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Spy Industry Leaders Befuddled Over 'Deep Cynicism' of American Public 403

New submitter autonomous_reader writes: Ars Technica has a story on this week's Intelligence & National Security Summit, where CIA Director John Brennan and FBI Director James Comey had a lot to say about the resistance of the American public to government cyber spying and anti-encryption efforts. Blaming resistance on "people who are trying to undermine" the intelligence mission of the NSA, CIA, and FBI, John Brennan explained it was all a "misunderstanding." Comey explained that "venom and deep cynicism" prevented rational debate of his campaign for cryptographic backdoors.
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Spy Industry Leaders Befuddled Over 'Deep Cynicism' of American Public

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  • In other news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by easyTree ( 1042254 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @02:30PM (#50504511)

    Mr Fox feels misunderstood and would like to continue guarding the hen house.

    • Re:In other news (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @02:34PM (#50504541)
      No, he's right - I'm very cynical of the federal government, but the problem isn't me, it's that he feigns ignorance over how that could possibly be.
      • Nonsense. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        He sees it perfectly clearly when he states, "because of people who are trying to undermine" the mission of the NSA, CIA, FBI and other agencies. This is because their mission is to protect the Government, not the people.
        • Re:Nonsense. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by VernonNemitz ( 581327 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @03:02PM (#50504831) Journal
          "Knowledge is power." Every government understands that. In the USA, so many businesses also know it, that most of the population knows it. PLUS, just about everyone in the USA is also told, "Power corrupts", and how important it is for citizens to be aware of what government officials are doing. There need be no cynicism in simple logic!

          Now, if the government could prove it has a way to possess knowledge without becoming corrupted by the power it represents, the situation might be different. Good luck with that!
          • by TWX ( 665546 )
            The only solution would be for those that run these programs to have very specific term limits, and for them to have to retire from all forms of work that could impact Governments of the United States of America, including working for private companies that do business with the government.

            Realistically, the only way that would happen would be for them to go into exile. Since we don't do that, there really is no solution.
            • TFS title:

              Spy Industry Leaders Befuddled Over 'Deep Cynicism' of American Public

              Seem to me it could simply have read:

              Spy Industry Leaders Befuddled

          • Re:Nonsense. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @03:56PM (#50505269) Journal

            This isn't "deep cynicism". This is the Founding Fathers' hard-won experience in freeing themselves from oppression.

            The King, George III, used all kinds of tricks to keep opposition down. Warrantless searches, "general warrants", allowing them to root around your house and papers until they find something they can tag you with, which would be applied to uppity folks. Outlawing of speech. Outlawing or restriction of presses, the literal mechanical method of mass producing speech for distribution, a backdoor method of censorship. Using one particular popular denomination of one particular religion to stir outrage and knock down other opponents through religious laws.

            These a d dozens of other concepts are not freaking cynicism!

            Attention NSA leaders and politicians: You are constructing a panopticon (go look it up) that is literally more powerful than that which was cynically portrayed in "1984". With no mechanical methods to prevent, or even track its abuse, you cannot guarantes that the 1 out of 1000 agent who is a G. Gordon Liddy type won't abuse the spying to report on political opposition to his patron.

            "Imagine a boot stamping on a human face...forever." Ancient Rome and Greece, 1930s Germany, these are democracies that handed over emergency power and The People never got it back.

            The Founding Fathers knew the only way to guarantee (as far as such is possible) this cannot happen is to simply blanket forbid these powers to government. Now you want Eye in the Sky crap, too?

            Yes I am sure you all fancy yourselves The Untouchables, but it's not you We, with our Founding Fathers hats, are worried about. It is those who would abuse these marvelous tools for dictatorship.

            Do you think Putin, to whom you are selling Eye in the Sky to, won't abuse it to track opposition?

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Falconnan ( 4073277 )
              100% correct, but even this essentially misses the point of purely logical opposition to this plan, which is this: Any backdoor, without exception, will necessarily be a means by which bad actors may break encryption. This vulnerability will exist with any backdoor. Put another way, if our intelligence community can crack a code, so can anyone else. Additionally, it is not that we don't trust any one official with such power per se, it is that once that power is given there is no way to know who would wield
            • I don't normally hold with quoting from fiction, but Firaxis had some damn sharp writers and this resonates *much* more today than it did in 1999.

              As the Americans learned so painfully in Earth's final century, free flow of information is the only safeguard against tyranny. The once-chained people whose leaders at last lose their grip on information flow will soon burst with freedom and vitality, but the free nation gradually constricting its grip on public discourse has begun its rapid slide into despotism

      • Re:In other news (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @02:54PM (#50504745)
        "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." --George Bernard Shaw
      • Re:In other news (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rwven ( 663186 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @04:04PM (#50505335)

        Yeah, this is pretty much it. There's a LOT of cynicism but it's well deserved. The Federal gov't has proven to all of us that they are not to be trusted. Trust is EARNED not inherent. If you violate the trust someone has in you, it may never return, or at best it's going to take a lot of time and work.

        • Re:In other news (Score:5, Insightful)

          by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @04:32PM (#50505557)

          I once had a boss that was fond of the espression 'you cant unring that bell'.

          before the recent (last few years) whistleblower events, you'd be called a tinfoil hatter if you dared suggest that online comms were not safe or that the big agencies are not bulk surveiling us.

          now, you won't automatically be called a tinfoil hatter. we get it, as a whole, at least a sizeable portion of the population gets it.

          its out in the open now. but there is still no real discussion about it. are we, as a people (as a species!) ready and willing to live our lives under spotlights, having no say in the matter? should we just accept that YOU have decided this for us and it was all done in secret, slowly, over the decades? its true that it was in secret over the decades, but should we accept what we can now, finally, talk about?

          we have to have the discussion and really understand the long term and short term cost/benefit of this before we plunge ourselves, officially, into a surveillance state.

          but we should have a say in this! that's what is being denied and attacked and drowned-out. we are being denied the ability to actually affect the laws and rules and this defines what kind of world we end up living in!

          to deny us this choice is to wage war on your own people. pretty much, it is. you enslave if you cannot get a concensus. are you afraid to bring this into discussion and see/hear our views? (answer, of course they don't want to hear it. they KNOW how we'd vote, if we were given real say in this matter).

          look, either you discuss this with us or we work around it. and by that, I mean we run our own layers of tunneling and encryption and this is a war you cannot win.

          and so, let me use that phrase again. encryption is already 'out there' and you can't un-ring that bell, no matter how hard you try.

    • On the other hand, the article is a bit more than the headline. A pretty decent article for Ars, actually, if you read it remembering that these guys have been given a specific job to do.

  • Misunderstanding (Score:5, Insightful)

    by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @02:31PM (#50504517) Homepage Journal

    "You see, we thought that the Constitution doesn't apply to us. Why can't anyone understand that we're the good guys?!?"

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      That they "thought that the Constitution" didn't apply to them is a part of the problem. The other part is that they apparently still think so.

    • Re:Misunderstanding (Score:4, Informative)

      by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @04:33PM (#50505571)
      Setting aside the Constitution, it's the double standard. We can save you, but we can't even tell you when or how.

      The one thing that would save the US government is the elimination of classification. Simple, easy. Nothing secret except for active actions, and none of those allowed over 20 years, and any over 2 years must be disclosed and revealed.

      Would that make their jobs harder? Maybe. Just maybe, and if so, only a little. But it would eliminate any doubt over what's going on.

      The current rules classifies everything, and for the maximum allowable time. Policies and procedures are classified. Ones that are not classified are classified. TSA traning docs are refused FOIA for "national security" reasons, when clearance isn't required to be trained with those docs. In an abstract sense, the DHS is violating classification by training un-cleared people with documents they claim are classified.

      Eliminate it all.

      And while doing so, make the US government copyright holder over all materials that are funded with government funds, then have them release all materials into the Public Domain as they are copyrighted (or free and open license to all citizens or some such).

      The secrecy is killing the secret organizations. I had a friend who joined the FBI. She thought it would be fun and interesting. Instead, she spent all her time sending people to decades of prison for clerical errors on Katrina relief forms. Her conscience wouldn't let her work as an FBI agent. She was ordered into situations where she was only punishing innocent people, and wasn't "allowed" to find guilty people.

      They aren't the good guys. They never were. Hoover was evil, and tainted the FBI with that until the end of time.
    • by LessThanObvious ( 3671949 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @04:41PM (#50505635)

      NSA head Rogers said that "we have got to engender a better dialogue" on security issues. "In the end, we serve the citizens of the nation... all the revelations [a reference to Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks] have made life more difficult for us."

      The reason Mr. Rogers you can't get support is you lie to the people you are supposedly serving. You won't comply with the one thing that we want which is to be left alone and have our rights respected. Tell us the truth, respect our rights, stop weakening our technology security and we'll be all good. I'm happy to have you go kill all the terrorists you like, just stay off my lawn. I'd also suggest you be very selective about when it's really worth meddling in foreign affairs, overthrowing foreign leaders tends to get messy even when it seems like a good idea. We live in a world where the truth is a very hard thing to hide. If your actions can't be justified honestly in the light of day then maybe there is a better approach.

      • The problem is they DON'T want a better dialogue on security issues. A better dialogue would include things like limits on spying on law abiding citizens and retention limits on recorded data. What they want is to be ignored.
        • by jafiwam ( 310805 )

          The problem is they DON'T want a better dialogue on security issues. A better dialogue would include things like limits on spying on law abiding citizens and retention limits on recorded data. What they want is to be ignored.

          I am a bit puzzled why these two guys bothered to say anything about it at all. They are going to do their damnedest to get more corrupt and spy on everybody and anything the best they can anyway.

          The only thing I can think of is they either ARE losing the battle to encryption or are trying to make everybody THINK they are losing the battle so they stop pushing encryption because they've got something right around the corner that can deal with what is in use now.

          Complaining about "resistance" to being s

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 11, 2015 @02:33PM (#50504531)

    Is personal, is not yours. Not allowed. Like you're not allowed to rape my girlfriend even if you say its for national security.
    Not yours, never was, hands off.

  • One hopes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Majestix ( 41486 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @02:34PM (#50504545)

    ...that these men are just acting. They cant be that naive that they dont understand the resistance to their designs.

    • Re:One hopes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Alain Williams ( 2972 ) <> on Friday September 11, 2015 @02:48PM (#50504679) Homepage

      I think that they are caught up in their own bullshit that they have forgotten how ''the man in the street'' thinks. Ie - they don't get out enough. They think that we all forget their 'little lies' and really believe that they are acting in our best interests. They talk mainly to each other, if you don't talk up the reality of the persistent threat to fellow NSA/.... people - then will you be looked on with suspicion or passed over for promotion ? The corporate 'yes' men will always tell their bosses what they think the bosses want to hear - many a large company has gone bankrupt or empire been overrun because of that.

      I do believe that many of them are honourable people, but their viewpoint has become so skewed by the corporate culture that they have lost touch with reality; not that much different from those embedded in a religious community who end up thinking that the myths are true.

      It is always possible that they are right and I am wrong - but I don't think so.

      • Re:One hopes (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheCarp ( 96830 ) <sjc@carpanet.PERIODnet minus punct> on Friday September 11, 2015 @03:02PM (#50504823) Homepage

        > I do believe that many of them are honourable people, but their viewpoint has become so skewed

        You know, in a way, I do too; its just, I can't imagine how that could matter less when we know the road to hell is most easily paved with the best of intentions.

        It doesn't matter how good they intend to be, or how honorable they are. What they are building, as a technological capability, is too powerful of a weapon to trust anyone with. Actions taken in secret audited in secret, regulated in secret.....

        Once the gun is built, it is a matter of the will of the user where it is pointed. The only thing you can be sure of is, the owner will someday change. Policies will change.

        Just imagine what happens if we wind back the clock to my parents 20s. What if, after the very first protest, police could identify the names and home addresses of all the social hub people in the community. What would our world look like today if every gay rights protest or every anti war protest just saw a string of quiet arrests for "drugs" or traffic stops that "got violent" and removed the very people who glued others together....

        Who really looks at history and thinks this sort of power is safe to leave in the hands of those in power? When has any sort of power to silence opposition NOT been abused?

        • I wish i had a million mod points for you ... "Who really looks at history and thinks this sort of power is safe to leave in the hands of those in power?" the answer, of course, is no one..
      • Re:One hopes (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 11, 2015 @03:23PM (#50504971)

        I think that they are caught up in their own bullshit that they have forgotten how ''the man in the street'' thinks

        These people are not "the man on the street". They are members of an increasingly prominent caste in Western society, which for want of a better term, we can call "Corporate careerists". These people know what they want from day one and that is an Important Well Paying Job. They are motivated and in many cases groomed from a very early age to jump through formalised certification hoops, network relentlessly, fit into existing systems and to expand the scope and role of those systems so as to advance their own career. It's a new kind of aristocracy, one whose economic fortunes are increasingly -- and mostly in the case of government careerists -- based on rents of one kind of another.

        It would be impossible to explain to this person that his plans to expand the reach, control, influence, and above all budget of his little part of corporate america is somehow a bad thing. Appealing to constitutional principles, legal prcedents, or commons sense mean nothing to someone whose entire working life has revolved around using power point presentations to elicit funding for hair brained projects based on numerological "models" of one thing or another.

        This person knows only one truth: I do as the system dictates and I get paid. Their entire life is the comfortable and predicable drawl of the modern office and "professional" workplace. It is impossible to explain to them that their actions are eroding the very foundation of the system and life they lead, because in their minds the modern world is a default state. Nothing will ever erode the stability or predictability of the status quo they operate in -- or so they believe.

        In reality this professional "careerist" caste has done more damage to western society in the last 30 years than any other factor. They erode both stability and order as they increasingly mismanage their systems on what is now a colossal scale. We see this everywhere: Government, Banks, Military, Politics, Media, Business, Academia. The hoop jumpers are running the show and the ringmaster is one of them. There's really nothing to be done anymore except wait for the system to fail. It won't be pretty to watch what careerists like Brennan and Comey do then.

      • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @04:13PM (#50505417) Journal

        Or perhaps the neocons, with their "noble lie" approach to politics (masses are too dumb to make the right choices, so in a democracy, you have to feed lies to them if that advances an important goal that they would not otherwise support but that the elite knows needs to be achieved), are still in charge of the three-letter agencies?

    • Re:One hopes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @02:54PM (#50504749) Homepage

      You know ... you should be far more terrified of people who think they're doing the right thing, and fervently believe in all the crap they say.

      Those people? Those fucking people are scary motherfuckers who will do anything if they can justify it to themselves. And if they can avoid getting caught, they'll do even more.

      A bunch of people who sincerely believe in all the crap they do ... those people are dangerous, unhinged, and will simply do anything they feel they need to.

      You can't have a free society protected by thugs who ignore the basic tenets of that free society. It just doesn't work. And they can't protect freedoms by taking them away.

      At this point, they can either try to protect your lives, or your way of life ... but what they've been doing is incompatible with both.

      • You know ... you should be far more terrified of people who think they're doing the right thing, and fervently believe in all the crap they say.

        So you're basically saying that anyone who acts according to his conscience, and tries to not lie, should terrify us?

        I think your point may have been more subtle than your wording suggests.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ScentCone ( 795499 )

        You know ... you should be far more terrified of people who think they're doing the right thing, and fervently believe in all the crap they say.

        Those people? Those fucking people are scary motherfuckers who will do anything if they can justify it to themselves. And if they can avoid getting caught, they'll do even more.

        Yup. Sounds just like anonymous and many other hacktivist types.

        At this point, they can either try to protect your lives, or your way of life ... but what they've been doing is incompatible with both.

        Yup. Just like when your nice country home becomes part of the busier growing suburbs. All the sudden you have to give up the freedom of never locking your front door and leaving your keys conveniently in the car. Why? Because there are malicious asshats in the world. Sometimes entire sub-cultures of them, some of which are deadly violent.

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      They aren't actors, they're liars. They're saying this for two reasons:
      1) to get their claim on the record.
      2) some people will pretend to believe them.

      There may be another reason that I'm just not cynical enough to think of. Every time I've thought I was too cynical the government* has proven that, on the contrary, I wasn't cynical enough.

      * By government here one needs to include the major corporations.

  • by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @02:34PM (#50504549)

    ... is concerned that we don't trust them, and don't really want them keeping tabs on us? I mean that would never happen! Next thing you'll tell me people are throwing tea in the ocean to protest their unelected government! Insanity!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ScentCone ( 795499 )

      The government we didn't elect

      What? Obama was elected with a fairly good majority, and re-elected. He's in charge of everything we're talking about here - it's entirely within the executive branch of the government, and he is in charge of that.

  • by MattGWU ( 86623 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @02:35PM (#50504557)

    "I don't think we've really tried to find answers yet because no one in the private sector has been properly incentivized."

    They haven't been properly motivated. We'll help them come around to our way of thinking.

  • by paiute ( 550198 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @02:37PM (#50504575)
    "Comey explained that "venom and deep cynicism" prevented rational debate of his campaign for cryptographic backdoors."

    That's called poisoning the well. - Albert Einstein
  • by ilsaloving ( 1534307 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @02:38PM (#50504595)

    I'll tell you who is undermining it. It's the NSA, the CIA, the FBI, and Homeland Security. They have already demonstrated, unequivocally, that they will happily fuck over every last man, woman and child, not just in the US, but around the entire planet, if they could get away with it. The list of abuses is already long, and at no point have they shown any interest in stopping.

    The fact that they are accusing unknown people "trying to undermine" them, and that these people are "fueled by their adversaries" just tells you how completely and utterly out to lunch these dimwits are.

    They don't seem to understand that, the tighter they squeeze their fist, the more that squeezes out from between their fingers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 11, 2015 @02:39PM (#50504603)

    We have as President a lying demagogue who ran against "warrantless wiretaps" and "unconstitutional acts" whilst a candidate, but once in office went far beyond what his predecessor did.

    Even Bush II didn't have "extrajudicial killings" of US citizens.

    Why would us peons be cynical?

  • by MarkvW ( 1037596 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @02:42PM (#50504623)

    The FBI engaged in a massive amount of illegal wiretapping. It was MASSIVE. It was also quite illegal--and completely unpunished. This was organized violation of civil rights--a plain crime.

    The FBI engaged in massive surveillance of student demonstrators, including infiltrating student protest movements. This wasn't for suspicion of crime--this was for intelligence. That was plain wrong.

    The FBI burgled--there is no other word for it--the office of Daniel Ellsberg and others. That is wrong.

    Then there was FBI Director L. Patrick Gray and the Nixon coverup.


    Oh, come on now...

  • by mveloso ( 325617 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @02:47PM (#50504659)

    If you have nothing to hide, why would you be afraid of the authorities?
      - the authorities

  • Bloody hell .... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @02:47PM (#50504661) Homepage

    Holy fuck, seriously?

    So the spies and fascists who have been ignoring the Constitution and demanding technology can be less secure so they can fumble around like idiots claiming to make us more secure .. spying on Congress and lying about it ... coming up with the form of perjury known as "parallel construction" (which is perjury because it's intended to lie about if they had legally obtained information or probable cause, and to deny the opportunity to see the evidence) ...

    Suddenly these fucking clowns are feeling all misunderstood and don't understand why there is hostility?

    I'm sorry, this is Chairman Fucking Mao talking about counter-revolutionary elements who must be purged ... "Blaming resistance on "people who are trying to undermine" the intelligence mission" is code for "all those pinko commies who expect us to respect fucking civil liberties".

    Every asshole fascist claims to be a patriot. They're still asshole fascists.

    Yeah, right ... tell us another fucking lie.

  • by bbasgen ( 165297 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @02:49PM (#50504687) Homepage

    I think what we are seeing here is progress, albeit slow and with a long road ahead. Their stated purpose of having a dialogue is, in itself, an important and positive step forward. Comey's remark on skepticism being fair, but cynicism being problematic, is reasoned and nuanced. I think this is a good sign that the intelligence community is starting to grapple with the need for open discussion, and is making a case towards that end.

    • by Steve B ( 42864 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @04:37PM (#50505601)
      Baloney. Comey isn't being "reasoned and nuanced"; he's engaging in rhetorical bafflegab to pretend to be reasoned and nuanced. His definitions of "skepticism" and "cynicism" are, respectively, "tut-tutting and letting me go back to doing things the way I want" and "actually making my start complying with the Constitution".
  • Not New (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thelasko ( 1196535 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @02:49PM (#50504693) Journal
    The United States was founded [] and structured [] around a deep cynicism towards government. [] I'm surprised members of the intelligence community haven't picked up a history book before.
    • What you describe is American exceptionalism and is what made the country great (past tense).

      These scum would prefer us to be the same as rest, which means we would be lowered to the level of a moderately-oppressed, not very rich or progressive nation.

      Fuck them, defenestrate them.

  • If this is what he considers deep cynicism I don't want to know what he considers a lack of cynicism. How many people spout the "Think of the children" or "If you have nothing to hide" lines. I think he would prefer that we had cameras and microphones in everyone's house just to be sure. Of course he may be in the camp that believes the terrorists hate us because of our freedoms so he is just doing what he can to eliminate those freedoms.
  • ..sideways, with a rusty chainsaw, vigorously, and with great prejudice . Their so-called 'mission' is to control everyone and everything, and to hell with 'civil rights' and any 'rights' in general. The 'terrorists' they claim to protect us from must be splitting their sides from laughing so hard at us, and celebrating their great victory over the West.
  • If he defines the mission of the CIA and NSA to include violating my Constitutionally confirmed, naturally inalienable rights, then yes, it should be all of our missions to undermine them. And have the perpetrators tried my impartial juries, and imprisoned if appropriate.

  • by DutchUncle ( 826473 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @02:59PM (#50504793)
    Taken at face value, it's a very simple statement of how paternalistic and condescending their perspective is. Yes, we do want people to protect us from bad guys - we have police, and we have security agencies - and we give them some slack on how much control they can have, but we don't want them to BECOME bad guys. Why should that be hard to understand? (Assuming, of course, that they're not lying about that too.)

    Today's example, fortunately non-fatal: A former tennis star (and former US Olympian) was arrested in a case of mistaken identity. Should be a non-story, except the arresting plainclothes officer chose to make a flying tackle and knock the guy to a concrete sidewalk, when there was no hint of resistance or even awareness on his part (and this happened in front of a big hotel with very clear security video). These "intelligence" people have exactly the same mindset - there's no such thing as overkill.
  • There are fundamental technical issue with government backdoors. You're either baking them in making whatever keys are used the biggest target in the world. Or your writing law that says you have to provide keys to the government making that keystore the biggest target in the world and providing an easy way to forget a key to make anybody a criminal.

    In any event bad guys will still use strong crypto. Stenography and one time pads make it very hard to trace and impossible to mathematically break. Cold war

  • How can people who say their job is to vacuum up all information they can get their hands on so they can figure out what is going on not know what is going on. People hate you because you are evil lying fucktards! It's pretty simple! If you spent one afternoon reading through sites like this one on a topic relating to the latest scandal you guys are up to you would see what the hatred is all about!
  • Changing Roles (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wyseguyonline ( 3715353 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @03:04PM (#50504841)

    Seems to me that many of the problems organizations like the FBI think they face stem more from the change from law enforcement to crime prevention. Crime prevention requires massive amounts of data to be collected and ultimately freedoms curtailed for specific individuals who evince a pattern of behavior demonstrated to lead to crime. With organizations like the FBI, NSA, CIA, etc. all tasked with preventing another 9/11/2001, they understandably want the data to be able to proactively root out those individuals who might be likely to pull something like that off.

    I'm not saying I agree with what guys like Brennan are asking for, but I am saying that they realize their responsibilities have changed and they are demanding the tools to do so. From their perspective, they probably don't understand how the people can say over and over "you'd better not ever let anything like that happen again but you can't infringe on any of my rights in order to make that happen". To a professional law enforcement officer, even a bureaucrat, that is a contradictory statement. Worsening matters is the ham handed way in which they've chosen to implement everything and how the American people have come to know how these things are being done.

    You can't have the kind of safety people seem to expect today without a significant infringement of your rights.

  • There really isn't any room for debate on the issue. To share that access with law enforcement, means eventually someone outside of law enforcement will get their hands on it. Then it's an unstoppable mess.
  • Cynicism is just a fancy word for pattern recognition.

  • Spy Industry - seems about right, because I believe it involves massive amounts of money.

    Those TLA guys should probably take some lessons from NASA []. I mean, when was the last time you saw a movie with a spy that was actually a nice guy and not a complete MFing AH to anyone vaguely on his wrong side AND anyone getting caught in between? I mean, it's nice and all to watch Liam Neeson beating up another bunch of guys, but that's not exactly the type of person I want to have watching over my shoulder while I

  • by digitalPhant0m ( 1424687 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @03:25PM (#50505003)

    If by saying

    "people who are trying to undermine" the intelligence mission

    actually means "Secure their freedom", then yes he's correct.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @03:37PM (#50505081)

    John Brennan was a career CIA analyst, focussing on the Middle East. James Comey was trained as a lawyer, and has been a law clerk, lawyer, and prosecuting attorney.

    Neither one is qualified to participate in this discussion - they don't know enough about how encryption works. They need to step aside and let their technical "underlings" speak for them, if they really want to engage in a meaningful dialogue on this topic.

  • I think rational debate would be solely sufficient to shut down his campaign for cryptographic backdoors.

    Unless, by "rational debate," he means everyone who disagrees shuts the hell up...

  • by yodleboy ( 982200 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @03:47PM (#50505169)
    there are more, and more concrete reasons to deny you these things than there are to allow them. I want better reasons than a vague "we can catch bad guys". It's way past time to start releasing specific and detailed accounts of how the post 9/11 power surge in the intelligence community has actually stopped something. Again, fluctuations in the "threat meter" and assurances that "we stopped a threat" are just not instilling any confidence. With the time between terrorist attacks in the U.S. measured in years, I want to see proof that we're not just in a lull. Maybe, just maybe, if you could tie things you want to actual results, people might be more sympathetic... then again, this is government...
  • I didn't vote for him.

  • by MetricT ( 128876 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @03:54PM (#50505245)

    I woke up yesterday at 5 am for a call with a colleague in China. Fifteen minutes from quitting time, a critical system died, and I was here until 1 am fixing it. A mile from home, achingly tired and needing a bed, a police car pulled me over for having one brake light out. After 10 minutes of staring at incredibly bright, flashing blue lights in the mirror, they let me go with a warning. Got home, and because of said flashy bright lights, I couldn't go to sleep. So here I am back at work, hour 34 of wakefulness.

    From her perspective, the police officer was trying to protect and serve (I know her vaguely through friends and she sounds like a decent person) From my perspective, I'm probably more dangerous to my fellow drivers due to my lack of sleep during rush hour commute than I would be for having 1 (out of 4) rear lights out at 2 am a mile from home. From my perspective (and almost certainly from society's perspective), her actions *did not* protect or serve either myself or society very well.

    I don't think the leaders of the NSA, CIA, etc are a bunch of Dr Evil wanna-be's. I suspect they are in fact decent, well-intentioned people. But what from their perspective seems rational, can be contrary to the greater good.

    In that, their job is somewhat like mine as a sysadmin. I have never once had someone email me and say "Hey, everything was working great this morning, just wanted to say good job!". But when something breaks, there are a hundred people complaning loudly. There's a fundamental asymmetry there, and it can lead to personal incentives that are in conflict with the greater good.

    The NSA/CIA/etc are graded on "how successful they can defeat/thwart the bad guy", and not "doing what is in the best interest of society". Perfect is the enemy of the good, and it's better for society to preserve our hard-won freedoms, even at the cost of the bad guys winning occasionally. But they get yelled at (Congressional hearings, public firing etc.) when they do the right thing, so they do the "right" thing instead.

  • by craighansen ( 744648 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @04:00PM (#50505303) Journal

    The "Spy Industry" had their golden chance to do it right after 9/11, and they demonstrated their inability to behave in a manner that honors the cause of freedom and liberty for our citizens. They earned the venom and cynicism by their misbehavior, and until they own up to that, I can't see cause for the American Public giving them a free pass again. Brennan and the rest are seriously in deepest denial if they are truly thinking that the backlash against government spying comes from a desire to undermine the mission of the Three Letter Agencies fueled by our adversaries.

    If they want to have keys to our backdoors, they'd better come up with lube.

  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @04:16PM (#50505437) Homepage
    In that same article he claimed:

    These people "may be fueled by our adversaries"

    When you claim that your political enemies are being 'fueled' by enemies of the state, YOU are the one that is exhibiting "venom and deep cynicism", not your enemies.

    The basic problem is that our intelligence enemies have paranoia as a primary job requirement. If you want to protect a country, you must assume the worst and think of the worst so that you can take steps to prevent it. But that does not mean your worst scenarios are true, or even likely. You have to recognize that because it is your job to assume the worst, it is totally reasonable for you to go way too far, and that government MUST reign in the intelligence group from doing so.

    Because if your Espionage agency does not intentionally go too far, then they have failed to do their job. Similarly, if your government bows down to the Espionage people, that means the government has failed to do THEIR job.

    In the ideal situation, working in Espionage should constantly complain about how the government won't let them take all the necessary steps to protect the people - while realizing that this is a GOOD thing.

  • by RandCraw ( 1047302 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @04:33PM (#50505569)

    ...look at the source. The caption of the article's main photo tells it all:

    "The directors of the FBI, CIA, NSA, NGO, DIA, and NRO stand for a group picture with Fox News' Catherine Herridge (second from left) and executives of INRA and AFCEA at the conclusion of their panel discussion at the Intelligence & National Security Summit in Washington on September 10."

    The supersilly quotes were directed at Fox News viewers. They were never intended to be taken seriously.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @04:41PM (#50505629)

    It ain't cynism. It's practicality. There is no such thing as a government-only backdoor. Any backdoor, no matter how you want to secure it, will be in the hands of nefarious groups faster than you might consider possible. We are not talking about some script kiddy hackers, this is the playground of hackers employed and funded by nation states. Nation states that have a vested interest in harming also the United States.

    In a nutshell, so even you get it: You can't have a backdoor for the US government only. China and Iran will be able to use it, too.

  • Men of zeal... (Score:3, Informative)

    by levkur ( 4120423 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @05:36PM (#50506055)

    In 1928 there was a court case called "Olmstead v. United States" in which the government tapped a telephone wire (relatively new technology at the time) and caught a Roy Olmstead and several others who were allegedly distributing Alcohol, which violated the National Prohibition Act.
    One of the justices, Louis Brandeis, argued that the government's actions were not lawful because it violated the principle which the Fourth Amendment stood for; here is a quote of his dissent:

    Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.

    You can read more of it here (

  • by NormalVisual ( 565491 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @05:39PM (#50506081)
    FTA: Rogers said, "I don't think we have fundamentally destroyed the public's trust. Some feel that way, but we are accountable to the citizens of the nation, and the nation is counting on us. The nation needs the insights we generate and our computer expertise."

    No, you're not accountable to the citizens of the nation, Mr. Rogers. If you were, many of you would be in jail right now. Was James Clapper "held accountable" for the felony crime of lying to Congress?

    Once you understand that you're not above the law, and once you truly become accountable to those you ostensibly "serve", then the cynicism will die down. Until then, you're continuing to reinforce that cynicism on your own by your actions, your attempts to hide them, and your willingness to lie about them. You have no one else to blame for it other than yourself.
  • by Assmasher ( 456699 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @05:59PM (#50506189) Journal


    It all stems from the idea that principles only mean something when you stick to them when its difficult. After 9/11 the intelligence agencies were only to happy to abandon some of our most fundamental principles all in the name of "security."

    The irony is that more people died in car accidents over the next 45 days - and yet we dumped some of the most sacred aspects of our country virtually without hesitation - and they were only too eager to justify it. FUCK them.

  • by Sir Holo ( 531007 ) on Friday September 11, 2015 @07:20PM (#50506555)

    It reads like a headline from The Onion.

Air is water with holes in it.