Mike Rogers Lies About Bulk Data Collection, Insists It's Necessary, Even As He Introduces Bill He Says Will Kill It

from the say-what-now? dept

As was expected, on Tuesday morning, Rep. Mike Rogers officially introduced his new bill concerning bulk data collection by the NSA. Overnight, it appears that Rogers and his staff realized that the originally proposed name of the bill, the End Bulk Collection Act of 2014, was so bogus that they couldn’t go forward with that. So the official bill is now called the FISA Transparency and Modernization Act. There are significant concerns about how the section on supposedly “ending” bulk collection might actually allow for even greater searches of data.

But the thing that seemed most ridiculous was that, at the same time Rogers gave his press conference in which he claimed he was ending the bulk data collection by the NSA, he was publishing an op-ed in USA Today claiming the program was “necessary” and “vital” and that was why he was calling for it to end. He kicks it off with an already widely debunked bullshit story about how Section 215 could have stopped 9/11:

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Khalid al-Mihdhar stepped on to American Airlines Flight 77, the flight he would later crash into the Pentagon. Al-Mihdhar might have been in prison, instead of on that flight, if the government knew he had called an al-Qaeda safehouse in Yemen from inside the U.S. seven times before the attacks. The failure to spot phone calls by al-Mihdhar and others led the Intelligence community to begin collecting large volumes of call data records, specifically the number dialed and the date and duration of the call, to determine whether suspected terrorists had contacts inside the United States.

This is simply not true. The NSA was already intercepting calls to that very safehouse starting at least two years earlier. The CIA had been following al-Mihdhar for years earlier. The FBI was aware of him as well. The problem was that the CIA failed to alert anyone that Mihdhar had a US visa and came to the US. So the problem was never that they didn’t have the information. It was that the NSA, the FBI and the CIA simply didn’t cooperate and share the necessary information. This has nothing to do with the Section 215 bulk data collection.

Since last summer, a great deal has been written about the program’s scope, capabilities and legality —much of it wrong. The fact is that the program is legal. It was authorized by Congress and found constitutional many times over. No review of the program revealed an intentional misuse of its authority.

This is not actually accurate. It is not a “fact” that the program is legal. At least one court has said that it is not legal as has the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), who found the program to be clearly both illegal and unconstitutional. As for the claims that it was “authorized” by Congress and found “constitutional” many times over, neither is particularly accurate. Mike Rogers himself hid the details of the program from Congressional reps who voted on it, and the FISA court never actually explored the constitutionality of the bulk phone records collection until after the Snowden revelations, at which point it had to cover its ass for all the approvals of the program it had given based on a totally different authority.

We recognize that the Intelligence community must have the confidence of the American people to do its life-saving work. Over the past nine months, we have studied ways to reform the program while maintaining its effectiveness.

WHAT EFFECTIVENESS? Everyone who has explored the program has admitted that they were somewhat shocked to learn that there is no evidence anywhere that the program has done anything useful, ever. To argue that we need to “maintain its effectiveness” is a joke.

Most of the rest of the piece is trying to explain why his new bill is a good idea, even after he opened it with a series of outright lies. Then, apparently because he can’t resist, he closes on a misrepresentation as well:

Without NSA counterterrorism tools, Najibullah Zazi might have set off bombs during rush hour in the New York City subway in September 2009.

Except the Zazi case is another one that’s been debunked as well. But that doesn’t stop Rogers from doubling down on his argument:

Some people may say that’s “not enough” when compared to the amount of information the NSA obtains, but we would be shocked if anyone on September 12, 2001, wouldn’t have done everything possible to find hijackers like al-Mihdhar and prevent just one terrorist attack.

Yeah, that’s a great closer. The argument that anything goes because of September 11th should, frankly, disqualify Rep. Rogers from holding office. Doing “everything possible” would mean abandoning the Constitution that Rogers is supposed to be upholding. We’re a nation built on the principle that we don’t abridge basic freedoms to “do everything possible” to stop one crime. Yet, Rogers still doesn’t seem to recognize this.

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Comments on “Mike Rogers Lies About Bulk Data Collection, Insists It's Necessary, Even As He Introduces Bill He Says Will Kill It”

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mcinsand (profile) says:

Re: First, what is terrorism about?


Let’s look at what terrorism is really about, at the heart of it. Say a group wants power, they make you afraid that people will get hurt if you don’t give them power. Let’s raise the fear that you, your family, or someone that you care about will be hurt or worse if you don’t give them control. Particularly, these terrorists want part of that power to involve giving up the freedoms that we take for granted. One example would be if you were, say, female and wanted an education. Terrorists might attack or threaten to attack a school to induce you to give up the freedom to study. Or, again if you were female and wanted to wear a sundress, they might use a fear of being attacked by terrorists with jars of acid to make you give up that freedom. Finally, say you expect to be able to call your Mom with some privacy… unless the authorities have gotten a warrant based on some probable cause… terrorists would push you to give up that freedom for fear of a terrorist attack (maybe not the same terrorists, of course).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: First, what is terrorism about?

So by the very definition, what causes me “terror” right now is uncertainties relating to this new bullshit cold war, when if russia gets frustrated enough with the EU, it could annhiliate it within seconds, so their little sanctions must not be really do anything hurtful, no matter what they say.

And what goes around in Usrael/Palestine, people remmeber 1999-2000 and the big wooplah about the coming Durban Congress Against Racism organized by the UN. During those days the American people were starting to tip over favor of Palestinians (during the Clinton administration they’ve went on long haul “anti-terrorist actions” into Gaza too, and when world opinion against Israel’s actions is off the charts.

Funny how 5 days after that Durban Confeerence, from which US and Israeli representative left 15 minutes in because a big point of it was equating zionism with racism, and this opinion is held by people in Malaysia, Phillipines, China, people Kazahkstan, Uruguay etc., the whole fucking world agreed they were the problem if they continued acting this way.

And then 911..shocking I know..

FM Hilton (profile) says:

The only excuse needed

Is that damned day (in more ways than one, mind you.)..

It’s a holy day to the government minions who base all of their lies and claims on it:

Need you ask what day? Why, of course:


It justifies everything they have done, are doing and will do in the future.

Bin Laden sure did do the number on us-not just in NYC,Washington, and PA, but on our capacity for being paranoid. He unleashed more insanity than we were ever before capable of.

Now we’re afraid of ourselves, willing to throw away our Constitution, our freedoms and our intelligence to deal with the bad guys, who are everywhere, according to people like Mike Rogers, Diane Feinstein, Peter King and others.

We’ve lost our minds, our freedoms and our common sense.

All in an misguided effort to make the boogeymen go away forever. Like magical thinking: “Maybe if we spy on everyone, we’ll find them!”

Reminds me of an old Star Trek NG episode..where the judge accused one of treason, then another, and another…

Anonymous Coward says:

If I could have just one magic wish, just one, it would be for an unending supply of Eric Blair (*) clones to be with us through these interesting times. His views on this endless dribbling, mendacious recursive mangling of language and thought, melded with the corrupt and self-serving pomposity so typical of apparatchiks everywhere, would be a joy to read (albeit probably depressing at the same time). Where is the writer who can do justice to all this?

* journalist and sometime novelist

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Yeah, that’s a great closer. The argument that anything goes because of September 11th should, frankly, disqualify Rep. Rogers from holding office. Doing “everything possible” would mean abandoning the Constitution that Rogers is supposed to be upholding. We’re a nation built on the principle that we don’t abridge basic freedoms to “do everything possible” to stop one crime.

You are clearly unaware of the 911th Amendment: Nothing in this document shall be interpreted as abridging or interfering with the Government’s power to keep its citizens safe from the threat of terrorism.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

He’s not going for rep. again, he’s gonna be the the new rush limbaugh, oh how hilarious and painful it will be for you my southern friends.

Just the fact the UN is dealing with the city of Detroit because it is cutting drinking water (!, a city fucking surrounded by water! who pays for drinking water! only thing some apartment landlords make you pay is hot water), I understand that people can have their water from shitty off brand pop, but what are they gonna do, bathe in Faygo?

A third world problem, just on Canada’s door step, so much we have our own initiative to help Detroit’s citizens who are being raped up the ass by the city’s water company. Who in the fuck pays for their drinking water, at least in that geographical area of North America. Maybe in Utah or Arizona paying for water makes sense but not in Detroit, the name of the city means a certain mass of water ffs.

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