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Monday Sober Thread: Edward Snowden and the NSA

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Nom Chompsky, Jul 8, 2013.

  1. Nom Chompsky

    Nom Chompsky
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    This is an almost explicitly political topic, but I have faith that we can contain the clusterfuck. That's probably because I'm not very smart, but that's really neither here nor there.

    If you're not familiar and haven't figured out Alta Vista yet, here is a brief wiki synopsis:

    Focus: What are your reactions? Does this sort of thing confirm your worst fears, or do you still have faith in the efficacy of government? Should he be granted asylum elsewhere?
     
  2. Robbie Clark

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    Focus answers: Not shocked, but still appalled. How can anyone in 2013 have faith in the efficacy of the US government? And yes, he should be granted asylum.

    He broke US laws I guess, but he didn't harm anyone.

     
  3. Juice

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    I'm shocked. Shocked that people are surprised about this. Of course the government reads everything. They've been doing so sincere late 80s. Before PRISM was Echelon, before Echelon was Carnivore. Not to mention the algorithms that read everything at the major Internet routing hubs, run by the government.

    For better or worse, Snowden broke the law. He should be arrested and stand trial. Moral stances do not allow someone to do what they want without consequences. I agree with his sentiment, but what did he expect?

    EDIT: And for the non-Americans out there, if you think your government isnt doing the exact same thing, stop kidding yourselves. The NSA just happen to get its hand caught in the cookie jar.
     
  4. Currer Bell

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    Well, technically he shared this info with the entire world, right? His target audience may have been the American people, but now everyone knows it.

    I think the bigger question - in determining whether this is espionage and punishable - is whether the things he revealed resulted in any increase in advantage an enemy has over us, or decreasing our advantage over an enemy. I don't have an answer to that question, but I do think it is the most relevant point.
     
  5. Noland

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    I tend to think that if Snowden ever reaches a courtroom it will be the luckiest day of his life. I have a sneaking suspicion that he will get struck by lightning or attacked by piranhas in his bathtub or some other nicely deniable "accident".

    Whether or not you consider what this guy did to be espionage (It's not treason, by the way, that has a different legal definition.) whatever documents he willingly signed to enable him to work for the NSA certainly had any number of dire warnings, detailed descriptions of what he could and could not disclose, and probably waivers of a fair number of his Constitutional protections. He signed a contract and violated the terms of it.

    If he is lucky his punishment will probably entail a lengthy stay in that supermax prison out in Colorado. If he isn't, he'll get a date with a needle.

    He is royally fucked.
     
  6. effinshenanigans

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    If the information he revealed is stuff we--or most of us, anyway--already assumed, it's safe to say that other countries also assume or already know that we're spying on our own people and the rest of the world.

    What I imagine will happen, though, is that countries will play dumb, say, "We had no idea this was taking place and we're deeply troubled by this wide reaching surveillance program that the United States has been running under our very noses," and use this faux, just-lost-my-monocle surprise to try and gain some sort of advantage in trade agreements or something. I'm not saying that it will work in their favor, but I can certainly see some governments trying it regardless.

    At the end of the day, Snowden will probably make it to Venezuela or wherever he finds asylum and we'll forget about him. Just like we forgot about N. Korea. Just like we forgot about CISPA (which is rumored to be coming back through legislation in another form already). Just like we forget about everything.

    The information that Snowden bestowed will become no more important than the atrocious nutritional--or lack thereof--facts about fast food and we'll go on about our lives knowing that the government is monitoring us. Which, as far as I'm concerned, is probably really boring unless the fact that I enjoy blow job porn every now and then is a matter of national security.
     
  7. JWags

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    I have a few issues with what he did.

    1) His level of access wasn't elite or super classified. Sure he had far more visibility than the average American, but in the grand scheme of things, his clearance was relatively low. Thus he wasn't pulling back the curtain on something truly amazing and impactful, but rather just being an attention seeking douche.

    2) In terms of it "not harming anyone", it could have varying levels of impact on a variety of classified casework by CIA and NSA contractors abroad who often work in tenuous circumstances. If they would put in danger because of the actions of some spiteful nerd, then I'd argue it definitely harmed people.

    Juice's point is a salient one, I'm not sure why this is surprising. Doesn't necessarily mean you need to condone the actions of the government oversight and surveillance, but its not a complete shock. I get uncomfortable when people try to imply whistleblowers like this are heroes or crusaders. They broke the law and betrayed the delicate trust of those agencies who employ them. This wasn't exposing a humans rights violation or genocide.
     
  8. effinshenanigans

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    A lot of people do view this type of surveillance with no oversight as a violation of our rights and the constitution, though. It makes for a good argument on what constitutes privacy and where it begins and ends.
     
  9. Revengeofthenerds

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    So how does this whole asylum thing work?

    Does the dude just fly to whichever country and get to live there like a normal citizen, or does he have to live basically like dixie on probation? Does he get protection to make sure US agents don't go there, find him, and try to make an "accident" happen?

    I would think it'd be really difficult for him to get a job in these countries being basically a well-known fugitive and all who doesn't speak the language, so unless he has a shitload of cash saved up the living conditions for him won't be all that great. And plus he'll be living scared the rest of his life.
     
  10. JWags

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    Those things have a way of working themselves out. There are always wealthy residents of those countries who don't love the US and are willing to help out. Julian Assange was living on a country estate outside of London before things got real and he had to hole up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Fearing for his life is a whole different issue.
     
  11. LatinGroove

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    Count me in the camp as it violates my constitutional rights. It's nobody's business what sites I'm visiting or who I'm calling. I'm not trading my rights for security and safety. You got a warrant because you have a suspicion I'm doing something bad? Fine. Search around to your hearts content, but anyone who is serious about doing bad things is going to get around them anyway. All you need are disposable cell phones, a laptop purchased with cash and encrypted which you never use for personal stuff, and a cantenna so you can use to war drive (hopping on the neighborhood wifis). They didn't manage to catch those two terrorists who had been interviewed by the FBI in the past but yet they still managed to hit Boston. What makes these people think they are above the oath they took when they took office?
     
  12. kindalas

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    My first reaction on the whole PRISM revelation was one of amazement that people were shocked by it. I have the same feeling from the Today I learned post on reddit that are rehashes of cracked articles from a few weeks ago.

    My technical training/schooling crap meant that I knew that the technology existed to build a database of everything that happens online.

    And past behaviours of classified agencies shows that if they can justify it they will do it.

    I think my point is that I have been operating as if the internet was public to people who want to discover things.

    As for Snowden in particular I think he went from whistle-blower, of the worst kept secret on the internet, to traitor to his country the moment he filled a memory stick full of "valuable" data and hopped onto a plane to some of the best friends America has.

    Had he stood up broadcasted what he knew to the american public and turned himself in under the whistle-blower laws I could have respected his motives.

    But jumping a plane to China and then Russia and then wherever the fuck he went.

    That doesn't sit right for me.

    You don't stand up point out a fundamental error you've found with your nation and then rush to that countries least friendly ally.

    As for what the NSA and its foreign equivalents have done. I'm not shocked, I'm not offended and I am kind of reassured.

    I think it is because I think that I believe in the fundamental role of governments to wade through shit to maintain our standards of living.

    I'm actually more upset by this IRS tax audit scandal that is currently unfolding. Because that looks to be a misuse of power and authority rather then a shady action with a productive goal.

    And lets be honest the goal of PRISM is to keep terrorists off of the most useful communication system ever devised.
     
  13. john_b

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    I think Snowden is getting money and assistance from WikiLeaks so it's not a stretch to think that the same people helping Assange would/will help Snowden.
     
  14. dixiebandit69

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    Exactly; how do you think all those Nazis were able to stay in South America for decades (until Mossad found them, that is)?
     
  15. gamecocks

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    This is pretty much how I feel about it as well. I get leaving at the beginning, but once everything settled down he should come face trial. What jury is gonna convict him anyway?
     
  16. TX.

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    I'm one of those people. I admit it. I'm a Libertarian.

    No, shit. It wasn't a surprise. But, it drew attention to a fucked up issue in our country. Where's the line between protecting the US from potential terroristic acts and violating the privacy of its citizens? I might be the most boring white girl ever and never do anything criminal throughout my life, but it's still wrong and disrespectful to my privacy as a law-abiding citizen. And, I don't have enough trust in our government to believe that it's sifting through data only to find and track potential threats to security. Of course it's using it for other reasons. To believe otherwise would be adorably naive.

    In 2008 the Constitutional Court of Germany ruled that an implementation of an EU directive of storing cell phone data was unconstitutional. It may be happening in every other country, but there are others who are definitely not okay with it.

    Benjamin Franklin said, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” I agree with this.
     
  17. Cult

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    I was kind of surprised about the scale of the spying operation, but not so much that it was too ineffective to really catch people like the Boston bombers. You might be able to collect all that data, but I think they'd still have a hard time actually going through all of it.

    The spying is definitely a violation of privacy and completely wrong, but I'm not going to lie to myself and say that I care enough to actually do something about it. Maybe that's the wrong attitude, it can probably only get worse but frankly I think the American people have it way too good to actually do anything meaningful to stop the erosion of our rights. I don't have a problem with what Snowden did at all, he didn't get used and just shotgun a bunch of data to someone who let them cry on his shoulder like Bradley Manning did. Snowden was absolutely right to flee the country and seek asylum, if he came back he would be put in prison for life and nothing would change, although even now nothing will change. It will take a lot more than an affirmation of something we already knew to do that.

    Germany is no better than any other country, Snowden just said they are in bed with the NSA which I found hilarious because all the German people thought their government wasn't doing the same thing. Any nation that is capable of having such a program is probably doing it, and they're probably copying how the US is doing it, or even getting help from them.
     
  18. Parker

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    I have family that work "in the gov't" and can't talk about what they do. Here is what I know for a fact. No one here or any of your friends know anyone that has had the government break down their door and haul them away. They also don't give a shit if Tina texted Timmy a picture of her tits, and what you instragrammed for lunch. They sure as hell don't care if you're looking at transexual midget porn. Hell if they were even looking at shit like they should be, there wouldn't be child pornography rings on the internet, but they are, you know why? They don't give a fuck about that.

    They government cares about two things. Making sure you're paying your taxes. Then making sure the people paying those taxes don't get blown up or killed by outside government forces. That's it. They don't give two shits about what you're looking up, who you're talking to, who you're talking about as long as you're NOT trying to plan some terrorist attack. On top of that, if you do start spouting off all the keywords, they escalate the case, look at context and go from there.

    The government is made up of people. It's not some monolithic creature like Brainiac that runs around getting into people's shit for funsies. The people who are in the biggest arms over this are narcissists who think their lives are so goddamn important and the anti-government rednecks who thinks the gov't wants to take their guns!

    With that said, yeah, dude shouldn't have fled. He should have planted his flag and stood next to it. Plus its not like he uncovered anything that wasn't known by people that weren't idiots. On top of the fact Google has like 2% of the internet indexed. It's really not like terrorists are using gmail and verizon for shit. Come on. It's like someone going to massacre a family buying all their guns from a Wal-Mart.
     
  19. bewildered

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    Close. More like they care about money. If you don't think private contractors and the "military industrial complex" or whatever you want to call it doesn't push for certain things then you are naive as they come. It's all about money, and there is a lot of money to be had in other ways than taxes.

    I am not interested in discussing this topic, I just also wanted to add the above. There is a ton of shit going down and knowledge is power. You can "suspect" that things are a way but when certain specific policies are actually uncovered, then people can form an opinion or object to them. The problem is all this shit is super secret. A lot of it is classified even when it doesn't need to be in isolation, but by classifying the whole damned system it protects the power and the existence of other more secret things that probably are illegal to start with.
     
  20. Pow

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    Whether or not people thought it was happening or not, or whether they have something to hide is irrelevant. What they're doing is illegal/unconstitutional (not going to split hairs, its one of them).

    When an organization is breaking laws secretly, a whistleblower is required to inform the public about it. That part seems pretty cut and dry. The nonsense of him hiding/personal gain seems like a smear tactic for people that don't fully understand. If the NSA wants this information they should be going through the due process required to get it. I don't think anyone believes that they are getting warrants and judicial approval for the amount of information they are collecting and that's the only thing that matters.