“We have learned that in pursuit of its bureaucratic mission to obtain signals intelligence in a pervasively networked world, the NSA has mounted a systematic campaign against the foundations of American power: constitutional checks and balances, technological leadership, and market entrepreneurship. The NSA scandal is no longer about privacy, or a particular violation of constitutional or legislative obligations. The American body politic is suffering a severe case of auto-immune disease: our defense system is attacking other critical systems of our body.”

- Yochai Benkler, law professor and director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, The Guardian.

Category: Legal, Really, really bad calls, War/Defense

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

12 Responses to “Time to Tame the NSA”

  1. panskeptic says:

    Technological leadership? Market entrepreneurship? WTF?

    Last I heard, we sold software by warning that the Chinese included trapdoors so Beijing could snoop.

    Now apparently we can’t sell, because in the current narrative, we include trapdoors for Washington to snoop and the Chinese wind up looking like the good guys.

    Hey, that’s a positive outcome, isn’t it? Isn’t it?

  2. LiberTea says:

    Wait ’til we find that NSA information is being used for campaign purposes, as we have seen in the IRS.

    • krice2001 says:

      Except the IRS wasn’ t involved in campaigns and it wasn’t just conservative groups that were targeted – that’s why that issue disappeared in case you hadn’t noticed…

  3. S Brennan says:

    Right on Barry,

    “The NSA scandal is no longer about privacy, or a particular violation of constitutional or legislative obligations. The American body politic is suffering a severe case of auto-immune disease: our defense system is attacking other critical systems of our body.”

    But given our president, congress & courts, [what we used to quaintly call leaders], our approach will favor the use leeches and witchcraft to treat the patient…

  4. FlyBoyMcCall says:

    I agree. The watchers need watching. A good friend in the intelligence community has been telling me for years that he worries less about excessive government snooping on private citizens than he worries about too little oversight — even close monitoring — of the people doing the snooping. With good intent, he says, they routinely cross the line. Why? Because they can and because they justify their violations by believing they are doing good. They probably are but at what cost?

    An impartial historical appraisal of forces balancing security and privacy suggests to me that the relationship is and should be dynamic. While there may be no such thing as a perfect balance for all seasons, it seems possible that we can achieve a reasonable balance for the situations in which we find ourselves. The pendulum seems to have swung too far in one direction.

  5. WallaWalla says:

    It’s particularly interesting that The Guardian, a British news organization, seems to be the most vocal champion of this issue. The major American news outlets have been largely silent or perversely supportive of the American intelligence community’s actions. It says a lot about unhealthy relationship between our government and the journalist supposedly watching over it.

    • Anonne says:

      Our so-called journalists are only good for tabloid journalism. That’s why everything on mainstream news is more like entertainment, with opinion pieces masquerading as news. Especially on Fox, which would explain (in part) why they are so successful. They only care about having access to power-brokers, the same way you are golden if you get an ‘in’ with an A-list celebrity like Jennifer Aniston.

      When it comes to substantial stuff that matters, if it takes more than 60 seconds to explain, you’ve lost – and that is why most people are ignorant of the implications of the financial crisis, and why things like the CRA zombie lie can keep going.

  6. milbank says:

    The terrorists have won only they’re not the terrorists from overseas but, the terrorists within.

  7. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    If I understand correctly, a recent study by the Pentagon (I’ll research this, if I get around to it), predicted a geopolitical firestorm in the near future, and named climate change as the driver of it.

    And if it’s not going to be climate change, it will be something else — from emerging communicable diseases, to a failure of our monoculture food crops, to some band of religious freaks setting off WWIII, to crossing a critical and unseen byproduct of the sheer mass of humanity. Maybe it will be Fukashima.

    I’m fairly sure that at some point in our not too distant future, they (whoever the fuck “they” are), will want to know where everyone is (generally speaking), and who they are associated with.

    There are so many other, better, things we could be doing. Shameful.

  8. A. Cy Lum says:

    Concerning the watchers needing watching there is the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Have I missed their take on this? Or are they silent?

    With a complacent public fed on reality TV (I enjoy the irony of Big Brother;s show title, though don’t watch any of them) there is NO demand for returning to, and using, the law as guidance.

    Along the lines of silent falling trees falling: Is it a scandal if no one cares? After all there are laws and committees in place. So, therefore, is the situation devolving into the absurd where the watchers watching the watchers need watching?

    Solutions are in place they only have to be used. That’s my “riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” Why aren’t they being used?!

    A. Cy Lum

    PS I wonder what percent of Big Brother’s audience know the origin and meaning of the term?
    PPS Looking forward, with “1984′s” appendix in mind. will Big Brother’s meaning evolve into a benevolent, helpful, even whimsical figure?

  9. garsar says:

    Besides all the points made by the writer and the previous comments, the NSA hasn’t been able to stop any of the events that have taken place even with clues not dependent on their hi tech snooping. It is obvious that they have created such a large haystack that they have no idea how to find a needle. The paranoid delusion of the General in charge of this is truly amazing. He really thinks he needs to know everything about everybody all the time. Where is the oversight or is everyone this paranoid and should we allow this to simply pass for acceptable behavior? This may be the one (and only) issue that the right and left could and should agree on.

  10. ilsm says:

    “quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” [who will watch the watchmen?] – Juvenal “Satire VI”