Rethinking NSA Data Collection

 

It’s probably too early to say anything definitive following the revelations of Rep. Nunes yesterday, but I would like to revisit some statements made repeatedly by Prof. @richardepstein on various Ricochet podcasts.

One of his main defenses of the current data collection regime of the NSA and other law enforcement groups was that there seems to be a real security need and that there are enough checks in place to prevent the misuse of that data.

While I certainly agree with the former point it is quite clear that the latter is no longer operative. So, is anyone who supported the broad spectrum data gathering rethinking their positions now that there is some serious intimation of wrongdoing?

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  1. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    All data must be collected so it can be used against the governments enemies.  Since the government is a Democrat organization and in this case the data is being used against the GOP or Trump, nobody is going to have an issue with the current data collection regime.  There will be a few show investigations and in the end it will be determined that some procedures need to be changed but that will be it.

    • #1
  2. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    The data gathering is driven by the technology.  We keep using language like wire tapping.  Nothing is tapped.  It’s scooped up and searched by algorithms  so there is no defense against misuse except the integrity of the leadership and the institutions themselves.

    • #2
  3. Robert McReynolds Inactive
    Robert McReynolds
    @RobertMcReynolds

    I Walton (View Comment):
    The data gathering is driven by the technology. We keep using language like wire tapping. Nothing is tapped. It’s scooped up and searched by algorithms so there is no defense against misuse except the integrity of the leadership and the institutions themselves.

    Which is exactly why it needs to be shut down. You want to protect against Jihadists, then enforce the damned immigration laws as they are. There is no need to have the kind  of information gathering techniques that the intelligence community currently has because of this very abuse of its power. Shut it down.

    • #3
  4. Chuckles Thatcher
    Chuckles
    @Chuckles

    Yes, but not for the reason you mentioned.

    Like so many others, I thought it would increase personal security (and I think it has) and like so many others I said “Go ahead! I have nothing to hide!”

    Then I came to realize that if the listener has malicious intent I might well have something to hide.  I expect everyone has, certainly I have, said or done something they would not want to be spread abroad.

    • #4
  5. NHPat Inactive
    NHPat
    @NHPat

    I have to admit that I never liked the mass data collection to begin with, but now it disturbs me even more.  All I can think is if the President of the United States, like him or not, is not protected from malicious, or even mischievous, use of mass data collection – then who is?  Are any of us safe?  I fear not.  And what is the protection it guarantees us when our politicians are willing to ignore whatever laws they choose rather than working to change laws they believe to be wrong?  If they want to listen in on talk show hosts, news reporters, ordinary citizens when they disagree politically (using the I’m right and they’re wrong excuse) what is to prevent them from ignoring privacy laws that they feel are preventing them from applying “social justice” as they see fit?

    • #5
  6. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    It seems, like any government entity, that is has gotten beyond control and sensibility.  The checks and balances have disappeared, and we are at the mercy of those in charge.  When some of those in charge have ulterior motives, it can be a real mess, as we are currently seeing.  With the world in so much turmoil, it seems to be impeding our leadership to do its job.  A new, incoming administration is hampered at every turn with this mess.  It’s much worse than when GW Bush took office – the hanging chads, the attorneys, months of distractions, then saying he was an illegitimate president and then Sept. came, and we were ill-prepared.

    • #6
  7. Robert McReynolds Inactive
    Robert McReynolds
    @RobertMcReynolds

    NHPat (View Comment):
    I have to admit that I never liked the mass data collection to begin with, but now it disturbs me even more. All I can think is if the President of the United States, like him or not, is not protected from malicious, or even mischievous, use of mass data collection – then who is? Are any of us safe? I fear not. And what is the protection it guarantees us when our politicians are willing to ignore whatever laws they choose rather than working to change laws they believe to be wrong? If they want to listen in on talk show hosts, news reporters, ordinary citizens when they disagree politically (using the I’m right and they’re wrong excuse) what is to prevent them from ignoring privacy laws that they feel are preventing them from applying “social justice” as they see fit?

    Absolutely nothing. Anyone with any experience in how this stuff is used to track bad guys overseas could have told you–and in fact I did years ago–what was actually being done with this information. The metadata is used to build pattern of life analysis: where you go everyday, what route you take to get there, where you get coffee, etc. The content is stored in the off chance it may need to be used against you some day. Believe me, a well experienced prosecutor can take any conversation you have and make it into whatever nefarious thing they want.

    • #7
  8. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Evan Pokroy: One of his main defenses of the current data collection regime of the NSA and other law enforcement groups was that there seems to be a real security need and that there are enough checks in place to prevent the misuse of that data.

    I never thought there were enough checks in place. Back during the early days of the Patriot Acts, most of the proposed checks ran into opposition. I could see that we’d have to give in a little bit for the sake of expediency, but I couldn’t see why warrants couldn’t at least be ratified after the fact.

    I blame Bush for a lot of this.  Bush wasn’t the one who abused power very much, but he enabled the abuse of power.

    • #8
  9. NHPat Inactive
    NHPat
    @NHPat

    Robert McReynolds (View Comment):
    Believe me, a well experienced prosecutor can take any conversation you have and make it into whatever nefarious thing they want.

    I believe you – and am even more convinced that we need to shut the data collection down.

    • #9
  10. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Robert McReynolds (View Comment):

    NHPat (View Comment):
    I have to admit that I never liked the mass data collection to begin with, but now it disturbs me even more. All I can think is if the President of the United States, like him or not, is not protected from malicious, or even mischievous, use of mass data collection – then who is? Are any of us safe? I fear not. when they disagree politically (using the I’m right and they’re wrong excuse) what is to prevent them from ignoring privacy laws that they feel are preventing them from applying “social justice” as they see fit?

    Absolutely nothing. Anyone with any experience in how this stuff is used to track bad guys overseas could have told you–and in fact I did years ago–what was actually being done with this information. The metadata is used to build pattern of life analysis: where you go everyday, what route you take to get there, where you get coffee, etc. The content is stored in the off chance it may need to be used against you some day. Believe me, a well experienced prosecutor can take any conversation you have and make it into whatever nefarious thing they want.

    The above in bold is something I heard a person mention on radio to Rush Limbaugh. He could not believe that really happens and wanted to verify the claim – because on an ordinary citizen, that’s not legal.

    • #10
  11. Fritz Coolidge
    Fritz
    @Fritz

    @Evan PokroyI never thought there were enough checks in place. Back during the early days of the Patriot Acts, most of the proposed checks ran into opposition. I could see that we’d have to give in a little bit for the sake of expediency, but I couldn’t see why warrants couldn’t at least be ratified after the fact.

    I blame Bush for a lot of this. Bush wasn’t the one who abused power very much, but he enabled the abuse of power.

    That’s because Bush was responding to the 9/11 events and its progeny, and in that context probably could not imagine that his succcessor would hold the “rule of law” in such total contempt. But there are those for whom the ends justify the means. Whereas Bush probably thought he (and we) could count on future adherence to those very safeguards.

    • #11
  12. Charles Allen Member
    Charles Allen
    @CharlesAllen
    • #12
  13. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Let’s start with specific examples of abuses caused by metadata collection and go from there.

    • #13
  14. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    When you get down to the ugly truth, what would cause the most damage to America: a few jihadi attacks that leak through due to greater restraints on the NSA, or a civil war when the legitimacy of the government is undermined, and the party being voted out uses its power to resist the legal revolution.  Just how many more steps are we from the latter?

    • #14
  15. Chris Campion Coolidge
    Chris Campion
    @ChrisCampion

    I think the real concern is more that the gov’t has these tools in its hands, and it’s less about the people in power, but the people in the bureaucracies to who covet access to that power – and have tools in their hands to curry favor with those who can give them something.

    If you have any questions on this, ask Lois Lerner.

    • #15
  16. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Chris Campion (View Comment):
    I think the real concern is more that the gov’t has these tools in its hands, and it’s less about the people in power, but the people in the bureaucracies to who covet access to that power – and have tools in their hands to curry favor with those who can give them something.

    If you have any questions on this, ask Lois Lerner.

    Agreed and there will be a real concern when we see some concrete examples of abuses.

    • #16
  17. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Chris Campion (View Comment):
    I think the real concern is more that the gov’t has these tools in its hands, and it’s less about the people in power, but the people in the bureaucracies to who covet access to that power – and have tools in their hands to curry favor with those who can give them something.

    If you have any questions on this, ask Lois Lerner.

    Agreed and there will be a real concern when we see some concrete examples of abuses.

    You don’t need concrete examples to have a real concern.

    We didn’t have concrete examples of the U.S. government abusing free speech rights before we enacted the 1st Amendment, for example.

    And if we don’t have any way of knowing whether there have been abuses, that’s abusive. If the security agencies are able to judge for themselves whether their actions are legit, without getting permission from a judge either beforehand or after the fact, that’s abusive.

    And on top of that, Lois Lerner is a concrete example of an abuse. If that example doesn’t inform us of problems in the way we’re doing security, we’re not thinking very hard.

    • #17
  18. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Chris Campion (View Comment):
    I think the real concern is more that the gov’t has these tools in its hands, and it’s less about the people in power, but the people in the bureaucracies to who covet access to that power – and have tools in their hands to curry favor with those who can give them something.

    If you have any questions on this, ask Lois Lerner.

    Agreed and there will be a real concern when we see some concrete examples of abuses.

    You don’t need concrete examples to have a real concern.

    We didn’t have concrete examples of the U.S. government abusing free speech rights before we enacted the 1st Amendment, for example.

    And if we don’t have any way of knowing whether there have been abuses, that’s abusive. If the security agencies are able to judge for themselves whether their actions are legit, without getting permission from a judge either beforehand or after the fact, that’s abusive.

    And on top of that, Lois Lerner is a concrete example of an abuse. If that example doesn’t inform us of problems in the way we’re doing security, we’re not thinking very hard.

    Sorry, no.  We’ve known about this data gathering for a good long time.  Anyone can speculate about the potential for abuse.  Show me a real abuse and we can talk.  And Lerner, forgive me, is irrelevant.

    • #18
  19. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Another reason why the Bush dynasty was a disaster for this nation.  When I think of what GHW Bush  did to ruin the small steps made by Reagan, I get ill.

    The Bushes were relatively honest, but also philosophically impaired.  They were radical socialists and big government advocates who thought no part of human life should be beyond their control or surveillance.

    I hope Trump can destroy the tenacious reach of the federal government into our lives.  That hope isn’t based on anything rational.  It’s just a hope.  That’s how pathetic our serfdom has become.

    • #19
  20. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Skyler (View Comment):
    The Bushes were relatively honest, but also philosophically impaired. They were radical socialists …

    I’m sorry, but it’s impossible to take you seriously when you write stuff like that.  If the Bush’s were “radical socialists” then the words have no meaning.  If they were socialists, what’s Bernie Sanders?

    • #20
  21. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    Libertarians have been making the case against the surveillance state for decades. The problem is giving the government powers beyond the very limited role outlined in the Constitution.

    • #21
  22. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):
    Libertarians have been making the case against the surveillance state for decades. The problem is giving the government powers beyond the very limited role outlined in the Constitution.

    OK, and I’m not that bothered by the libertarian view because it’s consistent with an inherent suspicion of government as a rule.  It may be naive, but at least it’s reliant on principle and not speculation.

    • #22
  23. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Hoyacon (View Comment):
    Sorry, no. We’ve known about this data gathering for a good long time. Anyone can speculate about the potential for abuse. Show me a real abuse and we can talk. And Lerner, forgive me, is irrelevant.

    I refuted your points and you ignored mine. That means I win.

    And to pile on for good measure, I’ll point out again that our Constitutional protections were based on speculation about the potential for abuse. Now you can ignore my point again and I can keep on winning.

    • #23
  24. WI Con Member
    WI Con
    @WICon

    NHPat (View Comment):

    Robert McReynolds (View Comment):
    Believe me, a well experienced prosecutor can take any conversation you have and make it into whatever nefarious thing they want.

    I believe you – and am even more convinced that we need to shut the data collection down.

    Yes, the GOP can repeal the Meta-Data Collection Program just like they Repealed & Replaced Obamacare.

    • #24
  25. WI Con Member
    WI Con
    @WICon

    Fritz (View Comment):

    @Evan PokroyI never thought there were enough checks in place. Back during the early days of the Patriot Acts, most of the proposed checks ran into opposition. I could see that we’d have to give in a little bit for the sake of expediency, but I couldn’t see why warrants couldn’t at least be ratified after the fact.

    I blame Bush for a lot of this. Bush wasn’t the one who abused power very much, but he enabled the abuse of power.

    That’s because Bush was responding to the 9/11 events and its progeny, and in that context probably could not imagine that his succcessor would hold the “rule of law” in such total contempt. But there are those for whom the ends justify the means. Whereas Bush probably thought he (and we) could count on future adherence to those very safeguards.

    Yes, he was responding to the very real and immediate threats after 9/11 – I’ll cut him some slack for that. So, why did he sign McCain’s Campaign Finance Reform? More protection from ourselves?

    • #25
  26. WI Con Member
    WI Con
    @WICon

    Hoyacon (View Comment):
    Let’s start with specific examples of abuses caused by metadata collection and go from there.

    You mean the self policed examples published by those same agencies or those America-hating Russian shills over at WikiLeaks that we’re not supposed to believe?

    I don’t feel the burden is on us.

    • #26
  27. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Fritz (View Comment):

    I blame Bush for a lot of this. Bush wasn’t the one who abused power very much, but he enabled the abuse of power.

    That’s because Bush was responding to the 9/11 events and its progeny, and in that context probably could not imagine that his succcessor would hold the “rule of law” in such total contempt. But there are those for whom the ends justify the means. Whereas Bush probably thought he (and we) could count on future adherence to those very safeguards.

    Well, yes, he was responding to that. I took off a bit early from work on 9/11 to pick up my son from school, and that’s when I started to get a little teary, because I knew that even if Bush had had a stronger character there would be pressure to deal with the threat by giving the government more power and depriving us of our freedoms.  But it can’t be that Bush couldn’t have imagined future abuses, because there were many libertarian-type people making that point when the Patriot Acts were being discussed. At least that’s how I remember it. I don’t think I was the only one. (And I’m not a libertarian.)

    • #27
  28. Chris Campion Coolidge
    Chris Campion
    @ChrisCampion

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Chris Campion (View Comment):
    I think the real concern is more that the gov’t has these tools in its hands, and it’s less about the people in power, but the people in the bureaucracies to who covet access to that power – and have tools in their hands to curry favor with those who can give them something.

    If you have any questions on this, ask Lois Lerner.

    Agreed and there will be a real concern when we see some concrete examples of abuses.

    You don’t need concrete examples to have a real concern.

    We didn’t have concrete examples of the U.S. government abusing free speech rights before we enacted the 1st Amendment, for example.

    And if we don’t have any way of knowing whether there have been abuses, that’s abusive. If the security agencies are able to judge for themselves whether their actions are legit, without getting permission from a judge either beforehand or after the fact, that’s abusive.

    And on top of that, Lois Lerner is a concrete example of an abuse. If that example doesn’t inform us of problems in the way we’re doing security, we’re not thinking very hard.

    Sorry, no. We’ve known about this data gathering for a good long time. Anyone can speculate about the potential for abuse. Show me a real abuse and we can talk. And Lerner, forgive me, is irrelevant.

    Lerner’s piece is indicative of what I was describing – the abuse of power by bureaucrats currying favor (or responding to direction from) politicians.

    It’s not directly part of the meta-data piece.  But the gov’t used the data at its disposal to harass political opponents.

    It’s another flavor of horrifying.  If that’s irrelevant, you’re missing the point.

     

    • #28
  29. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):
    The Bushes were relatively honest, but also philosophically impaired. They were radical socialists …

    I’m sorry, but it’s impossible to take you seriously when you write stuff like that. If the Bush’s were “radical socialists” then the words have no meaning. If they were socialists, what’s Bernie Sanders?

    that’s easy.  Sanders is a Marxist/Leninist.  He doesn’t even try to hide that fact.

    GHW Bush gave us a “thousand points of light.”  Pure socialism. GW Bush gave us the same thing rebranded as “compassionate conservatism” which is more pure socialism.  That they both engaged in poorly waged wars doesn’t make them conservative.  Neither valued rugged individualism and their political machine is still churning under Ryan to perpetuate Obamacare and continue to explode the budget with social programs.  How is that not radical socialism?

     

    • #29
  30. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Oh yeah.  GW Bush also gave us the Patriot Act, which had been proposed many times in the previous twenty years and defeated each time by the indignant reaction of the public.  His political machine believes that the people’s freedoms are less important than government power.  This is what brought us John Roberts and his confused and treacherous ACA decision that the government can force us to buy broccoli and insurance. This is all radical, freedom destroying, nannyism and radical socialism. 

    • #30

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