Domestic spying

The State Is Spying on You Right Now. Where's the Outrage?

Government spying is so common today that it is almost the new normal. Yet government spying is not normal to the Constitution.

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Here is a short pop quiz: When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Congress earlier this month about the parameters of the secret negotiations between the United States and Iran over nuclear weapons and economic sanctions, how did he know what the negotiators were considering? Israel is not a party to those negotiations, yet the prime minister presented them in detail.

When Hillary Clinton learned that a committee of the U.S. House of Representatives had subpoenaed her emails as secretary of state and she promptly destroyed half of them—about 33,000—how did she know she could get away with it? Destruction of evidence, particularly government records, constitutes the crime of obstruction of justice.

When Gen. Michael Hayden, the director of both the CIA and the NSA in the George W. Bush administration and the architect of the government's massive suspicionless spying program, was recently publicly challenged to deny that the feds have the ability to turn on your computer, cellphone, or mobile device in your home and elsewhere, and use your own devices to spy on you, why did he remain silent? The audience at the venue where he was challenged rationally concluded that his silence was his consent.

And when two judges were recently confronted with transcripts of conversations between known drug dealers—transcripts obtained without search warrants—and they asked the police who obtained them to explain their sources, how is it that the cops could refuse to answer? The government has the same obligation to tell the truth in a courtroom as any litigant, and in a criminal case, the government must establish that its acquisition of all of its evidence was lawful.

The common themes here are government spying and lawlessness. We now know that the Israelis spied on Secretary of State John Kerry, and so Netanyahu knew of what he spoke. We know that the Clintons believe there is a set of laws for them and another for the rest of us, and so Mrs. Clinton could credibly believe that her deception and destruction would go unpunished.

We know that the NSA can listen to all we say if we are near enough to a device it can turn on. (Quick: How close are you as you read this to an electronic device that the NSA can access and use as a listening device?) And we also know that the feds gave secret roadside listening devices to about 50 local police departments, which acquired them generally without the public consent of elected officials in return for oaths not to reveal the source of the hardware. It came from the secret budget of the CIA, which is prohibited by law from spying in the U.S.

What's going on here?

What's going on here is government's fixation on spying and lying. Think about it: The Israeli Mossad was spying on Kerry while the CIA was spying on the Mossad. Hillary Clinton thought she could destroy her emails just because she is Hillary Clinton, yet she forgot that the administration of which she was an integral part dispatched the NSA to spy on everyone, including her. And though it might not voluntarily release the emails she thought she destroyed, the NSA surely has them. The police have no hesitation about engaging in the same warrantless surveillance as the feds. And when Hayden revealed a cat-like smile on his face when challenged about the feds in our bedrooms, and the 10,000 folks in the audience did not reveal outrage, you know that government spying is so endemic today that it is almost the new normal.

Yet government spying is not normal to the Constitution. Its essence—government fishing nets, the indiscriminate deployment of government resources to see what they can bring in, government interference with personal privacy without suspicion or probable cause—was rejected by the Framers and remains expressly rejected by the Fourth Amendment today.

For our liberty to survive in this fearful post-9/11 world, the government's lawless behavior must be rejected not just by the words of dead people, but by the deeds of we the living. When the president violates the Constitution and the Congress and courts do nothing to stop him, we have effectively amended the Constitution with a wink and a nod—by consent, if you will. Its guarantees of liberty are only guarantees if the people in whose hands we repose it for safekeeping honor them as guarantees and believe and behave as such because the Constitution means what it says.

Where is the outrage? If you knew the feds were virtually present in your bedroom or your automobile, and your representatives in Congress did nothing about it, would you buy the nonsense that you should have nothing to hide? Would you send those weaklings back to Congress? Or would you say to a lawless government, as the Founders did to the British, "Thou shalt not enter here"? Does the Constitution mean what it says in bad times as well as in good times?

These are not academic questions. They address the most important issue of our day. For nothing will destroy our personal liberties more effectively than the government refusing to honor them and Americans sheepishly accepting that. And without freedom, what are we?

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  1. Where’s the outrage? I see plenty of outrage. Outrage about surveillance. Outrage at TSA and DHS. I see the outrage in comments online. What I don’t see is the free press, living up to their social compact with society. The 4th Estate is failing us. A free people cannot remain free if the Press and the Government conspire against the citizenry.

    1. I see a monolithic (nearly) media that is losing its grip on the public. In and tehyare at leats dimly aare of it. The New York Times (“All The News That Fits The Narative”) seems to be getting ready to call for a new public, which will complete its descent into irrelevance. The Washington Post is shifting, ever so slightly, towards … Well, not the Right so much as a recognition that reporting what has actually happened as opposed to what the Democrat Party wants to have happened might be a better strategy for long term sales.

      In the meantime, keep demanding transparancy. Keep recording the recorders. And take the swine to court if practical … or at least entertaining.

      1. Keep demanding it all you want. The short supply of transparency has priced it way out of reach.

      2. Did John hack your account for that comment? 😉

        1. Misspelled words and incoherent shit fit.

          Possible.

      3. “I see a monolithic (nearly) media that is losing its grip on the public.”

        I think this is right — I certainly hope so. The Internet and crowd-sourced news may be our savior. That’s why I think “net neutrality” is so much more dangerous than many people realize. The useful idiots on the left, as usual, are advocating against their own best interests. What’s the matter with Kansas, indeed!

        1. I suspect that the current implementation of Net Neutrality by the FCC is actually a government response to the freedom of expression and association that has characterized the Internet these past decades. They will try to make of the Internet what they’ve made of the “Free” Press. We would be very naive not to recognize that one of the priorities of government is to control information.

        2. I disagree, the gov/proggies have a grasp on the internet. Let alone the companies running the sites(who are being paid to watch over you).
          Hopefully we all wake up…or NEO comes and wakes us.

    2. I see plenty of outrage. Outrage about surveillance. Outrage at TSA and DHS.

      You do?

      Because it sure as hell doesn’t show up at election time. The GOP absolutely loves the surveillance police state and only a few Democrats like Russ Feingold put up resistance to it back in the early 2000s. Now it is pretty much set in place for both parties.

      oh, and

      Good Morning Peanuts!

      1. I see it here and a few other places. In the general population and mainstream media – not at all.

      2. Based on polls in response to Obama’s domestic spying program proggies love it more.

        See
        http://hotair.com/archives/201…..veillance/

        among others

        Of course that is more a reflection of their general amoral nature. When team blue is in power whatever team blue is doing is right and just and pure.

        1. But is was Bush and the R team that created this in the first place. I will never forgive them for that, they can blab all they want about limited government, but it’s just talk.

      3. I’ll be amazed if this concern makes even back-page news in any major 2016 campaign, sadly.

    3. i totally agree. People are outraged. The problem is that they feel powerless to stop it. And the media has a lot to do with them feeling that way. The media has enormous power to create and mobilize public outrage. It has completely failed to do so here. And that failure has been by choice.

      1. The media has enormous power to create and mobilize public outrage. It has completely failed to do so here. And that failure has been by choice.

        Yes, the big players benefit from the current system of media “self” regulation. Their clientele consists of advertisers and sources–not readers. Unless readers significantly reject the pro-government slant, the interests of those readers will have little effect on content. After all, one of the first rules of rhetoric is to know one’s audience. With the audience being those who “pay” to manipulate opinion and choice.

        Furthermore, I see the lack of critique of the current administration as less partisanship and more a reluctance to bite the hand that feeds the coffers. The WH press corp and the Washington press club know who butters their bread and will not challenge them unless it is the out-of-power party. And they criticize the minority party only to get more scraps from the party in power.

        The Free Press is a myth propagated by the press itself. They are beholden to their (real) customers like any other enterprise.

        1. Look how many reporters take jobs in the administration. There is not much money in journalism anymore. So doing it has become a way to ingratiate yourself into the powers that be and get a job as a political hack.

      2. Our media sources are starting to look like one huge conglomerate, with very little (if any) variation in the coverage they present to us. One view fits all– usually doesn’t fit me. One year my local newspaper had a list of news worthy stories the media never covered. I couldn’t believe it. The list was quite lengthy and they involved quite a few corporate wrongdoings. We really have no choice anymore. The only real choices we have — what celebrity newsperson do you want to hear or read ? I don’t know…Robo news anchor sounds wonderful to me !
        At least the robot will have the intelligence to check its own sources, or resources depending on how you want to look at it.

        Between the cold war and Russian spies, Watergate, Israel’s paranoia, and now our own paranoia with terrorists, we’ve acclimated ourselves to not give a shhh about being spied on.
        But we will take umbrage with China or North Korea for doing the exact same thing to their own people. We have systemically turned into the biggest hypocrites on the planet.

        You know, your spouse might cheat on you one day. Do you spy on them 24hrs a day as a deterrent, or do you spy on them because you want to satisfy your paranoia ?
        You can accomplish one, but not the other.

    4. Amen.
      This is one of the biggest threats to our freedom currently.
      Guess who else spied on their own people?

    5. I see plenty of outrage in comments posted on the internet. But that’s not nearly enough. In fact, I think we’ve become complacent thinking our perfectly thought-out and reasonable posts will address the problem. In that way the internet has become a hive of laziness. What is needed is for people – real, live people – to go places every day and protest aloud. In front of every news organization – yes, the do have brick and mortar offices – every single day to demand they cover an issue. In all courts and government offices where our natural rights are being pissed away every single day. There is no substitute for direct confrontation. The time is NOW. Get up and act!

  2. The Fourth Amendment is so far down the toilet there is no saving it anymore. Now the government has finally gotten around to violating the Third Amendment, allowing police to take over someone’s home to gain a ‘tactical advantage’ over a suspect who may be located in a building nearby.

  3. As one of my Uncles used to say, “We’ve got it too good.”

    Multiple generations of Americans (and other westerners) have more or less been totally insulated from anything remotely resembling adversity, and have developed a very blas? attitude towards issues foundational to our modern democratic state(s). Anything the government does, which does not directly get in the way of them and their Starbucks and their shopping malls, is not thought about, AT ALL. And The State uses this lax attitude on the part of wide swathes of the citizenry to it’s benefit.

    We all lose.

    1. Spot on Gordi. Add to that everyone’s fanatical obsession with putting their whole lives up on Facebook and blathering constantly on Twitter, people don’t value privacy like they used to.

  4. Spying is so much more ubiquitous than most people realize (occurring largely in the private sector which makes up for it’s lack of infrastructure access with powerful economic incentives) it is far from normal. Being pervasive, the only place to go from here is normalization.

    1. One can opt out of a private sector provider; one can’t opt out of the government sector.

      1. Ted, I don’t buy that particular definition game. You go out in public, you opt in. You use a bank, you opt in. You use a phone or any other electronic media, you’re opting in. The government just piggybacks on the surveillance infrastructure built maintained and employed by the private sector.

        1. No, going out in public (taking a walk down the street) is NOT opting in. It is living.

          Moving about without interference or surveillance is implicit in a right “peaceably to assemble”.

  5. will we keep losing freedoms indefinitely or will there be some turning point where we regain them when a new order comes into power (and the process of seizing the wealth attained through capitalism and slowly taking the citizenry’s freedom starts again)

    1. Swedish disco?

      1. Looks to me more like a couple of covered wagons tryong to get through a mountain pass. The deep snow is hiding their wheels (and animals)

    2. I blame Spandau Ballet.

  6. We’ve all become so used to being lied to – whether it’s the media, advertisers or politicians – that it’s become second nature to just accept it. And if someone says something about that, expects someone to keep their word, they’re dismissed as naive cranks who just don’t understand the way things work.

  7. The government has the same obligation to tell the truth in a courtroom as any litigant, and in a criminal case, the government must establish that its acquisition of all of its evidence was lawful.

    “Show me where in the Constitution ….”

    1. “…the bad man touched you.”

  8. (Bloomberg) — The co-pilot of the Germanwings A320 that crashed in the French Alps, killing 150 people, appears to have deliberately initiated a fateful descent while the pilot was locked out of the cockpit, French prosecutors found.

    Wow. That is fucked up.

    1. Yeah. 29 year old copilot. You have to be completely fucked to decide to take 150 people with you when you want to kill yourself.

    2. Updates on pilot.

      The co-pilot of the doomed Germanwings Airbus A320 locked his captain out of the cockpit before deliberately crashing into a mountain to ‘destroy the plane’, it was sensationally revealed today.
      French prosecutor Brice Robin gave further chilling details of the final ten minutes in the cockpit before the Airbus A320 plunged into the French Alps killing 150 people.
      Revealing data from the black box voice recorder, he said the co-pilot – named as 28-year-old German Andreas G?nter Lubitz – locked his captain out after the senior officer left the cockpit.
      At that point, Lubitz uses the flight monitoring system to put the plane into a descent, something that can only be done manually.
      He said: ‘The intention was to destroy the plane. Death was instant. The plane hit the mountain at 700km per hour.
      ‘I don’t think that the passengers realised what was happening until the last moments because on the recording you only hear the screams in the final seconds’.

      1. Wow. This is the second or maybe third time in the last 15 years this has happened. There was a jet over the Mediterranean back in the 00s where the pilot yelled “Allah Akbar” and flew it into the ocean. We probably will never know, but chances are the pilot of the Malaysian Airlines jet that disappeared did the same thing. And now this guy. Worse, judging from his name, this guy was likely not a Muslim who blew a gasket. So, it appears that the danger of the pilot blowing a gasket and flying the plane in the ground is not restricted to the pilot being a Islamic nut. How does someone manage to be that psychotic and no one notice before he does something like this?

        1. “How does someone manage to be that psychotic and no one notice” Political views and dangerous psychosis differ mainly by the control stick with which they drive us us into the earth.

          1. Flying a plane into the ground is a totally different level of crazy from thinking Paul Kruman’s editorials are Gospel. Sure, the second is crazy and stupid, but not like this.

            1. Shit like this is why Government Almighty wants to spy on each and every one of us, 24-7, in the illusion that they can catch our bonkers-ness before we do something stupid and evil like this. … Then they fail in their illusion-driven quest to stop the bonkers from being bonkers, so they divert the mission, and use their powers to bust pot-smokers and micro-aggressors instead.

              1. Excellent analysis of what’s happening. I would add any failed quest becomes the genesis of a more extreme quest and it’s a matter of time and technology before involuntary 24/7 mind-reading comes to U.S. citizens.

            2. On second thought? “Thinking Paul Kru(g, sic)man’s editorials are Gospel” may only be the first step of many. The next-to-last step is believing that a Giant Paul Krugland meets us in an after-life Socialist Paradise; a North Korea in the Sky, where every new arrival is granted 72 brand-new Socialist Virtues. The last step is getting yourself all Lubitzed up, and taking yourself (preferably along with many others) to this after-life Socialist Paradise.

        2. FoxNews is desperately trying to make Lubitz a Mooslim. Comical really.

          1. Lubitz is an awfully Muslim sounding name, isn’t it? Wait….

            1. Which does bring up an interesting question?

              9-11 evil act was determined to have a root cause in Loony-Tunes interpretations of Islam, so now we have a never-ending War on Islamic Terrorism.

              If Andreas G?nter Lubitz’s evil act act is determined to have had its roots in Loony-Tunes interpretations of belief in Government Almighty Over-reach, will we have a never-ending War on Government Almighty Over-reach? ? Me? I’m NOT holding my breath for that one!

  9. And gold is rocketing up this morning.

    Hmmmmm…

  10. Government Spying is not the NEW NORMAL.

    I’m 50 years old and practically everyone I know believed that the government spies on us.
    Everyone spies. Do you know that the Israeli Government Spies on us?
    Did you know your google/hotmail/aol email account spies on you?
    Did you know that you are being spied on RIGHT NOW in this BROWSER?

    It’s total nonsense that government spying is any worst that foreign or commercial spying.

    1. It’s total nonsense that government spying is any worst that foreign or commercial spying.

      Last I checked, corporations can’t take what they learn from spying and then use it as a pretext for initiating violence. The worst thing they can do is use the information to try to sell you something.

      1. u have a point there.

        Many years ago, the cops use to go on to NCIC (and other systems) to look up chicks and enemies. Now it’s not that easy for them as each inquiry is now logged.

        I think citizens should be allow to search these logs to see who, when, and even why a government official is looking you up.

        Nonetheless, I never had any doubt in my mind that the Government spies on us on the Down Low.

      2. “he worst thing they can do is….” Destroy your life?

      3. corporations can’t take what they learn from spying and then use it as a pretext for initiating violence…worst thing they can do is use the information to try to sell you something.

        Sure they can use what they learn through your voluntary interaction with them to provide you with targeted advertising that should be more in line with things you may actually like and wish to purchase (therefore, being less irritating). But they are still TEH EVUL!

  11. Where is the outrage ?

    Please judge, the sheep are screaming for more all the time. And not just from the feds and states, but at every level, surveillance is apparently viewed as a good thing. I see now that rather than keys to enter a certain apartment building, the residents now have personalized fobs containing RFID chips. So convenient! For whom? The Stasi only wished they could have it so good!

  12. What justifiable exception does our society consider to be reasonable when one discusses the individual rights to privacy as outlined in the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution? The expectation of privacy may not be considered reasonable in places designated to be public like an open field. However, there is no justifiable exception, with the exception of probable cause, as outlined in The US Constitution: “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Probable cause is said to be present when a police officer has a “reasonable belief” in the guilt of a suspect based on FACTS and INFORMATION acquired prior to the arrest.
    I personally refuse to be a sheep; I expect privacy … I am not an actor, senator, famous athlete who has placed herself in the “public eye” and further; even these individuals deserve to be treated with respect and dignity which equates to honoring their privacy.

    1. Additionally, To claim protection under the Fourth Amendment, one must first demonstrate an expectation of privacy, however, an expectation exists that society is prepared to recognize as reasonable privacy under the circumstances.

      When the USA Patriot Act was enacted following 9/11 by President Bush law enforcement officials were given something called a “sneak-and-peak” warrant which enabled them to delay notifying the owner of the property of the issuance of a warrant which is clearly in violation to civil liberties and the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution. National Security Letters (NSL), subpoena’s that require that individuals, groups or organizations to provide about other individuals, were also expanded under the Patriot Act. These same NSLs carry a “gag order” meaning that the individual who is responsible for complying cannot mention the existence of the NSL.

  13. I see plenty of outrage in comments posted on the internet. But that’s not nearly enough. In fact, I think we’ve become complacent thinking our perfectly thought-out and reasonable posts will address the problem. In that way the internet has become a hive of laziness. What is needed is for people – real, live people – to go places every day and protest aloud. In front of every news organization – yes, the do have brick and mortar offices – every single day to demand they cover an issue. In all courts and government offices where our natural rights are being pissed away every single day. There is no substitute for direct confrontation. The time is NOW. Get up and act!

  14. Americans will express outrage when their masters tell them to.

  15. It is frustrating that any current administration can never be convicted while holding power. These days the AG’s are just political hacks with NO integrity.
    I wish at some point the Judge is keeping track of these (or the most glaring) cases, and tell us what the SOL is on some of these crimes.
    It is hard to see any candidate convicting the officials of the previous admin – they are all corrupt.

    Sad really – were doomed!!

  16. Wow! A lot of fear mongering in such a short article. There are so many things wrong or distorted in this article, for example no government official can confirm or deny an intelligence capability–that’s a crime. Same with information gather using intelligence methods, they cannot be revealed in open court only in closed courts where everyone is cleared for the information. Clinton doesn’t have to spy to have followers pass her information. As for foreign countries spying on us–this might come as a surprise to you but anyone who has watched the news is aware of the foreign spying in the US. They’ve been doing since the nation was founded.

    The idea that the NSA has free time to spy on 330 million Americans rather than the foreign threats out there doesn’t pass muster. Even if they wanted to spy on every American, in addition to the prohibitions of the 4th Amendment and EO 12333 as amended, it would be physically impossible.

    It has already been proven that snowden lied about a number of things, including his access to information, but we are still rehashing issues that have been proven false.

    I have an idea let make every American afraid of their government because no Americans actually work for the government, right? Your neighbors, friends, and relatives–none of them work for the government, right. Or maybe a better idea would be to report the facts and stop the fear mongering.

  17. The answer I get when I ask people this question is “well, I don’t have anything to hide”.
    Or
    “Well, if it keeps us safe, than that’s ok”.
    That’s what has to be refuted. Convincingly. Good luck.

    These are usually average people that don’t have much practical experience with politics, little understanding of history, and a respect for authority that fails to appreciate human nature and the corrupting influence of power.

    Unfortunately, with the exception of this readership and some others, I think most people don’t really care about freedom. It seems to me that many would be happy to trade the risks of freedom for a “safe” life akin to that of a rat on a feeder bar in a plastic cage with a spinny wheel and regular medical care. The only fix for that is for the govt checks and benefits to stop.

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