Tag Archives: nsa

Our CT Overlords Are Total Dicks

18 Aug

It’s really hard for me to devise any defense, to compensate for this abuse of power.

At 6:30 am this morning my time – 5:30 am on the East Coast of the US – I received a telephone call from someone who identified himself as a “security official at Heathrow airport.” He told me that my partner, David Miranda, had been “detained” at the London airport “under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act of 2000.”

David had spent the last week in Berlin, where he stayed with Laura Poitras, the US filmmaker who has worked with me extensively on the NSA stories. A Brazilian citizen, he was returning to our home in Rio de Janeiro this morning on British Airways, flying first to London and then on to Rio. When he arrived in London this morning, he was detained.

At the time the “security official” called me, David had been detained for 3 hours. The security official told me that they had the right to detain him for up to 9 hours in order to question him, at which point they could either arrest and charge him or ask a court to extend the question time. The official – who refused to give his name but would only identify himself by his number: 203654 – said David was not allowed to have a lawyer present, nor would they allow me to talk to him.

Whatever you think of Glenn Greenwald or of the NSA. do we as adults and citizens really want to allow bona fide fishing expeditions, to find terrorists, just for the illusion of liberty we get from the media, a group of employees that doesn’t question authority?

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The People’s Voice On FISA

13 Jun

FISA?I’m willing to stipulate that the data mining reforms the Obama administration put into effect are more sophisticated than the previous clumsy, illegal, unconstitutional, and immoral eavesdropping regimes. Yet, there’s one weak link: the FISA court. Ron Fournier asks, “Why does a secret federal court almost always side with the government’s requests to seize information.” Penza responds:

The problem might arise from the nature of FISA itself: it is a non-adversarial process where only the government presents information and where that information is not subject to challenge. In a regular investigation, there is at least some potential for the target of the investigation to cry “foul” and bring information to the court that undermines the government’s basis for pursuing the investigation. Regular warrants can be challenged as overbroad, overly intrusive, or not supportable by probable cause or even reasonable suspicion. No such mechanism exists in FISA. Indeed, this is a feature not a bug because doing so in the regular way would alert targets that they have been detected, making it more difficult to track and counter an organization like al-Qaeda.

But a mechanism could be added to adjust the FISA process to introduce some check on the government’s ability to obtain a rubber stamp from a court without compromising its ability to hide its activities from the targets of national-security investigations. And no, the best such process does not lie in allowing egomaniacs like Snowden and Greenwald to have veto power over what the government is allowed to do. Rather, it lies in introducing an adversary — call it an ombudsman or a public defender — into the FISA proceedings as an institutional skeptic, empowered to participate in FISA proceedings to challenge the government’s requests as overbroad or not supported by reasonable suspicion.

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Ego, Noble Cause Corruption, and Julian Assange

12 Jun

Noble Cause CorruptionI take for granted that pundits and the U.S. intelligence community will engage in character assassination, but perhaps, as Alex Gibney argues, we should knock down whistle blowers, like Eric Snowdon, and public figures, like Jeffrey Toobin, all as narcissists. Then, the field leveled, we can have a real debate, one which I doubt Toobin wants or could hold his own in. I doubt any American media figure has the intellectual chops or moral courage for that sort of unprofitable activity. It’s easier just to tar one’s opponent, and, ultimately, this line of argument is beneath us.

Alex Gibney in the above-linked Bloggingheads. tv diavlog brings up a notion, that if we consider, would guard our own opinions against self-righteousness: “noble cause corruption“.

Noble cause corruption must be distinguished from traditional corruption. Traditional corruption is defined as the use of one’s official position for personal benefit and gain. Personal benefit and gain may refer to accumulation of more wealth or getting sexual pleasure or simply deriving pleasure from doing bad or evil things. Contrary to noble cause corruption, a person who is traditionally corrupt does things only for himself. He does not seek to achieve any noble purpose but only seeks to pursue his own interest.

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