Leaders Of The 9/11 Commission Say NSA Surveillance Has Gone Too Far

from the wow dept

One of the key talking points from defenders of the NSA surveillance program is that they had to implement it after the 9/11 Commission revealed “holes” in information gathering that resulted in 9/11. This is a misstatement of what that report actually indicated — in that it showed that more than enough data had actually been collected, it’s just that the intelligence community didn’t do anything with it. Either way, it seems that the leadership of the 9/11 Commission — Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, who were the chair and vice chair of the committee respectively — have now spoken out against the NSA surveillance efforts. And they don’t hold back:

The NSA’s metadata program was put into place with virtually no public debate, a worrisome precedent made worse by erecting unnecessary barriers to public understanding via denials and misleading statements from senior administration officials. Continue Reading

When the Congress and the courts work in secret; when massive amounts of data are collected from Americans and enterprises; when government’s power of intrusion into the lives of ordinary citizens, augmented by the awesome power of advanced technologies, is hugely expanded without public debate or discussion over seven years, then our sense of constitutional process and accountability is deeply offended.

Officials insist that the right balance has been struck between security and privacy. But how would we know, when all the decisions have been made in secret, with almost no oversight?

The article goes on in great detail about the problems and calls for a truly public debate. As they note:

We are stronger as a nation when we understand what the government is doing. This does not mean sharing sensitive intelligence with the public. A public debate poses challenges when it involves classified information that dribbles out, obfuscated by misinformation. But there is certainly far more we can discuss openly.

Indeed.

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Comments on “Leaders Of The 9/11 Commission Say NSA Surveillance Has Gone Too Far”

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23 Comments
Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Oooh, the scheduled comment from former Congressmen!

Ohhh, a scheduled comment from Techdirt’s most prominent ankle-biter!

(Which, as usual, contains nothing of substance)

PS: I’m surprised you haven’t wore out the F5 on your keyboard yet. You must hit it at least 100 times a day, anxiously awaiting the next Techdirt article appear so you can yap something at them.

RichardLB (profile) says:

Re: Yep

In 2001, the problem was that there were all of these different agencies, from small police departments to the FBI and then some with compartmentalized information. A really good lead or information had next to no chance of making it to the right people. The push was to join it all together and share the information.

@Kean has a good point in that the NSA has continued to evolve the created data cohesiveness without any public oversight.

From a tech & security perspective, the most shocking part is that the public is shocked about all of it. To us in the industry, it’s like “Why is this a surprise to everyone?”

@Kean also makes a good point against the Snowden types: “We are stronger as a nation when we understand what the government is doing. This does not mean sharing sensitive intelligence with the public. [..] there is certainly far more we can discuss openly.”

Wally (profile) says:

One of the key talking points from defenders of the NSA surveillance program is that they had to implement it after the 9/11 Commission revealed "holes" in information gathering that resulted in 9/11.

I find the NSA’s statement on why 9/11 happened quite bemusing because they were the ones withholding the data that the FBI needed to bust the people responsible for 9/11.

Once again I cite Nova’s “Spy Factory” episode for the information about this.

You see, the very lack of transparency to other Government agencies is what got the NSA to be so far on the defensive front. It’s actually in policy to pull stunts like this. Funny thing is, it almost seems like they’ve told one administration one thing, and the totally opposite to the next. Both House and Senate are watching their typical news agencies to get the information on spying. This fills them with misinformation and bias.

Now if the NSA was truly transparent as they claim to have been, I’m sure the Amash Amendment would have passed. Political polarity is the most dangerous thing a person can side with on such a human scale of debate. I’m saddened yet not surprised that 2/3 of Ohio’s representatives were against the amendment.

One thing to note. In my state, in my district, I have always found that the candidate that has had the most things muckraked on is the one you want to vote for. Usually those people have gone through enough shit to know they don’t want that shit happening to the people they represent. Ohio is a swing state. We are born of free thinkers, and the two idiots that “represent” my district, and that of my in-laws do not one bit represent the feelings and sentiments of those they represent.

Anonymous Coward says:

and we’re supposed to think they didn’t know what was going on either? yeah, of course not! almost everyone knew what was happening except the ordinary members of the public that were being spied on, who had nothing to hide from the get-go and the ones that needed to be spied on but wouldn’t have been using ordinary and usual means to communicate with each other anyway, unless they were fucking stupid!! the main reason the public is being spied on is because it is much easier to spy on those that have nothing to hide and do things out in the open than to find the ‘hidden’ people that communicate secretively, trying their damnedest not to be caught in the first place!! which self respecting terrorist in their right mind would just send a txt or make a phone call to another member of whatever group they belonged to without taking the strictest of measures to remain hidden?? i mean, come on!!

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The most disturbing part of both those options is that the politician will likely put his or her own interests above those they are supposed to be representing.

This situation affects major corporations and normal civilians alike. I for one am VERY uncomfortable that self interest has become fashionable as of late.

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