risking his life to tell you about NSA surveillance [ot]


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Sport climber
Jun 10, 2013 - 02:55pm PT
If you see something suspicious taking place
then report that behavior.


its our duty as citizens.

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
Jun 10, 2013 - 02:58pm PT
Not a big fan of Prism, or other secret spying programs. And I do think this guy did do a favor to us.

However, it seems like he's having a little too much fun playing James Bond. Describing himself as a spy, when he was in reality a security guard and then an IT administrator. Saying his life was in danger, as well as the life of the reporters he talked to.

And was just listening to an interview the Guardian did with him. He was talking about how, since he was a sys admin, he saw lots more sensitive docs than the average CIA or NSA person did. While that's technically true, that's exactly the opposite of what you should be doing as an SA. You're not supposed to be poking through all those docs that you have access to because of your admin status.

Trad climber
Sh#t Hole, Brooklyn, NY
Jun 10, 2013 - 03:12pm PT
A thought experiment:

Considering the theory of 6 Degrees of Separation, every USA citizen is linked to every terrorist and terrorist suspect. This places every USA citizen in the position of being potentially connected to every suspect of every national security investigation. This translates into a justification for examining every electronic communication or document of every USA citizen. After all, there may be info that pertains to the investigation.

In the end, this is all done for your own safety and welfare.

Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Jun 10, 2013 - 03:12pm PT

Congress passes a law, when everyone is scared and ready to give up their rights

If American voters would stop voting YELLOW we would have far fewer wars and far fewer government incursions into our lives.

Wanna fight a war? Go fight it - personally.

Wanna surrender your rights to the government in trade for security? Are you SURE????


I have been seeing a need for a digital information age amendment to the Constitution - guaranteeing that we the people OWN OUR OWN PERSONAL DATA.

It needs special protection. Between google and the nsa and the cellular companies? Turn you inside out... presto quicko, and expose your ass to the world. Yes, you.

Jon Beck

Trad climber
Jun 10, 2013 - 03:12pm PT
• Raised in Elizabeth City, North Carolina and later moved to Maryland.

• Attended a community college, but never completed his coursework and never graduated from high school.

• 2003-2004: U.S. Army, discharged after training accident

• 2005: NSA, Security Guard, University of Maryland.

• 2006: CIA, IT security.

• 2007-2009: CIA, diplomatic cover, Switzerland.

• 2009-2013: NSA Contractor, Dell and later Booz Allen Hamilton.

This is Bradley Manning all over again. How did this guy get a 200k a year job and access to everything?
Big Mike

Trad climber
Jun 10, 2013 - 03:13pm PT
Someone did try to make a constitutional challenge to one of the NSAs programs about a year ago, but was thrown out for reasons of standing. You can't file a lawsuit without evidence under Rule 11. So if you can't prove you were spied on, you can't challenge the spying program.

Maybe he did this so it could be challenged?

That Franklin quote is funny. At first it got me all fired up, but then I started wondering if it was just more political rhetoric.

These guys have been in bed with the bankers since the foundation of America, but when the declaration of independence was written, the big challenge was to get people to go to work and not have them feel taken advantage of, leading to protest. The politicians of the day, had to work a lot harder to convince people that the were in fact "free".

Now we just take it for granted....

It needs special protection. Between google and the nsa and the cellular companies? Turn you inside out... presto quicko, and expose your ass to the world. Yes, you.

You got that right. I just assume that any electronic communication is basically public knowledge.

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Jun 10, 2013 - 03:14pm PT
I think it's important to understand that you can't have 100% security and then have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience...

That is such a bs statement. Does he really think the people are that stupid? Three completely, 100% unachievable goals. He throws up a straw man to defend his administrations' 100% unconstitutional actions.

Sport climber
Jun 10, 2013 - 03:25pm PT
Time for some heads to roll over this.

In March 2012, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) asked Gen. Alexander, who was under
oath, “What judicial consent is required for NSA to intercept
communications and information involving American citizens?

answer: We’re not authorized to do it, nor do we do it.

Top admin lied under oath saying it was not happening when he knew the nsa has been collecting everything and keeps adding capability to spy.



Social climber
So Cal
Jun 10, 2013 - 03:29pm PT

We have far too much of this attitude in Washington - that the Constitution is an impediment that must be defeated. From health insurance mandates, to national security programs, the Constitutional test isn't whether it adheres to the letter and spirit of our founding document, but whether there is a believable work around that the Supreme Court will accept.

In that process, the Constitution becomes little more than a speed bump on the road to tyranny.


If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.

Federalist 51


If PRISM were only used to pursue terrorists that's one thing, but this administration, (as well as past ones) has shown itself quite happy to use the administrative state to harass its political opponents.

Doesn't mean they are doing it now like they are using the IRS, but they could.

Be assured a future administration will.

Might not be your guy next time.


Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Jun 10, 2013 - 03:34pm PT
Well said TGT.

BTW Obama lovers. I told ya so. How was I sure this was happenning before it was reported? Because FISA and the Patriot act made it legal..Tech makes it doable. Therefore it would almost certainly exist. Funny how many folks yelled at me for not having specific evidence. Some things are so obvious it simply blows me away when folks are surprised to find out it's happenning.

Generally when it comes to defense stuff if you can imagine it and it seems likely then it's already being done.

Another side to this argument I haven't heard. It seems to me like outlawing the nuclear weapon. The cats out of the bag.. the capability exists and any government now or in the future that wishes to use this type of thing AGAINST it's people will do so. No matter what happens to the current PRISM.

It is technology and the people need to use the same thing on politicians. 24-7 public surveillance should be the price of power. Well perhaps that is a bit extreme and unworkable. But I do think turnabout could be fair-play and have some positive results.

Jun 10, 2013 - 03:36pm PT
It's simply a cost-benefit analysis where there is no clear correct answer. However, I believe the correct answer requires that we follow the correct procedure.

There is nothing that's simple about an analysis that measures social benefits. I've been a part of some of those. What is the value of human life? What is the value of well-being? What is the value of silence or of clean air? Although insurance companies can calculate expected life earnings, what people will pay for more silence, etc., those are economic calculations that have inherent and incommensurable equalities. Avoiding fixing automobile gas tanks versus paying out a few lawsuits after intense legal blocking for design negligence are also cost-benefit analyses. Simple? How about "questionable?"

You would made H.L.A. Hart proud, Mr. Feldman.

Legal positivism has its problems, but not according to Mr. Feldman here. "What is the law is the law." Gee, thanks. Thinking and reflection are hardly needed in your world. Indeed, this makes the law and lawyers technocrats.

Ronald Dworkin had other ideas: laws need be meritorious; the coercive force that governments can use should be regulated according to conditions; laws are to be interpreted; the law (laws with other laws) must exhibit integrity to make sense; law is integrated with morality (that there is no separation between the two); how we come to know the law is more important than knowing what the law is; and the law (laws) should provide a seamless web.

Clearly not all the facts are in, but Mr. Feldman (an attorney, apparently) has already convicted the accused.

Sport climber
Jun 10, 2013 - 03:40pm PT
You don't "rethink" the Constitution.
You don't design surveillance programs to get around it.
And you don't twist the law into a pretzel in order to make the illegal,
Credit: abrams

Jun 10, 2013 - 03:41pm PT
Before you all get your knickers in a twist it's worth noting that the article quoted in the OP was from a UK newspaper. The concern it expresses is that only US citizens are protected by US law, UK citizens have no privacy protection in the US over use of this data and there is the potential for UK surveilance authorities to dodge UK privacy law in some way by accessing Prism data. We are assured by the UK government that this isn't happening. Ho ho.
michael feldman

Mountain climber
millburn, nj
Jun 10, 2013 - 04:43pm PT
Mike, I do not convict anyone. Rather, I see an individual who signed a contract swearing secrecy, and then intentionally taking documents to which he was not entitled to take, and disclosing those documents in violation of not only his contract (with its confidentiality provisions), but also in violation of Federal law which makes the disclosure illegal. I leave it to a Court to convict if charged. Do not, however, confuse liability for breaking the law and doing the right thing. They are often different. Surely we would all break the law to save someone's life we care about. We would then have to face the consequences for doing so, and hope the Court's would have mercy on us. The most simple situation is speeding to the hospital to bring someone dying. We would all do it without regard to running read lights or exceeding the speed limit. It would still be illegal. We would just hope/assume that nobody would try to punish us. That is what the leaker did here.

As for the Court which approved it, it was the FISA Court. The Judges on the FISA Court are the same Federal judges that serve on the rest of our Federal Courts - appointed by the President with approval from the Senate. They are assigned to the FISA Court by the US Supreme Court on a rotating basis. Like all Federal judges, they have lifetime tenure, and thus, are technically immune from political hacks. The programs were approved by the FISA Court from what I have read.

I am all for privacy rights. I do not yet have a full understanding of how this information was used. None of us do. Thus, I have no idea (and neither do any of you) of whether the programs overreached. I am just trying to deal with the facts as we know them. Those facts are pretty clear (albeit quite limited). I do not trust the government as a whole. I do not trust Congress to do their job as they are too strongly influenced by lobbyists and money. I work in the Judicial system, and while there are plenty of horrible judges, I trust them to not be corrupt. If we want more privacy and more liberty, we need to push for same with our legislatures. We need to push the issue, and present informed arguments as to why giving up some security is worth it for the sake of liberty. This IS a slippery slope in either direction. If our spy programs are all public, they are not spy programs. If we give up all liberty, then what are we fighting to protect anyway? I am also interested to know if ANYWAY has been harmed by this program. In theory, we should be considering who was harmed, the cost of the program and what benefits the program has produced. Of course, this should have all been done by those in Congress who are required, and lawfully authorized, to oversee the program. This is NOT something that the public should reviewing (as opposed to debating the overall issue which has been in the public eye since 9/11) anymore than we should be reviewing battle plans, or criminal investigations in general.

For all those who are now complaining about the program, I am curious whether you were raising outrage and trying to do something about it after 9/11 when the Patriot Act was passed, or when it was renewed this past December. Hell, I wonder if people will make this an issue now. Many elections are coming up. We, as citizens in the US who are able to vote, have a duty to stand up, be heard and vote at election time. If we fail to do so, we cannot then be heard to complain about the actions of our legislators. Maybe this will be a lesson for the 45% (approx) of our population who fails to even vote in a Presidential election.


Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Jun 10, 2013 - 04:53pm PT
Been against it since the patriot(TREASON) act was proposed. Wasn't hard to figure out where it was all going. never understood how the death of 3000 people warranted spitting on the sacrifice of about 1 million American soldiers who so many like to say "died for our freedom"

As Franklins basically said. Those who sacrifice freedom for liberty will lose both.

Another guy who i think might have been an alpinist and made pretty good beer stated. "give me liberty or give me death"

Lately I find myself gagging when the National anthem is sung and the words "home of the brave" come along.

Was terribly crushed when candidate then SENATOR Obama voted for telecom immunity. I was actually begginning to believe in him until then... thats when I realized democracy in the USA was dead.

Jun 10, 2013 - 05:38pm PT
Ok, Michael. I appreciate a fuller explanation of your views. Thanks.

Still messy and ambiguous to me, but as you say, I don't know all about the specific laws in question, execution, oversight, and the facts. I wrote about some jurisprudence issues that stood out to me, which probably will never see the light of dialogue here.

(I'm not exactly for positivism in almost any form, as you might tell.)

Sportbikeville & Yucca brevifolia
Jun 10, 2013 - 05:55pm PT
Credit: pud

Lake Tahoe
Jun 10, 2013 - 05:55pm PT
"It's legal" is not a good argument on the side of the government. Let's say that it is legal for the cops to ask for a warrant to search your house and it is legal for a judge to evaluate their request and issue that warrant. No where in the law is there a clear and definitive line drawn as to what constitutes probable cause and illegal search and seizure; it is all a matter of court opinion. The only recourse if a judge gets a little too generous with search warrants is to point it out, have lawsuits in federal courts, etc. There is no law that can be changed to make a judge act within the constitution.

So although the FISA court allowed this, that does not mean that the actions of that court are constitutional. There is certainly no law that limits what they FISA court can and cannot approve. What they decide is just a matter of their anonymous opinion.

Since we have no way to see any of this happening, there is no way for the public to act as a deterrent to an over-zealous or even tyrannical court.

So maybe it's not legal. Maybe peoples civil rights have been trampled on and everyone who knows about it is just fine letting it happen because they are the ones interpreting the law.


Gym climber
Jun 10, 2013 - 06:11pm PT
I see an individual who signed a contract swearing secrecy, and then intentionally taking documents to which he was not entitled to take, and disclosing those documents in violation of not only his contract (with its confidentiality provisions), but also in violation of Federal law which makes the disclosure illegal.

And I see a Gov't that does not abide by the laws its Congress creates. And then, when an individual exposes the breach of laws by those at the top levels of the Gov't, they imprison the ones who expose them.

They are called "whistle blowers" for a reason.

Sport climber
Jun 10, 2013 - 06:14pm PT
I can't believe there are actually people who are okay with their own government spying on them.

Who feels safe?

"Oh yay, the government is tracking my every move in person, and on the internet, I FEEL SO SAFE" said no one ever.

Edward Snowden is a good person.
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