Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Overlooked Essence Of NSA Spying

Alan: If massive, unwarranted telephone spying served a genuine national security purpose, it should at least be defended even if the defense proves inadequate. However, since the entire Obama administration is now decrying telephone spying in no uncertain terms, we would reasonably conclude that this totalitarian effort to spy on "the world's entire population" distills to a secretive, anti-democratic institution seduced by "the dark side."

Obama set to ban spying on heads of allied states. "President Obama is poised to order the National Security Agency to stop eavesdropping on the leaders of American allies, administration and Congressional officials said Monday, responding to a deepening diplomatic crisis over reports that the agency had for years targeted the cellphone of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany...The White House said Monday evening that no final decision had been made on the monitoring of friendly foreign leaders. But the disclosure that it is moving to prohibit it marks a landmark shift for the N.S.A." Mark Landler and David E. Sanger in The New York Times.

@ggreenwald: One more time: what's driving the international part of NSA story is not spying on leaders but bulk spying on tens of millions of citizens

NSA bills set up a choice in Congress: End bulk collection of phone records or endorse it. "After nearly five months of controversy and debate, members of Congress may face a clear choice over the National Security Agency's program to collect the phone records of nearly every American: endorse it or shut it down. On Tuesday, lawmakers are expected to introduce the first comprehensive NSA legislation since the agency's phone records program was disclosed in June. The proposal, from a bipartisan coalition in the House and the Senate, would effectively halt "bulk" records collection under the USA Patriot Act. Another bipartisan group of lawmakers is preparing legislation that would preserve the program while strengthening privacy protections." Ellen Nakashima in The Washington Post.

@interfluidity: i find NSA spying on foreign leaders lots less troubling than its surveillance of everyone else, not very troubling at all, even. just me?

Who watches the watchmen? ""These decisions are made at N.S.A.," someone described as "a senior U.S. official" told the Journal. "The President doesn't sign off on this stuff." Who does, then? The head of the N.S.A.--a post currently held by Army General Keith Alexander, a four-star officer who recently signalled his intention to stand down? Somebody lower down the totem pole at the spying agency? And what role, if any, is played by the Director of National Intelligence, currently James R. Clapper, a former lieutenant general in the Air Force, who reports directly to the President?" John Cassidy in The New Yorker.

Music recommendations interlude: Coldplay, "Spies."

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