- Me: So as far as I see it people are shitting the bed because all of this is coming out at once. And to say it has been going on for years isn't to excuse it, but to say you idiots haven't been paying attention. What do they think the NSA *does*?
- @nycsouthpaw: Yeah, exactly. I agree. I think it'd be good if this ended up changing the law. I do think the national security state is too expansive and unsupervised.
- Me: Changed the law to what?
- @nycsouthpaw: More transparency and opportunity to challenge this stuff in open court maybe.
- Me: "Transparency" is a buzzword that doesn't mean much. Who's supposed to challenge? There's no defendant. The government is creating a body of data that can be referenced if needed. And there are judges who are between the collection of that data and actually using it.
- @nycsouthpaw: Well, the company producing the records is one option—another is the actual target. Transparency means something. The government could report every quarter how many warrants were issued, how many people they affected...
- Me: But the government is essentially doing the telecoms a service—creating an archive the companies wouldn't create on their own.
- @nycsouthpaw: Why do the data providers need to be subject to a gag order if the only point is to create an archive? Why can't the existence of the archive be known?
- Me: Because as soon as it's known, people try to evade it. Thus defeating the purpose.
- @nycsouthpaw: I'm not sure how many people would pay attention if you just made some boring announcement. Like, the Tsarnaevs? They weren't up on all this shit.
- Me: I mean, Al Qaeda has a pretty sophisticated media operation. They have people who pay attention to this.
- @nycsouthpaw: But those people knew what was up before these leaks. Bin Laden communicated by motorcycle couriers with handwritten notes, right?
- Me: Completely different era. The guys in the desert in Yemen who emailed Nidal Hassan couldn't send a courier. Who knows. I'm just not that worked up about it. Google, Facebook—they already have a huge archive of everything I've done online.
- @nycsouthpaw: I'm not either that worked up about it either, but I think it would be prudent not to allow the government keep this a secret forever.
- Me: That's why we have leakers! The First Amendment is a wonderful thing.
- @nycsouthpaw: You know they're going to fucking destroy that guy, whoever he is. He won't see the sun for 40 years. First Amendment won't do shit for him.
- Me: But he knew that. That's the sacrifice he makes. He does a greater good.
- @nycsouthpaw: It would be better if we could conduct our affairs without human sacrifices.
- Me: If you have a better alternative, I'm all ears.
- @nycsouthpaw: A discipline of regular public disclosure and an operational pattern that takes account of that...
- Me: Can I post this conversation on Tumblr?
- @nycsouthpaw: Sure. Just attribute it to the puppy.
Thursday, June 06, 2013
DNI Statement on Recent Unauthorized Disclosures of Classified Information
The highest priority of the Intelligence Community is to work within the constraints of law to collect, analyze and understand information related to potential threats to our national security.
The unauthorized disclosure of a top secret U.S. court document threatens potentially long-lasting and irreversible harm to our ability to identify and respond to the many threats facing our nation.
The article omits key information regarding how a classified intelligence collection program is used to prevent terrorist attacks and the numerous safeguards that protect privacy and civil liberties.
I believe it is important for the American people to understand the limits of this targeted counterterrorism program and the principles that govern its use. In order to provide a more thorough understanding of the program, I have directed that certain information related to the “business records” provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act be declassified and immediately released to the public.
The following important facts explain the purpose and limitations of the program:
- The judicial order that was disclosed in the press is used to support a sensitive intelligence collection operation, on which members of Congress have been fully and repeatedly briefed. The classified program has been authorized by all three branches of the Government.
- Although this program has been properly classified, the leak of one order, without any context, has created a misleading impression of how it operates. Accordingly, we have determined to declassify certain limited information about this program.
- The program does not allow the Government to listen in on anyone’s phone calls. The information acquired does not include the content of any communications or the identity of any subscriber. The only type of information acquired under the Court’s order is telephony metadata, such as telephone numbers dialed and length of calls.
- The collection is broad in scope because more narrow collection would limit our ability to screen for and identify terrorism -related communications. Acquiring this information allows us to make connections related to terrorist activities over time. The FISA Court specifically approved this method of collection as lawful, subject to stringent restrictions.
- The information acquired has been part of an overall strategy to protect the nation from terrorist threats to the United States, as it may assist counterterrorism personnel to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities.
- There is a robust legal regime in place governing all activities conducted pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which ensures that those activities comply with the Constitution and laws and appropriately protect privacy and civil liberties. The program at issue here is conducted under authority granted by Congress and is authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). By statute, the Court is empowered to determine the legality of the program.
- By order of the FISC, the Government is prohibited from indiscriminately sifting through the telephony metadata acquired under the program. All information that is acquired under this program is subject to strict, court-imposed restrictions on review and handling. The court only allows the data to be queried when there is a reasonable suspicion, based on specific facts, that the particular basis for the query is associated with a foreign terrorist organization. Only specially cleared counterterrorism personnel specifically trained in the Court-approved procedures may even access the records.
- All information that is acquired under this order is subject to strict restrictions on handling and is overseen by the Department of Justice and the FISA Court. Only a very small fraction of the records are ever reviewed because the vast majority of the data is not responsive to any terrorism-related query.
- The Court reviews the program approximately every 90 days. DOJ conducts rigorous oversight of the handling of the data received to ensure the applicable restrictions are followed. In addition, DOJ and ODNI regularly review the program implementation to ensure it continues to comply with the law.
The Patriot Act was signed into law in October 2001 and included authority to compel production of business records and other tangible things relevant to an authorized national security investigation with the approval of the FISC. This provision has subsequently been reauthorized over the course of two Administrations – in 2006 and in 2011. It has been an important investigative tool that has been used over the course of two Administrations, with the authorization and oversight of the FISC and the Congress.
Discussing programs like this publicly will have an impact on the behavior of our adversaries and make it more difficult for us to understand their intentions. Surveillance programs like this one are consistently subject to safeguards that are designed to strike the appropriate balance between national security interests and civil liberties and privacy concerns. I believe it is important to address the misleading impression left by the article and to reassure the American people that the Intelligence Community is committed to respecting the civil liberties and privacy of all American citizens.
James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence
June 6, 2013
DNI Statement on Activities Authorized Under Section 702 of FISA
The Guardian and The Washington Post articles refer to collection of communications pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. They contain numerous inaccuracies.
Section 702 is a provision of FISA that is designed to facilitate the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning non-U.S. persons located outside the United States. It cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S. person, or anyone located within the United States.
Activities authorized by Section 702 are subject to oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the Executive Branch, and Congress. They involve extensive procedures, specifically approved by the court, to ensure that only non-U.S. persons outside the U.S. are targeted, and that minimize the acquisition, retention and dissemination of incidentally acquired information about U.S. persons.
Section 702 was recently reauthorized by Congress after extensive hearings and debate.
Information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable foreign intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats.
The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.
James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence
That’s the real name of this case from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. The issue at hand is pasties worn by exotic dancers—it’s not exactly Plessy vs. Ferguson, so the judge had some fun teeing up his decision.
The puns. Dear God, the puns. And yes, the photo is actually in the opinion.
An ordinance dealing with semi-nude dancers has once again fallen on the Court’s lap. The City of San Antonio (“City”) wants exotic dancers employed by Plaintiffs to wear larger pieces of fabric to cover more of the female breast. Thus, the age old question before the Court, now with constitutional implications, is: Does size matter?
The genesis of this gentlemen’s clubs case can be found at 2003 WL 21204471 , known by some as “The Salomé Order.”
The City has amended Ordinance 97497 such that Plaintiffs and their employees would be more strictly regulated by a licensing process which includes:
- background checks;
- criminal records preventing them from working or continuing to work in clubs;
- wearing identification wristlets.
Plaintiffs clothe themselves in the First Amendment seeking to provide cover against another alleged naked grab of unconstitutional power.
The Court infers Plaintiffs fear enforcement of the ordinance would strip them of their profits, adversely impacting their bottom line. Conversely, the City asserts these businesses contribute to reduced property values, violent crime, increased drug sales, prostitution and other sex crimes, and therefore need to be girdled more tightly.
Plaintiffs, and by extension their customers, seek an erection of a constitutional wall separating themselves from the regulatory power of City government.
While the Court has not received amicus curiae briefs, the Court has been blessed with volunteers known in South Texas as “curious amigos” to be inspectors general to perform on sight visits at the locations in question.
However, they would have enjoyed far more the sight of Miss Wiggles, truly an exotic artist of physical self expression even into her eighties, when she performed fully clothed in the 1960s at San Antonio’s Eastwood Country Club. Miss Wiggles passed October 14, 2012 at the age of ninety.
Full PDF is here.
h/t Mike Byhoff
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release March 9, 2013
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT THE GRIDIRON DINNER
Washington Renaissance Hotel
10:03 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Before I begin, I know some of you have noticed that I’m dressed a little differently from the other gentlemen. Because of sequester, they cut my tails. (Laughter.) My joke writers have been placed on furlough. (Laughter.) I know a lot of you reported that no one will feel any immediate impact because of the sequester. Well, you’re about to find out how wrong you are. (Laughter.)
Of course, there’s one thing in Washington that didn’t get cut — the length of this dinner. (Laughter.) Yet more proof that the sequester makes no sense. (Laughter.)
As you know, I last attended the Gridiron dinner two years ago. Back then, I addressed a number of topics — a dysfunctional Congress, a looming budget crisis, complaints that I don’t spend enough time with the press. It’s funny, it seems like it was just yesterday. (Laughter.)
We noticed that some folks couldn’t make it this evening. It’s been noted that Bob Woodward sends his regrets, which Gene Sperling predicted. (Laughter.) I have to admit this whole brouhaha had me a little surprised. Who knew Gene could be so intimidating? (Laughter.) Or let me phrase it differently — who knew anybody named Gene could be this intimidating? (Laughter.)
Now I know that some folks think we responded to Woodward too aggressively. But hey, when has — can anybody tell me when an administration has ever regretted picking a fight with Bob Woodward? (Laughter.) What’s the worst that could happen? (Laughter and applause.)
But don’t worry. We’re all friends again in the spirit of that wonderful song. As you may have heard, Bob invited Gene over to his place. And Bob says he actually thinks that I should make it too. And I might take him up on the offer. I mean, nothing says “not a threat” like showing up at somebody’s house with guys with machine guns. (Laughter.)
Now, since I don’t often speak to a room full of journalists — (laughter) — I thought I should address a few concerns tonight. Some of you have said that I’m ignoring the Washington press corps — that we’re too controlling. You know what, you were right. I was wrong and I want to apologize in a video you can watch exclusively at whitehouse.gov. (Laughter.)
While we’re on this subject, I want to acknowledge Ed Henry, who is here — who is the fearless leader of the Washington press corps now. (Applause.) And at Ed’s request, tonight I will take one question from the press. Jay, do we have a question? (Laughter.) Surprisingly, it’s a question from Ed Henry. (Laughter.) “Mr. President, will you be taking any questions tonight?” (Laughter.) I’m happy to answer that. No, Ed, I will not. (Laughter.)
I also want to recognize David Corn. He’s here from Mother Jones magazine. He brought his iPhone. So Bobby Jindal, if you thought your remarks were off the record, ask Mitt Romney about that. (Applause.)
I have to say, I thought Bobby was incredibly funny this evening. (Applause.) I thought he was terrific. Amy Klobuchar was sparkling and fantastic and fabulous. (Applause.) I am worried about Al Franken though. (Laughter.) How do you start off being one of the original writers for Saturday Night Live and end up being the second-funniest Senator in Minnesota? (Laughter and applause.) How the mighty have fallen. (Laughter.)
Now I’m sure that you’ve noticed that there’s somebody very special in my life who is missing tonight, somebody who has always got my back, stands with me no matter what and gives me hope no matter how dark things seem. So tonight, I want to publicly thank my rock, my foundation — thank you, Nate Silver. (Laughter.)
Of course as I begin my second term, our country is still facing enormous challenges. We have a lot of work to do — that, Marco Rubio, is how you take a sip of water. (Laughter and applause.)
As I was saying, we face major challenges. March in particular is going to be full of tough decisions. But I want to assure you, I have my top advisors working around the clock. After all, my March Madness bracket isn’t going to fill itself out. (Laughter.) And don’t worry — there is an entire team in the situation room as we speak, planning my next golf outing, right now at this moment. (Laughter.)
But those aren’t the only issues on my mind. As you are aware — as has been noted this evening — we’ve had to make some very tough, huge budget cuts apparently with no regard to long-term consequences, which means I know how you feel in journalism. (Laughter.) I’ve been trying to explain this situation to the American people, but clearly I am not perfect. After a very public mix-up last week, my communications team has provided me with an easy way to distinguish between Star Trek and Star Wars. (Laughter.) Spock is what Maureen Dowd calls me. Darth Vader is what John Boehner calls me. (Laughter.)
Of course, maintaining credibility in this cynical atmosphere is harder than ever — incredibly challenging. My administration recently put out a photo of me skeet shooting and even that wasn’t enough for some people. Next week, we’re releasing a photo of me clinging to religion. (Laughter and applause.)
I’m also doing what I can to smooth things over with Republicans in Congress. In fact, these days John McCain and I are spending so much time together that he told me we were becoming friends. I said, “John, stop. Chuck Hagel warned me how this ends up.” (Laughter.)
It took a while, but I’m glad that the Senate finally confirmed my Secretary of Defense. And I have to say, I don’t know what happened to Chuck in those hearings. I know he worked hard, he studied his brief. And I even lent him my presidential debate team to work with him. (Laughter.) It’s confusing what happened. (Laughter.)
But all these changes to my team are tough to handle, I’ve got to admit. After nine years, I finally said goodbye to my chief speechwriter, Jon Favreau. I watched him grow up. He’s almost like a son to me, he’s been with me so long. And I said to him when he first informed me of his decision, I said, “Favs, you can’t leave.” And he answered with three simple words — “yes, I can.” (Laughter.) Fortunately, he did not take the prompter on his way out. (Laughter.) That would have been a problem. (Laughter.)
With all these new faces, it’s hard to keep track of who is in, who is out. And I know it’s difficult for you guys as reporters. But I can offer you an easy way of remembering the new team. If Ted Cruz calls somebody a communist, then you know they’re in my cabinet. (Laughter.)
Jack Lew is getting started on his new role as Treasury Secretary. Jack is so low key, he makes Tim Geithner look like Tom Cruise. (Laughter.) Don’t worry, everybody, Jack signed off on that joke or a five year old drew a slinky. (Laughter.) I don’t know which. (Applause.)
Another big change has been at the State Department. Everybody has noticed that obviously. And let’s face it — Hillary is a tough act to follow. But John Kerry is doing great so far. He is doing everything he can to ensure continuity. Frankly, though, I think it’s time for him to stop showing up at work in pantsuits. (Laughter.) It’s a disturbing image. (Laughter.) It really is. (Laughter.) I don’t know where he buys them. He is a tall guy. (Laughter.)
And even though I’m just beginning my second term, I know that some folks are looking ahead to bigger things. Look, it’s no secret that my Vice President is still ambitious. But let’s face it, his age is an issue. Just the other day, I had to take Joe aside and say, “Joe, you are way too young to be the pope.” (Laughter.) “You can’t do it. You got to mature a little bit.” (Laughter.)
Now, I do want to end on a serious note. I know that there are people who get frustrated with the way journalism is practiced these days. And sometimes those people are me. (Laughter.) But the truth is our country needs you and our democracy needs you.
In an age when all it takes to attract attention is a Twitter handle and some followers, it’s easier than ever to get it wrong. But it’s more important than ever to get it right. And I am grateful for all the journalists who do one of the toughest jobs there is with integrity and insight and dedication — and a sense of purpose — that goes beyond a business model or a news cycle.
This year alone, reporters have exposed corruption here at home and around the world. They’ve risked everything to bring us stories from places like Syria and Kenya, stories that need to be told. And they’ve helped people understand the ways in which we’re all connected — how something that happens or doesn’t happen halfway around the world or here in Washington can have consequences for American families.
These are extraordinary times. The stakes are high and the tensions can sometimes be high as well. But while we’ll always have disagreements, I believe that we share the belief that a free press — a press that questions us, that holds us accountable, that sometimes gets under our skin — is absolutely an essential part of our democracy.
So I want to thank everybody for not just a wonderful evening — and, Chuck, I want to thank you for your outstanding presidency — but I also just want to thank you for the work that you do each and every day. And in the words of one of my favorite Star Trek characters — Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise — “May the force be with you.” (Laughter and applause.)
END 10:19 P.M. EST
The White House · 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW · Washington DC 20500 · 202-456-1111