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Old 05-29-2014, 07:31 PM   #21
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The first of the 2 Frontline programs hardly mentioned Snowden, it was all officials up to Director level who were trying to spill the beans on the, in their opinion, illegal tapping of private citizens communications with no solid legal basis. Those folks interviewed on Frontline in program 1 were absolutely believable, they just didn't have or weren't prepared to hand over loads of documents to the press.
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Old 05-29-2014, 07:42 PM   #22
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Old 05-29-2014, 08:23 PM   #23
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Why can't Snowden be both hero and traitor? He clearly betrayed the trust placed in him and damaged the organization for which he worked (traitor). Yet he also sacrificed his home and much of his freedom to bring an injustice to light and has very likely effected positive change in our civil liberties (hero).

We don't live in a simple black and white world and simple binary characterizations aren't necessarily valid.
None of us can know for certain his true motivations for revealing what he did, but nobody can deny its importance to the discussion. It was the dividing line. For me I don't think the government has any business or right to look at my private communications or watch what I do if I am not suspected of being involved in criminal activity. I do believe in our right to privacy.

What I worry about is what happens if government intrusion continues and grows. In East Germany spying was institutionalized originally to protect the state. In the end however, it was mainly used for blackmail, political and personal. With the present system I worry that it is only a question of time before it is used here, if it has not been already.

I don't really think this is even a partisan political issue, both parties have been responsible for the erosion of privacy in the name of safety.

The purpose of a totalitarian states surveillance system is to get people to change their behavior to something less dangerous to the state. It seems that we are moving in that direction now. Law abiding American citizens feel they need to change their behavior for fear of state spying. Our system was formed on the idea that the state is the people. 1984 seems tame to what we could have now.

As attributed to Ben Franklin, "People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both."
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Old 05-29-2014, 08:38 PM   #24
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... I am no fan of Snowden, but he has certainly forced some discussion that I don't believe would have happened any other way. If he'd chosen to be an internal whistleblower, I doubt anything would have changed, and for the most part I doubt much will change even with him going public...
That is pretty much my take on it also. I just don't think I know enough, at least at this point, to judge him. Maybe others feel they do, that's OK.

Re: 'collecting data':

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Originally Posted by zinger1457 View Post
That's what I thought until I saw the program Frontline did. There appears to be a lot more information (emails, phone calls, credit card records) being collected than what we've been told.
OK, I see samclem pointed this out, but I agree with him - big difference between 'collecting it all ' (it's all on the fiber, you probably get it all or nothing) and actually looking/analyzing any of it, until there is reasonable cause to go there. I think the 'collecting it all' is just typical journalistic sensationalism.

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Did not watch the interview, but the whole issue makes me wonder about the utility of this spying 'program' in preventing terror attacks. If NSA can monitor every call & tap into every keystroke, how in the Lord's green earth did these clowns miss the Boston bombers? ...
This is my concern also. It reminds me of so many calls to bring in all this amazing technology, but then the simple things slip through the cracks. In hindsight, there were all sorts of deep yellow flags with those brothers, ones that I think should have been caught.

It reminds me a bit of when we first got full near-real-time databases of all our production information going at MegaCorp. At first, we were thrilled to have all this data at our fingertips. Ten minutes later, we realized, "What the hell are we going to do with all this data?!?! We're drowning in data!". But we figured out how to create reports that condensed it into something meaningful, and flagged anomalies. But it took time and effort.


Overall, I'm far less concerned about how much data they collect, even of my personal data (in fact, I really don't care about that at all), than I am of what controls are in place to assure it is not misused. As a more down-to-Earth example, not hypothetical at all - we send our SS# and sensitive financial data, address, phone numbers and maybe checking account numbers to the IRS. Am I concerned that they have that info? Only to the point that it might get misused. If it is used for its intended purpose, it's a non-issue for me.

I feel the same about anything they collect from me. If they want my shopping list from emails to DW, I don't care. Just don't give anyone access who could use it to figure when we are away from the house, and do use it to catch bad guys.

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Old 05-29-2014, 08:50 PM   #25
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... For me I don't think the government has any business or right to look at my private communications or watch what I do if I am not suspected of being involved in criminal activity. I do believe in our right to privacy. ...
I feel differently about this, maybe we will just need to agree to disagree on this point. The main thing I want form my government is to help provide a safe and orderly environment. There are bad guys out there, using these tools to do harm. If they need to have a computer scan my emails and analyze patterns to find bad guys, I'm OK with that.

Quote:
What I worry about is what happens if government intrusion continues and grows. In East Germany spying was institutionalized originally to protect the state. In the end however, it was mainly used for blackmail, political and personal. With the present system I worry that it is only a question of time before it is used here, if it has not been already.
It's a concern. That's why I'm more interested in controls than the actual collection/analyzing of data.



Quote:
The purpose of a totalitarian states surveillance system is to get people to change their behavior to something less dangerous to the state.
Can't it be to protect us?


Quote:
As attributed to Ben Franklin, "People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both."
I've heard this quote before, but have never seen it in context. As much admiration as I have for Franklin, it sounds silly to me. Living in a society is essentially an agreement to give up liberties for security. I like the fact that we have speed limits, some regulations on food/medicine, etc, laws against disturbing the peace, etc.

Each of those means I'm giving up a freedom - to drive as fast as I want, to sell 'patent medicine' and contaminated food, I can't play loud rock music at 2PM in front of your house if I want. But giving up those freedoms are worth the protections I receive. I haven't lost both, and this has been going on since the first societies formed.

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Old 05-29-2014, 09:03 PM   #26
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As attributed to Ben Franklin, "People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both."
A wise man indeed and an apropos comment.

Isn't this all just about power. J Edgar Hoover comes readily to mind.
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Old 05-29-2014, 09:21 PM   #27
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I thought that he came across as very polished also. He did state in the interview that he did report his concerns internally and they were basically dismissed. He brought up the fact that he was living pretty well, being paid well and living a comfortable life. He knew that once he did this, there would be no turning back. Why would one do this, unless he felt passionately about it. He did force the discussion.

I have been shocked lately about how much of our lives can be watched. Just saw on the news recently, that computers can be turned on and people watch you via your camera, if they buy a $40 program.

My feeling is that the government is doing everything that Snowden states and probably more. I hope that I am wrong. I thought that CaliforniaMan summed it up very nicely.
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Old 05-29-2014, 09:23 PM   #28
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...
Each of those means I'm giving up a freedom - to drive as fast as I want, to sell 'patent medicine' and contaminated food, I can't play loud rock music at 2PM in front of your house if I want. But giving up those freedoms are worth the protections I receive. I haven't lost both, and this has been going on since the first societies formed.
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The freedoms you mention are not freedoms that we inherently possess. We do not have the freedom to harm others or to infringe upon their rights. The freedom I am referring to (and I think Franklin meant) was the freedom from government interference and intimidation. This was the purpose of the first 10 amendments.

Even for out "safety" the government cannot abridge our speech or the press. And the government cannot take away our right to be secure in our person, houses, papers and effects, or unreasonable searches or seizures.

These were the rules we established because the government is all powerful, and as individuals we have no power.

But I agree with you, of course we give up some freedom for safety, but to what degree? Everything in life is optimization, there is no absolute. However...

Does what the government is doing now match the spirit and demands of the Fourth Amendment. That is the real question. And it does matter. Do we gain ourselves a very little bit of safety now and give up now and for all future generations of Americans the rights of the Fourth Amendment?

I think it is important that we keep the Fourth as sacred as we do the Second, so no future generation finds they really need to use the Second.
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Old 05-29-2014, 09:33 PM   #29
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The first of the 2 Frontline programs hardly mentioned Snowden, it was all officials up to Director level who were trying to spill the beans on the, in their opinion, illegal tapping of private citizens communications with no solid legal basis. Those folks interviewed on Frontline in program 1 were absolutely believable, they just didn't have or weren't prepared to hand over loads of documents to the press.
Program 1 also included interviews with supporters of "the program"--supporters who obviously did not discuss details of the program. Those might be very persuasive, but we only have the anecdotes from one side. And it, deliberately or not, continued to blur the line between "collection" and "analysis." As far as "legal basis", the show made clear that "the program" was approved by the Bush White House, by the Obama White House, by Congress, and by the judicial branch. I think their portrayal of the method of how that approval was achieved was far from evenhanded, but there it was. All three branches, bipartisan consensus--we don't see much of that.
Perhaps Program 2 will show us some real people who suffered harm from having their rights violated.
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Old 05-29-2014, 09:42 PM   #30
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Why would one do this, unless he felt passionately about it. He did force the discussion.
"Passion" is a long way from "justified" or "right". IMO he is a person who desired the type of notoriety that this has brought him. The decision to do what he did was not his. History is full of people who believe they are smarter than those around them, that they see with amazing clarity what the knaves around them ignore, and who want to go down in history. Well, he's done that. He's no hero and he's no martyr. He's a selfish, immature fool.
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Old 05-29-2014, 09:44 PM   #31
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Program 1 also included interviews with supporters of "the program"--supporters who obviously did not discuss details of the program. Those might be very persuasive, but we only have the anecdotes from one side. And it, deliberately or not, continued to blur the line between "collection" and "analysis." As far as "legal basis", the show made clear that "the program" was approved by the Bush White House, by the Obama White House, by Congress, and by the judicial branch. I think their portrayal of the method of how that approval was achieved was far from evenhanded, but there it was. All three branches, bipartisan consensus--we don't see much of that.
Perhaps Program 2 will show us some real people who suffered harm from having their rights violated.
That's not how I recall it. The Judicial Branch did not sign the legislation, it was the White House Senior Counsel, Alberto Gonzales, who signed it into law, and he confirmed that fact in interview on the first program. Regardless of the legality, the fact is that the US government has given itself the rights to snoop into anyone's personal data without a judicial warrant.
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Old 05-29-2014, 09:46 PM   #32
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That's not how I recall it. The Judicial Branch did not sign the legislation . . .
The FISA Court (part of the judicial branch) approved the program. It was in the show (maybe around 45 minutes in?).
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Old 05-29-2014, 09:58 PM   #33
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I tended to agree when I thought it was just metadata (who talked to who, emailed who, etc.), but the PBS report very much stated otherwise using PRISM to include stored and live content.

United States of Secrets | FRONTLINE | PBS

PRISM (surveillance program) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Thank you for posting this information!
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Old 05-29-2014, 09:58 PM   #34
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The FISA Court (part of the judicial branch) approved the program. It was in the show (maybe around 45 minutes in?).
FISA stands for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and was interpreted by many/most as being surveillance on foreigners, not inward looking, at all citizens. I think is good that these facts are now clearly in the public domain.
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Old 05-29-2014, 10:02 PM   #35
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A wise man indeed and an apropos comment.
...
I went looking for context, and learned that Franklin apparently never said it in any context:

Benjamin Franklin - Wikiquote (and other sources):

Quote:
An earlier variant by Franklin in Poor Richard's Almanack (1738): "Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power."

Many paraphrased derivatives of this have often become attributed to Franklin:
.....
He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither. ....


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The freedoms you mention are not freedoms that we inherently possess. We do not have the freedom to harm others or to infringe upon their rights. The freedom I am referring to (and I think Franklin meant) was the freedom from government interference and intimidation. This was the purpose of the first 10 amendments.

Even for out "safety" the government cannot abridge our speech or the press. And the government cannot take away our right to be secure in our person, houses, papers and effects, or unreasonable searches or seizures.

These were the rules we established because the government is all powerful, and as individuals we have no power.

But I agree with you, of course we give up some freedom for safety, but to what degree? Everything in life is optimization, there is no absolute. However...

Does what the government is doing now match the spirit and demands of the Fourth Amendment. That is the real question. And it does matter. Do we gain ourselves a very little bit of safety now and give up now and for all future generations of Americans the rights of the Fourth Amendment?

I think it is important that we keep the Fourth as sacred as we do the Second, so no future generation finds they really need to use the Second.
Yes, it all gets a bit fuzzy, IMO. And people will have naturally different takes on it.

I guess I'm trying to be pragmatic about it, recalling that these technologies were not around when that was written. Yes, I would not want to be stopped in public and searched, or have police enter my house and search it without some carefully regulated due cause and oversight. Those searches would be very intrusive to my freedom to move about freely or relax and feel safe in my own home.

But having some robotic system monitor my internet activity and phone calls for patterns that could alert them to possible suspicious activity, designed to make me safer, doesn't really (as I see it) impose upon my day-to-day life and freedom. Again, controls must be in place, and that is a my concern. And, if something I wrote caused some sort of false positive trigger, we need to be sure that due process and oversight kicks in and protects me from any over-reaction. I think (but don't know) that those controls are in place now, I don't think they go into a deeper level w/o a court order, or some higher authority.

A non-technical parallel: Sometimes I think we allow the technology to get in the way of these discussions, though it does add a new wrinkle. But try this simple, everyday parallel:

Police notice increased crime on a certain area of the city. So they put additional officers on the beat. Now think about that - these cops are walking around, not because someone committed a crime, but because someone might commit a crime. So they are keeping a watchful eye over everyone, and suspicions run high.

Don't I now feel safer because the police are there, monitoring the situation? Yes, they might look me up and down, and try to analyze if I fit the profile of the recent criminals, or if my actions seem suspicious, even if I just look nervous. But they don't stop me from going about my business. And they don't stop and search me w/o due cause. So should I say "Don't look at me!"?

Is that really so different from monitoring email traffic, and being 'on the lookout' for 'suspicious activity'? Yes, it's different, but for me, it's a reasonable parallel to our situation with instantaneous communication, and maybe a reasonable response to the potential threat.

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Old 05-29-2014, 10:27 PM   #36
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Is that really so different from monitoring email traffic, and being 'on the lookout' for 'suspicious activity'? Yes, it's different, but for me, it's a reasonable parallel to our situation with instantaneous communication, and maybe a reasonable response to the potential threat.

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I have a hard time putting my faith in someone to do the right thing with all the information they have been collecting on me when they have been denying/lying about collecting it all along.
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Old 05-29-2014, 10:33 PM   #37
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...

Police notice increased crime on a certain area of the city. So they put additional officers on the beat. Now think about that - these cops are walking around, not because someone committed a crime, but because someone might commit a crime. So they are keeping a watchful eye over everyone, and suspicions run high.

Don't I now feel safer because the police are there, monitoring the situation? Yes, they might look me up and down, and try to analyze if I fit the profile of the recent criminals, or if my actions seem suspicious, even if I just look nervous. But they don't stop me from going about my business. And they don't stop and search me w/o due cause. So should I say "Don't look at me!"?

Is that really so different from monitoring email traffic, and being 'on the lookout' for 'suspicious activity'? Yes, it's different, but for me, it's a reasonable parallel to our situation with instantaneous communication, and maybe a reasonable response to the potential threat.

-ERD50
IMO it is very different. In the example you present they can look at you because you are in a public place. They cannot look at you inside your own home. They can see that you are holding a package or a purse, but as you mention, without probable cause they cannot search it.

This is a public forum. Anyone can see what is posted here. Is it permissible for the "police" to look at what is posted here? Of course. But my private messages? I think the example you present is a good one. They can look at my public presentation, but my private things are just that, private. And they should need due process to look at them.
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Old 05-29-2014, 10:42 PM   #38
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That's not how I recall it. The Judicial Branch did not sign the legislation . . .
The FISA Court (part of the judicial branch) approved the program. It was in the show (maybe around 45 minutes in?).
FWIW: Found it. Program 1, at 58:30. The FISA court issues a ruling approving "the program."
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Old 05-29-2014, 10:46 PM   #39
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I do not think he is a 'traitor' as some do.... especially people in the administration... I also do not think that he has caused any harm except to the politicians etc. who were running the show and now feel embarrassed when they have to talk to their foreign counterparts...


I also think that the gvmt should not be sucking up all this data... they had a clip in tonight's news from Snowden... he basically said that all they are doing is putting more hay on the hay pile making it harder to find what we need to find...
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Old 05-29-2014, 11:18 PM   #40
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. . . they had a clip in tonight's news from Snowden... he basically said that all they are doing is putting more hay on the hay pile making it harder to find what we need to find...
And we should believe he knows anything about analysis because ?? He was a computer system administrator. He was a clerk.
The political risks of running this program were very clear--and folks in the WH (both parties), Congress (both parties), and the judiciary approved it. There was a lot of political gain to be had by many of these people by publicly repudiating the program and using it to bash "the other side." Maybe their assessment of the value of the information gained, the effectiveness of the protections that are in existence, and the best way to do this particularly tough and legally delicate work, is of more significance than the opinion of a "smartest, purest guy in the room" SYSAD.

I am a strong defender of civil liberties. And I know we live in the real world where none of our rights is absolute. When I see claims of wholesale abuse of individual rights by the government, I expect it will be accompanied by some indication that a lot of real harm has occurred to real people. A theoretical risk is noteworthy, and nobody wants to trust an opaque system of procedures and courts. But if we cannot see that real harm is occurring (despite the claimed wholesale wanton collection of Gazigabytes of sensitive personal information), is it not possible--as politicians, jurists, and others with actual knowledge of the system claim, that the safeguards in place do protect the rights of Americans? Or, we can believe the TV show with ominous music and self-serving interviews with a traitorous liar.
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