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Sadly, it is time to put Ted Kaufman out to pasture

I like Ted Kaufman--hardly ever agree with him, but I have always admired his integrity and his intellectual consistency.

Until today.

The horrible whitewashing of the Obama administration's surveillance programs is not just unbecoming for a man of Kaufman's credentials and experience, but could most hopefully be taken as a sign of early dementia (and least charitably taken as a sign he's been bought off).

Here is Kaufman on surveillance and the FISA court, with the realities he chooses to gloss over provided in between:


Anyone who watches a legal thriller on TV knows that before searching someone’s home, business, car, etc. the police must first ask a judge for permission. If she doesn’t think they have a compelling reason to do so, she says no. 
Exactly the same rules apply to national security cases. A government agency must obtain a warrant from a federal judge, one of the 11 sitting on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, before it can “search and seize.”
Reality:  the FISA Court approval rate for requested warrants is 99.97%.  Moreover, the few sources we have into the FISA Court tell us that the standards--unlike Ted's contention--are significantly lower than police must meet in a criminal case.

Yeah, boy, Ted, they are really looking out for due process and probable cause.

Are their decisions about granting or denying surveillance applications a secret? Of course they are, but that is no different than decisions about granting police the right to wire tap a suspect’s phone in any criminal investigation. It is obvious why that decision must remain a secret.
Reality:  because their decisions have remained secret and exempt from any case by case oversight, the FISA court has progressively (sorry, couldn't resist the pun) redefined the meaning of the term "relevant" in such fashion that it now hardly ever finds any request not to meet that standard.

For years during the Cold War the U.S. was able to secretly monitor the intelligence on the Soviet Union’s submarine activity. Had the Soviets known what methods were used they could have stopped the flow of information in a second. That is one of the reasons the WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden disclosures are so harmful. Some of the intelligence they revealed did endanger agents. But even more importantly, once you see the intelligence, it is much easier to determine how the intelligence has been gathered and stop that source.
Uh, Ted?  I guess you missed the whole Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers thing.  What Bradley Manning (let's use the name of the young man) revealed was the casual brutality and civilian targeting of our drone missions.

The lame-ass argument of the Pentagon that having the camera angles of the attacks would make it easier for Al Qaeda to figure out how to avoid future drone attacks is not--even if it were true--on the same level as Soviet nuclear spying.

Or the old saw that Edward Snowden endangered agents?  Which ones, Ted?  The ones sitting in Langley reading my emails while their asses get fatter and their coffee gets colder?

What is particularly chilling is to fine a once-principled, progressive/liberal like Ted Kaufman now stooging for a regime of intrusive surveillance not even contemplated by Richard Nixon or J. Edgar Hoover.  OK, maybe they contemplated it, but they never figured they'd be able to get away with it.

This is perhaps the most offensive platitude in Ted's whole piece:
The people I know who are involved in intelligence oversight believe in our Fourth Amendment rights.
No, Ted, they don't.

And sadly, neither do you, any more.


mynym said…
Perhaps the main problem: ...even more importantly, once you see the intelligence, it is much easier to determine how the intelligence has been gathered and stop that source.
The people I know who are involved in intelligence oversight believe in our Fourth Amendment rights.

The mentality usually begins to be that they're the experts or they know the experts, so they know better and so forth. There's never any corruption in it among the insiders. Nothing to see there, move along.

Meanwhile, back in reality it seems inevitable that a faction will use the information attained by spying for insider trading, blackmail and so forth. So everyone should have just stuck with the principles that the Founders laid out in the first place, archaic and outmoded as they supposedly are by now. But instead it seems that people usually get too wowed with insider knowledge or wooed with insider trading. Is it the intelligence services serving the oligarchs, or the oligarchs servicing and maintaining the intelligence services? (Was the body of an investigative journalist/Hastings cremated recently without the consent of his family? Did the intelligence services execute one of the associates of the Boston boys while interviewing him? How far are corrupt politicians and oligarchs going to let the intelligence services go? And who is serving who in their business partnerships?)
mynym said…
Look at it his way, maybe he's not going crazy and becoming demented based on dementia. Maybe that's the way that almost everyone in DC is becoming. As if they weren't already crazy and corrupt enough.

Decentralize... or die?
mynym said…
A note on Hastings:Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings’ body was cremated against his family’s wishes, destroying potential evidence that could have contradicted the explanation that he died as a result of an accident, according to San Diego 6 reporter Kimberly Dvorak. Report: Michael Hastings’ Body Cremated Against Family’s Wishes I'm reminded of Sibel Edmonds, basically almost getting herself killed by the FBI. I don't think people realize what whistle blowers are up against or why there are so few given the level of corruption these days. Bradley Manning is looking pretty pale and thin, huh?

Interesting to note on Hastings: (Rolling Stone features Boston bombing suspect on cover)

This might get more interesting than it already is if more people get interested in real investigative journalism. Not the fake journalism and "This just in, official sources just took a leak on me!" stuff in the mainstream/corporate media.

And ultimately, real journalism (RIP Hastings) and the free flow of information (RIP Aaron Swartz) may wind up protecting your civil rights more than a compromised, demented or corrupt Congressman will. Aren't they always lagging indicators of trends anyway?
NSCDad said…
It's German, but worth a read. You might not find much about his talk at "American Bridge"

"America has no functioning democracy," Carter said Tuesday at a meeting of the "Atlantic Bridge" in Atlanta.


Previously, the Democrat had been very critical of the practices of U.S. intelligence. "I think the invasion of privacy has gone too far," Carter told CNN. "And I think that is why the secrecy was excessive." Overlooking the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden said Carter, whose revelations were long "likely to be useful because they inform the public."
Carter has repeatedly warned that the United States sharply declined due to excessive restriction of civil rights, their moral authority. Last year he wrote in an article in the "New York Times", new U.S. laws "never before seen breach our privacy by the government" allowed the.

I didn't always like where JC's mind went, but I always admired his willingness to speak it!

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