Dave Aronson July 18, 2013 4:49 PM

Also surprising was the tortured legal reasoning
used to justify these surveillance programs

It wasn’t tortured… it was enhancedly interrogated. 🙂

JohnAnonymous July 18, 2013 6:46 PM


Thank you guys for representing. Excellent responses from both Mike and Bruce.

Powerful, bold, incise statements.

“What can change this”

IMO, only desperate, heartfelt prayer can change the situation.

We do not really know how long these sorts of systems have been in use. There is a strong possibility there are underlying systems which were there pre-2011 and maybe even dating back to the Hoover era. Needless to say, this manner of system can control corporations and politicians.

No President informed on Hoover, no Senator did. They may have talked about it to themselves or written about it in memoirs which were published after Hoover died, but they did not stop the man.

Politicians and political movements are especially vulnerable in a surveillance society that has a democratic voting process.

Even if every politician did not have dirt (which may be as simple as their real opinion), every politician has rivals. And knowing all of their secrets can flatten them against their rivals.

The US is much more powerful then the UN, and the US has the capability to have strong influence in even the most powerful of their rivals.

These same rules apply to a surveillance state’s capabilities for manipulating corporations — foreign and domestic.

It may seem hard to imagine these systems are older then they appear, but consider that the talking points which would persuade one otherwise are people inside, in the know — but just not that much in the know. Consider how easy it can be to have something already done and give an organizational appearance of doing it new.

Figureitout July 18, 2013 7:11 PM

–I too used to think a political solution was the way to go; but you need more engineers and scientists choosing the topics of discussion and having the debates b/c this is a technological world now and otherwise we’re stuck talking about the same old people issues that haven’t been solved for at least 30+ years. F*cking Detroit just filed for bankruptcy, these people can’t manage this stupidly created complexity and don’t engage the citizens. So if you say the only solution is political, I will say it will fail.

BTW, your most recent Op-Ed was excellent, but the content was extremely depressing.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons July 18, 2013 7:37 PM

Not to rain on your parade, I am sure that the two of you made some inroads with the participants–others might not have (tough to get depth in a subject that people have little knowledge about the inner workings). I will be the first one to admit that the more we have people speaking to this injustice the better–but–the responses I see coming from congress and the intelligentsia does little to bolster confidence.

This problem does not require fixing!

During the house Judiciary Committee hearing today, congressional representatives expressed their outrage about what the NSA was up to and directed that anger at the Deputy Director. Seems members were upset about the violation to the 4th amendment (remember, they have violated everyone’s 4th amendment rights–wonder how many counts a prosecutor will bring) is being violated. Less obvious to me when members made statements indicating they had no idea about the 215 scope and claimed that they had not authorized such broad warrants–wait–it’s their job to draft the legislation, review, vote, and ultimately review and provide accountability–or am I missing something here?

I’d argue, that’s their job!

What I find even more concerning is the language for the FISA admen dents were drafted deliberately to create a secret court–and–it was done under the color of the law. This goes to conspiracyIf I were caught up in such a conspiracy–even close to one that affects everyone–the lock me away (and no, I am not going around saying I’m the emperor).

I must implore all that address this issue to see it as the criminal act it is–when we, the citizens do something wrong we get the full force of the law–or more (Aaron Swartz ring a bell). When government does it, oops…my bad. I promise, it won’t happen again (in my mind I here a chorus; McCarthy, J. Hoover, Nixon, and Olie N. singing in 5/4 time).

A criminal trail should be called for–seems no one has the gumption to call these scoundrels on their misdeeds.

Herman July 19, 2013 2:59 AM

I find the NSA admission to following phone records to 3 hops away rather disturbing, since 3 hops could encompass the whole country (at 4 or 5 hops you include all of humanity). The sheer scope of the data trawling means that the probability of Guilt by Association reaches 1.

Gavin B. July 19, 2013 5:03 AM

Strong words Bruce.

I salute you for saying them loud and clear, and in the USA!

stine July 19, 2013 5:23 AM

Regarding the question

What, if anything, can citizens do to protect themselves from potentially unlawful uses of PRISM?

that was asked of you. The correct answer is not to wait for elected officials to “reign in the agency”. The correct answer is much more violent, uncontrolled, and, one might just say, revolutionary.

Gavin B. July 19, 2013 6:48 AM

Strong words Bruce.

I salute you for saying them loud and clear, and in the USA!

Layer 8 July 19, 2013 9:08 AM

Good and clear answers. Thanks.

With completely filled NSA-Databases there are five kinds of truth today and in future:

  1. Your truth
  2. My truth
  3. The truth the actual Database-Request brings up
  4. The truth a Database-Request would bring up by considering any information stored (not just regarding special topics)
  5. The truth

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.