet this at her...

    Now this from the agency that was just meant to gather intelligence and prevent attacks.
    Now who did they had over all that private information and what did they do with it.
    Another NSA deceit, where did all that information go, who got it and what did they do with it. What other three letter agencies are incolved.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 7:43am

    Re: Doing the job

    And what... put the other wacko party in place that would do the same thing AND coddle the rich?

    And don't pretend there is a 3rd choice.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 7:46am

    Re: Re:

    I wouldn't be the list bit surprised if she was trying to work with the NSA to keep the program going.

    Wow.

    That's pretty harsh, dude.   You really think that DiFi is working with the NSA?  C'mon…     DiFi?   Really?   Wow.  

    DiFi working with the NSA.   The Senator from California.   Working with the NSA.   Can you believe it?

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 7:52am

    Re: Doing the job

    It doesn't matter. Different face same incompetence. You don't elect the people in charge of that shit, they're nominated.

    You just can't expect people do to do their jobs, not in 2013.

     

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  39.  
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    PlayNicely, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 7:57am

    Vote 3rd Party

    I've said it before: If the outcome does not include significant numbers of voters to vote against the twins (who always get 95% of the vote) they know they can get away with anything. This has to be one of the most blatant and shameless abuses of power in the post-war west (not in terms of violence, but in terms of unconstitutional activity). If we fail to bring about serious consequences it will be open season for our rights, as the trick of using secret courts and simulated congressional oversight in the name of national security stands validated.

    We need to vote 3rd party (or in the case of europe non-established civil-rights-oriented parties), not necessarily to get them into power (it will be very difficult to achieve that) but to make them viable, to demonstrate that your vote has to be earned by the 95%-parties and to show that you are not fooled by the pretend partisanship circus.

    Obama has not only fooled the liberals into thinking he would do things differently. Conservatives' strong opposition indicated that they also expected him to be very easily distinguishable from a republican president, which he simply isn't. If Obama has shown us one thing it is that voting the lesser of two evils doesn't work. We must vote against both of them.

     

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  40.  
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    PlayNicely, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 8:14am

    Re: Is it past time to disband the NSA entirely?

    Dismantling them seems extreme but it might even be necessary:

    Given the inner logic of mass surveillance and its official justification (that it enhances security), a hypothetically seriously weakened but still existent agency will have a strong incentive to demonstrate that its weakening has indeed led to a significant loss of security. So they might tend to not prevent attacks that they could have prevented with their remaining tools.

    So, no matter wether mass surveillance actually leads to a significant gain in security or not we can expect a weakening of the nsa to lead to a real loss of security. The problem is: those two cases (actual versus simulated loss of security) might be indistinguishable and that will be a very difficult propaganda battle.

    To prevent that scenario completely dismantling the agencies (and starting foreign intelligence from scratch) seems to be the only option.

     

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  41.  
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    CommonSense (profile), Aug 24th, 2013 @ 8:35am

    Re: Re: Doing the job

    Stop pretending there isn't a third choice you immensely ignorant FOOL!!!!

    That's at least 75% of the problem right now, and why we don't vote these idiots out of office. Because people like you still think there's only an "us or them" choice to make. Our 'two party system' hasn't really worked for us since Kennedy was shot, or even before that. But we still forget that WE CAST THE VOTES! WE IMPACT POLICY! All to the extent that we take action to do so.

    When idiots like you stop thinking the choice is between bad and worse and there's nothing we can do about it, and start looking for GOOD CANDIDATES outside the giftboxes that, let's face it, the huge corporations that are the DNC and RNC place neatly in the middle of your favorite TV show with messages that have been field tested to make you like them...Maybe, just maybe then we'll get some meaningful change. But honestly, for the sake humanity, progress, and all things good, if you just want to spout off about how you're too weak and ignorant to make an effort at improving the world, just keep it to yourself. Because those of us that do want things to get better don't need you gunking up the gears of change.

     

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  42.  
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    AC Unknown, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 8:35am

    Re:

    Where's your citations?

     

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  43.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Aug 24th, 2013 @ 8:48am

    Re:

    Shut up, retard. The NSA spying on the entirety of the US is a far worse problem, even with just this handful of confirmed cases, than even millions of confirmed copyright infringements. FAR FAR worse.

     

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  44.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Aug 24th, 2013 @ 9:17am

    Re: Re: Twice a fool

    You think she knows what day of the week it is?

    She knows of 2 days in the week...

    1: Show up and not work.
    2: Vacation time.

     

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  45.  
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    assemblerhead (profile), Aug 24th, 2013 @ 9:20am

    Police State

    Mike,
    Some questions / concerns / thoughts I would like to express on the NSA / Police State mess. ( Yes, you can use this for a posting if you want :)

    I am going to list them in no particular order.

    I. Database Logging Disabled

    It seems that the NSA has disabled ALL logging on its collective database. ( The current leaks are of old log reports. )

    No logging of who is accessing.
    No logging of what is accessed.
    No logging of what is copied / modified / deleted.

    Why?

    No abuses logged / reported.
    No policy violations logged / reported.
    No evidence of illegal activity logged / reported.

    Result =

    Nothing for any "oversight" to act on.
    Untraceable industrial / commercial espionage.
    Blackmail activities, by the NSA and/or Contractors/Sub-contractors, undetectable.
    Espionage activities by other hostile nations intelligence services, accessing this NSA database, undetectable.
    Easily constructed "Frames" for Criminal Activity harder to defend against, for the falsely accused.


    Proof :

    The NSA has no idea what is in Edward Snowden's document cache.


    II. Low Security / Easy Access / No Access Controls

    From the released documents, the phrase "Five Eyes" refers to five countries involved in this Database.
    ( US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia ) All five countries have full access, apparently.

    Do ??Allies?? really need the NSA to help them spy on US Citizens inside the United States? Why??

    Upwards of 2.1 million people have "Top Secret" clearance. One news report stated that 60% of those cleared are "Contractors" ( i.e. 1,260,000 )
    ( Not addressing staffing realities in the other four countries, US ONLY. )

    From the reports seen, background checks are not being done.
    How many of the unchecked are "hostile foreign intelligence operatives", taking the easy route to FULL ACCESS??

    Most of these are in "offsite facilities". How are they getting access remotely?

    TelNet? NetBIOS? an XTerm? Using "Windoze remote assistance / remote desktop"?
    ( Yes, I did not mention OpenSSH. That might be considered competent. )

    Or did they put this "distributed database" on the Web for access over the Internet?
    Is there a remote database client, with easy access preconfigured, floating around?
    ( Hostile foreign intelligence services would just LOVE this! The proverbial "wet dream" come true. )

    Question --

    How do we know that hostile foreign intelligence operatives have not already established FULL REAL TIME access to this database?

    Curious to see if anyone can give reasonable answers to these questions.

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 9:44am

    Re:

    Even with NSA surveillance you can't even sue the right people. What a fucktard you are.

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 10:36am

    o•ver•sight (ōˈvər-sītˌ)

    n. An unintentional omission or mistake.

    n. Watchful care or management; supervision.

    I'll give you odds on which definition Feinstein tends towards when it comes to the NSA. Politicians love flimsy definitions for backup.

     

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  48.  
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    Marcus, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 10:54am

    One person every ten years?

    Come on, no government agency would abuse power if they are given unchecked powers right? It's great to know Sen Feinstein is in charge of making sure the NSA doesn't overstep it's bounds. Wasn't she a major supporter of SOPA/PIPA and other unconstitutional legislation? The NSA is happy that they have her willing to defend them and can easily keep her in the dark about their activities. It's like having unchecked powers with the illusion that someone is watching the NSA to reassure US Citizens that there are checks and balances to prevent abuse of power. Are we safer with the passage of the Patriot Act and the ability of the NSA to spy on us? I don't know about you but I am afraid of my own government more than terrorists. They couldn't have picked anyone more disqualified than Sen Feinstein to overlook the NSA. Despite all that has happened, the voters in her district will re-elect her come the next election.

     

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  49.  
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    Marcus, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 11:10am

    Re: Doing the job

    The problem is most voters only recognize the Donkey or the Elephant and choose between the best of two evils when it comes to elections and either have no idea third party candidates exist or have a personal bias towards third parties. In some states you win elections by being the candidate affiliated with the donkey or the elephant. Some people will only vote for one party and blame "the other party" for all the problems our nation has. The two-party system has given people like Sen Feinstein a guarantee of being re-elected since people in her district wouldn't be caught dead voting for one of those Republicans that is almost as bad to them "wasting their vote" on a third party candidate. In other states such as Utah where Sen Orin Hatch has been constantly re-elected since 1976 being a member of the Republican party guarantees you will continue to be re-elected (unless you are somehow dropped by your party as a candidate).

     

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  50.  
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    Atkray (profile), Aug 24th, 2013 @ 11:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Doing the job

    Well said.

    Until we start voting for people who are the best candidate even when there is little chance of them winning, we will be stuck with this crap. You have to view it like planting an acorn, you may not live to build a tree-house in the tree but your grand children will love you for your foresight.

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 12:04pm

    Re: WSJ sources

    Just like the Independent in the UK - false flag disinformation.

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    cffrost, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 1:07pm

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Aug 24th, 2013 @ 3:56am

    "A handful of cases in the last decade = worst thing ever.

    "Millions of instances of copyright infringement in the last decade = no prob."


    Spot on; mass-surveillance of innocents and the very concept of imaginary "property" are both liberty-crushing crimes against humanity.

    As far as I'm concerned, the "copyright" means the right of the people to copy that which is not private/confidential.

    PROTIP: If don't want "your" idea copied, keep it to yourself.

    How about you owe me a nickel for having been allowed to read this comment, and you're not allowed to copy it without my say-so? Of course not, because that would be stupid and insane — just like every other imaginary property scheme.

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    Carrie, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 1:33pm

    "Self-Reported"

    Did anyone else notice this key line from the WSJ article?
    "Most of the incidents, officials said, were self-reported."

    That's a pretty major admission in my book. What the NSA just said is "There are no willful violations. I mean, there are very very few willful violations. They're mostly about love interests. THE ONLY WAY WE TRACK AND MONITOR AND AUDIT ANY SORT OF WILLFUL VIOLATIONS IS THROUGH SELF-REPORTING BY EMPLOYEES."

    i.e. They don't have algorithms,or software controls that prevent the analysts from using their spying powers improperly, they don't have internal compliance specialists or auditors, they don't make formal requests to the FISA court. They let the computer guys do WHATEVER THEY WANT with not even bare bones basic internal (or external, but we already knew that) oversight. And then they say they know there are few abuses because their employees have only SELF-REPORTED that there are few abuses.

    So...our best line of defense against unconstitutional violations is unchecked technical power by thousands of employees who probably receive 1 day of training a year that says "oh by the way, there are these things called laws, and you should remember to follow them, because if you don't, and we get found out (which we probably won't, because we're super-secret) we might get in trouble."

     

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  54.  
    identicon
    JeffR, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Re: Had to tweet this at her...

    Can't it be both?

     

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  55.  
    icon
    Spike (profile), Aug 24th, 2013 @ 3:35pm

    Anyone ever watch True Lies?

     

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  56.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 4:19pm

    NSA - Sen. Dianne Feinstein

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein is famously unable or unwilling to be honest about many things. Why would she be trusted as one who provides "oversight" for the NSA?

     

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  57.  
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    OldGeezer (profile), Aug 24th, 2013 @ 4:27pm

    Do you think they would admit to these very damning facts if they weren't pretty sure that it would soon be leaked anyway? They have been caught in so many lies that they want to give the appearance that NOW they are going to really level with us.

     

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  58.  
    identicon
    MGlBlaze, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 4:28pm

    Saw it coming a mile away.

    Well, the system has been abused. Hands up who was surprised that this kind of information collection would be abused? If you raised your hand, I suggest you try and get in touch with the fact people in positions of power are usually dickbags and professional liars.

    Also, I feel the need to point out that had this program not existed in the first place then no abuse would have happened. And this program shouldn't exist.

     

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  59.  
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    KissMyWookiee, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 5:12pm

    Feinstein Swinestain

    Dianne Feinstein is a completely incompetent moron.

    I'm convinced that like many other Senators, she's only there because a) it's an easy job with plenty of time off and zero expenses. And b) to get rich by taking money for obeying the orders of her corporate/lobbyist masters.

     

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  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 6:21pm

    I'm not surprised

     

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  61.  
    identicon
    Никто, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 8:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Had to tweet this at her...

    "or", not "xor".

     

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  62.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 9:37pm

    Re: Vote 3rd Party

    I don't think a lot of people will vote for a third party candidate for three reasons.
    First, idealistic voters want a close-to-ideal candidate, and often can't support a flawed third option. Second, the third-party options, whether Socialist, Libertarian, Green, Pirate, or whatever, have too much ideological baggage in the current US. Third, and perhaps most important, people who feel threatened tend to cling even more tightly to what little they have. Even when it is obvious that the old system is broken, it takes courage to take a leap of faith into a new system. And courage is in relatively short supply in the contemporary US.

    Here's an illustrative example. Let's imagine a city with effectively 1-party rule, reasonably progressive on mainstream social issues but economically deeply influenced by well-established business interests -- banks, builders, commercial landlords, and the professionals that work in these areas. The "social liberals" get support for gay marriage, and the "economic conservatives" get public subsidies for commercial infrastructure -- malls, condos, and stadiums.

    It's a stable system, not unsuccessful, and completely incapable of working outside a quite narrow range of conventional options, no matter what the occasion.

    How does a 3rd party candidate realistically challenge that cozy system?

    Imagine a reasonably good 3rd party candidate -- local "community activist" background, dedicated, hard-working, honest, smart, educated, well-spoken, and photogenic -- just the sort of candidate that might keep the local bastards honest and expand the range of acceptable political thinking.

    Run her against one of the nice, bland, vaguely liberal-seeming pro-business guys. But stick any of those 3rd party labels on her, and watch people cringe away for a "safe" conventional choice from the major parties. Voters just aren't brave enough to take a risk on anything that seems even the slightest bit radical.

    (example based on K. Sawant, who might give an establishment Democrat a scare in the upcoming Seattle City Council race.)

     

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  63.  
    icon
    Namel3ss (profile), Aug 24th, 2013 @ 10:19pm

    Re:

    I already stopped listening. I don't believe anything they say.

     

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  64.  
    icon
    Namel3ss (profile), Aug 24th, 2013 @ 10:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Doing the job

    Although you put that a little harshly, I actually agree with you. I don't really identify with either D or R any more since they're both complete sellouts and couldn't give two shits about us "silent majority" types.

     

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  65.  
    identicon
    Haudenosaun, Aug 25th, 2013 @ 6:53am

    Re: Doing the job

    "start doing their job when it comes to elections"

    Impossible to do when the system has been corrupted.

    Money is what counts, and the average voter doesn't have the financial means to influence government or policy. That's where A.L.E.C. comes into play.

     

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  66.  
    identicon
    Haudenosaun, Aug 25th, 2013 @ 6:57am

    Re: Had to tweet this at her...

    And the Senator's honest response should be:

    I'm laughing all the way to the bank.

    http://www.indypendent.org/2013/07/16/nsa-follows-you-we-follow-money

     

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  67.  
    icon
    TJGeezer (profile), Aug 25th, 2013 @ 7:19am

    Re: skeletons

    I've wondered for awhile now what the NSA has on Feinstein to keep her so compliant. Perhaps it's related to her unstinting support of whatever the RIAA and MPAA want.

    Makes me think a forensic audit would turn up some interesting stuff on her. But that's probably true of any senator who truckles to corporate lobbyists.

    Anyone with a checkbook can buy a Senator's vote and Feinstein has always been a corporate tool. Let's not forget where the real spiders live, inside the NSA, CIA, DIA and other spy-on-Americans bureaucracies.

     

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  68.  
    icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Aug 25th, 2013 @ 8:58am

    Abuse under color of authority

    I don't believe for a second that the NSA, DEA, or any other three letter government agency is any less corrupt than the FBI as shown in this news article: http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/08/23/60563.htm

     

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  69.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2013 @ 9:09am

    Re: Re: Had to tweet this at her...

    Correction: My husband is laughing all the way to the bank and I have no direct financial interest in all this so it's totally legal and not corrupt.

     

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  70.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2013 @ 9:11am

    Re: Re: Doing the job

    Are you familiar with the phrase 'self-fulfilling prophecy?'

     

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  71.  
    identicon
    Joe Dirt, Aug 25th, 2013 @ 9:53am

    Re: What NSA has on Diane Feinstein

    This is not provable by me, but easily found by a good investigative journalist. With that caveat, here it is.

    Back when she was Mayor of San Francisco, she had firefighters drive her around instead of the S.F.P.D.
    Evidently, the firemen are not as tight lipped as the police department.
    I was told by a retired firefighter that on numerous occasions, they picked up Dianne and her lesbian lover, driving them around on "dates".

    As to what the NSA has on her, it's probably a lot and definitely embarrassing.
    So, she'll be a good little girl and do as she's told.
    Even if it makes her look like an ass.
    Information is power.
    Those with the information hold all the power.
    NSA's mandate since it's creation. Know EVERYTHING!

     

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  72.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2013 @ 11:05am

    Re:

    So, you rage against corporations constantly for 'stealing' secrets from the people, but if the people 'steal' music from the corporations, then the corporations are all white knights. Dude, get your priorities in order.

    ('Steal' and 'stealing' are used tongue-in-cheek. I don't believe either is really theft.)

     

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  73.  
    icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), Aug 25th, 2013 @ 11:47am

    Surveillance vs. Piracy

    So, you rage against corporations constantly for 'stealing' secrets from the people, but if the people 'steal' music from the corporations, then the corporations are all white knights. Dude, get your priorities in order.

    I juxtapose them and they look very different. I support those artists I can, and when I actually know the artists are going to get the money. Unlike in the 90s when I had to buy songs bundled in blocks of fifteen, pay exorbitant prices and it all went to the gatekeepers.

    In the meantime, I gain nothing from the NSA knowing when I'm taking a shit, except the fear that some day they're going to decide I'm a deviant or a security risk and get the DoJ to bust me for conspiracy.

    So, dude, give your priorities a clue.

     

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  74.  
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    Uriel-238 (profile), Aug 25th, 2013 @ 11:58am

    Is it past time to disband the NSA entirely?

    We have to.

    Even though we need a department that safeguards our communications, there is just too much of the old guard in the NSA to trust it with that (or any) duty. Much Germany would have to disband the SS or Gestapo for its loyalty to Hitler (as opposed to the police or Wehrmacht which were loyal to the flag of Germany).

    Something tells me that the NSA is not loyal to the US flag or the US constitution or the territory of the United States of America. Something tells me that the NSA's loyalties are to something else entirely.

    We still need to safeguard our communications, but that's from all surveillance and sabotage, and we may want an approach more akin to FEMA or the CDC which focuses on keeping users informed and centralizing data about zero-day threats and their fixes. A white-hat approach, in other words.

     

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  75.  
    icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), Aug 25th, 2013 @ 12:03pm

    Re: Abuse under color of authority

    I'm surprised that the FBI wasn't disbanded after Hoover. Apparently the Hoover spirit still lurks within the Bureau. Probably because it's our control of information regarding sexual killers, and its behavioral and forensics departments are accessible to even under-budgeted police investigation departments that it is still functional today.

    But their recent anti-terror and anti-hacker efforts have lost Bureau as a whole a lot of respect (at least from me).

     

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  76.  
    icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Aug 25th, 2013 @ 12:25pm

    The name says it all...

    From the LA Times:
    No evidence has emerged in the Snowden leaks indicating that the NSA is intentionally spying on Americans or meddling in domestic politics. The agency's defenders argue that the disclosures actually prove how hard the NSA works to protect Americans' privacy.

    Joshua Foust, a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst, pointed out that the NSA performed about 240 million database searches per year. Noting that it reported 2,776 violations of privacy rules in a recent one-year period, it had an error rate of "about 0.001156666667%."

    "What the Church Committee revealed was that the intelligence community, which was supposed to be focused on foreign threats, was actually directly meddling in domestic issues," Foust said in an interview. "What these [recent] disclosures show is that while the NSA does violate the rules, it also makes a good-faith effort to try to minimize both the number of violations and their scope."

    Faust/Foust - wasn't he in league with the Devil? :-)

     

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  77.  
    identicon
    Robert Robillard, Aug 25th, 2013 @ 2:49pm

    NSA and Dianne Feinstein

    NSA is new to the job. Dianne has been making a fool of Dianne and her constituents for many years.

    NSA is listening to ALL of us. Their computers are collecting our communication continuously.

    They have yet to PROVE that this surveillance has made any of us more secure.

    NSA officials have repeatedly lied to Congress and the public with impunity. Our government continues to trample upon the Constitution.

     

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  78.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2013 @ 7:31pm

    And, of course, they release this all on a Friday night, hoping that it'll avoid the news cycle...

    What we really need...is a 24 hour news channel that reports the news as it happens. Something that can keep the American People informed....Something edgy that makes people interested in watching, while doing real investigations and reports....

    If we had something like that, then the American People could have digested this nasty news all weekend...

     

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  79.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2013 @ 8:47pm

    But Snowden Does not work for them anymore

    So the number of individuals who are willing to break a rule to check out a girl is less now.

    No company or organization can expect to be able to trust all their staff all the time.

    There are always going to be Snowdens hiding somewhere, So if 1 postman gets a gun and shoots a heap of people, the post office and all it's employees are corrupt and will go out on a shooting spree all the time..

    But how would you be able to milk this issue otherwise ?

     

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  80.  
    identicon
    tobeorbenot, Aug 25th, 2013 @ 10:17pm

    What if.. Maybe.. Okay. Doubtfully.. Obama Is actually employing Snowden..Due to the fact he can't get anything done he wanted and promised to get done , Instead he chose to play chess ... so 1 he could bring down all the programs he wants ...2 receive applause from his backers (bankers) everything's just to convenient.. the lies.. the double talk i mean seriously! If you were the president wouldn't you issue a sort of gag order if everything was falling down around you .. I don't know.. maybe these officials are just Idiots, or really don't care ,either way it's wowing that all of them are stuck on stupid ..

     

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  81.  
    identicon
    lateriser, Aug 25th, 2013 @ 10:27pm

    Isolate = I so late ,the perfect word

     

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  82.  
    icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), Aug 25th, 2013 @ 10:56pm

    I would love for such a thing to be true.

    I would have much more respect for our species if empires rose and fell due to grand conspiracies and secret plots by criminal masterminds, (and thus saved by the charming superspy).

    Sadly, most of the evidence tends to point towards empires rising by the the strings of fortune and falling by pandemics of stupid.

    Maybe the CIA did kill Kennedy. But 911 probably happened because of stupid. And while I'd much prefer if Blofeld was behind the NSA, it probably came into power due to stupid. And we're becoming a police state thanks to stupid.

     

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  83.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2013 @ 7:29am

    In the meantime, the NSA just made Senator Feinstein look like a complete fool.
    She doesn't need any help from them.

     

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  84.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2013 @ 2:35pm

    Re: Re: Doing the job

    I vote against McConnell every election. Actually, everyone I know does. The problem is in my state they skewed the districts to where he wins all the rural areas so the majority of the population living in big cities voting against him is made irrelevant by his wins across the state. Those little b.f.e. counties with population 60 are out of touch and in his pocket. This is how they control the southern states to win elections.

     

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  85.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2013 @ 2:42pm

    Re: Re: One abuse a year...

    How many of the political scandals in the headlines originated with data garnered from the NSA?

     

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  86.  
    identicon
    Jeremy Snowden, Sep 9th, 2013 @ 11:57am

    Re: But Snowden Does not work for them anymore

    Seems quite likely that it's the other way around, since their the ones who can't stay out of other people's buisness...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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