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United States Government

U.S. Spy Panel Is Loaded With Insiders 330

Posted by Soulskill
from the show-of-hands-who-is-surprised? dept.
schwit1 writes "After a public backlash to government spying, President Barack Obama called for an independent group to review the vast surveillance programs that allow the collections of phone and email records. The members of the review group are:
Richard Clarke, the chief counterterrorism adviser on the National Security Council for Clinton who later worked for Republican President George W. Bush
Michael Morell, Obama's former deputy CIA director
Geoffrey Stone, law professor who has raised money for Obama and spearheads a committee hoping to build Obama's presidential library in Chicago
Cass Sunstein, law professor and administrator of information and regulatory affairs for Obama
Peter Swire, a former Office of Management and Budget privacy director for Clinton

'At the end of the day, a task force led by Gen. Clapper full of insiders – and not directed to look at the extensive abuse – will never get at the bottom of the unconstitutional spying,' said Mark Jaycox, a policy analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy advocacy group. The panel's meetings are closed after Clapper exempted it from the U.S. Federal Advisory Committee Act, which would have required it to keep the public informed and hold open meetings, for 'reasons of national security,' according to a statement from the group sent from Clapper's office. 'While we are exempt from the FACA, we are conducting this review as openly and transparently as possible.'"
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U.S. Spy Panel Is Loaded With Insiders

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  • Predictable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Swampash (1131503) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @10:56PM (#45010783)

    “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

    • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @11:00PM (#45010803) Journal

      BIG BROTHERS will never change it self.

      Change does not come from within.

      Real change must be made from the outside.

      All the insiders - the careered politicians, the careered bureaucrats, the careered leeches who bled the public dry - will not change their ways.

      If we are to have a REAL CHANGE we must make sure that NONE OF THEM remain inside the government.

      Any less than that will be hot air, as usual.

      • by Swampash (1131503) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @12:18AM (#45011093)

        So you're advocating violent regime change then?

        • by erikkemperman (252014) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @01:18AM (#45011325)

          So you're advocating violent regime change then?

          So you're saying violence is the only way to effect change from the outside? I don't know about that, certainly not clear to me that's what GP was getting at. Seems to me what you guys need is a third, fourth, fifth major political party with half a chance of, if not winning any election, at least offset the current status quo.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Swampash (1131503)

            The winners make the rules, so any party that doesn't have a chance of winning is a waste of time and effort.

          • Yes he is. The US believes violence or money are the only two ways to solve any problem.

            They cannot use money in this instance since all the money has been funnelled to the people operating the puppet government's strings while the people were sleeping.

            Another more sensible way is to create a democratic movement. I don't know, maybe occupy some public spaces to get some attention called to the problems via passive resistance.

            Surely america would get behind that?

            Oh wait...

        • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @04:54AM (#45011943)
          Australia has something called "double dissolution" where, to fit the US system, both the Senate and Congress would be dismissed in entirety and an election for all seats would take place.

          You should look into that.
      • by Aighearach (97333)

        But what sort of idiot would have interpreted the President's words to mean a panel made of people from outside government, without security clearances? He clearly meant people not currently inside the programs, who are already known and trusted by the government. Like, duh.

        The funny part is that people who can't even understand the basics of the conversation are trying to call it out and blather on about how much wiser and more worldly they are.

      • by FridayBob (619244) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @05:40AM (#45012069) Homepage

        Change does not come from within. Real change must be made from the outside.

        Correct, and here's how to do it: WOLF-PAC [wolf-pac.com]. Launched in October 2011 for the purpose of passing a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that will end corporate personhood and publicly finance all elections. Since Congress won't pass such an Amendment on its own, the plan is to instead have the State Legislators propose it via an Article Five Convention. At least 34 States need to cooperate for this to work, but already many have reacted with enthusiasm, most notably Texas. If successful, the real problem should be fixed within one or two election cycles.

        • Change does not come from within. Real change must be made from the outside.

          Correct, and here's how to do it: WOLF-PAC [wolf-pac.com]. Launched in October 2011 for the purpose of passing a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that will end corporate personhood and publicly finance all elections. Since Congress won't pass such an Amendment on its own, the plan is to instead have the State Legislators propose it via an Article Five Convention. At least 34 States need to cooperate for this to work, but already many have reacted with enthusiasm, most notably Texas. If successful, the real problem should be fixed within one or two election cycles.

          I am quite willing to sign up for this. But not everything wrong with US government can be laid at the feet of corporations. Some corporations do benefit from the current state of affairs, it is true. And some are greatly inconvenienced. By even if you wrote corporations out of the equation entirely, the real mover here is power and the people with the power are merely getting some of their funding from corporate sources. Getting their campaigns financed by other means wouldn't change the people behind it.

          I

          • by FridayBob (619244) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @08:05AM (#45012841) Homepage

            It's great that you're willing to sign the WOLF-PAC petition, because money in politics does far more damage than you may think. Sure, democracy is a messy business even in the best of times, but it's always preferable to an authoritarian regime.

            Corporate influence on our politicians should always be limited to prevent corruption, but right now very little limits that influence at all. This affects both parties, because 94-95% of the time the candidate with the most money wins the election, while most have found that getting their money from a small number of big donors is much more effective than getting it from many small ones. But that kind of money always comes with strings attached, which is exactly why Congress has such a low approval rating these days: they spend virtually all their time trying to keep their donors happy -- not their actual constituents.

            Don't get me wrong here: we will always need corporations, because usually they are a force for good. For most things in our lives, we depend on the goods and services they produce. But certain rules need to apply to them lest things get out of hand. After all, they should serve us and not vice versa.

            Of course, that's not how the corporations see it, for in the end the only thing that motivates them is profit. That's why to some extent all of them continue to bend and break the rules (pollution, money laundering, monopolistic practices, etc. etc.) whenever they think the benefits outweigh the costs. One of the tasks of government is to keep after them and make sure those costs (e.g. fines) always outweigh the benefits, but unfortunately it seems that Congress is no longer very effective at this. In fact, all they seem to be interested in is deregulation. Gee, I wonder why...

  • Wait a second... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pollux (102520) <speter@tedat[ ]et.eg ['a.n' in gap]> on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @11:07PM (#45010827) Journal

    Now that the government is shut down, does that mean the domestic spying program is also?

    And while I'm at it, would it be unpatriotic of me to suggest that the government shutdown may be a tactful diversion from the domestic spying program? Snowden's Sunday leak [rt.com] was largely ignored Sunday by the major news networks in favor of the impeding shutdown.

  • Surprised? No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @11:09PM (#45010841)

    President Barack Obama called for an independent group to review the vast surveillance programs that allow the collections of phone and email records. The members of the review group are:

    ... Doesn't matter. You're asking the foxes to guard the hen house. If you work for the government, you can't really be expected to provide an impartial audit of government activities. The end. The only time Congress appoints actual outsiders is when the majority party is able to excert enough power to get them appointed. Of course, this is heavily politicalized as well -- they don't appoint people without knowing what their answer will be.

    This is dinner theatre for one.

    • Re:Surprised? No. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @12:02AM (#45011049)

      What's amusing to me is that those in favor of big government seem not to realize that this same principle applies to everything government does. It is oil industry that writes oil industry regulation, pharmaceutical industry that writes pharmaceutical industry regulation, banking regulatory agencies are staffed with former bank executives etc etc.

    • Dinner Theater indeed. Two Wolves and a Sheep are deciding whats on the menu. It is all fine and good to watch this theater, until they run out of sheep.

    • If you work for the government, you can't really be expected to provide an impartial audit of government activities. The end. The only time Congress appoints actual outsiders is when the majority party is able to excert enough power to get them appointed. Of course, this is heavily politicalized as well -- they don't appoint people without knowing what their answer will be.

      Actually, it's much worse than that. The truth is that if by some miracle they did do an in-depth audit that recommend drastic measures

      • . The truth is that if by some miracle they did do an in-depth audit that recommend drastic measures that radically acknowledged the inherent unconstitutionality of the acts and called for trials, jail time, etc, it'd all well be ignored.

        It wouldn't take just a miracle.. it'd take a note from God and an act of Congress too. And frankly, I'd believe news reports that Jesus had blasted his way back to Earth on a unicorn with rainbows crapping out all over the place and orchestras of angels blasting on trumpets over news that Congress decided Congress was in the wrong and decided to throw itself in jail.

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @11:10PM (#45010845) Homepage Journal
    The watchers themselves, of course. And by the fifth amendment (they like the respect amendments when it serves to their pourposes), they won't incriminate themselves, so the outcome is predictable. Seems that the "ideological crusade" is in this side too.
    • And the people, when they vote them out.

      If this doesn't matter to enough people to vote them out, then the abuses will continue to happen. People are more concerned about Obamacare and the government shutdown right now. "Democracy doesn't guarantee the best government, it guarantees the government the people deserve." It's lame for people who deserve better, but that's always going to be a problem when living with other people.
      • by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @12:34AM (#45011137) Homepage Journal

        Suppose, in 2016, by freak chance, the vast majority of jurisdictions in the United States elected representatives from non-mainstream parties—Libertarians, Greens, whatever else you guys have these days. Enough variety to represent every likely perspective, of course.

        What do you think would happen to the president when he or she tried to fix the intelligence community? Or the military? Or, heck, even something relatively compact like the FDA? Simple: just ask Jimmy Carter. (And, I would contend, Obama five years ago, just after his first election.) Nothing would get done. The agencies, the companies, and their collective lobbyists would do all they could to undermine the elected representatives, because they themselves are partisan, right down to the core—partisan to anyone who protects or could protect their paycheques and opportunities for advancement, that is.

        You cannot vote them out. You cannot even try, but even if you succeeded in voting away the names you know about, the rest would remain and stage coups. Even appointed agency directors have been defeated by the momentum, culture, and job-security-fearing mobs in these places. The rot goes all the way through, and it doesn't want to leave.

        • by AHuxley (892839) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @12:52AM (#45011209) Homepage Journal
          Yes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COINTELPRO [wikipedia.org] version 2.0 would be unleashed on any of the non-mainstream parties talking to each other.
          The last time labor, anti war, law reform, minority and indigenous groups tried to work together they where shattered.
          Left, right, poor, faith, wealth, city, race, suburban groups would be played off against each other against a setting of scandal.
        • And, I would contend, Obama five years ago, just after his first election.

          That's optimistic. He put bankers in his cabinet, continued the surveillance, voted for the surveillance before entering office.....

          Once again you're running into the problem that the majority is kind of ok with this surveillance. If they weren't, then things would change.

          • I'm more thinking about the whole Guantanamo promise.
            • He didn't actually have a plan on how to do that, it just sounded good to him. No one wants those terrorists in their own back yard.
              • by AHuxley (892839)
                Re: their own back yard
                Think of the regional cash expansion of long term 'holding' buildings and related services, the expert guards needed, interrogators, language experts, cleared psychologists, cleared psychiatrists, medical teams for force feeding, cleared maintenance staff, expanded fly in fly out support and quality local accommodation. Thats a lot of instant state contracting and generational federal funding. *Lawyers not included.
                A wise contractor and state could even draft lucrative occupancy g
                • A similar case could be made for a large number of NIMBY-style projects.

                  I was reading earlier today about nuclear reactors in France. Apparently in France, people welcome nuclear reactors near their towns, for the reasons you just stated. In America, we have wealthy neighborhoods without cell reception because the residents don't want an unsightly cell tower.
          • by arashi no garou (699761) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @01:41AM (#45011411)

            I don't think it's a matter of the general public being okay with it; rather they don't understand it and can't be bothered to find out why it's a bad thing. The vast majority of the voting public in this country range from the working poor to the middle class. These people are usually working two or more jobs per family (when it's not a broken family; even then the single parent often works two jobs) and simply don't have time to find out who is doing what in the government, much less do something about it. They vote along established party lines based on their upbringing, and probably hope that one asshole will screw the country over just a smidge less than the other one. Given that situation and attitude, it's no surprise that most Americans default to "I'm not doing anything wrong, why should I care if they listen to my phone calls and read my email."

            I think if the curtain was truly pulled back by someone with a public face (i.e. not just one whistleblower that no one heard of before June), people would begin to realize what is really going on and why it's so wrong. But panels like the one in the article exist to make sure that never happens. Someone above referenced the fox guarding the hen house, and that's a great analogy.

            • I don't think it's a matter of the general public being okay with it; rather they don't understand it and can't be bothered to find out why it's a bad thing.

              Those two are basically the same.

  • Okay, how will the group meet if it's furlough time?

  • by paiute (550198) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @11:13PM (#45010863)
    Br'er Fox done got hisself on the jury to find out what's happenin' in that darn chicken coop.
  • by m00sh (2538182) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @11:20PM (#45010881)

    It just seems that no-one in the government is at odds with the NSA spying program. The idea was always to have checks and balances in the system so that if things spiraled out of control, there would always be counter-forces that would set it right.

    However, the white house, senate, supreme courts etc doesn't seem to care. They're all acting like it is no big deal and we should forget about it (or maybe that is how the media is portraying it).

    Though on the other hand, this kind of social interaction data is a goldmine for sociologists and social psychologists to industrial psychologists. It could really be the killer technology that drives the next generation of marketing and advertising. Social networking is the fusion of sociology and computer science.

    This is especially a goldmine if election candidates can understand and measure how people are deciding to vote. Before it was just spend billions of dollars on a blanket advertising scheme. But, what if they can really get feedback and data on how people are deciding to cast their votes.

    Why doesn't the NSF find ways to anonymize the data and use it for scientific research and make everything open.

    After social networking, this could be next big thing. Non-survey based measurement and quantification of what people are doing and thinking and how ideas are spreading and problems they are facing.

    • Where you wrote "the white house" my eyes read "the white noise". Poor vision or insightful pupils?

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Re: spiralled out of control, there would always be counter-forces that would set it right.
      Where have we seen this before? GRU vs KGB? GCHQ vs UK gov demands for crime related intercepts to be used in open/closed courts?
      Who would be at odds with the NSA spying program within the US gov?
      The NSA has had a huge raise to fame, power, political access and departmental prestige over the past 10 years (~in public).
      That has not gone unnoticed by the CIA and other powerful factions. The NSA was seen in a mor
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cold fjord (826450)

      It just seems that no-one in the government is at odds with the NSA spying program. The idea was always to have checks and balances in the system so that if things spiraled out of control, there would always be counter-forces that would set it right.

      However, the white house, senate, supreme courts etc doesn't seem to care. They're all acting like it is no big deal and we should forget about it (or maybe that is how the media is portraying it).

      I think that you are overlooking the possibility that the checks and balances functioned as designed, and that the three branches of government signed off on the major aspects of the NSA's programs. That's not to say that there weren't compliance problems, or that the NSA's programs may have gone too far at various times and in various aspects. But the overall information seems to indicate that the NSA's programs were more or less supported by all three branches of government.

      The very idea that such a th

      • by AHuxley (892839)
        "supported by all three branches of government", "compliance problems", "gone too far at various times and in various aspects" does not mean legal.
        "with modern transportation and the transformational nature of modern communications" so we are back to a nice friendly "living document" view of US rights that makes illegal domestic surveillance not illegal.
        What has "fundamentally" changed Cold is the vision of a legal 'lock box' via domestic surveillance ending up in domestic court at the whim of political l
        • Perhaps you could be so kind as to specify which program(s) you think to be illegal?

          • by RoTNCoRE (744518)

            Asking which programs is a dick move and you know it. The stonewall secrecy due to "terrorism" and "national security" excuses prevents us from even discussing the programs in the open, and even the panel that is supposed to be investigating it is closed.

            Unreasonable search and seizure covers quite a lot of it in my mind. Spirit of the law regarding freedom of speech. NSA complicity in assassinating US citizens. That Clapper lied to congressional committee, should have been charged with lying under oath, an

    • It just seems that no-one in the government is at odds with the NSA spying program. That's not actually true, if you look at the votes in congress, you'll see that a little more than half support them, but nearly half oppose the programs. It is not divided along party lines, each party is divided on the issue. Generally senior members are more likely to support the programs, they are part of the establishment, but there are a lot of exceptions.

      It's not surprising that a little over half of congress supports the NSA spying, since that's approximately the percentage of voters that support it too.

  • by istartedi (132515) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @11:48PM (#45011015) Journal

    When I worked in support, the management began taking a drift towards the overly authoritarian side. I don't think they wanted to face up to it though. One particularly absurd thing they did was place a suggestion box next to the desk where all the managers sat. What was wrong with that? It was transparent. Yep. Anybody who put a suggestion in there would be seen putting it in, and the fold size or color of the paper would be matched up with the face, subconsciously or otherwise.

    This panel is about as useful as that suggestion box. It's transparency, authoritarian style.

  • by Digital Ebola (29327) on Tuesday October 01, 2013 @11:50PM (#45011017) Homepage

    Mike Morrell is a former career CIA guy. He was responsible for the daily president briefings and I believe he was the one to inform President Bush of 9/11. Very experienced and definitely spooky. His secrets have secrets! He would probably be a very awesome guy to meet. Definitely not Obama's unless you hold presidential turnover against him.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Sound insider to me. Predisposed to lean on the side of surveillance, which is the point. Doesn't matter who he is loyal to. Career spook gives it two thumbs up.

  • Why do I get both the urge to infinitely face-palm AND the mental image of Frau Farbissina doing her "Lies! ALL LIES!" line?

  • by surfdaddy (930829) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @12:56AM (#45011237)
    Clapper is the guy who lied to Congress. This is Window Dressing for Obama.

    What the FUCK has happened to this country?

    • He knows he doesn't have to give a shit. He could be caught with a dead intern in his office, and a bloodstained knife in his hand. He could have his wife and the Boston strangler handle the investigation, except of course if he had fucked the intern, in which case shit would get serious.

  • by OhANameWhatName (2688401) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @03:06AM (#45011635)

    The panel's meetings are closed after Clapper exempted it from the U.S. Federal Advisory Committee Act ... for 'reasons of national security,'

    Congratulations Mr Clapper, I vote for a round of applause. Why is everyone being spied on? OH! that's right:

    for 'reasons of national security,'

    Almost forgot for a second.

    You know, the internet is about the people, not the governments. Stop complaining about the governments collecting information and start collecting information about the government. If they do it, it's got to be ok. After all, every threat to the US population for the last 50 years has been specifically caused by the government. Couldn't spying on the government be considered national security?

  • by BenSnyder (253224) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @10:12AM (#45014301) Homepage

    Richard Clark has shown himself to be a good man. He was regularly trotted out during the Bush years to decry what was going on. I see his name at the top of the list as a good thing.

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