James Clapper Says 'Peace Of Mind' Trumps Effectiveness In Evaluating NSA Surveillance

from the do-these-guys-listen-to-themselves? dept

In yet another Congressional hearing concerning the intelligence community last week, Senator Patrick Leahy finally got the heads of the intelligence community to admit what many of us had been pointing out for a while: that there's no evidence that the key NSA programs up for debate have ever actually been necessary in stopping terrorist attacks. While NSA supporters like Congressional Rep. Joe Heck have flat out lied, in claiming that Section 215 of the Patriot Act had thwarted "54 terrorist plots," during this particular testimony, Leahy got James Clapper and Keith Alexander to admit that, at best, the program had really only been involved in stopping one "terrorist event" in the US, and that "event" wasn't a plot, but rather a cab driver in San Diego sending some money to a terrorist group in Somalia.

But the really incredible part was that confessed liar to Congress, Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, tried to defend all this, arguing that figuring out whether or not these surveillance programs were actually necessary or useful in stopping terrorist plots was the wrong metric. Instead, he made up his own metric. The "peace of mind" metric:
There's another metric I would use; let's call it the "peace of mind metric". In the case of the Boston Marathon bomber, we were able to use these tools to determine whether there was, or was not, a subsequent plot in NYC.
Of course, we've already discussed how utterly ridiculous this argument is when President Obama himself used the "post-Boston" lack of other plots as support for NSA surveillance. It's quite incredible when you argue that the absence of additional attacks that never existed in the first place is somehow a "victory" for surveillance efforts.

But, really, this "peace of mind" metric is worth exploring, because it's basically the same thing as "the dictator's creed." Clapper's argument is that he can ignore the Constitution, because it might make you feel safer. As Julian Sanchez argued when Clapper made this statement, under the "peace of mind metric" because of the lack of additional threats, it automatically means that every innocent person's records are "relevant," since they help prove the lack of an additional threat. Just think for a second how insane that is. Sanchez takes the analogy further:
Let's try it for warrants: There's always probable cause to believe a search will produce evidence of guilt OR reassure us of innocence.
The more you think about the insidious nature of such a metric, the worse and worse you realize it is. If the government considers evidence of innocence to be relevant and necessary for "peace of mind" then there is no 4th Amendment any more and there is no privacy. At all. The government, using this made up metric, can argue that any search is warranted because it's "just making sure you're not a threat."

That's not the standard. That's not the metric. It's completely unconstitutional.

So, again, we have to ask: how the hell is James Clapper still employed as the Director of National Intelligence?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 9:50am

    Raise your hand if you'd have greater 'peace of mind' if the NSA stopped it's domestic spying.

    *Raises hand*

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 9:54am

    The Constitution trumps both of Clappers' claims.

    I want to know from our politicians why that lying sack of crap still has a job!

     

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  3.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 9:58am

    how the hell is James Clapper still employed as the Director of National Intelligence?

    This is the kind of asshatery that gets you promoted... who are we kidding?

     

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  4.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:00am

    Doubly dubious

    In the case of the Boston Marathon bomber, we were able to use these tools to determine whether there was, or was not, a subsequent plot in NYC.
    Except it's impossible to prove a negative, so the best he's in fact saying is "With this massive invasion of privacy and violation of the constitution we can be reasonably sure that there's probably not any other related pieces of the plot out there... until of course we get proved wrong by something we missed in the enormous haystack."

    Yeah, that's a great justification... basically, "It doesn't matter whether any of this stuff really does anything as long as we think we can convince people they are safe and we're doing something with the enormous amounts of money we spend."

     

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  5.  
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    hggdh (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:09am

    Proving innocence is NP-hard

    Let's try it for warrants: There's always probable cause to believe a search will produce evidence of guilt OR reassure us of innocence.


    er. I would rather say "or require more searches".

     

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  6.  
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    limbodog (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:13am

    Peace of mind

    Peace of mind comes from knowing the billions and billions we've spent, and continue to spend, on surveillance has successfully thwarted a cab driver from disobeying the law. If you live in a big city, you know how difficult this can be.

     

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  7.  
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    saulgoode (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:15am

    There's another metric I would use; let's call it the "peace of mind metric".
    I agree with this 100% -- however I'd find much greater peace of mind if an agency of my government wasn't wasting billions of dollars subverting the efficacy of the greatest development of humankind ever and threatening the status of over 4 trillion dollars in annual global commerce (not to mention petty little things such as representative government and rights to privacy, free speech, and due process).

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:17am

    How can the tools which were not able to determine the original plot can be used to determine whether there was, or not a subsequent plot? A subsequent plot would likely unfold within moments of the original one, and they'll be tracking pizza joints during that time.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:18am

    Well, I'm sorry that you were killed by [natural disaster/terrorist plot/your pet hamster]. But we ran the numbers and we are *pretty sure* that you can't be killed again.

    Peace of mind.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:21am

    Re: Peace of mind

    He didn't really disobey the law when you consider the Citizens United ruling says money is speech.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:22am

    Re:

    I'd raise my hand,but my computer is watching me

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:23am

    Re:

    He showed the politicians what dirt he has on them.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:24am

    Re:

    *Keeps hand down*

    Not an American. Does my privacy and peace of mind not matter?

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:24am

    Re:

    I personally would have greater "peace of mind" if people like Clapper and Alexander were removed from their possitions, prosecuted for the civil rights violations that they have admitted to committing and then were sent to jail where they belong.

     

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  15.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:24am

    Re:

    *raises both hands, gets everyone in town to do the same*

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:26am

    Re:

    *raises hand*

     

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  17.  
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    MondoGordo (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:27am

    how the hell is James Clapper still employed as the Director of National Intelligence?

    Clearly ... he has TENURE!!!

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:28am

    East Germany would be jealous...

     

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  19.  
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    any moose cow word, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:32am

    Arguing that this is all needed for "piece of mind" is fundamentally a guilty until proven innocent paranoia that blankets the entire globe. Everyone must continually submit to these warrantless violations of our privacy to reaffirm our innocence every day. The constitutionally mandated presumption of innocence has never been more necessary till now.

     

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  20.  
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    Alt0, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:33am

    Re: Re: Non-Americans Too!

    The NSA shutting down should create "peace-of-mind" in all people, of all countries.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:34am

    Re: how the hell is James Clapper still employed as the Director of National Intelligence?

    or sticky like the claps.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:43am

    Re:

    And apparently running those numbers caused the computers in their data centers to blow up... 10 times!

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Non-Americans Too!

    The suggestion was the shutting down of NSA domestic operations, not shutting it down.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:45am

    Re:

    Former STASI agents have told that they are morally disgusted by the extend of NSA surveillance. Modern surveillance is completely off the rails!

     

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  25.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:45am

    Re:

    *Finds dead bodies, rips their arms off, tie them together, then waves the gory end result around*

     

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  26.  
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    Loki, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:46am

    Re:

    Well since he's given us the metric, we might as well make good use of it.

    Personally, my "peace of mind" would NOT be decreased in the slightest should these programs (and the politicians and lackeys supporting them) go away tomorrow, given that the odds of me being directly, or even indirectly, by some nebulous terrorist threat is remote enough to be essentially insignificant.

    However, my "peace of mind" would actually be greatly increased if a bunch of government officials would breaking the law, redefining the law in violation of principles this country was founding on, and otherwise snooping on everyone instead of doing the jobs the were given.

    Here's an idea, instead of sticking their noses in everyone's business, why don't try try fixing the economy, providing real healthcare, quality jobs, and most of all actually making a real fucking budget.

    Now THAT would give me "peace of mind".

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:47am

    Re: Re:

    Sorry... if you were expecting to find someone with a spine or a pair on capital hill you have obviously not been paying much attention to the state of affairs lately.

    I suspect that none of this stops until the lead flies.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:53am

    "In the case of the Boston Marathon bomber, we were able to use these tools to determine whether there was, or was not, a subsequent plot in NYC."

    So why didn't all those tools determine there was a threat of the Boston Marathon being bombed? Isn't that what those "tools" are meant to do?

    I agree that is legitimatizes any law enforcement agency to do whatever it wants, including using drones for surveillance.

    It makes me wonder if these arguements weren't developed by the private prison industry to reassure their investors that business is booming even if a few illegals escape imprisonment due to reform.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:56am

    And then, politicians are amazed that a few are rejoicing about shut down of the federal government ... yet it is the federal government who is assuming every citizen is suspicious. What do they expect?

     

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  30.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:58am

    "peace of mind metric" more like the paranoia metric

     

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  31.  
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    Craig, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 11:06am

    End Days

    At what point do the "terrorists" become less of a threat than the people calling them terrorists? It seems to me that we are in the hands of people who through cognitive dissonance or actual malicious intent desire to bring upon us what the "terrorists" had originally intended. Sort of like "you can't do that but we sure can".

    More disturbing is the possibility that a sociopathic meme has infected our leaders to where they feel the justification of what they are doing really is the right answer to the problem, in the same way that someone would burn down their house in order to protect it from thieves.

    And then there is the belief meme, Michele Bachmann anyone? If Jesus or God intends for there to be an apocalypse, "End Times" and Judgment Day perhaps it our destiny to make sure it happens...

    Any way you look at it it's bad news. We are truly our own worst enemy.

     

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  32.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 11:11am

    Okay, so since having a peace of mind now overrides any and all laws in the US, can I find a gun and shoot Clapper in the face? Along with all of his cronies? After all, my peace of mind is more important than laws saying pre-meditated murder is illegal, according to their logic.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 11:23am

    insurance salesman...

     

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  34.  
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    any moose cow word, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 11:48am

    Re:

    Well, they think illegally assassinating US citizens is OK as long as it gives them "peace of mind"--they can always justify it by slapping on a "terrorist" charge postmortem. Since they've already set the legal precedent, and bureaucrats like Clapper definitely fit the definition of terrorist, it must be OK. It would certainly give the citizens of the world peace of mind when their reign as ended.

     

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  35.  
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    any moose cow word, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 11:49am

    Re:

    *"peace of mind"

     

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  36.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 11:54am

    Re: Proving innocence is NP-hard

    "er. I would rather say 'or require more searches'."

    That's what he said. Think about it, the search that reassured us of innocence used information that is weeks or months old at that point. Another search has to be performed to keep our reassurance of innocence up.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 11:56am

    "So, again, we have to ask: how the hell is James Clapper still employed as the Director of National Intelligence?"

    The government's policy is FUMU. F Up to Move Up. The more you F Up, the more you Move Up.

     

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  38.  
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    Baldaur Regis (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 12:19pm

    Well, I always have peace of mind after visiting my proctologist. But that doesn't mean I want to have the government's finger jammed up my ass 24/7, going "Yup, still good....no problemo buddy...wait, wait, oops false alarm, little gas there...oookay, still good..."

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I never said I was EXPECTING that to happen. I'm not dillusional. I was merely stating that if "peace of mind" is the goal, that would be a means of accomplishing it for me personally as someone who values the principles set forth by our Constitution. However, if this outcome is to have any chance of happening, calls for this need to be repeated often and loudly by as many people as possible even if it is still very unlikely to occur.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 12:53pm

    My mind would rest a lot easier if James Clapper was fired and brought up on contempt of congress charges.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 1:00pm

    Me in 15 years: Son, politicians were originally meant to be our servants, an extension of our will, for the good of all people
    10 year old son: HELP! TERRORIST!

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 1:03pm

    It would be much lower if they stopped slapping the terrorist label on shit like throwing water balloons.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 1:03pm

    But....

    There's another metric I would use; let's call it the "peace of mind metric". In the case of the Boston Marathon bomber, we were able to use these tools to determine whether there was, or was not, a subsequent plot in NYC.

    BUT...you fail to mention how all this surveillance FAILED TO STOP THE BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING ITSELF!

    So nice try, asshole, but it's still a FAILURE!

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 1:38pm

    Peace of Mind = False Sense of Security

    In my business, Fire Alarm & Security (Access Control, Intrusion Detection); this type of "Peace of Mind" is called a False Sense of Security and is a perfect setup for a lawsuit against our company. Once again, the government is shielded from the real world results of their incompetent actions.

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 2:06pm

    Re:

    Forget contempt of congress. Congress has proven that they are worthy of being treated with contempt. Try civil rights violations against the entire population of the US if not human rights violations on the majority of world. That's more on par with what is deserved.

     

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  46.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 2:32pm

    Re: End Days

    Yeah, they completely blew past that point decades ago, the corrupt government in the US has been a greater threat to citizens both US and otherwise for decades now.

    Terrorists can kill people, but then again so can peanuts. The proper response to both is take reasonable safety precautions and get on with your life, as living in fear of them is exactly what they are trying to achieve.

    The government on the other hand can, will and has destroyed basic human rights, such as privacy, fair treatment under the law (including the right to a court case before punishment), and justifies their actions by constantly trying to keep people in a state of fear, so that they are willing to accept any encroachment of their rights if only they get to 'feel' safer.

    At this point, if you define terrorism as 'actions designed to bring a state of fear and panic in your target', the government are the terrorists, the others are just amateurs.

     

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  47.  
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    J-rad, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 4:12pm

    just waiting for the announcement; James Clapper promoted to head of thought police. "Freedom is Slavery"

     

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  48.  
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    any moose cow word, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 5:04pm

    Re: But....

    Hey, it was essential for stopping the non-existent follow-up threat against NYC!

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    any moose cow word, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 5:06pm

    Re:

    Freedom is Slavery

    Well, the illusion of freedom usually is.

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 5:47pm

    Re: Re:

    "freedom is slavery" is probably not the best quote to re-enforce my comment as it part of the larger topic "can you truly be free in society that has rules of any kind?" but in this context I don't think that its that relevant. more reference to the 1984 world that clapper seems intent of creating.

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 7:13pm

    Re: Re: End Days

    The terrorists have indeed won.

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 7:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: End Days

    They said we would destroy ourselves from within, and we are falling all over ourselves to prove them right. I use the metaphorical we, of course.

     

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

  53.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 9:49pm

    Please refer to him as NSA perjurer, not liar. He didn't just lie, he lied to congress while providing testimony. He lied in a manner considered far more serious than a typical untruth, and needs to be imprisoned for it.

     

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  54.  
    identicon
    any moose cow word, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 11:10pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    more reference to the 1984 world that clapper seems intent of creating.

    Yes, I got the reference, which was the entire point of my comment. Freedom in such a world is a manufactured illusion.

     

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

  55.  
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    corwin155 (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 11:55pm

    'Peace Of Mind'

    Peace of mind comes from knowing every person who
    1. isn't happy that their government is spying on them
    2. does something that they could patent wont because you can tell your friends in the military industrial complex corporations
    3. are the NSA's political enemies
    4. have dirty little secrets that can be used against them
    5. is born in the USA is a criminal from birth and you have secret laws and secret courts that make them so
    6. isn't in law enforcement thus exempt from the law and secret laws
    7. you don't like can and will be destroyed
    8. can be water-boarded and thrown into a secret prison
    9. can be assassinated if they refuse to do what you say
    10. is part of the good ol boys in the NSA will be protected by the DOJ even when they lie to congress of the soon to be dictatorship of NAZI United Police State of America

    The peace of mind of the dictatorship run by the NSA

     

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

  56.  
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    Pragmatic, Oct 10th, 2013 @ 5:53am

    Re:

    The "few" are rejoicing that only we are affected by the shutdown. They're not. And the politicians certainly aren't.

     

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

  57.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2013 @ 6:44am

    New World Order

    tHey are not likely to be limited by one country's "constitution" at this point, having gone through so much trouble to defunct it for the last six decades or so.

     

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

  58.  
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    Niall (profile), Oct 10th, 2013 @ 6:47am

    Re:

    'These tools' = 20/20 hindsight. 100% guaranteed precise! Your tax dollars at work...

     

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

  59.  
    icon
    beltorak (profile), Oct 10th, 2013 @ 7:27am

    Re: Re:

    No, it does not. Because you are not an American citizen, you don't deserve the basic human right to privacy nor the dignity it entails. In fact, I invite you over to our great country so you can be so privileged as to have our illustrious leaders personally spit in your non-human face. You should be thankful we let you talk on the Internet at all.

    /putting-words-in-my-government's-mouth

     

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

  60.  
    identicon
    OH, Apr 1st, 2014 @ 3:42pm

    FTPOS Clapper

    F--- the piece of sh-- James Clapper WITTINGLY.

     

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


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