NSA phone-records spying is totally, utterly illegal

Nah - because Holder can quibble-speak it to death.

‘FBI’ means ‘FBI or whoever it would like to assign that work to to act on its behalf’.
‘Records’ means, once you snag all that metadata and slam it into a database, each distinct item is called a ‘record’.
‘Relevant’ means ‘pertinent’ …to whatever Obama defines as the subject for today.
‘Investigation’ means ‘research’, in this case, ‘research into anything or anyone we are or might become remotely curious about’.

And all these years, we never had any idea our national security relied absolutely, positively on constant vigilance…of a thesaurus.
So, do your English homework, kiddies. And someday, you, too, may rule the ‘free’ (meaning, ’ available’) world!

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Define “executes.” Seriously.

Also seriously:

  1. Does the US have a legitimate interest in preventing domestic terrorist attacks?
  2. What should the US do when those planning the attacks are in foreign countries?
  3. What about when they are in foreign countries (such as Yemen or Pakistan) that lack either the ability or willingness to capture these terrorists): what should the US do?
  4. Is killing people in war the same as executing them?
  5. Is it possible to be at war with terrorists, or Al Qaeda? If not, why not?
  6. What process is due on the battlefield?

With all the might in the world Afghanistan can’t be taken. I’m sure if you had courage you would see things from a mans side of existence.

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You seem to know which particular cases I’m referring to. You might have saved a bit of time by supplying your answers along with your questions.

I don’t know what particular cases you’re referring to, nor does it seem important. You seem to be talking about drone strikes in general, and I don’t think the situation is as clear-cut as you do. Providing my own answers really won’t accomplish anything in changing your mind, and is kind of inconsistent with the Socratic method. I had hoped that by answering the questions you might come to see that the issue is more complex than you are suggesting, even if you don’t agree with drone strikes.

If you want some answers, here are my thoughts:

Executions are typically punishment for prior misdeeds, or acts of retribution. I don’t think drone strikes are punishment or retributive in nature: they are done to prevent attacks. Prevention and punishment are two very different things. Intelligence is preventative in nature, while law enforcement is punitive in nature—this distinction explains why there are different constitutional and due process requirements for intelligence and law enforcement investigations.

  1. I obviously think the US has a legitimate interest in preventing terrorist attacks.
  2. When terrorists are in foreign countries, I think that the ideal is to closely cooperate with the foreign government, with capture of the terrorists as the primary goal. Detention of these terrorists until they no longer pose a threat (such as with prisoners of war or with the mentally ill and suicidal — all of which are done without neither a criminal trial nor showing of wrongdoing, as preventative measures) is probably the best option.
  3. When countries are unwilling or unable to help capture terrorists, the US is in a much more difficult position. Insertion of US strike teams into foreign countries to attempt to capture the terrorists is deeply problematic and may be more damaging and less effective than drone strikes. It’s a difficult question, and drone strikes may sometimes be the best answer.
  4. Killing people in war is, to virtually everyone, not the same as executing them.
  5. I don’t know if you can technically be at war with Al Qaeda. We have traditionally thought of wars as being between states, and consisting mainly of uniformed combatants. This model doesn’t accurately reflect the current state of affairs, and I think it makes sense to think of Al Qaeda as enemy combatants just as Germans considered the un-uniformed French resistance to be enemy combatants and the US Army considered un-uniformed Viet Cong as enemy combatants in Viet Nam.
  6. There’s not a lot of due process on the battlefield, at least before the enemy is captured.

I don’t know what particular cases you’re referring to, nor does it seem important. You seem to be talking about drone strikes in general, and I don’t think the situation is as clear-cut as you do.

You seem to know an awful lot about this person named ‘you’ (don’t you capitalise people’s names where you come from btw?). Is it a forename or a surname? I’m not familiar with the person you’re addressing.

The rest of your article is interesting enough, but I can’t say there’s anything there I’ve not read or thought about before. But maybe I shouldn’t criticise something intended for somebody else to read. It might be considered impolite.

So, you’ve thought about it but you’ve decided to write as though you haven’t thought about it at all. Instead, you damn Obama with the conclusory statement that he is engaging in remote executions—and then feign concern about being impolite. OK.

And if you were just going to dismiss everything regardless of what I wrote, you might have saved a bit of time by supplying your non-reasoned dismissal before asking for me to supply answers.

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I do beg your pardon. It’s clear that I’m as guilty as you are of making assumptions. When you wrote ‘Define execution’, and posed all of those questions in response to my post, I assumed the challenge was directed at me personally. Silly me. I now realise that you simply had something to say and felt, for whatever reason, that you could say it by attaching your remarks to my comment. I now realise my error and grovel before you. I don’t know how you could ever find it within yourself to forgive me but I beg you to try.

Either that, or you’re being deliberately disingenuous.

you damn Obama

Now what did I write that led you to believe I did that? Indeed what did I write that made you believe I would disagree with anything you’ve said? What did I write that made you think I was talking about war? Or drone strikes? I’m genuinely intrigued.

you might have saved a bit of time by supplying your non-reasoned dismissal before asking for me to supply answers.

Cute. But you yourself said that it would be pointless, in a dialog (if that’s what this is - see above) under Socratic Regulation, for you to supply answers - and you went ahead and did it anyway. I kinda knew you wanted to and simply afforded you the opportunity. You may thank me later.

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People who use the Socratic method usually have a point. Indeed, people usually argue or debate because they have a point. Hopefully, they don’t simply want to convince themselves, but want to persuade someone else. The Socratic method can help do this by forcing people to realize their beliefs may be inconsistent. I honestly believe that if you actually answered any of the questions I asked, you would see that there are inconsistencies in your beliefs. This doesn’t mean that you will end up thinking drone strikes are fine, but that you will accept that the other side has reasonable arguments and that Obama isn’t simply executing people.[quote=“LemoUtan, post:19, topic:21215”]
“you damn Obama”

Now what did I write that led you to believe I did that? Indeed what did I write that made you believe I would disagree with anything you’ve said? What did I write that made you think I was talking about war? Or drone strikes? I’m genuinely intrigued.
[/quote]
What gave me the impression you were damning Obama for his drone strikes? Maybe the part where you said that he “remotely executes folk without due process.” That might have something to do with it.

I have no idea what your point is. Is it that if I quote you and ask that a term you used be defined, I have to use your name, and capitalize your name? That someone can’t make a substantive point in response to something someone else said? Seriously, what is your point? That I’m not allowed to object to the way you use the word “execute” without trying to unpack its meaning and how we typically do and do not use this word? Or that it’s inappropriate for me to make this point in response to your specific use of this word? Or that it’s wrong to ask you, as the person who used the word in this way, to clarify what you meant by it.

Again, it’s ironic for you to call me disingenuous after your bizarre objections to my use of the word “you.”

People who use the Socratic method usually have a point. Indeed, people usually argue or debate because they have a point.

I’m sorry if you missed my point. I believed it clear enough. Let me, therefore, spell it out for you (I refer the honourable whatever to my initial post).

I am not amazed that “President Obama and other NSA defenders are still arguing that the program is perfectly fine”. Amongst the many reasons why I am not amazed are that President Obama and other NSA defenders have done things which some might regard as having somewhat more enormity than eavesdropping, and that they have done it at a distance, and for reasons which are not under public scrutiny, and which involve deliberate removal of certain individuals’ lifely substances’ (to misquote E L Wisty).

I honestly believe that if you actually answered any of the questions I asked, you would see that there are inconsistencies in your beliefs.

Why would I answer questions which have nothing to do with the point I was making? Unless you’re going to argue that the aforementioned actors have never done anything other than eavesdrop, that they have never done any of that heavier stuff?

And I’m somewhat surprised that you believe my beliefs inconsistent. Largely because I’m not aware of having expressed any. I’m hardly responsible for your inferences about my beliefs.

What gave me the impression you were damning Obama for his drone strikes? Maybe the part where you said that he “remotely executes folk without due process.” That might have something to do with it.

Yes. And?

Why do you infer I’m condemning him for remotely executing folk without due process? Where’d you get that from? Insofar as I’m willing to express my opinion on the matter, I will certainly concede that it’lll be tending towards the ‘I’m not terribly happy about that sort of thing and I’d rather he/they didn’t do it’. Is that ‘damning Obama’? Even if it is (and it’s a pretty wishy-washy hell, maybe domestic oven heat, I’d be condemning him to), it’s only here and now that you’ve finally got it out of me. Your inference - even if true (which it isn’t) - was rather premature.

What am I saying? I mean incredibly, breathtakingly premature.

I have no idea what your point is. Is it that if I quote you and ask that a term you used be defined, I have to use your name, and capitalize your name?

No. It just means you don’t get to pretend that I was the first person to refer directly to the other person in the engagement just because you didn’t happen to use the second person pronoun. If you want to say that your remarks were not directed at me personally though then I’m more than willing to accept your apology. Does that give you an idea of what my point was?

Jeez, you two, get a room.

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They’ve got you right where they want you, don’t they? They’ve got everything going exactly as they like through the usual political channels, and you’re perfectly happy as long as you get to strut around, rifle on shoulder, and imagine yourself the Sentinel of Liberty.

You imagine a nice simple world where the Bad Guys wear clearly-marked uniforms and come roaring over the hills to be cut down by heroes. Smart tyrants and busybodies don’t want to use wholesale violence. It’s messy and polarizing and unpredictable. They’d much rather work within the system to get what they want, and as long as they can keep their opponents prideful and fragmented and pecking at each other over side issues, they don’t have any problem doing just that.

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Are we still going on with this dudebro bullshit again? And can people change the channel?

That conclusion is a nightmare, essentially denying that right exists, if you can’t localize what a battelfield is or define exactly where you are at war.

At any rate, civilians should not be killed without some kind of process - at the very least some kind of inquiry after the fact. Obama has been killing them, and in the case of men, condemning them as fair targets because otherwise they wouldn’t have been nearby to be killed.

Whether it formally counts as execution or murder or some other form of butchery is quibbling about terminology, and adds very little here. It’s a horrible violation regardless.

So many people have such an idiotic idea of courage; that it consists of buying tools and leaving them in the shed, in the vague hope that anyone in power would care, rather than taking real risks and striving for a positive change.

America has a much worse record on these rights than many countries without something like that amendment, so if it is supposed to be keeping tyranny at bay, it is a poor second to what they are using.

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If your point was that you are not amazed by Obama’s defence of NSA surveillance, I’m not sure what your ongoing and bizarre focus on the word “you” and the use of capitalised names has to do with anything.

You honestly don’t believe that using the word “executions” doesn’t convey any beliefs? Like, for example, a belief that what he’s doing actually is an execution? No? And that it’s improper to ask to explain why you used that word, and unpack what you meant by it? And do you think that saying someone is doing something “without due process” doesn’t convey a belief, either?

I’m sorry for making the apparently illegitimate logical leap that you didn’t intend to be complimentary when you said that Obama “remotely executes folk without due process.” Because apparently this is a purely neutral statement that no reasonable reader would construe as conveying any sort of judgment.

No. What is your point? That I was wrong to reply to you without using “you” or your name? That I was wrong to infer that when you said he executes people that you meant that the killings are executions? That I was wrong to infer that executions without due process are bad?

When does someone stop being a civilian? Were French resistance fighters civilians? Were Viet Cong guerillas civilians? Do you become a civilian the moment you take your uniform off and stop being a civilian when you put it on? When can they legitimately be targeted?

If you’re expressing concern mainly about collateral damage, historically we’ve been very tolerant of this during wars. Heck, in WWII the US firebombings of Japan and Germany even targeted civilian populations. In my opinion most drone strikes have been undertaken in a way to minimize civilian casualties, but unfortunately they are still fairly indiscriminate if you’re within a certain radius. But there are drone strikes that have not incurred collateral damage: are these strikes still bad, to the extent that civilians are not involved?

I think the terminology matters. Was the killing of Osama bin Laden an execution, or merely some other form of butchery? Did the civilians killed in that compound get due process? Was that operation a terrible thing? Did it deny that the right of due process exists?

They’ve been doing ok in terms of what gets admitted in the official counts, but then those deliberately omit bystander men. And of course there are all sorts of stories like this. I think your opinion is based on seriously neglecting just how much damage happens, because you’ve decided it’s all just war:

But that’s why expanding war to mean any place the US feels it has a potential enemy, without need for any special declaration, review, or even deployment of troops, means essentially denying the possibility of such rights. For someone nitpicking what we call the different forms of killing people, you’re sure being lax in what you allow as a war and battlefield. If other rights are to depend on them, they’d better not be vague.

And the change here has been more explicit anyway. When they did a drone strike on an American citizen, Obama’s administration didn’t argue he wasn’t entitled to due process, but that an executive decision behind closed doors satisfies that right. I’m sure you see the failure in terminology there.

Edit: and, by the way, here is more terminology for you: the US firebombings of Japan and Germany were never ruled as such, but probably fall under the definition of war crimes. The only possible exception would be if they were justified by the gravest need; holding them up as a model for the present is essentially giving up on rights entirely.

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I’m not saying that drone strikes are great or should be universally accepted or anything. I’m saying that the issues are more complex than simply saying Obama is executing people without due process. And I’m saying that if we accept that some of these killings are acceptable under some sort of quasi-war model, then given our historic understanding of war some collateral damage should be expected. Of course there are many contrary arguments, including that fact that drone surveillance should make it possible to target these individuals when they are alone. [quote=“chenille, post:27, topic:21215”]
But that’s why expanding war to mean any place the US feels it has a potential enemy, without need for any special declaration, review, or even deployment of troops, means essentially denying the possibility of such rights. For someone nitpicking the different forms of killing people, you’re sure being lax in what you allow as a war and battlefield.
[/quote]
I haven’t even addressed when/how a terrorist group and its membership should be considered/designated a valid military target, but I do think you’re right that that is a pretty important consideration. I haven’t said anything about whether the CIA or the military should be running these operations, either, and that’s also another important conversation. Obviously, if we are using a war model, then it makes sense to bring thing under military control; under CIA control the perspective is more in terms of terrorism prevention, which probably involves very different decision-making criteria and rules of engagement.

Obviously there’s going to be a lot of legitimate differences of opinion on these issues, but my main point here was to acknowledge that both sides of the debate have valid points. Going after terrorists doesn’t make you someone who executes without due process, and due process doesn’t require that the government wait until you commit a terrorist attack before arresting you and giving you a civilian trial.

I don’t think Lemo was assuming a war model, seeing as how that normally applies to very different situations than you see in countries like Yemen; and if you weren’t making that assumption, would you still be quibbling with the use of the word execute or that due process wasn’t provided?

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Whether you see it as a war model or as a prevention model, the same principles largely apply: the US has a legitimate interest in protecting itself from domestic attacks, whether they originate in foreign governments or sub-national organizations such as Al Qaeda. What are a country’s options for legitimately defending itself from these attacks? Do they have to simply wait until they are attacked, and then respond through a formal declaration of war against what is possibly a transnational terrorist group? Are they forced to sit and wait until incursions are made into their territory? If the USSR launched cruise missiles at the US would the US have had to wait until US airspace was breached before responding? Should it be different if it’s a terrorist organization with a dirty bomb? And again, was killing bin Laden (when we’re not at war with Pakistan) an execution without due process? Would it be an execution without due process if a drone strike was employed instead?

As I said in a prior response, the due process standard changes depending on whether the purpose is law enforcement or prevention. The suicidal and the mentally ill can be detained with less due process than the criminally accused. Intelligence surveillance requires less due process than law-enforcement searches.