NSA Reform Reactions: Peter King Sick Of 'ACLU Types' While Mike Rogers Calls Plan 'Unworkable'

from the better-your-civil-liberties-violated-than-your-intelligence-agency-slightly-brui dept

Obama’s will-this-do NSA reform plan left critics with plenty to say, even if it did manage to exceed expectations which were set at world-record-attempt-in-limbo height. The NSA’s supporters, on the other hand, had plenty to say about it, mainly because it seemingly justified their pro-surveillance state position.

Rep. Peter King, who has called Ed Snowden a “terrorist appeaser,” declared Rand Paul unfit to hold office and insinuated many Congress members may be talking to terrorists (and that’s just this month!) took to the airwaves to voice his opinion on Obama’s speech. As far as King can see, this whole lot of nothing was just what the nation needed.

“It was better than I expected it to be,” said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee who attended the White House announcement and a staunch defender of the NSA. “Basically the system stays intact, even on the metadata.”

The only caveat King offered was that some of the specifics seemed a little arbitrary.

“I wouldn’t have put any of these reforms in place, but having said that, I think they are the minimum of what he had to do, especially considering his base and where he’s coming from,” King said, pointing to the limits on tracing secondary and tertiary phone numbers. “I don’t know what the constitutional or statutory reason for that is, why two is safer than three, but again, I think that was a way to calm down the ACLU types. That just seemed to me like a cosmetic compromise.”

Those pesky “ACLU types” and their obsession with civil liberties and privacy. Just imagine the robust surveillance state we could have if we’d just rid ourselves of the few entities working day in and day out to preserve our Constitutional rights!

But he’s right. The “hop” limitation isn’t built on laws or statutes. It’s an arbitrary number that projects a certain amount of visible restraint on the NSA’s behalf. It could hop all it wanted to and likely get away with it, give or take a Snowden. In fact, the ODNI’s latest batch of court orders shows that the NSA had already voluntarily dropped from four (or more) hops down to three as of 2010.

In addition, the Court understands from the Declaration of Lieutenant General Keith B. Alexander, Director of NSA (Ex. A to the Report of the United States filed in docket number BR on August 17,2009) that NSA has made a number of technical modifications that will prohibit a) from inadvertently accessing the BR metadata in [xxxxxxx]; b) from querying the BR metadata in [xxxxxxx] with non-RAS-approved identifiers; and c) from going beyond three “hops” from an identifier used to query the BR metadata in [xxxxxxx].

There was no “constitutional or statutory reason” for this reduction either. It was most likely a good faith effort to get back on Judge Walton’s good side after he halted the 215 collections for “systemic abuse” that had occurred since the inception of the program. Likewise, Obama’s choice to dial it back another hop is simply there to show that the program is indeed being “altered,” however slightly. But we’re back to trusting that the NSA is actually doing what it says it does and following instructions from the FISA court and the executive branch and limiting its contact chaining to the stated number of hops.

Mike Rogers, on the other hand, wasn’t quite as gracious about Obama’s NSA Reform Lite. After speculating wildly that Snowden is a Russian spy and simply incapable of right-clicking classified documents and saving them to USB drives without outside help, Rogers went on to do two things, both seemingly diametrically opposed. First off, he released this statement with Dianne Feinstein in support of the president’s speech.

“Today President Obama gave a strong speech in defense of the need to collect and use intelligence in order to protect the nation and to prevent terrorist attacks around the world. We strongly agree with his comments in support and praise of the professionals in our intelligence community who do this work while upholding the civil liberties and privacy rights of all Americans.”

Then he went on TV and furrowed his brow.

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (Mich.) expressed concern that the president’s plan to weigh privacy issues and the government’s role in collecting telephone metadata has “interjected a level of uncertainty and is having a whole bunch of us scratch our heads.”

Hmm. When the only good reform is no reform, even minor reforms become majorly confusing. I’m sure Rogers is perplexed as to why his incessant, often nonsensical defense of the NSA has failed to end the “debate.” I’m sure the president is also perplexed, having received a public statement from Rogers that literally said “great speech, Chief!” only to have every sentiment in it stripped away by the Congressman on live TV. (Or not. Politics and such.)

The furrow in Rogers’ brow must have been deep enough to cut off oxygen to his brain, because he followed up his “concern” with this melange of surveillance tropes and baseless claims.

Rogers said the president’s proposals represent big changes that could jeopardize efforts to keep the nation safe from attack.

He said that parts of the president’s proposal are “unworkable” and questioned the president’s call to look at whether the government or private sector should handle the bulk of the intelligence gathering.

The program has stopped hundreds of thousands of wasted FBI man hours chasing leads down rabbit holes, he said.

He argued that the program fills the gap “that we know we missed on the 9-11 attacks” and allows intelligence officials to dig more deeply into the details of communications.

“I just think we don’t want to go to pre-9-11 because we haven’t had an attack,” he said.

There you have it. Not much changed for the NSA, program-wise, and yet we’re now terrorist fodder. Rogers says Obama handed down “big changes,” something absolutely no one (outside the NSA) agrees is true. It’s mostly cosmetic changes and empty gestures that leave nearly every NSA program completely unscathed and it was all prefaced by a multi-paragraph love note to the intelligence community.

Since the leaks began, Rogers has devolved into a caricature — a broadly-drawn surveillance statist that spouts talking points and sees terrorists lurking behind every civil liberty. Rogers maintains his hardline on protecting the NSA’s status quo even when other intelligence cheerleaders are having a hard time finding much to complain about in Obama’s “comprehensive” NSA “reform” “effort.” He is no longer relevant to the debate. The only problem is his position at the head of the House Intelligence Committee, a platform that guarantees he will always be asked his opinion — and from which he can undermine further reform efforts and stymie his fellow representatives’ attempts at oversight.

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Comments on “NSA Reform Reactions: Peter King Sick Of 'ACLU Types' While Mike Rogers Calls Plan 'Unworkable'”

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Anonymous Coward says:

King is a terrorist sympathizer. He was fully supportive of the IRA. That’s one hypocritical politician that needs to go. He’s now trying pretty much the same thing in supporting the NSA. The question is how many agents does the NSA have in the field performing actions against foreign governments or how many agents it is feeding info to.

Rogers wants the attention on Snowden cause then no has time to ask why he isn’t doing his job of overseeing the NSA. He and his pardners in negligence have allowed the NSA to reach the scope it has. A scope that everyone not in government doesn’t believe is necessary nor is there any evidence it is cost effective at all. But lets not talk about how it doesn’t work, instead lets try to divert the attention elsewhere so it won’t result in actions against the NSA that are really needed.

Neither of these jokers have any business in politics. You can find all sorts of thieves in prison and don’t have to pay them.

Anonymous Coward says:

“He is no longer relevant to the debate. “

no debate, the ‘debate’ (if there ever was one) ended last year,

At least he is no longer relevant, I guess that is far better than NEVER being relevant to it, aint that right Tim.

you can call Snowden whatever you like, one thing is clear, that no one can argue, is HE IS A THEIF, and a LIAR.

We know this for a fact, you can try to argue that if you like, it wont help he stole and he lied. You might applaud that activity (thief’s generally do), but any scumbag can be a thief and a liar, and a scumbag..

Zem (profile) says:

Re: Re:

” one thing is clear, that no one can argue, is HE IS A THEIF, and a LIAR.”

I will happily argue this.

Theft, as pointed out many times on this site, requires taking of property while simultaneously depriving the original owner of that property.

Snowden has done no such thing.

Liar. Well we are all liars to some extent or other. But has Snowden lied in regards to any of his action in this matter. Go ahead and show me a direct quote (not something someone else said he said).

Your “facts” are anything but. Claiming opinion as fact is indeed the act of a scumbag.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Even if Snowden is a thief and liar (I’m not arguing that he is or isn’t here) — why don’t you equally condemn the NSA and the NSA’s spokespeople?

The NSA is a thief (that’s their entire job, if we’re using your apparent definition), and the NSA and their spokespeople have done almost nothing but lie since this whole thing started.

So tell me, why do you defend the NSA?

silverscarcat (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Citation needed

What did Snowden lie about?

Everything he’s revealed has been the truth.

And your stupidity of claiming that the “debate is over” is wrong.

As I pointed out to you last week, women’s suffrage took over 7 decades.

Civil Rights took almost 2 decades.

Vietnam protests took 15 years.

Nixon was in office into his 6th year when he resigned over what happened during his re-election campaign.

Your view of how “the debate is already over” is not only mis-informed, it’s ignorant.

Let’s not forget that it took THREE PRESIDENTS working with Russia to get the nuclear weapons in both Russia and America reduced.

6 months since the leaks started is NOT the end of the debate.

It’s just the beginning.

AricTheRed says:

Re: By: Anonymous Coward

“…you can call Snowden whatever you like, one thing is clear, that no one can argue, is HE IS A THEIF, and a LIAR.”

Atleast the suspect list regarding who has been posting as “Anonymous Coward” is shorter.

Based on this post it could only be:

1) Barrack “Oathbreaker-in-cheif” Obama
2) Eric “fasterr ‘n furiousser” Holder
3) James “the clap” Clapper
4) Dianne “twinkies ruined my stance on firearms unless they are mine” Feinstein
5) Rep. Peter “if I were king…” King

Loki says:

When you really listen to what these people are saying (once you’ve filtered all the rhetoric and double talk out) it is extremely clear that to people like Rogers, King and Feinstein (among others) their definition of “terrorist” are really people that believe in a free and open society (despite their best effort to obfuscate that behind tragedies like 9/11).

Just Sayin' says:


“Rep. Peter King, who has called Ed Snowden a “terrorist appeaser,” declared Rand Paul unfit to hold office and insinuated many Congress members may be talking to terrorists “

Can you refute this? Snowdon made the terrorists happy by revealing much of how the US would track them, Rand Paul is marginal at best, and Congress members do regularly talk with the strangest people.

Perhaps rather than trying to paint NSA supporters with a broadbrush dipping in King’s words, perhaps you need to realize that the who deal isn’t a discussion of extremes. Would you like the entire copyright debate framed by the actions of Tenebaum and Fung?

Anonymous Coward says:

From “A Man For All Seasons”, act one:

Roper: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!

More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you ? where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast ? man’s laws, not God’s ? and if you cut them down ? and you’re just the man to do it ? d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.

Anonymous Coward says:


Rogers was not being contradictory with his statement with Feinstein. That was not a compliment, it was a backhanded compliment.

“We strongly agree with his comments in support and praise of the professionals…”

In other words, the ONLY redeeming part he saw in that speech was when he praised the “professionals”.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The meaning of the second amendment is unclear — that’s the main problem with the second amendment. You apparently take one of the reasonable interpretations — that it confers the right of individuals to have guns, and the ACLU takes the other reasonable interpretation — that it is about the right to have “well organized militias”. I see no problem with their stance on this.

As to hatred of religious rights — that’s not well known to me at all. The ACLU goes to bat for religious rights all the time, even in cases where they are defending unpopular religious activities. Perhaps some examples would help here?

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