Rep. Peter King Says Referring To NSA Activity As 'Spying' Or 'Snooping' Is Slander

from the oh-really? dept

Rep. Peter King — whose past “hits” have included demanding that the Treasury Department add Wikileaks to its terrorist list, that the Boston bombings showed that we needed even more surveillance, and that reporters who report on leaks like the Ed Snowden leak should be prosecuted — is apparently upset with President Obama’s comments last week concerning how the administration is looking to deal with NSA surveillance.

Now, we were disappointed in those comments as well, but mainly because they were mostly meaningless trifles, designed to appease the public with promises of more transparency, rather than an actual promise to cut back on spying on every single person in the US. Apparently King is upset on the other side of things, believing that even the tiniest amount of increased transparency means that Al Qaeda will win:

The President’s announcement today that he will pursue “reforms” to National Security Agency counterterrorism programs is a monumental failure in presidential wartime leadership and responsibility. These programs are legal, transparent and contain the appropriate checks and balances among the executive, legislative and judicial branches of our government. These intelligence tools keep Americans safe every single day.

America is at war with Islamist terror groups that kill and maim innocent civilians. The current threat to the Homeland is just as high as it was before 9/11. It is difficult to imagine past war leaders such as Franklin Roosevelt or Winston Churchill willingly surrendering signals intelligence tools that are needed to fight our enemies. We need a president who defends our intelligence programs, explains them appropriately to the American people, and uses every legal capability in his arsenal to defeat al Qaeda.

It’s difficult to know where to start with this, since it’s almost all ridiculous. The programs are not at all transparent, don’t appear to contain any significant checks and balances and are of questionable legality. Furthermore, multiple Senators have pointed out that there is no evidence that the hoovering up of all phone records has done anything to “keep Americans safe every day.”

The second paragraph is just pure fearmongering based on nothing — especially the claims about the threats being just as high today as they were before 9/11. Of course, what’s even more ridiculous here is that King was a long time supporter of foreign terrorist organization, the IRA, including supposedly endorsing an attack on a police station that killed nine people. I wonder if he felt that the UK government should have used the same secret surveillance techniques against the IRA?

King wasn’t done there, apparently. Following that statement, he went on Face the Nation and apparently said with a straight face that the public referring to the NSA’s activity as “spying” or “snooping” was slandering the NSA and somehow diminishes their patriotism. Really. The man is apparently serious.

“These people in the NSA are patriots,” King said. “Probably what’s annoyed me the most over the last several months is people casually using words like ‘spying,’ ‘snooping,’ ‘what is the NSA up to now?’ Does anybody think General Alexander wants to snoop on America? I think that demeans the whole political dialogue, and that’s why I wish the president would be more outgoing and defend the NSA lot more than he did.”

“This has really been a slander on the thousand of good men and women who every day dedicate their lives to our country, and particularly General Alexander, who is as patriotic as anyone I have ever met in government or anywhere,” King said. “There is too much loose talk here. Every time i hear ‘snooping’ and ‘spying’, it just drives me crazy. We know what these men and women are doing, and they’re absolutely dedicated patriots.”

Meanwhile, King is not the only one in Congress who is upset that the President even hinted at reforms and transparency. House Speaker John Boehner issued a slightly less inflammatory statement arguing that the President must not back down on keeping the program intact, despite the fact that (again) there is no evidence that it has been necessary in stopping a single terrorist attack.

Transparency is important, but we expect the White House to insist that no reform will compromise the operational integrity of the program. That must be the president’s red line, and he must enforce it. Our priority should continue to be saving American lives, not saving face.”

Actually, I thought our priority should be protecting the Constitution — including the 4th Amendment — but it appears that many members of Congress have forgotten that little requirement.

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Comments on “Rep. Peter King Says Referring To NSA Activity As 'Spying' Or 'Snooping' Is Slander”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Well...

No, they should call it what it is – government-sanctioned Treason. Treason against the populace, treason against the founding ideals of the nation, and it does irreparable harm to the government, who have proven time and again that they can no longer be trusted with, well, anything.

I wouldn’t trust it if it was run on a Rogers/King ticket.

Transmitte (profile) says:

Lil’ petey here is just ringing all the bells he can so he can get noticed. He’s got his eye on the 2016 prize and looks ready to trample any and all who get in his way.

He want’s to talk about the mighty AQ winning? They already have, they’ve got the government jumping at shadows and treating it’s citizens like defacto terrorists and lil’ petey here is all but foaming at the mouth about people questioning their government.

I thought it was the people were not supposed to be afraid of their government.

AB says:

Re: Re:

I was just going to say the same thing. This is exactly the result that Al Qaeda dreamed of; a nation being torn apart by fear. Twenty years ago I thought of the US as the most powerful nation in the world, standing strong and arrogant, spreading the concept of democracy across the planet. Now I see it cowering in the corner, falling under the weight of its own terror. And the rest of the western world, seeing this, is diving after the USA into the very pit of despair.

Brazilian Guy says:

Re: Re: Re:

Of course, part of the global perception fo the decline in power of the US is the fact that while the USA spent all that money on the Military Industrial Complex in the last twelve years, growing 60% their GDP, the rest of the world embraced trading and research – Brazil increased the GDP roughly 4X, and China almost 9X. China and Singapore are spending an atrocious amount of money in the field of electronics and materials science, and drawing talent from all over the world, while the US is perceived as a very restrictive place to go because of all the red tape and surveilance that foreigners had to deal. If you are on the US working and getting money for you and your bosses, you can still get booted out, while in China they would be happy to give you residency, as long as you don’t speak too much about the local issues – even their censorship will allow you to complain about the trains and bus services.

Ninja (profile) says:

The President?s announcement today that he will pursue ?reforms? to National Security Agency counterterrorism programs is a monumental failure in presidential wartime leadership and responsibility.

I wonder, when wasn’t the US at war with something?

It’s very interesting to see how they try to insulate the patriotism aspect (or maybe they are that dangerously patriotic to the point of being blind to the abuses). The comparison to the Nazi Germany and other fascist regimes is inevitable.

Loki says:

Re: Re: When are we not at war?

The problem with having a war on a concept (War on Drugs, War on Terror, War on Poverty) is that you will always be in a war, because a concept is eternal.

To quote from V for Vendetta:

Creedy: Die! Die! Why won’t you die?… Why won’t you die?

V: Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.

TasMot (profile) says:

Re: Re: When are we not at war?

Yes we are at war! The war on drugs. The war on copyright infringers. The war on patent infringers.

The US Government has grown so HUGE that they tax us into poverty and spend the money to support the corporate state.
Those payments to the military industrial complex that lines insiders pockets (like senators wives) has to come from us, the unrepresented nerds in the basements with our computers.

The congress critters seem to have already forgotten how all of these basement dwellers dumped their SOPA agenda. Hopefully they will be just as successful dumping the non-representative members of Congress in the next election.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I am rather amused on how black people in general are way more racist than any white I’ve met to date. I suppose it’s to be expected with centuries of enslaving and prejudice.

And it’s an irony. When Obama was elected I honestly thought that the fact that he is black would breath further new life into the American Govt but apparently he’s more of the same. Sadly.

out_of_the_blue says:

So is Google "spying" or "snooping"? Discuss.

Masnicking includes useless whining about known fascists engaging in semantics. Non-news. — Meanwhile, Mike is busy NOT mentioning Google.

Greenwald reported Snowden saying: “Employees and leaders at Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple, and the rest of our internet titans must ask themselves why they aren’t fighting for our interests the same way small businesses are. The defense they have offered to this point is that they were compelled by laws they do not agree with, but one day of downtime for the coalition of their services could achieve what a hundred Lavabits could not.”

When you think surveillance or spying or snooping think Google!

RD says:

Re: So is Google "spying" or "snooping"? Discuss.

Go away, with your childish jibes and criticisms. The adults are talking here about REAL issues. (ProTip: whining that someone is NOT mentioning something, and trying to make that into an issue as if they DID, is not only infantile and desperate, it adds nothing to the actual important issues being discussed. Unless you think tackling topics like freedom, illegal spying, and upholding the founding principles and constitution of our country is LESS important than your constant ego-centric troll-baiting “look at me! me! ME!” interjections?)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: So is Google "spying" or "snooping"? Discuss.

Because you give Google permission to collect this data by using their services. Read the ToS. If you don’t like the ToS, then don’t use the service. If you aren’t using the service, then they aren’t collecting your data. Why do you keep bringing this up as though it were identical to the government’s secret, non-permissive, and likely illegal gathering of data?

Michael Price says:

Re: Wow

Oh course not. Whilte it’s just as bad as it was before 9/11 if not for these billions of dollars and decimation of civil liberties it would be even worse. If not for that Texas would have been conquered by Muslim hordes and they’d be marching on California as we speak. Haven’t you learned anything from the TARP fiasco?

Anonymous Coward says:

Stop trying to save me

Dear Congress:

You’re bad at “saving lives”, so please just stop and focus on saving all my constitutional rights.

“People are going to die, let them” – that’s not hateful, it’s just reality. You can’t save everyone, especially from their own stupidity, so just focus on making live worth living for the majority of us that are going to live.

ricebowl (profile) says:

There are times I can’t help but wonder if Al-Qaeda just sits back, looking at the internet, and wonders, with some bemusement, if it’s even worth bothering doing anything else to incite the US. Currently it seems that you’re undermining your own constitution and civil liberties rather more than they were ever able.

The point of terror is to terrorise, Congress, currently (and admittedly perhaps staged entirely for its own increase in powers), seems to be ratcheting up its own levels of terror on a daily basis without outside help from any actual terrorists.

Michael Price says:

Re: Re:

AQ doesn’t want the US to violate it’s constitution, it wants it to get out of muslim lands. The hope is that the US government will destroy it’s own ability to do anything by massive overreaction. That’s working since they can’t go on spending billions (or even thousands) on this “war” for much longer.

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

Hold up for a second here

Rep. Peter King does realize that the word “snooping” is synonymous with the word “spying” (although the former has a more derogatory and civilian connotation)? And that the latter term is actually part of the NSA’s job description? Okay, technically the CIA is the one involved in the “boots-on-the-ground” spying and the NSA is the surveillance version of spying, but the point is still the same.

I honestly do believe that the men and women working in the NSA are well-meaning patriots (well, the ones who actually work in government at least. The private contractors I’m not so sure about). Part of the problem is that I think a lot of the folks in the NSA have had their head buried in surveillance for so long they may have become obsessed with their work and can’t see the big picture (upholding the Constitution/protecting Americans’ privacy) anymore.

The sad truth is, the NSA’s may have good intentions with its worm, but if left unchecked, the NSA also excels at paving the road to hell for America.

Anonymous Coward says:

So snooping and spying are hurtful words on their playground? Can’t talk about it because they’re too injured by those words?

How about Curious Georging?
Playing peek-a-boo? Too obvious?
Maybe ‘Killing Kittens’?
I guess ‘selling crack’ went out with the nineties.

Dice it anyway they want, they’re still just playing cornhole with the Constitution

stryx says:

King vs. The Crown

King should rethink this not as Homeland vs. Hackers, but maybe the Orangemen vs. the Volunteers?

Greenwald said he had no idea why King was making the false accusation.

?The last thing I would try to do is read what goes on internally in the swamp of Peter King?s brain,? he remarked. ?What I do know is that he has a history of all kinds of radical and extremist statements. He himself was a supporter of terrorism for several decades when it was done by the IRA.?

Anonymous Coward says:

Not a one of them seem to be able to see that this spying is not desired nor wanted by the American citizens. Not one of them it seems can actually come right out and speak the truth. It has to be very carefully crouched in words that they have changed the meaning to what it means that isn’t in the common man’s dictionary. Lawyering at it’s finest shows why there is so little respect for the barristers’ profession and even less for the political profession.

Used to be the US stood for something that has been totally lost. Face it, Al Quedia has won. We are now a police state.

I for one don’t like it.

As is mentioned above, the oath is to protect the constitution, not to protect the people. Were protecting the people important, we wouldn’t be over in the Middle East fighting wars and putting our young adults in harm’s way. The majority of our people don’t live there, they live here.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Is it Stupidity or is it Duckspeak?

I’m not sure if King is saying this to affirm his loyalty to the party line or if he genuinely believes his own rhetoric.

I guess the two might not be exclusive.

But it sounds like King’s bullshitting for the sake of showing solidarity, or…

King is spouting off because he’s really that indoctrinated.

Either he’s bought, or he’s incompetent. Either way he shouldn’t be in office.

Anonymous Coward says:

Here is the real problem with the NSA and these politicians supporting the present structure.

The trust is gone. No one can believe anyone in the know and what they say about these programs. It will take totally closing them down or third party independents who can be trusted to restore the American’s faith in their government.

So far they are batting zero in this aspect.

FM Hilton (profile) says:

Insulted, yet?

Hey, Rep King, you gotta go read this, by me. I bet I hit a home run on every thing you hate about the truth.

So sue me. I’m guilty of slander. You’re guilty of mass destruction of the Constitution.

Who’s in the wrong now? Not me, I bet.

And guess what: you can’t slander corporations or government bodies. Only people.

You owe me my rights back as a citizen. I owe you nothing but contempt.

The picture says it all.

Nick (profile) says:

The Military Industrial Complex (or as Andrew Feinstein suggests the Military Industrial/Congressional Complex, MICC) is the largest contributor (aka legalized briber) to King. Just take a look at his 2011-2012 donors.

Northrop Grumman $13,500
General Dynamics $13,000
Raytheon Co $11,000
Boeing Co $10,000
Lockheed Martin $10,000
United Technologies $10,000

When the US goes enters a military conflict, they make money (our tax dollars) and he gets power. This is why he uses rhetoric like “wartime.” The guy is thirsty for blood and your money.

gorehound (profile) says:

Peter King is just another dumb butt bagger who we hope to see Voted out next Election.I am very fed up with his type.Him and Lyin Ryan the bastard son of Ayn Rand, and the whole rest of their Crowd of baggers.People like Cruz and that Rince mybutt Priestbusted…I just love the Hillary BS you stated.1ST Amendment good enough for your kind to unleash Citizens United and make your own little Hate Films so we just see the same behavior and on a daily basis.More Bagger Boys who put foot in mouth.The other Day it was another one of these guys telling people at some Bible Thumper Convention to Defy the IRS and yes I will have your back.
Just goes on and on with these guys like a broken skipping Cylinder from the 19TH Century.

Anonymous Coward says:

Perhaps the interpretation of "spying" and "snooping" is a secret from the public!

Hmmm… I realize it’s not as “authoritative” as some of the traditionally published dictionaries, but close enough for me (I am picking the ones I like; you may like others)
a person who keeps close and secret watch on the actions and words of another or others.
a private detective.

So, um, maybe “snooping” isn’t really accurate, but how exactly do I need to squint to say the NSA isn’t “spying”…

Lord Binky says:

I don’t disagree that many believe they are doing is ‘protecting America’ or some such nonsense about sacrificing others for the ‘greater good’. The problem is this: They both have the goal of controlling large groups of people to behave in the way they desire by causing those people to fear behaving any other way.

By the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary* of terrorism this makes the NSA and the United States Government terrorists. The US government tries to get out of this label by stipulating ‘unlawful’ into their definition, which is creates such a horrendous logical fallacy as to force a person’s brain to stop reasoning. How can that limit an entity from any desired action when the entity itself decides what is and is not an illegal action?

The hubris of these HUMANS is astounding. They claim that they are different because they are the good guys? Guess what, the Islamist terror groups you are chasing say THEY are the good guys too. There is nothing inherently infallible about the humans making up our government such that they can be trusted to act in any interest but their own. Saying ‘trust us we’re the good guys’ is not a valid justification or defense of your actions, you are not nor are you following some infallible hero/saint/demigod/supernatural being. How is it the FOURTH president understood this concept, yet FOURTY presidents later this basic reality is beyond the top government official’s comprehension?(including the 44th president, he has used the same basic premise as a defense/justification) “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.” – James Madison, Fourth President of the United States.

*Terrorism: the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.

TasMot (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If we “just trust ’em” then slavery would still be legal. Let’s face it, the US government just runs by the whim of the loudest bunch of lobbyists. At one time, alcoholic beverages were illegal. Most Americans didn’t seem to want it that way though. It was repealed. It is no longer legal to “own” other people. Now its time to toss out all of the known terrorists in Congress and get the US Government back to upholding the Constitution and stop pandering to the “BUT TERRORISTS” and “BUT THE CHILDREN” loudmouths.

Watcher says:

Let's watch them

Instead of letting them watch us, let’s watch them. I’d like to know who Rep. Peter King’s friends are, where he travels, what his email addresses are, what his search history is, who he contacts, etc. Let’s start a website where we can post information on the people supposedly entrusted by the people. It’s only fair we get to collect as much information on them as well – remember the children.

anonymous says:

NSA contains some bad eggs

conducting “operations” that effectively stalk americans. it’s almost as if theyre practicing on us. ok. but is there a case where this can get out of control such as the NSA “field operative” who’s “the operation” is stalking his ex-girlfriend, or the NSA person who over-stepped his directives and is stalking his neighbors just to try to to scare them, threatening people with anything from monitoring to murdering of their families. Perhaps some basic psychological testing on new recruits might help to not denigrate the reputation of organizations that perform necessary military functions such as signals intelligence. then again, recording everybody’s phone calls is a bit off the wall and probably just more a waste of money than anything else

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