Your Government Is Phone Tapping An Entire Nation. Are You Okay With This?

 

shutterstock_90519055As of 2013, the United States government “has been recording and storing nearly all the domestic (and international) phone calls from two or more target countries as of 2013.” If anybody had any doubts, the good people of WikiLeaks, who are doing God’s work, revealed that one of those countries is Afghanistan.

Your government is phone tapping an entire country’s worth of phones. This program, they claim, is vital, to keeping our drone wars going.

So, in order to keep a war going that we shouldn’t be in anymore, in a place we shouldn’t be involved anymore, we — you and I — are doing this. Privacy is a fundamental human right. We are violating the fundamental human rights of an entire nation of people, in order to keep a war going in a place we shouldn’t be in, to accomplish… what exactly?

Are you okay with this? If so, why? And if you’re going to defend it, please tell me what part of the Constitution allows this? Tell me what concept of human rights allows this? Why should a government, any government, have this power? Is this what limited government means to you? Phone tapping an entire nation of people? And what is the limiting principle here?

And for a bonus: What’s the point again?

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  1. douglaswatt25@yahoo.com Moderator
    douglaswatt25@yahoo.com
    @DougWatt

    How come the WikiLeaks pipeline never can come up with info on Russian Federation tactics in their liberation of the Ukraine? Personally I am just as concerned with Afghan rights as they were about our rights on 9/11. I also prefer the phrase unmanned aircraft strikes. When I hear the word drone I think people are talking about Washington DC.

    • #91
  2. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Zafar:

    James Of England:

    Drone warfare reduces the number of martyrs below traditional air strikes and missiles. It creates more than we’d create if we captured and interrogated more people, but it seems like the minimum cost for saving lives that exists within the current political reality.

    I’m sure you’re right, but when it comes to winning hearts and minds that’s like being a little bit pregnant – the baby is still on its way.

    I wonder if winning hearts and minds is a realistic goal, in these circumstances.

     How do you think the Awakening was achieved in Iraq? How do you believe hearts and minds were won in Somalia?
    If you let these evil oppressors live, you cannot win hearts and minds, because people who support you will be murdered, so people will not support you because they are afraid of murder (see Syria). If you kill the oppressors, some people will join you in pursuing decency (see the Awakening, Somalia, Post WWII Axis Powers), while some will grumble and be angry. Minimizing innocent death while maximizing evil death (unless you object to that characterization of AQ), helps nudge the scale. 

    • #92
  3. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Albert Arthur:

    Albert Arthur:

    [Edited for CoC]

    What?! It’s a violation of the Code of Conduct to ask Fred what side he’s on?

    I want to know. What side is Fred on?

    I had also asked him what the [apparently an expletive…the one the starts with an “H”] was the matter with him.

     For what it’s worth, I considered flagging the comments, both as containing a personal attack and as containing a mild expletive (the H word was a stronger form of “heck”, and I thought “heck” would suffice), but after thinking about it for a bit, I didn’t.  Still, while I agree with the sentiment, I don’t think it’s totally astonishing that editors thought it ought to be toned down somewhat. 

    These enemies of civilization are vile, and accusing people of supporting them is a very unpleasant charge, regardless of its truth. I think it is clear that, subjectively, Fred is against the horrors they commit. 

    • #93
  4. Owen Findy Member
    Owen Findy
    @OwenFindy

    Arahant: I’d settle for fear and respect.

     Yes.

    • #94
  5. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Owen Findy:

    Misthiocracy: In my opinion, one’s right to privacy rarely extends to electrons or photons that one transmits over wires that one does not own, and definitely does not extend to broadcasted radio signals.

    Hmmm, only wondering aloud; no idea whether this makes sense: could the signal — the pattern which is born by the physical medium, but which is not the medium itself, but is the message created by the person speaking or texting — be owned by the person who created it?

    If so, maybe it’s reasonable to think that it ought to be — even though it seems not currently to be — protected by a system of rights and laws.

    Only protected by copyright, IMHO.

    • #95
  6. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    James Of England:

    Minimizing innocent death while maximizing evil death (unless you object to that characterization of AQ), helps nudge the scale.

     But drones don’t minimise innocent deaths – they reduce them to below what they would be with bombs, but not to as low as they would be with more capture and interrogation.

    It tells civilians that their lives are worth enough to make reducing their loss worthwhile, but not quite valuable enough to go the capture and interrogation route that really minimises that loss.  Fair enough, but then that’s going to have an effect on how they see you and the rest of your message, right? (editorial you, of course.)  It’s a PR disaster.

    Wrt Somalia – let’s see how it shakes out.  I am deeply pessimistic about Afghanistan’s chances once COTW (?) troop numbers really go down; Iraq seems to be reaching an equilibrium – even if that includes fracturing – but there are still too many sectarian killings there (not to mention the Iran factor) for it to be called an unalloyed success for the West, jmho, and no disrespect intended to people who sincerely fought and worked for that country’s betterment.

    • #96
  7. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Doug Watt:

    I also prefer the phrase unmanned aircraft strikes. When I hear the word drone I think people are talking about Washington DC.

    It’s terrible but I always think Bertie Wooster. 

    • #97
  8. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Zafar: But drones don’t minimise innocent deaths – they reduce them to below what they would be with bombs, but not to as low as they would be with more capture and interrogation.

    The issue on the other side is that capture and interrogation might mean more US military deaths, and the US politicians don’t want that.  A drone strike is a way to “do something” with fairly small risks, supposedly.  I’m not advocating a view here, just pointing it out.

    • #98
  9. Albert Arthur Coolidge
    Albert Arthur
    @AlbertArthur

    James Of England: I think it is clear that, subjectively, Fred is against the horrors they commit. 

    Fred has stated previously that he believes that Islamic terrorism is a creation of “hawks” post-9/11 to justify a police state.

    • #99
  10. user_48342 Member
    user_48342
    @JosephEagar

    I’m okay with this, yes.

    • #100
  11. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    Albert Arthur:

    Fred has stated previously that he believes that Islamic terrorism is a creation of “hawks” post-9/11 to justify a police state.

     I aspire to be a professional writer.  It’s something I think I’d be well suited to, as a profession, because I already have the temperament for it.  See, I’m very protective and prickly about my words being changed.  This translates too into a political context, where I try to state my views as clearly as possible, so as they aren’t misconstrued, intentionally or otherwise.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is this:
    Either [expletive] quote my words correctly or don’t [expletive] do it at all.  Please don’t [expletive] paraphrase me.  You’re really bad at it. 

    • #101
  12. user_1029039 Inactive
    user_1029039
    @JasonRudert

    Fred Cole:

    Albert Arthur:

    Fred has stated previously that he believes that Islamic terrorism is a creation of “hawks” post-9/11 to justify a police state.

    I aspire to be a professional writer. It’s something I think I’d be well suited to, as a profession, because I already have the temperament for it. See, I’m very protective and prickly about my words being changed. This translates too into a political context, where I try to state my views as clearly as possible, so as they aren’t misconstrued, intentionally or otherwise.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is this:Either [expletive] quote my words correctly or don’t [expletive] do it at all. Please don’t [expletive] paraphrase me. You’re really bad at it.

     I agree. Over the line.

    • #102
  13. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    As far as what side I’m on, 
    I took the time to answer that here:
    http://ricochet.com/what-side-im-on/

    • #103
  14. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Arahant:

    Zafar: But drones don’t minimise innocent deaths – they reduce them to below what they would be with bombs, but not to as low as they would be with more capture and interrogation.

    The issue on the other side is that capture and interrogation might mean more US military deaths, and the US politicians don’t want that. A drone strike is a way to “do something” with fairly small risks, supposedly. I’m not advocating a view here, just pointing it out.

    Totally logical and defendable pov, but it won’t win hearts and minds.  Are we unreasonable to expect it to? I fear that we are.

    • #104
  15. Albert Arthur Coolidge
    Albert Arthur
    @AlbertArthur

    Jason Rudert:

    Fred Cole:

    Albert Arthur:

    Fred has stated previously that he believes that Islamic terrorism is a creation of “hawks” post-9/11 to justify a police state.

    I aspire to be a professional writer. It’s something I think I’d be well suited to, as a profession, because I already have the temperament for it. See, I’m very protective and prickly about my words being changed. This translates too into a political context, where I try to state my views as clearly as possible, so as they aren’t misconstrued, intentionally or otherwise.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is this:Either [expletive] quote my words correctly or don’t [expletive] do it at all. Please don’t [expletive] paraphrase me. You’re really bad at it.

    I agree. Over the line.

     Please go look at Fred’s other post. If anything, Fred’s actual comments about Islamic bogeymen being an invention of hawks on the right is worse than my paraphrase. That’s just my opinion, though.

    • #105
  16. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Zafar:

    James Of England:

    Minimizing innocent death while maximizing evil death (unless you object to that characterization of AQ), helps nudge the scale.

    But drones don’t minimise innocent deaths – they reduce them to below what they would be with bombs, but not to as low as they would be with more capture and interrogation.

     They minimize them under many of the circumstances that they are used under. It’s not politically possible to have a lot of US boots on the ground in Nigeria, Somalia, Pakistan, or Yemen, so drones minimize innocent deaths there, for instance, just as they do when the lead time for boots on the ground would be insufficient in war zones. I completely agree that it ought to be possible to be more aggressive in the use of ground forces (It feels a little odd to be defending this, since you’re replying to my reply to your reply to my statement that where is was possible, ground raids are superior to drones), but most drone use minimizes the casualties. The minority are important, since they represent considerable intelligence loss, and I’m happy to hear you come out for increased raiding. 

    • #106
  17. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Albert Arthur:

    Jason Rudert:

    Please go look at Fred’s other post. If anything, Fred’s actual comments about Islamic bogeymen being an invention of hawks on the right is worse than my paraphrase. That’s just my opinion, though.

     I agree that it’s terrible. I think that you were attempting in good faith to describe Fred’s position, and should not be excoriated for this. Fred’s explanation of how you went wrong may be an excellent way of adding nuance to our understanding of Fred’s views. I think Fred’s right that quoting him directly is best practice, though, and that your defense misses the mark. Being “bad” isn’t so much the question.
    We all have our own hierarchy of horrors; when one of our Catholic friends talks about pedophilia being better than adult homosexuality on account of being more natural, I can sort of see where he’s coming from, so while I’m not a fan of the view, I’d consider it less bad than the belief that we should not consider the lives of foreigners when we make moral foreign policy judgments. Obviously, when talking to the extreme nationalists (often libertarians) about the latter view, it would be entirely wrong to ascribe the former view to them. Both views are bad, but only the worse view is theirs, and it is manifestly unfair to claim otherwise. 

    • #107
  18. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Zafar:

    Totally logical and defendable pov, but it won’t win hearts and minds. Are we unreasonable to expect it to? I fear that we are.

     It seems to be winning hearts and minds in Somalia. I gather that it’s expected to in Nigeria. What makes you think that it doesn’t? Hearts and minds are mostly won by persuading people that it is safe or advisable to behave like an ally. So, Assad and AQ mostly win hearts and minds in Syria by persuading people that if they don’t support Assad/ AQ, their families with be abused and murdered. Cognitive dissonance means that when you take up arms for AssAQ, even largely for selfish/ family/ community reasons, you develop an abiding loyalty on ideological grounds.
    There are many in Syria who reject the totalitarian and abusive values of AssAQ, and who have gone to efforts to oppose them with the Free Syrian Army. If the US were to use drone strikes to kill their enemies, the FSA would grow in size, because it would become safer and more appealing to support decency. If the Libertarian Party were to successfully engage in vote fraud and win 30% of the vote in 2016, they’d win many new real votes in 2020 for similar reasons. 

    • #108
  19. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Zafar:

    It tells civilians that their lives are worth enough to make reducing their loss worthwhile, but not quite valuable enough to go the capture and interrogation route that really minimises that loss. Fair enough, but then that’s going to have an effect on how they see you and the rest of your message, right? (editorial you, of course.) It’s a PR disaster.

     Compared to what? If you look at Syria, we have six levels of possible response; we can do nothing, we can supply local decent human beings with arms, we can supply them and launch indiscriminate bombardments, we can supply them and launch targeted attacks, we can send ground troops, and we can send ground troops and unbelievably large amounts of aid. At each of those levels before the sixth, you’re telling the people that you care enough to do what you’re doing, but not enough to do more. With five and six being manifestly impossible in Syria, targeted strikes would be the West doing all that it can. 
    Friends in Iraq tell me that FSA support is finally ramping up. Even if we do shamefully little, there are still many who will be grateful that we did not do less. 

    • #109
  20. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Zafar:

    Wrt Somalia – let’s see how it shakes out. I am deeply pessimistic about Afghanistan’s chances once COTW (?) troop numbers really go down; Iraq seems to be reaching an equilibrium – even if that includes fracturing – but there are still too many sectarian killings there (not to mention the Iran factor) for it to be called an unalloyed success for the West, jmho, and no disrespect intended to people who sincerely fought and worked for that country’s betterment.

     In all cases, the future is unknowable. Somalia at the moment, though, is vastly better off than it was a year, or five years, or ten years, or twenty years ago. That’s a non-trivial achievement. 

    Iraq’s current civil war is almost entirely an overflow of the Syrian conflict. I don’t know what you mean by “fracturing”, but if you’re suggesting a Biden solution is in the offing, your sources mislead you. 

    Economic growth is geometric, and Afghanistan’s intense poverty is hence likely to remain for the foreseeable future. It seems unlikely to revert to being entirely an entirely safe haven for terrorists over the same time frame. An Afghan led the Ukrainian resistance to Russia, and I suspect we shall see more like that. 

    • #110
  21. Klaatu Inactive
    Klaatu
    @Klaatu

    Fred Cole: Are you okay with this? If so, why? And if you’re going to defend it, please tell me what part of the Constitution allows this? Tell me what concept of human rights allows this? Why should a government, any government, have this power? Is this what limited government means to you? Phone tapping an entire nation of people? And what is the limiting principle here?

    Yes I am in favor of it, without a bit of concern.
    The portion of the Constitution which allows this is Art. 1, Section 8 (Congress shall have the power to declare war, raise armies, support a navy, make rules regulating land and naval forces, …) and Art. 2, Section 2 (The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States,).
    Nothing in the Constitution limits the government with regard to other nations nor was it intended to.
    The limiting principle here is the same as it is for all the war making power we possess, that we use it to further our national security.  
    Why is that objection all to you?

    • #111
  22. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    James Of England:

    Zafar:

    It tells civilians that their lives are worth enough to make reducing their loss worthwhile, but not quite valuable enough to go the capture and interrogation route that really minimises that loss. Fair enough, but then that’s going to have an effect on how they see you and the rest of your message, right? (editorial you, of course.) It’s a PR disaster.

    Compared to what? If you look at Syria…..

    But we aren’t trying to win hearts and minds in Syria.  (Or are we?  Wouldn’t we have to occupy it first?)

    Who is winning hearts and minds in Somalia with the use of drones?  What belief are these hearts and minds turning to?  We can support one side over another, and that might be useful to them, but winning hearts and minds really requires conquering a country first, and we (the West) have not done that in Somalia.

    • #112
  23. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Zafar:
    But we aren’t trying to win hearts and minds in Syria. (Or are we? Wouldn’t we have to occupy it first?)

    Who is winning hearts and minds in Somalia with the use of drones? What belief are these hearts and minds turning to? We can support one side over another, and that might be useful to them, but winning hearts and minds really requires conquering a country first, and we (the West) have not done that in Somalia.

     Why would we need to occupy a country to want it to spew forth democrats and capitalists rather than jihadis and criminals? Recruiting people to kill our enemies is valuable whether or not we are in country to help them, or merely in other countries likely to fight those same mobile fighters when they leave to wage jihad in some place we are on the ground. Persuading people that they should support friendly causes rather than joining AQ to travel abroad to kill us is similarly valuable.
    We, the West and Western backed Somalis and Ethiopians, have mostly conquered Somalia, in part through use of drones. The last year has just been fantastic from that perspective. 

    • #113
  24. Klaatu Inactive
    Klaatu
    @Klaatu

    Fred,

    You ask what the limiting principle is, I would like to know what you believe the operating principle should be?

    Is all war inherently unjust?
    Is all intelligence collection inherently immoral?
    All signals intelligence collection?  Tell us exactly what restrictions you wish to place on the collection of signals intelligence in a foreign nation.

    If no government “especially the US government” should ever have the power to tap every phone in a foreign country, what about the power to end virtually all human life in that country?  How about tap every phone in a city?  Destroy all human life and infrastructure in that city?

    • #114
  25. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Sorry, I should have noted the belief that was being turned to: a democratic Islam that opposes Al Qaida and its ilk and supports education and a degree of economic growth. More or less what the US wants for the whole Islamic world.

    • #115
  26. Albert Arthur Coolidge
    Albert Arthur
    @AlbertArthur

    Klaatu: Fred, You ask what the limiting principle is, I would like to know what you believe the operating principle should be? Is all war inherently unjust?

     What I’d like to know is if Fred thinks the use of nuclear bombs to defeat Japan was immoral.

    • #116
  27. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    James Of England:

    Sorry, I should have noted the belief that was being turned to: a democratic Islam that opposes Al Qaida and its ilk and supports education and a degree of economic growth. More or less what the US wants for the whole Islamic world.

    James – Pakistan is an edgy country at the best of times, but every time they have an election they choose between two more or less moderate, capitalism friendly parties.  They never vote for the Taliban or crazy jihadis.

    But at the same time, the use of drones (and sporadic support for the Army despite its coup happy ways) has strengthened a deep streak of anti-americanism in the population – in Pakistan and perhaps in Afghanistan as well – and a profound cynicism about America’s role in the world and its support for democracy.  It’s one of the things that organisations like the Pakistani Taliban feed off.  I can’t see how that wins their hearts and minds for the West in any meaningful way.

    • #117
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