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United States Privacy

Former Head of NSA Calls For Obama To Reject NSA Commission Recommendations 316

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the not-what-you're-thinking dept.
An anonymous reader writes that USA Today reports "Retired general Michael Hayden ... called on President Obama Monday to ... reject many of the recommendations of the commission he appointed to rein in NSA surveillance ... 'President Obama now has the burden of simply doing the right thing,' ... 'And I think some of the right things with regard to the commission's recommendations are not the popular things. They may not poll real well right now. They'll poll damn well after the next attack ...' ... The commission ... said the recommendations were designed to increase transparency, accountability and oversight at the NSA. Hayden ... oversaw the launch of some of the controversial programs ... He defended them as effective and properly overseen by congressional intelligence committees and a special court. 'Right now, since there have been no abuses and almost all the court decisions on this program have held that it's constitutional, I really don't know what problem we're trying to solve by changing how we do this,' he said."
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Former Head of NSA Calls For Obama To Reject NSA Commission Recommendations

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @09:08AM (#45827937)
    He has no incentive to change anything. How it 'polls' is irrelevant. Someone with 2016 aspirations will need to make this their issue.
  • by wbr1 (2538558) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @09:14AM (#45827967)

    They'll poll damn well after the next attack

    The next attack will happen with or without illegal, unconstitutional domestic spying. I don't want you magic tiger protection rocks sir.

  • by WolfgangPG (827468) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @09:17AM (#45827989)
    I have to agree. The NSA may or may not have stopped any attacks with this snooping. They can of course point to attacks they claim to have stopped, but sadly we can't verify any of that. Instead we can point to the Boston Marathon Bombings where the US Government was informed by other countries to watch out for these guys and we still did nothing.

    We also have the Fort Hood shooting. Where any Army person was using army computers to contact terrorists and went on to shoot up an army base. Where was the NSA there?

    "Days after the shooting, reports in the media revealed that a Joint Terrorism Task Force had been aware of e-mail communications between Hasan and the Yemen-based cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who had been monitored by the NSA as a security threat, and that Hasan's colleagues had been aware of his increasing radicalization for several years. The failure to prevent the shootings led the Defense Department and the FBI to commission investigations, and for Congress to hold hearings."
  • by jimpop (27817) * on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @09:18AM (#45827995) Homepage Journal

    ..who was on guard duty before 9/11.... why should anyone listen to him?

  • by bazmail (764941) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @09:19AM (#45828003)
    He argues that it is legal because it is useful. Using that logic, I should be allowed use claymore mines to protect my property from intruders. Indiscriminate, illegal but probably effective. He should remember, if you subvert the constitution, you corrode the very fabric of the nation. We're becoming just another regime.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @09:22AM (#45828023)

    This clown was "lame" the day he stepped into office. His inability to actually take a stand and act on it, without wheeling and dealing for 2 years to get a "consensus" that compromises every facet of the original stand, has made him as effective as most vice presidents.

    He's going to gather "expert testimony", "listen to the people", and by the time he gets around to "gathering consensus", he'll have changed nothing. Just like Afghanistan, just like Iraq, and just like that gods-awful mess of an excuse for enshrining bureaucrats with permanent legacies called Obamacare.

  • by SJHillman (1966756) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @09:23AM (#45828033)

    He still has incentive to keep his party in power. Politicans are loyal to themselves first, and their party and donors second. If it doesn't affect him, then he will do whatever is best for his party (not to be confused with his constituents) or his donors.

  • Formal fallacy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @09:25AM (#45828043)

    [quote]They may not poll real well right now. They'll poll damn well after the next attack ...'[/quote]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_probability

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @09:29AM (#45828071)

    I'm not an America, although I am a citizen of one of the 5eyes - the one with a fundamentally criminal past.

    Freedom is about being about being able to live your life as you choose. Freedom is about disagreeing with other peoples' choices as to how they live their life, yet accepting that choice, as long as it doesn't to detrimentally affect yours.

    "O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?"

    Question mark is very well placed. The question mark was in the positive for around 200 years, however I think it is conclusive now. The answer is "Nope."

    There is no question about America now about being home of the free and the brave. Terrorism won, because terrorism is about causing terror, and therefore ridiculous levels of measures against it.

    (heh, this post will probably get me on the NSA list, but I'm probably already there anyway.)

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @09:30AM (#45828075) Homepage

    Also, he's demonstrably wrong: After the whole Boston Marathon bombing went down, the support for the NSA spying went down, not up. A logical reason for this: the NSA had clearly failed to catch terrorists despite all their willful violation of the rights of all Americans, so the benefits for all that intrusion were approximately 0.

    Besides that, regardless of what the NSA does or doesn't do, your average American is about 15 times more likely to be killed by a drunk driver than a terrorist.

  • by rmdingler (1955220) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @09:31AM (#45828083)
    I respectfully disagree.

    Obama has the luxury of not seeking another term to guide whatever moral compass might remain within him.

    He has an opportunity to make the reform of government surveillance an even greater legacy for his presidency than his ACA program.

    Will he? Possibly not, but a newly elected POTUS will have even less incentive: any terrorist incident that occurs after a restructuring of the quasi-governmental snooping agencies will land at the feet of it's sponsor.

  • by Desler (1608317) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @09:31AM (#45828085)

    His claim about there being no abuses is a bald-faced lie. Why should anyone believe anything in that sentence after the first major lie?

  • by Phoenix666 (184391) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @09:33AM (#45828101)

    The record of prevented attacks, according to the official report, is zero. The surveillance programs the NSA runs have prevented no attacks. They have, however, fundamentally undermined our Constitution and the entire rule of law in the United States of America. The citizenry has been watching, stunned, while the Congress, Whitehouse, and courts in DC have been wiping their collective behind with our foundational document, and are now looking at each other, waiting to see who's gonna pick up the gun and put the mad dog down. The criminals in DC and Wall Street misread the apparent lack of reaction with acquiescence or agreement. It's not. It's the entire mass of the country, who already have their hands full with many, many deep problems, discovering this massive systemic betrayal and trying to process what the best course of action is. If DC does not act now to channel things into productive reform, they will explode to the detriment of all, but especially to the detriment of DC and their masters on Wall Street.

  • by freax (80371) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @09:33AM (#45828103) Homepage

    I agree with this. I'm also really pissed that secret services refuse to create more transparency and do a lot of things that are not lawful (like dragnet surveillance, indiscriminate mass surveillance of ordinary law abiding citizens, economic espionage, etc).

    That, however, doesn't mean that we'll have any progress by calling workers at the NSA traitors who should be killed or even heavily sanctioned. Processes should however be fixed.

    I do think transparency and legality of their profession has to come back (by following the processes and requirements, and having a public debate on all this).

    It's not a deal society can make to allow a surveillance police state (even if it's here already; it still doesn't make it OK for it to stay). The US can and should make legislation deals with the EU on this if the fear is that internationally laws and processes aren't worth a lot. It can make such deals even with China or Russia, and with other BRIC countries too. There is no need to have invasive non-targeted worldwide surveillance of ordinary citizens for America to be much more safe than before 9/11. Whoever in the US military and/or government who's telling you that is lying.

    Right now, however, the US is showing absurd distrust in the rest of the world and actions done by your NSA as being seen in the population worldwide as military action against them. They are ordinary citizens with no intent to harm anybody in the US. But by invading their privacy so insanely massively you Americans ARE going to create a lot of nutcases for decades to come.

    Stop it.

  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @09:36AM (#45828129)

    "After the next attack"

    Wait a second - you mean that you admit the NSA is not able to prevent the attacks? OK, so explain again why it is a necessary, nay, "vital" government agency?

  • What (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lagomorpha2 (1376475) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @09:36AM (#45828131)

    "They may not poll real well right now. They'll poll damn well after the next attack ..."

    So... these things aren't popular now... but the next time they fail to stop an attack... Americans will be glad the NSA was here to fail to stop the attack?

    The sad part is he's probably right, the public actually is that stupid.

  • by Chas (5144) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @09:39AM (#45828149) Homepage Journal

    He's right in one way. It's probably not going to change.

    And then he pulls the boogie man out of his pocket.

    "The next attack."

    "The next attack."

    So we're supposed to just huddle up in a corner and live in fear for the rest of forever. Just so that, MAYBE, some day, they catch another underpants bomber?

    Uhm...

    Not to put too fine a point on that, FUCK NO!

    At some point, reality sets in and people need to realize that The Real World (not the stupid "reality TV show") is NOT a safe place. And NO amount of watching will curtail EVERY attempt.

    Nor will throwing away our rights like a hot potato make us any safer.

  • Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @09:39AM (#45828153)

    Looking at it from the outside, i.e not being a US citizen:

    1. You piss of everybody else on the planet, so do not expect any goodwill.
    2. There were abuses, please do google loveint.
    3. Snowden walked ot of NSA with *all* their goodies, so how says that that did not happen before ? He was just the first to go public with the abuses.
    4. How can any US citizen still talk about the "land of the free", that is totally ridiculous and hypocrite at the same time.
    5. You do have the best democracy that money can buy

  • by compro01 (777531) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @09:55AM (#45828211)

    Besides that, regardless of what the NSA does or doesn't do, your average American is about 15 times more likely to be killed by a drunk driver than a terrorist.

    Hell, on the roads, every month is September, 2001. Roughly a 9/11 worth of people die every single month in vehicle accidents.

  • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @09:56AM (#45828217)

    Politics is compliacted.

    If Obama announced his intention to limit the powers of the NSA and impose more oversight from congress and the courts, then you can be confident that within a week there will be a republican-sponsored bill to remove what oversight they already have. It's a game of two sides: What one does, the other automatically opposes.

  • by ImOuttaHere (2996813) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @10:04AM (#45828265)

    I have to agree. The NSA may or may not have stopped any attacks with this snooping... We also have the Fort Hood shooting. Where any Army person was using army computers to contact terrorists and went on to shoot up an army base. Where was the NSA there?...

    Allow me to take this just a small step further. What good has the NSA spying been in preventing any mass shooting attacks [usatoday.com] on Americans?

    Tell me about how the NSA prevented mass killings (of 4 or more people) in Sandy Hook, New York, Paris(TX), Tulsa, Callison, Terrell, Phoenix, Rice, Washington DC, Dallas, Clarksberg, Santa Monica, etc, etc, etc?

    Please don't tell me that NSA spying is a matter of definition. Mass death is mass death, regardless of country of origin, skin color, or religious bent.

  • by aviators99 (895782) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @10:45AM (#45828561) Homepage

    The NSA *is* the "next attack". It's an enemy combatant's dream. They have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

  • by morari (1080535) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @11:42AM (#45829119) Journal

    All very true, unfortunately. Obama has been little more than a continuation of Dubya's reign. It's too bad the American people are so divided, so beholden to their preferred "team", or else they might notice how thoroughly they're being fucked regardless of which party is in power.

    And here I was, sincerely hoping for a Socialist, non-Christian president. If only Fox news were correct now and then. :(

  • by Chickan (1070300) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:33PM (#45829761)
    The problem is the FISA courts are not oversight. Since they have been around they have rejected only ~5 requests, compared to the thousands they have approved. That is a rubber stamp, not oversight.
  • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:05PM (#45830209)

    Actually, they'll poll really well if some SWAT team kicks in some doors and stops the next attack. And the NSA's contribution to that is revealed. I don't think the current surveillance regime (what we knew of it, anyway) polled terribly well after Boston. The Russians told us to watch these guys and still our entire bag of tricks didn't stop them.

    True. Results would be a more effective argument. But they're not really interested in results -- at least from what people like Hayden do and say -- they're interested in pursuing unconstitutional total dragnet surveillance of everyone's communications for its own sake (and whatever nefarious uses they can come up with now or in the future). As you say, the system didn't help catch the Boston bad guys. It was never intended to. The Boston guys could have been caught by acting on the tip, getting a warrant based on that, which a judge would have certainly approved in a Constitutional, above-the-board process, tapping their phones, searching their place, interviewing acquaintances and other old-fashioned police work. All things that could be done with regular oversight and due process. No new laws, no secret courts, no black budgets.

    The NSA and the Executive branch want unfettered, unlimited, unaccountable surveillance for their own reasons. "Catching terr'ists" is just the excuse. I've even got a car analogy. Back in the day, I wanted a 4 barrel carburetor and high performance manifolds from my Mustang. I told my dad that it would get better mileage that way -- you know, 'cause "better breathing." Of course he didn't fall for that, he knew I just wanted it to go faster to impress friends and (in my mind) girls.

  • by AJH16 (940784) <aj@IIIgccafe.com minus threevowels> on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:16PM (#45830319) Homepage

    It's a little more insidious when you realize that is intentional and that both media and politicians fight to keep it that way. They intentionally use the most divisive issues possible and make their careers by making people as extreme as possible. It's horrible for the country, but great for accumulating power and wealth.

  • by WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:38PM (#45830571)

    You have to consider the idea that the NSA is blackmailing politicians or otherwise threatening them. This is after all one of the major worries of ubiquitous surveillance. How do we know we're not already there? This kind of thing was WAAAY out there for me before. Now I think it needs to be kept in the "not impossible" drawer and should evidence arise, not dismiss that evidence. Not saying I believe it, just saying it's no longer "impossible".

  • by Jason Levine (196982) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @02:43PM (#45831187)

    It might not be an abuse by a majority of people, but it is an abuse. Hayden specifically stated that there were NO abuses and that the absence of abuses shows that the program should continue. Demonstrating that there WERE abuses (even if they weren't NSA-approved abuses) shows this line of argument to be completely false. (The fact that a program shouldn't be evaluated solely on the basis of "is it being abused right now" is a different conversation, though a relavent one to the overall discussion.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @03:24PM (#45831565)

    Our country's fondness for sports has made team affiliation creep into everything.

    The most successful response power ever had to rebellion--whether in this century or another--involves the simple device of "divide and conquer." Ego is such an important foundational aspect of our species. It extends into identity politics as well. One reason the left will have trouble accomplishing anything is the lingering use of 70's radical nomenclature and thought norms. Groups of similar structural animus will self-divide themselves--not as one unified group in solidarity--but into disparate groups with separate structurally insignificant goals. Instead of "The People," it becomes: "The Blacks" or "The Gays and Lesbians" or "The Women" or "The Workers." It pays dividends to the structure if it doesn't even occur to anyone there is a bigger picture at stake.

    Structural problems require structural change. Structural change occurs slowly. It also occurs very [wikipedia.org], very [wikipedia.org] quickly [wikipedia.org].

    What is most fascinating about what is occurring now is that those who write the software will determine the future of the power structure. Their biggest vote won't come at the polls, but will instead be determined--among other [wikipedia.org] things--by what organizations for whom they choose to work.

    What if Silicon Valley decides to rob the military-industrial complex of its toys? It could certainly be plausible. As the state decays due to lack of revenue (outsourced jobs, lower tax revenue because folks have no jobs) and those with excess amounts of capital (These folks [cnbc.com], perhaps) decide to take advantage of both human capital (software talent) and structural capital, it's going to be an interesting next 50 years.

    Looked at from this light, the Boston Dynamics acquisition by Google looks ahead of the curve.

    "Don't be evil."

    We'll see.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @05:02PM (#45832379)

    Instead of throwing barbs and running maybe suggest an alternative. The idea that medicine can have a profit motive without an ethical motive makes whatever argument you are about to make repellent.

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