Former NSA Boss: This Leak Teaches The World That America Can't Keep Secrets

from the no,-actually,-the-opposite dept

We've been trying to understand why the NSA and its supporters are both trying to play down the seriousness of the leak, while also claiming that it's incredibly dangerous, and I think we may finally have an explanation from former NSA and CIA boss Michael Hayden, who has given the most bizarre explanation yet:
“It informs our adversaries. It puts American companies at risk internationally for simply complying with our laws,” said Mike Hayden, a former director of the NSA and a former director of the CIA. "It teaches practically everyone in the world—sources, liaison services—that America can’t keep secrets."
Actually, I think it teaches the exact opposite. It teaches everyone that the US does keep secrets -- massive, privacy-destroying secrets that certainly appear to be in conflict with the basic principles of the 4th Amendment. And, the idea that it puts American companies at risk for "simply complying with our laws" is ludicrous. If they were simply complying with our laws, then there would be no cause for concern when the details were revealed. Laws and compliance with laws shouldn't be a secret. The problem is that because the interpretation of the laws were mostly secret, most people did not believe that this level of surveillance was really happening. So, yes, it puts American companies at risk, but the reason is because of the broad overreach of our government and the intelligence community (including the time when Hayden was in charge of large sections of it).

Separately, that same report notes that within the NSA, people are freaking out:
The impact of the leak inside the NSA has been enormous. “There is complete freakout mode at the agency right now,” one former intelligence officer tells The Daily Beast.
If this was no big deal and just the revelation of a basic internal government computer system to deal with statutorily authorized data collection, then why would they be freaking out so much?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Jay (profile), Jun 11th, 2013 @ 6:05am

    Partisanry activate!

    "It teaches practically everyone in the world—sources, liaison services—that America can’t keep secrets."

    There's a few contexts that need to be made here. Michael Hayden represents the richest people in the world. The CIA has long been used to depose democracy for the proliferation of American corporations. The NSA has worked to protect the richest members of society. So when he's talking about America, he's specifically talking about a small cabal of people that have what I should term a "shadow democracy". It's not a democracy where the public is served, it's one that only goes to the people with the most money to buy it. Most would call it crony capitalism, but there's plenty of synonymous words for it.

    Now let's put out there that American corporations have a lot of influence in the government. We're criticizing a government that isn't put there to protect the American public. We should be asking who it is protecting and why has it decided to do so in an undemocratic manner.

    No one that I know of would want the government spying on them. No one seriously thinks that the government should be able to snoop on everyone. Sure, we can use the buzzword of terrorist, just as Communist was the big one in the 50s and 60s or Reds in the 30s. But spying on ALL citizens in a large vacuum? Secret courts? Secret documents saying a person is guilty? No ability to defend oneself from unjust prosecution?

    Kafkaesque courts that deprive you of your life and liberties with vague guidelines?

    This is not how to run a society. We have a military-industrial-Congresso-complex that harms the rights of its citizens and forces through laws which protect certain Americans. Congress passes the laws, the military and CIA execute them, and the president signs off on them. That isn't a democracy. It's a dictatorship.

    I find it stunning that this is one thing that Democrats and Republicans agree on. This was dangerous to America. How? It's like everyone just totally forgot that the public they represent wouldn't want these impeachments on the Constitution.

    And people are letting them do it. There's a lot to be lost if this continues. People's freedoms and liberties should be far more important than false securities of people in very high positions of power.

     

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  2.  
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    rw (profile), Jun 11th, 2013 @ 6:05am

    "It teaches practically everyone in the world—sources, liaison services—that America can’t keep secrets."

    He almost got it right. Just change the last two words: be trusted.

     

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  3. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 7:36am

    Milky Milky Milky
    Milky Milky Milky
    Milky Milky Milky
    Milky Milky Milky
    Milky Milky Milky
    Milky Milky Milky
    Milky Milky Milky

    When you latch onto to a topic, you really latch on! Get those clicks, Mikey! But whatever you do, don't slow down and discuss anything on the merits with anyone. Never discuss your beliefs! Yeah! Techdirt!

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 7:38am

    Re:

    You seem to have this obsession with Masnick lactating.

    You ought to have that examined, mate.

     

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  5. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    horse with no name, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 7:39am

    amendment this

    It teaches everyone that the US does keep secrets -- massive, privacy-destroying secrets that certainly appear to be in conflict with the basic principles of the 4th Amendment.

    This reminds me of your parroting and then sticking up for the idea that copyright somehow violated the first amendment. It seems you have a bit of a problem with the constitution from time to time. I guess you aren't comfortable with the idea that the amendments cut both ways.

    The CNN Piers Morgan show had some very interesting information on all of this, and pretty much everyone agreed that while the Prism deal may appear on the surface to be a bit invasive, there really isn't anything there that violates anyone's rights, and certainly nothing actionable.

    I have to figure that this is going to fizzle out like the TSA thing once the number of Google searches on the subject drops, you will just stop talking about it and move along.

     

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  6. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    horse with no name, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 7:41am

    Re:

    According to Alexa, Techdirt's traffic isn't quite what it was... maybe the issue is this:

    Based on internet averages, techdirt.com is visited more frequently by males who are in the age range 18-24, have no children, received some college education and browse this site from school.

    Schools out for summer. The kids have gone to play.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 7:42am

    Generals

    … Mike Hayden, a former director of the NSA


    Wikipedia: Michael Hayden (general)
    Michael Vincent Hayden (born March 17, 1945) is a retired United States Air Force four-star general and . . . .

    I expect Gallup's annual "Confidence in Institutions" poll results to come out any day now. I predict that those results will be fairly similar to last year's. That is, about 3/4 of Americans are confident in the military, while maybe only 1/6 have confidence in Congress.

     

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  8.  
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    Beta (profile), Jun 11th, 2013 @ 7:42am

    May I shout "SILENCE"?

    "It informs our adversaries."

    Of what? Simply informing them is bad enough? To prevent that, we would have to forbid all communication with the outside world. And with anyone within our borders who might be an adversary.

    Mike Hayden might North Korea too liberal for his tastes.

    (But more likely his words just don't mean anything.)

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 7:46am

    Re: amendment this

    AJ aka horse with no name.

    You are going to make claims that you will regret later again dude?

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 7:49am

    Re: Re:

    You are using Alexa data to make claims about a website?

    LoL

    Dumb! Dumb! Dumb! Dumb!
    Dumb! Dumb! Dumb! Dumb!
    Dumb! Dumb! Dumb! Dumb!
    Dumb! Dumb! Dumb! Dumb!

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 7:49am

    Can't keep secrets

    >"It teaches practically everyone in the world that America can’t keep secrets."

    Including secrets which were never theirs in the first place. Who is going to do business with USA companies, if it means their secrets will be stolen?

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 7:54am

    Re:

    "It teaches practically everyone in the world—sources, liaison services—that America can’t keep secrets."

    It was right the first time.


    The goal is to justify being becoming more secretive... isn't it ?

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 7:55am

    Re: Re: amendment this

    trolls regret nothing because they never cared in the first place.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 8:08am

    it teaches the World that America cant be trusted with anything, even it's own citizens freedom and privacy. it teaches the World that America is a bully, bringing other nations into the spotlight too. it teaches the World that when America is putting the blame for hacking on to other nations, like China, it is doing the same thing only a damned site worse! it teaches the World that everything the American government does is for the benefit of the American government and for American industries, with no regard for any other country, their industries or, even worse, their citizens!! cant get much more shameful action than what has happened/is happening atm. and all the excuses under the Sun wont mend it now particularly when the word is that the whistle blower is in the cross hair now. i would have thought that the last thing America would want to do now is subject him to any form of harm etc now the spotlight is well and truly on him and them!! strange how America has fallen from being one of the World's biggest protectors of freedom etc to a nation that thinks so little of it's citizens, that it spies on everyone. that's what Fascism was all about wasn't it, and what countless people died trying to eradicate? what a turn around!!

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 8:09am

    I'm just waiting for FACEBOOK and TWITTER shout-outs calling for citizens to stop paying taxes until we are all served and respected properly by those whom we elected to power and those who were (sigh!) appointed to serve the people and not corporations.

     

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  16. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 8:14am

    Re:

    Mike! Y u no debate me!

     

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  17.  
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    Rapnel (profile), Jun 11th, 2013 @ 8:18am

    Secrets?

    No, I rather think it teaches the world that America has failed to keep freedom safe.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 8:23am

    Re: amendment this

    What you are saying is that this is ok with you? In this day and age of personal information being given out by people anyway?

    I can see that opinion and understand it. I do want to be able to say what I give away rather than having my communications monitored and recorded by the government I am supposed to trust. In this case, I do not agree to this abuse of power and recognize that my government doesn't care.

    As I now understand you don't care either.

     

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  19.  
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    Lowestofthekeys (profile), Jun 11th, 2013 @ 8:25am

    Re: amendment this

    "It seems you have a bit of a problem with the constitution from time to time."

    How so? From what I've seen, the issues being brought up relate to how the constitution is being used. Though, you seem bent on appealing to a broken system of law, instead of contemplating ways in which it can be improved.

    "I guess you aren't comfortable with the idea that the amendments cut both ways."

    You're avoiding the question as to whether or no tit's a good idea they can cut both ways.

    "The CNN Piers Morgan show had some very interesting information on all of this, and pretty much everyone agreed that while the Prism deal may appear on the surface to be a bit invasive, there really isn't anything there that violates anyone's rights, and certainly nothing actionable."

    This is another issue. you have a larger crowd saying that PRISM is invasive and then you have a few people saying it isn't. Who's more in the right?

    By the way, I wouldn't take my opinions from a show run by a former tabloid editor.

     

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  20.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jun 11th, 2013 @ 8:25am

    On keeping secrets secret

    People are willing to keep a secret when they believe in the reason for the secrecy -- because it is in the people's best interest to maintain the secret. For love of country.

    People are unwilling to keep a secret when they believe the secret is hiding something wrong that should be exposed to the bright light of day -- because it is in the people's best interest to expose the secret far and wide. For love of country.

    Examples of the former:
    * that some particular new secret weapon system exists
    * that some particular intelligence gathering capability exists
    * that some particular capability of dirty tricks exists

    Examples of the latter:
    * that some weapon system is being misused to murder innocent people
    * that some intelligence capability is used to spy on citizens in a free country whose rights against such snooping are guaranteed in its constitution
    * that some dirty tricks are being used against particular individuals / groups for purely political reasons

    I'm sure other examples exist of secrets that should be exposed. Corruption is one. In the past people who exposed secrets that should be exposed were called whistleblowers instead of being called spies, terrorists and traitors.

    A conspiracy of traitors once created a treasonous document entitled The United States Declaration of Independence.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 8:26am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The guy relies on Piers Morgan Live for information, it's sad really.

     

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  22.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jun 11th, 2013 @ 8:27am

    Re: On keeping secrets secret

    > that some dirty tricks are being used against particular
    > individuals / groups for purely political reasons

    . . . and commercial reasons sometimes.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 8:35am

    Re:

    It's almost like there is ongoing news to discuss. You might have noticed if you weren't busy with your obsession.

     

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  24.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Jun 11th, 2013 @ 8:42am

    American gov - Imperialist foreign policy, spying on the world including their own citizens, condemning other nations for doing what they are doing themselves; and they have the gall to wonder why the world hates them.

     

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  25. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 8:48am

    Re:

    Milky Milky Milky
    Milky Milky Milky
    Milky Milky Milky
    Milky Milky Milky
    Milky Milky Milky
    Milky Milky Milky
    Milky Milky Milky

    When you latch onto to a topic, you really latch on! Get those clicks, Mikey! But whatever you do, don't slow down and discuss anything on the merits with anyone. Never discuss your beliefs! Yeah! Techdirt!


    I guess he's has played out the unfortunate death of Aaron Swartz and is now moving on to the next big thing.

     

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

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 9:02am

    Wyden Statement Responding to Director Clapper’s Statements About Collection on Americans

    Senator Wyden (Oregon) press release issued today.

    Wyden Statement Responding to Director Clapper’s Statements About Collection on Americans”, June 11, 2013
    Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) issued the following statement regarding statements made by the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about collection on Americans. Wyden is a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

    “One of the most important responsibilities a Senator has is oversight of the intelligence community. This job cannot be done responsibly if Senators aren’t getting straight answers to direct questions. When NSA Director Alexander failed to clarify previous public statements about domestic surveillance, it was necessary to put the question to the Director of National Intelligence. So that he would be prepared to answer, I sent the question to Director Clapper’s office a day in advance. After the hearing was over my staff and I gave his office a chance to amend his answer. Now public hearings are needed to address the recent disclosures and the American people have the right to expect straight answers from the intelligence leadership to the questions asked by their representatives.”
    Strong congressional oversight means asking direct questions & getting straight answers.
                —— Ron Wyden, June 11, 2013

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Lord Binky, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 9:11am

    Not all secrets should be or stay secret.

    America shouldn't keep secrets that should not keep secrets.

    That's one of those factors in morals. I'd much rather have someone with me that can't keep the secret that someone is trying to kill me than the person who can keep that secret.

     

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  28.  
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    Internet Zen Master (profile), Jun 11th, 2013 @ 9:13am

    You that saying

    "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear"?

    Well guess what General, that's a two-way street. And boy does the NSA LOVE to hide (especially considering that before 2001, the rest of the US Government denied it even existed).

    National Security reasons? Yeah, we get it. But the excuse of "trust us, we're the good guys" just doesn't fly anymore.

     

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  29.  
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    RadialSkid (profile), Jun 11th, 2013 @ 9:35am

    "It teaches practically everyone in the world—sources, liaison services—that America can’t keep secrets."

    Nor should it, beyond basic military intelligence and short-term activities. We frequently beat our chests in this country and bill ourselves as the "most free nation on Earth," but if we want to live up to that, we need the most transparent government, and the most well-informed public. Such programs as the one Snowden exposed do not aid in that goal, and should be exposed accordingly.

     

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  30.  
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    Chris Brand, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 9:38am

    Of course the NSA is freaking out

    If this ends as it should, the agency they work at will no longer exist.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 11:19am

    simply complying with our laws?

    simply complying with our laws?

    maybe change the laws?

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Greggore, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 11:41am

    ???

    So all this time, what many people thought, but the government denied, is true in the end. Really who do we believe more? The so called "conspiracy theorists"? or the Government? At some point I can see a president coming forwards and saying "Yes, there are Aliens among us and have been since 1951". Ok, that seems far fetched, but honestly, the Government does not own up to the public at any point, even when they outright lie and outright hide. How is anyone to really trust the government? Go back to JFK, Nixon, Regan, Contra arms, Potato(e)...911.... heck the man on the moon??? what is real any more with what they say. And why are American's so complacent, it's like American's acting like Canadians ! everyone is a "iSheep"

     

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  33.  
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    Rick Smith (profile), Jun 11th, 2013 @ 12:09pm

    Re:

    I think you have it wrong, it should read "it teaches its citizens that America cant be trusted with anything", I'm pretty sure the world has known this fact for a long time, its just that the media has done a good job of keeping us in the dark and distracting us. When the truth has slipped through they have then done a really good job of making it look like someone was out to get the United States by lying about us.

    In another few weeks, if the system works the way it was designed, the average person will have forgotten about this or will have concluded that it was the work of a disgruntled NSA employee. For the rest of us that remember and believe, we will become the next round of conspiracy kooks, to be shunned or locked away in padded rooms for everyone's safety.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 12:22pm

    Re: Re:

    The problem with this is when a saudi or kuaiti gather information on a potential terrorist and question providing that information to the US, can they trust that the US government isn't going to name them as the source, making them a target for reprisals.

    The intellegence community deals with secrets. How are we supposed to keep intelegence supplied by foriegn actors secret if we can't keep our own data classified. It jepordizes the intelegence sharing agreements we have with every allied nation.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 12:24pm

    Maybe I'm parsing this wrong, but it seems to me that Mike Hayden is correct. I think that he's saying that with the current scandal(s) demonstrating that the US government will compel full disclosure of electronic information for all (overseas) customers of US communications companies, those overseas customers have been made aware that American companies can't keep their users' information secret from the US government and that the expectation of those overseas customers' privacy is null and void, potentially prompting them to move to non-US communications platforms, hurting US companies.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2013 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Re: amendment this

    If your data was provided to the NSA this way then you really don't care. Have you read the privacy policy for the services in "colusion" with the government on this? In every case they have the ability to share your data.

    It's a problem when the NSA reads your email but you're ok with google doing it?

    It's ok that Facebook sells your data through beacon so advertisers can see who your friends are, but for the NSA to build the same network is aborant.

    Same data you provide to farmville, the NSA collected. Almost every facebook game asks for access to your friends list.

     

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  37.  
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    Steve R. (profile), Jun 11th, 2013 @ 1:06pm

    Obama's Open and Transparent Government

    Snowden and Manning are fulfilling Obama's goal that his administration is the most open and transparent. So what's the problem?

     

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

  38.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 11th, 2013 @ 3:36pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    It jepordizes the intelegence sharing agreements we have with every allied nation.


    Then the federal government shouldn't have jeopardized it by overreaching so horribly that a whistleblower had to blow his whistle.

    Whatever damage was done to the government's trustworthiness was self-inflicted.

     

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  39.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 11th, 2013 @ 3:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: amendment this

    It's a problem when the NSA reads your email but you're ok with google doing it?


    If someone is OK with google scanning their emails, that's their decision. It doesn't mean they should be OK with anyone else scanning their emails.

    Also, there's a huge difference between consenting to surveillance and being surveilled without your consent.

     

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  40.  
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    Niall (profile), Jun 13th, 2013 @ 6:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I'm so glad you guys have Piers, and we don't any more.

    Though to be fair to him, even though he is somewhat rabidly right-wing by European standards, he does provide an external eye on some of your madnesses, like your Gun Religion.

    And you obviously need an external eye kept on you, because it sure as hell wasn't American media exposing all this, or the truth about non-WMDs, etc!

     

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  41.  
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    Niall (profile), Jun 13th, 2013 @ 6:56am

    Re: Re:

    One would almost think your government psychotically picks on anyone who disagrees with it or who they disagree with or who the corporations who bankroll them disagree with.

     

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  42.  
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    Niall (profile), Jun 13th, 2013 @ 6:58am

    Re: Secrets?

    That's been known for at least the last 12 years.

     

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  43.  
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    Niall (profile), Jun 13th, 2013 @ 7:01am

    Re: On keeping secrets secret

    Yes, it's always funny when a bunch of 'treasonous dogs' whine on about treason against them ;)

    (If it's any consolation, some of my ancestors were 'treasonous' to the English crown long before you guys - the Jacobite rebellions of 1716 and 1745. The difference was, we lost...)

     

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  44.  
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    nasch (profile), Jun 13th, 2013 @ 10:35am

    Re:

    Yes, but the issue is he's blaming this on the disclosure of the spying. The problem is the spying.

     

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