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Maybe one has to live through both to see the similarities.  Going to Vietnam was wrong. We killed a lot of Americans for nothing, then gave the country over to the North Vietnamese.  Spying on American citizens, and storing every piece of electronic data, is wrong as well. Not doing so is one of the founding principles of our government. Two wrongs don’t make it right.

Lyndon Baines Johnson escalated the war, then quit, leaving others to finish it.  The winner created a tag “peace with honor” and with that we tucked our tails and bugged out.  There were a lot of protests. Four died in Ohio during one.

Back then, those defending the military machine, all had hidden agendas.  Back then, a big effort was to turn those protesting into thugs who had to be killed to be eliminated.  So intent was the defense of the war, that bugging the hotel room of the Democratic conventioineers was deemed proper and approrpiate.  They were, after all against the war, and therefore traitors to the nation.

But in our history as a world power, sometimes those real traitors to our nation, are those who most fervently support the hard knuckle tactics being done.  The US was blemished over 5 presidencies because of the Vietnam War.  We are currently doing significant damage to our reputation as we speak.  Take Dick Cheney.  Imagine if we had not gone to fight and borrow $1 Trillion in Iraq?  We did it for oil.

The world was so relieved that Dick Cheney was gone, they gave the Nobel Peace Prize to the man who pushed him out of relevancy.

In the end, the Vietnam War and the Iraq War did not create a better world.  In fact, we made it worse.  Likewise, as we are struggling to create jobs, our computer cloud technologies are cutting back because no one trusts them anymore.  The cost is going to be a thousand times more than any benefit.

And what has the benefit been?  Allegedly, … the benefit came not in the terrorist arena. The benefit is that large multinational corporations have benefited from the inside news gleaned by the NSA… For this reason, every call you make, every email sent, every text you type, is buried on a disc somewhere, pulled up at a moments notice.

Just so we will have an unfair advantage…   Time to pull all NSA funding, just like we shut down our involvement in Vietnam.  The problem back then, was we waited too long.  We can shut it down before Utah opens.

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On the day Obama said he would reach out to Congress to assess and damp down the amount of data collected, the NSA and FISA court release a report claiming they only touch 1.6% of the internet traffic in one day!

Of course. I asked myself, isn’t that a lot, and began the search to find how much data is collected off the internet in one day.

Sources say there is 1862 petabytes of daily internet traffic.  Translate to megabytes that comes out to 1,960,652,570,625.0073 megabytes.  

The NSA touches 1.6% of that….  So 1,960,652,570,625.0073 times 0.016 gives us

31,370,441,130 megabytes are collected by the NSA in one day.  That is 31 billion megabytes. 

Or simpler, 1862 petabytes times 0.016 equals 29,21 petabytes or 29,911.04 terrabytes.

The top of the line laptops today can hold 2.5 terrabytes of data.  So the NSA is collecting by their own omission,  the equivalent of 11,964 laptops of data. every day. 

This is collected, stored for later perusal if needed.  In todays world, who has laptops anymore, that translates to 957,153  full smartphones worth of data. 

They further clarify this to say that of the 1.6% of the data, only 0.025% is actually selected for review. Meaning that although the full amount is stored for future reference, they can only look at look at 0.00004% of the world’s traffic or 38 full smartphones each day, or half of one full laptop of data on any given day.

Before  you breathe a sigh of relief, and think you are off the hook, remember these are the exact same people just this past March, who sat in a hearing room in the US capital and told Congress that the US was not collecting and storing any data on US citizens, and that the US had no plans to ever do so….. Just 5 months ago! 

Good chance that number is very low-ball of their capabilities.  Telling the truth is not one of the NSA’s strong points. 

 

If a Russian intelligence officer published reports explaining how the KGB was monitoring every Russian’s phone call and storing it for future reference,… then showed up in the United States, .. would we send them back to certain torture and death?

The Soviets would try every tactic we just did.  In the end, they would look like the repressors, and our government looks like it stands for truth and justice for real people.

So learn the lesson.  We can’t win.  Let’s simply say we’d like to try him, but it’s no big deal, and therefore the summit, will continue forward.

After all, even after much posturing and and diplomatic sanctions against us to appease their more rowdy internal factions, the Russians have always played ball.  I know the White House has a green advisory staff right now, but we should take a lesson here from the Russians.

Re-convene the summit.  Not doing so makes us look just like the Cheney Administration, carrying grudges.  In 2008, we said that was the totally wrong approach.  We voted instead for hope and change.

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Photo Courtesy of The Atlantic
My guess is yes.   Remember how the election of 2000 forgot all about the national debt headed towards zero.  It forgot all about the greatest economic boom in America’s history.  It forgot about the prosperity that every quintile of the American Public experience growth from one year to the next.  It forgot about the peace that was in the Balkans.  It forgot about the curtailing of Welfare.  The election in 2000 was decided on morality.  More people in those good times were interested in “morality” than what was good for the economic future of this country.   Because of “morality” (translated as sexual immorality) even smart people could not bring themselves to vote for more of the same, and instead switched to something completely different.  It was close. Florida proved it, but had that immoral incident never been brought to light, … things would have been so much different today.   it affected that many voters, enough to throw an election in the middle of the biggest boom times ever, to the minority party.

That is a valuable lesson.  Now for a known Obama supporter and guide, to have severe misgivings over this use of secrecy and reading all data on all citizens, and keeping them for future reference, (one can only think for sinister reasons), is very telling.   This is a gut mover; one like having the president dally with an intern which sets a lot of people off.   Both are impossible to justify.  The simple fact that all this information is for sale to prospective employers, competitors for the next promotion, or spouses wishing to exit a relationship, has grave consequences to a lot of American’s private lives.  And it is not that they did something bad.  It is that accusations (unfounded) can be made on piecemeal information (as was done by Issa in the IRS hearings)  and the citizen of the United States cannot defend his actions.  In fact, he never knows of  what he was accused.  He gets turned down for this, or for that, and it is all from a mistake…

The Obama Administration is in grave danger of losing his place in history.  His legacy will be shadowed by his upholding of this secret spying.  He has only one out, and it must take place now; surprise everyone, and his legacy will be saved, as well as create a democratic administration which will not undo, as was promised by Romney, everything the current president has put in place.

Here is what he has to do.

1)  Fire and replace the current director with someone Constitutionals trust.

2)  Declare all NSA actions will now be open.  FOIA will apply to the NSA.

3) Remove all objections to lawsuits in court, which seek clarification over whether the Constitution was violated or not.

4) Since the NSA is in charge of domestic spying, (the CIA does International), the NSA rules need to change to that of the FBI.  Though not perfect, secrecy is still kept, but the super-secrecy is stopped.

5) Warrants will be required for all searches.  That is the minimum of what the Constitution requires.

6) Encourage all internet providers not to cooperate unless they have a court order requiring them to do so for each person.  Outlaw blanket searches.  Outlaw phishing.

7) Admit the NSA went overboard, and take the responsibility for it.   Say it was a mistake, which you plan and hope it will be fixed long before you hand over the White House keys to your successor.

Mark my words.  If a very moderate Republican (Christie) ran and said he would “shut down the NSA”,  he would get my vote as of now.  This is serious and you had better listen to those outside of Washington, before you listen to those within.   if you are skeptical, I don’t blame you.  But I have to tell you, we survived Bush; we can survive a moderate Republican who is far more clear headed and able to stand up to nut case conservatives, which was Bush’s biggest personal fault; he caved.   You need to understand that all that damage by Bush, affects my children far less than having them be slandered for something they know nothing of, or did not do because it is attached to their name. Our privacy is of utmost importance to us.   Just like America sent a signal that sex in the White House would not be tolerated, you are in the same boat now.   Clinton won the impeachment battle.  It cost Gore the next election.

The Republicans have something on you here; you are guilty;  this is scary stuff.  Any dodging, or keeping the status quo, hurts your legacy every day it exists in its current form.  You know what you have to do, and the sooner it gets done, the sooner all talk among our citizens goes back towards getting rid of Republicans completely, so we finally can fix the economy.

It would be one more thing.. you got right.

The document in question was an 86-page opinion the FISA court had issued on October 3, 2011.

In it the FISA court states that the action requested by the NSA was unconstitutional. The FISA court was of the opinion this information needed to be disseminated to the public.

The Justice Department was due to file a court motion in June in its effort to keep secret an 86-page court opinion that determined that the government had violated the spirit of federal surveillance laws and engaged in unconstitutional spying.

So in a nutshell, we have the NSA committing an unconstitutional action.  We have the secret Federal court which incidentally only hears the NSA’s side of the argument, decide such action was NOT under the scope of the law, and was actually unconstitutional.  The court felt the public should know about this Constitutional violation, apparently because even they were shocked at its danger for democracy.

The Justice Department then filed suit to block the dissemination of knowledge to the American people, that the secret FISA court had determined that the NSA was going over and beyond its powers invested by the Fourth Amendment, and that it is therefore acting unconstitutionally.

So when our government does something unconstitutional and covers it up… what do we do?

Ironically, in East Germany, we have more privacy rights today than in the United States of America.

Where did we go wrong?  It’s all Patrick Leahy’s fault.  He got soft after standing up to the Joker in The Dark Knight and so now he isn’t standing up for Americans. Guess he figured he’s done his share.

The Daily Kos puts together a great list.  This was the first time I’d seen everything on one page, some of which I’d missed over the weekend, and it deserves wide spread viewer ship. Some excerpts:

1. The NSA lost a huge court battle, and was found to be acting unconstitutionally by the Secret FISA Court. The Obama administration is keeping this judgement secret, even though the secret court said, secretly, that it should be public and produced to all America. Even Congress has been denied the secret decision from the secret court, keeping this judgment secret about how the secretive NSA violated your and my rights…

2. The NSA not only gathers and keeps data on your web and emails, it also tracks every single phone call of every single American.

3.  The Obama mistreatment of whistleblowers far exceeds anything that the Cheney Bush administration ever did. Snowden’s fear of returning to this country doesn’t seem all that farfetched, given how Bradley Manning was tortured.

4.  The Obama administration continues to lie to the American public, insisting that congress is fully informed about FISA and the NSA, despite every congressman and senator who answers the question, denies that they are getting any information from them.

5.  Cloud computing providers report that their international business is crashing. Various bar associations must examine whether lawyers can even use cloud computing for their offices, because of the great probability that their data is being access and scrutinized by the feds – which causes every cloud computing attorney to be violating their oath to keep the attorney client privilege intact.

6. Those intimately involved with FISA, repeatedly allege that daily, constant, and comprehensive domestic spying on 320,000,000 Americans has resulted in absolutely no actionable data that could catch terrorists or prevent terrorism.

7. Remember the original Patriot Act Color Coded Threat Alert?  It took 8 months, but even conservative critics began to notice that any rise on color assessment board (which looked like it was designed by a TV game show producer) had nothing to do with actual, viable threats, but rather, it was raised anytime and every time that the Cheney Bush Administration faced a potential political nightmare.

And so today… Sunday August 4th, Embassy closings galore in every Muslim country.

Hmmmm. (I bet the absence of any attempt will be touted as being the result of secret phone tappings by the NSA that were disallowed by the FISA court but were done anyways… )  Let’s see how the spin comes out on Monday.

Silicon Valley’s role in US government surveillance has triggered public anxiety about the internet, but it turns out there is at least one tech company you can trust with your data.

Xmission, Utah’s first independent and oldest internet service provider, has spent the past 15 years resolutely shielding customers’ privacy from government snoops in a way that larger rivals appear to have not.

The Electronic Freedom Foundation called it a model for the industry….

And speaking of the EFF, yesterday a Federal judge allows the case Jewel Vrs NSA to go forward into a real court. There is nothing secret about the Constitution the judge said. Either this practice is legal or it isn’t. A court will decided.

Evidence in the case includes undisputed documents provided by former AT&T telecommunications technician Mark Klein showing AT&T has routed copies of Internet traffic to a secret room in San Francisco controlled by the NSA. The case is supported by declarations from three NSA whistleblowers along with a mountain of other evidence. The recent blockbuster revelations about the extent of the NSA spying on telecommunications and Internet activities also bolster EFF’s case.

It appears Edward Snowden tipped the balance. This has been held up 5 years because it supposedly was too secret for trial.

It is clearer now that the biggest benefactors for the NSA spying were commercial enterprises. The Obama administration went along with the Bush plan and accelerated it, primarily to give American companies a heads up, and keep jobs here.  It worked too.

One can’t argue with success. But one can find how American businesses were co-opted to assist the NSA.  From the Guardian, the following, allegedly from Snowden himself.

• Microsoft helped the NSA to circumvent its encryption to address concerns that the agency would be unable to intercept web chats on the new Outlook.com portal;

• The agency already had pre-encryption stage access to email on Outlook.com, including Hotmail;

• The company worked with the FBI this year to allow the NSA easier access via Prism to its cloud storage service SkyDrive, which now has more than 250 million users worldwide;

• Microsoft also worked with the FBI’s Data Intercept Unit to “understand” potential issues with a feature in Outlook.com that allows users to create email aliases;

• In July last year, nine months after Microsoft bought Skype, the NSA boasted that a new capability had tripled the amount of Skype video calls being collected through Prism;

• Material collected through Prism is routinely shared with the FBI and CIA, with one NSA document describing the program as a “team sport”.

it is revealing that the beneficiaries of the Patriot Act and probably one of the reasons it has been intact long after terrorism faded offshore, are the exact same who are suing each other left and right, using the anti-piracy laws as their barrage.  It appears that laws are not for people anymore; they are for corporations.  It is corporations who want the US to fund listening posts for every American word and sentence.

The only way to fix that, is to divide the corporations Teddy-Roosevelt-style, thereby giving We, the People a little more clout.  …

In today’s New York Times some of the big questions get answered.. Who is looking at all that data? It’s not the government as we were led to believe…

“I’m very concerned that we have government contractors doing what are essentially governmental jobs,” Senator Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said last week.

“Maybe we should bring some of that more in-house,” the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, mused.

It’s a little late for that. Seventy percent of America’s intelligence budget now flows to private contractors. Going by this year’s estimated budget of about $80 billion, that makes private intelligence a $56 billion-a-year industry.

For decades, the N.S.A. relied on its own computer scientists, cryptographers and mathematicians to tap, decode and analyze communications .. Then came Al Gore’s internet. The NSA could not keep up. In 2000, James R. Clapper Jr., now the director of national intelligence, decided to shift away from its in-house development strategy and outsource on a huge scale.

It does. Here’s why. First, it is dangerous to have half a million people — the number of private contractors holding top-secret security clearances — peering into the lives of their fellow citizens. Contractors aren’t part of the chain of command at the N.S.A. or other agencies and aren’t subject to Congressional oversight. Officially, their only loyalty is to their company and its shareholders.

With billions of dollars of government money sloshing around, and with contractors providing advice on how to spend it, conflicts of interest and corruption are inevitable…

Third, we’ve allowed contractors to conduct our most secret and sensitive operations with virtually no oversight. This is true not only at the N.S.A. Contractors now work alongside the C.I.A. in covert operations (two of the Americans killed in Benghazi were C.I.A. contractors; we still don’t know who their employer was). Contractors were involved in secret and highly sensitive operations that by law are reserved for government operatives.

Whereas you privacy was originally thought between you and the government which was scary in itself… now we understand it was between you, your government and 500,000 private citizens just trying to make a buck anyway they can… Checked your bank balances lately?

(We told you to vote NO for the Patriot Act and its subsequent renewals… What were you all thinking?)

it is probably time to discuss this.

For years we have quietly known and accepted the negatives of having an NSA. Things like we need it for our protection, or it makes things safer, tended to overide our fears that they know too much already, and I can’t do anything in private anymore…

We accepted that as progress.

However, when you have an organization so secret, that members of Congress are shocked to find out what it is doing, that no one knows who is authorizing who gets spied upon and what, that when brought before the courts for overstepping the Constitution, it can’t be prosecuted because a) it operates under “secret” laws, b) with “secret operations”, c) authorized by “secret courts” …. it is time to shut the entire operation down.

Why do we have the NSA when we have the CIA and the FBI. The FBI covers domestic spying. The CIA covers international spying. So, unless we find out that there are aliens and the NSA is really running the world while we think otherwise, then it probably ought to go.

I find it interesting that those on the far right, and those on the far left are the most outraged by this disclosure. We’ve been stating that news on this blog after the story was broken back in 2007-8 and not one press person cared. I supposed the AP Story opened their eyes this time. Struggling to put a finger on why, I came up with the theory primarily by looking at Congress, that it is the libertarians on left and right who are against, and the conformist, primarily in the center who are acceptive. So this gives us a split where the bottom third and the top third of the political body are opposed to the middle third… If you look at Congress that is exactly how it splits up. Moderates are pro domestic spying, the libertarians are not.

Probably similar is the theory that those beholden to corporate interests are pro-spying, after all, that is normal in the corporate environment; interoffice spying is not limited by any judicial system because it is deemed to be private. Those aghast, tend to fight corporate intrusion from their original political perspective, either left of right.

What the NSA does, watch everything to discern what is happening to increase its chances of survival, is not new. Intelligence has been the secret success of many an empire. Knowing what someone will do before they do it, is pretty comfortable in a world where in a day, we probably pass within 10 feet of 10,000 people (that includes inside our vehicles).

That is what all governments with the capacity, do. The biggest argument against it, is that it is un-American. Sure we have the “ability” to do it, but do we have the restraint, not to…

America has always been ruled by restraint. When Washington was entreated to be the King, he restrained and said no. When the heads of Europe all bet that Washington would invent a method to stay in power, he restrained, and government turned over peacefully. When the US was left in charge of a broken Europe, it put it back together and went home. The only country to invade another and give it back willingly to its original owners.

We had a scare in Boston a while back. Did the NSA protect us then? It’s a secret, no one knows. In Newtown 26 bodies littered the floor of an elementary school. Did the NSA protect us then? When a gunman burst into Aurora firing into the audience, did the NSA protect us then? When Gabby Gifford took a bullet, where was the NSA? Did the NSA protect us then?

That is the point. We are always in danger. But our personal lives are more at risk if our private information should fall into a competitors hands, than being victim of a terrorist. In Boston just 2 people died. In Newton 26. But each and every one of us, is at risk that selective information from ones past, can be used in secret to smear each and every one of us, should it fall into the wrong hands.

What would happen if we shut the entire agency known as the NSA down? A big nothing. They overstepped. It is not knee-jerking anger to respond “Shut them down right now!” It it calm, cool reasoning tipping the balance, that points out simply that is the right way to go.