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Good Morning!

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Photo by: joanneleon.


Jason Isbell Performs "Elephant" [EXPLICIT]

News & Opinion

Selected Guardian Liveblog Updates :

Guardian Liveblog
• James Clapper and Keith Alexander to be questioned
• James Sensenbrenner introduces USA Freedom Act
• NSA's loyal Senate ally breaks ranks

[Looks like Mike Rogers is also promising a Church Committee that he plans to be part of.  Chairs and ranking members of intel committees are the last people who should be running a Church Committee, IMHO. -- joanneleon]

Mike Rogers, the Republican chair of the House intelligence committee, has spoken about the private talks between US legislators and a group of nine MEPs who travelled to Washington yesterday to discuss the spying scandal. Rogers said of the meeting:
It started to identify some of the differences that we have that we're going to have to bridge. That's a good thing. That's a good start and that's why we've pledged to take a delegation back to Brussels to follow up on this conversation.

It's important to understand that we're going to have to have a policy discussion that is bigger than any individual intelligence agency of either Europe or the United States.

Journalist Marcy Wheeler, aka Empty Wheel, notes Dianne Feinstein's comment that she wants “a total review of all intelligence programs … so that members of the Senate Intelligence Committee are fully informed as to what is actually being carried out by the intelligence community" and points out:
Today, her committee will nevertheless conduct a mark-up of her bill to not fix the spying targeted at Americans.

Umm, given that she just admitted she doesn’t know everything the NSA has been doing — and that she hasn’t been fully informed — don’t you think the comprehensive review should precede the new legislation?

Spain's prosecutor's office has said it has opened a preliminary inquiry into allegations that Spain was a target for surveillance by the NSA.
The Associated Press predicts that Congress may get rid of the telephone surveillance programme but keep Prism, the internet surveillance programme.
[Emphasis added]
My Liveblog Updates:

My favorite comment of the day, LOL!

I'd like to understand more about this.

With respect to the Snowden files, there seem to be some major shifts happening but I'm not sure if things are as they appear to be.  First, I don't agree with the assessment that Feinstein is "breaking ranks".  Of course we don't know what has been happening in the background and I suspect there is a hell of a lot going on in the background.  But this morning I'll just focus on what I think the most significant statements and events over the past 24 hours or so (the ones that I have not already reported over the past few days).  I don't have a lot of thoughts or analysis to offer today because I have a lot of thoughts, intuition on things but none of it is clear yet.

I'm focusing on some major things that are going on:
1) MerkelGate
2) NSA reform legislation in the works

The part that I bolded is not accurate, as far as I know.

NSA: Dianne Feinstein breaks ranks to oppose US spying on allies
Senate intelligence committee chair Dianne Feinstein, who has been a loyal defender of the NSA, demands a 'total' surveillance review

"It is abundantly clear that a total review of all intelligence programs is necessary so that members of the Senate Intelligence Committee are fully informed as to what is actually being carried out by the intelligence community," Feinstein said in a statement to reporters.

"Unlike NSA's collection of phone records under a court order, it is clear to me that certain surveillance activities have been in effect for more than a decade and that the Senate Intelligence Committee was not satisfactorily informed.

"With respect to NSA collection of intelligence on leaders of US allies – including France, Spain, Mexico and Germany – let me state unequivocally: I am totally opposed," she said.
"It is my understanding that President Obama was not aware Chancellor Merkel's communications were being collected since 2002," Feinstein said. "That is a big problem."
"The White House has informed me that collection on our allies will not continue, which I support. But as far as I'm concerned, Congress needs to know exactly what our intelligence community is doing. To that end, the committee will initiate a major review into all intelligence collection programs."

Shane Harris for The Cable, at ForeignPolicy.com.  Note the mention of a perhaps Church Committee type review.  My opinon: Dianne Feinstein wants you to believe that she is trustworthy enough to conduct such a review.  My guess is that the Obama White House knows that some kind of Church Committee is going to be needed and they want to make sure they keep control over it.
'We're Really Screwed Now': NSA's Best Friend Just Shivved The Spies

"We're really screwed now," one NSA official told The Cable. "You know things are bad when the few friends you've got disappear without a trace in the dead of night and leave no forwarding address."
Perhaps most significant is her announcement that the intelligence committee "will initiate a review into all intelligence collection programs." Feinstein did not say the review would be limited only to the NSA. If the review also touched on other intelligence agencies under the committee's jurisdiction, it could be one of the most far-reaching reviews in recent memory, encompassing secret programs of the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, agencies that run imagery and spy satellites, as well as components of the FBI.

A former intelligence agency liaison to Congress said Feinstein's sudden outrage over spying on foreign leaders raised questions about how well informed she was about NSA programs and whether she'd been fully briefed by her staff. "The first question I'd ask is, what have you been doing for oversight? Second, if you've been reviewing this all along what has changed your mind?"

The former official said the intelligence committees receive lengthy and detailed descriptions every year about all NSA programs, including surveillance. "They're not small books. They're about the size of those old family photo albums that were several inches thick. They're hundreds of pages long."

A senior congressional aide said, "It's an absolute joke to think she hasn't been reading the signals intelligence intercepts as Chairman of Senate Intelligence for years."

Ah, see what's going on? Plus, the Obama admin would really like to stall as long as possible and guide this investigation and keep a handle on all of it as much as possible.     His Clapper Committee of independent reviewers was supposed to produce something in 60 days but that deadline has passed.  Their latest statement was that the report would be done by the end of the year.  

There is a ton of information in the three-part series by Jacob Appelbaum, Laura Poitras, and a number of others who collaborated on that series in der Spiegel.  I haven't finished reading all of it yet.  If you look at the bottom of the article, you'll see the names of all the journos and the links to all three segments

Can hear that bus engine starting up in the distance.

NYT editiorial says that the Obama admin has no credibility on this issue.  I believe this is the second time they made a statement like this about credibility.  Read that whole thing. There are a few really important points made, one of them questioning whether we're spying for national security reasons.

I wish they'd ditch the "Freedom Act" crappy name.

The White House on Spying

Is it really better for us to think that things have gone so far with the post-9/11 idea that any spying that can be done should be done and that nobody thought to inform President Obama about tapping the phone of one of the most important American allies?
Legislation scheduled to be introduced on Tuesday by Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin, would end the bulk collection of Americans’ communications data.

The administration has said that such data collection is permitted by Section 215 of the Patriot Act, although Mr. Sensenbrenner, who wrote that section, has said it is not. The bill, the U.S.A. Freedom Act, would require that the “tangible things” sought through data collection are “relevant and material to an authorized investigation into international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.” They would also have to pertain to a foreign power or its agent, activities of a foreign agent already under investigation or someone in touch with an agent.

Greenwald did an interview with Christiane Amanpour last night.
CNN's Christiane Amanpour speaks with Columnist Glenn Greenwald, who made public. CNN 10-28-2013

There is a House Intelligence committee hearing today. This might be the first time that the committee really addresses NSA programs outside the convenient ringfence of 215 and 702.  Witnesses are the usual clowns: Clapper, Alexander, Inglis and Cole.  I should mention that during the past few days, someone told me that the deputy director of the NSA really runs the show. That would be Inglis.
U.S. spy chiefs face Congress amid spying rift with Europe
This LA Times article is getting a lot of attention.  We have an intelligence community leaker.  Not sure if it's the same one who talked to Bild.  The one who talked to Bild had knowledge about Keith Alexander and Obama meeting, so this is a big fish or the representative of a big fish.
White House OKd spying on allies, U.S. intelligence officials say

WASHINGTON — The White House and State Department signed off on surveillance targeting phone conversations of friendly foreign leaders, current and former U.S. intelligence officials said Monday, pushing back against assertions that President Obama and his aides were unaware of the high-level eavesdropping.

Professional staff members at the National Security Agency and other U.S. intelligence agencies are angry, these officials say, believing the president has cast them adrift [...] The resistance emerged as the White House said it would curtail foreign intelligence collection in some cases and two senior U.S. senators called for investigations of the practice.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), ranking minority member of the Armed Services Committee, said Congress should consider creating a special select committee to examine U.S. eavesdropping on foreign leaders.

"Obviously, we're going to want to know exactly what the president knew and when he knew it," McCain told reporters in Chicago. "We have always eavesdropped on people around the world. But the advance of technology has given us enormous capabilities, and I think you might make an argument that some of this capability has been very offensive both to us and to our allies."


Stop Watching Us.

The revelations about the National Security Agency's surveillance apparatus, if true, represent a stunning abuse of our basic rights. We demand the U.S. Congress reveal the full extent of the NSA's spying programs.

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