How Can NSA Surveillance Leaks Both Be No Big Deal And Put Us All In Danger?

from the do-tell dept

As the NSA and the administration continue to seek to spin the fallout from the leaks that revealed some of the overreaching surveillance efforts of the NSA, what's incredible is how self-contradictory the statements are, even when coming from the same source. The go-to defender of the program has been Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who has tried arguing both that the leaks and these programs are no big deal and that they present a grave danger to intelligence operations. It's incredible.

First, there's playing it down as no big deal:
In a statement issued Saturday, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. described PRISM as “an internal government computer system used to facilitate the government’s statutorily authorized collection of foreign intelligence information from electronic communication service providers under court supervision.”

“PRISM is not an undisclosed collection or data mining program,” the statement said.
Hmm. So if it's no big deal, and all they're doing is facilitating statutorily authorized collection of data, why all the secrecy? Why not be transparent about all of that? And, also, if it's just keeping track of all the legally obtained stuff, why then would he also say the following:
“For me, it is literally – not figuratively – literally gut-wrenching to see this happen because of the huge, grave damage it does to our intelligence capabilities,” Clapper told NBC News’s Andrea Mitchell.
And later, he claimed that the leaker (this was before Snowden revealed himself) had "chosen to violate a sacred trust for this country" and that the leaks "affects the safety and security of this country."

I can't see any way to put together the earlier statements with the later statements that makes any sense at all. If all they were doing is analyzing statutorily authorized data, then there shouldn't be any concern. We'd expect the NSA to have a computer system to do exactly that, right? So... um... why is it damaging to the nation and putting us all at risk? It seems more likely that the truth is that what was revealed wasn't just a simple system for collecting data, as we can see, but rather just how much information the NSA is gathering up into its huge databases. Furthermore, the idea that this puts us in danger is, frankly, insulting. Most folks involved in terrorist activity already assume their phone calls are being tracked, so it's not like this is going to change their tactics.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Robert (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 10:28am

    Simple

    It means it is not a big deal that the public is in danger. Because that danger is the erosion of civil liberties under the false-veil of security.

    If Clapper really wanted to make America safe, he'd get control of the corporations whom are exploiting countries around the world, using US soldiers and diplomats as their proxy. Of course it's all in the name of profits. Profits for military equipment, profits for security companies, profits for natural resource companies (oil, metals, etc..), agricultural via food services (McD's harvests cows on their farms in Africa, or at least they used to), etc..

    Stop that and you'll stop the terrorist threats. Seriously, do you think Osama would have wanted to attack the US if they were not meddling in Middle Eastern affairs? Some would say "they hate we are free" but that's total bullshit. They hate your interference!

    That's how you can have security and liberty co-existing, by NOT giving a reason for security in the first place!

     

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  2. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 10:49am

    Guess same way Google both SPIES and "serves".

    Just depends whether one has an agenda to push.


    Take a loopy tour of Techdirt.com! You always end up same place!
    http://techdirt.com/
    Where Mike fights CISPA without mentioning major data sources Google and Facebook.
    06:49:40[h-402-4]

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 10:51am

    OOTB

    Google is not the government. You can opt out of using Google.
    Idiot.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 10:56am

    Security at the expense of transparency, privacy and freedom is no security at all.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 11:01am

    violate a sacred trust?

    I don't know any trust more sacred than being true to one's conscience.
    As far as I can see, Snowden's been truer to his sacred trust than anybody I know.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 11:02am

    Re: Guess same way Google both SPIES and "serves".

    You seem to have assume Google is the evil one in this. Google has been one of the few companies that came forward about government over reach in the past. What data are you basing your accusations?

     

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  7.  
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    Mason Wheeler (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 11:03am

    Is anyone else looking at this and thinking, "this is what the endgame looks like"?

    As in, the reason all of these leaks are coming out now is because the powers that be are sufficiently entrenched and secure that they don't really think that having this information come out will accomplish anything that can stop them now...

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 11:03am

    that's easy to answer! simply pretend you're a politician! even better, pretend you're a Senior politician! and even better still, pretend you're in charge of a law enforcement agency!

     

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  9.  
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    jameshogg (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 11:04am

    Re: Guess same way Google both SPIES and "serves".

    When the government starts using DRM to gather this data, you will probably come up with the most ridiculous amateur-psychoanalysis ever:

    "Government tendencies to overreach their powers by using DRM through corporation backdoors, are NOT in fact due to a long history of states trying to exert their powers using whatever means necessary... but are instead down to, wait for it, pirates. Pirates who DARE to demonstrate that DRM is a utopian fantasy. Aren't I a genius?"

    You should surely see how I, as a materialist, am perfectly entitled to treat this view in the same way I treat the Creationist view of the world?

     

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  10.  
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    Mark Harrill (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 11:16am

    Doublethink

    A little Orwellian quote seems appropriate here:

    “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 11:16am

    Re: Guess same way Google both SPIES and "serves".

    Damn Google for the Holocaust.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 11:23am

    Re: Guess same way Google both SPIES and "serves".

    call me when Google can rendition you

     

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  13.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 11:23am

    Re: OOTB

    You can't opt out of your friends and family using google, though.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 11:36am

    There's a simple explanation for this

    He's lying.

    This shouldn't surprise anyone: THAT'S HIS JOB.

     

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  15.  
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    Dan, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 11:42am

    sounds familiar

    Somehow this sounds familiar... relate to copyright and pirates... Some pirate s/w and games for convenience and those who purchased are stuck with DRM - (read terrorists know how to surpass surveillance and common man has lost his privacy)

    Funny...

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 12:02pm

    "Most folks involved in terrorist activity already assume their phone calls are being tracked, so it's not like this is going to change their tactics."

    Proof please!!!

     

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  17.  
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    Shadow-Slider, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 12:05pm

    Incredibly Cynical

    Here is an incredibly cynical idea: the U.S. federal government is the least corrupt in the world. Every other government doing the same thing, the difference is a few people in the U.S. who have security clearance do not trust the government whereas everywhere else the everyone with security clearance trust their government implicitly.

     

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  18.  
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    Paul Renault (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 12:09pm

    Next they'll say...

    ..that this isn't news.

    It's in the playbook.

     

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  19.  
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    pixelpusher220 (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 12:18pm

    Re:

    Well the people who argued AGAINST the PATRIOT Act seem to be pretty well vindicated as having thought about the 'end game'...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Chosen Reject (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 12:19pm

    Re:

    It's true...if you figure that most folks involved in terrorist activity include all the FBI-created "terrorists".

     

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  21.  
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    pixelpusher220 (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 12:24pm

    Re: Simple

    Oh the leaks DO present the "huge, grave damage it does to our intelligence capabilities" Clapper says.

    However, since said intelligence capabilities are by any measure unconstitutional it's not a 'bad' thing to damage them as such.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 1:34pm

    Re: Next they'll say...

    Yup. The propaganda machinery spinning these kinds of news would make Goebbels proud.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 1:45pm

    "How Can NSA Surveillance Leaks Both Be No Big Deal And Put Us All In Danger?"
    Simple.
    When the people in power spies on the peons it's no big deal in their minds.
    When the people in power gets revealed spying on the peons they get in danger of losing elections, careers, money, etc.
    And that's why it's both "No Big Deal" and "Very Dangerous" at the same time.

     

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  24.  
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    BentFranklin (profile), Jun 10th, 2013 @ 2:02pm

    James Clapper is the one who violated his sacred trust for this country.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    teka, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 8:19pm

    It is just like some of the Bradley Manning response.

    "This is totally not a big deal and there was nothing important or newsworthy"

    "Releasing this information is literally the same as murdering a billion puppies.. Literally. Whoever did it needs to be buried under a jail"

     

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  26.  
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    horse with no name, Jun 10th, 2013 @ 9:13pm

    Has anyone else noticed

    That Techdirt is trying desperately to keyword stuff "NSA SURVEILLANCE" into almost every post title? Why not go a step further and have:

    NSA PORN
    NSA HARDCORE
    NSA VIDEOS
    NSA HIDDEN CAMERA
    NSA SECRETS

    Come on... you missed a few!

     

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  27.  
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    JustMe (profile), Jun 11th, 2013 @ 3:26am

    You weren't SUPPOSED to put his two statements next to each other

    "But but *sputter* You mean that the two different information channels BOTH reached the public? No no no, that's not right at all. The 'gut wrenching' stuff was for the Grand Jury!" Clapper, J. June 10, 2013

    Also, on an unrelated note. Adding an 'e' at the end of Grand makes the 'Grande Jury' seem all old timey and less intimidating, like 'ice cream shoppe' - so Snowden has got that going for him.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 5:54am

    Re: Re: Guess same way Google both SPIES and "serves".

    Google's "agenda," such as it is, is mere filthy lucre. That, and technological advancement for its own sake, i.e. because "shiny!"

    They make money from advertising and marketing, hence the data mining. They're not a threat, as such, just a minor nuisance when they serve ads on us based on our imagined preferences (they usually get mine wrong).

    Settle down and take your meds, Cathy.

    This is Cathy: http://3dblogger.typepad.com/wired_state/2012/06/richard-odwyer-must-be-extradicted-and-prosecuted.h tml

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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