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View Diary: White House blasts amendment curtailing the NSA's power (175 comments)

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  •  Can you define "no one is reading/listening"? (6+ / 0-)

    The NSA is doing more than just collecting the meta-data. They are analyzing it. It would be pointless to just simply collect it. If analysis throws a red flag then the data connected with the meta-data must be scrutinized, i.e. read or listened to. If the data connected with the meta-data was also not stored then it would be easy to circumvent the system by constantly changing cell phones and internet connections.

    The vast size and scope of the NSA's storage facilities shows they are storing more than just meta-data. The meta-data can always be accessed from the carrier's billing files. The private carriers do not store the actual data.

    The question is, if the data is neither read nor listened to by a human being but simply stored in a non-intelligible manner in the form of binary code in computer memory, does that violate the Fourth?

    Obama has stated no one reads or listens to American communications without a FISA warrant. I've not heard him state the data was not collected and stored.

    •  Not sure where you disagree (0+ / 0-)

      FISA requires a warrant on probable cause to eavesdrop on American communications.  That is the law.  To do so is already illegal.  So what are you suggesting, that we somehow make it more illegal?  Harsher penalties for violations?  Public shaming?  The death penalty?  Spelling out in the law that it's not just illegal, but that it's really, really illegal?  Not sure where you're going with that.

      As for the collection of meta-data, yes, I imagine it is being analyzed. -- that's kind of the whole point, isn't it?  Analyzed for connections to terror groups, the timing of plots, and the timing of international chatter, I'd guess.  Again, I'm not sure of your point.  Of course there's sorting and analysis of the meta-data -- what good would just having it sit there in unanalyzed form do?  In order to be proactive in trying to see connections to persons, groups, and actions that would do us harm, our intelligence services would have to look for patterns, no?  I mean, how else do you suggest they do their job?

      Now again, if you're suggesting there needs to be more oversight, well, if a workable form could be established without completely undermining the ability to collect and analyze the data, then that's fine, but as I said above, if your premise is that the administration is lying, that they are really eavesdropping on all our calls and emails without a warrant, and that everyone involved has some sinister intentions and nefarious purpose, well, that seems like kind of a non-starter to me, because then NO system of intelligence gathering, and NO system of oversight, would ever be sufficient.

      As for the Constitutional question raised by the meta-data-mining, for me, I guess it comes down to whether there is an expectation of privacy.  When you make a call, you already know it is being logged in the ordinary course of business by whatever telecoms are involved -- it shows up right on your statement:  calls to/from whom, where, and for how long.  Phone companies have been gathering this data, and using it to design their systems (based on peak frequency periods, peak locations, etc.) for decades.  So, is there any expectation of privacy in a true sense?  I don't have an absolute answer for you there, I guess, but it seems to me there isn't much of an expectation of privacy at all.  In fact, when you sign up for any calling service, it usually includes a voluntary waiver of some of your privacy rights.  But the fact that there's no absolute, clear-cut answer is kind of the point -- reasonable people can disagree, and a balancing act is required:  privacy concerns versus the legitimate need for intelligence gathering.   So unless your premise from the start, like many posters here, is that there is never a need for data collection, and that we just need to "burn the motherf-er down," then I think there there are issues that require, as the WH stated, a "long, open, deliberate process" that balances these considerations.  

      Frankly, I'm not sure why such an utterly banal statement has caused such hysterical bed-wetting among certain elements here.

      •  You did not address my points. There is the (0+ / 0-)

        meta-data and there is the data. I would agree that no one expects privacy over the meta-data. But there IS this expectation on the actual data that the meta-data references.

        If the actual data is saved in binary form on a computer but not accessed by a human, ie not read or listened to, without a court order, does that or does that not infringe on the Fourth Amendment?

        So my question remains: Can you define "no one is reading/listening"? The Fourth Amendment needs to be redefined in light of today's technology. Otherwise the state (Obama) can say with certainty that "No one is reading or listening" even though the material has been saved for future reference.

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