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Saying That You're Not Concerned Because The NSA Isn't Interested In You Is Obnoxious And Dangerous

from the think-again dept

One of the more common responses we've seen to all of the revelations about all of that NSA surveillance, is the response that "Well, I don't think the NSA really cares about what I'm doing." A perfect example of that is long-time NSA defender Ben Wittes, who recently wrote about why he's not too worried that the NSA is spying on him at all, basically comparing it to the fact that he's confident that law enforcement isn't spying on him either:
As I type these words, I have to take on faith that the Washington D.C. police, the FBI, the DEA, and the Secret Service are not raiding my house. I also have to take on faith that federal and state law enforcement authorities are not tapping my various phones. I have no way of knowing they are not doing these things. They certainly have the technical capability to do them. And there’s historical reason to be concerned. Indeed, there is enough history of government abuse in the search and seizure realm that the Founders specifically regulated the area in the Bill of Rights. Yet I sit here remarkably confident that these things are not happening while my back is turned—and so do an enormous number of other Americans.

The reason is that the technical capability for a surveillance event to take place does not alone amount to the reality—or likelihood—of that event’s taking place....

For much the same reason as I am not rushing home to guard my house, I have a great deal of confidence that the National Security Agency is not spying on me. No doubt it has any number of capabilities to do so. No doubt those capabilities are awesome—in the wrong hands the tools of a police state. But there are laws and rules that protect me, and there are compliance mechanisms that ensure that the NSA follows those laws and rules. These systems are, to be sure, different from those that restrain the D.C. cops, but they are robust enough to reassure me.
Julian Sanchez has a blistering response to that, appropriately entitled Check Your Privilege, which highlights that while Wittes, a well-paid, white, DC-based policy think tank worker, may be confident of those things, plenty of other folks are not nearly so confident, and that the NSA has made it pretty clear that they shouldn't be so confident.

In a democracy, of course, the effects of surveillance are not restricted to its direct targets.  Spying, like censorship, affects all of us to the extent it shapes who holds power and what ideas hold sway.  Had the FBI succeeded in “neutralizing” Martin Luther King Jr. earlier in his career, it would hardly have been a matter of concern solely for King and his family—that was, after all, the whole point. 

Instead of a couple wonks comfortably ensconced in D.C. institutions, let’s instead ask a peaceful Pakistani-American who protests our policy of targeted killings, perhaps in collaboration with activists abroad; we might encounter far less remarkable confidence.  Or, if that seems like too much effort, we can just look to the survey of writers conducted by the PEN American Center, finding significant percentages of respondents self-censoring or altering their use of the Internet and social media in the wake of revelations about the scope of government surveillance. Or to the sworn declarations of 22 civil society groups in a lawsuit challenging bulk phone records collection, attesting to a conspicuous decline in telephonic contacts and members expressing increased anxiety about their association with controversial or unpopular organizations. 

As Sanchez notes, it's not just whether or not any of us are direct targets, but the overall chilling effects of how the system is used. And, I should note, that while Wittes is confident that he's safe -- there are a growing number of folks who have good reason to believe that they are not immune from such surveillance. The recent revelation that Tor users are labeled as extremists who get extra-special scrutiny seems like a major concern. Similarly, the story from earlier this year that the NSA targeted the Pirate Bay and Wikileaks as part of some of its surveillance efforts is a major concern. In the process of doing journalism, I've communicated with folks associated with some of those and other similar organizations. In the past, I probably would have similarly noted that I doubted the NSA cared at all about what I was doing, but as each of these stories comes out, I am increasingly less sure. And, more importantly, even if the NSA is not at all concerned with what I happen to be doing, just the fact that I now have to think about what it means if they might be certainly creates a chilling effect, and makes me think twice over certain people I contact, and what I say to them.

It's easy to claim that you're not worried when you're the one out there supporting those in power. It becomes a lot trickier when you're either criticizing those in power, or communicating with those who challenge the power structure. Suddenly, it's not so easy to sit on the sidelines and say "Meh, no one's going to care about me..." And that should be a major concern. The way we keep a strong democracy is by having people who are able and willing to challenge the status quo and those in power. And yes, the US is much more forgiving than many, many other countries to such people, but there are clear biases and clear cases where they are not at all accepting of such things. And the more of a chilling effect the government creates around those things, the more dangerous it becomes to stand up for what you believe in.

Reader Comments (rss)

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    Ninja (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 11:49am

    See North Korea. They don't even speak naturally to their own family members in fear of getting denounced. Sure the US is not there (yet) but this extreme example shows how generally people change their behavior when they are constantly monitored. Even those in the Government or that are strongly pro-Government. You never know when something you say won't be liked by someone.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 11:51am

    Re:

    It's easy to claim that you're not worried when you're the one out there supporting those in power.

    Remember those lunatics from the Kim dynasty even executed their own family...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 1:33pm

    This has to be one of the few uses I will ever admit that 'Check Your Privilege' is appropriate to use.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 1:35pm

    Less sure?

    Honestly, I'm 99% positive they ARE monitoring you Mike... and I have come to the conclusion that I too have been monitored. The simple fact that I communicate with "foreigners" on a daily basis via email and chat suggests that my communications have been scooped up and stored in the NSA data centers for an indefinite amount of time.

    I'm certainly no saint either - I have plenty of little secrets to hide. Nothing "serious" per-se, certainly nothing that has ruined lives or hurt anyone, but definitely things I consider embarrassing or potentially criminal given the ridiculousness of our laws these days (copyright-related, etc.).

    Those little things have always been a "as long as I don't get caught" situation for most of my life - but now I realize that they already know what I've done, and there's little I can do about it other than request that I have my privacy back.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 1:37pm

    In totalitarian regimes of the past, all it took to be sent to the gulags was to like certain music. Combine the general direction the USA is going with a recent court decision to classify Juggalos as a criminal gang and you got history repeating itself in the worst possible way.

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 1:39pm

    In the past, I probably would have similarly noted that I doubted the NSA cared at all about what I was doing, but as each of these stories comes out, I am increasingly less sure.

    I was thinking about this the other day myself. A year ago I would have said I was too insignificant to be noticed, these days I'm not so sure.

    I use Linux, I use YaCy, I've experimented with Tor, Freeworld and I2P, I read Techdirt daily, I comment about anonymity, privacy, Constitutional rights and so forth. I occasionally read EFF and ALCU sites. I sometimes even wade into the crazy on the conspiracy theory sites that are out there.

    You add all this up with recent revelations about the NSA programs and, yes, I do now wonder about it and I do now think twice about what I am saying. Chilling indeed.

     

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    Mike Shore (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 1:40pm

    Slippery slope

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.
    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me. ~ Martin Niemöller

     

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    AricTheRed (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 1:51pm

    I'd have believed it also if his opener was instead...

    ...As I type these words, slamming down my 10th straight $9 a jug at the drugstore vodka, I have to take on faith that the Washington D.C. police, the FBI, the DEA, and the Secret Service are not raiding my house, and if they were there is not a damn thing anyone would be able to do about it and I'd be confident with parallel construction I'd be totally fucked, actually, sincerly, totally from behind, fucked once I'd landed in the federal penn...

    because this seems to be the new normal

     

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    Coyne Tibbets (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 1:57pm

    Especially apt title

    "Check Your Privilege" is an especially apt title. Among other things, statements like that made by Wittes are either a statement of privilege ("I'm among the elite, so I don't have to worry about government surveillance.") or else insipid ("I'm too stupid to have any opinion that would interest the government: What, me worry?").

    So what about those of us who are neither elite nor insipid?

     

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    Roger Strong (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 1:58pm

    Sounds familiar

    Much the same thing was said about life in the Soviet Union:

    If you weren't doing anything threatening to those in power, then the KGB weren't interested in you and you had little to be concerned about. You had rights, just so long as you didn't get in the way of someone with power.

    I don't find that to be an acceptable standard.

     

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    kenichi tanaka (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 2:05pm

    I have to say that while I detest the government's spying, I'm not too concerned about it. Why? Because I don't do anything wrong. I don't violate the law, I don't do anything illegal, so I don't exactly care about it.

    The problem is the same problem I have with idiots and morons posting their escapades with videotaping police up on youtube. 99% of the time, Americans are deliberately going out of their way to stage a confrontation with police either in an attempt to embarrass the police or to create their own viral video.

    It's gotten ridiculous. The problem is that it gives Americans a false sense of entitlement. If you aren't doing anything, don't worry about it. The majority of people who do complain are the ones who are doing something against the law that they shouldn't be doing in the first place.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 2:13pm

    You know, I prefer not to have a nick up to be read, just to comment. Lately I've been thinking that perhaps I'm a little too vocal. I pretty much say what I mean and I am not advocating violence of any nature. Yet what I have to say is not the supported and desired lines of thought and expression the establishment wants to hear. Maybe, just maybe, I ought to read more and comment less.

    As far as this business of doing nothing wrong and having nothing to fear, it is obvious this guy doesn't get outside the established lamescream media or he would have been exposed to a few things that are no longer crazy conspiracy type occurrences but happen far more than the establishment wants to own up to.

    You know, little things like killing people in their homes while doing a drug raid on the wrong address. Or injuring infants that are in baby cribs and sure can't handle a weapon. So where do you think they may have gotten the data that you were the drug dealer? Maybe they spied on the right guy and like so many others, raided the wrong address. So sitting in your easy chair, minding your own business, in your own home, is no longer safe.

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 2:15pm

    Re:

    Why? Because I don't do anything wrong. I don't violate the law, I don't do anything illegal, so I don't exactly care about it.


    I'll wager my next paycheck you've already broken some law today.

    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/10/you-break-the-law-every-day-without-even-knowing-it.htm l

    Now knowing all that, do you still feel all safe and insulated from government spying?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 2:20pm

    I have worked with in the past someone who was American Muslim and shared the same name as someone on the no-fly list. Because of this proximity to a coworker, I am almost positive that I have been or continue to be spied on.

    I'm positive this website and anyone who visits it also falls under that category of spying has/is.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 2:21pm

    Re:

    I have to say that while I detest the government's spying

    Not illegal today, but what about tomorrow? Or a year from now?
    You now have a record of dissent and when dissent is illegal, they have a reason to lock you away.

     

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    John Nemesh, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 2:21pm

    Plenty of Germans had the same attitude...

    I'm not Jewish, so why should I care what the Government does? Now, while NSA surveillance may not equate one to one with the atrocities of the Third Reich...yet (see recent stories of them targeting Muslim Americans), the attitude is the same.

    If you value the principles that our Nation was founded on...if you value the Constitution of the United States of America, then, when you see our Government blatantly violating those principles...when they are blatantly violating both the letter and the spirit of the Constitution, then it is the DUTY of EVERY American to speak out!

     

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    DannyB (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 2:22pm

    Re: Slippery slope

    I was going to say...

    First they came for those who used Emacs, and I did not speak out --

    Then they came for those who indented using spaces instead of tabs, and I did not speak out --

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 2:25pm

    Re:

    One other point. Something doesn't have to illegal to be used as leverage against you.

    Suppose you happen to like viewing Hentai porn. It's not illegal, but is really something you wish your wife/mother/boss/minister knowing about?

     

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  19.  
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    Dennis F. Heffernan (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 2:27pm

    From Nothing to Something

    Back in the Eighties I was a regular user on the Steve Jackson Games BBS. My sister was involved with some online activists, even putting out her own email newsletter ("Activist Times Inc"). She sometimes used my Amiga 2000 (RIP) to do so.

    And then one day I woke up to find the SJG-BBS had been seized by the Secret Service and one of her online activist buddies (who was connected to a writer at SJG) had been arrested for swiping a document off a phone company system.

    She was in years when I told her we could very easily have the Men in Black knocking on our door.

    That didn't happen and the case turned out to be complete bullshit (and was one of the things that led to the creation of the EFF). But of they had come for us there wouldn't have been Thing #1 we could have done about it. With the Guilt By Association attitude in vogue the odds are that everyone is connected to someone found something a spook somewhere doesn't like.

     

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    DannyB (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 2:29pm

    A reason you should be concerned

    If I believed that the NSA were only going after terrorists, otherwise known as "doing its job", then I would not be concerned.

    Since it has been demonstrated that they spy on EU parliament, and allies, and pass info to domestic law enforcement, and other things they are not supposed to be doing ...

    Since it has been demonstrated that the boss built his own extravagant Starship Enterprise Bridge ...

    Since it has been demonstrated that those who are supposed to be overseeing things are asleep at the wheel ...

    Since there has been a major shouting match between the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA, and the CIA has intruded into senate computers of those doing an investigation ...

    Since it has been demonstrated that the NSA and their cheerleaders have lied to us, repeatedly ...

    And other things I could list ...

    I think it is very prudent to be concerned.

    The US is essentially building the apparatus of a police state. It may not be (or it MAY be!) the current people who then turn it into a police state -- but that day will come. Given the mechanisms have been built to have a police state, you can be sure that we will end up with one.

     

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    Edward Teach, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 2:30pm

    Thou art not alone, shipmate!

    Arr, mate! Mine own situation is nigh identical to thine! I use Linux, I've had Tor installed, I needle known lawyer ectoplasms about "intellectual property" in comments sections. I assert that warrantless wiretapping is un-American and un-Patriotic in writing, almost on a daily basis. I use ssh and HTTPS and other encrypted comms. I too wonder about what's in my dossier. Hopefully, it's weird enough that I am on an NSA/FBI watch list. I'd just like some confirmation from those sea gherkins and freshwater swabs in the "Intelligence Community", so that when my kids ask me, I can proudly say that I was on a watch list, before we deposed the Secret Security State.

     

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    kenichi tanaka (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 2:36pm

    The problem is that we're making too big a deal out of this. Before that moron Snowden came along, the government was pretty much doing all of this without the public's knowledge. Just exactly how gullible are you people to think that this only started happening after September 11th, when we were attacked by terrorists?

    The only difference is that idiot Snowden absconded with documents he should never have taken in the first place. How would everyone react if a contractor took documents that contained the codes to our nuclear arsenal or national security plans and gave them to a country that was hostile to America?

    This "surveillance" has been going on since well before September 11th came along. The fact that everyone is making a big issue out of this just goes to show how unaware that most Americans are and that is such a limited grasp on the situation. Even without the courts, without the laws passed in congress, the government would continue spying on its own.

    This controversy over the government's surveillance of its own people and the hysteria it causes is exactly why this surveillance should never be revealed. Because it creates more problems than it solves.

     

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    Philip (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 2:38pm

    Aka: "Just because you're not a Jew doesn't mean you shouldn't care."

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 2:52pm

    Re:

    So you would rather live in ignorance than have an opportunity to do something about the dangerous course the USA is on. Don't worry, if most people stick their fingers in their ears you will find yourself a serf to 0.1% before very long.

     

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    JCHP (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 2:57pm

    I'd rather not go through what this guy exposed

    http://np.reddit.com/r/changemyview/comments/1fv4r6/i_believe_the_government_should_be_allowed_to/cd 89cqr

    Sorry, but this perspective on surveillance gave me the chills. Just because "it's not my problem" doesn't mean it won't end up like what this guy wrote.

     

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    Hand of Cthulhu, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 3:03pm

    Re: From Nothing to Something

    DEATH TO ALL FANATICS!!!

     

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    MarcAnthony (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 3:04pm

    Re:

    Does the NSA pay you to troll this site and make fallacious arguments?

     

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  28.  
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    Darth Vader, after the redemption (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 3:06pm

    Re:

    kenichi tanaka...

    "you are part of the Gallactic Empire and a traitor! Take him away!"

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 3:27pm

    Remember

    The first step to having it happen here is to insist that it can't happen here.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 3:31pm

    Re:

    ...if a contractor took documents that contained the codes to our nuclear arsenal...

    If those codes don't have a daily change cycle something's seriously wrong.

     

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    Padpaw (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 3:39pm

    Same with the saying having your door kicked in (by mistake) from heavily armed thugs dressed as swat, being beaten up and or shot (again by mistake)doesn't matter to them until it happens to someone they know personally.

    keep on with that blind faith in your government Americans. I mean the Germans blind faith in their government before the 2nd world war never turned out bad for them.

     

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  32.  
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    Jernau, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 3:42pm

    Re:

    "Maybe, just maybe, I ought to read more and comment less. "

    That's awesome, and you should stop with that thought. Best thought today. Sleep on it. Nightie.

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 3:43pm

    Re: A reason you should be concerned

    Since it has been demonstrated that the boss built his own extravagant Starship Enterprise Bridge ...

    He inherited it from the previous person who had the building, he didn't build it himself. There's more than enough real reasons to criticize the guy for, there's no need to bring up one of the few times he turned out to be innocent.

    Since it has been demonstrated that those who are supposed to be overseeing things are asleep at the wheel ...

    That would actually be better than how it actually is. No, they aren't 'asleep at the wheel', they are fulling supporting of the NSA/government's actions, both in enabling them, and covering them up.

     

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    Uriel-238 (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 3:44pm

    "This controversy over the government's surveillance..."

    ...isn't really a controversy, except between those who get power from the surveillance like it, in contrast to EVERYONE ELSE. It is possibly the grossest transgression on our collective personal freedoms in US history, oh and on those of the rest of the world. It remains the strongest indication that the US government has failed to function as a form of democracy.

    The continuation of the NSA's surveillance is essentially a statement by those who endorse it that they believe the ideology at the foundation US democracy fails. Whatever they fight for, it's no longer a nation based on liberty and social equality.

    Are you some kind of corporate or government shill? I can only imagine you get paid to have such an opinion.

     

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    kenichi tanaka (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 3:46pm

    The sense of entitlement here is simply staggering. If a police officer stops you in the street and asks you to identify yourself, and you've done nothing wrong, it doesn't hurt to answer his question.

    Unfortunately, everyone here would rather risk a negative confrontation with the cop and simply argue with him just for the sake of arguing.

    After September 11th, in order to feel safer and more secure, Americans agreed to give up certain liberties in order for our government to keep us safe.

    Now, it seems everyone in this country is now having "buyer's remorse" after the Snowden Era. Suck it up. Now that everyone "GAVE" the government approval to conduct massive surveillance, live with it and stop whining about it.

    I was very reluctant when The Patriot Act and other bills were being voted and passed unanimously by congress and when they received support from the American People. I warned people what would happen and this is the result.

    So, don't start whining about it now, since the government has abused those laws that were passed by congress.

    Once you give government the power to do something, they are very reluctant to give that power up. So, deal with it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 3:48pm

    Christ. Talk about short attention span theater. Show me one FOIA where anything was proven deleted. It Is All Of Us As Much As They Can Grab.

    Because if you're doing nothing wrong....

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 3:49pm

    Re: Especially apt title

    Personally I wish the president would check his presidential privileges

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 3:51pm

    Re:

    > This [redacted] government's surveillance of its own people
    > and [redacted] creates more problems than it solves.

    i agree

     

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  39.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 3:52pm

    Re:

    The sense of entitlement here is simply staggering. If a police officer stops you in the street and asks you to identify yourself, and you've done nothing wrong, it doesn't hurt to answer his question.

    Unfortunately, everyone here would rather risk a negative confrontation with the cop and simply argue with him just for the sake of arguing.


    I'd rather listen to someone who actually knows what he's talking about: http://www.popehat.com/2014/01/15/the-privilege-to-shut-up/

    After September 11th, in order to feel safer and more secure, Americans agreed to give up certain liberties in order for our government to keep us safe.

    No, actually, they didn't. What we've found out is that the NSA made that decision for us, and then misled the American public into believing they had not given up those liberties.

    Now, it seems everyone in this country is now having "buyer's remorse" after the Snowden Era. Suck it up. Now that everyone "GAVE" the government approval to conduct massive surveillance, live with it and stop whining about it.

    You have no idea what you're talking about.

     

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  40.  
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    Uriel-238 (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 4:01pm

    Re: Re:

    Actually I think he very much knows what he's talking about.

    Mr. Tanaka is willfully lying.

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 4:22pm

    Re:

    After September 11th, in order to feel safer and more secure, Americans agreed to give up certain liberties in order for our government to keep us safe.



    Wait. When did I agree to that?

    I certainly would remember committing such un-American act.

    “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
    ― Benjamin Franklin

    “It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.”
    ― Benjamin Franklin

     

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    Mark Noo, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 4:30pm

    Conservative member of ACLU

    I consider my politics fairly conservative. I am, however, a member of the ACLU.

    While I support only about half of the causes they champion I completely support their challenging every government power grab that comes along.

    If another person's peaceable rights are not respected than my rights, no matter how different, may be in jeopardy next.

    When this government is stymied in its efforts to fuck over someone that most of us do not like because of a constitutional guarantee things are working exactly the way they are supposed to.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 4:39pm

    Re: Re: A reason you should be concerned

    Yeah, I was thinking: the "oversight" isn't asleep at the wheel, they're the ones driving the damn getaway car!

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 4:50pm

    Re:

    I have to say that while I detest the government's spying, I'm not too concerned about it. Why? Because I don't do anything wrong. ... It's gotten ridiculous. The problem is that it gives Americans a false sense of entitlement. If you aren't doing anything, don't worry about it.
    Congratulations. You have just invented fully recursive meta-satire.

     

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

  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 4:57pm

    Re:

    SHILLTASTIC!

    Personally, I never agreed to any such thing. I was criticizing our "security" measures from day one, but with a senator like Feinstein, what could I do about it? I vote against her EVERY SINGLE ELECTION and it does no good because California is a fucktarded place to live.

     

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

  46.  
    identicon
    John Doe, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 5:01pm

    Re:

    I don't think anybody needs to excuse themselves or explain what they do, or have done in their life. Everybody has done things they aren't proud of, what really matters is if you learn something from it. That said, if those who are studying and learning about Tor, TAILS or whatever, are considered to be extremists. Then it would be interesting to know how the NSA would categorize themselves, for using their programs to violate the privacy of every citizen in the world.

     

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

  47.  
    icon
    John85851 (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 5:01pm

    They'll come for him

    Wittes needs to hope he doesn't write anything "bad" that might bring him under suspicion. Then again, if he's a writer, then he already may be under surveillance just in case he doesn't say anything "bad".

    Or what about his family or his colleagues? Is he so insulated that he doesn't know anyone who might be considered "bad"... such as (as the other poster said) anyone who's not white?

     

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

  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 5:07pm

    target

    This guy just painted a big target on his back.

     

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

  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 5:08pm

    Try this: NSA collects it all, and then Vlad watltzes into Crimea in 2 weeks like nothing happened.

    Translation: NSA is danger to themselves.

     

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

  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 5:55pm

    Ben Wittes tries to make it sound like citizens are the ones who are paranoid. The only ones who are paranoid is the NSA and US Government. They're the ones spying on everyone and treating them all as potential threats.

    Ben Wittes manages to get everything completely backwards.

     

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

  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 6:24pm

    Re:

    Ah, classic. "You didn't complain when you had the opportunity, now you don't have the right to. And if you ever attempt to do anything that even remotely LOOKS like disagreement, I will laugh long and loud when the law kicks your ass."

    Never mind that the system is inherently designed to not let people know that anything was wrong, suspicious or illegal. You're basically saying that you should never be allowed to complain about wrongdoing. If you don't know about it, you can't complain about its possibility, and if you do know about it, then it's an admission that you somehow magically "let" it happen, so you can't ever change it.

    You're a jackass.

     

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

  52.  
    icon
    Whatever (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 6:31pm

    Re: Re:

    It's interesting that you point to the Popehat article because, while it's true, it's also a clear indication of the problems that the US faces.

    The right to shut up is legally correct, but it is in fact antagonistic and may lead to more trouble that it's worth. You see, people will mistakenly think that the answer to any contact with police is to say nothing and give nothing, not even your name or ID. That can create trouble and actually make you look like you really do have something to hide. Not answering question like "is this your blunt" is all good, but being intentionally belligerent and actively working to not say anything is a solid step towards non-compliance and confrontation.

    As for NSA and such, it's pretty silly for anyone to think that they aren't watching you, within the limits of what the law allows or APPEARS to allow. By appears, I mean anything that hasn't been specifically outlawed by the courts.

    NSA is playing just like Aereo, really: They have taken a series of laws, judgements, rulings, and interpretations and skillfully crafted a set of procedures that is distaasteful to many, over-reaching to levels most of us would never consider, and complete in it's process - yet when you look at the individual pieces, each one of them has a technical basis in law or judgement to be done that way, at least on a micro scale. They have supersized the process, but legally is that any different? If it's legal once, it's legal a million times, right?

    Oh yeah, after 9/11, the American people pretty much told Bush to do whatever he wanted to "get them". He took that to heart and created almost everything that is the NSA today. It's what the public wanted, just not on the scale or scope that we see today.

     

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

  53.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 7:06pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The right to shut up is legally correct, but it is in fact antagonistic and may lead to more trouble that it's worth.

    On the contrary, pretty much any decent lawyer will tell you one simple thing if the police want to question you: SHUT UP.

    Talking to them cannot help you, but it can most certainly hurt you, so other than providing your name(required if you're a suspect or being charged I believe), it's better to never talk to police if you can at all avoid it.

     

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

  54.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 7:20pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    It's just like you to justify infinite spying just because people won't pay for free-to-air television.

     

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

  55.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 8:41pm

    Re: Re:

    "but with a senator like Feinstein"

    Why did I read that as 'a senator like Frankenstein'?

     

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

  56.  
    icon
    PopeyeLePoteaux (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 9:38pm

    Re:

    "If you aren't doing anything, don't worry about it."

    If I have nothing to hide, I have nothing to prove either.

     

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

  57.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 10:15pm

    Re:

    That is the whole point of the deletions, so that it can't be proven. That's like saying that a stock broker shredding their business records when suspected of insider trading doesn't mean anything since they can't prove they were engaged in it.

     

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

  58.  
    icon
    Whatever (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 10:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yes, shut up at a point where they ask you about anything you are doing. But the snarky people use it as an excuse not to identify themselves, to say "I'm not getting out of the car" and so on. A lot of 'hood edumukated lawyer wannabees tend to take advice like this and move it to the nth degree. The problem is that it turns around and bites them, because the harder they try to hide something, the more they raise suspicion about their activities.

    Don't have a discussion with police, but don't refuse normal requests either. That's just picking a fight.

     

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

  59.  
    icon
    techflaws (profile), Jul 16th, 2014 @ 10:39pm

    Yes, master.

    Obedient much?

     

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

  60.  
    identicon
    David, Jul 16th, 2014 @ 11:21pm

    Re:

    I hear you, Mr Buttle.

     

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

  61.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Jul 17th, 2014 @ 1:07am

    Re:

    "Because I don't do anything wrong. I don't violate the law, I don't do anything illegal, so I don't exactly care about it."

    *Anything*? Are you honestly sure about that? Perhaps not a felony, but I bet you break some minor law every day, even if it's just one of those silly laws that says you can't whistle after 6pm because nobody bothered removing it from your town's books since 1821 (made up example, but you know the kind of thing I mean).

    This is part of the problem. Most of us have broken some law without realising it. Even if we haven't, a person can collate the data in a way that might look out of the ordinary. I'm sure that if I had a full history of everything you've ever done online, I could come up with something that looks suspicious, even if every individual action was innocent and innocuous.

    That's part of the point here. If people have to prove that you're up to something before surveilling you, they generally have to come up with something real. If you're always under surveillance, they can come up with something to justify a pre-conceived conclusion.

    "The problem is the same problem I have with idiots and morons posting their escapades with videotaping police up on youtube."

    Why should a public servant not be filmed while in the process of serving the public, while out in public view?

    I agree with you on the kind of person that deliberately tries to antagonise law enforcement in order to get an example, but there's numerous times where people have video evidence that directly disproves the officer's versions of events and thus protects the person filming or the police officers' victims.

    "If you aren't doing anything, don't worry about it."

    Yep, people like Jean Charles de Menezes and the two women who were shot at by police when they were searching for Christopher Dorner have nothing to worry about.

    Yes, those are extreme examples but if people can be shot or killed by police due to mere mistaken identity, it's not hard to imagine that less obvious mistakes can be made based on bad interpretations of gathered evidence as well.

     

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

  62.  
    icon
    art guerrilla (profile), Jul 17th, 2014 @ 5:50am

    Re:

    itchy ken = abject authoritarian and/or disinfo bot...

    i'm thinking you are one of the ineducable ones: NO MATTER how egregious the acts of 'our' (sic) gummint, you will excuse it *somehow*...

    'cause Big Daddy would nebber ebber treat his own chillun badly...

     

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

  63.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Jul 17th, 2014 @ 7:29am

    Re:

    This controversy over the government's surveillance of its own people and the hysteria it causes is exactly why this surveillance should never be revealed

    Please tell me you're trolling.

     

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

  64.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Jul 17th, 2014 @ 7:37am

    Re: I'd rather not go through what this guy exposed

    http://np.reddit.com/r/changemyview/comments/1fv4r6/i_believe_the_government_should_be_allowed_to/cd 89cqr

    Sorry, but this perspective on surveillance gave me the chills. Just because "it's not my problem" doesn't mean it won't end up like what this guy wrote.


    Please read the above, kenichi tenaka (I recommend everyone does but especially him).

     

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

  65.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Jul 17th, 2014 @ 7:42am

    Re: Conservative member of ACLU

    I consider my politics fairly conservative. I am, however, a member of the ACLU.

    Can anyone explain why an organization dedicated to protecting personal liberty, particularly from government overreach, is often considered liberal rather than conservative? Aren't conservatives all about liberty and limited government?

     

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

  66.  
    identicon
    George Webber, Jul 17th, 2014 @ 8:26am

    Republic. Not a democracy!

    I don't get how writers, expounding on various articles about the government, don't understand that we've never had a democracy. We have a republic. How can we take them seriously?

     

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

  67.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Jul 17th, 2014 @ 8:58am

    Re: Republic. Not a democracy!

    I don't get how writers, expounding on various articles about the government, don't understand that we've never had a democracy. We have a republic. How can we take them seriously?

    There are various definitions of "democracy". Under some of them the US is a democracy, under others it is not.

     

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

  68.  
    icon
    Easily Amused (profile), Jul 17th, 2014 @ 9:01am

    Re:

    Demanding that the government follow the provisions in the Bill of Rights is not a "false sense of entitlement".

    There are plenty of people who didn't violate any laws but had to deal with over-aggressive law enforcement. To pretend otherwise is intellectually dishonest.

     

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

  69.  
    icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), Jul 17th, 2014 @ 10:59am

    The "right" to shut up

    The right to shut up is legally correct, but it is in fact antagonistic and may lead to more trouble that it's worth.

    I think what Whatever was saying was that yes, you have the "right" to shut up, but that will incite the police to taze you in the interrogation room or pepper spray your vagina as a "disciplinary action", or if out on the street, beat the snot out of you with their tonfas. In short, the police will, if you choose to remain silent or regard them as "antagonistic", feel justified in coercing information out of you via enhanced interrogation techniques (though I haven't heard any stories of actual waterboarding), and so far the DoJ only disciplines them mildly (paid suspension for a few days) if video of the incident goes public.

    I'm not sure if Whatever or Kenichi Tanaka intended to imply that they endorse or even condone such practices.

     

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

  70.  
    icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), Jul 17th, 2014 @ 11:03am

    The USSR had elections too, you know.

    To be fair, I doubt any California candidates for senator will have different policies regarding post War-on-Terror security measures once they are in office.

    They might be more inclined to close abortion clinics and remove anti-discrimination protections for women and gays however.

     

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

  71.  
    icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), Jul 17th, 2014 @ 11:09am

    Re: Re: Conservative member of ACLU

    American Conservatism, particularly Neo-conservatism is far removed from (lower case) conservatisim.

    As it is with American Liberalism Progressivism. Classical liberalism is also about liberty and so moral panic issues such as gun control don't fit so well.

    And American Libertarianism is so far removed from libertarianism that multiple famous libertarians (Penn Jillette and Bill Maher) have disavowed their association with libertarianism lest it be confused with Libertarianism.

     

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

  72.  
    icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), Jul 17th, 2014 @ 11:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Conservative member of ACLU

    crap my crossed out text wasn't crossed out.

     

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

  73.  
    icon
    sorrykb (profile), Jul 17th, 2014 @ 11:10am

    Re: Conservative member of ACLU

    Mark Noo wrote:
    When this government is stymied in its efforts to fuck over someone that most of us do not like because of a constitutional guarantee things are working exactly the way they are supposed to.

    Well said.

    - An ACLU member, whose politics are generally liberal (See... We CAN work together!)

     

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

  74.  
    icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), Jul 17th, 2014 @ 11:13am

    Re: Re: Republic. Not a democracy!

    I think the US is a democracy the way that Animatronic Abe Lincoln is an actor.

     

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

  75.  
    icon
    Roger Strong (profile), Jul 17th, 2014 @ 11:21am

    Re: Republic. Not a democracy!

    The United States is indeed a democracy.

    Yes, the United States is a republic. That just means that it doesn't have a monarch. It is also clearly a democracy.

    The two terms are not mutually exclusive.

     

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

  76.  
    identicon
    vastrightwing, Jul 17th, 2014 @ 2:44pm

    Re:

    Like wise, if the police are doing their job, they have no problem being recorded. Only if law enforcement is acting outside their prescribed boundaries do they need to worry.

     

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

  77.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Jul 17th, 2014 @ 3:52pm

    Re: Re: Republic. Not a democracy!

    That just means that it doesn't have a monarch.

    It means much more than that.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic

     

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

  78.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2014 @ 4:34pm

    Re:

    Saying That You're Not Concerned Because The NSA Isn't Interested In You Is Obnoxious And Dangerous
    Good for you proving the title to be true.

     

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

  79.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2014 @ 5:14pm

    Re:

    kenichi tanaka is a fucking idiot.

     

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

  80.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jul 17th, 2014 @ 7:41pm

    Re: Re: I'd rather not go through what this guy exposed

    Wouldn't do any good if he did. To someone that eager to surrender their rights to those in power, the idea that they might suffer because of it, is inconceivable. To authoritorians, only 'bad people' ever get the short end of the stick, because to them those in charge are never wrong, never make mistakes, and are always in the right.

     

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

  81.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jul 17th, 2014 @ 7:46pm

    Re: The "right" to shut up

    The Popehat link Mike posted above covered that, and while he(Ken) agreed that it is a risk, the conclusion he reached was it's likely to be better to suffer the short-term results of your silence, rather than say the wrong thing and end up in a cell long-term because of it.

     

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

  82.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Jul 18th, 2014 @ 12:15am

    Re: Re: The "right" to shut up

    Shush, your facts and nuanced arguments will only frighten and confuse Whatever, and he'll just write a few more paragraphs about how stupid he is.

     

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

  83.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2014 @ 12:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Republic. Not a democracy!

    It means much more than that.

    Not really. The Wikipedia article merely adds some history to the definition, and mentions some variances for different countries.

    For example it mentions in particular for the US: "In common parlance, a republic is a state that does not practice direct democracy but rather has a government indirectly controlled by the people."

    But this definition is common to non-Republic democracies also. Canadians for example, in their parliamentary democracy, elect Members of Parliament to represent them, rather than voting directly. Much the same way that Americans vote for Congressmen. Neither country's citizens vote directly for the President / Prime Minister.

    Likewise the American court ruling "equal rights of citizens were inherent to the idea of a republic" is mirrored in many non-republics. Again, Canada for example. (The exception of course being Canada's monarch. But that merely takes us back to the standard "no monarch" definition of a Republic.)

    And even then, there are plenty of examples of republics - the USSR for example - without "equal rights of citizens."

     

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

  84.  
    identicon
    John smith, Jul 18th, 2014 @ 3:43am

    Nothing to hide, nothing to fear

    Simple.

    These same "activists" wouldn't turn on their own employers if they raped children to save your job for speaking out about it.

     

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

  85.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Jul 18th, 2014 @ 8:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Republic. Not a democracy!

    Not really.

    So you would claim that a military dictatorship with no representation is a republic, because it doesn't have a monarch?

    The Wikipedia article merely adds some history to the definition, and mentions some variances for different countries.

    No, it gives a different definition than yours: "A republic is a form of government in which power resides in the people, and the government is ruled by elected leaders run according to law (from Latin: res publica), rather than inherited or appointed (such as through inheritance or divine mandate)." If you claim that "republic" means nothing more or less than a country without a monarch, you're focusing completely on (and misunderstanding) the second part - leadership is not inherited or appointed - and ignoring the first part - power resides in the people via their elected leaders.

    Besides all that, there are countries that are republics that also have monarchs - Canada and the UK for example. I think you're claiming Canada is not a republic, but since the monarch is ceremonial, the power of the nation resides not in the monarchy but in its people via elected leaders, which is the definition of a republic.

    But that merely takes us back to the standard "no monarch" definition of a Republic.

    Can you provide any reference to somewhere that defines the word in that way, other than you?

     

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

  86.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 21st, 2014 @ 10:53am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Oh yeah, after 9/11, the American people pretty much told Bush to do whatever he wanted to "get them"."

    Evidence, please. I don't remember a time when the American people said anything like that at all.

     

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


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