Jennifer Hoelzer's Insider's View Of The Administration's Response To NSA Surveillance Leaks

from the and-also-the-favorites-of-the-week dept

In a bit of fortuitous timing, this week we had asked former deputy chief of staff for Ron Wyden, Jennifer Hoelzer, to do our weekly "Techdirt Favorites of the Week" post, in which we have someone from the wider Techdirt community tell us what their favorite posts on the site were. As you'll see below, Hoelzer has a unique and important perspective on this whole debate concerning NSA surveillance, and given the stories that came out late Friday, she chose to ditch her original post on favorites and rewrite the whole thing from scratch last night (and into this morning). Given that, it's much, much more than a typical "favorites of the week" post, and thus we've adjusted the title appropriately. I hope you'll read through this in its entirety for a perspective on what's happening that not many have.

Tim Cushing made one of my favorite points of the week in his Tuesday post "Former NSA Boss Calls Snowden's Supporters Internet Shut-ins; Equates Transparency Activists With Al-Qaeda," when he explained that "some of the most ardent defenders of our nation's surveillance programs" -- much like proponents of overreaching cyber-legislation, like SOPA -- have a habit of "belittling" their opponents as a loose confederation of basement-dwelling loners." I think it's worth pointing out that General Hayden's actual rhetoric is even more inflammatory than Cushing's. Not only did the former NSA director call us "nihilists, anarchists, activists, Lulzsec, Anonymous, twenty-somethings who haven't talked to the opposite sex in five or six years," he equates transparency groups like the ACLU with al Qaeda.

I appreciated this post for two reasons:

First of all, it does a great job of illustrating a point that I've long made when asked for advice on communicating tech issues, which is that the online community is as diverse and varied as the larger world we live in. Of course, we are more likely to come across the marginal opinions of twenty-somethings with social anxiety online because, unlike the larger world, the Internet gives those twenty-somethings just as much of an opportunity to be heard as a Harvard scholar, a dissident protesting for democracy or General Hayden himself.

Sure, it can be infuriating to read scathingly hostile comments written by troubled individuals who clearly didn't take the time to read the post you spent countless hours carefully writing (not that that has ever happened to me) but isn't one of the things that makes the Internet so darn special its unwavering reminder that free speech includes speech we don't appreciate? Of course, that's a point that tends to get lost on folks -- like General Hayden -- who don't seem to understand that equating the entirety of the online world with terrorists is a lot like posting a scathing comment to a story without reading it. You can't expect someone to treat you or your opinion with respect -- online or anywhere else -- when you're being disrespectful. And I can imagine no greater disrespect for the concepts of transparency and oversight than to equate them with the threats posed by terrorist groups like al Qaeda.

But my main reason for singling out Tim's post this week is that Hayden's remark goes to the heart of what I continue to find most offensive about the Administration's handling of the NSA surveillance programs, which is their repeated insinuation that anyone who raises concerns about national security programs doesn't care about national security. As Tim explains this "attitude fosters the "us vs. them" antagonism so prevalent in these agencies dealings with the public. The NSA (along with the FBI, DEA and CIA) continually declares the law is on its side and portrays its opponents as ridiculous dreamers who believe safety doesn't come with a price."

To understand why I find this remark so offensive, I should probably tell you a little about myself. While the most identifying aspect of my resume is probably the six years I spent as U.S. Senator Ron Wyden's communications director and later deputy chief of staff, I started college at the U.S. Naval Academy and spent two years interning for the National Security Council. I had a Top Secret SCI clearance when I was 21 years old and had it not been for an unusual confluence of events nearly 15 years ago -- including a chance conversation with a patron of the bar I tended in college -- I might be working for the NSA today. I care very deeply about national security. Moreover -- and this is what the Obama Administration and other proponents of these programs fail to understand -- I was angry at the Administration for its handling of these programs long before I knew what the NSA was doing. That had a lot to do with the other thing you should probably know about me: during my tenure in Wyden's office, I probably spent in upwards of 1,000 hours trying to help my boss raise concerns about programs that he couldn't even tell me about.

Which brings me to my next favorite Techdirt post of the week, Mike's Friday post entitled "Don't Insult Our Intelligence, Mr. President: This Debate Wouldn't Be Happening Without Ed Snowden," which is a much less profane way of summing up my feelings about the President's "claim that he had already started this process prior to the Ed Snowden leaks and that it's likely we would [have] ended up in the same place" without Snowden's disclosure.
"What makes us different from other countries is not simply our ability to secure our nation," Obama said. "It's the way we do it, with open debate and democratic process."
I hope you won't mind if I take a moment to respond to that.

Really, Mr. President? Do you really expect me to believe that you give a damn about open debate and the democratic process? Because it seems to me if your Administration was really committed to those things, your Administration wouldn't have blocked every effort to have an open debate on these issues each time the laws that your Administration claims authorizes these programs came up for reauthorization, which -- correct me if I am wrong -- is when the democratic process recommends as the ideal time for these debates.

For example, in June 2009, six months before Congress would have to vote to reauthorize Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which the Obama Administration claims gives the NSA the authority to collect records on basically every American citizen -- whether they have ever or will ever come in contact with a terrorist -- Senators Wyden, Feingold and Durbin sent Attorney General Eric Holder a classified letter "requesting the declassification of information which [they] argued was critical for a productive debate on reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act."

In November 2009, they sent an unclassified letter reiterating the request, stating:
"The PATRIOT Act was passed in a rush after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Sunsets were attached to the Act's most controversial provisions, to permit better-informed, more deliberative consideration of them at a later time. Now is the time for that deliberative consideration, but informed discussion is not possible when most members of Congress - and nearly all of the American public - lack important information about the issue."
Did President Obama jump at the opportunity to embrace the democratic process and have an open debate then? No. Congress voted the following month to reauthorize the Patriot Act without debate.

In May 2011, before the Senate was -- again -- scheduled to vote to reauthorize the Patriot Act, Senators Wyden and Udall -- again -- called for the declassification of the Administration’s secret interpretation of Section 215. This time, in a Huffington Post Op-Ed entitled "How Can Congress Debate a Secret Law?" they wrote:
Members of Congress are about to vote to extend the most controversial provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act for four more years, even though few of them understand how those provisions are being interpreted and applied.

As members of the Senate Intelligence Committee we have been provided with the executive branch's classified interpretation of those provisions and can tell you that we believe there is a significant discrepancy between what most people -- including many Members of Congress -- think the Patriot Act allows the government to do and what government officials secretly believe the Patriot Act allows them to do.

Legal scholars, law professors, advocacy groups, and the Congressional Research Service have all written interpretations of the Patriot Act and Americans can read any of these interpretations and decide whether they support or agree with them. But by far the most important interpretation of what the law means is the official interpretation used by the U.S. government and this interpretation is -- stunningly --classified.

What does this mean? It means that Congress and the public are prevented from having an informed, open debate on the Patriot Act because the official meaning of the law itself is secret. Most members of Congress have not even seen the secret legal interpretations that the executive branch is currently relying on and do not have any staff who are cleared to read them. Even if these members come down to the Intelligence Committee and read these interpretations themselves, they cannot openly debate them on the floor without violating classification rules.
During the debate itself, Wyden and Udall offered an amendment to declassify the Administration's legal interpretation of its Patriot Act surveillance authorities and, in a twenty minute speech on the Senate floor, Wyden warned that the American people would one day be outraged to learn that the government was engaged in surveillance activities that many Americans would assume were illegal, just as they were every other time the national security committee has tried to hide its questionable activities from the American people.
Fun aside: As you can see in the video, to underscore the point that hiding programs from the American people rarely goes well for the Administration, I had my staff make a poster of the famous image of Oliver North testifying before Congress during the Iran-Contra hearing. I really wanted to replace North’s face with the words “insert your photo here,” but we didn't have the time.

Did President Obama welcome an open debate at that time?

No. Congress voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act for four more years and the only point we -- as critics -- could raise that might be confused with debate was a hypothetical argument illustrated with a twenty-year-old picture of Oliver North. And, again, Senator Wyden couldn't even tell me what he was so concerned about. In strategy meetings with me and his Intelligence Committee staffer, I had to repeatedly leave the room when the conversation strayed towards details they couldn't share with me because I no longer had an active security clearance. "You know, it would be a lot easier if you could just tell me what I can't say?" I'd vent in frustration. They agreed, but still asked me to leave the room.

And that was just the Patriot Act. Did the President -- who now claims to welcome open debate of his Administration's surveillance authorities -- jump at the opportunity to have such a debate when the FISA Amendments Act came up for reauthorization?

No. Not only did the Administration repeatedly decline Senator Wyden's request for a "ballpark figure" of the number of Americans whose information was being collected by the NSA last year, just a month after the Patriot Act reauthorization, the Senate Intelligence Committee attempted to quietly pass a four year reauthorization of the controversial surveillance law by spinning it as an effort to: "Synchronize the various sunset dates included in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to June 1, 2015;" So, I guess if this was part of the Administration's plan to publicly debate the NSA's surveillance authorities, the plan was for the debate to take place in 2015?

And, as I explained in an interview with Brian Beutler earlier this summer, that is just a fraction of the ways the Obama Administration and the Intelligence Communities ignored and even thwarted our attempts to consult the public on these surveillance programs before they were reauthorized. In fact, after the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in which Wyden attempted to close the FAA's Section 702 loophole, which another important Techdirt post this week explains, "gives the NSA 'authority' to run searches on Americans without any kind of warrant," I -- as Wyden’s spokesperson -- was specifically barred from explaining the Senator's opposition to the legislation to the reporters. In fact, the exact response I was allowed to give reporters was:
"We've been told by Senator Feinstein's staff that under the SSCI's Committee Rule 9.3, members and staff are prohibited from discussing the markup or describing the contents of the bill until the official committee report is released. The fact that they've already put out a press release does not lift this prohibition."
That's right, supporters of a full scale reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act put out a press release explaining why this was a good thing, while explicitly barring the Senator who voted against the legislation from explaining his concerns.

Months later, the FISA Amendments Act, which the Administration contends authorizes its PRISM program, passed without the open debate that the President now contends he wanted all along. And, again, I'm only touching on a fraction of the efforts just Senator Wyden made to compel the administration to engage the American people in a democratic debate. I, obviously, haven't mentioned the Director of National Intelligence's decision to lie when Wyden "asked whether the NSA had collected 'any type of data at all on millions of Americans.'" (Btw: Given that Wyden shared his question with the ODNI the day before the hearing, I am highly skeptical that Clapper's decision to lie was made unilaterally.) Or the fact that the Obama Administration repeatedly fought lawsuits and FOIA requests for, again -- not sources and methods -- but the Section 215 legal interpretation that the Administration claims authorizes its surveillance authorities.

The below is an excerpt from a March 2012 letter that Wyden and Udall sent the Obama Administration urging them to respect the democratic process:
The Justice Department's motion to dismiss these Freedom of Information Act lawsuits argues that it is the responsibility of the executive branch to determine the best way to protect the secrecy of intelligence sources and methods. While this is indeed a determination for the executive branch to make, we are concerned that the executive branch has developed a practice of bypassing traditional checks and balances and treating these determinations as dispositive in all cases. In other words, when intelligence officials argue that something should stay secret, policy makers often seem to defer to them without carefully considering the issue themselves. We have great respect for our nation's intelligence officers, the vast majority of whom are hard-working and dedicated professionals. But intelligence officials are specialists -- it is their job to determine how to collect as much information as possible, but it is not their job to balance the need for secrecy with the public's right to know how the law is being interpreted. That responsibility rests with policy makers, and we believe that responsibility should not be delegated lightly.
But, as Mike's last post on Friday explains, "President Obama flat out admitted that this was about appeasing a public that doesn't trust the administration, not about reducing the surveillance." Mike's insight continues:
Even more to the point, his comments represent a fundamental misunderstanding of why the public doesn't trust the government. That's because he keeps insisting that the program isn't being abused and that all of this collection is legal. But, really, that's not what the concern is about. Even though we actually know that the NSA has a history of abuse (and other parts of the intelligence community before that), a major concern is that scooping up so much data is considered legal in the first place.
I'd go even further than that and argue that a big part of the reason the American people are having a hard time trusting their government is that the public's trust in government is harmed every time the American people learn that their government is secretly doing something they not only assumed was illegal but that government officials specifically told them they weren't doing. Hint: When the American people learn that you lied to them, they trust you less.

I think it's hard for the American people to trust their President when he says he respects democratic principles, when his actions over the course of nearly five years demonstrate very little respect for democratic principles.

I think the American people would be more likely to trust the President when he says these programs include safeguards that protect their privacy, if he -- or anyone else in his administration -- seemed to care about privacy rights or demonstrated an understanding of how the information being collected could be abused. Seriously, how are we supposed to trust safeguards devised by people who don't believe there is anything to safeguard against?

I think it's understandably hard for the American people to trust the President when he says his Administration has the legal authority to conduct these surveillance programs when one of the few things that remains classified about these programs is the legal argument that the administration says gives the NSA the authority to conduct these programs. This is the document that explains why the Administration believes the word "relevant" gives them the authority to collect everything. It's also the document I'd most like to see since it's the document my former boss has been requesting be declassified for more than half a decade. (A reporter recently asked me why I think the Administration won't just declassify the legal opinion given that the sources and methods it relates to have already been made public. "I think that's pretty obvious," I said. "I believe it will be much harder for the Administration to claim that these programs are legal, if people can see their legal argument.")

I think it's hard for the American people to trust the President when his administration has repeatedly gone out of its way to silence critics and -- again -- treat oversight as a threat on par with al Qaeda. As another great Techdirt post this week -- US Releases Redacted Document Twice... With Different Redactions -- illustrates, many of the Intelligence Community's classification decisions seem to be based more on a desire to avoid criticism than clear national security interests. And as Senator Wyden said back in 2007, when then CIA Director Hayden (yes, the same guy who thinks we're all losers who can't get laid) attempted to undermine oversight over his agency by launching an investigation into the CIA's inspector general, "people who know that they're doing the right thing aren't afraid of oversight."

Which reminds me of the Techdirt post this week that probably haunted me the most. Ed Snowden's Email Provider, Lavabit, Shuts Down To Fight US Gov't Intrusion. Mike uses the post to explain that Ladar Levison, the owner and operator of Labavit -- the secure email service that provided Edward Snowden's email account -- decided to shut down his email service this week.
Not much more information is given, other than announced plans to fight against the government in court. Reading between the lines, it seems rather obvious that Lavabit has been ordered to either disclose private information or grant access to its secure email accounts, and the company is taking a stand and shutting down the service while continuing the legal fight. It's also clear that the court has a gag order on Levison, limiting what can be said.
The part that haunted me, though, was a line Levon included in his email informing customers of his decision:
"I feel you deserve to know what’s going on," he wrote. "The first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this."
He's right, isn't he? If these aren't the moments the First Amendment was meant for, what are? Moreover, if the Administration is so convinced that its requests of Labavit are just, why are they afraid to hold them up to public scrutiny?

In his book, Secrecy: The American Experience, former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan included a quote from a 1960 report issued by the House Committee on Operations which I believe provides a far better response than anything I could write on my own:
Secrecy -- the first refuge of incompetents -- must be at a bare minimum in a democratic society for a fully informed public is the basis of self government. Those elected or appointed to positions of executive authority must recognize that government, in a democracy, cannot be wiser than its people.
Which brings me to my final point (at least for now) I think it's awfully hard for the American people to trust the President and his administration when their best response to the concerns Americans are raising is to denigrate the Americans raising those concerns. Because, you see, I have a hard time understanding why my wanting to stand up for democratic principles makes me unpatriotic, while the ones calling themselves patriots seem to think so little of the people and the principles that comprise the country they purport to love.


Reader Comments (rss)

 

Re: Re: Re: Re: No free speech here on TD

But I think the system that Mike has set up here at Techdirt is brilliant. In that it not only allows the Techdirt community to set the tone for its discussions, it offers incentives for folks to provide insight and even humor. It's -- obviously -- a conversation that I am much more eager to engage in.

Except that's not how it's used. Unlike many websites that have a broad enough readership such that moderation works more-or-less as you describe, the positions here seem to have largely driven away people who are not ideologically aligned with the groupthink. It's hard to otherwise explain why a website like this, with a relatively high number of visitors, gets so few comments on articles, from a small and recognizable crowd.

Instead, here, the "report" button is used regularly on legitimate, non-spam posts that don't fit the groupthink. The community always makes pretextual excuses why this is so - usually that they are "off topic." If someone points out that it's inconsistent to pay so much attention to what information the government is collecting while ignoring what Google and Facebook collect, that's reportable as "off topic" because the original article didn't mention Google or Facebook. Another trend is for enough of the community to report all posts from certain users regardless of the content that the posts are hidden, and the community admits as much.

A second phenomenon occurs when the site begins holding users' posts for moderation. There is a secret, undisclosed mechanism that determines when this occurs (so much for transparency), but it seems to occur without human review. When a user's posts are held for moderation, they can write anything they want and it goes into a moderation queue that does not seem to be reviewed (if it ever were). Regardless, since there are no persistent discussion threads (they are all attached to articles that fall off the front page as new articles are posted) a "moderated" post might as well be deleted, since it will not be incorporated in the discussion in time for anyone to read it.

The main problem with the pretexts of reporting and moderation are that they are applied almost exclusively to dissenting opinions. The site is extraordinarily tolerant of offtopic or "crazy ranters" (your words) as long as their position fundamentally agrees with the groupthink. You can write all day long on this site about how this latest news is the worst thing to ever happen in the country's history and that America has become worse than Germany 1940 ever was, and your post will never be reported.

The site moderators and writers are loathe to engage in any discussion about these issues, or much substantive dissent at all, really. For a group whose motto is "Connect with Fans" there doesn't seem to be much time to participate in the discussions going on, except for the Stepford-cheery "fixed, thanks!" when one of the faithful points out a meaningless typo in an article. If they do make a substantive post, it is usually to try to refute a dissenting commenter. But they will never post to challenge any non-dissenter with an extreme opinion. This is tacit, silent encouragement of rabid, foaming-mouthed attitudes just as head-smacking as those on the Huffington Post article you cited.

A wry difference is that here you see very little Democrats-vs-Republicans crap, because if there's anything that most Techdirters (including the authors) can agree on, it's that nobody likes the government in any form. A dissenter here, usually maligned as a "statist" (among less polite terms usually referring to regimes of the 1940s). These dissenters are primarily characterized by extreme views like:

1. The government is not inexorably broken and that the processes and systems we have might be used to fix the problems that occur.

2. Big corporations might not always be acting in the best interest of the public, and the free market might not be the be-all-end-all solution to all problems we have with corporations.

Anyway, glad you came.
—Anonymous Coward

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Rikuo (profile), Aug 10th, 2013 @ 9:51am

    Daaamn. You get two thumbs up from me. What an article. I do find it outrageous that you couldn't give reasons for your boss's opposition to a Senate bill, while those in favour of it have no problems at all shouting its praises. Also that the Lavabit operator couldn't speak about what was happening - in a sane world, that would only be because he was charged with a crime and his lawyer had said "Don't talk to the media, it'll make you look bad for the judge". No, at worst, the Lavabit operator is an innocent third party who has evidence about a potential criminal (not that I believe Snowden to be one), but for some reason has been told by LEOs that he can't talk about it, at all.

    If I were in the US, I'd despair at the situation. How would we fix this? Even if a new Presidential candidate were to step up to the plate and say "I'll be good, I'll stop all these programs, shut down Gitmo etc"...how would his/her word be trustworthy? Obama promised us that back in 08. Everyone believed he would, there was nothing to suggest he wouldn't follow through. He was charismatic, he seemed to understand the concerns of the American voter. So what happens in 2016, when a new president is elected, probably because he/she says they'll undo the damage Obama did, but doesn't do it?

     

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

  2.  
    icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), Aug 10th, 2013 @ 12:27pm

    Re:

    Maybe we could get a law passed that politicians are like everything else that is for sale - it must come with a "90-day money back guarantee"... so if they don't follow through, they get removed from office and we get all the campaign contributions back...

    Wow... what the hell was I drinking last night...

     

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

  3.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Aug 10th, 2013 @ 12:29pm

    Brava!

    I wish we had an "Insightful" button for posts.

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    Paul, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 1:03pm

    best post I have read on the current state of affairs

    Jennifer Hoelzer, you have written the best post I have read to date on the current state of affairs we find ourselves struggling to live with and to understand.

    We cannot allow the secrecy and lies to continue and still call ourselves a Democracy. At any cost to us, this Tyranny cannot continue to flourish and bury what is left of our Sacred Democractic Society and our Constitution Laws. "We the People" need to act now!

    Thank you for this quote:
    "Secrecy -- the first refuge of incompetents -- must be at a bare minimum in a democratic society for a fully informed public is the basis of self government. Those elected or appointed to positions of executive authority must recognize that government, in a democracy, cannot be wiser than its people."

    I look forward to seeing, hearing and reading more from you. I enjoy your truthful and honest information and opinions. I will start reading "Secrecy: The American Experience" by former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan today.

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Sinizt3r, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 1:11pm

    Thank you for that beautifully crafted article , brilliant .. any chance you'll run for office in the near future , You have my vote.

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 1:23pm

    Dear Ms. Hoelzer,

    Thank you for all your thoughtful contributions. Please rock on.

    Sincerely,

    AC

     

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

  7.  
    icon
    Votre (profile), Aug 10th, 2013 @ 1:31pm

    Once again we see a young politician, obviously in way over his head, being managed by people with an agenda.

    In such an environment, who can you believe any more?

    It's no less ridiculous to argue all this concern is "about nothing" as it is to speculate exactly how much these agencies have on the president - or what threats might have been made regarding his personal safety if he didn't back down. Because either speculation could easily 'explain' the president's sudden and absolute flip-flop on all his previous positions on these issues.

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 1:33pm

    Re: Brava!

    Agreed.

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 1:36pm

    Re:

    "Even if a new Presidential candidate were to step up to the plate and say "I'll be good, I'll stop all these programs, shut down Gitmo etc"...how would his/her word be trustworthy?"

    First, we need to elect someone with a track record. Someone who opposed this under Bush AND under Obama would be ideal - then you know it's not just partisan politics. Second, we need to NOT re-elect people when they break campaign promises so blatantly.

    "there was nothing to suggest he wouldn't follow through."

    There was not much to suggest he WOULD follow through, either. The guy had no real track record. He didn't vote for or against the original Patriot act because he wasn't even in the Senate yet. Most, if not all, of the 4 years he spent in the Senate he was running for President or preparing to. We never got to see him be just an "ordinary" Senator.

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    barley blair, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 1:49pm

    Brilliant....

    Thank you writing a stunning indictment of the current state of affairs. You represent the concerns of all good citizens and reasonably coherent geeks admirably.

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 1:56pm

    Re: Brava!

    I was going to say the same thing.

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 1:59pm

    when this whole sorry mess is sorted out properly and righteously, i sincerely hope that members of Congress sit back, take on board what has happened, yet again, and never ever make this mistake again! instead of ignoring what Wyden said and just going along with what the various security agencies wanted and so those members of Congress could have another early finish, there needs to be some serious consideration of what the administration is up to. i cannot believe that just a couple of Senators thought the same way as Wyden. were they the only ones that actually gave a toss about how they represented the people? had the majority of Senators actually done the job they were elected to do, this repeat of history may not have happened. this shows the lack of consideration of the public by their representatives and they need reminding of that fact at election time. it makes me wonder, considering the number of times throughout history it has happened in the USA to the contrary, how it can continually call itself 'A democratic nation built on freedom, privacy and the Constitution'. it ignores these things constantly, resulting in God knows how many people suffering, usually for nothing, just because one or two very powerful people in very high positions seem to be suffering from acute paranoia with massive insecure tendencies!!

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 2:02pm

    Re: best post I have read on the current state of affairs

    "Secrecy -- the first refuge of incompetents -- must be at a bare minimum in a democratic society for a fully informed public is the basis of self government. Those elected or appointed to positions of executive authority must recognize that government, in a democracy, cannot be wiser than its people."

    And now we get MORE secrecy. The Obama administration is granting an exemption to ONE oil refinery (out of 143) from rules which mandate that ethanol be added to gasoline - and is requiring the other 142 make up the difference.

    Due to some rather silly laws, the EPA is going to require 16.5 billion gallons of ethanol be used this year. In 2011, America used about 134 billion gallons of gas, and that's been going down. If you do the math, you see that they'll have to blend the ethanol in at rates over 10% - but they can't blend more than 10% because cars can't handle it. It voids your car's warranty. So the refineries have to purchase "credits" to allow them to blend less ethanol, and these credits have gone up to about a dollar per gallon. One refinery has said the cost of the credits is going to be more than the wages and salaries to run its refineries.

    The point is, this exemption could be worth tens to hundreds of millions of dollars. But the administration refuses to say which refinery gets the exemption, or even how it was selected!

    What's the excuse here? This isn't national security.

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    RD, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 2:08pm

    Dear Jen

    Dear Jennifer Hoelzer,

    Please run for President.

    Signed,

    The American People

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    Danny, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 2:29pm

    Re:

    Yes. Just as they did with the investment banking sector.

     

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

  16.  
    icon
    tqk (profile), Aug 10th, 2013 @ 3:06pm

    Bravo Jennifer. Keep it up. Salut!

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 3:32pm

    Senator Wyden and his allies could, if they chose to, release any information they wanted to the public by entering it into the record on the floor. They can do so shielded from legal repercussion. If there is information that the public or the rest of Congress needs to know but doesn't, this mechanism exists to rectify that situation. It is a tremendous shield currently sitting unused. If any Congressperson believes that this situation is that bad, why did they wait for a 29-year-old sysadmin with no such protection (and, let's face it, far less of a responsibility) to act?

     

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

  18.  
    identicon
    seal, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 3:36pm

    America's great freedoms opposite reaction

    Excess generally causes reaction, and produces a change in the opposite direction, whether it be in the seasons, or in individuals, or in governments.

    Plato

    Tighten your seatbelts - we are soon to be the most oppressive government on the planet. How about martial law? It could be coming

     

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

  19.  
    icon
    carlosjii (profile), Aug 10th, 2013 @ 3:40pm

    excess of Liberty

    Excess generally causes reaction, and produces a change in the opposite direction, whether it be in the seasons, or in individuals, or in governments.

    Plato

    Tighten your seatbelts - we are soon to be the most oppressive government on the planet. How about martial law? It could be coming

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    Disgusted, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 4:08pm

    Follow the Money

    Let's face it, these programs always involve a ton of equipment and construction. If stopped, someone loses a bunch of money. They don't want that, so they push for secrecy, get funded, pass some of that back to the funders as "campaign contributions", which encourages the lawmakers to vote for the bills to fund them, and so on ad nauseum. We're being bought, as usual. One nice thing is that it illustrates that our lawmakers are at least honest politicians - when bought, they stay bought, even if it makes them sick to their collective stomachs. I don't see a good ending to this.

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 4:20pm

    Re:

    Then the NSA would use that as an excuse to never tell Congress anything for fear it would happen again.

     

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

  22.  
    icon
    Wally (profile), Aug 10th, 2013 @ 4:28pm

    Re: Re:

    Not like the NSA hasn't already done that a thousand times before to Congress....after all....we are ALL spied on correct?

     

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

  23.  
    icon
    Wally (profile), Aug 10th, 2013 @ 4:36pm

    Dear Ms. Hoelzer,

    Thank you for a very eye opening article. Again, for the second time this week, I am reminded of of Edward R. Murrow by how you wrote this. I wonder if you would be willing to take a small risk to also bring these issues to light in mainstream media such as MSNBC, CNN, and FoxNews. Possibly even Rush Limbaugh. I think this should be spread broadly and made sure to get out.

    Sincerely,
    Wally
    TechDirt Reader.

     

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

  24.  
    identicon
    FM Hilton, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 5:31pm

    Wowsa!

    Coming from someone who has been privy to this stuff is pretty fantastic, and shows the level of concern those who are must have-at least some of them.

    Yes, the American people cannot trust the government that doesn't trust them enough to tell them why and how they're running the most unconstitutional, illegal program ever devised to invade individual privacy.

    No, you would be hard pressed to find anyone in favor of it, at least from the public.

    Thank you for the most thoughtful and intelligent post I've read from anyone in the government (except for your boss, Senator Wyden).

    Keep up the fight, though-there are millions of people who really do care about this issue.

    We're just not allowed to know about it, and that's what's pissing us all off.

    If only others in the government cared as much.

     

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

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 5:38pm

    The Constitution of the United States needs to be made relevant again. It's at the center of our democracy. Having a secret court, secretly re-interpreting the Constitution behind closed doors, is like ripping that beating heart out of our democracy.

    There's only one true interpretation of the Constitution, and that's the version that's available for the American public to read and study.

    Any other versions or interpretations, are illegitimate and corrupt.

     

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

  26. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 7:01pm

    No free speech here on TD

    but isn't one of the things that makes the Internet so darn special its unwavering reminder that free speech includes speech we don't appreciate?

    Yes, you would think so, but here on TD there is a long tradition of censoring comments you don't agree with, and even Mr Masnick and Tim blocking IP addresses of commenters they 'do not like' the sound of.

    Censorship is routinely employed here on TD to stifle free debate and to stop people seeing comments these people do not like.

    So if you post comments here on TD that are not agreed with, you can either be 'REPORTED', or censored, or your IP will be tagged and your post will be "HELD FOR MODERATION" and never be posted.

    TD like to censor, and employ whatever techniques to stifle free speech, more so that any other site of this type I know of.

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 7:35pm

    Re: No free speech here on TD

    Do you know how I know there is no censorship here? YOU'RE STILL FUCKING HERE GOING ON ABOUT BEING CENSORED!

     

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

  28.  
    icon
    AC Unknown (profile), Aug 10th, 2013 @ 7:45pm

    Re: No free speech here on TD

    As I've said before: it's a FUCKING SPAM FILTER!! HOW MANY TIMES MUST I YELL IT INTO YOUR EAR BEFORE YOU GET IT THROUGH YOUR THICK SKULL!!

     

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

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 7:56pm

    Fan-Fucking-tastic! Bravo.

    Favorite quotes:

    "I'd go even further than that and argue that a big part of the reason the American people are having a hard time trusting their government is that the public's trust in government is harmed every time the American people learn that their government is secretly doing something they not only assumed was illegal but that government officials specifically told them they weren't doing. Hint: When the American people learn that you lied to them, they trust you less.

    I think it's hard for the American people to trust their President when he says he respects democratic principles, when his actions over the course of nearly five years demonstrate very little respect for democratic principles"

    and this one is indeed the best:

    "Secrecy -- the first refuge of incompetents -- must be at a bare minimum in a democratic society for a fully informed public is the basis of self government. Those elected or appointed to positions of executive authority must recognize that government, in a democracy, cannot be wiser than its people. "

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    barley blair, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 8:56pm

    Re:

    The reason members in the know have kept silent (most probably) is that be censured for reveaking a secret and thrown off of their committee assignment which is controlled by the leadership and chair. Now, while a great one-time gesture and protected from criminal liability, my guess is that they'd prefer to continue the fight while in the know and on their committee rather than ignorant and osolated from any assignment of consequence from the outside. And that IS a form of censorship communities use against its members.

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    RD, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 9:02pm

    Re: No free speech here on TD

    "Censorship is routinely employed here on TD to stifle free debate and to stop people seeing comments these people do not like."

    No, it's not used to stifle debate. It's used to stifle disruptive infantile loudmouths who only come here to stir shit and then whine and bitch like a baby when they are smacked down over it. It's not the *fact* of debating or discussion we are reporting, its your behavior. THATS ALL. Act like an intelligent human being and actually discuss stuff and this won't happen to you. If you keep getting reported...

    It's YOUR FAULT.

    Stop blaming everyone else for your shortcomings.

     

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

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 9:10pm

    Re: No free speech here on TD

    Try something for me....read your "scensored" comment after a day or two and see what it has to do with the article or comment thread you responded to...if you see any type of bashing of TechDirt (which is the exact opposite of constructive criticism) or bash one of the writers and it's been reported, then it is deserved to be reported so people can stay on subject in the matter at hand.

    Also, the website's policy clearly advocates anonymity and free speech. If your comment violates others' free speech and anonymity rights you will certainly get reported.

    Lastly, It should be dutifully noted that the staff of TechDirt are not the only ones capable of pressing the "Report" button and therefore cannot be held responsible for the actions of other readers....The very idea that you have to constantly bother TechDirt staff about how they are "scensoring" is completely and unabashedly ludicrous.

     

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

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 9:13pm

    Re: Re: No free speech here on TD

    It's not a SPAM Filter...I'm pressing the report button on you for that.

     

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

  34.  
    icon
    AC Unknown (profile), Aug 10th, 2013 @ 10:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: No free speech here on TD

    I was talking about what he said about his comments being "held in moderation".

     

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

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 10:12pm

    What a post. You've pretty much nailed exactly the problems I have with this administration in that every time something comes up that threatens to reveal the hows and whys of their precious authorization and legality of all this spying over the years. From the ACLU to Gitmo. From Manning to Snowden. This whole business has been one of misdirection, lies, cover-up and stonewalling.

    No wonder the American public isn't informed. I served my country both stateside and overseas. This isn't what I put the time in for. This is something I'm having a hard time separating Russia and China actions from the US's.

    Secret laws made by secret courts for secret paranoid agencies. Not exactly what we are supposed to be about. This type of spying comes at far too high a price. Not just in the sense of freedom of speech but also in the sense of the cost of setting up all these security parks around the nation. I hear often enough that the GOP has enough concern over paying up on Social Security and wants to cut back. I'm hearing nothing about cutting back the budgets on these out of control spy agencies and their agendas.

    The Benghazi diplomatic crew is killed at the embassy. Yet in the follow up it is learned that the CIA had an office right across the street and couldn't get permission to aid the embassy and then later it is learned that right in the middle of all this the CIA is gun running. WTF is wrong with our people? We are arming the very ones giving us trouble. Obama is wanting to arm the Syrian rebels who openly claim to been backed by Al Quedia? Is anyone home in Washington with the lights on?

    Screaming terrorist this and that and then turning around and saying here's more weapons? But we need to spy on all the American people because you know, terrorists are everywhere.

    Sorry, so much lying going on over justifying the unjustifiable while at the same time not being concerned with reigning in the abuses of all this spying over the years has totally destroyed any possible credibility coming from those supporting all this. I've learned not to listen to what is said so much as to what what is done and then question as to who gains out of it to get some clue as to what is really going on. The picture I get isn't pretty and it isn't what the American people are about.

    As a final note, I got the strong impression that Obama and crew were just waiting hoping for it to all blow over. When that didn't happen, trust us came out. You know what Senator Obama stood for. Only the good senator and the president now in office look like two entirely different people with different ideas.

    No, I don't trust the government of the US at all other than to expect more lies and misdirection to cover up what should now be revealed as it has been proven in my eyes that it will take third party independents to gain any trust in what is said.

     

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

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 10:21pm

    Also, the website's policy clearly advocates anonymity and free speech. If your comment violates others' free speech and anonymity rights you will certainly get reported.


    He's been at this so long that I automatically don't bother to waste my time anymore reading his drivel. It's rarely on topic as he can't be bothered to actually (you know) read the article he's ranting about. Too many times he gets the wrong impression from the title.

    Yes, it's his behavior that leads me to hit the report button every time I recognize his style, method, and rant, no matter if signed in under the troll name or if anonymous.

     

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

  37.  
    icon
    techflaws (profile), Aug 10th, 2013 @ 10:26pm

    Re: No free speech here on TD

    It's to stifle scumbags like you from lying your ass off. Good to see you whine about it.

     

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

  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 10:54pm

    Amplify this however you can!

    Please, please, please send this as an OpEd to every major newspaper and TV station in the country. And if they're all bought and paid for, send it to the majors overseas!

    The non-basement-dwelling-public NEEDS to read this.

     

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

  39.  
    identicon
    Jennifer Hoelzer, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 11:15pm

    Re: Re: Brava!

    Thank you! Much easier to write about this now that i don't have to write in vague hypotheticals.

     

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

  40.  
    identicon
    Jennifer Hoelzer, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 11:18pm

    Re: best post I have read on the current state of affairs

    A reporter friend shared that quote with me when this story broke and I haven't stopped thinking about it since. Glad you appreciated it!

     

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

  41.  
    identicon
    Jennifer Hoelzer, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 11:27pm

    Re:

    There are repercussions. Note members of congress who have done this in the past did it as they were leaving Congress. Ron -- hopefully -- has many years ahead of him If he had revealed the classified data, he could have stayed in Congress, but would have lost his seat on the Intelligence Committee. And would no longer be in a position to raise objections/conduct oversight on future programs. Also, Wyden's staffer on the committee, who deserves a medal for the heroic work he has done on this issue over the last 7+ years, would have lost his job/clearance/career, etc. Anyway, I'd argue we need more folks like the two of them conducting oversight over intelligence programs not less.

     

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

  42.  
    identicon
    Jennifer Hoelzer, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 11:30pm

    Re:

    Wow! Edward R.Murrow? Best complement I have gotten in awhile. Thank you.

     

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

  43.  
    identicon
    Jennifer Hoelzer, Aug 10th, 2013 @ 11:33pm

    Re: Wowsa!

    Thank you for your kind words and encouragement, they mean a lot. And it was a real honor to work for Ron. He's the real deal.

     

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

  44. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    lightning from the sky, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 1:15am

    surely the president's closeted homosexuality and hardcore drug addictions coupled with his forged status as a legal US citizen has nothing to do with any such flip flopping. no dirt here, move along citizen. certainly no reason to seal official records or to run the most secretive administration in the history of the united states while simultaneously gutting the the constitution said republic was founded upon.

    the slippery slope has become a skydive, terminal velocity reached, and a nasty, liquifying, cratering impact surely awaits this descent. god help us.

     

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

  45.  
    icon
    Sneeje (profile), Aug 11th, 2013 @ 4:03am

    Re:

    Nice strawman. Point out precisely where she or anyone else have indicated this concern is "about nothing."

     

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

  46.  
    identicon
    waldo who, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 5:13am

    With all this talk of twenty somethings... I should report that a conversation at the table in a restaurant echoed most of the sentiments you expressed. The youngest at the table was in their early 60s. The post SS/Medicare members have a lot of these concerns.

     

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

  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 5:50am

    Re: No free speech here on TD

    Unfortunately, I am sitting here reading your comment about being censored.

    Think about that.

     

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

  48.  
    identicon
    marie rich, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 5:55am

    Scathing Indictment

    I am an 'American people' and I approve this message

     

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

  49.  
    icon
    Kevin Flynn (profile), Aug 11th, 2013 @ 6:06am

    "I think it's awfully hard for the American people to trust the President and his administration when their best response to the concerns Americans are raising is to denigrate the Americans raising those concerns."

    So, basically, they're behaving like trolls? Well, we know how to deal with that, don't we?!

     

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

  50.  
    identicon
    Guardian, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 6:10am

    hrmmmmm "hackers are terrorists"

    A) i get out on my electric bike every day for hours at a time riding off around trails and meeting others talking and enjoying nature....

    OH guess i'm not a shut in ....i had a thought yesterday about freedom.....you can't spy as easily on me when i'm not using the internet....can you....for now....

    This is why many draw the line on the internet....
    YOU want to call me a terrorist? HUH LOLWHAT...seriously the only terrorists here are the nsa, and the democrats and republicans that are committing a crime against humanity...by doign what nazis did during world war 2 on a far grander scale.

    Remember Mussolini? He had jews in his fascist party...
    its not socialism one has to worry about its fascism...Mussolini's kind.

    The american govt of today has gradually morphed into the nazi dream....the very thing all our nations fought and had our relatives die for, has been betrayed....freedoms are eroded every day , abuses occur at every angle.

    YET i am free in my mind and i know what freedom is....you will never take that from me....and i WILL STAND UP AND FIGHT FOR IT as my grand father fought nazi oppression.

    They are risking everythign here....WHY? why are they so hard to fight agaisnt freedom....what are THEY hiding that even snowden does not know....?

    Seriously how can you fight my words of truth....people laugh at you calling me a terorrist....you give me power and strength when you say that....

    ya see i hit the taliban on the net....when you called hacker terrorists last time...whom do i hit now?

    it is all the worlds people you are calling terrorists....we will not attack the Internets people....

    perhaps it is them we should get rid of ....strong words they can take out of context saying im threatening them with harm....perhaps...i am of course talking about removing them from office , or job....

    there is no real reason for the nsa, it is only htere to protect the 32.3 trillion in tax evasion banks that are out there and those that do this to the world....

    THEY ARE THE TERRORISTS , both ECONOMIC AND MILITARY.

     

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

  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 6:16am

    Secrecy and Executive Priviledge

    Isn't this debate over the lack of public debate concerning Provision 215 of the Patriot Act really going nowhere because these interpretations held officially and in secret by the Presidential Office and Administration are all inclusive within the confines of Executive Priviledge?

    As the President must hold executive powers high and above those who also may be qualified to weigh in on the most demanding of decisions neccessary to safeguard America, but do not hold the position inherent to the Presidency, so his decision must be his alone and some of those provisions within the framework of the Patriot Act are for the President alone to interpret.

     

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

  52.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 6:18am

    Re: No free speech here on TD

    darryl, we repeat ourselves.

    Take George Orwell's "1984" out of your country's public domain, and sue your government for daring to encourage its citizens to lie about their location to get cheaper Adobe products, and you'll be allowed to uselessly talk down to everyone else on grounds of moral superiority.

    Until then, go cut your dick on a solar panel you engineer.

     

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

  53.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 6:32am

    Re: Re: No free speech here on TD

    How can a comment violate others' free speech rights or anonymity rights?

     

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

  54.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 6:48am

    Re: Secrecy and Executive Priviledge

    "Isn't this debate over the lack of public debate concerning Provision 215 of the Patriot Act really going nowhere because these interpretations held officially and in secret by the Presidential Office and Administration are all inclusive within the confines of Executive Priviledge? "

    Congress chose approval to extend it, and Obama chose to sign it after promising not to multiple times.

    "As the President must hold executive powers high and above those who also may be qualified to weigh in on the most demanding of decisions neccessary to safeguard America, but do not hold the position inherent to the Presidency, so his decision must be his alone and some of those provisions within the framework of the Patriot Act are for the President alone to interpret."

    But as he is a part of the Executive Branch, it is also Obama's prime directive to uphold the law. I don't think violating your own citizen's inalienable Constitutional rights, and not discussing these provisions with public debate ever really helped Obama.

     

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

  55.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 6:49am

    Re: Re: best post I have read on the current state of affairs

    Flex Fuel vehicles can run on E85 (a blend of 15% gasoline and 85% ethanol). While it's not as widely available at filling stations, surely that counts toward the 16.5 billion. I apologize if this disturbs the math in your somewhat bizarre and exceptionally specific tangential rant.

     

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

  56.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 7:20am

    Re: Re: best post I have read on the current state of affairs

    "The Obama administration is granting an exemption to ONE oil refinery (out of 143) from rules which mandate that ethanol be added to gasoline - and is requiring the other 142 make up the difference."

    We may discuss ethanol in a lot of formats and meanings. This is one.

    I like many people with a house have a lawn which has this stuff called grass. Now on the west coast that may not mean much but here in this part of the south it means that it will be cut on a weekly bases if we are having a wet summer and a monthly bases if it is a dry summer. With a wet summer in one week one may reasonable expect 1 to 2 inches or growth.

    To cut grass one can either out source the job to a lawn company at high rates or do it them self. I have a lawn mower and I do it myself.

    Well lawn mowers do not work at times. In the winter time they are not need so they set around not used.

    After working a day and a half trying to start one I am totally frustrated. The damn thing simply will not start and run. It starts and immediately quits. Carburetor has been removed, cleaned, and adjusted. Fuel system has been cleaned. New spark plug and it starts. After all that and new fuel and one tank of gas later spark plug is completely carbonated.

    Damn need new lawn mower. Six months later and now I am really frustrated. Same issue.

    Must be I got a crappy lawn mower. But! I bought the best one on the market.

    So this time I start talking to the mechanics at the lawn repair shops.

    Their collective advice:

    DO NOT PUT ETHANOL IN ANY SMALL ENGINE.

    Ethanol is made with alcoholic which is made by distilling something that has sugar in it.

    Corn syrup from which the majority of ethanol is made is used as a sugar sweetener in soft drinks it it is sugar based. Putting sugar into an engine is one of the fastest ways known to mechanics to destroy an engine.

    Then there is the other side of alcoholic. Alcohol attracts water. In a dry climate like the west coast that may not be a big deal. Here in the south where the humidity more often than not approaches 100% it means that there is enough water attraction from the atmosphere, including rain inclusions, that gasoline ethanol does not burn as hot as normal gasoline that the sugar in the ethanol is sufficient to file spark plugs.

    In short if you want small motors to run you must put boat gas or aviation gas which does not contain ethanol in them.

    Aviation gas is out. Have you been out to the airport lately. Guards, fences, dogs, and I want 5 gallons of aviation gas. No thanks. I have no desires to spend several weeks in a place the sun does not shine inorder to mow my grass.

    But, small boat that is a possibility.

    Well not really. Closes place that I can get boat gas is 75 miles away. Local county law, no regular gas in this county only ethanol.

    Well there are marinas close buy and boat repair shops. Off to them to find where to purchase gas.

    Their advice:

    DO NOT PUT ETHANOL IN FRESH WATER SIZED BOAT ENGINES.

    But! Where do you get regular gas.

    Their answer:

    We do not know. Not our problem. We only repair the motors and clean the residual out after you put ethanol in them. Just do not do it.

    I still do not know where to buy gasoline with out driving into the next state. As far as the lawn service people they run their motors on a daily bases not a weekly or monthly bases so they do not have the water problem with ethanol.

     

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

  57.  
    identicon
    Loki, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 7:20am

    Re: Re:

    I've argued for years that neither the Democratic nor Republican parties have anything really to do with the actual democratic or republican philosophies anymore (aside for paying lip service and pandering to those demographics).

    I think Ron Paul needs to leave the Republicans (why he even wasted his time joining it, other than pointing out how far it'd really swung from real republican principles, is beyond me) and Ron Wyden needs to leave the Democrats, and run for President and Vice President, respectively, as Independents.

     

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

  58.  
    identicon
    Joyce stillman, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 7:36am

    J Hoelzer

    Thank you for enlightening us further. We have been betrayed.

     

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

  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 8:10am

    With your rant on regular gas as opposed to ethanol gas there are other concerns mechanically that go hand in hand with yours about small engines.

    You see no one in congress actually tested this stuff by the government to find out what was a good blend. Oh there were tests done but not by unbiased people.

    When ethanol first was put in gas here in the states, they weren't using the proper plastic in carburetors. Ethanol is corrosive to a lot of the plastics and people started having mechanical problems over it.

    Most mechanic shops are not going to test your fuel. They probably already know what killed your carburetor. Repair is what keeps the doors open so it's not in their interests to actually prove why. Some time ago, there was an article where they did take a sample of the gas. The 10% wasn't 10% it was supposed to be. It was closer to 20% than 10%. No one is keeping close track on how much ethanol goes in the gas.

    Then the ethanol lobby wants to put more in gasoline. So now they've got it jacked up to 15%. But most cars on the road today are 10-15 years old.

     

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

  60.  
    icon
    art guerrilla (profile), Aug 11th, 2013 @ 8:11am

    Re: Re: Re: best post I have read on the current state of affairs

    well, that was only slightly off-topic, BUT, i -for one- appreciate the headsup...
    i have experienced much the same, and it wasn't that long between using the mower or chainsaw, yet they are gummed up in the carb like someone dumped a bag of candy in it...
    ...which is effectively what is happening...

    keeps the small engine people in bidness, i guess...
    thanks for info

    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy
    eof

     

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

  61.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 8:34am

    Re: Re: Re: No free speech here on TD

    They can't...which means the report button is used only for the purpose to keep others from either being offended if there are racist or extremely offensive comments from a user...or it is there to keep a true discussion on subject.

     

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

  62.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 8:35am

    Re: Re: No free speech here on TD

    Have you seen any of the posts that have been "sencored" or "stifled"?

     

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

  63.  
    identicon
    Richard, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 8:42am

    Unpatriotic

    "...I have a hard time understanding why my wanting to stand up for democratic principles makes me unpatriotic..."
    Can you say "McCarthyism"? Demonizing the opposition is ever a winning strategy when employed by deluded or self-serving connivers and powermongers to sway the opinions of the weak-minded, the fearful, and the lazy, i.e., the majority. If the entire collection of dissidents can be successfully painted with a broad brush in the color of immature, sex-starved cellar-dweller, the masses can sneer disdainfully in their misinformed but self-righteous patriotism at you and your dissenting ilk.

    Think what it took to accomplish real reform in civil rights. Remember the civil disobedience and the egregiousness of the forms of repression of those protests that finally coerced the conscience of the land. Things are going to get worse before they get better.

    Thank you for making a valiant attempt to inform. I shall pray to my dark gods you don't vanish without explanation.

    Please accept another hearty "Hallelujah!" from a member of the Techdirt choir.

     

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

  64.  
    identicon
    Никто, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 9:21am

    Re: Re: Re:

    HAH.

    I'd almost pay to see that, but it would never, ever work.

    Not in a million years.

     

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

  65.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 9:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: No free speech here on TD

    whoosh!!!

     

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

  66.  
    identicon
    shaking head in disbelief, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 9:25am

    Re: Re: No free speech here on TD

    ...and...he wins again...

     

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

  67.  
    identicon
    no we don't, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 9:29am

    Re:

    ...We feed them every goddamn time, and if we did ignore them that would be worse. This is a no win situation...

     

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

  68.  
    identicon
    yes we do, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 9:31am

    Re: Re:

    the only solution is copious amounts of tar, feathers, rails, and rope

     

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

  69.  
    identicon
    Paul, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 9:32am

    Re: Re: best post I have read on the current state of affairs

    Thanks for the reply...

    I left one important thought out:

    Jennifer Hoelzer, have you considered becoming the 1st woman to win a USA presidential election? You and those YOU CHOOSE to run with will all have my vote. If not, whoever you sponsor will get my vote.

    Thank you again for speaking out and for your much needed clarity on these important topics.

     

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

  70.  
    identicon
    Godwin, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 9:33am

    Re: hrmmmmm "hackers are terrorists"

    and its over

     

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

  71.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 10:13am

    Re: Re: Re: No free speech here on TD

    You have a pretty sad definition of what constitutes a "win".

     

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

  72.  
    icon
    apauld (profile), Aug 11th, 2013 @ 11:12am

    Re:

    since when is Rush Limbaugh part of the mainstream media?

     

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

  73.  
    identicon
    Linda Vogel, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 11:18am

    Contracting

    He does have a heart - lying leaks and never at random.

     

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

  74.  
    identicon
    delia ruhe, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 11:20am

    Superb

    This is one of those moments where I wish I had 5 hands so I could give this article 5 thumbs up. Splendid!

     

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

  75.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 11:47am

    Re: Re:

    You can't be in the media, claim the ratings numbers he does, and not also be part of the mainstream media.

    It doesn't matter that part of his shtick is decrying the outrages of the mainstream media. He's about as mainstream as it gets.

     

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

  76.  
    identicon
    FM Hilton, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 11:59am

    Re: Re: Re: best post I have read on the current state of affairs

    I don't know if you've been inhaling too much ethanol, but your post makes absolutely no sense in the greater context of this thread.

    Stop sniffing this stuff, ok?

     

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

  77.  
    identicon
    What Constitution?, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 12:48pm

    First time here, following a link from some respected twit-er who frequents Emptywheel. Anyway, this is a fabulous post, thank you for taking the time to share your encyclopedic first hand factual awareness of the timeline as well as your understandable perspective. America would still be piecing together instances of absurd bypassing and gladhanding of our "watchdogs" in their congressional roles it it wasn't for the brave and illuminating disclosures of Mr. Snowden, which allow us to place in proper context the degree to which we (and our Constitution) are being gamed and ill-served by this shameful secrecy charade. Your post should inspire everyone neither to ignore the issues or to allow this continued refusal by the administration to let our congresspersons do their jobs. Anyway, and above all, thanks!

     

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

  78.  
    icon
    Andy Robb (profile), Aug 11th, 2013 @ 1:13pm

    Filibuster?

    Ms Hoelzer:

    It sounds as though Senator Wyden's objections to the legal authorizations are profound. Given the intransigence of the administration, would this not be an appropriate time to utilize the senate's version of a trump card - and filibuster the reauthorizations altogether?

    Given how much damage is being done to the fundamentals of our democracy by the organizations chartered with its protection, at least the threat seems appropriate.

    Though that may be just as dangerous for Senator Wyden's career, or those of his staff, as the suggestion in an earlier comment to enter the documents in question into the legislative record.

    I'd be grateful for any thoughts you have on the topic!

    Thank you, very much, for the work you're doing on the senator's staff and for your insight here.

     

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

  79.  
    icon
    Jennifer Hoelzer (profile), Aug 11th, 2013 @ 1:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: No free speech here on TD

    Just my two cents on this as someone who occasionally writes for online publications that allow comments.

    Negative -- or extremely hostile -- comments don't violate free speech, but I do think it acts as a disincentive. Let me explain:

    I can only speak for myself here, but when I take time to write posts like this one or ones I've done for my Huffington Post blog or even columns I wrote with Senator Wyden, I do it with the hope that I can help readers see the world differently or at least gain a better understanding of my point of view. I don't normally get paid for what I write and my writing has yet to drive any consulting clients my way. In fact, the above post probably ended my career in government communication consulting.

    Now, while I admittedly wrote the above post in a five hour blur of coffee and prosecco (between midnight and 5 AM), I have often spent days if not weeks trying to formulate an argument that I hope will resonate with readers. And, when you put that kind of work into a post, it's really hard to read eviscerating comments written by people who clearly didn't read what you wrote and just what to tear into you for the headline or what they assume to know about you based on whatever they think they know about you.

    If you don't believe me, check out the comments currently being written about my Techdirt post over at the Huffington Post. I could only read a few before I had to stop. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/11/jennifer-hoelzer-obama-nsa_n_3739639.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

    Anyway, when I read comments like those, I start to ask myself why I bothered to write the piece in the first place, which makes me less eager to write again in the future. As I said in the above piece, I respect -- and even cherish -- the right folks have to write whatever they want online. And -- having worked in positions where I couldn't use my name without it reflecting on my boss or job etc -- I respect the right to post anonymously or under psydonyms. But that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt to have such words directed at me or something I've written and it has definitely discouraged me from participating in discussions.

    Anyway, I wish more folks would ask themselves -- before posting those comments -- whether what they are writing is something they would be proud to put their name on. But I think the system that Mike has set up here at Techdirt is brilliant. In that it not only allows the Techdirt community to set the tone for its discussions, it offers incentives for folks to provide insight and even humor. It's -- obviously -- a conversation that I am much more eager to engage in.

    (Btw. some sites -- even legitimate newspaper sites -- refuse to limit comments because they feel that giving crazy ranters a forum to rant, just drives traffic to their site. The fact that Techdirt cares more about driving constructive conversation to its site, versus a sheer volume of crazy is to be commended.)

    Again, just my two cents.

     

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

  80.  
    icon
    ohsass (profile), Aug 11th, 2013 @ 2:10pm

    Re: Re: Wowsa!

    Jennifer....I am curious if you feel President Obama's comments Friday regarding his 4 points to assuage our concerns with the NSA are going to be achieved? Do they address your concerns especially the promise to disclose the Executive Branch interpretation of Sec. 215 of the Patriot Act? Personally, I think he feels few if any of us will follow up to insure they will be implemented and its a smoke screen...."Ohhhh, look at the squirrel!" (crickets...crickets)

     

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

  81.  
    icon
    Jennifer Hoelzer (profile), Aug 11th, 2013 @ 2:32pm

    Re: Filibuster?

    He did filibuster the reauthorizations. He forced the Patriot Act to the floor for a vote and put a "hold" on both efforts to reauthorize FAA. You can find his hold announcement here: http://www.wyden.senate.gov/news/press-releases/wyden-places-hold-on-fisa-amendments-act-extension

    In fact he was such a pain-in-the neck, that the Senate had to reconvene 2 days after Christmas this past year to override his hold on FAA. You can find video of his hour+ speech here: http://www.wyden.senate.gov/news/video-and-audio/view/wyden-floor-statement-on-fisa-reauthorization- act-and-proposed-amendments

    But given that Wyden's ability to explain his objections were limited to vague hypotheticals, there were well over 60 votes to override his holds and end his filibuster.

     

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

  82.  
    icon
    Jennifer Hoelzer (profile), Aug 11th, 2013 @ 3:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Wowsa!

    I think President Obama's proposed reforms are a huge step in the right direction. I deserves credit for taking those steps and I commend him for doing it. Although I am troubled that they don't include closing the section 702 loophole, which is is a big enough subject for its own post.

    I think one of the challenges with this debate is that it encompasses so many issues. i.e. most folks in this debate are actually debating different things. For example, I think each of the following are separate issues:

    1.The programs themselves: Are these surveillance programs making our country safer/less safe and/or are there better ways to keep our country safe? So they strike the proper balance between national security and privacy? are they working as well as they could -- i.e. is information being shared, etc.
    2. Legality: Does the administration - in fact - have the authority to conduct these programs. They obviously think they do, but do they and is their argument constitutional? How is this data collection not represent the kind of general warrants the founders deliberately wanted to prohibit?
    3. Democracy - In a democratic society, the people are supposed to have a say in the laws that govern them, were they given a say here? Why not? Did the Administration have a good national security reason for denying the American people the information they needed to judge their leaders' actions on this issue or were they just afraid if the public found out what it was doing, they would take away some of their authority? Is the latter a good reason to classify information.
    4. Classification/Leaks - Is our classification system working? Is information only being classified for national security reasons or is some of the information being declassified for reasons such as -- avoiding oversight and potential embarrassment? Is given the executive branch the sole authority to determine what is/is not classified working? Is cracking down on leakers the best way to protect national secrets?
    5. Edward Snowden - Did he do the right thing? Is he a whistleblower or something else? Could we be having the debate we are currently having without him? Is the administration's treating him unfairly?

    There are obviously other questions, but I laid these out to give you an idea just how diverse this topic is and that just because folks have an opinion on one aspect of the debate doesn't mean that they are on one side or the other because there are many, many sides. In other words, you can have concerns about the lack of oversight and still care about national security. You can have concerns about these programs and also have concerns about the way the information was disclosed. etc . etc. etc.

    Anyway, I am VERY glad the President is taking this issue seriously and putting some excellent reform proposals on the table. Having worked for many of those reforms for many years, I commend him for taking those actions. But that doesn't mean I'm not still concerned about his administration's commitment to oversight and democracy and what I see as an irresponsible classification system that I would argue makes our country less safe by fostering disrespect for the classification system. Based on this Administration's previous actions and statements on those fronts, I have no reason to believe that they will continue to circumvent the democratic process when it is most convenient for them,

     

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

  83.  

    I have as valid an expression of Ideas as Obama ( the danger to the establishment powers )

    The beauty of the internet is that it equalizes human's ideas. Anonymity is a large player if not the defining player in the making of a level playing field of ideas.

    Anonymity is the target
    ■ Ideas must not be rated on merit but by who expressed it.
    ■ The old order must be maintained.
    ■ Obama's ideas should be better than yours because "he" expressed them.
    ■ The authorities need to have the monopoly of "good" ideas because they expressed them.
    ■ Your ideas should not be rated on merit.



    Actually you are the target
    ■ Every idea you express needs to be attributed to you.
    You can't arrest an Idea, but if you can attribute it to "someone" you can discredit/punish that "someone" to make the idea seem less legitimate.



    My real name, D.O.B, sexual preference, pictures, facebook etc... is irrelevant to this expression.

     

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

  84.  
    identicon
    PeterParker, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 3:36pm

    Many thanks

    As a person living on the other side of the atlantic i have to say that Americans like you Ms. Hoelzer threaten to overthrow my prejudices on Americans in the most positive way imagineable.

    It is quite easy to see the USA drift slowly towards fascism and a very dark future with all the typical signs. Secret laws, secret courts, frankly no more right on habeas corpus, indetermind detention issued by executives alone and the list continues.

    Yet, what makes me hope for a brighter future of your country and the western hemisphere in general is the heart that people like you put in the defence of the democracy. It is a stance towards your government that is lacking in my part of the world and lets the US stand out still.

    Please go on sharing your insights with the American people and the rest of the world.

    Also keep in mind that there are atleast in theory laws to protect you as American citizens from the NSA nosing your private lifes, while all the rest of the world is fair game for this bloated security apparatus.

     

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

  85.  
    identicon
    Anonymous expression is judged on merit, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 4:16pm

    To anyone who can't see the connection.

    Your anonymity while flying.
    Your anonymity while walking through the city.
    Your anonymity while communicating via telephone.
    Your anonymity while communicating via email.
    Your anonymity while viewing a website.
    Your anonymity in life and your ability to express yourself freely without fear of repercussions.

    The NSA are spying for a reason. That reason is money.

    Who has all your info btw? The governments?
    Billions spent lobbying politicians every year.
    Billions spent in political races every cycle.
    Billions spent giving politicians jobs. (aka revolving door)
    So who has all your info?


    Anonymity is the key target.
    Remove it to stop cyber bullying or whatever reason they tell us will keep us safe online.
    Remove it to keep us safe in the mall.
    Remove it to keep us safe from bad people.
    Remove it so SonyPictures can find out who is sharing the latest blockbuster.
    Remove it so BP can find out who is protesting them.
    Remove it so the governments can crush dissenting comments and valid criticisms.

    The people are the enemy. Well their anonymity and culture of ideas being judged on merit is. Once they know everything about you they can control you.

     

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

  86.  
    identicon
    Anonymous expression is judged on merit, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 4:33pm

    Until the money is completely out of politics there is no hope. It is delusional to think otherwise. Every story or incident will have its arguments and democratic held majority. Means nothing.
    This case: the money for spying programs is great.
    Next case: the money for *************** is great.

    It's EVERY major issue too. So maddening to watch. People getting caught up in the details of issue while ignoring the root cause. Money.

    What democratically elected official is going to vote, to spy on the people who they represent ?
    That's dictator stuff. Or are representing "not the people".

     

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

  87.  
    identicon
    FM Hilton, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 4:48pm

    Anyway, I am VERY glad the President is taking this issue seriously and putting some excellent reform proposals on the table. Having worked for many of those reforms for many years, I commend him for taking those actions. But that doesn't mean I'm not still concerned about his administration's commitment to oversight and democracy and what I see as an irresponsible classification system that I would argue makes our country less safe by fostering disrespect for the classification system. Based on this Administration's previous actions and statements on those fronts, I have no reason to believe that they will continue to circumvent the democratic process when it is most convenient for them,


    I must very respectfully disagree.

    It appears to me (and many other people-including Mike, in a previous posting) that the President is not taking this as seriously as he appears to be.

    In other words, he's putting a good face on it, and continuing to stonewall on the very problem that is rampant throughout this whole affair: secrecy and the "need to know" thesis that is the standard state of affairs in Washington.

    There are dozens of Senators in the Capitol who do not have the information that they need to know in order to be up to date on the programs, and have been denied that information by their colleagues-due to the incredible 'secrecy' of it.

    That is unacceptable not only to them, but the American public.

    That we demand basic information and the respect that we deserve as the taxpaying citizens, and then are blown off by the government as being undeserving is an insult to us, and our country.

    True, the President isn't the only one in this but he's got more power than most of them and he's done nothing to improve things. He's done just about what he wants, which is to keep the status quo stable, and not upset the very powerful interests that run Washington.

     

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

  88.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 5:14pm

    +1

    Problem is though. I just read your communication. That sort of power to communicate to random strangers used to be the preserve of the powerful, the media and a chosen few. Now, your message has more of my attention than CNN has ever had. That cat is out of the bag. It won't go back in easily.

    I will go further than you. The "status quo" is trying to get rescued via Obama. Silencing your voice is the last ditch attempt. The mainstream media is already silenced with shallow tactics like access to interviews. Large dissenters and criticizers are silenced via smear.

    Now it's our turn.
    Will being spied on be enough to stop people mass communicating about the institutionally corrupt governments that are everywhere in the western world. For now at least, we are more influential among ourselves than the latest press release failing at masquerading as news.

    If my name, address etc... and this comment was attached to my personal life forever. I don't know if I would have written that.

     

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

  89.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 5:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: best post I have read on the current state of affairs

    "Flex Fuel vehicles can run on E85 (a blend of 15% gasoline and 85% ethanol). While it's not as widely available at filling stations, surely that counts toward the 16.5 billion. I apologize if this disturbs the math in your somewhat bizarre and exceptionally specific tangential rant."

    Why yes, I did ignore E85. So let's run the math. According to this source, we use 62 million gallons of E85 per year. If you multiply that by 85% it comes out to 52.7 million gallons of ethanol.

    http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2011/05/30/e85-ethanol-in-the-us-dead-or-alive/

    52.7 million gallons may sound like a lot, but it is less than one half of one percent of the 16.5 billion gallon requirement. It's so insignificant it's barely worth mentioning.

    And yes, it's tangential, but it further shows the administration's desire for secrecy when it is not needed.

     

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

  90.  
    icon
    corwin155 (profile), Aug 11th, 2013 @ 6:06pm

    totalitarian police state

    With the signing of the National security act in 1947 , the united states set up a totalitarian police state hiding behind the (soon to be EX) legitimate government of United states of America.
    Run by the military , military industrial complex corporations and various security programs (FBI, NSA , CIA and DEA).
    with the Executive branch now grabbing More power every election, we are moving toward a totalitarian police state like Nazi Germany use to have (w/o the antisemitism).
    what can we do ? sadly Nothing

     

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

  91.  
    icon
    tovangar2 (profile), Aug 11th, 2013 @ 8:22pm

    Re:

    Activation of a sleeper might also explain it.

     

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

  92.  
    icon
    tovangar2 (profile), Aug 11th, 2013 @ 8:42pm

    Re: Re:

    There are some good people near the end of their careers. One or more needs to volunteer to be brought up to speed so they can inform the public.

    Protections that cannot be used are worthless. We MUST find a way to get the info to the rightful owners (that would be us), rather than force anymore people (like Manning and Snowden)to sacrifice their futures doing the job that our public servants exist to do. There is no excuse. We are faced with fascism (I wish that was hyperbole). Forceful action must be taken now. Being a "good German" in this situation is not nearly good enough.

    Thank you for your stunning article. You have performed an incredible service that is much appreciated. I hope you keep writing.

     

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

  93. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 9:04pm

    Re: Re: No free speech here on TD

    "but isn't one of the things that makes the Internet so darn special its unwavering reminder that free speech includes speech we don't appreciate? "

    This is a comment from the article, (if you read it), so how is my comment not relevant.

    I notice you did not censor this one, I guess it would make you look bad..

    As for 'spam filter', that's just plain bullshit, when your posts are not posted (held for moderation) not because of what you said, but because of WHO YOU ARE (your IP address) and your posts NEVER EVER leave 'moderation'.

    It's censorship...

    Look just admit it !!!! we all know you do it, why and we know how it makes you look..

    Makes all the excuses you like, but facts are facts.

     

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

  94. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 9:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: No free speech here on TD

    no I haven't, funny that !!! right..

    I wonder why, could it be you are on your best behaviour because someone "famous" (the ex-deputy of someone who once ran for something but lost) watching over you..

    It's very amusing, that there is no censorship going on here after her comment about it..

    But I am sure this nice lady is capable of looking at other articles where there are many examples of Techdirt censorship of comment not agreed to.

    Or do you think she is stupid and cant work it out for herself ?

     

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

  95. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 9:12pm

    Re: Re: No free speech here on TD

    what this business about Adobe ? Kind of off topic are you not ?

    What does adobe have to do with anything ??

    So are you attacking me or my country ?? right now ?

    Or are you attacking me because of my Government ? Should I do that to you too ?
    I know your bitter and somewhat jealous, but you'll get over it.

    One day, if you work very hard you might make something of yourself as well.. You might even become an engineer !

     

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

  96. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 9:20pm

    Re:

    Also, the website's policy clearly advocates anonymity and free speech. If your comment violates others' free speech and anonymity rights you will certainly get reported.

    That might be true, but not here on TD, comments that are routinely reported are ALWAYS comments that simply do not agree with the thrust of the article.

    You know that, I know that, Masnick knows that, so why try to propagate a outright LIE, to justify your actions?

    Also you may not know, but Masnick will block my IP address so I cannot post at all, not because of what I might post, but because of who I am.

    That's censorship, it's used to stifle free speech, the lady writing this article rightly states that free speech is about comments YOU DONT LIKE just as much as ones you agree with.

    Censorship here is employed to stifle free speech, and I would expect anyone who understand your constitution to find that very distasteful.

    I am sure this lady can look at other TD posts and confirm exactly what I am saying.

    And confirm WHY the comments are censored, because you don't like free speech here on TD.

    It is amusing to see TD regulars working so hard to defend these actions of censorship, it is at the least somewhat hypocritical.

     

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

  97. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 9:40pm

    TD Censorship for Jennifer

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130808/02084524106/time-warner-ceo-says-having-game-thrones-as-mo st-pirated-is-better-than-emmy.shtml

    By Mike Masnick himself, About Time Warner CEO

    109 comments

    Starting with comment 4 (censored) states:
    "NOT IN CONTROVERSY WHILE MONEY IS ROLLING IN!

    Why do you even bother to trumpet this? You should instead focus on the SMALL efforts on narrow margin which is where piracy affects creators... OH. That's WHY you hype already huge successes and claim it proves you can ignore copyright."

    That was censored, why ?? was it off topic ?? did it contain foul language ?? NO.

    It was censored because the good folk at TD felt that they did not agree with the comment so they CENSORED IT.

    Comment 5, Also censored

    Comment 8 Censored
    Comment 9 Censored
    Comment 22 Censored
    Comment 26 censored
    Comment 31
    Comment 34
    Comment 39 (a response to a Masnick comment) Censored
    Comment 42 Censored
    Comment 45
    Comment 46
    Comment 55

    Read some of those censored comments, you will find it has nothing to do with what is said, many make valid and on topic points.

    NO, they are censored because of the name of the person who posted them.
    Because that person is known to express his free speech rights, and say things on TD that others do not agree with.

    Therefore he is censored.

    Techdirt has a serious credibility problem, you say you respect free speech and your 'rights', yet you work so hard to violate those rights.

    How do you expect to be taken seriously ?

     

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

  98. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 9:47pm

    Way to go Masnick

    I WIN !!!!

    You look like a fool.. But it's your own doing.. but it's why no one takes you seriously. It would be nice if you did have some conviction though.

    No one is ever going to take you seriously, until you can display what you say. Is it embarrassing for you to not be able to form an argument to counter your critics ?

     

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

  99.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2013 @ 9:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: No free speech here on TD

    But I think the system that Mike has set up here at Techdirt is brilliant. In that it not only allows the Techdirt community to set the tone for its discussions, it offers incentives for folks to provide insight and even humor. It's -- obviously -- a conversation that I am much more eager to engage in.

    Except that's not how it's used. Unlike many websites that have a broad enough readership such that moderation works more-or-less as you describe, the positions here seem to have largely driven away people who are not ideologically aligned with the groupthink. It's hard to otherwise explain why a website like this, with a relatively high number of visitors, gets so few comments on articles, from a small and recognizable crowd.

    Instead, here, the "report" button is used regularly on legitimate, non-spam posts that don't fit the groupthink. The community always makes pretextual excuses why this is so - usually that they are "off topic." If someone points out that it's inconsistent to pay so much attention to what information the government is collecting while ignoring what Google and Facebook collect, that's reportable as "off topic" because the original article didn't mention Google or Facebook. Another trend is for enough of the community to report all posts from certain users regardless of the content that the posts are hidden, and the community admits as much.

    A second phenomenon occurs when the site begins holding users' posts for moderation. There is a secret, undisclosed mechanism that determines when this occurs (so much for transparency), but it seems to occur without human review. When a user's posts are held for moderation, they can write anything they want and it goes into a moderation queue that does not seem to be reviewed (if it ever were). Regardless, since there are no persistent discussion threads (they are all attached to articles that fall off the front page as new articles are posted) a "moderated" post might as well be deleted, since it will not be incorporated in the discussion in time for anyone to read it.

    The main problem with the pretexts of reporting and moderation are that they are applied almost exclusively to dissenting opinions. The site is extraordinarily tolerant of offtopic or "crazy ranters" (your words) as long as their position fundamentally agrees with the groupthink. You can write all day long on this site about how this latest news is the worst thing to ever happen in the country's history and that America has become worse than Germany 1940 ever was, and your post will never be reported.

    The site moderators and writers are loathe to engage in any discussion about these issues, or much substantive dissent at all, really. For a group whose motto is "Connect with Fans" there doesn't seem to be much time to participate in the discussions going on, except for the Stepford-cheery "fixed, thanks!" when one of the faithful points out a meaningless typo in an article. If they do make a substantive post, it is usually to try to refute a dissenting commenter. But they will never post to challenge any non-dissenter with an extreme opinion. This is tacit, silent encouragement of rabid, foaming-mouthed attitudes just as head-smacking as those on the Huffington Post article you cited.

    A wry difference is that here you see very little Democrats-vs-Republicans crap, because if there's anything that most Techdirters (including the authors) can agree on, it's that nobody likes the government in any form. A dissenter here, usually maligned as a "statist" (among less polite terms usually referring to regimes of the 1940s). These dissenters are primarily characterized by extreme views like:

    1. The government is not inexorably broken and that the processes and systems we have might be used to fix the problems that occur.

    2. Big corporations might not always be acting in the best interest of the public, and the free market might not be the be-all-end-all solution to all problems we have with corporations.

    Anyway, glad you came.

     

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

  100.  
    icon
    martingugino (profile), Aug 11th, 2013 @ 11:15pm

    " I probably spent in upwards of 1,000 hours"

    The First Amendment says that you have a right to express your opinion. Doesn't that mean that you could say "I think that the current NSA spy programs are illegal, and possibly criminal." And possibly "and my Boss does too" or "I think my boss does too, and he knows what is going on".
    Would this have been against the law? (I dont see how it could have been.)

     

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

  101.  
    identicon
    benamery21, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 12:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: best post I have read on the current state of affairs

    Do you think companies which own refineries and currently have to buy credits may be able to do something about how much E85 is used? There are very many flex fuel vehicles on the road not using E85. Why do you suppose that is?

     

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

  102.  
    identicon
    benamery21, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 12:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Wowsa!

    How would you suggest members of the voting public approach making a difference on this subject?

     

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

  103.  
    identicon
    antymat, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 1:09am

    Re: Re:

    Second, we need to NOT re-elect people when they break campaign promises so blatantly.

    Did Bush Jr. re-election teach you anything?
    “It doesn’t matter how the votes are cast, but how they’re counted.” More valid in US than anywhere else, it seems. And uttered by a figure of authority, no doubt!

     

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

  104.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 2:01am

    Re: Re:

    No. Your comments get reported because they're off topic, whiny and often slightly malicious.

    We honestly don't care if you disagree with a given article so long as you back up your position.

    When all you say is "WHY U CENZOR MEH!!!" are you surprised that people don't want to read it?

    tl:dr stop shit posting and the community will stop reporting your posts. simple.

     

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

  105.  
    icon
    techflaws (profile), Aug 12th, 2013 @ 2:14am

    Re: Re: Re: No free speech here on TD

    Sure, and in 99,9999% of cases they were rightfully reported. The fact that this jackass claims he's being censored is exactly what's getting him rightfully reported.

     

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

  106.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 2:17am

    Re: TD Censorship for Jennifer

    I'm not going to make this topic any shittier by reposting more of your hidden (not censored) comments. I will try and help you understand why you get reported by looking at the one comment you copied.

    "Why do you even bother to trumpet this(1)? You should (2) instead focus on the SMALL(3) efforts on narrow margin which is where piracy affects creators... OH(3). That's WHY(3) you hype already huge successes and claim it proves you can ignore copyright(4)."


    1) Starting strong by alienating everyone who thinks the post was useful.
    2) Telling the author what he should do always goes down well.
    3)CAPITALIZING random words MAKES sure we know IT'S you that's posting. The people who ENJOY winding you up will hit report here just for LAUGHS.
    4)Strawman argument.

    So there we have another great example of a pointless post that also annoys. Do you honestly wonder why you're getting the TD equivalent of people telling you to shut up?

     

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

  107.  
    icon
    techflaws (profile), Aug 12th, 2013 @ 3:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: No free speech here on TD

    Instead, here, the "report" button is used regularly on legitimate, non-spam posts that don't fit the groupthink.

    [Citation needed]

     

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

  108.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 4:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: No free speech here on TD

    The problem with the Google argument is that the person that is consistently posting this point makes the point in articles that do not pertain to either Google or the collection of data. When we are talking about government overreach we do not want to talk about the information one willingly gives to a company because they failed to read the terms of service.

     

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

  109.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Aug 12th, 2013 @ 5:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: No free speech here on TD

    You keep making these claims, and yet would be hard pressed to back them up.

    Is the report button overused at times? Yes, but this is mostly due to several commentors spamming the comment section with abusive language, insults, ad homs, and various other unpleasantness so consistently that people no longer even bother reading anything they post, reporting them as a matter of course.

    Does this lead to some legitimate posts being reported as well? Yes, but as the saying goes 'you reap what you sow', and if the posters in question hadn't given themselves such foul reputations, you wouldn't have people automatically clicking 'Report' any time their name came up.

    As for comments being caught by the spam filter and held for moderation, if a given IP address regularly posts spam, like say nothing but a single link to a stalker's diary, then it's a fair bet that that IP address will be marked as a spam one, and treated as such.

     

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

  110.  
    identicon
    The Real Michael, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 5:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: No free speech here on TD

    I wouldn't be discoraged from speaking out against injustice and unwarranted secrecy just because of a few people who are incapable of looking beyond their political ideology. If anything you should take it as a badge of honor to have these lemmings against you. People need to stand for something in their life, draw a line in the sand, because without an effective counterbalance, injustice will prevail and we'll ALL have to carry the burden.

    "To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." - Theodore Roosevelt

     

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

  111.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 12th, 2013 @ 6:36am

    that's a point that tends to get lost on folks -- like General Hayden -- who don't seem to understand that equating the entirety of the online world with terrorists

    The only reason he thinks the internet is full of terrorists is, that is the only thing he is looking for online. Perhaps we should send him some cat video's ...

     

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

  112.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 12th, 2013 @ 6:45am

    Not only did the Administration repeatedly decline Senator Wyden's request for a "ballpark figure" of the number of Americans whose information was being collected by the NSA last year,

    The simple answer is everyone with a phone or internet connection ...

     

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

  113.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 8:38am

    Re: Re: Re: best post I have read on the current state of affairs

    Jennifer Hoelzer, have you considered becoming the 1st woman to win a USA presidential election? You and those YOU CHOOSE to run with will all have my vote. If not, whoever you sponsor will get my vote.

    I second that. I'm already scared that Hilary Clinton will win the presidency in 2016--despite her role in Benghazi--due to overwhelming numbers of females that are so desperate to have a woman president (regardless of her political stance) that they'd happily vote for a female clone of Hitler if necessary.

    I don't care if the president is male, female, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, or whatever. But I DO NOT want a president who spits on the Constitution and the American public every chance he or she gets.

     

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

  114.  
    identicon
    Nathanael, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 8:39am

    I have called for the impeachment of G W Bush (who should still be impeached). I now call for the imepachment of Barack Obama.

    Clapper, Hayden, and Alexander have all confessed to crimes which carry penalties of life in prison. They should both be impeached (and barred from public office forever), and then *indicted*.

    But how do we get control of (a) Congress and (b) a federal grand jury, so as to bring the criminals to justice? That is the question.

     

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

  115.  
    identicon
    PhenomAnonX, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 8:44am

    You are relevant to Anonymous Interests

    You are cordially invited to post your social media account profiles for Anonymous consumption, dissemination and discussion.

     

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

  116.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 8:59am

    Ms. Hoelzer,

    Do you think that the NSA surveillance violates the Fourth Amendment? If so, can you please explain your reasoning?

    Thanks!

     

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

  117.  
    icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Aug 12th, 2013 @ 10:56am

    Asking The Intelligence Community - How much is enough?

    Asking members of the Intelligence, Security, and Espionage community how much espionage and surveillance we should have is like...

    ...asking a dentist "How much dental work is enough?"

    ...Or asking the oil industry "How much park land should we open to drilling?"

    ...Or asking a Hollywood studio about "How many years of copyright protection is appropriate?"

    You're guaranteed to get a biased, self-serving answer naively masquerading as informed expertise.

    Guys like General Hayden are, by virtue of their insider status, incapable of arriving at a reasoned, balanced equilibrium between national safety and individual rights.

     

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

  118.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 11:13am

    Re: Re: Re: No free speech here on TD

    Funny thing about facts... Facts really are facts, and unless you have actual information that things are happening the way you say, and this would mean showing actual evidence (aka server logs, taped conversations, etcetera) then it is just supposition.

     

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

  119.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 11:18am

    Re: Re:

    You... do realize that this is a private site, and if he decides you aren't allowed here, you're actually violating the law by circumventing IP blocks, right?

     

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

  120.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 11:22am

    Re: TD Censorship for Jennifer

    The posts are still there. If someone wants to read them they just need to click the link saying the comment was hidden by the community (note, not Mike, that would be us). So... explain to me how this is censorship?

     

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

  121.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 12:10pm

    Re: TD Censorship for Jennifer

    Maybe you should add this to your Pastebin screed.

     

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

  122.  
    icon
    Rikuo (profile), Aug 12th, 2013 @ 12:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: No free speech here on TD

    This.

    Trolls...THIS is how you should be writing your comments here, especially AJ with his censorship hat. I disagree with everything the above comment says, but I will NOT report it. It is a well written comment, whose author has a certain viewpoint and laid it out brilliantly, without resorting to name calling or any other sort of ad hominem attacks.
    That is why despite the fact I disagree with the comment, it gets an Insightful vote from me. I hope the others vote for it too.

     

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

  123.  
    icon
    silverscarcat (profile), Aug 12th, 2013 @ 1:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: No free speech here on TD

    When it comes to people saying "why aren't you talking about Google or Facebook", my response is always "I don't use Facebook".

    Really, I hate it when websites force you to sign in through Facebook just to comment, it's completely stupid.

    Whenever someone mentions Facebook or Google's data collection, unless it's part of the article, it really isn't part of the narrative and thus comes across as an attempt to derail the conversation.

    Another thing, when it comes to certain people, they're usually rallying about things that are just obnoxious, attack other users, the author, this website, some people (calling others fat, saying things about their grandparents, etc), so the report button gets clicked when their names are seen, not because of any attempt at censorship (the comment is still there after all), but because the person has such a bad rep that any posts they make get swallowed up because of their previous remarks/attitudes.

     

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

  124.  
    identicon
    Doug Hill, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 3:40pm

    Jennifer Hoelzer's Post

    To add an exclamation point to the wonderful post by Jennifer Hoelzer, the President, in an effort to appease the American public, has ordered a panel review of the intelligence community to uncover any abuses that may have occurred. To assuage any concerns of a possible cover-up or whitewashing, the panel will be led by James Clapper, whom , as you may remember, was caught lying to Congress about surveillance activities by the intelligence community in the early days of this skullduggery.
    I wonder if they’ll find anything wrong?

     

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

  125.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 3:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: best post I have read on the current state of affairs

    Because, don't you see? Ethanol is bulls***!

     

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

  126.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 4:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: No free speech here on TD

    from the insider chat window....

    Rikuo: guys, do us all a favour. Go back into the Jennifer article and scroll down a bit, for the large-ish comment about the comment system on Techdirt. Vote it insightful please, because, even though pretty much all of us here disagree with it...it is a well
    written comment that did not resort to any of the usual troll tactics. I want to see comments like that, even though we disagree with them, highlighted
    silverscarcat: You mean I have to LOOK for it?
    Rikuo: just go into my profile by clicking my name here, it's the most recent comment I've made, the one I'm replying to is the one I want you guys to vote Insightful
    silverscarcat: I usually only click report if the post attacks the author/website or is so stupid i feel my brain dying off.
    Sadly, I've become conditioned to seeing certain names and auto-clicking report first if they haven't been reported enough yet.
    Rikuo, there, check the Jennifer article, should be easy to find that quote now.
    Mike Masnick: that comment is really weird. it's incredibly factually off-base. i guess it's well written, but he's just wrong.
    Rikuo: sorta like the comment threads we had with the Real Michael over the Bible and homosexuality...most of his comments were factually off-base, but still well written and thus not reported. Same thing here with this comment, in my opinion

     

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

  127.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 6:20pm

    Thumbs up.

     

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

  128.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 6:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: No free speech here on TD

    It's not attacking.

    It's pointing out that you're not morally superior compared to anyone here.

    Anything and everything you say as a criticism is unwarranted. Never mind how you've already been proven wrong multiple times, like how you insisted that 1984 was not in your country's public domain and everyone who wanted a copy had to pay for it like a not-thief.

    You're a jackass of the highest order.

     

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

  129.  
    icon
    Christopher (profile), Aug 12th, 2013 @ 7:27pm

    a 21st century free speech movement

    Many, many thanks to Jennifer Hoelzer for this excellent post, her equally fascinating interview on Democracy Now! this morning, AND the mention of the timeline link on Ron Wyden's webpage - a great resource.

    For the first time I can recall in nearly half a century, I'm actually excited about the prospects for our Bill of Rights & democracy - we so rarely get to have a real conversation about the protection of our civil liberties. I imagine Obama's going to get a broader, larger discussion than he bargained for.

    It's a helluva diverse bunch of people pushing back very hard on the Surveillance State.

    Some interesting signs out there: Ellsberg drawing a big crowd at a rally last week in SF; national headlines embarrassing the hell out of Pelosi & Huffman in particular with a protest in swanky Belvedere a few weeks before that; near miss with the Amash amendment; Jimmy Carter comments; Lavabit and the list goes on and on.

     

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

  130.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 9:28pm

    Re: TD Censorship for Jennifer

    So you say that the censored comments have nothing to do with what is being said. Fantastic, darryl. Admitting that you are off-topic is a step forward, you solar-powered lunatic.

    Now if you can make a campaign to force every Australian to remove "1984" from the public domain, you'll have convinced everyone that you don't come from a country of thieves stealing from George Orwell.

     

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

  131.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 9:32pm

    Re: Way to go Masnick

    If this is the level of argumentation and language usage that Masnick's critics have it's hard to take his critics seriously. Not the other way around.

    But don't let me stop you posting like a brain-dead kindergartener, darryl.

     

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

  132.  
    icon
    Wondering (profile), Aug 12th, 2013 @ 9:52pm

    Obama's June response to the leak

    Within the President's first comments regarding the innocuous character of the surveillance, he said, "If people can't trust not only the executive branch but also don't trust Congress and don't trust federal judges to make sure that we're abiding by the Constitution, due process and rule of law, then we're going to have some problems here."

    I was struck by how out of touch that sounded at the time... Where has he been that he doesn't understand that we already have a serious problem?

    The rest of this response is spent "repeating" that everything is okay and it is all being done with great oversight.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323844804578531343379996824.html?mod=WSJ_hps_LEFTT opStories

     

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

  133.  
    identicon
    samatos, Aug 12th, 2013 @ 10:00pm

    democracy now interview

    PURE TRUTH, JENNIFER. Your courage and conviction to the bigger picture of liberty and freedom speaks volumes to the devolution this nation finds itself in.

    Referencing Senator Patrick Moynihan proves you read the book on nationhood, equality, community and patriotism. Was he not the US Senator who coined the phrase "the dumbing down of America" ? This dumbing down has created an endemic antipathy of powerlessness, a vacuum that has been filled with ever increasing authoritarianism and now, totalitarianism.

     

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

  134.  
    identicon
    Oliver, Aug 13th, 2013 @ 3:37am

    should Sen Wyden have communicated

    Dear Jennifer,

    whereas I fullheartedly agree with your post, I find your answer on "Anonymous Coward"'s challenge surprisingly weak... Don't you think there is not only a moral responsibility as someone elected by the people to speak out if something illegal goes on? Wouldn't you think it actually is a duty, part of the job so to speak?

    Also talking about repurcussions I think one has to put in in perspective: Sen Wyden has more money available to him than 90% of the Americans, he is close to "normal" retirement age, he had a great career, he has a family, he has supporters like you (and most of us posting here). So what repurcussions do we talk about: retiring early, leaving his job for someone else? Noone is indispensable, not me, not you, not him...

    I am sorry I am probably being unfair. But I find him being quiet one of the scariest revelations about the whole affair. Really. Honestly.

    Think about it. Isn't it obvious that the administration tries to cover up everything? That's what you'd expect from the people who started it - everything else would be naive, wouldn't it? I also assume that there are lots of congressmen and senators who either have no clue, or who actually believe they do the right thing - so again, realistically, what can you expect...

    But what if someone who is smart, intelligent, who has insight, who understands the underlying long-term risk to the freedom of America (if not the world), who is protected and has pretty much nothing to lose, if this person understands that something is going WRONG, if this person doesn't speak up... Doesn't that ridicule the whole idea about freedom of speech, actually about politics?

    Think it through - that means we cannot trust our elected representatives (literally the people who REPRESENT us) to speak up on our behalf - even if they are completely aware on what's going on! That means our only hope for the future will be whistleblowers like Snowden?

    And relying on whistleblowers instead of a system of elected politicians and checks and balances, sorry, I find that scary. And not only because I am not sure how many more Snowdens there will be in the future... I find this affair an indication on a political system which is beginning to fail, elected politicians accepting an order not to speak.

    I think nobody can forbid our elected representatives to speak up. If we accept that this possibility even exists we are doomed. IMHO representatives are not allowed to use this easy excuse. They have a responsibility and duty to use their judgement on what they can say and what they cannot. This duty they get from us - the people who put them in the job!

    Please forgive me for being so blunt, but I am literally scared for my children, and the society they will live in... I hope that excuses me

    Oliver

     

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

  135.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 4:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: No free speech here on TD

    It's hard to otherwise explain why a website like this, with a relatively high number of visitors, gets so few comments on articles, from a small and recognizable crowd.

    Really? What I see is a group of regulars that either have registered accounts or post with fixed nicknames and a whole lot of random Anonymous Cowards and random non-registered nicknames. Obviously there are those like me that like to speak a lot and those that simply watch from the sidelines without ever participating. Then there is the gray zone with those that comment every once in a while.

    Instead, here, the "report" button is used regularly on legitimate, non-spam posts that don't fit the groupthink.

    And yet your post that has more bs than good (while I do see good points) is not reported. Neither I reported it because it is a valid opinion.

    Another trend is for enough of the community to report all posts from certain users regardless of the content that the posts are hidden, and the community admits as much.

    After a determined individual posts enough bs for a sustained number of posts it's natural that people start treating what he/she posts as trash. Happens with out_of_the_blue. He has his bright moments but honestly the report is hit accurately 99% of the time. You seem to have missed the fact that the reported comment remains available (and in ootb case I do check the comments to see if he achieved one of his bright moments).

    A second phenomenon occurs when the site begins holding users' posts for moderation.

    Happened to me a few times, once when I posted a single link in the comment and other times when I had internet connection issues and double/triple posted. If left completely free this would become a total spammy mess since it allows publication without requiring registration or stupid captchas. I do agree that legit comments may get caught but I'm sure TD crew will be more than happy to help you if you contact them exposing the issue. They are incredibly responsive.

    The main problem with the pretexts of reporting and moderation are that they are applied almost exclusively to dissenting opinions.

    That's something you took out of your, pardon the term, ass. We were discussing recently about a few comments that were less than flattering and quite opposed to the articles and yet they offered good argumentation. You seem to be the "censorship" troll so it's fairly easy to understand why you are all mad. Your comments (and pardon me if I'm assuming you are the wrong person) are simply devoid of substance and usually resort to ad homs and the likes. Makes sense they'll be reported. Ootb had a dissenting comment a while back that even got my first word (and unfortunately managed to hold the improbable record of being marked insightful, reported and get the first word).

    The site moderators and writers are loathe to engage in any discussion about these issues, or much substantive dissent at all, really.

    I'm confused now if you are the "why u no discuss me?" troll (AJ?) or the censorship one. Or if those two are the same. They engage in discussions quite often. Much more than most sites I've seen so far. Maybe you think they should be 24/7 replying to your comments? I recently had a pretty heated discussion with Tim G. (Dark Helmet) about the Patriot Act. We disagreed vehemently and we still disagree and yet nobody reported nobody. And he replied multiple times. Maybe you should review your ways before complaining.

    Generally this comment at least is more structured but reading through it sounds more of the old rants you regularly post without really contributing.

     

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

  136.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 5:10am

    Re:

    Personally I think that nothing should be secret to representatives. This includes Judges and elected representatives for all branches. Then in the eventual case one branch (ie the Executive) classifies some information the other two can IGNORE such classification without repercussions if both of them agree on it. You know, oversight from one power opposed to another. I'm not quite sure if that is feasible.

     

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

  137.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 10:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: No free speech here on TD

    Just want to respond to these claims quickly because they're almost entirely false.

    Except that's not how it's used. Unlike many websites that have a broad enough readership such that moderation works more-or-less as you describe, the positions here seem to have largely driven away people who are not ideologically aligned with the groupthink.

    This is laughable. It's difficult to find a post on the site that doesn't include some dissenting viewpoints. Many sites these days moderate all comments have detailed filters that block any kind of dissent or bad language. We do not do that. There are numerous people here that disagree with what we have to say and they're welcome here.

    It's hard to otherwise explain why a website like this, with a relatively high number of visitors, gets so few comments on articles, from a small and recognizable crowd.

    Also laughable. Compared to sites with similar traffic and audiences we get many more times the comments. Sites with much larger traffic than us seem to get many fewer comments. Our comments to traffic ratio is much higher than lots of sites, and that's in part because we encourage open commenting, don't require registration and, contrary to your totally false claims, do not drive away dissenting views.

    Instead, here, the "report" button is used regularly on legitimate, non-spam posts that don't fit the groupthink. The community always makes pretextual excuses why this is so - usually that they are "off topic." If someone points out that it's inconsistent to pay so much attention to what information the government is collecting while ignoring what Google and Facebook collect, that's reportable as "off topic" because the original article didn't mention Google or Facebook. Another trend is for enough of the community to report all posts from certain users regardless of the content that the posts are hidden, and the community admits as much.

    That's an interesting interpretation of things, but kind of ridiculous. There are a few commenters, as you well know, who are not here to dissent, but to disrupt. Those commenters regularly have their comments minimized because they are clearly *not* constructive to the conversation. This is the exact opposite of what you are claiming. Those comments get minimized because the community here wants to focus on constructive commentary, not ridiculous attacks designed to pollute the comments -- otherwise known as trolling. And, of course, those comments live on, they are just minimized as a way of showing that the community believes those comments are not appropriate. That's perfectly reasonable and much more open than nearly every other site out there.

    A second phenomenon occurs when the site begins holding users' posts for moderation. There is a secret, undisclosed mechanism that determines when this occurs (so much for transparency), but it seems to occur without human review.

    It's called a spam filter. We catch over 1,000 spam comments per day -- and maybe 15 to 20 legitimate comments in there. We check the filter at least once every 3 to 4 hours and free any legit comments.

    hen a user's posts are held for moderation, they can write anything they want and it goes into a moderation queue that does not seem to be reviewed (if it ever were).

    This is simply false. The queue is reviewed every few hours and we release any non-spam comments, even dissenting/trollish ones.

    The main problem with the pretexts of reporting and moderation are that they are applied almost exclusively to dissenting opinions.

    Also completely false.

    The site moderators and writers are loathe to engage in any discussion about these issues, or much substantive dissent at all, really.

    Also, completely false. We engage in constructive conversations all the time. The fact that we have chosen to not respond to blatant trolling is quite different, but you're pretending otherwise. I wonder why.

    For a group whose motto is "Connect with Fans" there doesn't seem to be much time to participate in the discussions going on, except for the Stepford-cheery "fixed, thanks!" when one of the faithful points out a meaningless typo in an article.

    You can believe what you want, but it sure seems like plenty of people here believe we do a pretty good job connecting with them. Sorry if we don't spend time trying to connect with people who have no interest in connecting.

    But they will never post to challenge any non-dissenter with an extreme opinion.

    Actually, we've done that regularly, challenging supporters when they post factually incorrect information or pointing out mistakes, or even suggesting when we believe certain activities are not productive/conducive to a good conversation.

    A wry difference is that here you see very little Democrats-vs-Republicans crap, because if there's anything that most Techdirters (including the authors) can agree on, it's that nobody likes the government in any form.

    Also not true. We don't like abusive government.

    1. The government is not inexorably broken and that the processes and systems we have might be used to fix the problems that occur.

    That's not dissent. We agree with that.

    2. Big corporations might not always be acting in the best interest of the public, and the free market might not be the be-all-end-all solution to all problems we have with corporations.

    Um, we also make that point all the time as well. You are blatantly misrepresenting what we state. We highlight abuses of big companies all the time.

    You seem to believe we say stuff we do not, or you are lying on purpose. Why?

     

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

  138.  
    icon
    Chris in Utah (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 12:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: No free speech here on TD

    A wry difference is that here you see very little Democrats-vs-Republicans crap, because if there's anything that most Techdirters (including the authors) can agree on, it's that nobody likes the government in any form.

    Also not true. We don't like abusive government.

    Now the user base can correct me if i'm wrong on this but I think the majority here is people that actually come up with solutions to issues through debate (regardless of the intelligence of it).

    And furthermore and more on point that we don't look for a higher power for answers to things that our in power to rectify or evolve.

    So, governments are a detriment to society in my humble opinion. Yet we still keep on giving power to a bureaucracy we know has failed us over and over... I think the conversations that resonate the most, the following goes to Mike & Jenn the most, Are the ones that actually have an idea that we can all accept and furthermore do something about as a community that has a direct stake in what affects them.

     

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

  139.  
    identicon
    R Verbist, Aug 13th, 2013 @ 12:27pm

    secrets are us

    I fully enjoyed your article..sci clearance at 21 is very impressive. Secrets 101 explains secrets should be secret. Democracy 101 the lawmakers write the laws. Goverenace 101 the agents of our branches interpret and implement the laws. What subverts the above is obsfucation 101 which seems to have turned into a major at the school of secrets. The american system/citizenry have lost more freedom since 911 than our economy has lost value. We are better than this and all branches should take constitution101....and be reminded that we are a peoples republic...secrets that prevent the citizenry from full partcipation thwarts the very ideals this republic was founded on...if not we will continue to be our worst enemy.

     

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

  140.  
    icon
    Chris in Utah (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 12:32pm

    I think this goes to the core of the issue... and we have forgot

    http://www.blatantworld.com/speech/jfk_the_word_secrecy_is_repugnant.html

     

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

  141.  
    identicon
    Ellery Davies, Aug 13th, 2013 @ 2:42pm

    Get a wild duck on that committee

    Who recalls Richard Feynman? The popular Caltech professor made critical contributions to the investigation of NASA's Challenger explosion.

    SUGGESTION: Appoint someone from awildduck (dot-com) to the committee investigating NSA use of technology that intercepts or analyzes domestic communications (and of course, under what conditions information is correlated to individuals acted upon).

    AWildDuck is neither paranoid nor anti-government, but we understand the issues clearly and stand for both security and transparency. Most importantly, we care about privacy and truth. For two years, AWildDuck has sounded an alarm on Stellar Wind and the vacuum-sweep of telephone records (and much more). If someone on Obama's team were to use the Contact form at AWildDuck (or contact me directly), they would get a fast and affirmative response.

    > Ellery Davies is editor of AWildDuck, an
    > east coast think tank focused primarily
    > on issues of privacy and social policy

     

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

  142.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 9:31pm

    Re: Re: Way to go Masnick

    Pretty sure that's AJ, not darryl. Anytime you get someone whining about people 'too scared to debate them' or anything along those lines, it's usually a safe bet to assume AJ.

     

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

  143.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2013 @ 12:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Way to go Masnick

    No, that's darryl. Even average_joe doesn't have this level of atrocious punctuation.

    darryl seems to have picked up the whole "censorship" routine from his copyright fuckbuddies.

     

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

  144.  
    identicon
    Mark in Colorado, Aug 15th, 2013 @ 12:49am

    What's so funny (and disgusting)...

    ...is I'll bet a large majority - my best guess would be 60+% - of you commenting here voted for the asshat in the Whitehouse not once, but twice. Next, you'll vote in Hillary. I'd lay money on it.

     

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

  145.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 15th, 2013 @ 1:12am

    Re: What's so funny (and disgusting)...

    ...is I'll bet a large majority - my best guess would be 60+% - of you commenting here voted for the asshat in the Whitehouse not once, but twice. Next, you'll vote in Hillary. I'd lay money on it.

    Out of curiosity: do you think the situation would be any different if McCain had won in 2008 or Romney last year? That's not an accusation -- I'm just curious.

     

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

  146.  
    identicon
    emilyindigo, Aug 15th, 2013 @ 9:32am

    Re:

    I found this article by watching Ms. Hoelzer's interview on Amy Goodman's, "Democracy Now" Unfortunately, she really soft pedaled her comments to such an extent that I was actually surprised the Techdirt article was written bythe same person. And this was on a progressive show. This is disturbing, disappointing, if not understandable - considering the Obama administration's treatment of whistleblowers.

     

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

  147.  
    identicon
    emilyindigo, Aug 16th, 2013 @ 4:28am

    Re: should Sen Wyden have communicated

    This is the best, most important comment here. Your point goes straight to the heart of the matter. Very well said.

     

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

  148.  
    identicon
    Viktor, Aug 16th, 2013 @ 10:00am

    Re: Re:

    That is called the Parlimentry System.

     

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

  149.  
    identicon
    Morgaine, Aug 17th, 2013 @ 1:48pm

    What can't be talked about.

    The fact NSA/HAARP, is used on those victims, myself being one...who are experimented on without consent. For all sorts of things. Military weaponry, brain mapping. They monitor us 24/7...know our thoughts, so there is no escape. The plan for all, you included. Torture, to keep us in check. Frequencies, attacking our bodies. Senator Wyden has received enough complaints/testimonies. It is about eventual complete control You will no longer own your own thoughts. Never have a private moment, to be an individual, creative in own personal thoughts, to relax. You will be subjected to sexual assaults, waking to scars, bruises, knowing they knocked you out with frequency, and took you to implant with whatever they want. They sabatoge and free thinking. No dreams ever for you, only what they want. You are owned. Your car will be taken over remotely, and driven to locations. They can hijack the computer system. Place things in the car, to make you fall asleep at the wheel, and awaken you just before impact of large rigs, to try and terrorize you. It's a game for these Psychopaths. A total "MIND FUCK!" Now, I expect punishment, and it will be delivered. They are slowly killing us, those who do not commit suicide. We are marked and kept silent. If I speak of what I know, I am dead. So, I share a bit and slowly die, rather than right away.

     

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

  150.  
    identicon
    max berry, Aug 19th, 2013 @ 12:20pm

    NSA

    It is misleading to say that a congressman cannot violate confidentiality laws. They take an oath to preserve and protect the constitution. They also are protected from legal recourse for anything they say on the floor of their chamber. They could be censured and possibly removed by house rules, but that only means they are too cowardly to uphold their oath because they want to keep their jobs more than they want to keep their oath.

     

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

  151.  
    identicon
    MtVernonCannabisFarms, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 5:01pm

    debate this

    maybe there will come a day when some government officials will sit around a camp fire in hell and respond to the issues jennifer raises ... and our current media lapdogs can ask follow ups .

     

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

  152.  
    icon
    Linda A. King (profile), Nov 8th, 2013 @ 1:09pm

    transparency too late,

    The innocent victims,whom finds in small town IL. a reality that when your targeted for this intrusive device to set up in your home and monitor daily life,it isn't a truth finding tool,that when I found that my scanner was picking up the conversations of the same violators of Constitution, that had hoped the device was placed to protect us since I couldn,t get legal representation to make a trustee that I knew had exploited my trust,in the now failed National bank,the endless red flags that prove corruption and abues damages and loss are never be shown, the pawn, thought we could open that data,to prove the under handed plots these intruders that where able violate laws, and my government sent them to my home,along with the share holders,that large group that makes up the agenda, my demise is a gain,with no voice to plea for someone to protect us, out there,the precious blessed life one day found I was in some twilight zone type of society, where every wrong I couldn't get the wrongs caused by this towns type of contractor, as collusion and the hidden edited data that if my government would have let me show what happens when, the Constitution isnt held in high regard as employed hentch men, that our future was given from bank and our savings, since last depression,funds the program that picks the innocent dry,the facts victims will never have,since after 30 years the device and the hidden early caught red flags, to prevent risk in so many uncovered recently illegal free for all, the ability to make saftey net 2 years before the losses were finally seen, but I hear that oh well everyone with professional duties, just let the ball drop.and povery and voiceless, with a passed hidden agenda into law without even hearing the warnings to heed.

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This