is metadata more intrusive than eavesdropping? [updated]

Barack Obomba and his minions have claimed that the metadata that their PRISM program is entirely benign as only certain information has tracked and recorded on millions upon millions of Americans.  As though offering proof of that contention, they have said that they aren’t recording conversations, as though that would be the only actual intrusion into our privacy, and for recordings and transcripts, they would need warrants.  Few warrants have ever been denied.  But being ignorant of what these two different kinds of intrusions in fact entail, this interview was very helpful to my understanding, and I reckon that it might be for you, as well.


 Also from Democracy Now this morning: Is Edward Snowden a Hero? A Debate with Journalist Chris Hedges & Law Scholar Geoffrey Stone; it’s a bit long, but Hedges makes it clear what’s at stake, and has distilled his talking points well.


Earlier today the Guardian reported that Snowden had met for an interview with the South China Morning Press in which he said he intends to “he intends to “ask the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide my fate,” and was about to reveal new information.  Interestingly, the SCMP website’s servers are down now.  Hopefully they’ll be up again soon; journalist Lana Lam had promised an hour or two ago to have the full interview up soon. From Lam:

The ex-CIA analyst has been holed up in secret locations in Hong Kong since fleeing Hawaii ahead of highly sensitive leaks revealing details of US top-secret phone and internet surveillance of its citizens.

Snowden’s actions have been both praised and condemned globally.   But he told Post reporter Lana Lam: “I’m neither traitor nor hero. I’m an American.”

Today, he reveals:

*more explosive details on US surveillance targets

*his plans for the immediate future

*the steps he claims the US has taken since he broke cover in Hong Kong

*his fears for his family

Dave Lindorff, who speaks Chinese and lived in China for several years,  has an interesting take on ‘Why did Edward Snowden go to Hong Kong?’; and is in direct opposition to Ken Klippenstein’s ‘Greenwald Botches NSA Leak’, which blames Greenwald for the danger that Edward Snowden faces in Hong Kong, and seems to believe that Glenn could have steered him toward a country in Latin America.

In case you’re interested in what one Democratic Senator from Minnesota had to say about recent revelations on all of this,  Al Franken said that  he knew all along this was going on, and:

I can assure you, this is not about spying on the American people,” Franken said.

Franken, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, says he got secret security briefings on the program and he says it prevented unspecified terrorist acts.

I have a high level of confidence that this is used to protect us and I know that it has been successful in preventing terrorism,” Franken said.  (It just struck me funny.)

Added: The Guardian has developed a tool that they say will allow you to discover what the metadata looks like for the services that you use.  The page shows an example, and then shows what could be surmised in the conversations between David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell.  Heh.


(‘Release the Hounds!’ by anthony freda, via wendydavis

Stay safe, Edward Snowden.  What an incredible service you’ve done for us, as have Bradley Manning,   Thomas Drake, Julian Assange, and many other whistleblowers whose consciences would not allow them to remain silent.  And thank you, as well, Glenn Greenwald, for your dedication to the truth and the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.

[Updated]:  “As news of the NSA’s secret surveillance programs spread this weekend, Twitter did what it does best: mockery. User Darth asked followers to contribute titles for #NSAKidsBooks, which were then turned into beautifully hilarious works of art. Darth has kindly allowed us to share them.”

22 responses to “is metadata more intrusive than eavesdropping? [updated]

  1. Obomba, Keep the Lines FREE on the Homepage of US BRAVE (meantime, get the hell out of Haj!). Now THAT’S SECURITY!

  2. But…but…the Infidels mean to establish an Islamic Caliphate in the US of A, bruce. This is the holy war to end all holy wars! or else, next time I write, i would be wearing a burqa; may i offer that i don’t look good in burqa?

    do you and your loved ones?

  3. Someone please explain why anything they say, about anything, should be listened to.

    How many times do they get to lie, and still be believed about anything?

    here’s a movie about the Stasi. It’s called “The lives of others”

    The Lives of Others (German: Das Leben der Anderen) is a 2006 German drama film, marking the feature film debut of filmmaker Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, about the monitoring of East Berlin by agents of the Stasi, the GDR’s secret police.

    good movie, with english subtitles.

    It’s interesting, comparing systems of repression of dissent. I think the American system of repression is much more refined, than the Soviet system.

    In America, there’s much more of an illusion of freedom. As occupy showed, it’s an illusion.

  4. actually, that’s a depressing movie, don’t bother watching it.

  5. I don’t know if you saw this over at the Guardian, wendy – lots of interesting counterinfo about two cases claimed by the administration to prove effectiveness of data mining. (Gosh, I’d almost forgotten what real reporting is like.)

  6. “Someone please explain why anything they say, about anything, should be listened to.”

    by now, only to refute it, i guess. i can’t even watch obomba any longer, so i usually try to find soundbites or transcripts. kurt sperry asked a tangntial question about why almost every nation on the planet sucks up to the US, and I’d include most all of the putatively global agencies. it seems that it’s been decided that ours is (thank goodness) an empire in decline, crumbling rapidly, though that knowledge often makes empires even more dangerous in their collective panic.

    @ juliania; thank you. i’d seen the headline, and scanned it when the link came in on email. this stuff is causing some reporters to actually do some digging, isn’t it? or at least to quote others who are digging… we can only hope that this may be major, and not get sidetracked by the zimmmerman case, or a missing young blonde woman in puerto penasco or something.

    shoot, folks are bring links over yonder to beat the band; no way i can keep up, even if i could understand it all.

    the south china morning press full piece on snowden’s interview is up; i’ll bring the link soon as i can. it’s interesting. he may feed revelations a bit at a time to keep the news alive; brilliant!

  7. Bolts from the blue! We retort; You DECIDE:
    What’s this Stasi SSHIT; halfascist GESTAPO, Anyone?

  8. yeppers, bruce; that’s the same piece juliania brought upthread. the talking points are *beginning* to sound a bit hollow aren’t they. but at least they are inconsistent, lol. i especially loved the ‘er…old-fashioned police work was better than this shit’.

    ellsberg sure is calling it ‘stasi on steroids’ (kinda tired of the ‘steroid’ thing, but oh well).

    you may be interested in the arthur silber piece i think she was alluding to over yonder… he is soooooo pisssssssed at snowden, glenzilla, and gellman; yikers and yow!

  9. oh, and on the Update: I’d have done: ‘There in the world is carmen sandiego’, i think.

  10. There’s something about this police state shit, that is extra depressing. I’m not sure what it is.

    I guess there is in me, and many people, always the faint hope that the USA will wake up and lead the world to something better, which it could do; and it’s citizens would probably be fine with that role.

    But its leaders aren’t interested. think of the glory they would cover themselves in.

  11. I heard that debate, hedges, stone. stone…. very smart man, highly informed, did not like him at all. Obama’s former boss.

    I used to think Hedges was out in left field. Now I agree with him.

  12. you’re not sure what it is, lol. um…well, cuz it’s fucked up, for one thing. and it’s been goin’ on for so long now, and not even congress-critters were ‘allowed’ to give more than hints, and the tech-wise whistleblowers were jailed and discredited, and… and…we may not be able to stop it, for a few things.

    stone: an apologist schmuck. hedges: he has gotten my goat plenty (long boring stories, i reckon) over the past couple years, but on this one, he was aces, imo.

    but stone: obomba’s former boss? dinnae know that…

    oh, and i edited your ‘it;s’; kinda creepy i have the power to edit comments. i will try to not turn into a monster, okay? ;~)

  13. Amy goodman show, said he hired Obama to work at Chicago Law School.

    can you imagine what a brown noser Obama must be? One of the worst kinds of personalities. ass kisser.

    I figure he is one of those.

  14. the cartoon is hilarious. it would even be funnier if both of them were black, lol. it does seem that he geared his whole life to gaining whatever advantage there was to be gained at the time.

    even going to poor jeremiah wright’s church. vote-gaining in the black community. sold that man out before ya could snap your fingers. the irony of his prescience is monumental, and may even more so soon:

    ‘Goddam America! Your chickens will one day come home to roost!’

  15. Greenwald’s: PRISM, partisanship and propaganda:

    Lee Fang: contractors have alredy abused their power.

    Kgb999 hopes Glenn Greenwald will release the rest of the PRISM slides. (complicated tech explanations, but smart as hell)

    Thomas Drake : ‘Snowden saw what I saw: surveillance criminally subverting the constitution’

    “So none of this is new to me. The difference between what the Bush administration was doing in 2001, right after 9/11, and what the Obama administration is doing today is that the system is now under the cover and color of law. Yet, what Snowden has revealed is still the tip of the iceberg.

    General Michael Hayden, who was head of the NSA when I worked there, and then director of the CIA, said, “We need to own the net.” And that is what they’re implementing here. They have this extraordinary system: in effect, a 24/7 panopticon on a vast scale that it is gazing at you with an all-seeing eye.

    I lived with that dirty knowledge for years. Before 9/11, the prime directive at the NSA was that you don’t spy on Americans without a warrant; to do so was against the law – and, in particular, was a criminal violation of Fisa. My concern was that we were more than an accessory; this was a crime and we were subverting the constitution.

    I differed as a whistleblower to Snowden only in this respect: in accordance with the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, I took my concerns up within the chain of command, to the very highest levels at the NSA, and then to Congress and the Department of Defense. I understand why Snowden has taken his course of action, because he’s been following this for years: he’s seen what’s happened to other whistleblowers like me.”

  16. You probably saw this when I posted it on someone’s diary:

    It made the point for me that surveillance isn’t about defense (security) but about offense (entrapment). That’s the way it was used at the UN (even then, a worthy whistleblower blew their cover and was pilloried for it.) And what she did made a difference, not in the pursuance of the invasion, but in the ‘cover’ which could well have been given by blackmailed UN Security Council members. Hero or villain? She didn’t stop the war, but she’s a hero in my book.

  17. And I have no idea what her personal habits are, nor do I need to know. That’s only of interest to those who can think only in terms of blackmail and are exceedingly pissed that the data they had, on her or on any other hero, didn’t deter them from their duty.

    In otherwords, denigrators, back atcha.

  18. i don’t remember ever hearing her story, juliania; thank you. as i was reading i was reminded of sibel edmonds. and went to fetch her (iirc) website, but i had trouble booting it up. and of course, then someone mentioned the parallel of gun and edmonds in the comments.

    no, i think foiling ‘terrorist’ plots in not its use, and i do think it’s about entrapment, but a whale of a lot of other functions as well. think of the power of using the info the political, social, global banking, other multinationals for profit, control and other evils. and as kgb pointed out, programs like TAO are specifically designed not only to hack foreign computers, HACK, not just monitor communications, but can install programs into any personal computers in the US to allow constant monitoring.

    he and THD tried so hard to teach us stuff on my one thread on metadata over yonder, and whooosh; the expertise he showed on his own post about wanting glenn to publish the other PRISM slides knocked me out. and if i grasped 3% of what he said, i’d be amazed; it’s not a language that’s at all familiar to me.

    but here’s to miz gun, thomas drake, james risen, john kiriakou, bradley manning, edward snowden, and the others who have searched their consciences and spoken oout against such tyranny. we owe them so much, as do we owe all their defenders in court, and in the small world of conscientious journalism some practice. julian assange, glenn greenwald, seymour hersh, maybe laura poitras…

    may this story keep building and building; snowden seems to have had good instincts so far. the whole world is watching now, and dammit, you can’t say the same thing for poor bradley manning.

  19. I would hope the Manning case will simply become part of the same narrative once people start looking around after the personal impact of surveillance shakes their confidence. You don’t go back after something like that. And people are going to respond in different ways for sure, some more slowly than others, but I’ve read posts from very differently oriented folk clearly struggling to make sense of what is out there – very few on the character assassination dune buggy as I’ve been reading around.

    Your second to last paragraph – amen to that! Profiles in courage they all be. My one thought is that this is so massive it has to strike many who went along to get along as to the kind of country they are bequeathing to their kids; it might just turn them. It’s one thing to do favors to get elected. Quite another when the ones you did the favors for have designs on you. A few populists might just shake themselves out of the tree and start walking upright, if they really truly didn’t know all this was in operation on such a massive scale.

    Clapper, what a name, eh? ‘Clap ’em in irons, matey!’ I guess is the derivation there.

  20. i would have hoped so, too (re: manning), but shoot, even the guardian hasn’t posted on his trial since june 11. kevin said same for the nyt. plenty of folks are digging, trying to reconstruct snowden’s early life that led him to booz-allen (carlyle group, brrr). i do hope that history isn’t created, not just reported (entirely possible).

    i saw hideous evidence of what’s being said at (obey dragged me there, kickin’ and screamin’ once the cafe closed). i saw up close what self-kettling obeisance to authoritarian rule looks like, along with the ‘i don’t care about MY privacy, which personalization of the ‘spying on you’ has a danger to become a false and maybe dangerous narrative.

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