Turn on some music!
One refrain in the wake of the National Security Agency leaks is that Edward Snowden should have reported his concerns up the chain of command rather than leaking documents to the press. But the internal reporting system is seriously broken in the military. All too often when a soldier reports misconduct or illegal activity, it is swept under the rug.Many sites are maintaining a detailed tally of the House's upcoming Syria vote:
As of Friday afternoon, there were 223 members in the “no” or “leaning no” category, more than the 217 that would be needed to sink the resolutionApparently Obama is learning about the NSA's activities from leaks along with the rest of us. Via Techdirt again:
Regarding Syria, it's never a good sign when your own military has misgivings:
One of the best responses to our co-published #NSA scoop: http://t.co/HnEsfdCPTM via @HappyBlogFriend pic.twitter.com/oQ15uusWUw
— ProPublica (@ProPublica) September 6, 2013
There are those who, in good faith, believe that we should leave the balance between civil liberty and security entirely to our elected leaders, and to those they place in positions of executive responsibility. Again, we do not agree. The American system, as we understand it, is premised on the idea -- championed by such men as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison -- that government run amok poses the greatest potential threat to the people’s liberty, and that an informed citizenry is the necessary check on this threat. The sort of work ProPublica does -- watchdog journalism -- is a key element in helping the public play this role.
What message will we send if a president can attack a foreign nation in plain sight and pay no price? What’s the purpose of the international system that we’ve built if a prohibition on military aggression that has been agreed to by the governments of 98% of the world’s people...is not enforced?Would anyone object if Russia issued that statement in response to our actions? What if they backed it up by sinking our ships? No, they wouldn't have the law on their side, but neither would we. Their intent to uphold the law would appear just as noble as ours, which is to say, not very noble at all. In fact, it would seem downright hypocritical. How can anyone claim that the act of breaking the law actually upholds it?
We cannot raise our children in a world where we will not follow through on the things we say, the accords we sign, the values that define us.
...we will insist that an aggressive attack on another country...must be confronted.
President Obama said Thursday he hasn't decided whether to attack Syria, adding that any strike would be a brief "shot across the bow" in response to the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons. We can't recall another President suggesting his goal was to miss his military targetJoe Biden:
...the president has no constitutional authority to take this country to war ... unless we’re attacked or unless there is proof that we are about to be attacked. And if he does, I would move to impeach him.@TheHutchReport, Twitter:
President Obama is an airstrike away from becoming the first person to win two Nobel Peace Prizes.
...the NSA is swimming in so much information that it asked for nearly $50 million to cope with the problem of having too much information. We've pointed out for years that the trick to finding the needles in haystacks isn't to build bigger haystacks, but that's long been the NSA's approach. However, those haystacks have become so big that the NSA asked for $48.6 million designated for "coping with information overload." Here's a simple, and cheaper, plan: don't collect so much irrelevant data.
The United States should condemn the use of chemical weapons. We should ascertain who used the weapons, and we should have an open debate in Congress over whether the situation warrants U.S. involvement. The Constitution grants the power to declare war to Congress, not the President. The war in Syria has no clear national security connection to the United States, and victory by either side will not necessarily bring in to power people friendly to the United States.All perfectly sensible. Unfortunately, Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post seems to have misunderstood every word, describing Paul's statement as bone-chilling evidence that Paul should "never, ever be commander in chief." Rubin is welcome to her opinion about Paul's fitness for the presidency, but she is flat-out wrong when she says, as she later does, that Paul's statement includes errors. It is her own response, in fact, that is filled with errors. I will address three of them.
We don’t need to ascertain whether chemical weapons have been used (does he read the papers?). We already know.What Paul said is that we should ascertain who used the chemical weapons, a completely different statement. Modern history is filled with enough false flag attacks to warrant skepticism, and that is what Paul is referring to. But whether or not one thinks a false flag attack is likely to have occurred in this scenario, it is still flat-out wrong for Rubin to imply that Paul's statement is an error.
But the worst is his declaration that we have no national security interest in Syria.Paul said that the war in Syria has no clear national security connection to the United States, and he is right. After three years, no threat to our national security has emerged as a result of the civil war in Syria. Not a single Syrian bullet or missile has reached our shores. Neither Assad's military nor the rebels fighting it have come to our country and harmed us. Rubin is welcome to argue that the outcome in Syria has consequences for our allies in the region, and therefore has consequences for the United States, but that is not the same as saying that the war in Syria has a clear national security connection to the United States. There is no error in Paul's statement.
As for Congress, Rand Paul again demonstrates his misunderstanding of the Constitution. A declaration of war requires congressional act; a minimal strike of the sort the president contemplates is surely within the Article 1 powers of the commander in chief. Thomas Jefferson thought so.This is wrong on all counts. First, Article I of the Constitution does not address the "powers of the commander in chief." That would be Article II. More important, however, is Rubin's claim that Thomas Jefferson is on her side. That is simply false. If she wanted to support her hawkish views with history, then she could not have picked a worse example for her purposes. Thomas Jefferson did not think what she claims he did. In fact, he held the opposite view, that the president is prohibited from making even the most minimal attack without congressional approval. If she had bothered to investigate her own example, then she would know this. The instance in question comes from the First Barbary War, when Tripoli declared war on the United States after several years of harassing American ships in the Mediterranean. Congress passed legislation that allowed the president to command six frigates as he "may direct," in order to "protect our commerce & chastise their insolence — by sinking, burning or destroying their ships & Vessels wherever you shall find them."
Carney is asked about Obama's statement as a candidate in 2007 of his belief that a president may only take unilateral war action, without congressional approval, in cases of "an actual and imminent threat" to the United States. Does the US face such a threat? Carney replies in the affirmative: "Allowing [the asserted chemical attack] to take place without a response would present a significant... threat to the United States," Carney says.
"Mr. President: These pictures will convince
Senator D-- to support your re-election campaign. Heh heh heh!"
In video posted on the station’s website, [it] was seen hovering above the stands. It appeared to be about four feet in diameter and reminiscent of a spider, with numerous appendages projecting from a central core. Then, it suddenly dipped and fell into the midst of about a dozen spectators. Others rushed toward the place where it came down. [Wall Street Journal, 8/26]
NSA said in a statement Friday that there have been “very rare” instances of willful violations of any kind in the past decade, and none have violated key surveillance laws. “NSA has zero tolerance for willful violations of the agency’s authorities” and responds “as appropriate.”Willful violations? Zero tolerance? What do those phrases mean to the NSA? I especially want to know about these "key surveillance laws." They sound important. I assume they're written down somewhere. And if spying on one's lover doesn't violate them, then what does?
I have never spoken with, worked with, or provided any journalistic materials to the Independent.Uh oh. The Independent is suddenly without a source. They WANT you to think it's Edward Snowden, but it's not. So who is it?
It appears that the UK government is now seeking to create an appearance that the Guardian and Washington Post's disclosures are harmful, and they are doing so by intentionally leaking harmful information to The Independent and attributing it to others. The UK government should explain the reasoning behind this decision to disclose information that, were it released by a private citizen, they would argue is a criminal act.Is he right? Who knows. One thing is certain: The Independent is being incredibly manipulative and secretive about its source, and that fact alone should be deeply troubling to everyone. There is a Second Source out there for the NSA leaks, and the only people who know about it -- The Independent -- don't want you to know about it. Why?
WikiLeaks posted 220 cables, some redacted to protect diplomatic sources...
American officials in recent days have warned repeatedly that the release of documents by WikiLeaks could put people's lives in danger.Of course, it's not too late. Maybe in good time, Manning's leaks will lead to death and destruction. But as of right now, four years later, they haven't. Not one death has been attributed to Manning. If that fact were more widely known, would people still be celebrating his 35-year sentence?
But despite similar warnings ahead of the previous two massive releases of classified U.S. intelligence reports by the website, U.S. officials concede that they have no evidence to date that the documents led to anyone's death.
"NSA has a zero-tolerance policy for willful misconduct," Mr. DeLong said. "None of the incidents that were in the document released were willful." Mr. DeLong reported, however, "a couple" of willful violations in the past decade. He didn't provide details.Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell Sen. Diane Feinstein, head of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, who really ought to know:
As I have said previously, the committee has never identified an instance in which the NSA has intentionally abused its authority to conduct surveillance for inappropriate purposes.But of course, the "truthfulness" of that statement depends on one's own definition of "inappropriate purposes." In Feinstein's mind, there might be a difference between intentional abuses conducted for appropriate purposes and intentional abuses conducted for inappropriate purposes. I can't imagine what that difference would be, but I can sure imagine someone defending their words with such a distinction and getting away with it, a la Clapper. That's just the how the world works now.
|An important message from the NSA|
The latest revelations about privacy violations by the NSA raise important questions and warrant a congressional hearing.In other words, the Amash Amendment, narrowly defeated in congress, isn't dead yet. The scale is tipping. Many representatives, including Rep. Amash, are raring for a second go.
"when the White House indicated that they would be pursuing Snowden, Greenwald immediately resorted to threats, indicated that if 'anything happens' to him, he would open the floodgates."Goodness me! What Greenwald actually said is that Snowden is no longer the sole possessor of the NSA documents, so their publication does not depend upon Snowden's freedom. He never said anything about changing the frequency of publication in reaction to something happening to Snowden.
|Reactions to the Heathrow airport incident continue to pour in along with more information: namely that David Miranda, the partner of Glenn Greenwald, is on the Guardian payroll [Amnesty Int'l] and was carrying documents from documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras intended for Mr. Greenwald [NY Times].|
Whether that makes Mr. Miranda a journalist or not (there will be needless debate, I'm sure), there can be no doubt that this was an attack on investigative journalism. Authorities, in their determination to squelch any further embarrassments, are willing to intimidate not just nosy journalists like Mr. Greenwald, but their associates as well. Never mind that Mr. Greenwald has done nothing illegal.
So who HAS done something illegal? Edward Snowden, allegedly. Mr. Greenwald, an associate, is once removed, and Mr. Miranda, an associate of Mr. Greenwald, is twice removed. That means that UK authorities, like the NSA, are now targeting individuals "two hops" from alleged criminals. So you might want to tighten up your circle of friends.