Intelligence Boss Claims The Real Villain Here Is The Press For Revealing His Secret Spying Program

from the nice-try,-clapper dept

So we already wrote a bit about how Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was using weasel words or outright lying, in trying to insist that the NSA wasn’t actually gathering up data on pretty much every American. However, his statements go even further into the ridiculous. In his initial statement, even the title is combative:

DNI Statement on Recent Unauthorized Disclosures of Classified Information

Notice the focus is not on the unauthorized disclosure of widespread NSA surveillance, but rather “disclosure of classified information.” So he’s already priming the pump for the “real” villain: the press who are reporting on this.

The unauthorized disclosure of a top secret U.S. court document threatens potentially long-lasting and irreversible harm to our ability to identify and respond to the many threats facing our nation.

We’ve heard that before, and it’s ridiculous on multiple levels. First, most would-be terrorists are likely to assume that the government is monitoring all of this stuff anyway, because there have been plenty of hints in the past. So, it’s not really that likely that this sudden “revelation” is going to lead some massive change in how bad people communicate. But, more importantly, even if monitoring certain terrorists was so key to dealing with threats, that still doesn’t matter. The DNI’s job is not “stop threats by any means necessary.” Because that’s crazy. While it might help government respond to illegal activity, that doesn’t mean that we give up our 4th Amendment rights, nor does it mean we need such broad, all-encompassing orders. Such things could easily have been done using a specific, targeted warrant, seeking information on a specific individual. That is, they could have done targeting which would have been useful, but they chose not to, and instead demanded all data.

But, of course, he doubles down at the end on how awful it is that people are talking about this (not that the NSA has access to so much data on everybody):

Discussing programs like this publicly will have an impact on the behavior of our adversaries and make it more difficult for us to understand their intentions.

Basically “hey everybody, shut up and stop confirming what everyone knew already: that the US spied on lots and lots of stuff.” Also, this appears to be a government official telling everyone to not exercise their 1st Amendment rights to complain about the NSA violating their 4th Amendment rights. The Constitution is crying in the corner.

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Comments on “Intelligence Boss Claims The Real Villain Here Is The Press For Revealing His Secret Spying Program”

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The Real Michael says:

Re: Makes sense if you swap in two words


Seriously, what are all these mysterious “threats” our nation is facing? It’s no secret that we send spies into countries we considered a threat, such as Russia. If the NSA is spying on the American people (and they are), that clearly implies that the government considers the public to be a threat.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Makes sense if you swap in two words

That is the exact reason why the Tea Party exists. They are full of moderates and conservatives who saw this shit coming under Obama and got very mad that the current representation of “Republican” candidates’ corrupt nature in not combating the presidency on these issues.

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Makes sense if you swap in two words

Uh, considering the fact that, if I remember what I heard on NPR correctly, that one of the Senators saying that everyone in Congress knew about this since 2007, I’d have to call out the Dems on not raising a stink about it back when they had both houses of Congress under their control.

That being said, all those political cartoons I keep seeing portraying Obama as “Nixon 2.0” are beginning to feel more and more accurate. If he says that he “learned about this the way everyone else did (aka through news reports)” this time, the US news media should really start holding his proverbial feet to the fire over this. I mean, if you’ve got the fake news show (The Daily Show), calling out his bullshit before the actual news networks (excluding FOX), they really need to step up their game.

As the Zen Master says, “We’ll see.”

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Makes sense if you swap in two words

If that’s true, then why are Tea Party candidates invariably in favor of greater corporate power and more government regulation when it comes to their pet subjects?

The Tea Party is no better than anyone else. They just have a different set of issues that they want authoritarian control over.

Milton Freewater says:

Re: Re: Re:

“One can only hope the NSA has a bulging file on OotB.”

I hope that none of my taxpayer dollars are being used to investigate a content-free joke account on an obscure tech blog.

But I guess it’s nice to know that anytime he calls 911 to complain that water is dry, they will make a note of it.

RyanNerd (profile) says:

This just pisses me off

The NSA is building a damn data center in my back yard.
I live in southern Utah.
That the Obama administration is mired in one scandal after another makes me wonder if anyone is paying attention to all the bullshit that is being blown onto the American public. I guess the sheeple don’t mind the manure. Sorry for the rant, but like the title says. I’m a bit pissed off and more than a little frustrated that Big Brother has gotten so much control in my lifetime.

Chris-Mouse (profile) says:

Re: This just pisses me off

The problem with that statement is that it’s NOT Obama. The real problem is with the entire political process in the USA. Until such time as politicians don’t have to depend on financial donations to stay in office, they will continue dancing to the tune of those with the cash to buy elections.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: This just pisses me off

Obama hasn’t done much to oppose these abuses,
but I don’t really think a different President would
make any difference.

That’s why I enjoy the frowny-faces of the idealistic young Obama supporters who have watched their man?s descent from Harvey Dent into Two-Face, if only because, as Poor Richard said, ?Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.?

The Real Michael says:

Re: This just pisses me off

Yeah, I posted about this massive facility being built in Utah awhile back.

Just think, a facility built on US soil to be used AGAINST the people, to amass a tremendous amount of data in violation of Constitutional law.

The war on drugs, terror, guns… in actuality are fabricated threats created to villanize us, necessary in order for the government to justify its expansion of power at the greater expense of our Constitutional rights.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

[“Soon the USA will have a 10pm curfew, because “terrorism”.]

We already do, to a certain loose extent, and have for years. Get pulled over by a cop at 3 AM and you’ll be questioned about why you’re out in the middle of the night.

Buddy of mine used to be a cop and worked rotating shifts, and when on the graveyard shift, anyone who was pulled over was asked that question. They assume you’re up to no good.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Get pulled over by a cop at 3 AM and you’ll be questioned about why you’re out in the middle of the night.

? from an European point of view, the US have very little difference from Russia or China in terms of freedom of speech.

Reads to me like a non-sequitor. It doesn’t follow. ????? The conclusion doesn’t follow from the premises.

So maybe I’m mis-reading? You want to amplify why a European p.o.v. would lump the U.S. into the Russian/Chinese bloc on freedom-of-speech? Please.

And I presume you’re speaking Western European? Or maybe I’m mis-reading that too. Southern European? Baltic? Or all Euro?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I’m talking about a Portuguese view, but my German, Croatian, Greek, Czech and Dannish friends share my point of view.

Maybe freedom of speech wasn’t the correct approach, what I want to pass is that much of the things I’ve been reading in the news as well as in this website, about laws that diminish individual liberties, are very similar to the ones my parents and grandparents had to live with when we had a dictatorship here in Portugal.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Stupid Eurotrash

I apologise on account of him. The guy is from Portugal: A country where the constitution is getting broken and where corruption is pretty significant. His friends in Croatia and Greece have far worse problems than surveillance.
Chezh republic is not as free as they like to believe and Denmark has an openness in administration (FOIA-type) on level with the Vatican State. Germany has been good at keeping bad stories out of the media. There are plenty of problems lurking barely below the surface afaik (on the hush-hush).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

As a european I wouldn’t throw stones…

UK is surveillance paradise, nordic countries have massive surveillance too from police and army secret services and France is France…
Most of the rest have basic problems in their democratic process (maybe except Germany, Austria, Luxembourgh and Holland. Even those are pretty problematic in certain areas – especially Germany and Luxembourgh.)

out_of_the_blue says:

^^^Ah, Techdirt... Blind Mike, ankle-biters, and frauds.

Boy, NOW you’re jumping hard on merged gov’t-corporate SPYING, college boy! After barely a mention, if any, from you in the years I’ve been dropping in here.

So, Mike, do you now admit that Google is a SPY AGENCY as the real out_of_the_blue has MANY times mentioned? — Of course you have their weasel-worded denial to hide behind, but we know that spooks are liars too.

Take a loopy tour of! You always end up same place!
Techdirt Axiom #1: Mike once quipped “Streisand Effect” = he’s the authority on every topic.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: ^^^Ah, Techdirt... Blind Mike, ankle-biters, and frauds.

What do you mean ‘now?’ This has been an ongoing topic of conversation here for years… It’s pretty ironic that you’ve got that puerile loopy tour signature on every post it certainly yes you haven’t really been paying any attention at all to what’s being discussed.

I’m sorry ootb but being legally coerced by a spy agency doesn’t make you a spy agency. I can see how you might see it that way, given that you think there’s a never ending link for liability whenever something happens a la secondary, tertiary, quaternary, quinary ect ect ect liability for infringement, why wouldn’t the same apply to spying. Hey, I’m a “SPY AGENCY” because I used the internet which the ISPs, who are SPY AGENCIES, gave to the NSA, who is obviously SPY AGENCY, and so are you!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: ^^^Ah, Techdirt... Blind Mike, ankle-biters, and frauds.

Ah yes, good ol Blue. Google is bad because google. Everyone else is fine though. Perfectly acceptable. Government spying? Fine. Locking up culture? Fine. Locking up citizens for trivial things? Fine.
But holy shit Google.
Google? Google google. Google google the Google google google.
Google google? Google google google.
Motherfucking Google.

Blue, you’re a joke. You’re not even a good joke. You’re that bad joke that’s always told too soon. You’re the poster child for abortion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: ^^^Ah, Techdirt... Blind Mike, ankle-biters, and frauds.

The risks to you from the data gathering are very different. If Google make a mistake with its analysis, they try to feed you adverts that you will totally ignore (if you don’t already have adblock running). If the government make a mistake, armed men can burst in through your front door, and expose you and your family to a risk of being shot dead.

RyanNerd (profile) says:

This just pisses me off continued

For those of you who don’t think the Obama administration is part of the problem (not excusing Bush and his asshat antics):

…Bamford’s assumption was that the uproar over a separate, post-9/11 warrantless wiretapping program and the departure of the Bush administration meant that the NSA had been reined in.

“Here we are, under the Obama administration, doing it sort of like the Bush administration on steroids,” he said in an interview with the Associated Press. “This order here is about as broad as it can possibly get, when it comes to focusing on personal communications. There’s no warrant, there’s no suspicion, there’s no probable cause … it sounds like something from East Germany.”

Alt0 says:

What saddens my heart in all of this is, now we can fully expect an “event” where those who got caught in this outrageous behavior will then say, “See!, if you all just left this alone, we could have stopped it.”
Makes you wonder how far they would go (or have already gone) to justify themselves. Including the event which started the whole ball rolling.

Anonymous Coward says:

when the head of the security services is blaming someone else AND lying ti Congress, as well as getting Congress to try to play down what is happening (remember that any of the members of Congress that found out that they were being spied on, assuming that at the moment they are not, would be extremely worried/angry about it) has to be real bad!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

remember that any of the members of Congress that found out that they were being spied on, assuming that at the moment they are not

Interesting idea, but it requires data to be filtered after it is collected. Would such filtering only apply to the congress critters private numbers, or does it include their office numbers. What about members of their family, staffers and other associates? What about calls from the public to their phone?
Looks to me like it is much easier to gather their data along with everybody else’s.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

What about calls from the public to their [members of Congress] phone?

Right now, based on all available information, I’m presuming that the call I made yesterday to my Congressman’s D.C. office, via Verizon, wound up in the NSA database. In that call to my U.S. representative, I urged the impeachment of the N.S.A. director. Why is the N.S.A. monitoring a call like that?

I do not believe that can be justified.


Btw, what do your elected representatives’ offices have to say to you on this issue? You did call, didn’t you?

Anonymous Coward says:


I brought this up in another post but it was late so I’ll say it again.

If this type of spying is necessary to stop terrorism why didn’t it stop the Boston Bombers?
They had been under surveillance, they were foreigners in contact with other foreigners and yet…

So as an American they feel they need my personal info to do what?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Boston

So as an American they feel they need my personal info to do what?

Well, Virginia used to care whether you were a member of the NAACP. ? I mean Virginia used to really care about that. ? Took it all the way to the Supreme Court level of caring. ???? (See NAACP v Button, (1963) for some history on that.)

Maybe the NSA wants to know whether you belong to the NAACP?

Hey! Does Barack Obama belong to the NAACP?

Angry Voter says:

Re: Boston

This also raises the point that the NSA already knew about the wide spread banking fraud, insider trading, bribes and money laundering at the major banks.

And then pretended they had no evidence.

But, if you download music that’s played on the radio for free —- THAT justifies a SWAT attack on your house!

Anonymous Coward says:

in actual fact, there are multiple villains. the law enforcement agencies for wanting to get the data, the services for providing it and Congress for allowing it. each is as guilty as the next for their share in what is happening, however, the blame-game changes a little. law enforcement want this data because every single American along with every other person in the world is classed as a terrorist. this is clearly the reason they want the data. it’s also the biggest load of bollocks going! Congress knew exactly what was going on and apart from a couple of members whose hands were tied, agreed to this spying. that is absolutely disgraceful behaviour from elected politicians. they are supposed to be (even though they are nowhere near it) honest and trustworthy! they in actual fact deceived the very people they were entrusted with the task of representing, and do not even think about using the ploy of ‘keeping the Nation safe!’ as an excuse. as for the service providers, they are so scared about losing a cent, those in charge would sell their kids if it meant keeping control, having one over the competition and turning that cent into a dollar!

FM HIlton (profile) says:

Lies and spies

Of course the NSA is collecting more than just ‘data’ from everyone.
They’ve got the most exotic and technologically advanced stuff in the universe to spy on everyone with..and nevermind that they’re breaking the law doing it.

How many facilities do they have? Can’t find out, because it’s classified. Who did they spy on? Can’t tell you, because it’s classified. Did they gather more than data on anyone? Can’t tell you, blah, blah blah.

From the time the NSA was created, its’ mission has been spying. Not just on the foreigners. Don’t be naive-of course it’s on Americans. It always has been, always will be.

They intend to keep it that way, unless someone gets upset, like the committee that controls their funding..but even that isn’t a given, since most of their budget is hidden very, very deep inside the military budget under “Miscellaneous expenses.”


Re: Little grey scare.

Terrorism isn’t squat. Many of us grew up with the prospect that the world might end in 15 minutes and that could happen at any moment.

My own death doesn’t even seem as scary as the whole world and everyone I’ve ever known all dying at once.

People need some perspective.

We’ve survived much bigger bogeymen.

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