back to article NSA asks Congress to permanently reauthorize spying program that was so shambolic, the snoops had shut it down

In the clearest possible sign that the US intelligence services live within their own political bubble, the director of national intelligence has asked Congress to reauthorize a spying program that the NSA itself decided to shut down after it repeatedly – and illegally – gathered the call records of millions of innocent …

  1. Chris G Silver badge

    We know

    What we are doing, we know we are doing it wrong, we want to keep doing what we are doing just in case we can do it right.

    One day. Maybe. If we're lucky/

    1. NoneSuch Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Government Standard

      "it deleted 534 million call records"

      After making two copies.

  2. cornetman Bronze badge

    One other possibility is that Coates is trying to bring the issue back into public light as a final f*ck you to Trump.

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
      WTF?

      Yes, Coates throws this skunk into the garden party, just as he is leaving the party.

      Or the administration wants these powers, and Coates is leaving anyway, so he gets to be the sacrificial lamb who asks for the powers to be reinstated.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Deep State is as Deep State does..

        Or the administration wants these powers, and Coates is leaving anyway, so he gets to be the sacrificial lamb who asks for the powers to be reinstated.

        And that will probably happen given US politicos generally vote for repressive legislation like the 'Patriot' and 'Freedom' Acts. Which in the case of the Patriot Act was a massive slab of legislation waved through in <48hrs. Kinda handy TPTB had it on file already.

        But we've also seen the FBI deciding that creating conspiracy theories is domestic terrorism, rather than fun. Unless it's the FBI staff creating those theories wrt Russia, hacking and oh look, a dead Eppstein! Oh, and also declaring a 'War on Domestic Terrorism', because all the other wars on drugs, international terrorism etc etc have worked out so well. Which ok, they have, especially if you're in the business of selling props to security theatre. So much for the land of the 'free'.

        At least on this side of the pond, things aren't quite so bad. Ok, we've already got the UK's version of the Freedom Act and CDR logging, but our politicians are now busily getting outraged about warning kids not to eat fried chicken with sharp pointy things. Caroline Lucas will probably introduce the Spork Bill. Solve knife crime by banning knives, peace in our time!

        (I am starting to wonder if politicians are getting dumber, or it's just me getting older and more cynical..)

        1. NetBlackOps

          Re: Deep State is as Deep State does..

          The "good solutions" were all proposed ages ago so when a politician has to pull a "new solution" out of their ass, only had one's are left.

        2. Jove Bronze badge

          Re: Deep State is as Deep State does..

          TLTR: Just post a link to this drivel on your blog, then we can all ignore it.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Deep State is as Deep State does..

          Lucas might be potty at times but targeting knives in chicken shops takes a uniquely right wing flavour of stupid

          1. Jove Bronze badge

            Re: Deep State is as Deep State does..

            No. A Right-Wing response would be an instant Death Penalty administered on the spot, and the family and friends of the suspect put under investigation.

          2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Deep State is as Deep State does..

            uniquely right wing

            First time I've heard of a Green Party politician being called 'right wing'..

        4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Deep State is as Deep State does..

          if politicians are getting dumber, or it's just me getting older and more cynical

          Yes.

          Or, in slightly less paranoid[1] worldview - politicians are running out[2] of 'serious' issues and so are now concentrating on lesser (but hopefully vote-grabbing) issues.

          [1] Even if you are less paranoid, they are *still* out to get you. You just don't notice..

          [2] As in "la la la, we can't see those issues"..

  3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Sounds good

    If the US only spies on its own citizens isn't that good for everyone else?

    Perhaps we can get the CIA to only overthrow US leaders ?

    1. Sanctimonious Prick
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Sounds good

      But we know the US doesn't just spy on it's own citizens, it also spies on citizens of allies i.e. they collect data and spy on Australian citizens in Australia - and then share that information with the Australian spy agency ASiO.

      :(

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Sounds good

        it also spies on citizens of allies

        Doesn't every country do that?

        1. Sanctimonious Prick
          WTF?

          Re: Sounds good

          @PO's

          I don't know. Do they? Where is the Edward Snowden of Arabia?

          The Julian Assange of Italy?

          I don't give a flying fuck about third world countries and their spying techniques! It's the Western world spying techniques that scares the fuck out of me - because it doesn't matter whether I'm guilty or innocent - the Western world will spy on me, and use whatever they can against me when it suits them.

          The United States of Fuck You America needs to be demolished.

          I love playing games with Fuck You America - come for me - I will come for you!

          My name is not Julian.

          1. Sanctimonious Prick
            Black Helicopters

            Re: Sounds good

            Or is it?

            :D

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "the program is a mess but says the NSA should have the powers anyway"

    Well of course, grant the NSA the power to ignore the Constitution and citizen's rights, because hey, they're doing it anyway so might as well make it official.

    No way you're actually going to institute oversight, right ?

    1. ThatOne Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: "the program is a mess but says the NSA should have the powers anyway"

      Never forget the standard definition for "bad guys" and "enemies" is "anyone who doesn't agree with me", so asking for oversight is being hostile, potentially traitorous, and at very least a "terrorist lover"...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So lemme get this straight....

    Agency not only violated laws, they violated constitutional rights... and then deleted the evidence of said crimes?

    Sounds above board to me.

    /s

    1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: So lemme get this straight....

      ...the director of national intelligence has asked Congress to reauthorize a spying program that the NSA itself decided to shut down after it repeatedly – and illegally – gathered the call records of millions of innocent Americans.

      Agency not only violated laws, they violated constitutional rights...

      This is something I see all over the place on reporting of this and similar issues: the insistence on "innocent citizens" are having their rights violated. In almost all cases, it isn't about innocence or guilt until after the trial. It should all come down to people having their rights violated and that the agencies that are doing so ought to be held accountable for it. The way it is stated above plays into the rhetoric that Judge Roy Bean's approach (fair trial followed by hanging) is how a justice system ought to work - no presumption of innocence, no oversight, just that we should only care if the innocent are in some way harmed. If those who are charged with implementing our justice system do not play by the rules, we have already been harmed.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: So lemme get this straight....

        Agreed. It is vitally important that the rights of the guilty be protected as well. While societies recognize a reason and justification for curtailing those rights (e.g. by incarceration), if that becomes an excuse to disregard those rights completely, you no longer have a civilization worthy of the name.

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: So lemme get this straight....

      Sounds above board to me.

      Well - if you don't (successfully) get prosecuted for it then it *must* be OK..

  6. scrubber

    The constitution is not supposed to be optional

    Jail these scumbags. Jail their enablers. Jail the politicians that are supposed to be doing oversight.

    1. Ropewash

      Re: The constitution is not supposed to be optional

      It takes a lot of citizens with rifles to do that sort of jailing.

      The 2nd amendment in that constitution is there specifically for this reason, but it doesn't seem to be getting much popular press these days.

      1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        Re: The constitution is not supposed to be optional

        The military could overpower a nation full of rifles without breaking a sweat. Luckily, there are a few sensible people in the military and police too.

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: The constitution is not supposed to be optional

          There's only one winner when it comes to AR-15 vs Hellfire...

          ...and it's the people making the weapons. They're the real winners here. (Where do you think the NRA gets their money from?)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The constitution is not supposed to be optional

          "The military could overpower a nation full of rifles without breaking a sweat."

          Not so easily. For one thing, America isn't China or North Korea. U.S. servicemen and women would balk at firing on American citizens, officers at several levels would ignore, "misinterpret" or otherwise not carry out such orders. Troops forced into the field would suddenly develop terrible marksmanship and a rash of weapons failures. There's no better way to wake the sleeping dragon than to push Americans around, and seeing Bradleys firing on Americans would enrage the nation regardless of their previous opinions. Political will isn't something authoritarian governments have to worry about. It's necessary to get things done in the US, and it wouldn't survive the first days of an insurrection.

          With all that said, it would also take something HUGE to really start a revolution, so it's kind of a moot point. But never underestimate the power of an armed populace. Why do you think dictators make sure to disarm their citizens? The US is the only place on the planet whose Constitution specifically says that the people SHOULD overthrow their own government if it abuses the will of the people enough. Look it up.

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: The constitution is not supposed to be optional

            Yes, that's why the Civil War went so well for the South. The Union Army just wasn't willing to slaughter ... oh, wait.

            1. JCitizen
              FAIL

              Re: The constitution is not supposed to be optional

              There are 45 million gun owners in America; you could send an army the size of all the standing armies in World War 2 - both sides, and it would still be puny in comparison - and also not as well supplied.

              1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

                Re: The constitution is not supposed to be optional

                and it would still be puny in comparison - and also not as well supplied

                The army has a number of advantages - coherent[1] chain of command and a (mostly) common set of objectives and training.

                Those 45 million gun owners? You probably have about 45 million different attitudes and ideologies. And, sadly, the only probable winner would be the fringe or criminal gangs.

                1. Mahhn

                  Re: The constitution is not supposed to be optional

                  About 6 years ago during project Jade Helm (prison camp building/training at closed walmarts across the US) there was a LOT of discussion among enlisted people, the consensus being they are pledged to protect the Constitution - which represents the people not the government. A revolution in the US would take one day if it happened - Orders sent to attack civilians with military, an hour later those ordering it would be arrested for treason, a temporary government initiated, and new elections held within a month.

          2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: The constitution is not supposed to be optional

            otherwise not carry out such orders

            Part of the training for British Armed Forces used to be (probably still are) in the concepts of "illegal orders" and that no service person is required to follow an illegal order.

            Of course, yer average squaddie may not totally understand the concept but you would hope that someone promoted to be an NCO would. A commissioned offier *must*.

          3. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: The constitution is not supposed to be optional

            U.S. servicemen and women would balk at firing on American citizens...

            I don't have a clue where you pulled this from, you AC troll, but history would disagree with you there. Both our military and police forces have plenty of instances under their belts of doing just this (e.g. Kent State).

            The US is the only place on the planet whose Constitution specifically says that the people SHOULD overthrow their own government if it abuses the will of the people enough. Look it up.

            You look it up! The only thing in the US Constitution remotely having to do with making changes to the government has to do with the way it can be amended and/or replaced (Article 5). There is mention in the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Federalist Papers, yes, but not the Constitution. You have managed to conflate... I lose track... many different issues and facts. Take some time and figure it out.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The constitution is not supposed to be optional

          People who talk about having guns to protect against a corrupt administration don't imagine fighting the military. In their fantasy scenarios, the US military is somehow absent from the conflict. Instead they're fighing an abstract boogyman like the FEMA camp guards that Obama was arming (that's why you can't get any .22 rimfire, ya know).

          1. Mahhn

            Re: The constitution is not supposed to be optional

            lol

            https://www.gunbroker.com/All/search?Keywords=22+rimfire

            https://www.gunsamerica.com/s/22 rimfire

  7. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Protection money

    It's the perfect project. It needs lots of money going to contractors, lots of employees, lots of top talent, and it's all secret. Nobody knows what the kickbacks are from contractors, the specifications are secret, and it would be a risk to national security to say exactly how well it works.

    It would be a shame if the project wasn't funded and something avoidable happened to you.

  8. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    deleted data

    When they 'deleted' those records, what did they actually do ?

    Delete the current version of the database ?

    Dig through the archived backups of the last few years and hunt down every copy ?

    1. Jove Bronze badge

      Re: deleted data

      Have you never had to purge records?

  9. Mahhn

    never left

    The spying never left, if you recall they shifted the storage responsibility to the Telcos. Which the NSA has direct access. This took it off the NSA books and provided closer to real time access or data/connection records. Which has improved the speed at which people can be intercepted. They are now looking to publicly display their abilities as apposed to hiding (can get legally tricky), but want it to look legal - by having publicly acknowledged access.

    There is nothing good to come of this, but it's not like anyone has a choice - it's still going on either way.

    1. David Shaw

      Re: never left

      Yes Mahhn, I agree.

      When we had the 'open' Telco Standards Development meeting on "lawful interception of telecommunications", the (natural) group photo of the hard working engineers, in the usual nice seaside conference place, had telco engineers diving for cover, behind bushes - palm trees etc - shouting "No Photo, NO PHOTO!"

      fine, whatever

      My worry is, China is leading the way to the social-media metadata-ranking society-privilege model, and I can see the rest of the democratic nations eyeing-up the autocratic nations with envy, and having urgent committee meetings on how soon can we implement this sh!t

      did I just forfeit my right to a bus-pass?

  10. Jove Bronze badge

    Deligate ..

    ... to Russian Intelligence Services, and then just snoop on their databases.

    That is all within their remit and everyone will be happy - Snowflakes included.

  11. onebignerd

    They claim it's a shambolic mess but want to keep it. Obviously they have found a way to use it that is more covert, probably never stopped using it. Congress will probably rubber stamp it through again.

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