suspicious lies

July 11, 2013

pt_948_11108_oFog-bound again this early Thursday and a bit on the chilly side for this part of California’s northern coast — the sunshine will burn through before mid-day, always does.
Life is expectant.

The NSA/surveillance shit-storm thrust out into the public by young Eddie Snowden has indeed ignited the US public into questioning whether all this snooping bullshit is actually needed or maybe there’s a whole-lotta lying’ goin’ on. The idea that the government is scooping up tons of our private shit is making people a bit nervous.

(Illustration found here).

And American voters have their say — yesterday, the newest Quinnipiac University national poll revealed the eye-opening:

In a massive shift in attitudes, voters say 45 – 40 percent the government’s anti-terrorism efforts go too far restricting civil liberties, a reversal from a January 14, 2010, survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University when voters said 63 – 25 percent that such activities didn’t go far enough to adequately protect the country.
Almost every party, gender, income, education, age and income group regards Snowden as a whistle-blower rather than a traitor.
The lone exception is black voters, with 43 percent calling him a traitor and 42 percent calling him a whistle-blower.

Some of the largest growth in those concerned about the threat to civil liberties is among men and Republicans, groups historically more likely to be supportive of governmental anti- terrorism efforts.
“The massive swing in public opinion about civil liberties and governmental anti- terrorism efforts, and the public view that Edward Snowden is more whistle-blower than traitor are the public reaction and apparent shock at the extent to which the government has gone in trying to prevent future terrorist incidents,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
“The fact that there is little difference now along party lines about the overall anti- terrorism effort and civil liberties and about Snowden is in itself unusual in a country sharply divided along political lines about almost everything.
Moreover, the verdict that Snowden is not a traitor goes against almost the unified view of the nation’s political establishment.”

“The change in public attitudes has been extraordinary, almost across the board and obviously not just related to the revelation of the phone-scanning program, given all that has transpired since 2010,” said Brown.
“Yet it would be naive to see these numbers as anything but evidence of a rethinking by the public about the tradeoffs between security and freedom.”
While voters support the phone-scanning program 51 – 45 percent and say 54 – 40 percent that it “is necessary to keep Americans safe,” they also say 53 – 44 percent that the program “is too much intrusion into Americans’ personal privacy.”
“Americans’ views on anti-terrorism efforts are complicated,” said Brown.
“They see the threat from terrorism as real and worth defending against, but they have a sense that their privacy is being invaded and they are not happy about it at all.”

But what’s to do?

The US public is pretty fickle, but apparently they do enjoy the privacy, what little there is. And if Snowden hadn’t dropped the NSA bombs (plural, as in more than one), how would the public be right now? As shown in the poll above, a big departure from three years ago.
And the ‘transparent‘ President Obama wants to keep everything non-transparent:

The rulings and rationale behind the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s (FISC) decisions must remain a secret because… that’s just how it works, reasoned the Department of Justice in a court filing Friday.
In the motion, which was issued in response to a recent ACLU suit, the DOJ makes the “circular” argument that, because “FISC has always conducted activities in secret, it must continue in secret,” as ACLU attorney Patrick Toomey explained to Common Dreams.
The civil liberties group is asking FISC, also known as the FISA court, to release their ‘secret opinions’ in regards to the “meaning, scope, and constitutionality of Section 215 of the Patriot Act.”
In the suit they challenge that the court has a First Amendment obligation to reveal what surveillance powers it is granting to America’s spy agencies.

And what’s the Constitution have to do with it, via the  DOJ response: This Court has also observed that “the detrimental consequences of broad public access to FISC proceedings or records would greatly outweigh any such benefits resulting from a finding of a First Amendment right of access to FISC records and proceedings. […] In this vein, the Court found that the possible harms from a finding of a First Amendment-based right of access “are real and significant, and, quite frankly, beyond debate.”

Obama’s people have no real argument, no real position other than what’s secret should remain secret. Horseshit.
Mike Masnick at Techdirt:

The DOJ is being incredibly dishonest and disingenuous in conflating the two issues, arguing that because the FISC deals with intelligence operations, that its rulings on the interpretation of the law must also be secret.
But that’s wrong.
You can reveal the basic interpretation of the law without revealing the specific intelligence efforts and methods.
The only reason to keep the interpretation of the law a secret is because it’ll be a huge embarrassment and show widespread abuse.

This could be a cause for concern due to the un-failing ability of government functions to follow the lead set by the shit-heads higher up on the power scale. One current similar case to be aware of is Jewel v NSA, which should open the door to thrashing the 60-year-old “state secrets” motif the US government has always used to stop the pubic display of so-called ‘secrets.’
We must keep at least one eye on this.

Meanwhile, even the US Congress is getting tired of all the far-flung horse shit. Especially from head intelligence asshole, James Clapper, who lied to Congress last March, and then tried to walk it back after Snowden’s revelations came to light. Although Congress might overall be worthless as shit, but they might force the public to see.
Yesterday, from the Washington Post:

At least two Republican lawmakers have called for the removal of Clapper, who denied the widespread surveillance of Americans while under questioning by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and issued his apology after the surveillance programs became public two months later.
A letter to Clapper sent two weeks ago from 26 senators from both parties complained about a series of statements from senior officials that “had the effect of misleading the public” and that will “undermine trust in government more broadly.”

Congress “tried to make agencies which have to operate in secret accountable nevertheless to the law,” said former vice president Walter F. Mondale, who as a senator was a member of the Church Committee, which led the efforts to overhaul the system.
Now, Mondale said, “that system has totally collapsed.” He said Clapper’s willingness to mislead the public during Senate testimony “is what happens when there’s no accountability. . . . What is the consequence of fibbing to the American people?”

We just wade on through it, but the American public is slow and surely becoming more aware of what’s going on around them.
We must be way-more suspicious of secrets.

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