Mike Rogers: You Can't Have Your Privacy Violated If You Don't Know About It

from the say-what-now? dept

We already wrote a bit about yesterday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing concerning NSA surveillance. There were two sections to it: the first three hours were the top government spooks and lawmakers, and then the last half an hour or so involved three pundits outside of government (though with former government credentials). At the very very end of that, there was an absolutely incredible exchange between Intel Committee Chair Rep. Mike Rogers and law professor Stephen Vladeck (the only panelist the entire day who expressed concerns about what the NSA was doing). You have to watch the exchange to believe it, but it ends with Rogers insisting that “you can’t have your privacy violated if you don’t know your privacy is violated, right?” Vladeck immediately disagreed and Rogers seemed to find it astounding that anyone could agree, suggesting that it would upend the law. Watch the exchange:

If you don’t watch the video, Rogers basically asks all three panelists if they think it’s okay to do the kind of business records search that’s currently done, and the two intelligence community apologists on the panel immediately agree. Vladeck suggests that there are caveats, and Rogers attacks him for equivocating, misattributing a quote about “give me a one-armed economist” (it was Harry Truman, but Rogers gives credit to Ronald Reagan). Vladeck again points out that the specifics matter, and notes that it’s possible to agree with the concept of a program, but not the implementation of the program — using the death penalty as a comparison. Rogers gets upset at this (bizarrely appearing to totally not comprehend the point Vladeck is making) and then finally Vladeck again points out that the process matters, and it’s ridiculous to answer a substantive question about whether the concept makes sense without discussing the process, leading to the following, in which Rogers suggests there are no process questions because no one has complained:

Rogers: I would argue the fact that we haven’t had any complaints come forward with any specificity arguing that their privacy has been violated, clearly indicates, in ten years, clearly indicates that something must be doing right. Somebody must be doing something exactly right.

Vladeck: But who would be complaining?

Rogers: Somebody who’s privacy was violated. You can’t have your privacy violated if you don’t know your privacy is violated.

Vladeck: I disagree with that. If a tree falls in the forest, it makes a noise whether you’re there to see it or not.

Rogers (astounded): Well that’s a new interesting standard in the law. We’re going to have this conversation… but we’re going to have wine, because that’s going to get a lot more interesting…

This is kind of astounding. According to Mike Rogers, you can apparently violate his privacy, so long as he doesn’t know about it. How is it that such a person is supposedly in charge of oversight of the intelligence community? He honestly believes that as long as the NSA spies on people privately, their privacy isn’t violated?

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Comments on “Mike Rogers: You Can't Have Your Privacy Violated If You Don't Know About It”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Too Much Credit

Indirect bribery under the seal of secret service secrecy. It is close to the perfect crime if he doesn’t tread incredibly lightly (the obscuration of the overview seems to suggest a serious bending of the law to avoid scrutiny!).

Furthermore, it is a good question if a person with so seriously vested economic interests on one side of an issue should be able to hold as high a position in political oversight of said issue! He will be unable to hold an opinion without vested interests to him in far too few matters to effectively hold the responsibility.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Too Much Credit

How many patriotic references and quotes from beloved past leaders were in that video?

I only had to listen to 3 minutes of that guy to realize he’s a double talking shape shifting liar. He knows exactly what he’s saying and where his lies are and how to use language to manipulate. That’s the professional politicians do and it’s all very intentional. He could do it in his sleep.

Anonymous Coward says:

As I stated in a comment on the previous post about the when I first saw this, this means that he believes that a person who passes out and is raped but doesn’t know they were raped wasn’t actually raped at all. Making a comment like that publicly should automatically be grounds for censure because he is obviously to incompetent to hold the position that he does. I couldn’t believe that crap actually flew out of his pie hole. Astounding.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

And likewise, if you murdered someone, and nobody else found out about it, then no foul. Bonus points if it was someone that had no friends or living family.

It’s not like the murdered person is upset about it now, they’re dead, they can’t hold a grudge. If nobody (still living) was ever affected, then you never committed a crime.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Actually I see the argument he’s trying to make though (even if it is a stupid one). I think he was trying to tie the argument to the legal concept of innocent until proven guilty by saying you legally can’t hold someone responsible for something they allegedly did if no one else knows they did it and there is no proof of it so it from a purely legal standpoint is like it never happened as nothing really can be done about it. But that is not what he said.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Well that’s a new interesting standard in the law.”

Pardon the French (we’re not still spying on them right), but holy shit.

My interpretation of the law (and I’m assuming the standard interpretation) is if you break the law you’re guilty of breaking the law, even if no one notices. However, you’re only penalized if someone catches you and proves it in the court of law. Just because you aren’t penalized doesn’t make the act right though…

I’m reading Rogers say, “Yes I know the NSA’s actions go against the law, but it hasn’t been proven illegal cause no one can prove it, so it’s legal.” That very clearly is an us against them attitude where you have to be secretive and selective to maintain control and that’s everything a democracy isn’t. If we have a leader with that mindset, there should be things in place to remove said person from any sort of power immediately before they do anything to take power from the public!

out_of_the_blue says:

?Just give me a one-armed economist.? President Harry S. Truman

President Truman was referring to the infuriating way in which economists would hedge themselves about their economic recommendations and prognostications. Classical economic theory is PERFECT for reviewing the data and telling you what HAPPENED AFTER THE FACT. A lot of good THAT does you…


?Give me a one-armed economist!? That was the exasperated plea of former U.S. President Harry Truman in the late 1940s. Truman grumbled that whenever his economists advised him, they would inevitably say, ?On the one hand?but, on the other?,? accounting for the ambiguities of economic indicators.

The Nobel-Prize-winning Irish playwright, G. Bernard Shaw, said, ?If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.?


In the real world, “economists” are pretty much universally despised.

Mike claims to have a college degree in economics, can’t ya tell?


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: ?Just give me a one-armed economist.? President Harry S. Truman

Do you sometimes lie awake at night in fetid sweats over the fact that there’s an entire nobel prize for a field you believe is ‘pretty much universally despised?’ It sounds like the kind of thing that would keep a kind of person like you up nights.

Anonymous Coward says:

Rogers (astounded): Well that’s a new interesting standard in the law. We’re going to have this conversation… but we’re going to have wine, because that’s going to get a lot more interesting…

I feel so much better knowing our elected officials need to go get drunk in order to talk about the impact of the laws they pass. Rogers must hang out with all of those NSA recruits who get drunk, wear costumes, and go sing karaoke after work. Mandatory drug and alcohol testing for all members of Congress, and the NSA, seems to be in order.

Anonymous Coward says:

Locations = association

I think its worth digging into the ‘location’ from telephone records thing, because there’s a major untold story there and I don’t think we’ve been told the full story yet.

We have this:

“Mr. Wyden pressed General Alexander about whether the N.S.A. had ever collected, or made plans to collect, bulk records about Americans? locations based on cellphone tower data.
General Alexander replied that the N.S.A. is not doing so as part of the call log program, but that information pertinent to Mr. Wyden?s question was classified.”


He later clarified it as a test done on phone location data. I don’t believe that it was declassified, so I suspect the program still is classified, the ‘test’ is a deflection.

I believe NSA gets the phone metadata, not some filtered subset of the phone metadata that doesn’t include the tower data. The telcos bend over backwards to do NSA bidding to keep legal immunity, they would just give them the full metadata.

From that data, of course location can be determined.

If you have a track of the location of people, then you can derive the associations, who’s path mirrored who’s path. Who is sleeping with who (colocation late at night). Who went shopping with whom, who had a meeting with who, etc.

That a powerful weapon against normal people.

I don’t believe for a second General A, would have resisted the temptation to data mine location associations in secret.

So I think we have that revelation still to come.

Anonymous Coward says:

“I would argue the fact that we haven’t had any complaints come forward with any specificity arguing that their privacy has been violated, clearly indicates, in ten years, clearly indicates that something must be doing right. Somebody must be doing something exactly right.”

Really? No complaints huh? Then WTF are you doing having this inquiry. Did you think it was supposed to be a Tupperware party? And WTF do you think all those lawsuits filed by the ACLU and EFF were all about? Did you think they filed those just because they were bored and thought it would be fun? You don’t think those weren’t complaints? Mr. Rogers, you really need to take a restroom break. The shit you are full of is starting to ooze out your ears.

Anonymous Coward says:

Lets have some fun with this!

If your privacy cannot be violated until you discover it then…

Peeping toms, eavesdropping, spying, document theft, being discriminated against for a job, or your Dr telling everyone about your health problems are only illegal if they get caught.

Sure in a general sense anything is only illegal if you get caught, but that is the law of criminals… are we sitting here seriously watching the very people placed to stop villainy, actively participating and excusing it?

This line of propaganda was invented to prevent “The People” from challenging these bastards. The very notion of bringing things to court sometime is to in fact “test” if people or an organization has overstepped their legal constraints. And when you are no longer allowed an avenue of “redress” against the government… its time to play hard ball.

Berenerd (profile) says:

I can see it now..

Terrorist: How did you know I was planning on blowing up Bozo’s Arena?
NSA: We read it off an email you sent to a supplier about some late deliveries of things that can go boom
Terrorist: I wish to press charges for invading my privacy and also throw the evidence out of court because I caught them doing something illegal.
NSA: Its only Illegal if you get…oh…crap

Edward Teach says:

Does this aphorism apply elsewhere?

Like, say, patents, or copyrights or trademarks?

You can’t have your patent violated if you don’t know about it.

You can’t have your copyright violated if you don’t know about it.

You can’t have your trademark violated if you don’t know about it.

I like the sound of this, so I expect Rep. Rogers to introduce legislation to this effect.

Not an Electronic Rodent (profile) says:

What a plan!

You can’t have your privacy violated if you don’t know your privacy is violated.

I love this. I have a cunning plan…. clearly many US judges have no concept of the internet so if I arrange for compromising pictures of them doing rude things in their own homes and post them all over the internet where they themselves will never see them, I’m totally in the clear… right? I mean, what could possibly go wrong with that plan?

Anon says:

I think what Rogers was trying to say to the question “Who would be complaining?” is that “You can’t -COMPLAIN- about your privacy being violated if you don’t know your privacy is being violated.” To which I would agree. You would not know the tree fell unless you watched it happen or observed it thereafter.

Whether or not he said what he meant or meant what he said, I don’t know. But from his statements about the necessity of transparency, I feel it is meant that the NSA should be telling its Americans what data exactly is being analyzed and to what extent so that Americans can determine if their privacy is being violated.

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