Monday, December 19, 2005

Spy vs. spy: the wiretaps, the Times, and the firewall

I haven't written yet about the controversy over government wiretaps designed to eavesdrop on conversations with terrorists. That's partly because so many have covered the story already, and partly because I like to do a lot of reading on a topic like that before I venture an opinion, and I've been too pressed for time lately.

There are two separate issues, however. The first is the legality of the wiretaps themselves, and the balancing of our security needs with protection of our liberties. In times of war (and this is a time of war, in my opinion), it's always been a tricky problem to weigh those competing interests. The second issue is that of the outing of the details of the program (apparently by someone in the intelligence community), and the subsequent decision by the NY Times to publish the information.

If you want to take a look at what others have written on the subject, first let's hear from the lawyers: there's Ann Althouse, and Glenn Reynolds has a a good roundup of links. Next, Dean Esmay has some strong views about the leakers, and Baldilocks has a discussion of the role of Congress, as well as this interesting post, which concludes with links to other bloggers on the subject.

On the second issue, I see some historical roots for the Times's action, originating in those MSM glory days--once again!--of Vietnam: the Pentagon Papers. I believe that was the turning point in which the MSM began to see itself in the role of whistleblower on federal government excesses (especially in wartime), and it's never looked back. Now, even the hint of a possibility of an overstepping--even one directly related to the attempt to catch terrorists who do in fact threaten our lives--prompts the response: publish (never mind if we perish).

As for that famous intelligence "wall" that underlies some of the issues here, please take a look at this previous post of mine. It's a history of what led to the development of the wall. I think the information contained therein is extremely important, and can help in understanding the present controversy, which is just the latest incident in a long series of moves in an important chess game of spy vs. spy.

22 Comments:

At 3:13 PM, December 19, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

What I want to know is did the leak occur from inside the NSA intel services or from an outside organization, like CIA, who somehow found out about it. If it was the NSA, then I'm not very happy that one of the most secretive organizations is now leaking like the world's most unsecretive organization, the CIA.

If it was the CIA, then it is understandable why many government agencies and military branches have come up with their own intel branches and resources, they just can't trust the CIA not to leak it for political purposes.

And to a spy, bad tradecraft is definitely fatal. Of all the bad tradecraft techniques there are, leaking classified reports for personal gain is one of the worst.

Most civilians probably didn't understand why the intel branches weren't sharing information prior to 9/11, they must have thought it was some kind of "turf war" and institutional lag. But what they didn't understand was that there was a very good reason not to share FBI information with CIA, and CIA with FBI. Because nobody trusted the other, about who would leak what, compromise god knows whom's operation, and so on.

Able Danger, a Special Forces run intel operation, had military lawyers that didn't trust the CIA not to prosecute the intel operators for acquiring this information. The FBI didn't trust the CIA not to leak them for political purposes, "criminal rehabilitation for example".

And the CIA didn't trust anyone else because they were playing politics.

When you're an FBI agent and you're dealing with criminals that it is your duty to capture, then you sure as hell ain't going to rely on anyone else except your buddies. It's a personal survival thing. And given the CIA's reputation now... I'm not sure anyone worth their salt is going to trust them to dig a grave, let alone dig a target's grave.

The military has some of the best intel people, branches, and networks. But they are restricted by law from sharing it with the domestic services like the FBI principally because they fear being prosecuted. (One of the reasons for Able Danger not on the radar) Supposedly the Patriot Act was supposed to remove that fear.

All in all, the CIA is pretty broken, and the information of who the leaker was and with whom he was associated with, would be useful information in deciding the fate of the CIA.

Bush needs to get over his bi-partisan "independent prosecutor" thing his political advisers keep telling. He needs to go on his guts, cowboy style, and nail people to the wall.

His latest speech is a sign that he is finally getting it. Not that the damage has not already been done.

 
At 3:42 PM, December 19, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, Bush should arrest every single person at the NYT immediately. You just can't go around breaking the law like that.

 
At 4:36 PM, December 19, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous
Arrest them and send them to one of those secret prisons that don't exist and where we don't torture.

 
At 4:38 PM, December 19, 2005, Blogger ExPreacherMan said...

Some seem to forget or not be informed that the Intelligence Committee of the Senate knew the mission was ongoing. Could one of our liberal Senators be the Leaker? Hmmmm !!!
Bush IS finally pushing back -- Just pray he will continue.

 
At 4:48 PM, December 19, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

The Democrats would either have to be pretty confident or stupid to tie one of their politicians to this in a leak. After seeing what their own organizations did to Libby and Rove.

 
At 5:45 PM, December 19, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like your site.

JS

 
At 5:53 PM, December 19, 2005, Anonymous strcpy said...

Plus, it's not that terribly different from programs under Clinton that almost no-one cried about, in fact they supported. I don't like the programs, I think they are against what the constitution means, but it's no reason to hate one side and love the other, expecially since this stems from "the others" programs.

http://computer.howstuffworks.com/carnivore.htm
Carnivore never did work very well as far as I know, though it did get some limited use. It eventually changed it's name to DCS1000. Once the name changed the vast majority of people quit worrying, there were no big media reports about it's evilness and I doubt most even knew DCS1000 was the old carnivore system they had been complaining about (this was well before Blogs and the internet was a small community and the MSM wasn't about to complain). It's still in operation but no one really knows that much about it outside of the FBI.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eschelon
Eschelon is pretty much exactly the same thing as what we have now in this so called scandel, except it is also done partnered with the UK.

Those programs have been operating for well over a decade, let alone the counting developement time.

But, since we had a democrat in office you would only see mention of them in passing. In fact, when they were first starting to be leaked the people who said what they actually did were considered right wing conspiracy theorists because, of course, the great man Clinton would never never authorise anything like that. Then once it was out he did it was actually a good thing to catch criminals, now that Bush is using it they are Evil(tm). At some point the blogosphere will start pointing it out and I bet the MSM will drop it quickly.

 
At 8:31 PM, December 19, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

The Empire Strikes Back.

Bush even said "dishonor" in his speech!!

This is probably my favorite speech of all. The prime time one in his office.

Speech

This is another proof that if you hit the enemy hard enough, it won't matter how many attacks you suffer cause the enemy will already be dead.

These NSA leaks would have been a depressing deathblow just 4 months ago. All of Bush's supporters would have been demoralized, along with the Plame lies and NYTimes propaganda.

Now, Bush's offense has changed the balance of power. His words are resonating.

I approved of many things he said in his speech, not just what he said since I am a strong supporter of victory and the Bush policy, but how he said it. That was fundamentally more important, he made sense, not just to me, but I could tell that it made sense to the great majority of people in the US. He was sincere, powerful, and acted like a leader. Exactly the image that free people follow. People who could be convinced by substance, have already found the information on the internet. The image, missing until now, has finally started to solidify. And as such, Bush has brought hope and salvation from despair, for the many Americans who do not have the time, expertise, or inclination to research on the internet.

I thank Bush for making that decision, not for myself predominantly, but for the good of the country.

 
At 12:56 AM, December 20, 2005, Blogger Darrell said...

Frankly, this should scare the hell out of the American people, hopefully it is starting to but I doubt it. I dont mean the Govt supposedly spying on us.
I mean people with the highest security clearances possible in the US giving out classified material of the most sensative nature to the press. Every year we attend mandatory training on classified material handling and opsec. I know the john walker and aldrice ames etc. stories by heart.
The people who did this are totally out of control. If they would share this with the NYT what will they share with our enemies? This has to be stopped.
They knew when they leaked it that it would damage our capabilities against terrorism.
I hope they get these guys, at this point the safety of our families depends on these people being found and prosecuted.
CWO3

 
At 3:42 AM, December 20, 2005, Blogger Cabe said...

Great blog you got here. I shall bookmark you. CBS News, NBC News, ABC News, and PBS all missed the "Authorization for Use of Military Force" which the President signed in to Law after 9/11. Instead they focus in on the FISA act of 1978, and the War Powers Act of 1973. INCREDIBLE!

 
At 9:51 AM, December 20, 2005, Blogger Harry Mallory said...

strcpy:
"it's not that terribly different from programs under Clinton that almost no-one cried about, in fact they supported."

True, and to liberals, irrelevant. I pointed this out to my own unfortunately moonbat infected mom.

Its ok for Clinton to have done so, she says because he "doesnt have an agenda." I told her every President has an agenda, and she says, yes but Bush wants to rule the world becasue he's just like Hitler.

 
At 12:11 PM, December 20, 2005, Blogger troutsky said...

I think that Bush should have unlimited powers as the Supreme Cowboy in Chief, whether it is spying ,torturing,renditions, whatever he thinks is best is obviously authorized Use of Military Force Act and probably somewhere in the Constitution.Im so scared the Enemy is about to get me at all times that I don't care what he has to do to protect me and all whistleblowers should be sent to Guantanamo, along with Clinton, till this War On Terror is over.I just pray that God strikes the Clintons dead once and for all so we can finally stop whining about them!

By the way neo, you side stepped the question of that "tricky problem of balancing our security needs with protection of our civil liberties".After all your reading, what is your own opinion of Bushs' actions?

 
At 12:11 PM, December 20, 2005, Blogger Xander said...

My uncle refers your blog quite a bit now, and I was happy to discover it. My mother is a therapist and very much a child of the 60s, with accompanying worldview and predispositions. I also have undergone somewhat of a transformation in the wake of 9/11 - this latest revelation of wiretaps is just the most recent in the public's education into where the balance now lies between civil liberties before and after the geopolitical singularity of the terrorist attacks here at home. Keep writing and thinking - your rationale for political migration is one many on the left need to consider as well.

 
At 12:57 PM, December 20, 2005, Blogger Senescent Wasp said...

What part of Higher Moral Duty don't you understand? The NYT is trying to re-live the Ellsburg fiasco/triumph. They are trembling with virginal, well maybe not that, anticipation of the push back from the administration.

I certainly hope that an US Attorney somewhere is even now assembling an investigative team.

The leaker has probably already picked out a frock for their perp walk. Oh and for the sentencing? Something simple; possibly a linen loincloth.

"Could you cross your feet Sir? I only have three nails."

 
At 3:34 PM, December 20, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

By the way neo, you side stepped the question of that "tricky problem of balancing our security needs with protection of our civil liberties".After all your reading, what is your own opinion of Bushs' actions?

Don't worry about it Neo, I'll take care of this since the counter-argument is quite obvious.

Many liberal lawyers have asked why Bush didn't ask Congress after 9/11 to expand his surveillaince powers so that Bush didn't have to create an ultra-secret government program to spy on Americans as part of national security. Their argument is that Bush shouldn't have taken this short cut on civil liberties, that instead he should have went to Congress and done it the legal way, instead of extra-legalling it as if he was the King instead of the President.

Exactly the same thing Troutsky feels.

What most people of Troutsky's limited understanding of Chaos Theory miss, is that Bush purposefully set up the program so that it had to be reviewed and reauthorized every month or so. This allows the Executive Branch to use this in the time Bush is in office and makes it difficult to continue on forever, thereby making sure that Bush doesn't pass along Super Cowboy In Chief powers to the next President in line and shackle America with a police President.

Since the next President that comes in office won't have a free check Congress gave him after 9/11 to spy on people, Bush has honored his oath to protect the Constitution from all enemies, domestic or foreign.

Troutsky's statements are consistent with his ideology, nothing matters in the path to feeling right, not civil rights and certainly not human rights. With people like him in power, they would have paniced and destroyed the civil rights of Americans, instead of making it so that the Executive Branch did not have a free check to do whatever they wanted without having to reauthorize a program every few months.

Troutsky will sacrifice everything that is American for his ideology, that is the tricky balancing of security needs and civil rights that Americans must deal with.

 
At 11:08 PM, December 20, 2005, Anonymous Richard Aubrey said...

Suppose we have receivers and software which monitor hundreds of thousands of conversations listening for a flagged word or number, one in ten million, which would then be followed up.
Do we need a warrant or a certification that a warrant is not necessary for each of the hundreds of thousands?

 
At 1:16 PM, December 21, 2005, Blogger troutsky said...

ymarskar,I will assume your comment was not tongue in cheek so I will reply.If I understand this Chaos Theory right,the President "sets up" a program (not like Nixon did but more like what a good president like Bush did)under authority granted to him by someone or something somewhere (maybe this is the chaos part?)and it is reviewed (presumably not just by Laura or his Mom but by some other "authorized" entity)every month OR SO. This process? can be used in "the time Bush is in office" but "makes it DIFFICULT to continue forever".Your sure this provides enough oversight? Seems a little more chaotic than the checks and balances constructed by the writers of our constitution.Does neo really like you "handling" questions to her?

richard aubrey, if inly a computer is "hearing" the conversations I would not think a warrant is necessary (my privacy has not been compromised by an inanimate object) but at the point where a flagged conversation is heard by a human the conditions change.These opinions are indeed influenced by my ideology, which is indeed far leftist so everyone please take this into account.

 
At 2:25 PM, December 21, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

This is long, but anyone with frustrations, doubts, or just want a history lesson in US politics might find it worthwhile. Just skip the sections addressed to Troutsky.

What does Richard Nixon have to do with anything?

I really don't believe that people who think Richard Nixon is whispering in Bush's ear about things, is really serious.

That's fine for Leftist and Rightist conspiracy theorists, but not for the production of solutions.

As for Chaos Theory, since you Troutsky don't believe that Bush has the nation's best interests at heart, it really doesn't matter whether you understand Chaos Theory or not. Since your conclusions are independent of the lack or presence of such an understanding.

But if you did understand Chaos Theory, you would at least see the possibilities and the flaws inherent in your own nature.

Your sure this provides enough oversight?

Oversight doesn't matter. What matters is that future Presidents don't have a LAW passed by frightened Senators after 9/11, that gives them powers they really should haven't for free. There is no oversight of a law Congress passes, and the President signs, that allows surveillaince on Americans by national intel agencies.

You really need to stop advocating for giving the Presidency Emegency Powers Troutsky, didn't you see Episode 3?

End of Post to Troutsky.

Frankly, this should scare the hell out of the American people, hopefully it is starting to but I doubt it.

Well Darrel, Americans don't tend to scare easily. Fear really is never a good thing, even if it seems to be concerning a real threat.

Does neo really like you "handling" questions to her?

Given how I detected the consistency of the annoyance she let creep into her posts whenever some hairbrain post came up she wanted to reply to, I really have to wonder if you really are just not paying attention to her writing style or do you not understand that Neo is as human as the rest of us?

Because like I recommended before to others, if you studied human nature, it would help and not just in fighting terrorism.

These opinions are indeed influenced by my ideology, which is indeed far leftist so everyone please take this into account.

And here I thought Erasmus didn't believe in notions of "Right" or "Left". But I guess others, Troutsky, does. Even though they belong to the same political philosophy, Jeffersonianism.

But there is something that explains Erasmus's problem and perhaps Troutsky and others like hime. And if he had studied human nature like I recommended, he might have even helped the rest of us to see that and better respond to his concerns.

Like all Jeffersonians, they have certain points of commonality.

Looking back on the election of 1800, Thomas Jefferson described it as being "as real a revolution in the principles of our government as that of 1776 was in its form; not effected indeed by the sword, as that, but by the rational and peaceable instrument of reform, the suffrage of the people." Jefferson saw his election as reversing an earlier trend away from republicanism. The departure from true republican principles, as he judged it, had begun with the economic policies of Alexander Hamilton favoring financial and manufacturing interests and the strengthening of the national government at the expense of the states. During John Adams's presidency, Jefferson was further alarmed by the threats to civil liberties posed by the Alien and Sedition Laws restricting freedom of speech, assembly, and the press. Under the administrations of both George Washington and Adams, Jefferson was also concerned that the rituals of the presidency resembled too closely the monarchical models of Europe, which he detested.

Just like Jefferson worried about the Sedition Acts, people like Troutsky worries over Bush's acts.

But Troutsky or Erasmus isn't a founding father, so he doesn't have to work for Bush, nor do they have to fight duels if an insult is given like back in the olden days. So Jefferson, regardless of his dislike for Hamilton's policies, kept his dislike tolerable and polite. There is no human reason to do that on Erasmus's or Troutsky's part concerning Bush.

That does tend to cloud the issue of course, because the problem with Jeffersonialism isn't about Bush at all.

It is about how all the worries of Jefferson and the political ideology that was founded by him, don't turn out to be very accurate.

not effected indeed by the sword

Unlike Jefferson, I do believe in the sword. And the chrysanthemum for what it is worth.

And everyone who is not worried about Bush's acts, are also believers in the sword. Or something comparable.

Since Jeffersonialism is about peaceful movements, about the will of voters, then that means old man Jeff ain't too useful in a war.

Under the administrations of both George Washington and Adams, Jefferson was also concerned that the rituals of the presidency resembled too closely the monarchical models of Europe, which he detested.

Jefferson, being human, tended to associate his dislikes of other people and the past, to current objects. So since Jefferson disliked monarchies, he also disliked and disapproved of anything even smacking of monarchy. Regardless of the benefit it gave the United States. That is a prejudice that all students of human nature are aware of.

Even though I didn't like Clinton's actions, it wasn't Clinton's actions that made me dislike him. In fact, his abilities and his speeches truly go down to the deep soul and character of this nation. It was a great tragedy and sadness that Clinton himself did not have the qualities he spoke so well of. It was a great loss to our nation. I do not dislike Clinton for his actions or for his character, because I understand human nature unlike so many other politicians and people.

The Jeffersonian Republicans found little support among the banking, manufacturing, and commercial interests attracted to Hamilton's vision of an industrial America. As a slaveholder who nevertheless opposed the institution of slavery, Jefferson drew support from both slaveholders and opponents of slavery; the Jeffersonian Republicans, however, did not include emancipation in their democratic agenda.

The current followers of the ideology of Jeffersonalism really need to take a dose of pragmatism to go well with. Without it, Jefferson would not have been of much use to this nation.

Again, everyone can see the deep roots of prejudice and dislike for industries and banks that Jefferson's ideology provoked.

That doesn't mean it was valid, either then or now. In this world at least, you have to have solid reasoning to back up your prejudices if you want anyone else to pay attention.

"I am not for transferring all the powers of the States to the general government, and all those of that government to the Executive branch," he wrote at a time when a Federalist Congress had given the president extraordinary power over aliens.

Fortunately and for slavery, he was wrong. We survived, better than ever. And we lived to do so, because of those whom believed in the Sword.

Slavery ended because finally the will of the people became represented by the federal government. Before, the will of the people were distorted through the states, and the federal government who should have been protecting everyone could only protect the people the states allowed them to. Infringing upon Jefferson's self-proclaimed natural rights. All of this was argued by the founding fathers long before I was born, so it is nothing new.

You see, there are people who just plain don't "like" central authority. But if people like they had their way, we would still be a Confederacy and all our power, our glory, and our word would mean nothing in this brave new world of ours. Or we would have split up in the Civil War like the Euros wanted it, and then we'd be fighting among ourselves during WWII, Cold War, and the War on Terror.

Surely disunity would have been a good thing for the "natural rights of men"... well, ok, it really wouldn't have been but still.

The desire to decrease the army also reflected a republican fear of standing armies that had roots in radical English thought.

Jefferson's power was not that of the sword, but of the pen. His power was non-aggression.

I and others like me, favor aggression, we learn the Sword and all that it requires.

Surveillaince like these, are nothing compared to the ultimate sacrifices one must make for survival. I may not agre with Troutsky's concerns, but that does not mean I don't understand why he has them, from whence they came, and for what utility they really are in this world.

The thing most Jeffersonians miss is simple Chaos Theory.

Chaos Theory is all about the greater sum of the parts, and has little concern for the little details that men plague their minds and souls over.

The fact that they do not understand the concept of Chaos Theory, is problematic for the rest of us.

Intermingling general principles and specific policies, Jefferson promised "equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political," and pledged a vigilant protection of civil liberties. He also vowed to protect the rights of states while preserving the general government in its whole constitutional vigor.

Here we come to a difference of opinion. Jeffersonians believe rights are granted by God, secured by him, and naturally inherent in us.

Jacksonians like me, tend to disagree. We tend to view rights as secured through the Sword, even if it is maintained by the Pen.

The idea of the military being the first protection of our civil liberties, is something Jacksonians came up with and made into reality. The Jeffersonians would have had nothing if not contempt for a large professional military. And that is not to mention WIRE TAPS. I think they hate the latter more than they do the former. Or is it fear, you'll have to decide.

Jefferson should not be blamed for what his followers in the 21st century seek to do. Or complain about even.

Jefferson did not have the knowledge that we have. We have hindsight, and with our hindsight we now recognize that even though Jefferson didn't get it all right, because he was human, nonetheless he got enough of it right to contribute his part to the greater whole. And thus ensuring the viability and strength of American liberty.

The current followers of Jeffersonialism do not have Jefferson's excuse of ignorance anymore.

They need to own up to their ideology and do what is best for America, not the beliefs that have been proven wrong and inadequate by history.

Because for all of Jefferson's words about trust in the people, he didn't trust in them to advocate that everyone be able to vote. Andrew Jackson, the founder of Jacksonianism as a political philosophy, was the one who gave universal suffrage to white men, regardless of land or aristocracy.

In a way, it just shows us how messy the creation of this nation was, and it should make anyone wonder how but for the Grace of God this nation survived.

But I do know we have not survived as a people and as a nation, as well as a power, solely because of Jeffersonianism and his focus on "natural human rights". They call it civil rights now. Nothing civil about the right to freedom of expression in the 21st century, as everyone knows, but no one says anything about.

Survival needs more than slogans, it needs power and action. Power and action, as Bush's leaked secret NSA programs were meant to provide for the national sustenance.

People like Troutsky work with all the diluted power in their Pen to make sure that does not come about.

We are not approaching the End of Time, but the Beginning of Factionalism.

 
At 8:34 PM, December 21, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cynical commentary from dispirited center

Critical commentary from ultra-conservative

 
At 9:49 PM, December 22, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

A lot of anonymous stalkers on this board for some reason. They do sound like a broken record, as everyone can see.

 
At 11:46 PM, December 22, 2005, Blogger Papa Ray said...

I admit that I have not read all the blog posts concerning this. But I have read a large number and have found nothing about this article written by Wired News, four years ago, being discussed.

Bush Submits His Laws for War

I think the fact that it was written four years ago, sheds a whole new light on the whole thing.

Papa Ray
West Texas
USA

 
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