Meanwhile in Britain.....
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, a federal panel set up to advise the US government on policy, has published report concluding that the bulk collection of data on US citizens by the NSA is illegal and ineffective at stopping terrorism. "Based on the information provided to the board, including classified …
Meanwhile in Britain.....
Collecting all this data isn't helping fill this swimming pool.
We have to carry on collecting this data because people will be really angry if the pool's not full when the sun comes out.
"we have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation"
The report's authors were split on their views, however. Rachel Brand, who served as assistant attorney general for legal policy at the US Department of Justice (DoJ) between 2005 and 2007, said wrote in a dissenting opinion that the bulk data collections were legal and warned that if there was another major terrorist attack "the public will engage in recriminations against the intelligence community for failure to prevent it."
The dossier states that this particular bulk data collection program started in 2001 shortly after the September 11 attacks, and was cleared by the Bush administration in 2006 under the terms of the Patriot Act.
Rachel Brand, who served as assistant attorney general for legal policy at the US Department of Justice (DoJ) between 2005 and 2007, said wrote in a dissenting opinion
Ummm nope I can't see what ulterior motive she might have for opining that the bulk data collections were legal... can you?
Brand doesn't need an "ulterior motive". The sort of people who become assistant attorneys general are the sort of people who favor empowering the police state. Note that the other two critics of the report mentioned in the article are also former law enforcement: Collins Cook was also a DoJ AAG, and Mike Rogers (who happens to be my own US Rep, so I'm very familiar with his politics) was an FBI Special Agent.
People who hate sweets don't often become pastry chefs; people who distrust the State's intrusion into privacy tend to stay away from jobs in the upper tiers of the justice system.
The real problem with Brand's comment ("the public will engage in recriminations against the intelligence community for failure to prevent it") is that it's idiotic and inconsequential. If the USA lasts long enough as an entity, there will be another successful terrorist attack against it, from some quarter or other. And when that happens, regardless of what the intelligence community has been doing to prevent it, there will be recriminations. Public opinion does not arise from sober historical analysis and the careful weighing of costs and benefits. There will be howls of outrage from some regardless of who might be to blame or what might have been done differently.
So Brand's reasoning is either vacant, or reduces to "I don't want to be blamed for it". That sort of excuse is tiresome, childish, cowardly, and specious.
(Rogers' reasoning, on the other hand, is "hurrah for snooping!". He's not a stupid guy, but he's also not what you'd call "complex", at least in this area. He's backed every government surveillance proposal that's come along.)
"the public will engage in recriminations against the intelligence community for failure to prevent it."
And this is expressly the problem.
I don't often feel sorry for politicians, but they're caught between a rock and a hard place on this one.
As long as their are no recent attacks, the chant will be "we want privacy, we want privacy" and if there is a major attack the the chants will be "why didn't you do something to stop this" and "we want security, we want security".
".... if there is a major attack the the chants will be "why didn't you do something to stop this" and "we want security, we want security"." In the case of the Pee-CLOB, also known as the WilmerHale Plan B, it seems they are quite happy to play it both ways, making money on such boards whilst also representing AQ members in Gitmo. I assume an attack to them just means more opportunities.
> "we want privacy, we want privacy / "we want security, we want security".
Assumes that the way to get security is more spying on obviously non-terrorist citizens.
Its the old, we have to keep sprinkling magic dust on the roads because people won't forgive us if there is a tiger attack on a pre-school.
But, as stated, there was no evidence whatsoever that it has helped prevent anything thus far including Boston. So it is largely pointless. Restore privacy please.
Lee Harvey Oswald tried to inform the powers that be the Presidunce was going to be shot.
The Presidunce was shot.
Several people tried to get the various authorities to look out for the attack on the twin towers.
The houses all came a tumbling down.
The ****wit George Bush set up some smoke and mirrors everyone protested is illegal
The courts have ruled it is illegal.
With all the best will in the world-which they already don't have, the US secret services are never going to get the best will in the world. And if there is another warning of a threat it will all go pear shaped again because that is how things go in places like the USA.
whilst also representing AQ members in Gitmo
Or maybe they just feel a moral responsibility to look out for the members of an organisation which was created by the people your American three letter agencies trained to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan.
you sir, are, of course completely correct.
[and if i can have just a few billion more dollars and several thousand more staff under my command, i'm sure that i can keep the Magic Dust Mine™ open for, at least, a few more weeks - see you again when the money runs out]
Privacy? OMG look at how much very personal information is spewed across the web every day. If there is another attack, it is not the security community that will be hurt. There will be giant backlash against any politician seen as limiting the intelligence community in its attempts to secure us all.
We were caught flat footed by the World Trade Center Atrocity just as we were caught flat footed by the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. The problem does not lie with the inability of the government to violate our constitution. It lies with those who were too complacent to do their jobs! The news media did a fine job of throwing up a smoke screen over those lapses, but it had nothing to do with our inability to gather intelligence during that time. The problem was we had intelligence data on several of the perpetrators before hand, but that data was steadfastly ignored by a large number of people.
"....an organisation which was created by the people your American three letter agencies trained to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan." Another myth that the sheeple perpetuate. The CIA funded the mujahideen, mainly the Northern Alliance, although they did also indirectly arm and train some people like the Southern drug lords (such as the Hekmatyar clan) to fight the Soviets that have since become allies of the Taliban. They did not directly fund, arm or train Al Quaeda, they sent funds for groups outside the Northern Alliance to the Pakistani ISI as part of Operation Cyclone. NONE of those organisations was created by the CIA, not the tribal groups that formed the Northern Alliance, the drug lords or AQ, they ALL pre-dated US involvement. Bin Laden formed his group which was later renamed Al Quaeda with Saudi money. He always received the majority of his funding from Saudi sources, and all linked to the Muslim Brotherhood (who ran the "services office" for AQ in Peshawar), he simply did not rename his organisation Al Quaeda until August 1988.
The US's involvement began after the Soviets backed the Karmal regime in the Afghan civil war. The US strategic view was to stopping Soviet expansion into Pakistan (the USSR had a long term strategic goal of gaining a port on the Indian Ocean). The POTUS that started it all was not Reagan, despite what the sheeple like to pretend, but their second fave Dummicrat POTUS, Jimmy Carter, in 1979. Reagan subsequently expanded Carter's program after the Soviet invasion, bringing in the CIA's "special advisers" (including British ex-SAS mercenaries), which worked with parties approved by the Pakistani ISI. Amusingly, the ISI was also receiving funding for the mujahideen not only from other Western countries but also China, but you never hear the sheeple trying to claim the Chinese funded AQ. No CIA funds went to AQ unless they were secretly diverted by the ISI, and seeing as AQ was receiving about $600m per year in Saudi funding it is extremely unlikely the ISI saw a need to. But by then the CIA and FBI were already investigating AQ, especially their recruitment operations in the States and their links to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Another myth is that AQ played some major part in the war against the Soviets, but this is again more propaganda and fantasy. At any one time there were approximately 250,000 Afghans being armed and trained with CIA money to fight the Soviets, but there were never more than 2000 non-Aghans involved (mainly Arabs) at any time, and that includes other Islamist groups as well as AQ. AQ spent more of their time assassinating anyone they perceived as not supporting their desire for a "pure" Islamic caliphate in Afghanistan (such as Ahmed Shah Massood, who led the Northern Alliance and fought against the Soviets and then the Taliban). The majority of the estimated 35,000 AQ-trained men did not even enter Afghanistan until after the Soviet withdrawal, with most of AQ's efforts being in fighting those that opposed the Taliban after the Soviets had left.
So, no, WilmerHale are not operating under any moral obligation whatsoever, probably just fat Saudi cheques. Now, do you see how a little actual reading and understanding of the subject could help you avoid looking so stupid again?
That was the major opinion of the report, but other opinions in the report said otherwise. I was thinking the same thing until I read the contradictory claim in the news article.
Given the number of cases in which the collection has been upheld in the courts, the major opinions having overstepped their boundaries on that issue calls into question their objectivity on the effectiveness question. And that's beyond the question of: if you were the head of an intelligence agency and you had to report to a group of people you knew would leak confidential information, would you reveal sufficient details to prove the system was effective? Because if you do, the effective means will cease to be effective.
There is no question that when there is another terrorist attack, the spy agencies will be held to ridicule and burned in effigy for failing to protect the people (regardless of what motives the person noting it had in the report). That is precisely how we wound up where we are now. Not only should the agencies been able to gather the data, they had, but because of insane rules about information sharing they failed to connect the dots.
Now, there is a case to be made that because of the effectiveness of computers in hoovering up data that would be legally collectable were it done by people moves us into the realm where that data now needs to be regarded as protected even if it were done by people. I'd be willing to live with that change provided we make some other rational changes as well. The first of which is that we have to stop treating terrorism as a domestic policing issue and as an actual act of war that results in the same consequences as any other act of war.
No, the large number of people were preventing from reading that data and being able to connect the dots. A policy that was put in place by the very people who now claim we have to undo the current information sharing system.
That isn't to say the current system shouldn't be updated and modified. But both sides need to be treated with equal skepticism.
"caught between a rock and a hard place on this one"
A position they happily placed themselves in. By definition you can not effectively combat terrorism - that is why it is terrifying. Politicians lie telling you they can and the dumber section of the population believes it and thanks them for it. The enormous army fighting the war against terror with their snouts in a $ trillion trough are quite pleased about it as well.
Thankfully there are hardly any terrorists and almost no competent and equipped ones. They haven't foiled any terrorist plots worth worrying about because there were none. Basically it has been an enormous waste of money, privacy, and liberty the blame for which lies with dishonest scumbag politicians (and the dummies who believe them).
"we had intelligence data on several of the perpetrators before hand"
It didn't require much intelligence to figure out 3 or 4 suicidal loons armed with small knives could hijack an airliner and crash it into a building - a handful of suicidal loons figured it out and it is not like aircraft hijacking hadn't happened before.
Oh how different the world could have been for the sake of a few cabin doors with locks.
"....It didn't require much intelligence to figure out 3 or 4 suicidal loons armed with small knives could hijack an airliner and crash it into a building...." Actually, it did seem beyond the capabilities of certain politicians to see such a possibility. Firstly, all the scenarios the FAA and other authorities operated under assumed any hijackings inside the continental US would be domestic terrorists or criminals, i.e., not the type interested in either suicide or crashing planes into buildings. Secondly, they assumed all such hijackers would want to negotiate, hence the lack of orders to shoot down the remaining airliners even after the first impact. Everyone assumed that even Middle-Eastern terrorists operating in the States would follow the pattern of the old skyjackings - treat the passengers as valuable bargaining chips for the release of comrades in prisons. Instead, the 9/11 hijackers considered the passengers as nothing more than an inconvenience in their aim to use the airplanes as weapons.
Unfortunately, that preconception extended to the flight crews who DID have doors with locks. When the hijackers started killing people the crews unlocked the cabin doors in the hope of stopping the killing, thinking that would then lead to the type of negotiated scenario they had been told to expect. No-one expected the hijackers to be able to fly so the pilots thought they would be safe to negotiate, nor that the hijackers would be happy to slaughter their captives anyway. 9/11 was new, it went completely against the expected scenarios, and door locks made SFA difference. In the case of one of the planes, the passengers heard the news, guessed what the hijackers planned for their flight, and rallied to smash the locked door to get into the cockpit, forcing the hijackers to crash in the countryside.
Hindsight is always 20-20, it is foresight that is rarely so.
Although, this hindsight can also provide some new foresight:
I believe a future 9/11 style suicide-hijacking is unlikely to re-occur for the following reasons:
1) I doubt any pilots behind locked cockpit doors will ever let hijackers through again. Even if the hijackers threatened to kill everyone with their smuggled knitting needles, Swiss Army knives or whatever.
IIRC, the security protocol for hijacked pilots is to now radio for help and land the craft as quickly and safely as possible. The cockpit door is not opened to ANYONE, no matter what happens.
2) If cockpit doors are locked and sealed for the duration of the flight, then only a very clever subterfuge (or a terrorist posing as a legitimate pilot) would enable terrorists to gain access to the flight deck.
3) Today, suicide (or even traditional) hijackers taking control of a passenger compartment with sharp instruments would be seriously outnumbered by a frightened, formidably dangerous, and angry mob. I'd lay my money on the passengers taking some casualties and it not ending well for the hijackers. And as long as the cockpit remains closed and the plane is landed safely, the passengers and crew's chances of survival remain higher.
4) Even if terrorists did manage to commandeer a civilian aircraft, the likelihood of it ever reaching an unscheduled destination or target (such as the Pentagon) is slim. The suicide hijackers best bet would be to crash land immediately, because the plane will probably be shot down after disregarding the first warning from a military craft or ground control.
For civilian aviation the main threat has always been in the air. Piracy only becomes feasible when deadly weapons or explosives can be smuggled aboard. Hence the emphasis on passenger and luggage searches at airports.
One reason 9/11 succeeded was that few real measures or protocols were in place to detect or prevent suicide hijackings on home soil. Until the twin towers were hit, it was being processed like a normal air piracy event. No one believed it could happen, until it was too late.
And suicide terrorism comes with its own peculiar set of rules and endgames. For security forces, the crux of the problem is that suicide terrorists will always be the most difficult threat to protect against. With nothing to lose, they can cause considerable damage with the right equipment and opportunity. Like a lone wolf classroom shooter, they don't always give off signs or fit a specific profile. If dedicated and well-trained, they will not give themselves away until it is too late.
That is the bad news. The good news is that most human beings are not suicidal killers unless they are forced to be. The sooner we start addressing the reasons (usually desperate economic conditions, civil wars, illiteracy, indoctrination by lunatics from failed states and with worse leaders) people could even consider such a drastic step the better our chances of bringing it to a stop.
"the public will engage in recriminations against the intelligence community for failure to prevent it."
Yeah, because their existing mass surveillance did such a great job preventing the last one.
Here's a radical idea: maybe if the US dropped its invasive foreign policy, there might not be such attacks in the first place, and they wouldn't have any
pretext "need" for mass surveillance.
Although, admittedly, that might not serve the grasping aspirations of America Inc.
"....maybe if the US dropped its invasive foreign policy...." ROFL! One day the dictators at the UN are complaining about the US policy, the next they are begging the US to provide forces and money and to be the World police they complained about the day before. One day the sheeple are delighted with Obambi making speeches in Cairo, the next they are bleating about how the Arab Spring hasn't brought the World peace, love and understanding. Here's a clue - the problems in the World, especially the problems in the Middle East, long pre-date the creation of the United States, let alone US foreign policy.
Here's a clue - the problems in the World, especially the problems in the Middle East, long pre-date the creation of the United States, let alone US foreign policy.
Somehow the pre-existance of problems in the world excuses America making things worse by fucking around in other peoples countries... that's almost as good as Mr Kerry demanding the UN univite Iran from the Syria conferences because they're allied to the Syrian Regime, whilst he and his supply the insurgents. I guess Americans get hypocrisy like they get irony.
That happened at the full height of covert surveillance. People seem to forget that one.
"That happened at the full height of covert surveillance...." The Marathon Bombing wasn't an AQ-co-ordinated plot and only got airtime because of the LACK of real AQ attacks in the US (BEACUSE of the surveillance systems in place). In places like Iraq or Syria or most of Africa it wouldn't even make the news.
Whether the Boston Bombing was AQ sponsored or not is utterly irrelevant. The NSA and their bosses have said that the mass grab of CDRs (Call Data Records) is aimed at "preventing terrorism" pure and simple. There has been no mention, express or implied, that it targets AQ or any other named group (not even Iran!) in any US Government statements I've seen.
At least you got the icon right - very appropriate for your post.
the LACK of real AQ attacks in the US (BEACUSE of the surveillance systems in place)
post hoc, propter hoc? That wouldn't get me any gold stars in any Logic class I ever sat...
By a extension (though extending a fallacy in public could get me an indecency charge (blush)), there should therefore have been some recogniseable number of AQ attacks _before_ the surveillance systems were put in place. Which was, um, when?
"....The NSA and their bosses have said that the mass grab of CDRs (Call Data Records) is aimed at "preventing terrorism" pure and simple..." Not true. The collection of metadata is aimed at the disruption and tracking of GROUPS such as AQ, by finding the communication BETWEEN members of the group. The Boston nutters were just that, lone-wolf nutters and NOT members of a terrorist group. They are exactly what al-Zwahiri has been asking for BECAUSE the NSA and CIA and FBI have made it almost impossible for AQ cells to operate in the US without being detected. The best way to stop lone-wolf nutters is exactly the same best way as to stop the type of nutters that like shooting up schools - make communities and families take more attention of their own and keep the psychos under observation. Oh, but then I suppose you'll start bleating about nutters' rights then.
".....Which was, um, when?" So you missed the Twin Towers bombing and 9/11?
If it's aimed at tracking groups, surely they know who these groups are? If so, then how about they get a warrant and target their snooping. If not, then how the hell do they "prevent" and "disrupt" these groups' communications by monitoring everyone? How much noise are they collecting? How the hell do they work out which pattern of calls is me calling my friend with a joke and him sharing it with his friends and me calling my terrorist contacts to get them to call their bomb-making buddies and arrange a car bombing spree?
Okay, That's two- one in 1993, one in 2001. The second of which was planned by the same guy who did the first one- so a person that no-one would argue against monitoring and who it's inconceivable was not being monitored. So that's a bit of an own goal for you; the surveillance- targeted, detailed surveillance- failed. What chance does a data slurp of a whole planet have of being processed if you couldn't handle one man?
Then, there's the evidence that parts of the government knew 9/11 was coming but couldnt communicate this convincingly to other agencies. So even with surveillance and intelligence they failed to act- failing to stop 9/11. Another point against you- the second attack should have been prevented but the people now claiming to be protecting us were incompetent. And are now more beaurocratic and dependent on getting external contractors and computers to do their thinking for them.
The Marathon Bombing wasn't an AQ-co-ordinated plot and only got airtime because of the LACK of real AQ attacks in the US (BEACUSE of the surveillance systems in place). In places like Iraq or Syria or most of Africa it wouldn't even make the news.
You really think Americans being killed by bombs being detonated in America didn't deserve airtime. That they only got it because it was a slow news day on the terrorism front... really?
WOW fuck Matt... that has to be the stupidest thing I think I've seen even you post in defence of this shite... and that's going some.
I can assure you from a nation which has suffered at the hands of your people funding a shit load of bombing campaigns in my country, that every terrorist act gets airtime.
Do try to remember when you next try and tell us all about what terrorism attacks are, that a fair number of us come from countries which have seen far more terrorism than your country has ever experienced.
So you missed the Twin Towers bombing and 9/11?
No. I didn't. Any more than I missed extensive bombings in the UK, carried out by Irish activists largely, publicly and unashamedly funded by North American money. But, and this was the point of my comment, either you have to try to contend that the US was not in fact engaged in intelligence gathering prior to the events you mention, or that the gathering they were carrying out, to whatever degree, was ineffective. And if ineffective, then that might lead someone to wonder why doing much the same thing to a lot more people will be any more effective.
If you have to find a needle, does it really help to say you have to look in bigger haystacks, and then expand the search scope to include piles of leaves in autumn too? Just in case?
And I keep the tag I use here mostly because it's both entirely justified - and so folks don't think I just hang around hoping someone will go looking for my name on the covers of any books wot I writ. My apology if the practice offends :-).
Right you are sir! That explains the collection of Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone data, doesn't it? By collecting her data they aimed at disrupting and tracking groups such as Al Qaeda?
What are you smoking? I'm sure the Police don't need to find out: there does seem to be a firewall between the collection of data and its use, and I'm sure the NSA will be only too happy to look the other way, if you are a kind sharing individual and let them have about half ...
".....How the hell do they work out which pattern of calls is me calling my friend with a joke ...." Well, in your case they probably look at your scholastic records and realise you're too stupid to tie shoelaces, let alone make a bomb. But I suspect the NSA and FBI do spend a lot of time sifting out the wheat from the chaff, it's called analysis, go look it up.
"Okay, That's two...." That's after your fellow sheeple insisted there hadn't been any attacks (presumably because he has the memory retention of a goldfish). And yet you still want to argue the point? LOL, you sheep really want to baaaah-lieve!
".....You really think Americans being killed by bombs being detonated in America didn't deserve airtime...." <Sigh> Look, it's obvious you have serious comprehension problems, but even a cretinous sheep like yourself should be able to understand that the point being made was what we consider horrific (three people killed) simply does not make the news here when it happens in other parts of the World. Take Iraq, for instance, where daily bombings kill many more - do you ever read about those events? Do you consider American lives to be more newsworthy, somehow more valuable, than Iraqi lives? The Boston bombings were on April 15th 2013 and got massive coverage in the West for weeks, yet that very same day there were ten fatal bombings reported in Iraq, killing a total of 42 people (and it's not known how many of the injured died since) - none made the Western news. Of those ten bombings four have subsequently been shown to be the work of AQ and as many as three others are thought to be AQ-linked. Those four known AQ attacks alone killed 22 people that same day, but you will never have known about them because you were too busy bleating in tune with the rest of your flock and only following your sheeple-approved news sources. Congratulations on demonstrating exactly how blinkered a moron you are.
The Boston bombings got such airtime BECAUSE the activities of the security services have ensured such events are very rare in the West, whilst they are daily happenings in countries AQ and chums are able to operate in.
"No. I didn't...." So why did you try to claim there had been no such attacks?
".....Any more than I missed extensive bombings in the UK, carried out by Irish activists largely, publicly and unashamedly funded by North American money....." The IRA's campaigns, whilst dreadful for us Brits (yeah, suck on that you preconceiving moron), was relatively minor compared to AQ's campaigns in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq. Oh, and BTW, the GCHQ was listening for IRA coms back in those days too, you numpty. How else do you think we knew about the Gibraltar three, do you think the fairies told us? So I take it you support the GCHQ efforts to track the IRA but somehow don't support their efforts to find AQ sympathisers and operatives? How selective.
".....or that the gathering they were carrying out, to whatever degree, was ineffective...." The gathering was partially effective, it was the analysis and sharing of the data that was ineffective. This has since been very carefully overhauled (remember that whole Patriot Act, it had quite a bit on data-sharing?). As with any such operation it is continually evolving and improving. Oh, what - your inexperience of these matters (and lack of imagination) led you to baaah-lieve was a design-once affair? Boy, you really do like embarrassing yourself in public!
That explains the collection of Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone data, doesn't it? By collecting her data they aimed at disrupting and tracking groups such as Al Qaeda?
No, that is just just straightforward old fashioned espionage - countries want to know as much as they can about other countries and usually have agencies to do espionage.
Not exactly a new thing, and even if they stopped mass surveillance the same agencies would still be interested in that data.
I'm not saying it is right, just that it has always happened. If you think the BND don't monitor people like Bronislaw Komorowski you are naive.
Take Iraq, for instance, where daily bombings kill many more - do you ever read about those events?
Yes, yes I do.
Do you not Matt, is your little world constrained to the local news outlets? Is that why your world view seems so very limited to me?
".....That explains the collection of Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone data...." That was diplomatic spying, something that predates the creation of the USA. I'd try and explain the difference but I suspect you're too busy self-abusing to be able to pay the required level of attention (and please note I am generously suggesting you are capable of the required level of attention, something definitely not suggested by your posts).
".....and I'm sure the NSA will be only too happy to look the other way....." As a signatory to the OSA I am already on more than one list, but I have no problems with the NSA or GCHQ monitoring. Maybe that's because - unlike you - I have a clue.
"Yes, yes I do...." Pull the other one, it has bells on! It is VERY obvious your reality filter does not allow you to see beyond you baaaah-lieve. You most obviously did NOT have a clue as to the bombings in Iraq on 15th April 2013, just as you seem completely unable to register the actions of AQ and their chums in any other part of the World not appearing on the children's editions of the TV news. I suggest you go away and do a lot more reading before you try again.
Pull the other one, it has bells on! It is VERY obvious your reality filter does not allow you to see beyond you baaaah-lieve. You most obviously did NOT have a clue as to the bombings in Iraq on 15th April 2013, just as you seem completely unable to register the actions of AQ and their chums in any other part of the World not appearing on the children's editions of the TV news. I suggest you go away and do a lot more reading before you try again.
The funniest thing about this is watching you defending bulk data collection as a tool to stop terrorist attrocities, and citing terrorist bombings as proof that we need it.
Odd that the NSA/GCHQ combo didn't manage to know about the bombings in Iraq on the 15th of April 2013, and warn the Iraqis that the bombings were going to happen, isn't it Matt?
Do tell us again about how bulk data collection is a useful tool.
Your screaching in defence of these programs seems odd, epsecially when you use actual incidents which weren't detected and prevented to justify the programs existence. Is there some personal reason why you are screaching so loudly about this? Defending something personal to you?
"unlike you - I have a clue."
"unlike you - I have froth on my chin."
Well if it hadn't been for incompetent terrorists there would have been a few attacks that were not prevented by the NSA.
Off the top of my head there's the underwear bomber and the guy with the car in Times Square (which if I recall correctly was discovered because a citizen saw suspicious behaviour and acted).
Now you can argue all you want, that the lack of terrorist attacks on US soil is a result of Mass Surveillance from the NSA, but that's not just arguing something that's hard too prove, it's also arguing against the result of the US appointed "The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board" which just stated such claims are dubious if not downright false.
If you have access to some documentation as to why this board would lie about the NSA effectiveness then I'd love to hear it - and presumably so would the board, the NSA and tons of other US institutions and citizens.
But that's where the problem is. You can't monitor the man you have to monitor his phone. Only you don't know which one he's using today so you have to monitor them all. And you know it has to be all of them because you know the drug traffickers use disposable phones for their work and his counter-measures are going to be at least as good as the drug lords. And yes, prior to the Patriot Act the courts specifically ruled the sort of roving wiretap you need for that sort of surveillance illegal.
Yes there were other problems in processing the data. Problems put in place by the same people who are now the loudest screams that we shouldn't be gathering as much data as we are. If the spies are gathering too much data to be effective they'll have to cut down. And you have to assume at least some of them are moderately competent or the whole exercise is pointless to begin with.
That would be unashamedly funded by Teddy Kennedy and his buds which are the same buds standing alongside you in this argument. Clean up your own house before blaming me. My grandfather on my Dad's side fled Ireland because there were too damn many idiots killing people.
Yes, there were problems in the intelligence community. Put there by Democrats who didn't want them sharing information without playing a tedious game of Mother May I in pursuit of people who changed phones more often than Imelda Marcos changed shoes. Focus on the wrong problem: amount of data collection and you can't fix the right one: empowering honorable people who are trying to protect the country to do their jobs.
"....and citing terrorist bombings as proof that we need it....." And citing terrorist bombings that are HAPPENING in areas where our security services are NOT in the same position to operate effectively, and where the indigenous sympathetic population does not feel as constrained as the sympathisers in the West do. Why do you think the GCHQ wanted to tap cables for the Middle East - because the locals aren't keen on sharing. Your problem is you cannot see the difference. In the areas with high bombings the Allies either do not have control or have given over control to newly rebuilt local security services. In the case of Iraq, all the careful work of the Allies in Anbar is being rapidly reversed by the Shia administration in pursuance of their anti-Sunni agenda. The CIA reportedly refuses to share intelligence on former Sunni friends in Anbar with the new Iraqi administrationa as they know most of it goes straight to Tehran, Syria and Lebanon (Hezbollah) and is used for bloody reprisals against the Sunni clans that straddle those countries.
In Afghanistan it is almost as bad, with an imminent withdrawal of Allied forces being politically played by Kharzai trying to big himself up as an anti-Imperialist. You may think that quite pointless as the new Afghan constitution says Kharzai cannot stand for a third term anyway, not unless he intends to extend his rule by using the failure of negotiations with the Taliban as an excuse to invoke emergency powers. Kharzai's stance is devious as it insists the US and Pakistan have to negotiate a solution with with the Taliban before he will sign the post-war security agreement, which is effectively stopping the Pakistani Army mounting a proper offensive in Waziristan. The Pakistanis seem to be stuck between a rock and a hard place - the Yanks no longer trust the ISI and seem to share very little intelligence with them, preferring to drone the Taliban and AQ leaders they find, and the Taliban can act up as much as they like as they know the Pakistani government needs to negotiate to appease Kharzai and the Yanks. The current anti-Shia ethnic cleansing going on in Northern Waziristan is the result, keeping all parties from the negotiating table and - as us cynics might suggest - Kharzai in power.
I'd suggest you go read some real news but your head is probably on the verge of exploding.