back to article US intelligence: Snowden's latest leaks 'road map' for adversaries

The US Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has issued a response to the latest revelations from Edward Snowden with a warning that the information is "not news," but has nevertheless harmed the agency's ability to keep America and its allies safe. On Thursday ProPublica, The New York Times, and The Guardian …

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criminal intelligence activity

"The stories published yesterday, however, reveal specific and classified details about how we conduct this critical intelligence activity," it said."

and here i thought it said "criminal intelligence activity". that would be the day lol

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Unhappy

Re: criminal intelligence activity

Indeed.

But as you know with THE PATRIOT act, it's (99.9%) legal.

US companies, US offices, US servers.

And there 's always GCHQ for the rest.

I'm sort of reminded of a bad action thriller where the head bad guy says something like "I said I wouldn't kill you, and I won't. "

(Gestures to #1 henchmen) "He's going to kill you instead."

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Control is power.

The world has sleep walked into this sh*t but now we are starting to wake up.

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Re: Legal under the Patriot Act

In the US all laws have to be interpreted with the qualifier of "as limited by the constitution and it's amendments."

The NSA's domestic spying violates the First, Fourth, and Fifth amendments. So no, it's not legal.

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Unhappy

Re: Legal under the Patriot Act

Unfortunately it doesn't work that way and never has. If the Attorney General interprets a tactic, practice or policy to be necessary to fulfill legislation already passed, and, under his assesment of the powers allowed by the Constitution OK's it, it becomes legal until, and if, the Supreme Court says it isn't.

Congress can so some things to halt such unilateral decisions such as defunding or repealing the underlying legislation or passing specific legislation to stop them but rarely do they manage to pull it off. It's how Presidents from Lincoln through today do end runs around common sense readings of the Constitution.

It's shitty, cowardly, and not at all the way it was originally designed to work, but that's the way it is. And it's legal...

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Geez Lars

"Throughout history, nations have used encryption to protect their secrets ..."

One of the first signs of wakefulness is the argument that 'we have done stupid sh*t that doesn't work "throughout history"' , as if that made it work better, and as if 'the bad guys' were stuck on stupid too.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shannon%27s_Maxim

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@LarsG

"Control is power. / The world has sleep walked into this sh*t but now we are starting to wake up."

You're right about control and power, and I'd hope you're correct about us starting to wake up. However I'm sceptical, history has shown we've but brief and fleeting memories—you know, 'The War to End All Wars' etc. Such phrases are now rhetoric but that the time they were meant and heartfelt, but a generation or so later all bets were off and it was back to the usual killing business, this time with a vengeance.

Moreover, we easily lose sight of the damage governments do to their own citizens. And the 20th C. saw a great deal of that, a point I've laboured on about in a post further on.

.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: criminal intelligence activity

", and today, terrorists, cybercriminals, human traffickers and others also use code to hide their activities," the agency said on its recently launched Tumblr page."

When this spying on US citizens was first exposed, our government told us that this information was being used to stop terrorists and was authorized by the so called Patriot Act. From the sound of this, it has evolved into a gigantic fishing expedition designed to catch almost anyone (US citizens included) breaking any law. They tried using a chicken shit copyright the Initials NSA or anything connected to agency to stop criticism from their agency up to the point citizens should not be allowed to mention the name of this agency. I sounds like the former Soviet leadership has taken over America and the NSA (KGB in Russian) is operating at full speed.

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Stop

Re: Legal under the Patriot Act

It does not violate the First Amendment. Nothing in what has been revealed establishes or affects free exercise of religion, or abridges the freedom of the press, or prevents peaceable assembly to petition the Government. The fact that some people might self censor out of fear that an NSA analyst will see their activities in no way prevents those activities.

It does not violate the Fifth Amendment. What the NSA is doing does not result in holding a person for a capital or infamous crime; it could influence a grand jury toward issue of an indictment, but that's at least one remove from the collection and analysis of data. It does not subject an accused to double jeopardy (although other Federal actions arguably do so), and it surely does not compel any degree of self incrimination. Taking private property for public use also seems a nonstarter.

The weak point seems to be the Fourth Amendment. Things may be a bit less clear, but established law, for about 40 years, has it that telephone metadata such as has been compelled by subpoena from Verizon does not constitute unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment. The government could be expected to argue that (a) internet metadata collection is not meaningfully different from telephone billing data. There may be issues with collecting all metadata rather than that of a particular group of named individuals, and there may be issues with probable cause; these issues seem not to have been determined yet by courts. As things stand, the best that can be said is that some people feel strongly that this collection exceeds Fourth Amendment limits.

As for the collected content (e. g., email bodies), the government doubtless will argue that collecting and storing the content does not constitute searching or seizure, but that search is done only when the stored data is retrieved for examination by an analyst. They might be able to persuade the courts of that, or in the event they cannot, that the efforts described to ensure exclusion of data that does not have at least one endpoint outside the US are adequate (possibly with further tightening).

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Re: Legal under the Patriot Act

Irrelevant.

In the States only the Second Amendment [1] is important. Everything else is just a roadmap for Commies

(or to use more up-to-date jargon) Terrorists.

[1] Absolutely necessary because the British might invade again. Remember 1814!

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Re: criminal intelligence activity

Or if you're in a county (NZ) that never really introduced loopy do-anything-for-national-security bills, when the courts rule that you can't legally collect and use evidence, you get a law passed that retroactively makes it all OK. Why follow the law, when it can be re-written when needed.

The three cases are the Dotcom spying, police use of surveillance cameras without a court order, and the cops misleading a court.

You can read plenty about Dotcom's case, and GCHQ managing to miss his legal status (or not care, since pleasing the USA trumps pretty much anything), the ability of governments to seize your business and personal assets without actually convicting you of anything, then dragging out the following stages. Why convict someone, when you can just bankrupt them? Good ol' USA justice.

The police need a court order to use video surveillance on private property. A member of the public can, in a public place, record anything they can see. The police concluded that if their surveillance camera is on public property then they do not need a court order. Never bothered to check with the courts. When challenged on this (in a trial for terrorism and insurrection no less) it turns out that, no, police still have to get a court order if they want to use it for evidence. A law change was rushed through as it turned out 3-400 cases rested upon video evidence that was not actually legal evidence. This was framed as "keeping bad guys in jail" rather than "we've been using illegally obtained evidence to obtain convictions because we're too lazy to follow the law"

The third was when it turned out that in order to bolster the reputation of an undercover cop, the undercover was arrested and charged. The cops giving evidence where aware of this, so deceived the court. This is the case that actually irked Justice more than anything else, since the other where (delibrate perhaps) mus-interpretations or mistakes on certain points, sworn police officers lying to the court is a huge breech of trust.

When the police or state agencies (spy, military etc) get caught up in doing what they feel is right over what is legal, then an important line is crossed. When those agencies get caught, and the moral code >> legal code is now the official line, then we're one step closer to totalitarianism. No questioning the system, the system is always right, exposing the wrongs that are done to our citizens is helping the enemy, we have always been at war with eastasia etc

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Anonymous Coward

"The world has sleep walked into this sh*t but now we are starting to wake up."

Wake up and do what? Complain to MP's? Protest in the streets?

The UK government (and I'm sure the US will too), simply ignore the protestations of its citizens.

UK government has said extremely little, other than to say " We don't comment on intelligence matters".

The stone walling is proving to be highly effective.

From the book written by Tomlinson, there is virtually no accountability to anyone, save the prime minister over these SIS organisations. And the British PM is very actively supporting the SIS's.

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Re: Legal under the Patriot Act

Thanks for challenging me on this; I'll admit I was kinda hoping someone would.

It does not violate the First Amendment. Nothing in what has been revealed establishes or affects free exercise of religion, or abridges the freedom of the press, or prevents peaceable assembly to petition the Government. The fact that some people might self censor out of fear that an NSA analyst will see their activities in no way prevents those activities.

It does not violate the Fifth Amendment. What the NSA is doing does not result in holding a person for a capital or infamous crime; it could influence a grand jury toward issue of an indictment, but that's at least one remove from the collection and analysis of data. It does not subject an accused to double jeopardy (although other Federal actions arguably do so), and it surely does not compel any degree of self incrimination. Taking private property for public use also seems a nonstarter.

In National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449 (1958) the Supreme Court held that freedom of association is essential to free speech, and therefore came under the fourteenth amendment.

The Fourteenth Amendment is almost identical to the Fifth Amendment, execept The Fifth covers the federal government and the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth covers states.

The weak point seems to be the Fourth Amendment. Things may be a bit less clear, but established law, for about 40 years, has it that telephone metadata such as has been compelled by subpoena from Verizon does not constitute unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment. The government could be expected to argue that (a) internet metadata collection is not meaningfully different from telephone billing data. There may be issues with collecting all metadata rather than that of a particular group of named individuals, and there may be issues with probable cause; these issues seem not to have been determined yet by courts. As things stand, the best that can be said is that some people feel strongly that this collection exceeds Fourth Amendment limits.

As for the collected content (e. g., email bodies), the government doubtless will argue that collecting and storing the content does not constitute searching or seizure, but that search is done only when the stored data is retrieved for examination by an analyst. They might be able to persuade the courts of that, or in the event they cannot, that the efforts described to ensure exclusion of data that does not have at least one endpoint outside the US are adequate (possibly with further tightening).

Katz v. United States (1967) established the rule that the fourth amendment protections is extended if the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy recognized by society.

Smith v. Maryland (1979) said that pen registers where ok because Smith voluntarily disclosed the numbers he was calling to the phone company, and therefor had no reasonable expectation of privacy.

Which is more relevant is debatable, and considering the conflicting rulings the 1st/5th combo is probably more powerful.

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A guide to Hypocrisy

If "spy on everyone, including our citizens and citizens of friendly countries" is what they mean by "keep America and its allies safe" then they should pay more attention to historical figures.

“Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”

― Benjamin Franklin

The USA has shown itself to yet again be the great hypocrite, condemning nations like China for their spying on their own citizens, when in fact they were doing the same if not worse to their own. Especially when the same governments that condemned the practice are letting those who outright lied get away with it. The fact they they provably did the spying is what's damaged them, not the whistleblowing. Of course, they'll never admit that.

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Re: A guide to Hypocrisy

But remember Benjamin Franklin was a subversive supporter of terrorists - and worse than that a potential free thinking individualist

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@raving angry loony - Re: A guide to Hypocrisy

Raving angry loony you may be, but 'tis good to see you in keeping with earlier namesakes.

Remember in King Lear it was the fool who told the truth, not his doddering old master. The parallel's remarkable (or perhaps more commonplace than sense let's us think it is).

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NSA please look in the mirror

Nothing more pathetic than seeing somebody who can't keep a secret blaming somebody else for their own failings.

Secrecy begins and ends in the hands of the secret.

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@Doug Bostrom - Re: NSA please look in the mirror

"Secrecy begins and ends in the hands of the secret."

...only if not overruled by a greater imperative.

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Re: @Doug Bostrom - NSA please look in the mirror

Or overruled with a warrant or National Security Letter... Whether or not those truly qualify as a greater imperative is yet to be seen.

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Big Brother

NSA - National Socialist Agency

IBM didn't see anything wrong with selling card machines to the Nazis. Now we know that the were used to send people to their deaths much more efficiently using machine data processing techniques.

What next from the NSA ?

Will they be telling us the we are at war with Oceana or you suddenly find yourself alone in a room with a man called O'Brien ?

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Black Helicopters

Re: NSA - National Socialist Agency

To the down voters, consider this:

Both the NSA and GCHQ programs were named after civil war conflicts in the US and UK:

Bullrun (US) Edgehill (UK)

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Re: NSA - National Socialist Agency

They both need to be working from a larger dictionary.

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Re: NSA - National Socialist Agency

Do you know what the Battles of Bull Run were named after?

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Happy

Re: Bull Run origin

The Battles of Bull Run were named after the watercourse that crossed the area. For some reason, in that part of Virgina they liked to call a creek a "run". It's equivalent to "Bull Creek". You see them everywhere in northern Virginia, I used to live beside Four Mile Run, which had nothing to do with jogging.

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Happy

Re: Bull Run origin

I know :) I was trying to point out to the Admiral of Questionable Logic up there the folly in trying to find correlations between the names of something that's named after something else that's named after something else.

I was over near Four Mile Run last week! Glebe is my primary escape route towards home when I'm leaving Reagan.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: NSA - National Socialist Agency

"IBM didn't see anything wrong with selling card machines to the Nazis", not this old chestnut again. May I remind you that the US were not at war with Germany at the time, so dealing with the German state was not forbidden. Also that considering how well the Nazis hid the death camps, it's highly unlikely that the invoice for the equipment would have said anything like "computing tabulating and recording equipment for extermination of Jews, Gays and Gypsies."

Were it ever proven otherwise, IBM staff would have been put on trial for assisting war crimes.

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Re: NSA - National Socialist Agency

Don't be stupid. The death camps weren't obvious, but the (legal) theft of property, mass exodus, rounding up and carting off of large numbers of peoples was. For example, the New York Times, in 1939 after the invasion of Poland, that 3 million jews had been rounded up, and where likely to be exterminated. IBMs memo of the same indicated that this "event" would need to speed up delivery of alphabetic sorting machines.

None of the Nuremburg trials was for genocide. The crime that people where hung for was "waging a war of aggression". The first conviction of anyone ever for genocide by the Hague was in the 1990's.

The majority of the people who worked in the camps, who organised the mass murder, where not ever put on trial. So the concept that IBM (or Ford, Kodak, Chase Bank, Standard Oil etc) would be prosecuted is a bit odd. Standard Oil (now BP, Chevron and a couple of others) made the fuel for the luftwaffe. No lead for the petrol, no planes bombing the UK. Even had a big stockpile shifted from London, to help fuel planes to bomb London.

War is a crime. A profitable crime, so it continues. Empires have, are and will be built on it. Well, the plundering part of it.

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they are only doing their job

And Snowden is doing his duty.

keep it up, can't say I'm too shocked at any of the revelations(doesn't stop it from being depressing though), but it is nice to finally have some solid confirmation, especially for the less technical folks who thought people that believed this was happening were just crazy..

Not that I really have much of anything to hide from the NSA - but it makes me feel a teeny bit better about having hosted all my own services (email/web/etc) for the past 16 years, on my own physical equipment (well there was a period of about a year when I was in a vmware cloud).

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Re: they are only doing their job

"... it is nice to finally have some solid confirmation, especially for the less technical folks who thought people that believed this was happening were just crazy."

My thoughts exactly, except it was not just the "less technical folks" on here who were trying to make us look like tin-foil-hatters (you know who you are, guys). Remember every time someone came on to say "Why would anyone want to look at you boring stuff?", or "Do you realise how big a system would be required to do this?"?

Sadly, not one of those people, who post here regularly, have said "Ooops, you were right! Sorry!!". They just come on and tell us that it was to be expected, why should we worry, and versions of "nothing to hide, nothing to fear.

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Re: they are only doing their job

While I'm not surprised by the NSA and GCHQ being able to decrypt SSL I have to admit I was taken-a-back by the sheer scale of how much they look at. I really didn't think they had the power to process that much data without impacting the performance of internet traffic in a way which would be obvious to everyone.

I'm pretty sure I poo-pooed those who said otherwise, so, sorry, you were right!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: they are only doing their job

"While I'm not surprised by the NSA and GCHQ being able to decrypt SSL I have to admit I was taken-a-back by the sheer scale of how much they look at. I really didn't think they had the power to process that much data without impacting the performance of internet traffic in a way which would be obvious to everyone."

What? You're using a site like The Register, where most people are technically qualified/minded, and you think the power to decrypt data would impact on the performance of the internet?

What ARE you thinking? That the internet data is routed FIRST through GCHQ or NSA systems, is decrypted and then routed to the publicly accessible internet? Do you think that's what the network topology is?

Far more likely, well, it has to be like this, the communication streams are copied, the original data stream passes down the fibre uninterrupted, without any delay and no-one notices or even is remotely aware that the data stream has been copied and routed to the intelligence agencies.

I

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Trollface

Re: they are only doing their job

Don't Panic, Mr Potsherd, Matt Bryant will be along shortly to explain why he was right all along, why we are stupid, wrong and uninformed, and why Everything Will Be Alright (Trust and Obey) If We Believe in Big Brother (tm).

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Anonymous Coward

So which is it?

If it's not news, how does it help our enemies?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So which is it?

It's helping the goverment's enemies ... That would be we, the people .. in case you were unsure.

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Re: So which is it?

It gives our enemies nearly limitless fodder for solid fucking gold comedy. There is nothing that (self)important people hate more than being made fools of.

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Re: So which is it?

Because they say so. They're the NSA after all, they know this stuff and wouldn't bullshit you.

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Anonymous Coward

@Nicho

"It's helping the goverment's enemies ... That would be we, the people .. in case you were unsure."

For those who feel ready, try reading Albert Jay Nock's classic "Our Enemy, the State".

http://www.amazon.com/Our-Enemy-State-Including-Doing/dp/0914156012/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1378561103&sr=1-2&keywords=our+enemy+the+state

Amazon's prices are a bit high, but the Mises Institute will sell you a copy for a mere $13.

http://mises.org/document/4685/Our-Enemy-the-State

Nock wasn't an out-and-out anarchist, nor did he think we would be better off without any government at all. Rather, he contrasts "government" (whose only task is to ensure that justice is done, and which is a necessity) with "the state" (whose only function is to transfer money from some people to other people, in return for nothing).

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@Ton Welsh - Re: @Nicho

Right, but you should point out there's a legit freebie copy here (also at Mises):

http://mises.org/books/Our_Enemy_The_State_Nock.pdf

If that doesn't work then Google the many other copies out there.

Mind you, I've had the hard-copy book copy for years, it came from Laissez Faire Books if I recall correctly.

(Isn't it funny how popular Albert Jay Nock's Our Enemy the State has become in the past few years. I wonder what that tells us, eh?)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So which is it?

Of course it can be two polar opposites at the same time. Your weakness and failings in this area suggest you should be sent off to Room 101 for a short course in doublethink before you endanger all of our security. Guards!!!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So which is it?

our enemies

A.K.A People who might want to question the ROI and the general efficiency of the entire spook-complex!

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Re: So which is it? @AC OP

"If it's not news, how does it help our enemies?"

I actually thought that disconnect would be the first comment on here. It sticks out like a sore thumb, because it really does show who these clowns think the enemy actually is - us!

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While the Soviet Bloc was crumbling

the BBC went into the newly free East Germany, comments were made about surveillance cameras on every street corner being the sign of a totalitarian regime.

23 years later walk through London.. (I lost count of the cameras I saw) .. you will see many cameras watching pedestrians, traffic cameras with automatic (car) number plate recognition.. cameras to trap speeding motorists, policemen with cameras on their shoulders (claimed to be for the protection of the police - evidence in case they get assaulted..

Since then the number of methods available for surveillance has increased, each is exploited.

There is no problem with properly targeted monitoring. It is a necessary evil. Blanket monitoring of a population is simply wrong, expensive and not needed.

The cracking of internet ciphers was/is to be expected, the use of the ability to read encrypted traffic should be restricted by a specific court warrant, be tied to a case and never be generally used.

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@stuff and nonesense - Re: While the Soviet Bloc was crumbling

It's stuff and perhaps nonesense, but not nonsense.

Would you or anyone please tell me why (a) the British establishment has taken to surveillance like ducks to water, and (b) why the British public puts up with it? It's truly perplexing—perhaps Britain is the best example of an actual authoritarian state that we're not supposed to know about.

Are the British all secret voyeurs or such and they've a secret love affair with surveillance/cameras? Or do the British feel deprived because they've missed out on too many episodes of Candid Camera and now that cameras are a dime—err sorry, sixpence—a dozen, they're making up for lost time?

And why with Britain's remarkable history—of Agincourt, Trafalgar, Waterloo, WWII defiance and all that stuff—haven't the British citizenry actually declared war on all that surveillance nonsense?

Then perhaps it's been a great PR con-job all along and the country is actually packed to the gunnels with loads of complacent wimps whose only joy left is the occasional and lucky Ashes win against Australia.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @stuff and nonesense - While the Soviet Bloc was crumbling

They're all drugged up on X-Factor and similar TV crap to notice or care...

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Re: @stuff and nonesense - While the Soviet Bloc was crumbling @RobHib

"And why with Britain's remarkable history—of Agincourt, Trafalgar, Waterloo, WWII defiance and all that stuff—haven't the British citizenry actually declared war on all that surveillance nonsense?"

Those were all fights against "the other"; Johnny Foreigner, you know. There has only been one genuine revolution in the entire history of the country - the English Revolution - but even that went back to "business as usual" after a short while. We have had a tendency to send the kind of people brave enough to stand by non-officially approved principles abroad over the years. We have no idea how to rebel effectively, and will tut at anyone that does.

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Re: @stuff and nonesense - While the Soviet Bloc was crumbling

Primarily because, if anyone were to stand up and voice concern, they'd be immediately labelled a terrorist paedophile!

So, it's either

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Re: @stuff and nonesense - While the Soviet Bloc was crumbling

oops, premature posting...

<continued>

... be shafted or be shafted, eitherways we the population are shafted...

</continued>

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It's Incredible

The amount of surveillance and spying that our governments carry out against us in the name of our protection...THAT WE KNOW ABOUT.

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Re: It's Incredible

Not so incredible, just rather sad, have those Yanks actually forgotten?

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Benjamin Franklin

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Re: It's Incredible

I dont get it, the giy invented lightning, big deal!

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