The Rogers Doctrine: More Transparency Creates More Privacy Violations, Since You'll Find Out About Them

from the we-deserve-better dept

We recently wrote about the absolutely bizarre claims of Rep. Mike Rogers, the man supposedly in charge of "oversight" of the Intelligence Community, claiming that there can be no privacy violations "if you don't know your privacy is violated." This has resulted in plenty of mocking, including with satire so good many people believed it. It's also been picked up, somewhat, by the bastions of pop culture, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Stewart covered it on Wednesday's episode of The Daily Show, though it feels like he sort of underplayed the absolute ridiculousness of Rogers' statement. Colbert's version, however, was quite well done, and gets better as you go along (and, yes, I know, that video can't be seen in many regions, but if you can't watch the video, you can see the animated gif version instead:
The key lines from Colbert, after playing the tape of Rogers' shocked statement at the idea that anyone's privacy could possibly be violated so long as they didn't know about it, followed by Stephen Vladeck's comment that "if a tree falls in a forest, it makes a noise whether you're there to see it or not," Colbert explains in his usual satirical manner that it all "makes perfect sense if you don't think about it" and also notes that when someone lies to you, "technically they're telling the truth, so long as you never find out it's a lie":
Let's say, instead of falling in the forest, the tree is standing outside your house and I'm hiding in it watching you shower. So far, I'm not violating your privacy. But the second you see me through the window, suddenly I'm the criminal? What about my privacy? I'm trying to masturbate here. Come to think of it, there are all sorts of victimless crimes like this. We know people getting assaulted because they call the police. But I've never heard of anyone calling the cops because they were murdered. Therefore, clearly, no one was killed. By the same logic, folks, I have not insulted Mike Rogers as long as he never hears me say: The reason Mike Rogers uses circular logic is because his head is jammed up his own ass.

Of course, obviously, I do not mean a word of that. I admire what historians will now call "The Rogers' Doctrine": when it comes to privacy vs. security, we can have one of them, as long as we don't know which one it is. That way, we can maintain our constitutional rights. Or, if they do take away our rights, just don't let us find out. That way, we'll still have them.
Meanwhile, over at Slate, Will Oremus has also written about Rogers' comment, and also come up with a name for it. He calls it "Rogers' Paradox," noting that it's a variation on the historical concept of "what you don't know can't hurt you," and how this is "an age-old excuse for people in power to trample on the rights of those without it."

But, Oremus makes an even more pertinent point. If Rogers' statement is accurate (and it's not), then it would actually mean that greater transparency itself would harm people's privacy because they'd find out about it. Think about that for a second. Under the logic of Mike Rogers' twisted mind, the more transparency there is about privacy violations, the more those non-privacy violations become privacy violations -- and thus he must fight against such transparency at all costs to protect our privacy.

And this is a guy in power.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Ninja (profile), Nov 4th, 2013 @ 7:38am

    Let's say, instead of falling in the forest, the tree is standing outside your house and I'm hiding in it watching you shower. So far, I'm not violating your privacy. But the second you see me through the window, suddenly I'm the criminal? What about my privacy? I'm trying to masturbate here.

    and

    The reason Mike Rogers uses circular logic is because his head is jammed up his own ass.

    Clearly he used Rogers as the example. Although I must admit it's a pretty weird way of masturbating.

     

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

  2.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Nov 4th, 2013 @ 9:04am

    Re:

    Colbert has a weird way of doing everything.

    It's why he's hilariously awesome.

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 9:13am

    Rogers is in a position of power.

    He belongs in a prison cell. Along with Feinstein, Alexander and Clapper.

    Bottom line.

    It is a grave injustice to the American people that these four are given charge over anything more than outhouse cleaning.

     

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  4.  
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    Bergman (profile), Nov 4th, 2013 @ 9:22am

    Wow. So if someone embezzles money from the government, it's not illegal until someone discovers the money is missing?

    If you steal all the money in a bank vault without getting caught, you haven't committed a crime?

    Or is it just those who have sworn oaths to obey they law who get such privileges?

     

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  5.  
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    Michael, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 9:26am

    Re:

    it's a pretty weird way of masturbating

    Seems pretty normal to me.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 9:31am

    John Stewart did a good clip on this as well... Dubbed, A Bugged Life


    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-october-30-2013/a-bugged-life---plausible-deniability-scra mble

     

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  7.  
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    Jerrymiah, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 9:33am

    Re:

    I would also add to these names, the likes of Pelosi, Hayden, Obama, and Eric Holder to name but a few, and all those of both parties who support the NSA and GCHQ in the UK.

     

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  8. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 9:49am

    OH, Mike! Just wait 'til you find out about Google's spying!

    You can't prevent it, either, and NO, you can't avoid it; not voluntarily, tracks you all over the net. -- AND as ever, NSA gets all that Google has. -- And by the way, forgot this last time: Google TOO trots out the notion that because it's all automated means no one is actually spying on you.

    ALL SPYING IS CREEPY. And must ALL be limited before they've every last gadget in place: "the internet of things", where even your refrigerator will be a gov't/corporate agent.

    The Google-Borg. Assimilating your privacy since 1998.

    05:49:06[g-402-6]

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 9:50am

    Re: Goorlew

     

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

  10. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 9:51am

    Google!

    I LOVE GOOGLE!

     

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

  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 9:52am

    I would expect no less from Misrep Rogers.

     

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

  12.  
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    Ninja (profile), Nov 4th, 2013 @ 9:55am

    Re: Re:

    Well, if you refer to doing it on a tree I agree.. But by sticking your head in your arse?

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 10:17am

    I've been say this all along, "It's not illegal if you don't get caught" but apparently only acceptable if you get into politics

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 10:30am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I am having trouble picturing how that position of "power" would look like with him putting his head up his ass struggling to go deeper.

    Should we call that the Ostrich Power Position?

    Doesn't that kind of pose diminishes the "stature" of the office while supposedly increasing its power?

    Is this going to replace the five second rule?

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 10:31am

    Re:

    It worries me, because if they are the best that America can offer, I am really concerned that we are screwed.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 11:00am

    I find it ironic how Rogers and Feinstein are the heads of their congressional intelligence departments but are two of the biggest morons I know.

     

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  17.  
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    dcfusor (profile), Nov 4th, 2013 @ 11:11am

    Irony

    "An intelligence agency that fears intelligence? Historically, not awesome" - Tony Stark, The Avengers.

    Further -
    Why are we now dependent on our comedians for the only insightful analysis of what's going on?

    "Life is but a dream" - Spock

     

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  18.  
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    Brazenly Anonymous, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 11:20am

    Re: OH, Mike! Just wait 'til you find out about Google's spying!

    Download a browser that can block specific cookies or all cookies. Block Google's IPs through your firewall. Google doesn't have the means to cripple encryption protocols from unrelated vendors. Google doesn't have back-bone taps doing deep-packet sniffing. Thus, this is sufficient to prevent Google spying at the maximal range of what Google might be undertaking.

    Getting around the NSA is significantly harder and will require darknet usage which will have an effect on your browsing speed. Further, if things get bad enough the NSA might end up going after people just for using darknet or encryption protocols, rendering the exercise useless.

    See, the NSA is worth dealing with first, then we can look at what needs to be done about Google.

     

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  19.  
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    DOlz, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 11:54am

    Re: Re:

    There's no way this can be complete without Dick Cheney and a supporting cast of hundreds.

     

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  20.  
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    DOlz, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 11:54am

    Re: Re:

    There's no way this can be complete without Dick Cheney and a supporting cast of hundreds.

     

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

  21.  
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    DOlz, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 11:54am

    Re: Re:

    There's no way this can be complete without Dick Cheney and a supporting cast of hundreds.

     

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

  22.  
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    DOlz, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 11:54am

    Re: Re:

    There's no way this can be complete without Dick Cheney and a supporting cast of hundreds.

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    DOlz, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 11:54am

    Re: Re:

    There's no way this can be complete without Dick Cheney and a supporting cast of hundreds.

     

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

  24.  
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    DOlz (profile), Nov 4th, 2013 @ 11:56am

    Re: Re: Re:

    So sorry about the repeats. I thought the browser wasn't responding and clicked several times. I really, really should have known better.

     

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  25.  
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    beltorak (profile), Nov 4th, 2013 @ 12:05pm

    greater transparency itself would harm people's privacy because they'd find out about it.


    Remind me again who said "we can't find out how many Americans we have data on because that would violate their privacy"?

     

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  26.  
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    Bobbins (profile), Nov 4th, 2013 @ 12:11pm

    Wow, I think Rep. Rogers has cleared up all of my concerns about the collection of metadata, I don't know why I didn't see it sooner.

    The metadata is only collected if the information is read and I have no way of knowing if it's been read therefore the metadata hasn't been collected. I am once again ignorant of the fact that my privacy may have been violated and so it hasn't been violated.

    If I consider that my private communications being stored without my knowledge is a violation of my privacy I am told that what I have heard and/or read isn't true and/or accurate which means I don't know what I know and if I insist I know what I know I simply don't understand what I know as it hasn't been explained clearly.

    After this I am back to square one, I remain ignorant and my privacy hasn't been violated so I don't feel the need for anybody to be held accountable for illegal mass surveillance.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 12:43pm

    Similar historical logic

    There's a story about the introduction of helmets during WWI which has an example of such blindly followed logic. Apparently after the introduction of helmets the number of wounded with head wounds has risen drastically. Therefore the logic was:

    introduction of helmets -> more wounded -> helmets "bad"

    There was even a correlative and causative connection! Following such logic without question, one can than arrive at the conclusion that helmets were obviously a bad idea. Ta-da! Logic in action!

    And why there were more wounded? Because soldiers who wore helmets received head wounds instead of fatal injuries and so lived instead of dying.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 12:55pm

    Re: Re:

    Put it this way: were the people that won yearbook superlatives and homecoming queen the best your high school had to offer? Elected politicians work the same way.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 1:08pm

    And this is a guy in power.

    You forgot something, He's also Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (Chairman).

    Some oversight this douche provides...

     

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

  30.  
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    Violated (profile), Nov 4th, 2013 @ 1:21pm

    Rogers was just playing the old "It is only unlawful if I get caught" excuse.

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 3:53pm

    lol how long has Colbert had this block message?

    SORRY, BUT THIS VIDEO IS UNAVAILABLE FROM YOUR LOCATION

    It's one of the detriments of living under a monarchy. But in case you can't give up your vegemite and move to America, watch clips from The Colbert Report at the comedychannel.com.au


    I looked at that website, it's a fucking tragedy when it comes to navigating to what you want. Sorry, but it gets a fail.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 3:55pm

    Re:

    oops forgot to mention, I live in Australia.

     

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

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 4:34pm

    Schrödinger's Privacy

    Violated or not?
    Depends upon whether it was viewed.

    Flawless logic there

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2013 @ 7:58pm

    Jesus Christ!

    Goddamn auto play almost gave me a heart attack.

    Not to self - restore volume after blasting AC/DC

     

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


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