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Author Topic: The NSA's warrantless wiretapping is a crime, not a state secret
D.W.
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quote:
It depends on what position you think I have.
Your last post has made me give up even guessing what position you have.
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AI Wessex
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Good. I've highlighted as many contradictions and short-comings in your and Seneca's positions as I can. I guess I can go back to my regular daily pursuits now.
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D.W.
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quote:
Good. I've highlighted as many contradictions and short-comings in your and Seneca's positions as I can.
Because one of us is hopelessly lost on this discussion explain it to me how.
quote:
Had we tried to make a case against Jose Padilla through our criminal justice system, something that I, as the United States attorney in New York, could not do at that time without jeopardizing intelligence sources, he would very likely have followed his lawyer's advice and said nothing, which would have been his constitutional right.
Again, I don’t know anything about this case beyond what has been posted in this thread.
This quote, by itself sums up my position. To over simply they had 2 options within the law. Arrest him and jeopardize the intelligence sources or get the required warrants when applicable and follow him if you believe he may lead you to coconspirators before he is able to execute his plan. They chose a 3rd option which allowed them to detain him AND not jeopardize their intelligence sources. To do so, they had to bend / throw away the law.

Did you show any contradictions or short-comings in this position? If you did, I missed it. Seems like we are talking past eachother.

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Seneca
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I don't see any contradictions in my position. I want us to follow the Constitution.
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AI Wessex
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Understood.
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Seneca
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Looks like some of our worst fears have come true.

The military is now using cellphone signals as drone targets.

That's right. And in fact, I also happen to see on the news today that an anonymous official has leaked out that Obama is currently considering whether to execute an American citizen supposedly involved in planning a terrorist attack overseas at this moment.

But, one thing at a time...

quote:
The U.S. government reportedly is ordering some drone strikes based on the location of terror suspects' cell phones -- without necessarily confirming the location of the suspects themselves -- raising concerns about missiles hitting unintended targets.

The details were included in a report published Monday by journalist Glenn Greenwald's newest venture, The Intercept. Though it previously has been reported that National Security Agency data-tracking is used in locating and targeting terror suspects, the Intercept article raised new questions about the accuracy of that data.

The report, citing an unnamed former drone operator and other sources, said the NSA uses a "complex analysis of electronic surveillance" to pinpoint drone strike targets. However, the report said, the CIA and U.S. military don't always confirm who the target is with informants on the ground. This raises the concern that the flagged phone could be in the hands of someone else -- a friend, a family member, someone who's holding the wrong phone at the wrong time -- when the missile is fired.

"It's really like we're targeting a cell phone," the former drone operator was quoted as saying. "We're not going after people -- we're going after their phones."

The Intercept report also detailed how some Taliban leaders have caught onto the NSA's methods, and have tried to evade tracking by purchasing multiple SIM cards and mixing them up.

A spokeswoman with the National Security Council defended the administration's approach to these strikes, without going into fine detail.

"For obvious reasons we can't discuss the specific sources and methods we use to establish near certainty, but our assessments are not based on a single piece of information," spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told Fox News. "We gather and scrutinize information from a variety of sources and methods before we draw conclusions."

She said officials take "extraordinary care" to make sure counterterrorism actions are within the law and, "before we take any counterterrorism strike outside areas of active hostilities, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured -- the highest standard we can set."

According to the Intercept article, the same spokeswoman declined to say on the record whether strikes are ordered without the use of human intelligence.

The CIA and NSA declined to comment on the report.

Greenwald was among the first journalists to report last year on NSA documents provided by leaker Edward Snowden.

The latest report comes as the Obama administration claims to be tightening its standards for conducting drone strikes -- particularly when an American is the terror suspect.

In one example of these apparent deliberations, the Associated Press reported that officials are wrestling with whether to approve a drone strike against an Al Qaeda-tied U.S. citizen.


While the administration is not commenting publicly on the report, senior U.S. officials acknowledged that the individual is one of several Americans overseas whom the U.S. government is watching closely. They acknowledged that any targeted killing now requires "additional layers of review."

One official described the individual in question as one of the "al-Awlaki's" of the world -- a reference to Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen killed in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen.

[/b]In a speech last May at the National Defense University, President Obama outlined a more constricted drone policy overseas which, among other changes, made it more difficult to use drones to kill U.S. citizens overseas.

Any such strike, like other drone attacks, would have to be approved by the president.[/b]

Asked about the reports at Monday's daily press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney declined to comment on the specific case. But he said the administration has set a "high threshold" for taking lethal action against any target....

...Whether or not Obama is fully aware of the errors built into the program of targeted assassination, he and his top advisors have repeatedly made clear that the president himself directly oversees the drone operation and takes full responsibility for it. Obama once reportedly told his aides that it “turns out I’m really good at killing people.”

The president added, “Didn’t know that was gonna be a strong suit of mine.”

Wow...

Incredible. So our government has become completely techno-insane. We are now executing people based on their cell signal, AND THE ENEMY KNOWS THIS. Does anyone else see how utterly insane this is?

Anyone else find the statements by Obama chilling? He now considers himself a one-man judge jury and executioner, all at the push of a button. Given the myriad problems with technology that this admin. is having, how do you all feel about Obama willing to send a missile to a location based on a cell signal and who they think MIGHT be carrying it? Keep in mind, the terrorists have known about the NSA for sure as long as the American people have, and probably worried about it back to the beginning of the Bush years, if not before. Do you wonder how many people the US government has helped Al Qaeda kill by said terrorists planting a cellphone somewhere where they wanted someone taken out? My God...

[ February 10, 2014, 07:20 PM: Message edited by: Seneca ]

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TomDavidson
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Relax, man. Obama said those "chilling" statements months ago, and you whined about 'em then. Why are you pretending that this is news to you?
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D.W.
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The only thing I find surprising is the lengths we do go to when attempting to reduce collateral damage. The timidity of our administration when confronted on it by the media, only slightly less so.

While I don’t think it’s “insane” it does allow the opportunity for a target to exploit the methods being used to cause additional collateral damage (and evade the attack). It may be “idiotic” if they only used a cell phone signal that was once connected to a target. They need only to match that signal up to a “last known location” to give themselves an amazingly useful tool with a high probability for success. Assuming they are intent on killing these people and doing so without a physical presence on the ground, this program is very sane and beyond that I would have to agree with the description of “extraordinary care”.

As for his comments being chilling, I’d have to hear the context and inflection he used. It is only distressing on its face because he should have known better to say anything like that to stir up the sheeple who like their war sanitary and far away from them.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
It is only distressing on its face because he should have known better to say anything like that...
According to a book by Mark Halperin, he said it ruefully and self-deprecatingly, in a private conversation with friends and trusted aides; the comment was later leaked to the author.

As a side note: I am not at all comfortable with the executive branch having as much leeway as it presently has to assassinate people. But the mock horror that some people have been manufacturing about this is actually hurtful to the cause.

[ February 11, 2014, 09:57 AM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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Seneca
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There is no pretense about my horror or dismay and to suggest that there is is an insulting motive speculation.

I find it humorous that some would trust the government not to screw this up technically after they could not get a simple website working despite hundreds of millions of dollars being poured into it.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Relax, man. Obama said those "chilling" statements months ago, and you whined about 'em then. Why are you pretending that this is news to you?

In your nck of the Wisconsin woods, does a stament become less chilling over time?
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TomDavidson
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Good God, Pete, take a Valium. You're all up on my leg today, man, and desperately putting words in my mouth.

That said, no, it doesn't become less chilling over time. But over time, it gets harder and harder to feign shock and horror. If you've watched the same movie four times, the jump scare eventually ceases to surprise you. I find it difficult to believe that Seneca is genuinely shocked and horrified by something that's been shocking and horrifying for months, unless he's a particularly sensitive, wilting orchid of a man.

Tom: Please see your email. -OrneryMod

[ February 11, 2014, 11:44 AM: Message edited by: OrneryMod ]

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D.W.
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I don't "trust" them not to screw it up. I expect they will screw it up occasionally. I "trust" that put in their position this particular method is one I would have approved of as well. All in all our ability to target individuals is nothing short of amazing. Even with mistakes costing innocent lives.
Assuming I had already squared legal assassinations by drone.

The only dismay I experience is when as a country rules on how to prosecute criminals or engage an enemy in war are ignored or twisted to allow the government to do whatever it wants and pretend it is following the law. As far as methods of prosecuting the war on terror I actually think we tie both hands behind our back with the media and public relations game before we go into combat. As a result sending in an unmanned drone seems pretty freakin smart.

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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by D.W.:
I don't "trust" them not to screw it up. I expect they will screw it up occasionally. I "trust" that put in their position this particular method is one I would have approved of as well. All in all our ability to target individuals is nothing short of amazing. Even with mistakes costing innocent lives.
Assuming I had already squared legal assassinations by drone.

The only dismay I experience is when as a country rules on how to prosecute criminals or engage an enemy in war are ignored or twisted to allow the government to do whatever it wants and pretend it is following the law. As far as methods of prosecuting the war on terror I actually think we tie both hands behind our back with the media and public relations game before we go into combat. As a result sending in an unmanned drone seems pretty freakin smart.

Even if I were to agree with all of that, which I don't and find your logic objectionable, how about using this on an American citizen with no trial?
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D.W.
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I don't believe it's legal.

Morally, if they are in a foreign land, working with targeted enemies who have plainly stated their objective to inflict harm upon our people, our interests and our allies... I'm ok with it.

If they are on our soil however, I would treat it as a police action to be handled by the local authorities and/or the FBI and subject to the full legal system.

Can't articulate well WHY I draw the distinction on location, but I do. Other than the obvious of not wanting armed drones flying overhead.

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Seneca
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Citizens do not lose their Constitutional protections from government abuse by traveling abroad.

And as for happening here, look at the history of surveillance, rendition, etc. People here on US soil are already being grabbed up, taken abroad and tortured. How long before we start launching drone strikes on citizens standing on US soil?

The government should not have this power. It is our duty as citizens to remove it from them by voting for people with conscience and Constitutional restraint.

[ February 11, 2014, 11:38 AM: Message edited by: Seneca ]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
It is our duty as citizens to remove it from them by voting for people with conscience and Constitutional restraint.
On this we agree. Sadly, since it appears politicians are fine with just lying about their positions on this until they get into office, I'm not sure what the electorate can reasonably do if they're not willing to become single-issue voters.
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D.W.
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Pretty much Tom. It is looking like the old Kang and Kodo eppisode of the Simpsons where Marge threatens to vote for a 3rd party candidate and the aliens mock her. "Sure! Throw away your vote!" <evil laugh>
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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by D.W.:
Pretty much Tom. It is looking like the old Kang and Kodo eppisode of the Simpsons where Marge threatens to vote for a 3rd party candidate and the aliens mock her. "Sure! Throw away your vote!" <evil laugh>

That's a self-fulfilling prophecy, as long as people believe that their votes aren't worth anything unless they have the magical (R) or (D) stamp on them, it will remain true. All it takes is one cycle where that's wrong to ditch this corrupt system.
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D.W.
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For it to happen we need someone imensly wealthy and charismatic AND smart AND principled.

That's a pretty serious bar to strip the magic from the red and blue. Someone with morals willing and able to buy an election and not be trivialized as a kook through the best efforts of BOTH of the entrenched parties?

You shall know him/her by their unicorn mount.

On a slightly more serious note, what we need is for someone to do the usual, tell everyone what they want to hear in order to get into office. THEN burn bridges and strong arm everyone as it turns out they used one of the two parties as the trojen horse to get a moral moderate into office. Someone NOBODY loves, but everyone can tolorate. (Other than the corrupt who they infuriate.)

That's my fairy tail and I'm stickin' to it.

I wonder how much good someone could do with 1 term. Enough to get the people to shrug off the magic of the (D) and (R)? Doubtful. Given the level of obstructionism we know is possible from one party I don't like to think what a tag team effort would look like.

[ February 11, 2014, 11:56 AM: Message edited by: D.W. ]

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Seneca
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Like I said, as long as most people continue to believe that, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by Seneca:
quote:
Originally posted by D.W.:
Pretty much Tom. It is looking like the old Kang and Kodo eppisode of the Simpsons where Marge threatens to vote for a 3rd party candidate and the aliens mock her. "Sure! Throw away your vote!" <evil laugh>

That's a self-fulfilling prophecy, as long as people believe that their votes aren't worth anything unless they have the magical (R) or (D) stamp on them, it will remain true. All it takes is one cycle where that's wrong to ditch this corrupt system.
Something that has never happened and will never happen because of the basic psychological factors at play. Viable new parties have only ever emerged in our system as the result of the collapse of an existing party.

In order to change that, it's first necessary to get rid of the single vote, simple plurality system that forces predictable results.

Even a popular and highly charismatic figure isn't enough to pull off more than handing victory to the other party (See: Teddy Roosevelt and his Bull Moose failure)

So long as our votes only record and reflect a small fraction of the overall shape of our actual preferences, it's impossible to get away from reinforcing the dominance of two inertial powers.

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Seneca
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Several states have had 3rd party governors, legislatures, and there are even 3rd party officials in the national government. You are wrong.
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D.W.
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Are you announcing your intention to run for office?
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Seneca
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After seeing what the MSM does to non-white, non-liberals? No thanks.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by Seneca:
Several states have had 3rd party governors, legislatures, and there are even 3rd party officials in the national government. You are wrong.

Several people have won the lottery. That doesn't make it a reasonable investment. you can't prove a general rule from a handful of outliers (especially as, in the vast majority of those cases, you'll find that one of the major parties probably ducked to enable the 3rd party to take its share of the vote or a candidate that had previously established themselves in a given party, and then were able to take advantage of that inertia to split.

What you're left with is a few governors that have managed to pull off a populist swing, but didn't manage a sustained presence for the party that supported them.

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Seneca
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I told you it's not just governors, it's also state legislatures and even some members of the national legislature.

To compare this to winning the lottery is absolutely absurd because the odds on that are several hundred million while the ratio between what we're talking about right now is less than a thousand.

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PSRT
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The two current elected members of congress who are neither republican nor democrat are senators from the states of vermont and maine. This is significant because those are very small states. There are currently no members of the house of representatives from non-major parties.

You have to go back to 2007 to find an independent in the House, and that was Bernie Sanders... now one of the two independent senators.

6 independent governors have won election since 1990, out of over 300 races. Two of those six are... Angus King. From Maine. Now in the Senate.

Again, basically irrelevant.

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Seneca
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You seem to forget about a few, including Gary Johnson. I'm sure 10-20 years ago people would have said the ones you conceded would have been impossible or "irrelevant" as well. It's only a matter of time. Will you keep denying it right up until the first 3rd party person is sworn in as President?
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Seneca
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Besides, 3rd party candidates aren't the only answer. On the state level the politicians even within the two major parties are not as wholly corrupted as the national level. There is a growing movement among the state legislatures to convene a convention for proposing amendments to the Constitution.
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PSRT
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quote:
You seem to forget about a few, including Gary Johnson
Gary Johnson was the REPUBLICAN Governor of New Mexico.
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Seneca
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Who then went on to become the Libertarian presidential candidate, it's pretty clear where his ideological leanings were. You are splitting hairs over a visibly increasing trend.
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PSRT
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Yes, and failed.

Do you have data that supports your contention that third party candidates running and doing well/winning is an increasing trend? Or are you just making the assertion?

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Seneca
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http://mypolitikal.com/2010/05/18/time-for-another-third-party-run/

Look at that graph and those numbers.

[ February 12, 2014, 08:02 PM: Message edited by: Seneca ]

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NobleHunter
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Seneca, I think that's for Australia.
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NobleHunter
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Now the American graph doesn't show 3rd parties on much of an upswing, though it's only Presidential elections.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by PSRT:
The two current elected members of congress who are neither republican nor democrat are senators from the states of vermont and maine. This is significant because those are very small states. There are currently no members of the house of representatives from non-major parties.

And, in both the cases of Sanders, and more recently King, the Democrats duck when they're up for election to avoid drawing support away.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by Seneca:
Who then went on to become the Libertarian presidential candidate, it's pretty clear where his ideological leanings were. You are splitting hairs over a visibly increasing trend.

If you've got a new Teddy Roosevelt in your back pocket, and can convince the party that such a candidate it close to to step back a bit, then there might be a chance.

The person who wrote that article was rather sloppy, not looking at the actual individuals in question.

1968- Wallace splits from the democrats as part of the Dixicrat emigration from the party. He didn't do well based on a rise in a third party, but due to a major party breakdown.

1924- A Republican party fracture, highly popular on his home turf, essentially upset that neither party was representing a more liberal viewpoint

1912- Teddy Roosevelt

1892- Here's an actual 3rd party entry. But if this is the most recent, then it seems like we're looking at 100 years until we reach Perot before you get a solid showing.

1860- Civil War, the mother of all political breakdowns.

1856- This can can only be qualified as 3rd part post-fact, because it was in the wake of the collapse of the Whigs as a political party. For this election, there was one established party, and everyone else trying to figure out what party would be the next major player.

1848- Third party candidate was a former President (Van Buren) who had been defeated and then couldn't secure his party's nomination for a rematch.

So of all those surges, you have exactly twice (counting both of Perot's run as one overall instance) where it was the actual popularity of a third party, and not party breakdown or candidate popularity that accounted for the performance.

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Seneca
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Remember those people here on this board and elsewhere in the media who said that Snowden should have went through official channels the "right way?" Well apparently he tried that.

An interesting article today:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2014/03/07/snowden-i-raised-nsa-concerns-internally-over-10-times-before-going-rogue/
quote:

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden said he repeatedly tried to go through official channels to raise concerns about government snooping programs but that his warnings fell on the deaf ears. In testimony to the European Parliament released Friday morning, Snowden wrote that he reported policy or legal issues related to spying programs to more than 10 officials, but as a contractor he had no legal avenue to pursue further whistleblowing.
Asked specifically if he felt like he had exhausted all other avenues before deciding to leak classified information to the public, Snowden responded:
Yes. I had reported these clearly problematic programs to more than ten distinct officials, none of whom took any action to address them. As an employee of a private company rather than a direct employee of the US government, I was not protected by US whistleblower laws, and I would not have been protected from retaliation and legal sanction for revealing classified information about lawbreaking in accordance with the recommended process.
Snowden worked for the CIA before becoming an NSA contractor for various companies. He was working for Booz Allen Hamilton at an NSA facility in Hawaii at the time he leaked information about government programs to the press.
In an August news conference, President Obama said there were "other avenues" available to someone like Snowden "whose conscience was stirred and thought that they needed to question government actions." Obama pointed to Presidential Policy Directive 19 -- which set up a system for questioning classified government actions under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. However, as a contractor rather than an government employee or officer, Snowden was outside the protection of this system. "The result," Snowden said, "was that individuals like me were left with no proper channels."
Elsewhere in his testimony, Snowden described the reaction he received when relating his concerns to co-workers and superiors. The responses, he said, fell into two camps. "The first were well-meaning but hushed warnings not to 'rock the boat,' for fear of the sort of retaliation that befell former NSA whistleblowers like Wiebe, Binney, and Drake." All three of those men, he notes, were subject to intense scrutiny and the threat of criminal prosecution.
"Everyone in the Intelligence Community is aware of what happens to people who report concerns about unlawful but authorized operations," he said.
The other responses, Snowden said, were similar: suggestions that he "let the issue be someone else's problem." Even the highest-ranking officials he told about his concerns could not recall when an official complaint resulted in the shutdown of an unlawful program, he testified, "but there was a unanimous desire to avoid being associated with such a complaint in any form."

Snowden has claimed that he brought up issues with what he considers unlawful government programs before. The NSA disputes his account, previously telling The Washington Post that, "after extensive investigation, including interviews with his former NSA supervisors and co-workers, we have not found any evidence to support Mr. Snowden’s contention that he brought these matters to anyone’s attention.”
Both Obama and his national security adviser, Susan E. Rice, have said that Snowden should return to the United States and face criminal sanctions for his actions. Snowden was charged with three felonies over the summer and has been living in Russia since fleeing the United States in the wake of the leaks.

It seems the NSA can't find any record of Snowden ever reporting this through the "proper" channels. I wonder why. Keep in mind this is the same intelligence bureaucracy that lied under oath to Congress.
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Seneca
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And in similar news, the NSA is developing a surveillance system for any government employee or contractor with a security clearance to future-proof against any more Snowden types. In essence, say goodbye to any whistle-blowing in the future.

quote:
WASHINGTON – U.S. intelligence officials are planning a sweeping system of electronic monitoring that would tap into government, financial and other databases to scan the behavior of many of the 5 million federal employees with secret clearances, current and former officials told The Associated Press.

The system is intended to identify rogue agents, corrupt officials and leakers, and draws on a Defense Department model under development for more than a decade, according to officials and documents reviewed by the AP.

Intelligence officials have long wanted a computerized system that could continuously monitor employees, in part to prevent cases similar to former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden. His disclosures bared secretive U.S. surveillance operations.

An administration review of the government's security clearance process due this month is expected to support continuous monitoring as part of a package of comprehensive changes.

Privacy advocates and government employee union officials expressed concerns that continuous electronic monitoring could intrude into individuals' private lives, prompt flawed investigations and put sensitive personal data at greater risk. Supporters say the system would have safeguards.

Workers with secret clearances are already required to undergo background checks of their finances and private lives before they are hired and again during periodic re-investigations.

"What we need is a system of continuous evaluation where when someone is in the system and they're cleared initially, then we have a way of monitoring their behavior, both their electronic behavior on the job as well as off the job," Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress last month.

Clapper provided lawmakers with few details but said the proposed system would extend "across the government," drawing on "six or seven data streams." Monitoring of employees at some agencies could begin as early as September and be fully operational across the government by September 2016. The price tag, Clapper conceded, "is going to be costly."

In separate comments last week, retiring NSA Director Keith Alexander said intelligence, Defense and Cyber Command officials are collaborating on "insider threat" planning. Recently declassified federal documents show that the NSA is already conducting electronic monitoring of agency staffers involved in surveillance operations.

Budget documents released this week show the Pentagon requesting nearly $9 million next year for its insider threat-related research.

Current and former officials familiar with the DNI's planning said the monitoring system will collect records from multiple sources of information about employees. They will use private credit agencies, law enforcement databases and threat lists, military and other government records, licenses, data services and public record repositories. During random spot checks, the system's software will sift through the data to spot unusual behavior patterns.

The system could also link to outside databases to flag questionable behavior, said the officials, who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the plans. Investigators will analyze the information along with data separately collected from social media and, when necessary, polygraph tests, officials said.

The proposed system would mimic monitoring systems already in use by the airline and banking industries, but it most closely draws from a 10-year-old Pentagon research project known as the Automated Continuous Evaluation System, officials said. The ACES program, designed by researchers from the Monterey, Calif.,-based Defense Personnel and Security Research Center and defense contractor Northrop Grumman, has passed several pilot tests but is not yet in full operation.

The ACES project and clearance-related Defense Department research cost more than $84 million over the past decade, documents show.

Gene Barlow Jr., a spokesman for the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, the DNI agency coordinating the system's development, said ACES would be part of the DNI's "continuous evaluation solution." The DNI's system would extend across the executive branch, he said.

Clapper and other senior administration officials cited the ACES program in a February 2010 report laying out the government's plan for improving security clearances. Former Adm. Mike McConnell, who headed the DNI during the Bush administration, was an early proponent of electronic monitoring research.

"If one guy has a Jaguar on a (government) GS-12 salary, that's a red flag," McConnell said.

According to project documents, ACES links to up to 40 databases. While many are government and public data streams already available, ACES also taps into the three major credit agencies -- Experian, Equifax and Trans Union.

One former official familiar with ACES said researchers considered adding records from medical and mental health files but due to privacy concerns left that decision unresolved for policy makers.

The government's inability to review information from local police reports, his employer, family and personal health records was cited as a glaring weakness in background checks on computer specialist Aaron Alexis, who fatally shot 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard last September before killing himself.

The Alexis case and the Snowden disclosures raised concerns about the flawed or inadequate work of outside contractors in background checks.

A federal official acknowledged that outside contractors would likely be used to support electronic monitoring. It was not clear whether Northrop Grumman, the company that helped develop ACES, would have a role in its government-wide deployment.

Critics worry about the potential misuse of personal information. Private contractors supporting the monitoring system would have access to sensitive data. Credit agencies and other outside data sources would know the identities of government employees under scrutiny.

"The problem is you're spreading all this private data around to more and more people, both inside and outside," said David Borer, general counsel for the American Federation of Government Employees.

The union represents federal workers with top secret clearances but recently joined in a lawsuit against the government to prevent lower-level employees from being reclassified into jobs requiring clearances.

"As a result of the Snowden disclosures I think we're seeing what an open book workers' lives are becoming," Borer said.

Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Freedom Foundation, a civil liberties group, said workers' free speech, political allegiances and outside activities could be chilled under the threat of constant monitoring. Some workers might face scrutiny because of inaccurate reporting, Tien said.

Officials familiar with the DNI's system said internal guidelines, audits, encryption and other precautions built into the proposal were designed to minimize abuses of private information. A 2007 Homeland Security review of the ACES project concluded that "the system contains security and procedural controls to ensure that data is made available to only those with a legitimate need as defined by the underlying legal authorities."

Congressional officials said the DNI already has sufficient permission under U.S. law to launch the new electronic monitoring on its own, but a bill recently introduced by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, would provide additional legal support. Collins' bill calls for at least two random computerized reviews every five years for each of the 5 million government workers with a secret clearance.

Intelligence community veterans said electronic monitoring was designed to detect lavish spending and discipline problems that can go undetected during the years between a worker's first background check and re-investigation -- every 5 or 10 years, depending on the clearance level.

The Intelligence and National Security Alliance, a consortium of public and private national security interests, called for continuous monitoring in a new report released last week.

Intelligence veterans say rogue agents John Walker, Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen might have been exposed much earlier by such a system.

"We have to be willing to look at indications of behavior," said Joel Brenner, former senior counsel at the NSA and head of counterintelligence for the DNI. Brenner pointed to Hanssen as the sort of "serial rule-breaker" who might have been quickly detected by electronic monitoring.

Brenner cautioned that the success of electronic monitoring depends on those manning its controls. "The system only works well," he said, "if it has thoughtful, educated, careful human beings behind it."


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