Spies and lies

June 17, 2013

Three_WorldsGround fog and way-oddly quiet this here-already Monday morning along California’s north coast, and the Pacific Ocean only a mile or so away, can’t be heard at all — usually there’s at least a muted roar from the west.
In the still of near-silence, an image of a world far, far away.

Yet the imagination allows the mind to roam hither and yon across a crazy planet gone even more mad as a new work week starts, instigating another spade of bad shit to come. There’s much to a way early morning — 3:30 a.m. here on the west coast — in the creation of fantasy out of no facts at all.
The NSA bullshit is a case in point — already there’s the first major walk-back after Jerry Nadler (D-NY) reportedly said on Saturday he was “rather startled” to discover low-level NSA analysts could listen to Americans’ phone calls without a warrant.

Shit hit the old fan.

(Illustration: M.C. Escher’s ‘Three Worlds‘ found here).

I reported on Nadler’s comments yesterday, but the NSA issued a rare Sunday statement which denied the facts in Nadler’s account, and the New York representative responded: “I am pleased that the administration has reiterated that, as I have always believed, the NSA cannot listen to the content of Americans’ phone calls without a specific warrant.”
However, there’s not a total wash in all this — wiggle room for the NSA.
Marc Ambinder at The Week explains, somewhat:

Here’s what confused Nadler.
While it is true that an American communication can be accidentally intercepted after an analyst makes a decision to intercept a foreign communication, it would be just plain illegal for an analyst who believes that his or her target is an American to begin the interception process, the content interception process, without a FISA warrant.
Here’s where Nadler is not entirely wrong: The NSA has a bit of a safe harbor period — details classified — if certain conditions — details classified — are met, when it comes to an emergency interception of a domestic end of a telephone call or e-mail.
Think: an actual ticking time bomb scenario.

Ha! That’s a laugh.

Since Edward Snowden opened his mouth a couple of weeks ago about the NSA crap, there’s been a swooning of assholes on why we need such operations. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who has become the female version of an asshole, went the maudlin route and wrapped all the shit into the infamous cry of ‘Nine-Eleven.”
And waved the flag: “I flew over the World Trade Center going to Senator Lautenberg’s funeral,” Feinstein said this Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” referring to New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg. “And I thought of those bodies jumping out of that building hitting the canopy. Part of our obligation is keeping America safe.”

And in the wake of all this in the sweet, good, old US of A, it was reported yesterday the Brits were spying, too.
From the Guardian:

Foreign politicians and officials who took part in two G20 summit meetings in London in 2009 had their computers monitored and their phone calls intercepted on the instructions of their British government hosts, according to documents seen by the Guardian.
Some delegates were tricked into using internet cafes which had been set up by British intelligence agencies to read their email traffic.
The revelation comes as Britain prepares to host another summit on Monday — for the G8 nations, all of whom attended the 2009 meetings which were the object of the systematic spying.
It is likely to lead to some tension among visiting delegates who will want the prime minister to explain whether they were targets in 2009 and whether the exercise is to be repeated this week.
The disclosure raises new questions about the boundaries of surveillance by GCHQ and its American sister organisation, the National Security Agency, whose access to phone records and internet data has been defended as necessary in the fight against terrorism and serious crime.
The G20 spying appears to have been organised for the more mundane purpose of securing an advantage in meetings. Named targets include long-standing allies such as South Africa and Turkey.

I spy, you spy.
And worse — one of the greatest liars who ever lived, The Dick, claims the NSA is just a bunch of nice guys doing their patriotic duty, and they can be trusted.

Cheney defended the NSA surveillance programs, claiming that the United States may have been able to prevent the deadly Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington if such monitoring practices had been in place in 2001.
“As everybody who’s been associated with the program’s said, if we had had this before 9/11, when there were two terrorists in San Diego — two hijackers — had been able to use that program, that capability, against that target, we might well have been able to prevent 9/11,” Cheney said.

Of course, The Dick easily forgets the infamous Aug. 6, 2001, CIA briefing, titled: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US” and was going to use airplanes — intelligence people were actually scared.

The analytical arm of CIA was in a kind of panic mode at this point.
Other intelligence services, including those from the Arab world, were sounding an alarm.
The arrows were all in the red.
They didn’t know the place or time of an attack, but something was coming.
The President needed to know.

And, at an eyeball-to-eyeball intelligence briefing during this urgent summer, George W. Bush seems to have made the wrong choice.
He looked hard at the panicked CIA briefer.
“All right,” he said. “You’ve covered your ass, now.”

And George Jr. then had some war fun for the next few years.
Spying on Americans ain’t nothing.

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