Archive for Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Editorial: Privacy lost

We have let our privacy slip away — and it won’t be easy to reclaim.

June 11, 2013


So, the feds are collecting phone records of millions of Americans under a secret court order, and monitoring our email. Why would anyone be surprised?

Under President Obama and his minions, the public’s privacy has been trampled, and reporting the news has been threatened to be considered a criminal activity. But whoa! Now it’s not just phone records from the Associated Press that have been ruthlessly grabbed by Eric Holder’s Chicago-style Justice Department, it’s all 121 million customers of Verizon, and presumably all the nation’s other phone companies, plus our major online entities as well, caught in a web spun by the National Security Agency under the post-9-11 Patriot Act.

In a story broken by reporters for the Guardian newspaper (some irony there), it was revealed that the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ordered Verizon to turn over — every day — to the NSA information on all land line and mobile phone calls in its system. Then came more “revelations” about Internet and email monitoring.

The administration claims the data and the scrutiny are needed for national security purposes.

There’s a blip of outrage, with even Democrats such as former Vice President Al Gore and U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon raising issues. Gore tweeted, “Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?” Senate leaders, however, acknowledged that the phone-records program has been going on since 2007, and other little-known invasions of privacy have a longer history.

In reality, this amped-up, intrusive electronic snooping was begun under former President George W. Bush with screening of email and phone calls. In this specific reported instance involving Verizon, the information being gathered includes location data, the time and length of each phone call and any pertinent unique identifiers, such as the phone numbers of the calling and answering parties.

The fact of the matter is that Americans no longer enjoy any expectation of privacy. Unfortunately, our fate seems to resemble the story of the frog that was placed in a pot of room-temperature water on a stove. Gradually the heat was turned up and the frog boiled; if it had been tossed into a pot of boiling water it would have tried to jump free. We’re beyond the jumping-free point. We’re being boiled in invasive surveillance, from local offices, stores and businesses to the top levels of government, all supposedly for our own good.

And, oh, that piece of paper, that foundational thing — whatchamacallit? — the Constitution. Might as well be in the garbage can. We have met the enemy, as Pogo said.


snitty 4 years, 7 months ago

Does the outrage expressed in this editorial mean that the JW is taking a firm stand against data mining? Does the JW support those whistle-blowers who have brought these programs out of secrecy? What will the editor do when the NSA comes calling for their records?

Bruce Bertsch 4 years, 7 months ago

C'mon Dolph. This was hardly a secret. It was begun back when Bush was POTUS; remember the Patriot Act? It was reported on and then ignored. Folks in the IT world have known about this for years. The methodology was secret, but the data mining certainly wasn't. Also of note, there is no legal right to privacy except for that distilled in a Supreme Court decision known as Roe v Wade.

jafs 4 years, 7 months ago

Yes, but we do have a right to be free from "unreasonable searches".

Phoghorn 4 years, 7 months ago

A warrant shall issue upon probable cause. At least, that is how it is supposed to work.

jafs 4 years, 7 months ago

Those are ok.

But, determining whether a particular search is reasonable or not isn't an objective process.

Do you think it's reasonable for the government to get all of our phone records, absent any evidence, probable cause or warrants?

voevoda 4 years, 7 months ago

In regard to Roe v. Wade: Is the editorial writer at least as disturbed about the violations of women's privacy that the Kansas legislature enacted? Instead of all this hand-wringing over potential intrusions into citizens' private matters, shouldn't the editorial writer be protesting very loudly against the here-and-now intrusions into Kansas women's most intimate reproductive decisions?

Wayne James 4 years, 7 months ago

The decision to have or not to have an abortion is NOT the business of anyone but the Doctor and the patient. The Government and everyone needs to keep their noses out of as woman's reproductive rights!

BigAl 4 years, 7 months ago

Welcome to the party. I was outraged when this all began under the Bush Administration and am still outraged. I remember well how Fox News and their "minions" (including Bill O'Reilly) downplayed this as necessary. Now, under the Obama Administration, Fox News and a lot of conservatives are outraged. O'Reilly is finally saying that this is against the Constitution. I agree with him. It was against the Constitution when Bush started it and it is still against the Constitution. Again, welcome to the party.

Phoghorn 4 years, 7 months ago

I had some questions about the Patriot Act when it was passed. I was willing to accept it as long as they only tapped phone lines of known terrorists. Of course, we were told that this was going to be its only use.

I was afraid that someday the program would get expanded, however. This is exactly what we are seeing. Too many people look at our politics as just being Republican vs. Democrat, Conservative vs. Liberal, or even Bush vs. Obama. These false dichotomies are no longer relevant. Obama has taken many of Bush's policies and put them on steroids. Both parties seem hopeful that We The People will continue to sling insults at each other and ignore the larger picture. Think of two lobsters fighting as they are both getting ready to be plunged into boiling water.

We need to start considering what level of government control we desire. Ie, 0% control being Anarchy, and 100% being Totalitarianism/Nazism/Communism. (Hopefully we will chose something in the middle). Both major parties favor strong governments. They only differ in which issues they want to control.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 7 months ago

"In a story broken by reporters for the Guardian newspaper (some irony there)"

Irony? Really? Please explain.

So, will the JW call for freeing Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, who have done much to inform us of a good deal of government and corporate misconduct?

snitty 4 years, 7 months ago

Wow. Irony doesn't really get much better than this!

BigAl 4 years, 7 months ago

Nice try but the fact is, this policy was started by the Bush Administration. That is a simple and true fact. In my humble opinion, it was wrong then and it is wrong now. I just don't understand the selective outrage towards Obama on this one.

Liberty275 4 years, 7 months ago

"I just don't understand the selective outrage towards Obama on this one"

You should. I could just have blanket outrage against Obama, but I think he has done a pretty good job overseas. I'm pretty selectively outraged by the right to privacy we are watching circle the drain.

Bush might have signed a law, but that doesn't mean Obama has to enforce it? Does that mean he should do it en masse" That excuse is a lousy one. If you absolutely have to defend Obama, use something that makes sense, like he's intensifying the war against terrorists and went after them with every tool he could muster.

"bush did it" is an admission of failure and shows how little confidence and expectation you have in and for Obama. It's really pathetic.

Alyosha 4 years, 7 months ago

Actually I think the point of the comment you're reacting to is that it's just as juvenile and silly to think Obama is the first president ever to preside over this kind of activity. It's not to absolve Obama, but rather to historicize his policies in the service of clearly seeing what's going on.

At least, that's my take on it. "Bush did it too" is an antidote to the claim that Obama, say, is doing something no other president has done — the result of the emotion-laden lack of perspective and control over thinking that many Obama critics display, rendering their input worthless because so partisan.

BigAl 4 years, 7 months ago

You miss my point Liberty275. Like I said before, I was outraged when Bush did this and I am just as outraged that Obama is continuing to do it. My point is that Fox News and their "minions" were ok with this during the Bush Admin. The pathetic part is the selective outrage by conservatives. I am definitely NOT defending Obama.

Wayne James 4 years, 7 months ago

I do not understand why nearly everyone blames the POTUS for everything that goes haywire. Does everyone believe that HE is the only one making decisions? Try blaming Congress instead. If the current POTUS is trying to make this country better, the Republicans shoot him down every time they can at every turn. They are miffed because Mr. Obama got elected by a wide majority over their candidate, so they will do every thing they can to block legislation put forth by Mr. O.

BigAl 4 years, 7 months ago

And besides that, if the country were in GWB's fourth term, the country would be in a deep, deep depression. Thank God we are not.

Wayne James 4 years, 7 months ago

We would also still be at war in Iraq, Korea, Afghanistan, and every other Muslim country. Mr. Bush ands his allies seemed to detest anyone but themselves!

Alyosha 4 years, 7 months ago

The claim about this admistration compared to Grant's simply does not accord with a balanced view of the facts.

When irrational and unexamined biases and emotions rule your thinking, comments like this are the result

jhawkinsf 4 years, 7 months ago

From the interviews I've seen so far, Democrats and Republics not on the intelligence agency committees are outraged by the scope of the information gathering while those on the committees dealing with intelligence are outraged by the actions of the leaker. Of course, this is highlighted by Bush's support for these types of actions when he was President and Obama's similar response.

Satirical 4 years, 7 months ago

This is a much ado about nothing. After all, a Democrat is in charge. And we all know Democrats have good intentions. Big Government is good in the right hands!

Alyosha 4 years, 7 months ago

Strange that you'd post this comment, since I'd wager you could find zero people who actually believe this.

Far easier to create a fictional straw man belief to "satirize" than deal with the actual state of affairs in the world.

Alyosha 4 years, 7 months ago

Actually, it is; I'm a huge fan of satire, pastiche and sarcasm as rhetorical tools.

Unfortunately, the comment above fails at it, because it's not sarcasm or satire.

Satirical 4 years, 7 months ago


I accept your wager. I am confident I can find at least one person who believes Democrats have good intentions. Are you suggesting that everyone things Democrats have bad intentions?

I am also confident I can find at least one person who believes Big Government is good in the right hands? After all, if Big Government was never good, everyone would be for small government.

Alyosha 4 years, 7 months ago

Sounds good! For balance, I'm confident I can find someone who believes exactly the opposite — that Republicans have good intentions regardless of their actions (one could find a fan of our own governor for that one). So that gets us precisely nowhere, I suppose.

Second, this whole idea of "big" gov versus "small" gov wholly misses the point. Governments exist to secure our inalienable rights (so the Declaration tells us). If our inalienable rights are in jeopardy, the people's government is the power that protects those rights. There is no one-size-fits-all government for every contingency. Governments expand, contract, expand again, based on the threat to individuals' inalienable rights.

Trouble is when both political parties forget that it's the people's government, not corporations', nor the government's itself.

Satirical 4 years, 7 months ago

Alyosha... "I'm confident I can find someone who believes exactly the opposite..." - Alyosha

So what? That is not our bet? Are you going to admit I won our actual bet versus the non-relevant argument you want to draw me into?

"Second, this whole idea of "big" gov versus "small" gov wholly misses the point." - Alyosha

No, because that is the point I am making. Democrats typically advocate for Big Government, but fail to see how Big Government can be abused (see all the recent scandals from this to the IRS). I only wish Government contracted, but the Government never contracts in any significant way. It is the ratchet effect.

The problem with many liberals is they don't understand the intentions of people rarely matter, only results matter. You can distract from this issue by claiming both poliitcal parties are bad, but that is not what liberals were saying during the Bush years when similar stuff hit the fan. I think it is time for liberals to realize the fruits of their labor and admit that they are wrong without also putting blame on others. But I "bet" that won't happen.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 4 years, 7 months ago

So let me get this straight. You are in favor of letting islamic terrorists communicate freely and plan their attacks on Americans? You are in favor of letting self-appointed "whistle blowers" operate freely and endanger our efforts to protect the American People from terrorist plots??

I bet you are also in favor of letting the Republican Legislature and governer of the state make laws obstructing the work of Federal law enforcemtnt officers.


Phoghorn 4 years, 7 months ago

No, but I am in favor of letting Americans communicate freely.

Liberty275 4 years, 7 months ago

"So let me get this straight. You are in favor of letting islamic terrorists communicate freely and plan their attacks on Americans?"

Do we know who these islamic terrorists are? Tap their phones. Why should they be collecting data on any American unless they are suspected of a crime? I have no sympathy for a terrorist, but I know what I'll be listening for in the next round of political debates.

I don't think we need to go after Obama or Bush, but we need to vote for people that will stand in front of the camera and say they will end the patriot act and all these other laws that erode our freedom.

If terrorists kill more of us, I am willing to take my 1/330,000,000ths chance.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 4 years, 7 months ago

The iPhone is not NEAT. It is messy, addictive and watched by those who steal. It is in the hands of those born every minute and willing to give their minutes to those who wish to control our times.

Alyosha 4 years, 7 months ago

Are you suggesting that Bush not be held accountable for those things he did in fact do, and for the results of the policies he did in fact implement?

Liberty275 4 years, 7 months ago

Held accountable by whom? American presidents are only subject to American law until we are defeated in war and occupied. I don't see that happening.

rtwngr 4 years, 7 months ago

Intelligence gathering is one thing but using private information against one's political enemies is quite another. Branches of the government operating under secrecy and then refusing to come clean when caught are the hallmarks of this administration. This president assures us that there is "congressional oversight". How's that working with the DOJ and the IRS, citizens? It's fine when they are going after your enemies but what about the day when someone else is in control and then they are coming after you. Quite a different feeling I'm sure. When any freedom is lost for one of us, it is lost for all of us. I don't want to hear Bush started it because this president said he would end it. Instead he has escalated it. Perpetuating the wrong does not correct it or excuse it.

lcarol 4 years, 7 months ago

In regards to the IRS investigation, I anxiously await the release of the full transcripts. Cummings has asked Issa to release the full transcripts and as of yet, Issa appears not to be so inclined. Why would that be? Cummings has said if Issa doesn't release the full transcripts he will. Issa surely is looking for full transparency. Certainly there is nothing nefarious here! What I truly hope transpires from the IRS investigation is a clarification, for the public of the original law concerning 501C4's which states tax free status can only be granted to organizations that "exclusively engage" in social welfare. My guess is that most applications do not meet that criteria and that the IRS is actually doing its job.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 4 years, 7 months ago

If you illegally gather information, within the law, then you have perpetrated the greatest of evils. You have declared yourself a god.

tomatogrower 4 years, 7 months ago

Has any information been used to arrest someone for their political beliefs? Has anyone been arrested for disagreeing with the administration? Has any of the information been used to bust a pot smoker? Has any of this information been used to arrest hookers? Has anyone used these records to prove a marital affair? People put their whole lives out on Facebook everyday, but they want their phone calls kept private?
I agree that in the future someone could misuse this power, but I guess I'm just disgusted that all of the sudden people are outraged. This has been around since the Patriot Act was enacted. So far, it hasn't been used against us, and has probably stopped some terrorists. If an administration starts to use it to oppress people, then there will be a problem. I guess then there might be a revolution. But right now, Bush wasn't a dictator with far reaching powers and neither is Obama.

Phoghorn 4 years, 7 months ago

My concern is not what they are doing now, but what they can do with it now and in the future. That is why this needs to be investigated and stopped now - not ten years from now.

When people post things on Facebook, they expect the world to see it. Most folks assume a little more privacy when talking to their aunt in Oregon.

verity 4 years, 7 months ago

We don't know what they're doing with it now---because it's secret.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 4 years, 7 months ago

Exactly... The privileged have privileged information, the right to use it to further their ends, to line their pockets and dismiss all other views, saving those who agree with their ends or fail to understand them.

Liberty275 4 years, 7 months ago

I don't know if they have been abused, but I know they can be, and that's what matters.

The act of government intercepting a communication of an American citizen without a warrant or permission is a blatant constitutional violation whether they read it or not. I don't care if all they ever do is stop all terrorism in America forever, it's still illegal and it needs to be stopped now.

Why are you looking the other way? Do you really think this is acceptable?

Jason Johnson 4 years, 7 months ago

Edward Snowden is a hero. If I were in a position where I could do what he did, I would do so in a heart-beat.

I hope this is the straw that finally pisses off Americans enough to act.

I'd like our Constitution to be reinstated, please!

jhawkinsf 4 years, 7 months ago

You are in a position to do what Snowden did, go to Hong Kong, China.

Or did you mean by releasing documents, putting yourself up as judge, jury and executioner, substituting your wisdom for all the wisdom of the executive branch, combined with congressional and judicial oversight?

Edward Snowden might be a hero, in a knee jerk sort of way. I'd have much more respect for him if he wrote a few letters to key members of Congress prior to this release, trying to impress upon them the validity of his position. I'd have a lot more respect for him if he did what he did and then stayed here and faced the consequences of his actions. But what he did combined with how he did it makes me very suspect of him as a person and certainly "hero" is not the word I would use to describe him.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 7 months ago

"putting yourself up as judge, jury and executioner,"

Utter nonsense. He didn't put anyone on trial, much less imprison or execute anyone.

"I'd have much more respect for him if he wrote a few letters to key members of Congress prior to this release, trying to impress upon them the validity of his position."

So they could put in a cage with Bradley Manning before he can tell everyone what they ought to know? Congress is already quite aware of what's going on (or they should be.) They authorized this, and it's in direct and flagrant violation of the 4th Amendment.

"But what he did combined with how he did it makes me very suspect of him as a person"

"Suspect of him as a person."

What does that even mean? Do you think he's a child molester, or maybe a shoplifter? A serial litterbug?

jhawkinsf 4 years, 7 months ago

The phrase I used was a common expression, one that wasn't supposed to be taken literally. I suspect you know that but are just playing the fool.

Perhaps if he had contacted people in positions of responsibility, he could have had things explained to him. Then he could have decided if it was wise for him to continue doing the work he was being paid to do.

What do I suspect him of? Poor judgement, that's what. We all elect a President, a Commander-In-Chief. We elect members of Congress, who in this case, provide oversight. And we have an independent judiciary, who also provides oversight in cases such as this. What Mr. Snowden has done is substitute his judgement for all of those people as well as the collective wisdom of the American people who elected them.

And do I expect him to accept the consequences of his actions? Yes. I expect that of everyone.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 7 months ago

"The phrase I used was a common expression, one that wasn't supposed to be taken literally. I suspect you know that but are just playing the fool."

Just because it's a common expression doesn't relieve it of being pointlessly hyperbolic.

I think his judgement was right on target-- our President, our Congress and our judiciary have all failed to stop the egregious violations of the 4th Amendment and the right to privacy that it's intended to protect. Unlike you, I don't want the US to emulate Israel in becoming a fully militarized police state with a meaningless veneer of sham democracy.

BTW, he's said that he fully expects that there will be consequences to his actions, regardless of whether there is anything like a sense of fairness or justice or a respect for an open society and personal freedom behind those consequences.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 7 months ago

"egregious violations of the 4th. Amendment" - Your words. Someone guilty of that must be guilty of some kind of high crime or misdemeanor. If it's the President, and clearly said it was, then clearly what this President is doing is an impeachable offense. Yet even in this political climate, where Republicans stated clearly that they intended to make Obama a one term President, here is their chance to weaken him to the point of impotence. But they're not calling for impeachment. Why?

You used the word "egregious", why? I can think of two reasons. First, while you accuse me of using hyperbole, it's you who are doing that. The second reason is more complex. The President gets daily briefings, both in terms of national security as well as public policy. Congress has access to the same resources. You and I do not. The President is a Constitutional scholar and has access to many more. So does Congress. You and I do not. So the President is making these decisions with significantly more information that either you or I have. Congress is providing oversight as is the judiciary, again, with far more information than we have. They are making informed decisions whereas, it's nothing more than a guess on your part, or an opinion, that his behavior and that of Congress and that of the judiciary, is "egregious".

Obama said during his campaign for President he wouldn't do just this type of thing. He said he would close Gitmo. Bush said he wouldn't engage in nation building. The fact is that every modern President has been confronted with a dilemma. At their inauguration, they promise to defend the Constitution. Then they get their first security briefing and they're confronted with the task of keeping 300+ million Americans safe. The fact is, that this issue, like so many others are a grey area, a balancing act. As long as there is Congressional and Judicial oversight, I'm confident that we won't slip into that area call "egregious", and that those who believe we have, are either using hyperbole or they are using that word without enough information to be fully informed.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 7 months ago

P.S. - Bozo. - CNN is now reporting that Snowden has no intention of returning to the U.S., opting to stay in Hong Kong. Maybe the consequences he referenced earlier was that he won't get to see his mommy at Christmas. But he isn't planning to visit a U.S. courtroom.

notaubermime 4 years, 7 months ago

I would have a lot more respect for him if he stayed and faced the consequences of his actions as well, but let's not kid ourselves into thinking that anything would have changed by writing "a few letters to key members of Congress". Should "Deep Throat" have written letters to Congress instead of Woodward and Bernstein?

There is a fine line between the respected whistle-blowers and the maligned tattle-tales. In this particular case, the only thing this person divulged was the depths to which the government has tried to secretly conduct searches that millions of Americans would not support.

Further, while you may feel that Snowden should have had a conversation with the people affected by releasing this information prior to taking action, I would continue that by saying that the government should have had a conversation with the American public prior to conducting these dubious searches. Two wrongs do not make a right, but criticizing one without criticizing the other is hypocritical.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 7 months ago

Your arguments make some sense, but I still have to disagree. The NSA did certain things. If they did these things on their own, I would share your disgust. However, they did have a conversation with the American people. Perhaps not as directly as you would like. But they did speak to us by way of our elected officials. And again, it wasn't just the President. I too would be troubled if the discussion was with just one person in the executive branch, even the top guy. But the conversation extended far beyond that, to an oversight committee of Congress as well as having judicial oversight. It may not have trickled down to Main Street, but it was sufficiently well thought out that despite the current revelations, those in the decision making positions are not scurrying for political cover. They are standing firm in their belief that what was done was proper.

I've mentioned several times that once a candidate becomes President, he's suddenly confronted with problems he didn't anticipate. Obama ran on a platform that would preclude exactly what he did as President. The next guy or girl we elect will likely do the same. Every modern day President has been confronted with that dilemma and there's no reason to believe the next won't be as well. A measure of distrust in the government is a good thing, but there does come a time when we have to trust them or break out the guns. Or for some, the tin foil hats.

And I'll point out again, that in this political climate that has existed since day one of Obama's Presidency, if these actions were not the actions of well thought out national security leaders, we'd be hearing howls of impeachment by his Republican adversaries. But we're not. The only person scurrying for cover is the 29 year old leaker, a person not well seasoned enough, in my opinion, to make the decisions he made, the relative value of telling Main Street vs. the potential damage to the intelligence gathering organizations that we need.

notaubermime 4 years, 7 months ago

I can understand the argument you present, but to me it bears comparing to those who state that price fixing among oil companies does not happen. They would point out that there are six major oil companies in the world and any sort of price fixing would immediately be undermined by the fact that the one company that goes slightly cheaper stands to make a large profit.

The reality is that the executives of the six companies are very well aware that a price war helps no one and that they all benefit by working together. The same can apply to the government. You may think that anything wrong would be immediately seized and exposed by the opposing party, but the great political uniter is the opportunity for corruption. With a search this broad in scope, the opportunity for corruption is endless. I don't distrust the government, I distrust the ethics of politicians... and for very good reason at that.

There are some things that require secrecy for the purpose of protecting those citizens who protect all of us. There are other things that require secrecy to keep from exposing the foreign nationals that the US has no choice but to try to cooperate with. This isn't either of those situations. This is secrecy to avoid disclosing the degree to which politicians have entrusted themselves with greater power over the people. To me, full disclosure and a public conversation should be necessary prior to any expansion of the powers of the government. Somewhere along the line, we moved from governments "deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed" as is stated in the Declaration of Independence, to attempts to prosecute anyone who exposes the true extent of the powers derived from the consent of those who govern. I think that is unfortunate.

Liberty275 4 years, 7 months ago

So, what would you do when the FBI visits you after writing your letters to the congressmen threatening to expose secret material?

He seems to have thought it through quite well in order to make the information available in a way the US can't control. That's pretty clever.

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 7 months ago

"His code name is Condor. In the next 24 hours, everyone he trusts will try to kill him."

This movie was made in 1975.

The more things change the more they stay the same.

Always been spies, always will be. Always will be spies to catch the spies.

Alyosha 4 years, 7 months ago

That this writer is blinded by partisanship, and hence neither serious nor worthy of being listened to, is clear from his use of the term "minions."

The writer would do well to employ his critical faculties as a counterweight to his emotions.

That's what the founders would have done.

bevy 4 years, 7 months ago

I felt the same way until I read the entire article. I think the use of the term "minions" was spot-on as a way to highlight how hysterically some of the right-wingers are acting about this now, considering that it started under their beloved GWB. All this name-calling and hand-wringing is just a way to make political hay off people who have already forgotten what they were mad about last week.

I was pleasantly surprised, with that beginning, that the author went on to present an accurate view of what is really happening here - i.e. nothing new!

voevoda 4 years, 7 months ago

Harry S. Truman created the Israeli Mossad? How could this even be possible? And do you think that Israel, a country surrounded by enemies who (previously) announced their goal of destroying it, shouldn't have an intelligence service?

verity 4 years, 7 months ago

"There’s a blip of outrage, . . ."

Looks to me like there's more than a blip. Even many members of congress are outraged that they were kept in the dark.

I just hope that the outrage will lead to some action before we move on to the next scandal.

Alyosha 4 years, 7 months ago

"Chicago-style Justice Department" is another clue that the editorialist is wholly out of control of his writing — and by extension his thinking.

What is it about this President that renders otherwise (presumably) rational people a quivering bundle of emotions?

Carol Bowen 4 years, 7 months ago

Does anyone remember governor brownback's team sniffing tweets last year. A high school girl got into trouble at her school because of tweet-sniffing at one of the governor's gatherings. I doubt that was a homeland security issue.

littlexav 4 years, 7 months ago

Wow, this isn't what I expected from LJW - I guess just like in Topeka the "editorial board" has ZERO in common with everyone else in the city?

Alyosha 4 years, 7 months ago

If you understood what "socialism" means, and has meant, in history, you'd hardly call the President "socialist." Second, I defy you to find an actual quote where Obama said he was going to "change" the country. He certainly spoke a lot about change — but never did he say what you impute to him.

I wonder how long you'll continue to criticize the President for things that exist only in your head and nowhere in reality?

jack22 4 years, 7 months ago

I'm so upset about the government doing this that I think I'm going to start a protest on my facebook page to let everyone know how I feel about this invasion of my privacy.

Darrell Lea 4 years, 7 months ago

Lots of hyperbole, hand wringing and posturing in the editorial, but no solutions offered or alternate strategies presented.

Privacy doesn't really exist in this modern world. Hasn't for a long, long time. I surrender my right to privacy by connecting to this site. It's nice that the ads are tailored to my algorithm, but how do they know that? Both the ISP and LJWorld dot com know where I'm typing this from, unless I bother to use a proxy service. If I stop off for a Coke on the way to band practice tonight I'll be stored on video, and if i use a credit or debit card my movement will be tracked that way as well.

Welcome to the New World Order. Try to lead an exemplary life.

Jay Keffer 4 years, 7 months ago

So Bush started it, Obama continues it....

If Obama can do no wrong, that implies that Bush started something worthwhile and Obama is extending it? Or were Bush's policies flawed, and as Obama promised 'change', does that mean real change? Then that means Bush was wrong, and his policies should be rejected and undone. They why are they being embraced? .

By all appearances, he not only endorses the Bush policies, he has extended them. Drones, more wire tapping, etc. On my what to do, what to do. Will you Liberals denounce Bush's policies, and therefore Obama's? Or will you denounce Bush, but give Obama a pass for continuing and furthering the Bush agenda?

TIme to take a side.....

jafs 4 years, 7 months ago

Folks on the left have been criticizing Obama for years now for continuing Bush policies that they disagreed with.

Listen to KKFI - 90.1FM - and you'll hear consistent and thoughtful criticism of Obama for just that.

Alyosha 4 years, 7 months ago

Where on earth do you get the belief that "Obama can do no wrong"? Is that a quote? Or are you attempting to characterize Obama supporters' view of him? If the latter, what's a specific source for that? Or are you simply making up what you believe Obama supporters think?

Why don't you do the actually hard mental work of research in order to find out the wide spectrum of opinion on this topic instead of lazily making things up to argue against?

verity 4 years, 7 months ago

I seem to recall The Huffington Post calling out Obama early in his first term, as did a number of other liberals. How long are you going to keep spouting your meme?

jayhawklawrence 4 years, 7 months ago

Everything that we have been doing with chips and software since the internet began has been opening us up to being spied on. The more recent push to put everything on the cloud along with online server storage is just a way to put all the details of our lives into the public realm. I have heard from people directly over the years about some of these spying operations so it is no surprise. I have also wondered about whether the chips themselves have a backdoor routine built into them sometimes and this is something between the government and companies such as INTEL.

The point is that before last week some of the questions you might ask as a citizen would give you strange looks, such as telling someone about your alien encounters and too many questions might lead someone to question whether you are schizophrenic or not. After this week, any question about how we are being spied on is a legitimate question and now needs to be answered by our government which currently is still angry because of the parts we found out that were supposed to be secret.

The internet has been a wild and crazy development and the rules have been hard to figure out. We have allowed ourselves to be taken advantage of because we wanted the rewards that come from this technology. Now we have to make privacy and individual rights a much greater issue than it has been up to now or, as this editorial implies, we may not be happy when we realize what we have lost and we have to realize that we are not enjoying the same kind of freedom that our parents enjoyed. Much of our freedom along with our privacy is now gone.

The question most Americans should be asking is whether the technology is worth what we are having to pay for it and if we are not able to go back to the days before this technology existed are we now ready to at least fight for a new kind of Bill of Rights to protect us in the internet age before the power of our government and the financial power of our largest corporations buy and sell every shred of freedom and privacy we have left.

jonas_opines 4 years, 7 months ago

I would have wished, after the hope of transformative change that swept Obama into office, that stuff like this would finally be convincing people that there isn't any substantive difference between parties and politicians at this point. I think that whatever their initial intention, they are just cogs in the machine, and at the best they have limited ability to effect change, and at worst are complicit and thus duplicitous in their stated intentions.

Sadly, it does still appear that desperation is leading to a continuance of partisan denial from a lot of parties.

Alyosha 4 years, 7 months ago

I find myself believing something similar: that the national security state, born under Truman, extended under presidents of both parties, now has a life of its own that even a President who might want to can't fully control.

That's what's highly disturbing. But it's a challenge to we the people, as citizens, to fix.

verity 4 years, 7 months ago

While I agree that both parties are at fault, I don't agree that there are no substantive differences. But that aside, you seem to be saying the situation is hopeless.

I'm with Alyosha on this.

seebarginn 4 years, 7 months ago

The Obama-hating name-calling (translation of "minions"= the US Congress, the Judicial System, the US citizens who support the surveillance with their tax dollars whether or not they disagree with it personally) is old hat in these LJW rants and I won't bother to try to reason with someone who's been throwing tantrums since 2008. However, a few facts about Eric Holder--he is not a product of Chicago politics; he started service in the federal judiciary in 1976, when Gerald Ford was in office; Ronald Reagan appointed Holder as a federal judge in 1988; among Holder's many honorable achievements are the prosecutions of corrupt Democratic, I say Democratic, politicians such as John Jenrette and Dan Rostenkowski.

The surveillance program is troubling, even traumatizing, but hysterical, factually incorrect, and stupid editorials like this one won't do anything to make the situation better.

oldbaldguy 4 years, 7 months ago

got news for you NSA was doing this in 1975, that is why the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act came about. Judges are now supposed to look at a warrant. My experiences with warrants are unless it is really screwed up, a Judge will sign anything. The Judge is relying on the person who presents the warrant. What the NSA is doing is pattern analysis for future use if and when a bad guy pops up. We used to do this to the Russians and everyone else to identify military units. Should the NSA be doing it on this scale against Americans? This deserves a public debate. I am tired of being fisked everytime I get on a plane. How about you?

Carol Bowen 4 years, 7 months ago


  1. Would we have found Osama bin Laden without this technology?
  2. Would we have found the Boston bombers and their affiliations? Note that we were more conscientious than th Russians.
  3. Folks are willing to share their personal trauma on TV, and still others like to watch. Do we really value privacy?
  4. iCloud is cool. Didn't it occur to anyone that their lives are hangin out there?

jayhawklawrence 4 years, 7 months ago

Before the gun control issue and before the NSA scandal, I was not watching Fox news. Now I am.

That should concern a lot of Democrats.

jafs 4 years, 7 months ago

If you think that Fox news is presenting you with accurate unbiased information, that concerns me.

Do you?

jayhawklawrence 4 years, 7 months ago

What concerns me is that none of these news sources seem to value enough the concept of unbiased reporting.

Americans, caught in the middle, have to try to sift out what is true no matter how tedious the task may be.

I think my point is that we have entered a period where sometimes Fox News has been a better source of information than MSNBC.

Obviously, MSNBC has been actively promoting the liberal agenda and trying to to sell positions on the issues that most Americans do not agree with.

I think most Americans wish these news outlets would stop selling their political views and just give us the facts including what the government is hiding. These people have become so arrogant that they believe we have to have the news filtered, massaged and then told how we should think.

jafs 4 years, 7 months ago

I watch neither Fox nor MSNBC for that very reason.

James Minor 4 years, 7 months ago

I wonder how China and Russia would deal with this NSA whistleblower if he turned in their government? I am against all of the intrusiveness but it does help America be safer? If there was communication between the Boston Marathon bombers and affiliates, would we still frown on knowing ahead of time and preventing a tragedy? I would guess we would appreciate the effort and the prevention.

verity 4 years, 7 months ago

It is completely immaterial what China or Russia would do. We are the United States of America, not China or Russia.

Wayne James 4 years, 7 months ago

Lest you forget, the Chinese Govt. is condoning the hacking of computers here in the US. Oh, that is OK for them to wiretap us but not the other way around.

verity 4 years, 7 months ago

Did not say that. Did not say that at all.

We do not base what we do to our citizens on what other countries do.

seebarginn 4 years, 7 months ago

No, what China and Russia would do is not immaterial in this case. Snowden ran like a coward to China and there have been reports that Russia is willing to consider asylum for him. Had one of their citizens tried something like this, you'd never have heard of their attempt, nor would you know anything about the citizens themselves. They'd be erased from history.

Liberty275 4 years, 7 months ago

What does their constitution say? We have due process. And we have elections.

seebarginn 4 years, 7 months ago

Easy answer to your question about the whistleblower--had he tried to do this in China or Russia, you'd never have known about it, nor would you know anything about him.

oldbaldguy 4 years, 7 months ago

they would have cancelled his ticket. in the 60s and 70s we would have too.

yourworstnightmare 4 years, 7 months ago

Congress passes laws, not the president. In 2001, the Patriot Act passed the senate 98-1 and passed the house with only 30 dissenting votes.

The Patriot Act was re-upped by Congress in 2006 by large margins.

The president is using his legal authority to battle terrorists. At the same time, he is openly saying that this is too much power for a president to have, and is calling for a greater discussion in Congress on the subject. Remember, that Congress that actually passes law.

Yes, he could unilaterally refuse to execute the program. Can you imagine the response this would have gotten from Congress and the media had he done that?

It is clear Obama is calling for Congress to re-examine the law that underlies phone data records and the NSA.

It's time for Congress to act and to begin debate about the Patriot Act and its provisions. If they don't like certain aspects of it, such as phone records going to the NSA, they can pass laws to change it.

I don't like what is happening with phone records, but to blame it on Obama is just ridiculous. It was a law proposed by Bush and passed, twice, by Congress.

avarom 4 years, 7 months ago

Privacy lost......what until you get the Smart Meters....on your gas, water and electrical...they can be read from 30 miles away.... - Cached

happyrearviewmirror 4 years, 7 months ago

Against the intrusive power of the state, the imagination. A poem by Wendell Berry.

Do Not Be Ashamed

You will be walking some night in the comfortable dark of your yard and suddenly a great light will shine round about you, and behind you will be a wall you never saw before. It will be clear to you suddenly that you were about to escape, and that you are guilty: you misread the complex instructions, you are not a member, you lost your card or never had one. And you will know that they have been there all along, their eyes on your letters and books, their hands in your pockets, their ears wired to your bed. Though you have done nothing shameful, they will want you to be ashamed. They will want you to kneel and weep and say you should have been like them. And once you say you are ashamed, reading the page they hold out to you, then such light as you have made in your history will leave you. They will no longer need to pursue you. You will pursue them, begging forgiveness. They will not forgive you. There is no power against them. It is only candor that is aloof from them, only an inward clarity, unashamed, that they cannot reach. Be ready. When their light has picked you out and their questions are asked, say to them: "I am not ashamed." A sure horizon will come around you. The heron will begin his evening flight from the hilltop.

by Wendell Berry

Frig the KS bigots, every one( instead of God bless them every one-- as satated in Dickens)

happyrearviewmirror 4 years, 7 months ago

*Stated Apparently, formatting is not retained

happyrearviewmirror 4 years, 7 months ago

*Stated Apparently, formatting is not retained.

kernal 4 years, 7 months ago

Yep, the government wants to listen in on your calls because your conversations are sooooo tintillating.

Why most of you making are making this a bigger deal under Obama than under Bush is interesting. Kind of shows your true colors.

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