Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the stupid-is-as-intelligence-does dept

There’s an old joke about “military intelligence” being an oxymoron, and lately the intelligence community seems intent on resurrecting it as a fresh and poignant observation, while Congress and the administration struggle to get in on the action and make sure everyone knows it goes all the way to the top. This week we’ve got a big crop of comments that will attest to this, starting with Uriel-238‘s most insightful comment of the week, offering the simple and obvious response to a national intelligence lawyer wondering why people want to share data with Facebook but not the government:

How about (for starters)
(…and also what all you guys said.)

While the lawyer was “wondering” with extreme prejudice, ex-CIA/NSA boss Michael Hayden was making a proclamation: that Ed Snowden is the worst traitor in history, eclipsing Benedict Arnold and the Rosenbergs. DSchneider won second most insightful comment (and actually scored even more funny votes, but not enough to crack the top two, because the funny side was much more competitive this week) by pointing out one of the (many, many) ridiculous things Hayden said:

Hayden goes on to blame Snowden for: “the undeniable economic punishment that will be inflicted on American businesses for simply complying with American law.”

That sounds an awful lot like blaming your doctor because he told you you got syphilis from sleeping with a prostitute.

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we’ll start with one more response to Hayden that also got lots of votes in both categories. As we pointed out, Hayden’s argument largely amounts to the idea that because Snowden’s leaks were digital, they are more substantial and more potentially damaging. This doesn’t seem particularly relevant to the question of whether he should be branded a traitor, where the intent and nature of his actions are what matters most, but as mudlock noted, the concept is highly relevant to the surveillance issues that Snowden revealed:

“The argument, basically, is that because it’s digital, Snowden has a lot more info.”

Funny, that’s the same problem we have with the NSA.

Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee found a way to join the Snowden pile-on by approving the threat of trade sanctions against any country that offers him asylum. Nastybutler77 provided the one simple fact that is the ultimate response to the Senators, Hayden and everyone else:

History will not look kindly on those who seek to persecute Snowden.

On the funny side, first place goes to Jay for further summing up Hayden’s silly comments about Snowden:

Snowden is clearly so much worse than all of them because he did his crimes… ON THE INTERNET. Thus making it a totally original and innovative crime that had never been done before. It’s obvious.

For second place, the Obama administration gets in on the party: we noted that their promise to protect whistleblowers had disappeared completely from the website, but PW suggested that maybe they’re just playing spy games:

It didn’t disappear, it’s just *transparent*. You just need the Confidential Secret Decoder Pen light source to see what it says 😉

Since we’ve got such a strong theme going on, I see no reason to break it with the final two editor’s choices. First, we’ll head to yet another example of Snowden stupidity, with the feds proving unable to stay consistent on the question of whether or not Snowden got key NSA secrets, leading bergman to propose a name for the phenomenon:

Schroedinger’s Whistleblower?

As most of you know, that’s a reference to a famous thought experiment — and this week, we proposed our own thought experiment: if (as the feds claim) collecting data is not a search until you look at the data, then is downloading copyrighted material not piracy until you open it? Mike ended that post by reminding the pro-copyright crowd that it’s meant to make a point about surveillance, not about copyright, and encouraging them not to “bother spewing something stupid.” An anonymous commenter gave us a well-deserved admonishment for attempting to create artificial scarcity:

There is an infinite supply of stupid, the cost of duplication and distribution of stupid is effectively zero. I thought you guys understood the economics of the digital age, stupidity is ubiquitous and needless to say, the USA is at the forefront of the stupid economy.

Do you have any ideas how many jobs in the states are supported by the stupid.

Damnit, he’s right. Maybe we should try a 30-second warning about stupid at the beginning of every post, with a big scary badge logo…

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Comments on “Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt”

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out_of_the_blue says:

Here's FUNNY: Greenwald confirms out_of_the_blue right about Google!

Emphasis added:

Greenwald told ABC News? George Stephanopoulos. ?And what these programs are, are very simple screens, like the ones that supermarket clerks or shipping and receiving clerks use, where all an analyst has to do is enter an email address or an IP address, and it does two things. It searches that database and lets them listen to the calls or read the emails of everything that the NSA has stored, or look at the browsing histories or Google search terms that you?ve entered, and it also alerts them to any further activity that people connected to that email address or that IP address do in the future.?

It’s particularly FUNNY with the Facebook item of the first paragraph here, ’cause Mike and minions so obviously try to avoid mentioning Google as if the only spying to be concerned about is gov’t, and as if the NSA doesn’t “directly” access Google systems.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Here's FUNNY: Greenwald confirms out_of_the_blue right about Google!

Have you ever heard the story about the boy who cried wolf? It was a tale that has been told forever to children to teach them a lesson about squandering the trust that others have placed in them until people no longer believe what they have to say.
This story isn’t just about lying but rather the value of your words. It’s a story that you should take a look at and reflect upon.
To put it in perspective for you, if you often sound less-than credible, people lose respect for you and your words lose value. When it comes time to actually say something important, people will no longer listen to what you have to say, regardless of the importance.

You are, right now, at the point where people don’t want to listen to what you have to say, so any importance that your words may have are lost due to your crying wolf.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Here's FUNNY: Greenwald confirms out_of_the_blue right about Google!

Except no one has avoided mentioning this? I guess I’m not sure what your point is other than that you have a hardon for Google. We all already know that any service on the internet that stores history can have that history requested by the government or caught up in dragnets like the one used by the NSA. We know this because, among other sources, it has been reported repeatidly on this site (by the article writers). The issue remains that the government is illegally accessing this data because the solution to not liking that Google or any other service collects data remains an easy one: don’t use Google.

Anonymous Coward says:

Ootb, if you have a problem with Google… (now here’s a revelation) DON’T USE IT! Put Google in your host file for god’s sake.

If you can’t understand that, maybe just maybe, you should remove the tin foil hat and leave the internet. Google won’t be spying on you if you’ll get you a log cabin in the back 40 somewhere and stay there.

In the meantime for all your ranting and raving here have another report vote.

Ron (I really don't give a crap about the NSA) Dav says:

Hayden / Snowden / Binney

On Fox news Hayden dumps a truck load of bone headed comments. My favorite was “We don’t know what he took”. This is an immensely overlooked statement which Binney (NSA whistle-blower) said “Never in our history within the government has anyone been given the kind of access that Snowden had”. Yes, Snowden was a contractor for Booz Allen Hamilton or BAH an 3rd party intelligence contractor. My question is “Did Hayden let the cat out of the bag” ? Do 3rd party intelligence contractors have an open Kimono access to the entire national security databases as Hayden intimated ? Fortunately Binney weighed in again and said “Snowden had some kind of super user access being an administrator”.

On thing I have read about over the years is how compartmentalized our national security information is and how it is so hard to get to. Did the government have a secret policy which allowed 3rd party contractors “FULL ACCESS WITHOUT RESTRICTION”. Obviously this has major national security implications.

So lets ask the big picture questions. Is Gen Michael Hayden and Gen Keith Alexander guilty of treason for implementing or allowing lax security policies behind closed doors which gave 3rd party Intel contractor carte blanche’ access ? If they are guilty of treason which I believe they are, then why aren’t they up on trial and sought after like Snowden ?

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