US GOVERNMENT: YES WE SCAN

Fourth Amendment? We don't need no stinkin' Fourth Amendment.

Comment by Strega on July 1, 2013 at 11:24am

The Huffington Post has a neat interview with Julian Assange today on the subject of the Snowden leaks that led to this embarrassing exposure of the US government's bugging and surveillance activities.

At some stage, governments are going to have to stop trying to shoot the messengers and start cleaning up their activities.  Let's hope that's sooner rather than later.

Comment by Gallup's Mirror on July 1, 2013 at 11:53am

@Strega

I watched that interview last night. The other guest speaker was Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project. Speaking of shooting the messenger, listen to what happens to the NSA whistlerblowers who do actually go through the appropriate channels:

"I have represented people like Thomas Drake who was an NSA whistleblower who actually did go through every conceivable internal channel possible, including his boss, the inspector general of his agency, the defence department inspector general and two congressional committees and the US turned around and prosecuted him, and did so for espionage. And to tie him up for the rest of his life in jail." - Jesselyn Radack

And for those who claim the secret domestic spying program has been approved by the courts: which side is going to win an argument in court when the government runs the court, the court only ever hears the government's side, and the government isn't challenging the legality of what it's doing in the first place?

"But there's a secret interpretation of section 215 of the Patriot Act which nobody knows except for the intel committee of congress, and even they say that they think that most Americans would be appalled by that. And to say it's been approved by the courts is misnomer, because it gives the impression that all courts have approved this, when in reality it's the foreign intelligence court which has rubber stamped every single-- [ABC News: Which is a federal court.]  No, it is a secret court set up by the Justice Department that has federal judges on it but last year it approved 2,000 out of 2,000 applications. They hear only the government's side and they have rejected an application one time since 1978."  - Jesselyn Radack

Comment by Strega on July 1, 2013 at 12:01pm

Yes, I saw her discussion too - I thought at first she had been produced to offer a counter-balance to Assange's assertions, and was mightily surprised (and delighted) that she not only concurred with Assange, but had additional accusatory remarks to contribute.

What happens in circumstances like these in the US?  Does the government sit tight and wait for it all to blow over?  Is there some independent watch-dog that oversees the government and its accountability to the people?

In the UK, the national newspapers shame the government into doing something about exposures of incompetence or illegality, but from what I have understood here in the USA, the papers don't have that kind of influence.

Comment by Gallup's Mirror on July 1, 2013 at 1:00pm

Yes, I saw her discussion too - I thought at first she had been produced to offer a counter-balance to Assange's assertions, and was mightily surprised (and delighted) that she not only concurred with Assange, but had additional accusatory remarks to contribute.

I thought the same thing and had the same delighted reaction. She made George Stephanopoulos look like a bit of a drip. Now who wouldn't enjoy that?

What happens in circumstances like these in the US?  Does the government sit tight and wait for it all to blow over?  Is there some independent watch-dog that oversees the government and its accountability to the people?

The Constitution establishes the executive (President), legislative (Congress), and judicial (Courts) branches of government so that each has power over the others. Theoretically all are directly or indirectly accountable to the people at the ballot box: the people are the watchdogs.

What's so insidious about this is that a secret court is issuing secret rulings regarding a secret interpretation of the law. The watchdogs can't watch them.

That is, until Snowden came along.

In the UK, the national newspapers shame the government into doing something about exposures of incompetence or illegality, but from what I have understood here in the USA, the papers don't have that kind of influence.

The major news outlets in the US tread a fine line. They'll report Snowden's story, but ultimately they depend on access to government officials for the information they need to compete, be profitable, and survive. If they turn up the heat too much, those government officials subtly or even openly deprive them of that access and information. Profits suffer as a result.

This is why major newspapers such as the Washington Post-- upon catching senior NSA officials red-handed in numerous examples of bold-faced lying (even to Congress) for years--  rather than just calling them liars, write extremely carefully-worded statements like:

"Beyond inadvertent missteps, however, an examination of public statements over a period of years suggests that officials have often relied on legalistic parsing and carefully hedged characterizations in discussing the NSA’s collection of communications."

I think, in a way, Wikileaks has become the new watch dog, or one of them. The Thomas Drakes, Bradley Mannings, and Edward Snowdens have nowhere else to go. Their governments are breaking the law from the shadows. The newspapers are compromised by profit motives.

Now nothing will stop the rest of the information about the NSA's illegal wiretapping and spying information from coming out, no matter what happens to Snowden.

Comment by Gallup's Mirror on July 1, 2013 at 8:51pm

This just in from Wikileaks...

Statement from Edward Snowden in Moscow
Monday July 1, 21:40 UTC

One week ago I left Hong Kong after it became clear that my freedom and safety were under threat for revealing the truth. My continued liberty has been owed to the efforts of friends new and old, family, and others who I have never met and probably never will. I trusted them with my life and they returned that trust with a faith in me for which I will always be thankful.

On Thursday, President Obama declared before the world that he would not permit any diplomatic "wheeling and dealing" over my case. Yet now it is being reported that after promising not to do so, the President ordered his Vice President to pressure the leaders of nations from which I have requested protection to deny my asylum petitions.

This kind of deception from a world leader is not justice, and neither is the extralegal penalty of exile. These are the old, bad tools of political aggression. Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me.

For decades the United States of America has been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum. Sadly, this right, laid out and voted for by the U.S. in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is now being rejected by the current government of my country. The Obama administration has now adopted the strategy of using citizenship as a weapon. Although I am convicted of nothing, it has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.

In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.

I am unbowed in my convictions and impressed at the efforts taken by so many.

Edward Joseph Snowden

Comment by Strega on July 1, 2013 at 9:12pm

Wow. That's a heck of a statement.

Comment

You need to be a member of Think Atheist to add comments!

Join Think Atheist

  

Forum

Your kid's friends

Started by Belle Rose in Atheist Parenting. Last reply by GTWilco 3 hours ago. 2 Replies

World conflict and problems other than Israel-Palestine.

Started by Davis Goodman in Small Talk. Last reply by Gallup's Mirror 9 hours ago. 54 Replies

Is Anything Worth Saying Anymore?

Started by Ari E. S. in Small Talk. Last reply by Fragile Nokia 18 hours ago. 5 Replies

Blog Posts

People

Posted by ɐuɐz ǝllǝıuɐp on July 28, 2014 at 10:27pm 4 Comments

Services we love

We are in love with our Amazon

Book Store!

Gadget Nerd? Check out Giz Gad!

Advertise with ThinkAtheist.com

In need a of a professional web site? Check out the good folks at Clear Space Media

© 2014   Created by Dan.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service