N.S.A. Director: it's not that what we're doing is wrong, it's that we did a bad job explaining it


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Translation: Our spin wasn’t good the first time, we’ll try to dazzle them with bullshit next round.


Absolutely everything we do, the authority under which we do it, and even the font we use for writing reports about it, is more or less automatically born classified. If one of our minions does speak, he does so in a coded series of internal jargon words that, purely coincidentally, overlap with ordinary English words with commonly understood meanings; but mean utterly different things.

The public just doesn’t understand us, nobody understands! (big emo tearz)

Well, general obvious, I can’t imagine why that might be, or who might be to blame for that.


Just one step away from, “You’re LISTENING wrong!”


Exactly what I came to say.

“Nobody told them the facts of the program and the controls that go around it.”

Well, that’s because the program and the controls that go around it are secret, and every time you’re asked, you lie. That’s, y’know, going to erode trust.


“…and the controls that go around it.”
They go around alright. When you go around you are not dealing with it directly, you are going around it.
As in rules, and explaining it.


"the controls that go around it"

Yuh - around it, down to the pub, couple games of pool and some smokes, then a flop house chance meeting with Edith, then a stumbling tumble into the harbour.

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The thing is, there is the intent to deceive, via misleading phrasing. Lying in the service of power.


MotherFUCKER, did you just call me “riled up”!!!

Oh. Oh well, yes. I am. Please step down now?


“We’ve thought up way better lies this time around.”


No dummy! Who gives a damn what your explanation is. You’ve already established yourselves as inveterate liars… We care that you slime-balls opened up 'Operation Peeping Tom" without the awareness or approval of the American people, who you are peeping! Jackass!

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And this is why we can’t let Intelligence set and police it’s own agenda.

Alexander is clearly saying:

  • It doesn’t matter if we broke laws.
  • It doesn’t matter if we violated the Constitution.
  • It doesn’t matter if we lied.

All that matters is keeping secrets and avoiding consequences.

Brandeis advice was never more prophetic:

Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding…

Decency, security and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperilled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our Government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the Government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means — to declare that the Government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal — would bring terrible retribution.

If our nation of Constitution and Law is to survive, we can not ignore this danger:

  • Clapper and Alexander have lied to Congress. They must be punished.

  • The NSA’ Bullrun program is one of many ways that the NSA has reduced the safety and security of the Nation. Bullrun must be terminated. The NSA must be re-educated and restrained.

  • We must revoke the NSA’s access to Secrecy until we can re-establish a basis of trust.


Nice quote, but there tends to be some difficulty in real life figuring out who are the men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding, and who are the ones who will actually help us have Nice Things. I’m fairly sure that both J. Edgar Hoover and Senator McCarthy had folks who believed that they were genuinely helping the USA in some fundamental way, but to me, Brandeis quote applies perfectly. I am sure there those who right now consider Edward Snowden to be a man of zeal but without understanding. So … condundrum.

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I think it’s less difficult than you imagine. The NSA is doing unconstitutional things. Edward Snowden exposed the NSA doing unconstitutional things.


“You’re critiquing the text from the wrong perspective.”


Well, I happen to agree with you. But we live in a pluralistic society where there are plenty of people who don’t. So how are we to agree on who are the people to follow and who are the people to avoid?

And that is exactly why we are supposed to be a society and government of laws, not “men”.


Great title, Xeni. Couldn’t have been said better by a six-year-old.

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laws are proposed and passed by human beings. the patriot act is a law - a law that was created by people that i personally would consider, to quote brandeis again “full of zeal but without understanding”. but apparently, lots of other people (or certainly enough Very Important People) thought that it was a good law. and so here we are today.

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