Why Do We Have To Choose Between Privacy Or Security?

created image of guy looking in a window with POLICE on shirt
If you aren’t doing anything wrong then this should not be a problem, right?

The media coverage over what National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden did, by publicly revealing the large surveillance program conducted by the NSA, included ridiculously breathless stories about his whereabouts, if the guy is a traitor (he’s not), and if Glenn Greenwald should be jailed for doing his job of reporting the story. What still isn’t being discussed is the reasons and methods behind the program Snowden exposed and why there isn’t much discussion about the accountability of the program. We have been given a false choice between privacy or security.

Bob Sullivan, on the NBC News website wrote a good essay about the problem of having the false choice of privacy or security:

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Dear Media: I Don’t Care Where Edward Snowden Is

photo of Edward Snowden
I don’t give a shit where Edward Snowden is

One of the big reasons I don’t trust ‘The Media’ nor like them much is their complicity in supporting the one percenters. Corporate control of news media gives us press releases passed off as facts and political talking points going unchallenged as long as they support the corporations. We see the same behavior in the coverage of whistle blower Edward Snowden, where ‘The Media’ is more concerned in his location than in the facts he disclosed about the domestic surveillance program by the NSA. Hey media, I don’t give a shit where the guy is – when are you going to talk about the spying he uncovered?

This past Sunday, corporate tool David Gregory said some stupid shit as David Sirota points out:

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Yay Congressional Bipartisanship! To Subvert The 4th Amendment! Yay??

Logo for the National Security Agency

There are actually times when Democrats and Republicans in Congress set aside their partisanship and work together. One is naming post offices and the other allowing the government to subvert our 4th Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure. In defending the NSA collecting phone numbers telecom members used, Congress members couldn’t give any specific examples that such intelligence collection actually stopped any specific attack and just said not to worry about it. When Congress tells us not to worry then we should worry especially when our civil rights are involved.

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Dems bend over for a lame duck President – again

Remember all the brouhaha about warantless eavesdropping by the NSA that President Bush kept arguing was needed to “fight terrorism”? Remember how the Democratic leadership went nuts and threatened legal action and hearings etc… etc..?

If not read this NSA warrantless surveillance controversy

Well in an about face, some Dems broke ranks and voted to approve S. 1927 that now makes such wiretapping “legal”.

The bill passed the Senate 60 to 28 (16 Democrats sold out our rights) and passed the House 227 to 183 (with 43 Democrats selling us out).

The bill allows the government to intercept phone calls and e-mails from anyone including US citizens as long as there is some thread of connection to terrorism. It also removed oversight of the taps from the secret FISA court and gave it to the Attorney General – the guys who likes to lie to Congress.

The bill, listed on the House roll call list, is titled “Protect America Act” but they left off the rest. The full title should be “Protect America Act from stupid terrorists who use common methods to transmit information about their activities”.

The point of some Democrats passing the bill is summed up in this quote:

They also appeared worried about the political repercussions of being perceived as interfering with intelligence gathering. But the disputes were significant enough that they are likely to resurface before the end of the year.

House Approves Changes in Eavesdropping 

Once again the Dems bend over for a lame duck President with a 28% approval rating – amazing.

For more info on this stupid action check out:

Why I won’t contribute to the DCCC

Senate Democrats Bend Over, Hand Bush The K-Y And Vote For Warrantless Wiretaps For No Reason Other Than Craven Cowardice

Are we done with President Bush, yet?

How many illegal things must President Bush do before he is removed from office. I don’t know if this country can wait until January 20, 2009 when a new administration is sworn in.

The GOP came within a Senate vote of removing President Clinton because he lied about a blow job and President Bush gets free ride after free ride for violating the Constitution.

The latest is the disclosure in USA Today that all the major phone companies but one gave the NSA phone records the NSA requested.

Bush defenders said that the collection of phone records was necessary.

“This is nuts,” Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said of the furor over the latest disclosure. “We are in a war, and we’ve got to collect intelligence on the enemy, and you can’t tell the enemy in advance how you are going to do it. And discussing all of this stuff in public leads to that.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said his colleagues’ reaction was hard to understand. “Let’s talk about this in a rational way. We are in a war with terrorism. There are people out there who want to kill us, and I don’t think this action is nearly as troublesome as is being made out here.”

“Because they are not tapping our phones and getting our conversations. They are merely maintaining these numbers from which they have some system, apparently, to utilize those to match up with international phone calls connected to al Qaeda,” Sessions said.

But Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa slammed the database program.

“Why are the telephone companies not protecting their customers?” Grassley said. “I think they have a social responsibility to people who do business with them to protect our privacy as long there isn’t some suspicion that we’re a terrorist or a criminal or something.”

U.S. phone-call database ignites privacy uproar

And this:

While Capitol Hill debated the issue Friday, many lawyers voiced surprise that three major phone companies had agreed to make available to the National Security Agency the phone records of tens of millions of Americans.

That’s because Congress made it illegal 20 years ago for telephone companies and computer service providers to turn over to the government records showing who their customers had dialed or e-mailed.

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 was passed when cell phones and the Internet were emerging as new forms of communication. Section 2702 of the law says these providers of “electronic communications . . . shall not knowingly divulge a record or other information pertaining to a subscriber or customer . . . to any government entity.”

Companies that violate the law are subjected to being sued and paying damages of at least $1,000 per violation per customer.

“It is simply illegal for a telephone company to turn over caller records without some form of legal process, such as a court order or a subpoena,” said James X. Dempsey, a lawyer for the Center for Democracy and Technology in San Francisco.

Transfer of phone logs may have been illegal

First of all we are not “at war”. The Bush nazis may think it is a war and they say it is to justify their illegal violations of the 4th amendment. Since it is not a declared war the Bill of Rights still apply and the government has to have a warrant or subpoena to get records of US citizens and to get a warrant the government must provide specific probable cause and the gathering has to be specific – they can’t troll for information.

I don’t know what is worse, a President subverting our rights or citizens who allow it. An ABC/Washington Post poll the day after the USA Today story broke showed that more than 60% of respondents said the gathering of the records by the NSA was ok with them.

According to the poll, 65 percent of those interviewed said it was more important to investigate potential terrorist threats “even if it intrudes on privacy.” Three in 10–31 percent–said it was more important for the federal government not to intrude on personal privacy, even if that limits its ability to investigate possible terrorist threats.

Poll: Most Americans Support NSA’s Efforts

This lack of concern reminds me of a famous quote:

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. – Ben Franklin