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Thread: NSA surveillance program

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    Default NSA surveillance program

    The following comments are from retired Air Force Col. Mike Gallagher and appear here with his permission:

    The revelations in the news about NSA programs which were leaked to the press by a government contractor employer have sparked a lot of comments. Here are some thoughts from my perspective:

    1. The nature and scope of these programs should never have been a secret. Clearly their roots go back to government reactions to 9/11 some of which were found to violate privacy rights.

    2. Had the scope, cost, and other details of the program to track phone and other communications been debated in an open forum and approved by the Congress (not just a few selected members briefed in secret), there wouldn't have been anything to leak!

    3. History is filled with examples of just how quickly people will give up fundamental freedoms in exchange for a promise of more security. History is also filled with examples of how this is a fool's bargain. The freedoms tend to be lost forever, and the promise of safety is often illusionary.

    4. When government programs run against fundamental understandings of what is correct and what is not, the risk of a concerned person coming forward and revealing secret information is greatly increased. One of the good things about people is the nagging voice we often call a conscience which serves to limit just how far a person will go in "following orders." Again, had the general outlines of this program been publicly debated and approved, it is far less likely that a person would divulge legitimately classified details of the program.

    5. Senior officials are publicly wringing their hands about the grave damage this leak has done for national security without offering much in the way of explanation. Seems that the result might be just the opposite. With the knowledge that phone and internet communications are being recorded and tracked, evil people will have to come up with alternatives such as codes which are cumbersome and anything but foolproof. Again, a great reason for not cloaking these programs in secrecy.

    6. Demands to punish the leaker for treason could be counter-productive. Last known location was Hong Kong. That is pretty close to a number of countries that might offer the individual some attractive alternatives to a U.S. trial with a further risk of damage to our security interests.

    7. How this individual was given a security clearance in the first place should be a matter of considerable interest.

    8. I am surprised at the number of people who expressed horror at the government having access to medical records, but seem to be perfectly willing to trust the government not to abuse security programs.

    9. Beyond this specific situation, I think we should be careful to keep the threat we face in perspective. While every life lost and person harmed is of serious concern, the actual number of lives lost and property destroyed is not great compared with the impact of natural disasters and traffic accidents. The threat is real, but we are ill served by exaggeration. Part of the "price of freedom" is the risk of living in a society where free choice is valued. Some will abuse that with tragic results, but the alternative (say N. Korea) is far worse.

    If you took the time to read this, thanks. I think this is a complex matter and thought I'd open a dialog.

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    Default Re: NSA surveillance program

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert F. Dorr View Post
    The following comments are from retired Air Force Col. Mike Gallagher and appear here with his permission:

    The revelations in the news about NSA programs which were leaked to the press by a government contractor employer have sparked a lot of comments. Here are some thoughts from my perspective:

    1. The nature and scope of these programs should never have been a secret. Clearly their roots go back to government reactions to 9/11 some of which were found to violate privacy rights.

    2. Had the scope, cost, and other details of the program to track phone and other communications been debated in an open forum and approved by the Congress (not just a few selected members briefed in secret), there wouldn't have been anything to leak!

    3. History is filled with examples of just how quickly people will give up fundamental freedoms in exchange for a promise of more security. History is also filled with examples of how this is a fool's bargain. The freedoms tend to be lost forever, and the promise of safety is often illusionary.

    4. When government programs run against fundamental understandings of what is correct and what is not, the risk of a concerned person coming forward and revealing secret information is greatly increased. One of the good things about people is the nagging voice we often call a conscience which serves to limit just how far a person will go in "following orders." Again, had the general outlines of this program been publicly debated and approved, it is far less likely that a person would divulge legitimately classified details of the program.

    5. Senior officials are publicly wringing their hands about the grave damage this leak has done for national security without offering much in the way of explanation. Seems that the result might be just the opposite. With the knowledge that phone and internet communications are being recorded and tracked, evil people will have to come up with alternatives such as codes which are cumbersome and anything but foolproof. Again, a great reason for not cloaking these programs in secrecy.

    6. Demands to punish the leaker for treason could be counter-productive. Last known location was Hong Kong. That is pretty close to a number of countries that might offer the individual some attractive alternatives to a U.S. trial with a further risk of damage to our security interests.

    7. How this individual was given a security clearance in the first place should be a matter of considerable interest.

    8. I am surprised at the number of people who expressed horror at the government having access to medical records, but seem to be perfectly willing to trust the government not to abuse security programs.

    9. Beyond this specific situation, I think we should be careful to keep the threat we face in perspective. While every life lost and person harmed is of serious concern, the actual number of lives lost and property destroyed is not great compared with the impact of natural disasters and traffic accidents. The threat is real, but we are ill served by exaggeration. Part of the "price of freedom" is the risk of living in a society where free choice is valued. Some will abuse that with tragic results, but the alternative (say N. Korea) is far worse.

    If you took the time to read this, thanks. I think this is a complex matter and thought I'd open a dialog.
    Thanks for sharing Bob. I agree with almost all of this. What I don't understand is how the gov't is now trying to reassure us that nobody is having their phone calls listened to or having their emails read. If that's the case, why is the gov't all bent out of shape over the leak? I would argue that most Americans already suspected the government was monitoring them by various means. Was this really THAT big of a secret?

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    Default Re: NSA surveillance program

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert F. Dorr View Post
    The following comments are from retired Air Force Col. Mike Gallagher and appear here with his permission:

    The revelations in the news about NSA programs which were leaked to the press by a government contractor employer have sparked a lot of comments. Here are some thoughts from my perspective:

    1. The nature and scope of these programs should never have been a secret. Clearly their roots go back to government reactions to 9/11 some of which were found to violate privacy rights.

    2. Had the scope, cost, and other details of the program to track phone and other communications been debated in an open forum and approved by the Congress (not just a few selected members briefed in secret), there wouldn't have been anything to leak!

    3. History is filled with examples of just how quickly people will give up fundamental freedoms in exchange for a promise of more security. History is also filled with examples of how this is a fool's bargain. The freedoms tend to be lost forever, and the promise of safety is often illusionary.

    4. When government programs run against fundamental understandings of what is correct and what is not, the risk of a concerned person coming forward and revealing secret information is greatly increased. One of the good things about people is the nagging voice we often call a conscience which serves to limit just how far a person will go in "following orders." Again, had the general outlines of this program been publicly debated and approved, it is far less likely that a person would divulge legitimately classified details of the program.

    5. Senior officials are publicly wringing their hands about the grave damage this leak has done for national security without offering much in the way of explanation. Seems that the result might be just the opposite. With the knowledge that phone and internet communications are being recorded and tracked, evil people will have to come up with alternatives such as codes which are cumbersome and anything but foolproof. Again, a great reason for not cloaking these programs in secrecy.

    6. Demands to punish the leaker for treason could be counter-productive. Last known location was Hong Kong. That is pretty close to a number of countries that might offer the individual some attractive alternatives to a U.S. trial with a further risk of damage to our security interests.

    7. How this individual was given a security clearance in the first place should be a matter of considerable interest.

    8. I am surprised at the number of people who expressed horror at the government having access to medical records, but seem to be perfectly willing to trust the government not to abuse security programs.

    9. Beyond this specific situation, I think we should be careful to keep the threat we face in perspective. While every life lost and person harmed is of serious concern, the actual number of lives lost and property destroyed is not great compared with the impact of natural disasters and traffic accidents. The threat is real, but we are ill served by exaggeration. Part of the "price of freedom" is the risk of living in a society where free choice is valued. Some will abuse that with tragic results, but the alternative (say N. Korea) is far worse.

    If you took the time to read this, thanks. I think this is a complex matter and thought I'd open a dialog.
    My thoughts about the whole program can be summed up in one sentence. What is the big deal? While this program was never public we have always known these things exist. the bigger problem we should be debating is why do Americans not trust their government with their information. The average american will buy an iPhone 4S and synchronize tehir contacts to iCloud. When they do this they agree to a policy that says Apple now owns this data and can mine it in order to provide better service. People happily agree to the disclaimer because it is 100+ pages and they do not care to read it or understand it. My question is why do you trust a company like Apple with names and addresses of all your known associates but you are worried if the government gets this information?

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    Default Re: NSA surveillance program

    I was wondering the relevance of the background of the author. I guess because this is the AF section of the MTF but that seems tenuous. Oh well, some cogent thoughts in any case.
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    Default Re: NSA surveillance program

    Quote Originally Posted by grimreaper View Post
    The easiest way to answer this question is to point to the current mess with the IRS. Besides the fact that this is in violation of the 4th Amendment, there is too great a chance of it being abused.
    I am wondering if people actually understand the "IRS scandal". I am not saying it was right for the IRS to target political groups but it is also not right for political groups to pretend to be charities in order to become tax exempt. If I were in charge of tax exempt status at the IRS I would have used buzz words too. My only issue with the whole thing is the list was not inclusive enough. Other than Tea Party, they need to include words related to gun control, anti gun control, LGBT, Gay Lesbian, Wall Street, Medical Insurance companies, etc. It was wrong to target one group but the idea behind the targeting was right.

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    Default Re: NSA surveillance program

    Quote Originally Posted by SomeRandomGuy View Post
    My thoughts about the whole program can be summed up in one sentence. What is the big deal? While this program was never public we have always known these things exist. the bigger problem we should be debating is why do Americans not trust their government with their information. The average american will buy an iPhone 4S and synchronize tehir contacts to iCloud. When they do this they agree to a policy that says Apple now owns this data and can mine it in order to provide better service. People happily agree to the disclaimer because it is 100+ pages and they do not care to read it or understand it. My question is why do you trust a company like Apple with names and addresses of all your known associates but you are worried if the government gets this information?
    The easiest way to answer this question is to point to the current mess with the IRS. Besides the fact that this is in violation of the 4th Amendment, there is too great a chance of it being abused.

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    Default Re: NSA surveillance program

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert F. Dorr View Post
    The following comments are from retired Air Force Col. Mike Gallagher and appear here with his permission:

    The revelations in the news about NSA programs which were leaked to the press by a government contractor employer have sparked a lot of comments. Here are some thoughts from my perspective:

    1. The nature and scope of these programs should never have been a secret. Clearly their roots go back to government reactions to 9/11 some of which were found to violate privacy rights.

    2. Had the scope, cost, and other details of the program to track phone and other communications been debated in an open forum and approved by the Congress (not just a few selected members briefed in secret), there wouldn't have been anything to leak!
    Doesn't telling people that you are watching them kind of defeat the purpose a little?

    3. History is filled with examples of just how quickly people will give up fundamental freedoms in exchange for a promise of more security. History is also filled with examples of how this is a fool's bargain. The freedoms tend to be lost forever, and the promise of safety is often illusionary.
    I agree with that one.

    4. When government programs run against fundamental understandings of what is correct and what is not, the risk of a concerned person coming forward and revealing secret information is greatly increased. One of the good things about people is the nagging voice we often call a conscience which serves to limit just how far a person will go in "following orders." Again, had the general outlines of this program been publicly debated and approved, it is far less likely that a person would divulge legitimately classified details of the program.
    To paraphrase...had we told everyone what we we're doing, no one would have leaked what we were doing.

    5. Senior officials are publicly wringing their hands about the grave damage this leak has done for national security without offering much in the way of explanation. Seems that the result might be just the opposite. With the knowledge that phone and internet communications are being recorded and tracked, evil people will have to come up with alternatives such as codes which are cumbersome and anything but foolproof. Again, a great reason for not cloaking these programs in secrecy.
    Not really following the logic here..."if we told them we were listening in, then they would have made adjustments so that we couldn't understand their 'code'...their code would cause problems even in communicating with each other"

    Okay...but, we're still not getting the information we were after.

    6. Demands to punish the leaker for treason could be counter-productive. Last known location was Hong Kong. That is pretty close to a number of countries that might offer the individual some attractive alternatives to a U.S. trial with a further risk of damage to our security interests.
    Perhaps...so, we should just let him go?

    7. How this individual was given a security clearance in the first place should be a matter of considerable interest.
    Who knows what lurks in the heart of man?

    8. I am surprised at the number of people who expressed horror at the government having access to medical records, but seem to be perfectly willing to trust the government not to abuse security programs.

    9. Beyond this specific situation, I think we should be careful to keep the threat we face in perspective. While every life lost and person harmed is of serious concern, the actual number of lives lost and property destroyed is not great compared with the impact of natural disasters and traffic accidents. The threat is real, but we are ill served by exaggeration. Part of the "price of freedom" is the risk of living in a society where free choice is valued. Some will abuse that with tragic results, but the alternative (say N. Korea) is far worse.

    If you took the time to read this, thanks. I think this is a complex matter and thought I'd open a dialog.
    I agree with this last bit.

    Overall though, I think the idea that plans for how we will secretly collect data on terrorist threats should be openly debated to be a bit off.

    I'm not comfortable with this whole data-mining operation, and do beleive the govt. overstepped their bounds here...but, I don't think public debate on it would have served either the purpose of privacy or security.
    Last edited by Measure Man; 06-11-2013 at 02:59 PM.

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    Default Re: NSA surveillance program

    Quote Originally Posted by grimreaper View Post
    The easiest way to answer this question is to point to the current mess with the IRS. Besides the fact that this is in violation of the 4th Amendment, there is too great a chance of it being abused.
    I am wondering if people actually understand the "IRS scandal". I am not saying it was right for the IRS to target political groups but it is also not right for political groups to pretend to be charities in order to become tax exempt. If I were in charge of tax exempt status at the IRS I would have used buzz words too. My only issue with the whole thing is the list was not inclusive enough. Other than Tea Party, they need to include words related to gun control, anti gun control, LGBT, Gay Lesbian, Wall Street, Medical Insurance companies, etc. It was wrong to target one group but the idea behind the targeting was right.

    After the Boston Bombings people wanted to know how someone could be "flagged" yet the government did not do more to stop him. You have to either give the government the tools to work with or take them all away. There really is no such balance when it comes to privacy/security. You can have one or the other.
    Last edited by SomeRandomGuy; 06-11-2013 at 03:02 PM.

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    Default Re: NSA surveillance program

    Bob, I though your savior was going to fix this...



    Quote Originally Posted by Robert F. Dorr View Post
    6. Demands to punish the leaker for treason could be counter-productive. Last known location was Hong Kong. That is pretty close to a number of countries that might offer the individual some attractive alternatives to a U.S. trial with a further risk of damage to our security interests.
    The irony is...the US has been assisting rebels (who believe their government wrongs them) in multiple countries and now we apparently want to arm them.

    http://news.yahoo.com/jon-stewart-ex...123519463.html

    However, when someone believes our government wronged the people and "rebels" the US wants to crucify them...kind of like other countries are crucifying their rebels.

    Hypocrisy much?

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    Default Re: NSA surveillance program

    Quote Originally Posted by SomeRandomGuy View Post
    After the Boston Bombings people wanted to know how someone could be "flagged" yet the government did not do more to stop him. You have to either give the government the tools to work with or take them all away. There really is no such balance when it comes to privacy/security. You can have one or the other.
    For the government to be collecting the info they are, they should have probable cause. For them to be collecting this data on millions and millions of Americans is ridiculous and there is no probable cause.

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