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U.S. Spy Panel Is Loaded With Insiders

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the show-of-hands-who-is-surprised? dept.

United States 330

schwit1 writes "After a public backlash to government spying, President Barack Obama called for an independent group to review the vast surveillance programs that allow the collections of phone and email records. The members of the review group are:
Richard Clarke, the chief counterterrorism adviser on the National Security Council for Clinton who later worked for Republican President George W. Bush
Michael Morell, Obama's former deputy CIA director
Geoffrey Stone, law professor who has raised money for Obama and spearheads a committee hoping to build Obama's presidential library in Chicago
Cass Sunstein, law professor and administrator of information and regulatory affairs for Obama
Peter Swire, a former Office of Management and Budget privacy director for Clinton

'At the end of the day, a task force led by Gen. Clapper full of insiders – and not directed to look at the extensive abuse – will never get at the bottom of the unconstitutional spying,' said Mark Jaycox, a policy analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy advocacy group. The panel's meetings are closed after Clapper exempted it from the U.S. Federal Advisory Committee Act, which would have required it to keep the public informed and hold open meetings, for 'reasons of national security,' according to a statement from the group sent from Clapper's office. 'While we are exempt from the FACA, we are conducting this review as openly and transparently as possible.'"

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330 comments

Predictable (5, Insightful)

Swampash (1131503) | about 10 months ago | (#45010783)

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

Re: Predictable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45010799)

Cass.sustein is.the.same.piece.of shit that wanted.to.outlaw the act "conspiracy theorizing" itself

Re: Predictable (4, Informative)

AHuxley (892839) | about 10 months ago | (#45010879)

Yes people can read about the "each will have a place under imaginable conditions" at:
http://www.salon.com/2010/01/15/sunstein_2/ [salon.com]
Bans, taxes, cognitively infiltrate, gov funded counter speech....

Re: Predictable (1)

khallow (566160) | about 10 months ago | (#45011181)

That was quite the rabbit hole. You do wonder why someone like him is allowed anywhere near a lever of power.

You can never get the BIG BROTHER to change itself (5, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 10 months ago | (#45010803)

BIG BROTHERS will never change it self.

Change does not come from within.

Real change must be made from the outside.

All the insiders - the careered politicians, the careered bureaucrats, the careered leeches who bled the public dry - will not change their ways.

If we are to have a REAL CHANGE we must make sure that NONE OF THEM remain inside the government.

Any less than that will be hot air, as usual.

Re:You can never get the BIG BROTHER to change its (4, Interesting)

Swampash (1131503) | about 10 months ago | (#45011093)

So you're advocating violent regime change then?

Re:You can never get the BIG BROTHER to change its (4, Insightful)

erikkemperman (252014) | about 10 months ago | (#45011325)

So you're advocating violent regime change then?

So you're saying violence is the only way to effect change from the outside? I don't know about that, certainly not clear to me that's what GP was getting at. Seems to me what you guys need is a third, fourth, fifth major political party with half a chance of, if not winning any election, at least offset the current status quo.

Re:You can never get the BIG BROTHER to change its (2, Informative)

Swampash (1131503) | about 10 months ago | (#45011431)

The winners make the rules, so any party that doesn't have a chance of winning is a waste of time and effort.

Re:You can never get the BIG BROTHER to change its (3, Interesting)

erikkemperman (252014) | about 10 months ago | (#45011469)

The winners make the rules, so any party that doesn't have a chance of winning is a waste of time and effort.

I disagree. Even if other parties have -- at first -- no real chance of winning, having them at all might still make clear just exactly how similar the current major parties are.

When Ds and Rs agree on something that's a sure sign it is against most peoples' interests. I think that developing a wider frame of reference would make that more obvious.

inside out, outside in (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 10 months ago | (#45011493)

Real change must be made from the outside.

Outside of what? The government? The human race? The universe? Where is this "outside"?

Hope and change (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45010813)

And these fucking idiotic liberals voted for Obummer twice. I never figured this country could actually vote in someone worse than the borderline retard known as Dubya.

Re:Hope and change (4, Insightful)

Swampash (1131503) | about 10 months ago | (#45010849)

There's no difference between the two parties that run America. The last election was between the rich white right-wing religious crazy guy and the rich black right-wing religious crazy guy, each of them representing their rich right-wing religious crazy organizations.

Re:Hope and change (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45010861)

There's no difference between the two parties that run America. The last election was between the rich white right-wing religious crazy guy and the rich black right-wing religious crazy guy, each of them representing their rich right-wing religious crazy organizations.

Hey, at least neither one of them were christians.

Amen !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45011275)

Hey, at least neither one of them were christians.

To add anything else to the above quote will be a travesty.

So I'll say " Amen to it, brother ! "

Re:Amen !! (1)

Swampash (1131503) | about 10 months ago | (#45011417)

If they were Christians, they'd both still fit the description of "rich right-wing religious crazy guy".

Re:Hope and change (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45010867)

The problem being that 50+% of Americans actually believe Obummer's bullshit about "Hope and Change" and elected him after his first disastrous term. Romney would have been equally as terrible, but I was never saying he should have been voted in either. It really is sad that Dubya the Retard may no longer be going down in history as the president of all time.

Re:Hope and change (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45010953)

The problem being that 50+% of Americans actually believe Obummer's bullshit about "Hope and Change"

Except that wasn't the case at all. Most of the people I know who voted for Obummer the second time around were quite sick of his bullshit.

The Republicans simply had to run anyone electable, anyone fucking at all to win.

Instead, we had fifty shades of religious insanity, a man confusing the White House with a pizza joint, and the very icon of "that sort of evil capitalist the Democrats are always going on about - holy shit, they do exist!".

Even with the stupidity of the Republican party - Romney had a chance. But he couldn't stop running his fucking mouth, spewing shit that should not be spoken by any politician seeking election.

Magic fucking underpants aren't going to save you when you directly insult massive fucking swaths of the voting public.

Re:Hope and change (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45010973)

Most of the people I know who voted for Obummer the second time around were quite sick of his bullshit.

And people wonder why we get shitty people elected to political office. If you're tired of their bullshit YOU SHOULDN'T BE VOTING FOR THEM!

Give us the option to vote against someone, then ! (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 10 months ago | (#45011299)

If you're tired of their bullshit YOU SHOULDN'T BE VOTING FOR THEM!

Give us an option of" I AM VOTING AGAINST ALL THE SCUMBAGS " on your ballot ticket, then.

Or else, who the fuck are we supposed to vote for ?? Most of us already know that those appearing on our ballot tickets are scumbags.

Re:Give us the option to vote against someone, the (5, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 10 months ago | (#45011385)

Or else, who the fuck are we supposed to vote for ?? Most of us already know that those appearing on our ballot tickets are scumbags.

Please explain why you consider either Gary Johnson [wikipedia.org] or Jill Stein [wikipedia.org] to be "scumbags". Both seem to me to be people of high integrity. Gary got my vote last year, and Jill got my respect. If neither of them got your vote, maybe you should consider that people like you are the root of the problem.

Re:Give us the option to vote against someone, the (3, Insightful)

philip.paradis (2580427) | about 10 months ago | (#45011511)

I'm waiting for the GP to respond with something along the lines of "blah blah you wasted your vote blah blah you acted as a spoiler" ... and when millions of people think that way, there's no chance of any third party candidate gaining any traction. The real problem here are apathy, excuses, and herd mentality. People don't vote on issues, hell they hardly understand what issues are at stake with any particular candidate. On the whole, people tend to vote for the political equivalent of their favorite sports team. So we get what we get, which is a horrible mess.

I have no idea how to to fix this, aside from watching things get so bad that people are rioting in the streets in every major city in the nation, and subsequently saying something like "well now, now that you all seem to care about what's happening since you can no longer ignore its direct effect on a massive number of peoples' lives, your own included, how about we figure this out."

Re:Hope and change (3, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about 10 months ago | (#45011027)

Media picks the president and it picked Obama. It is as simple as that. People vote like they are told. MSNBC for example did not have a single positive story about Romney or a single negative story about Obama in the final weeks before the election (http://www.journalism.org/analysis_report/press_release_7). Something like that is expected of MSNBC but the likes of ABC, NBC, CNN, NYT, WaPo etc etc weren't far behind.

Re:Hope and change (4, Insightful)

ATMAvatar (648864) | about 10 months ago | (#45011155)

Well, the Republicans did themselves no favors. The economy had just been destroyed by Wall Street fraud, and the culprits brazenly waved their fistfuls of bailout cash at the public.

Who do the Republicans put up for their Presidential candidate? Mr. Wall Street

Had they presented a down-to-earth, moderate candidate for the election, the Republicans would have won it by a landslide.

Re:Hope and change (1)

advocate_one (662832) | about 10 months ago | (#45011369)

The people who own the media pick the president... please get it right...

Re:Hope and change (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 10 months ago | (#45011391)

Media picks the president and it picked Obama

The media hated Bush, and he got elected. Twice.

Re:Hope and change (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45011463)

Media picks the president and it picked Obama. It is as simple as that. People vote like they are told. MSNBC for example did not have a single positive story about Romney or a single negative story about Obama in the final weeks before the election (http://www.journalism.org/analysis_report/press_release_7). Something like that is expected of MSNBC but the likes of ABC, NBC, CNN, NYT, WaPo etc etc weren't far behind.

Sounds like the typical right wing propaganda you are promoting.. What about Bush? I did'nt hear or see the media/press publicly try to destroy him! And they didn't even bother to figure out why we rushed to start a war with a country (Iraq) that had no noticeable ties to terrorism. Yet every other country surrounding Iraq had ties to terrorist groups, and the media/press didn't bother to mention this until after most of the country had already been questioning the move to go to war! They are a corporation they want money and ratings and they keep the public in a zombie like daze until Snowden comes along, and before Snowden there were several internet based media outlets warning of the NSA's overreaching programs.

The Media/Press are responsible for the shit going on with all parties. Why? Because they continue to promote this by allowing this pigs to sit in front of cameras CSPAN for one, then they make sure they call every outlet to do interviews after the fact to continue to promote there systematic destruction of the country over ego.

And god forbid you grow any balls and ask them which companies/orgs., are buying them off, while they're so worried about the "average Joe" or upper middle class getting screwed out of there money. they are sell outs, do as I say, not as I do, or ignore all the money I am making from my position while helping to only screw you over. They use phrases like "too much government" "too much tax", but you never hear them say about regulations, stock market, housing, credit cards, banks, and these companies continue to move ahead with no real regulation. They type of crap that has hurt the upper middle class, who seem to have no control over themselves either.

Re:Hope and change (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 10 months ago | (#45011515)

People vote like they are told.

What, and you blame the media for that? I hope you're not one of those people who say video games have no effect on children...

Re:Hope and change (2)

meerling (1487879) | about 10 months ago | (#45011179)

I hate both political parties, too damn many politicians.
Obama has done a number of things I can't stand.
Most of his attempts at things I do support were blocked by rabid republicans that would do anything to get rid of Obama.

Yes, I hate both parties and pretty much all politicians, but the head of the republican party deserve a special kind of hell. (Even a bunch of their own party see their leaders a rabid psychotics intent on destroying this country in their vain and pointless attempt to eliminate or marginalize the president. Too bad so many people are so easily fooled by their antics, or so forgetful they can't remember what those nutjobs did/said last week. Heck, maybe they're getting hypnotized by rush, I don't know, but it's not good.)

All in all, I'm sick of the politics, the politicians, and the stupid sycophants that repeat the political spin as if it were gospel instead of the poorly wrought scam it is. I just with everyone would shut up about this and start trying to act like rational caring adults. (Fat chance, but I can still dream.)

Changing the US voting system (4, Interesting)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | about 10 months ago | (#45011277)

I think a large part of the problem is the primary voting system. A would-be presidential candidate first has to appeal to the extremists in their own party before they have a chance to try to appeal to the general public.

I have a proposal to fix this.
Step 1: To be on the presidential ballot, you must have reached some threshold number of votes in the primaries. This threshold should be set so that there will be about 4 to 6 presidential candidates. (Primaries are not party-based. All presidential hopefuls appear on the one ballot.)

Step 2: Voters rank the presidential candidates in their order of preference. These preferences are processed by a Condorcet method [wikipedia.org] . This ensures that if one candidate would win a two candidate election against any other candidate, they are elected.

With 4 to 6 candidates, there is room for at least two from each main party, plus the occasional independent/minor party candidate. The Condorcet voting encourages moderates rather than extremists. (In turn, this will encourage the selection of moderates in the primaries.) It also gives independents a decent chance.

(Note: I am not a US citizen, nor am I living there.)

Re:Hope and change (2)

davester666 (731373) | about 10 months ago | (#45011373)

That's due to the insanity of the tea-party faction of R. He has to say all kinds of crazy things that he believes and will do in office in order to get past the R primaries, just so the people that WILL vote in the primaries will pick him.

It's the ones with the bat-shit crazy ideas that can be counted on to drive to the voting station and actually vote.
Regular R voters spread their votes between the candidates, and it's the wack jobs that push one candidate over the top.

Hell, that's what is happening right now in Congress. A couple of fringe R congressmen are pushing a radical agenda and have managed to shut down the gov't over it. Regular R congressmen are afraid that if they don't go along with the insanity, the next election, all the wack jobs come out of the woodwork in their constituency and vote a really crazy person in.

Re:Hope and change (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 10 months ago | (#45011483)

My oh my...

This ignorant tool right here hates the tea party so much that he has invented a fantasy world where Romney was cow-towing to the tea-party.

You know who tea party folks voted for? They wrote in "Ron Paul."

I know where you got this complete fantasy view too... the ignorant shit you just spit out came right out of the mouth of Rachel Maddow.

Here is an idea.. when you don't know what you are talking about, which is always the case when all you really have to say is to repeat what some ultra-left-wing opinion-head on an ultra-left-wing cable news network said, then dont fucking talk.

While you are at it, stop watching MSNBC entirely. [stateofthemedia.org] 85% of their airtime is opinion instead of facts. Source: Pew Research.

Dont even bother denying that thats where you got this shit..

Re:Hope and change (2, Insightful)

cold fjord (826450) | about 10 months ago | (#45011197)

There's no difference between the two parties that run America. The last election was between the rich white right-wing religious crazy guy and the rich black right-wing religious crazy guy, each of them representing their rich right-wing religious crazy organizations.

You've picked an ironic day to spout that sort of nonsense. Today, October 1, 2013, the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, started the major part of its implementation. That is a "gift" to the people of the United States from the Democratic party. There are plenty of difference between the two parties in terms of goals and policies. One thing they largely agree on is that allowing Americans to be killed in large numbers by terrorists is a bad thing. As a result President Obama has largely continued President Bush's counter-terrorism policies, but gone in very different directions with domestic policy. (Although it must be recognized that the differences in outlook have resulted in far fewer attempts to capture and interrogate terrorists due to the legal messiness that the Obama administration has helped create. As a result, they simply kill terrorists and lose the intelligence data.)

Re:Hope and change (2)

Swampash (1131503) | about 10 months ago | (#45011423)

You're not disagreeing with me, you're just saying that one right-wing religious crazy party has slightly different policies from the other right-wing religious crazy party.

Re:Hope and change (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 10 months ago | (#45011489)

That is a "gift" to the people of the United States from the Democratic party.

Ah, the gift of making people buy something that they couldn't afford.... or face a fine which they also cannot afford.

Better than No Hope At All... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45010859)

And you seriously think Herr Romney would have done any better or different? Plus, most of those draconian policies were put forth during the Retard Dubya's reign by his evil cronies.

Re:Better than No Hope At All... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45010897)

And you seriously think Herr Romney would have done any better or different?

Nope. Why would I believe something so ridiculously stupid? I'm not some dumbass liberal who actually believes retarded campaign slogans. Romney's another corporate whore fuckwit like the rest of the lot.

Plus, most of those draconian policies were put forth during the Retard Dubya's reign by his evil cronies.

And they have been extended, broadened and routinely defended by Obummer and his administration.

Re:Better than No Hope At All... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45010923)

And you seriously think Herr Romney would have done any better or different? Plus, most of those draconian policies were put forth during the Retard Dubya's reign by his evil cronies.

Come people, work together. It doesn't matter what party the current idiot belongs to, just that he's a idiot. They want to keep people divided with this trickery.

Re:Better than No Hope At All... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45010947)

I'm pretty sure I stated above that both sides were bad. Criticizing Obummer doesn't mean I want to deepthroat the GOP.

Re:Better than No Hope At All... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45011519)

There were other candidates not just Romney and Obama. It's people like you who are a big part of the problem.

As long as you bunch keep voting for tweedledee or tweedledumber why should the R/D change that much? Between the two of them they've 90+% of the voter base.

If some other candidate got 30% of the votes, even if that candidate doesn't win, you'd see change. The first past the post system cuts both ways.

Hmph. (1)

TheResilientFarter (3216187) | about 10 months ago | (#45010787)

Apparently some expected something different...

Re:Hmph. (1)

Adult film producer (866485) | about 10 months ago | (#45011159)

Hope and change bro...

BY ALL - ANY- MEANS LET US BRING IN JOE PLUMBER !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45010821)

Because we can trust him to get at the bottom of all this !!

Re:BY ALL - ANY- MEANS LET US BRING IN JOE PLUMBER (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 10 months ago | (#45010839)

I would rather see a panel consisting of a deaf mute, a quadriplegic, a rabbi, an ACLU lawyer, and Joe Plumber.

They would accomplish more than the panel that Obama put together.

Wait a second... (4, Informative)

Pollux (102520) | about 10 months ago | (#45010827)

Now that the government is shut down, does that mean the domestic spying program is also?

And while I'm at it, would it be unpatriotic of me to suggest that the government shutdown may be a tactful diversion from the domestic spying program? Snowden's Sunday leak [rt.com] was largely ignored Sunday by the major news networks in favor of the impeding shutdown.

Re:Wait a second... (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about 10 months ago | (#45010835)

The Department of Defense and the intelligence agencies would be considered essential. They continue with their missions.

along with 75% of federal employees (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 10 months ago | (#45010915)

I've been told the "non-essential employees" that are affected make up 25% of the federal payroll, most publicly visible customer-service type jobs. All the bureaucrats are "essential" and won't be going anywhere.

Re:along with 75% of federal employees (3, Informative)

cold fjord (826450) | about 10 months ago | (#45011003)

It's taking a bigger bite than just the customer service type jobs. Of course in any budget dispute the more visible jobs and services are cut first. But even the Defense Department and intelligence agencies are taking a hit.

NSA, intelligence workers 'stretched to limit' by shutdown, official says [cnet.com]
400,000 DOD Civilians to Get Shutdown Furloughs [defenseone.com]
US shutdown: Bad for Pentagon workers, not so much for defense firms [cnbc.com]

Re:along with 75% of federal employees (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 10 months ago | (#45011063)

Every section of the US gov will be sending out quality PR like that Cold. With the right mil/political/contractor/news traction they might get a post shutdown budget bump.
Even better they might get new laws to ensure future shutdowns bypass their "staff".

Re:Wait a second... (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 10 months ago | (#45011021)

That's strange, I seem to recall the US constitution explicitly putting a time limit on defense spending, which would suggest that it should be pretty early on the chopping block.

Re:Wait a second... (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about 10 months ago | (#45011109)

Not quite. You are apparently thinking of Article I Section 8:

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

That simply means that military spending can only be budgeted for two years or less. That says nothing about how the current spending within government is prioritized.

 

Re:Wait a second... (0)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 10 months ago | (#45011025)

If the only part of the government that is "shut down" is "non-essential" then ... why do we have it. Shouldn't Government be "essential functions only"

IMHO anything more that absolutely minimal governance is evil. Anything less than maintaining civility is criminal. Our current government is neither civil, nor minimal, and thus needs to be replaced. AND massive centralized governance is highly overrated. Move power to the People and see our country thrive once again.

Re:Wait a second... (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 10 months ago | (#45011241)

IMHO anything more that absolutely minimal governance is evil.

While I tend to agree with the sentiment (though evil isnt really appropriate in such a context), I might remind you that theres a huge chunk of the populace who disagrees with your interpretation of the role of government. I think they might be called "democrats".

Re:Wait a second... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45011547)

A hell of a lot of them call themselves Republicans.

Re:Wait a second... (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 10 months ago | (#45010917)

http://www.stripes.com/news/obama-signs-law-to-pay-servicemembers-during-shutdown-1.244356 [stripes.com]
"Defense Finance and Accounting Services, which learned yesterday it would continue issuing paychecks for most employees of the department."
The interesting aspect is exempt versus nonexempt civilians and the staff numbers now depended on by the DoD.
The US learned a lot from the MI6/Mi5 and GCHQ 1950-80's years - keep your clandestine staff funded or Moscow will :)

Surprised? No. (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 10 months ago | (#45010841)

President Barack Obama called for an independent group to review the vast surveillance programs that allow the collections of phone and email records. The members of the review group are:

... Doesn't matter. You're asking the foxes to guard the hen house. If you work for the government, you can't really be expected to provide an impartial audit of government activities. The end. The only time Congress appoints actual outsiders is when the majority party is able to excert enough power to get them appointed. Of course, this is heavily politicalized as well -- they don't appoint people without knowing what their answer will be.

This is dinner theatre for one.

Re:Surprised? No. (4, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about 10 months ago | (#45011049)

What's amusing to me is that those in favor of big government seem not to realize that this same principle applies to everything government does. It is oil industry that writes oil industry regulation, pharmaceutical industry that writes pharmaceutical industry regulation, banking regulatory agencies are staffed with former bank executives etc etc.

Re:Surprised? No. (0)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 10 months ago | (#45011397)

Every once in a while we get an Elizabeth Warren and that individual (or two) usually fixes things for a few decades.
Glassâ"Steagall is a great example of that situation.

And of course, Grammâ"Leachâ"Bliley are the example of what inevitably happens when someone finally says
"let's roll back these regulations that have worked for decades"

Re:Surprised? No. (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 10 months ago | (#45011475)

Every once in a while we get an Elizabeth Warren and that individual (or two) usually fixes things for a few decades.

Elizabeth Warren puts on a good show, but don't expect her to do anything.

Re:Surprised? No. (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 10 months ago | (#45011053)

Dinner Theater indeed. Two Wolves and a Sheep are deciding whats on the menu. It is all fine and good to watch this theater, until they run out of sheep.

Re:Surprised? No. (1)

phayes (202222) | about 10 months ago | (#45011189)

heh...

Re:Surprised? No. (1)

Sulik (1849922) | about 10 months ago | (#45011255)

+1 Funny

Re:Surprised? No. (1)

dryeo (100693) | about 10 months ago | (#45011355)

Why do people pick on the poor wolf? The sheep in their fear have taken over the government, spy on everything they can, have created the largest armed force in the world, all because they're scared. We now have tyranny of the minority.

Re:Surprised? No. (2)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | about 10 months ago | (#45011227)

If you work for the government, you can't really be expected to provide an impartial audit of government activities. The end. The only time Congress appoints actual outsiders is when the majority party is able to excert enough power to get them appointed. Of course, this is heavily politicalized as well -- they don't appoint people without knowing what their answer will be.

Actually, it's much worse than that. The truth is that if by some miracle they did do an in-depth audit that recommend drastic measures that radically acknowledged the inherent unconstitutionality of the acts and called for trials, jail time, etc, it'd all well be ignored. And after perhaps a few months of controversy in the media at best, the majority of people will assume that either (a) the actions suggested were carried out or (b) there were no calls for action; ie, most everyone will think it was all a grand success and not inherently a futile exercise.

All this group is being offered is a chance to whitewash what was done, quite possibly with strict definitions to work with--probably with a vocabulary that makes it near impossible within the report to even acknowledge abuses. Those brave enough to functionally subvert the panel/report will be badgered and harassed by near half the media (and perhaps 30% of the population) over fluff reasons--be it claims of a breach of national security, not working within the rules, or having some ax to grind. And through it all, nothing of note will actually happen except perhaps ending the revolving door of industry and government for a few people who didn't tow the line.

This isn't dinner theater. At least in dinner theater you can throw tomatoes and the performers and boo them off the stage. And, honestly, they may well lose their job over a bad performance. But, then, I guess it all presumes that the vast majority of Americans aren't so blindly stupid to accept "US is #1" for everything. Then again, if the media is the one who keeps asking the poll questions and gearing towards an answer they want, it's quite possible to get confused answers to your liking, but that's tantamount to the opening act being spared tomatoes; the real meat of the show may still be open for some real abuse.

Re:Surprised? No. (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 10 months ago | (#45011235)

. The truth is that if by some miracle they did do an in-depth audit that recommend drastic measures that radically acknowledged the inherent unconstitutionality of the acts and called for trials, jail time, etc, it'd all well be ignored.

It wouldn't take just a miracle.. it'd take a note from God and an act of Congress too. And frankly, I'd believe news reports that Jesus had blasted his way back to Earth on a unicorn with rainbows crapping out all over the place and orchestras of angels blasting on trumpets over news that Congress decided Congress was in the wrong and decided to throw itself in jail.

Who watches the watchers? (3, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | about 10 months ago | (#45010845)

The watchers themselves, of course. And by the fifth amendment (they like the respect amendments when it serves to their pourposes), they won't incriminate themselves, so the outcome is predictable. Seems that the "ideological crusade" is in this side too.

Re:Who watches the watchers? (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 10 months ago | (#45011033)

And the people, when they vote them out.

If this doesn't matter to enough people to vote them out, then the abuses will continue to happen. People are more concerned about Obamacare and the government shutdown right now. "Democracy doesn't guarantee the best government, it guarantees the government the people deserve." It's lame for people who deserve better, but that's always going to be a problem when living with other people.

Re:Who watches the watchers? (4, Interesting)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 10 months ago | (#45011137)

Suppose, in 2016, by freak chance, the vast majority of jurisdictions in the United States elected representatives from non-mainstream parties—Libertarians, Greens, whatever else you guys have these days. Enough variety to represent every likely perspective, of course.

What do you think would happen to the president when he or she tried to fix the intelligence community? Or the military? Or, heck, even something relatively compact like the FDA? Simple: just ask Jimmy Carter. (And, I would contend, Obama five years ago, just after his first election.) Nothing would get done. The agencies, the companies, and their collective lobbyists would do all they could to undermine the elected representatives, because they themselves are partisan, right down to the core—partisan to anyone who protects or could protect their paycheques and opportunities for advancement, that is.

You cannot vote them out. You cannot even try, but even if you succeeded in voting away the names you know about, the rest would remain and stage coups. Even appointed agency directors have been defeated by the momentum, culture, and job-security-fearing mobs in these places. The rot goes all the way through, and it doesn't want to leave.

Re:Who watches the watchers? (4, Insightful)

AHuxley (892839) | about 10 months ago | (#45011209)

Yes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COINTELPRO [wikipedia.org] version 2.0 would be unleashed on any of the non-mainstream parties talking to each other.
The last time labor, anti war, law reform, minority and indigenous groups tried to work together they where shattered.
Left, right, poor, faith, wealth, city, race, suburban groups would be played off against each other against a setting of scandal.

Re:Who watches the watchers? (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 10 months ago | (#45011285)

And, I would contend, Obama five years ago, just after his first election.

That's optimistic. He put bankers in his cabinet, continued the surveillance, voted for the surveillance before entering office.....

Once again you're running into the problem that the majority is kind of ok with this surveillance. If they weren't, then things would change.

Re:Who watches the watchers? (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 10 months ago | (#45011313)

I'm more thinking about the whole Guantanamo promise.

Re:Who watches the watchers? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 10 months ago | (#45011341)

He didn't actually have a plan on how to do that, it just sounded good to him. No one wants those terrorists in their own back yard.

Re:Who watches the watchers? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 10 months ago | (#45011403)

Re: their own back yard
Think of the regional cash expansion of long term 'holding' buildings and related services, the expert guards needed, interrogators, language experts, cleared psychologists, cleared psychiatrists, medical teams for force feeding, cleared maintenance staff, expanded fly in fly out support and quality local accommodation. Thats a lot of instant state contracting and generational federal funding. *Lawyers not included.
A wise contractor and state could even draft lucrative occupancy guarantee provisions, say 95-100%.

Re:Who watches the watchers? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 10 months ago | (#45011451)

A similar case could be made for a large number of NIMBY-style projects.

I was reading earlier today about nuclear reactors in France. Apparently in France, people welcome nuclear reactors near their towns, for the reasons you just stated. In America, we have wealthy neighborhoods without cell reception because the residents don't want an unsightly cell tower.

Re:Who watches the watchers? (3, Interesting)

arashi no garou (699761) | about 10 months ago | (#45011411)

I don't think it's a matter of the general public being okay with it; rather they don't understand it and can't be bothered to find out why it's a bad thing. The vast majority of the voting public in this country range from the working poor to the middle class. These people are usually working two or more jobs per family (when it's not a broken family; even then the single parent often works two jobs) and simply don't have time to find out who is doing what in the government, much less do something about it. They vote along established party lines based on their upbringing, and probably hope that one asshole will screw the country over just a smidge less than the other one. Given that situation and attitude, it's no surprise that most Americans default to "I'm not doing anything wrong, why should I care if they listen to my phone calls and read my email."

I think if the curtain was truly pulled back by someone with a public face (i.e. not just one whistleblower that no one heard of before June), people would begin to realize what is really going on and why it's so wrong. But panels like the one in the article exist to make sure that never happens. Someone above referenced the fox guarding the hen house, and that's a great analogy.

Re:Who watches the watchers? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 10 months ago | (#45011441)

I don't think it's a matter of the general public being okay with it; rather they don't understand it and can't be bothered to find out why it's a bad thing.

Those two are basically the same.

Re: Who watches the watchers? (1)

arashi no garou (699761) | about 10 months ago | (#45011543)

No, because being okay with it implies that they understand it and don't see a problem with it. I'm saying they don't understand it and don't want to take the time to understand it. Apathy does not equal approval.

How will the group meet if it's furlough time? (1)

kriston (7886) | about 10 months ago | (#45010847)

Okay, how will the group meet if it's furlough time?

Or as Uncle Remus would say (4, Funny)

paiute (550198) | about 10 months ago | (#45010863)

Br'er Fox done got hisself on the jury to find out what's happenin' in that darn chicken coop.

OF COURSE it's open and transparent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45010875)

I mean they could have conducted the review without even telling the public that it was happening. If that's not openness and transparency in action I don't know what is.

Checks and Balances, and NSF not NSA (4, Interesting)

m00sh (2538182) | about 10 months ago | (#45010881)

It just seems that no-one in the government is at odds with the NSA spying program. The idea was always to have checks and balances in the system so that if things spiraled out of control, there would always be counter-forces that would set it right.

However, the white house, senate, supreme courts etc doesn't seem to care. They're all acting like it is no big deal and we should forget about it (or maybe that is how the media is portraying it).

Though on the other hand, this kind of social interaction data is a goldmine for sociologists and social psychologists to industrial psychologists. It could really be the killer technology that drives the next generation of marketing and advertising. Social networking is the fusion of sociology and computer science.

This is especially a goldmine if election candidates can understand and measure how people are deciding to vote. Before it was just spend billions of dollars on a blanket advertising scheme. But, what if they can really get feedback and data on how people are deciding to cast their votes.

Why doesn't the NSF find ways to anonymize the data and use it for scientific research and make everything open.

After social networking, this could be next big thing. Non-survey based measurement and quantification of what people are doing and thinking and how ideas are spreading and problems they are facing.

read "white house" as "white noise". coincidence? (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 10 months ago | (#45010933)

Where you wrote "the white house" my eyes read "the white noise". Poor vision or insightful pupils?

Re:Checks and Balances, and NSF not NSA (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 10 months ago | (#45011041)

Re: spiralled out of control, there would always be counter-forces that would set it right.
Where have we seen this before? GRU vs KGB? GCHQ vs UK gov demands for crime related intercepts to be used in open/closed courts?
Who would be at odds with the NSA spying program within the US gov?
The NSA has had a huge raise to fame, power, political access and departmental prestige over the past 10 years (~in public).
That has not gone unnoticed by the CIA and other powerful factions. The NSA was seen in a more a technical role back in the 1990's with a 'stated' budget to reflect its standing.
For the NSA to rise, other groups have had to make way, share or worse 'lost' political power or funding.
Where once the NSA might have been invited in to give a technical opinion or submit a paper on projected enemy actions....
The NSA may have a vote or in the future see itself setting policy.
Sections of the US gov are very thankful for the emerging global, financial and domestic insights they get. Other sections of the US gov/mil see that as encroaching on their historic roles.
The other option is the CIA/MI6 "used" the NSA as a limited hangout to sell a much larger story to Russia or China. Russia or China seem to know to be more wary about gifts like that and know how to play the media now.
The last option is legal the forging of a domestic and foreign entity - shield and sword like.
How factions in the FBI and CIA would respond short or long term is unpredictable.

Re:Checks and Balances, and NSF not NSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45011151)

It is well-known even in civilian academia that it is impossible to anonymise that kind of data: the shape of the social network is itself very nearly uniquely personally-identifiable.

That is, of course, part of the underlying problem.

Re:Checks and Balances, and NSF not NSA (3, Insightful)

cold fjord (826450) | about 10 months ago | (#45011221)

It just seems that no-one in the government is at odds with the NSA spying program. The idea was always to have checks and balances in the system so that if things spiraled out of control, there would always be counter-forces that would set it right.

However, the white house, senate, supreme courts etc doesn't seem to care. They're all acting like it is no big deal and we should forget about it (or maybe that is how the media is portraying it).

I think that you are overlooking the possibility that the checks and balances functioned as designed, and that the three branches of government signed off on the major aspects of the NSA's programs. That's not to say that there weren't compliance problems, or that the NSA's programs may have gone too far at various times and in various aspects. But the overall information seems to indicate that the NSA's programs were more or less supported by all three branches of government.

The very idea that such a thing is possible will of course result in uproar, cries of "traitors!", posts of the 4th Amendment, and quotes from Benjamin Franklin, and even cries to disband all the intelligence agencies. People will overlook that George Washington ran a spy ring that spied on other colonists and apparently existed well into the days of the Republic, and that Benjamin Franklin headed a committee that opened the mail of other colonists for intelligence purposes. There will be no recognition of Article II of the Constitution, the fact that applying the Constitution to real world situations for more than 200 years might have resulted in meaningful legal precedent and doctrines, that there are different implications in the Constitutional protections of criminal law versus the role of the state in time of war, and the much more modest impositions on the citizens today versus during WW2. There are a variety of other considerations including the shrinking size of the world with modern transportation and the transformational nature of modern communications. The US will be proclaimed to be a tyranny or a fascist state despite the fact that little fundamentally has changed. Elections continue, government changes by election, the Republic endures.

There has been push back against the NSA's programs in Congress, and that push back will continue. It is pretty likely that the NSA's programs will continue, although perhaps with some additional safeguards and oversight. That would be a good thing.

Intelligence agencies, like standing armies, are a regrettable necessity of the modern era. Neither the US nor Europe would be free today without them. But they always pose a potential danger to democracy if abused, and should be watched closely by the legislature.

Re:Checks and Balances, and NSF not NSA (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 10 months ago | (#45011293)

"supported by all three branches of government", "compliance problems", "gone too far at various times and in various aspects" does not mean legal.
"with modern transportation and the transformational nature of modern communications" so we are back to a nice friendly "living document" view of US rights that makes illegal domestic surveillance not illegal.
What has "fundamentally" changed Cold is the vision of a legal 'lock box' via domestic surveillance ending up in domestic court at the whim of political leaders.

Re:Checks and Balances, and NSF not NSA (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 10 months ago | (#45011481)

It just seems that no-one in the government is at odds with the NSA spying program. That's not actually true, if you look at the votes in congress, you'll see that a little more than half support them, but nearly half oppose the programs. It is not divided along party lines, each party is divided on the issue. Generally senior members are more likely to support the programs, they are part of the establishment, but there are a lot of exceptions.

It's not surprising that a little over half of congress supports the NSA spying, since that's approximately the percentage of voters that support it too.

Technically... (1)

gwstuff (2067112) | about 10 months ago | (#45010885)

It's not cool, but sort of expected. In order to get enough information that can be pieced together conclusively, the members of the panel probably need the highest levels of security clearance. There probably aren't that many people who qualify for that job.

Re:Technically... (3, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | about 10 months ago | (#45011043)

This is by design. Nobody who cares about our rights would pass the background check.

Fuck them all. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45010961)

This is such a bad joke it's not even funny.

It's time for the third American revolution.

MOAR SURVEILLANCE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45011009)

It's the only logical conclusion these folks will come to.

No Surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45011013)

Obama just want to fuck everybody and shit on the U.S.A.

Transparency, authoritarian style (5, Interesting)

istartedi (132515) | about 10 months ago | (#45011015)

When I worked in support, the management began taking a drift towards the overly authoritarian side. I don't think they wanted to face up to it though. One particularly absurd thing they did was place a suggestion box next to the desk where all the managers sat. What was wrong with that? It was transparent. Yep. Anybody who put a suggestion in there would be seen putting it in, and the fold size or color of the paper would be matched up with the face, subconsciously or otherwise.

This panel is about as useful as that suggestion box. It's transparency, authoritarian style.

Morrell is not "Obama's" (3, Interesting)

Digital Ebola (29327) | about 10 months ago | (#45011017)

Mike Morrell is a former career CIA guy. He was responsible for the daily president briefings and I believe he was the one to inform President Bush of 9/11. Very experienced and definitely spooky. His secrets have secrets! He would probably be a very awesome guy to meet. Definitely not Obama's unless you hold presidential turnover against him.

Re:Morrell is not "Obama's" (2, Insightful)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about 10 months ago | (#45011047)

Sound insider to me. Predisposed to lean on the side of surveillance, which is the point. Doesn't matter who he is loyal to. Career spook gives it two thumbs up.

Yay. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45011023)

First "put in 3 letter abbreviation here" kinda screws everyone. The goverment investigates; Lets use some really biased people, and hope it turns out ok. Btw, the investigation is secret... so shhh! No reason to worry.

and we should be surprised why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45011083)

and we should be surprised why?

as openly and transparently as possible. (1)

Chas (5144) | about 10 months ago | (#45011127)

Why do I get both the urge to infinitely face-palm AND the mental image of Frau Farbissina doing her "Lies! ALL LIES!" line?

Whitewash (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45011143)

WTF, did someone genuinely else expect anything else to happen?

Window dressing (2)

surfdaddy (930829) | about 10 months ago | (#45011237)

Clapper is the guy who lied to Congress. This is Window Dressing for Obama.

What the FUCK has happened to this country?

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