Friday, June 7, 2013

Can You Hear Me Now?

Washington Post Photo
No wonder Woodward & Bernstein always used payphones with Deepthroat

The number one role journalists play in a free society such as ours (although now I'm starting to wonder) is guarding the rights of "The People" from The Powers That Be.

And it's a little hard to be an effective watchdog when those all-powerful entities are tapping your phone lines or perusing at will your email inbox.

But according to President Obama -- even after Guantanamo,  Benghazi, and the drone program controversies -- his administration is "The most transparent administration in history."

Well as of a couple weeks ago I was thinking maybe somebody should get him a bottle of Windex.

But now, after the insidious invasion of privacy controversy of the past few days, brought to us by The Guardian, a British publication, an American reporter might want to ask our transparent President a follow up question:

Define transparency?

50 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can't help imagine the outcry if Richard Nixon was even proposing such a thing. But since its being done by someone on the left, no one really cares. And when The Guardian, of all papers, is coming to the defense of American Conservatives, it gives you an idea of just how screwed up the world has become.

Larry Kelley said...

First they came for the terrorists and I did not speak out because I was not a terrorist.

Then they came for the journalists and I did not speak out because I was not a journalist.

By the time they were coming for everybody else we didn't know about it because all the reporters were already gone.



Kristi Bodin said...

Tranparency - I know it when I see it?

Larry Kelley said...

Yeah, that too.

Walter Graff said...

Jay Leno has had some funny jokes lately with all that is going on with the administration. The latest:

"See, when I was growing up, we were always afraid of Big Brother watching us. And now with Obama, we actually have a brother watching us."

I say anyone that thought Obama was anything more than any other politician is simply stupid. One man can't change a system. Obama found that out quickly, but then again I have to wonder if it was simply rhetoric because it's what people wanted to hear. Seems based on his actions to be true.

Politicians are liars by definition and governments are corrupt. It is and always was that way since the first government.

The real sad part of the story is the media in this country. When I was in college my journalism professor (a well respected journalist) was telling journalism majors that they might want to consider a different career unless they were ready for dramatic changes that would affect their ability to be fair and honest. According to him, those changes would be the future where all of the worlds media would be owned by no more than seven people and as a result journalism as we knew it would end. So prolific.

And with the last ten years of the segregation of politics in this country and the change in narrow-casting of radio and TV, we have a very serious problem.

One of the effects of that segregation and lack of journalistic neutrality is that not one of the major US news outlets uncovered the latest three scandals that plague the White House. All were revealed by overseas organizations.

I was having a discussion with Tom Brokaw some years ago where I was saying that people watch what we give them because that is what they want. His thought provoking response as he interrupted me was "No, that's not the case. They watch because that is what we choose to give them." So true.

And being that I work for a major national news organization I can tell you first hand that you know what you are allowed to do and what you are allowed to say. If you want to work you don't cross that line.

Anonymous said...

I don't see any evidence that they are coming for anybody?

You are the biggest 9/11 flag waver, so don't you want to protect ourselves. The guys pull off this international violence through long-range planning and communications. This isn't the 1800s when people have to come over on a sailing ship. This is the modern world and you better wake up and smell the coffee.

We caught the Boston bombers because of security cameras. They watch everybody. They only "come" for the bad guys.

Larry Kelley said...

Yeah, tell that to Richard Jewell.

Walter Graff said...

Security cameras were a part of how the Boston bombers were caught but not the only method. Survivor testimony was crucial too along with other forms of police work.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes they make mistakes but closing our eyes and ears on surveillance is the prescription for disaster. Once bad things happen then everyone screams "How come you didn't know?" The idea is to stop things from happening rather than just responding after the fact. 9/11 shows that after the fact is too late. If they had detected those guys beforehand then we would have saved 3,000 lives, prevented 2 wars, and not squandered $4 trillion. They can look at my online baby pictures and phone logs all they want.

Larry Kelley said...

Actually the FBI had pretty good intel before the 9/11 attacks, they just did not connect the dots.

Tom McBride said...

Some of those British publications are pretty good, people don't think of the Guardian because the BBC overshadows it, but I've heard good things about it. If the FBI was collecting information, did the President have much to do with it?, I don't know. And unfortunately we seem to be in a life and death struggle with terrorism, so some information collected may be of value. I'm also in favor of putting up more cameras, because law enforcement can't be everywhere, and just recently and otherwise, cameras, whether they're being used by a business or government have been of extraordinary benefit.

Anonymous said...

So you are fine with ending the Intel? Then. when they say that they stopped monitoring phone calls and emails, you will hold the FBI blameless?

Anonymous said...

1. Bush started this spying on our phone and email years before Obama was Pres. Where have you been?

2. Funny to see you discuss or even reference journalism as if that is what you were attempting to be.

3. Guess they must "be over the target," eh Larry, if you're getting upset? Isn't that the line you always use?

Larry Kelley said...

Actually I believe that's Dr. Ed.

Goes to show how long you've been coming here.

Anonymous said...

As Anon 2:45 pointed out, this surveillance has been going out for many years before Barak Obama became President. Also, Congress re-authorizes it every three months. Congress has known about and authorized this 4 times a year for between 6-8 years. Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress have seen this as a valuable tool in the US's fight against terroism. According to members of Congress, this program was instrumental in stopping a terroist attack on US soil. One can agree or disagree about whether this is a good program and it's good to have a debate about it. But, one cannot say this is strictly a Democrat or strictly a Republican driven program. It has long had bipartisan support in Congress.

Anonymous said...

How can anyone be surprised that his has been going on? With supercomputers comes more capability. Those IBM supercomputers were not just beating chess champions and playing Jeopardy.

Anonymous said...

Stick to local news, Larry (and yes this is relevant everywhere, but you know what I mean). What makes this site interesting is that it's content that doesn't exist anywhere else. This kind of post is dime a dozen across the web and beyond.

Larry Kelley said...

Yeah, had I been thinking like a villager I would have pointed out how overwhelmingly Amherst supported Obama in the last Presidential election and then cross correlated that with the under 7% turnout we had in the last local election.

Dr. Ed said...

They only "come" for the bad guys.

Like how the IRS only audits the tax cheats and only denies 501(c)(3) status to those who don't deserve it?

Just remember that whatever powers your guy grabs while he is in office will be available to the most scary right-wing person when (eventually) the political tide has swung the other way. Imagine what someone like Joe McCarthy could have done with this -- he could have dragged people in and demanded they justify each and every telephone call.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Walter. ANOTHER race-related comment, back to back! You're really on a roll!

Walter Graff said...

"Actually the FBI had pretty good intel before the 9/11 attacks, they just did not connect the dots."

Very true. Just remember, you can have all the computers in the world that can flag internet information that you deem out of the ordinary as the government now has and has had for years, but turning that information into usable data is a whole other story.

Then there are politics. As far back as 2002 the FBI was aware of the Saudi family that funded the attacks on the WTC and the ties to the Saudi individuals that carried the attacks out along with the American house in Sarasota Florida that acted as a control center.

Politics prevents things that you would think should be known from being known in many instances. Politics as in "we" support the Saudis. They are an ally. The problem with a country being an ally and it being the same country that carries out attacks on the US presents a problem with what information do you use and how do you act on it. Sad truth is sometimes you don't. Happens a lot and on things you wouldn't believe.

And if you've never worked with many of the investigative/infomration branches of the US Government you know that often even with the information right in front of you, no one sees it. And then of course there is one part of the government talking to another which is often something that wouldn't/couldn't happen even if an official channel was set up for sharing information, and that's not because they don't want to, but more because of incompetence.

People watch these TV dramas and movies like Bourne Identity and think we are that sophisticated. Laughable if you ever experienced it in real life.

Welcome to the real world where right now a cookie and/or a web bug is tracking you and me.

Anonymous said...

Ed, Barak Obama has not "grabbed any power." You are a tea partier who wants Allen West for governor. Nuf said.

Dr. Ed said...

I actually would like to see Allen West as President, but I digress.

My point is that you should always view any grant of authority to the government in the context of the person whom you most hate being in office.

It is the same thing as "Free Speech" and the 1st Amendment -- which exists not to protect popular speech but unpopular speech.

Dr. Ed said...

I just realized something: Sensenbrenner neither said "reportedly" in reference to the reported-but-not-confirmed Verizon secret warrant, nor asked Holder to confirm it in the questions he is asked to respond to.

And the last part, about how Holder is personally expected to respond is also relevant -- Holder may know about things others aren't allowed to.

I suspect that the Congressman may already have known about this practice, and possibly some more things -- and only now can publicly hold Holder's feet to the fire over them.

Everything going through fiber is digital and that's what the "D" in "DSL" stands for. Digital data is digital data, and the Feds are building that giant thumbdrive out in Utah -- are the Feds recording each and every telephone call, or perhaps planning to soon do so?

First Black President or not, that would get Obama impeached. There are still too many people around who remember the excesses of J Edgar Hoover and many of them are Black too...

Anonymous said...

Larry, Still to discussing Amherst Town meeting and the car accidents. You are way over your depth and your ignorance is striking when you start talking about national politics.

Any surveillance of email and phone is part of the Patriot Act put in place long before Barack Obama was on the scene and which I'm betting you supported hook, line, and sinker in the hyper-patriotic days after 9/11.

Anonymous said...

"Just remember that whatever powers your guy grabs while he is in office will be available to the most scary right-wing person when (eventually) the political tide has swung the other way."

Finally! A comment from Ed that I can agree with 110% -- and on the subect that matters more than perhaps any other.

I can't count the number of times I've heard people say, "You needn't worry unless you're up to no good"... forgetting that "no good" is a flexible definition, forever subject to abuse by the party in power.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else but me notice that yesterday Obama said, "Nobody is listening to your telephone calls." He did NOT say, "Nobody is RECORDING your telephone calls." There is a difference. When is the United States Press going to start doing their job? I don't believe we would know about this if it hadn't been leaked to a UK media outlet. Had it been leaked to the US press, they never would've reported it. I have no faith in them anymore.

Daniel Shays said...

I think the reason so many on the Left are willing to ignore or excuse these abuses of power is that they figure the Democrats will be able to use government power to keep Republicans out of office forever. So the liberals can be serene in the knowledge that unrestricted power will rest in the hands of people they happen to agree with.

The scary thing is that liberals don't see the flaw in this.

Anonymous said...

The scary thing is that Daniel Shays doesn't understand that these programs were begun under a Republican president and that they have broad bipartisan support (that means Dem AND Repub) in congress.

Anonymous said...

The scary thing is that liberals don't see the flaw in this

Perhaps they ought to ask the German Jews who actually voted for Hitler circa 1933 -- thinking that the National Socialists were better than the Communists....

Dr, Ed said...

I will accept a retroactive impeachment of GWB is you accept the retroactive impeachment of Obama.

If this is all Bush's fault (and it isn't) the let's blame him -- whatever -- but Obama continued it and THAT is OBAMA'S FAULT.

Chimps of a feather... said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUbCoh5KPIA


Eat it Ponziville.


Eat it.

Anonymous said...

Yo Ed. It is congress who reauthorizes the phone metadata accumulation. Every 3 months for the last 6 or 7 years. So go impeach all those members of congress.

Anonymous said...

Debating on state and national issues on this blog is futile. Too complex for the ilk who come here, me included. And certainly Ed and Walter.

Larry Kelley said...

"All politics is local."

Re-arranging deck chairs in chimp valley said...

"Debating on state and national issues on this blog is futile. Too complex for the ilk who come here, me included. And certainly Ed and Walter."


LOL!


(nice try, you friggan chimp)


p.s. Thanks for voting Obama, moron.










Dr. Ed said...

Didn't the Amherst Town Meeting vote to impeach both Bush & Cheney? I never really did understand what it was that Cheney supposedly had done....

Anonymous said...





I vote libertarian...




asshole.




Anonymous said...




...and you never did show up to out me at my "office"...


...cackly, cowardly commenter...




Anonymous said...

Your short blog post, Larry, does not do this complex issue justice and is , quite frankly, inaccurate in some ways and cryptic in others. I agree with the sentiment expressed by others that you should stick to local issues. You do a much better job covering them. Alternatively, you should do more research and really tackle the complexity of this issue so an honest debate can be had based on facts. Not based on a cute picture and snide innuendo.

Larry Kelley said...

I try to be short and snappy and somewhat ahead of the curve.

As such the post was written before the whistle blower, Edward Snowden, had revealed himself.

Which of course only reaffirms my belief that men (and women) of principle stand behind and further credibility of their actions by using their name.

No matter the risk.

Anonymous said...

Larry, this is anon 726. If your post at 753 is directed at me, you have totally missed the point of my post. The complex issues of this debate do not at all hinge on the ID of the leaker or the timing of the revelation of his identity. Your response proves my point. You are way out of your league.

Larry Kelley said...

And my point is your point would be better taken if you were not such a CAN.

Dr. Ed said...

I find it quite fascinating that the leaner has taken refuge in Hong Kong. This has ChiCom fingerprints all over it.

What the Chinese don't understand -- honestly do not understand -- is that openness is our society's greatest strength. That we will come out of this stronger, not weaker.

Anonymous said...

Here is what Allen West had to say -- and he raises valid points:

As I ponder the NSA records data mining episode here are my thoughts. This is like carpet bombing vs. precision attack. Can someone explain why we weren’t listening to Anwar-al-Awlaki and his conversations with Major Nidal Hasan? Why weren’t we able to track Carlos Bledsoe's travel to Somalia and Yemen to receive terrorist training? Why didn’t we pay attention to warning signs of Abdul Mutallab (underwear bomber) with a one-way ticket and little baggage traveling from Nigeria to America? Why weren’t we paying attention to the Tsarnaev brothers’ travels and connections to Chechen Islamic terrorism -- heck Russia warned us? Why is it that in October 2011, 57 Islamic organizations -- several with ties to Muslim Brotherhood -- sent a letter to then counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan demanding we purge training materials and punish instructors they deemed "offensive" and we didn’t say “shove it” and target THEIR records? We’d rather carpet bomb Americans to cover our cowardice in confronting Islamic extremism. Benjamin Franklin said, "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Anonymous said...

Ed,
What does Amherst Town Meeting voting to impeach Bush and Cheney have to do with this topic?

Anonymous said...

Larry,
If my comments as an anon poster have no validity, then the comments of anon posters who agree with you also have no validity. You can dismiss our comments out of hand all you want, they are valid critiques of your original post, subsequent comments, and many of the comments of your uninformed readers and posters.

Larry Kelley said...

I only dismiss the dumb ass ones.

Anonymous said...

It's tough not to excuse the government, especially when they have concrete evidence that this type of surveillance prevented attacks in the past.

It's even tougher to pretend our Fourth Amendment rights aren't being trampled on.

Really no question these powers aren't/won't being/be abused.



Stop signs, potholes and Ponzivillers said...

"...and you never did show up to out me at my "office"..."


Oh I showed up.

Didn't they tell you?

I left a calling card or two.

Then, I laughed

and laughed

annnnnnnnd

laaaaaaughhhhhhed.

(Shhhh, listen... That's me, howling!)