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Three of my whistleblower clients (Tom Drake, Bill Binney, and J. Kirk Wiebe) warned us a year ago that the NSA was already doing this: collecting and storing massive amounts of private data on innocent Americans with no connection whatsoever to terrorism, or any crime.

Now Attorney General Eric Holder is just making it official, with new guidelines that permit the federal counterterrorism investigators to collect, search and store data about Americans who are not suspected of terrorism, or anything. This is beyond even the "pre-crime" world of the then-fictional movie Minority Report.  Now the government is admittedly collecting and storing information on Americans who are not even thinking about committing a crime, and is resorting to the usual fear-mongering to justify it.

The Obama administration is moving to relax restrictions on how counterterrorism analysts may retrieve, store and search information about Americans gathered by government agencies for purposes other than national security threats.
According to the Justice Department, law enforcement and other national security agencies can copy entire databases and sift through the data for suspicious patterns to stop potential terrorist threats. But the Justice Department is operating under one major logical fallacy: investigating innocent people tells you nothing about the guilty.

Meanwhile, the relaxed guidelines - which privacy advocates compare to the Bush-era now-defunct "Total Information Awareness" program - come on the heels of a blockbuster WIRED Magazine cover story by National Security Agency (NSA) expert Jim Bamford, featuring two clients of my organization (the Government Accountability Project), NSA whistleblowers Bill Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe. Bamford's article sheds light on construction of a massive NSA facility in Utah designed to store a yottabyte of data, or in Bamford's words:

. . . it would be equal to about 500 quintillion (500,000,000,000,000,000,000) pages of text.
Rather than expanding guidelines for investigators to legitimize collecting and storing data on innocent Americans, the Obama administration should heed Binney's warnings about the NSA's extra-legal datamining of U.S. citizens.
Binney left the NSA in late 2001, shortly after the agency launched its warrantless-wiretapping program. “They violated the Constitution setting it up,” he says bluntly. “But they didn’t care. They were going to do it anyway, and they were going to crucify anyone who stood in the way. When they started violating the Constitution, I couldn’t stay.” Binney says Stellar Wind was far larger than has been publicly disclosed and included not just eavesdropping on domestic phone calls but the inspection of domestic email.
The former NSA official held his thumb and forefinger close together: “We are that far from a turnkey totalitarian state.”
With the new guidelines, the Obama administration is moving us another step closer.

Binney is not the only whistleblower warning of a burgeoning surveillance state. NSA whistleblower (and now fellow Kossack) Thomas Drake sounded a similar alarm on DEMOCRACY NOW! earlier this week:

It didn’t matter. It [national security] was just used as an excuse, that NSA had the legitimate ability to collect foreign intelligence from overseas; well, now that capability is being used to collect against U.S. citizens and everybody else in the United States of America.
The Justice Department claims the government needs the added power in the new guidelines to catch people like the 2009 Christmas Day/"underwear" bomber:
Intelligence officials on Thursday said the new rules have been under development for about 18 months, and grew out of reviews launched after the failure to connect the dots about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the “underwear bomber,” before his Dec. 25, 2009, attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner.
And here I thought the expensive, soft-porn whole body scanners were supposed to stop the next "underwear bomber," but as it turns out, the U.S. spent buckets of taxpayer dollars on another ineffective "let's give the feeling of security without security" measure.

Moreover, all evidence suggests it wasn't a lack of authority or data that resulted in the U.S. failing to detect Adbulmutallab, but a Senate investigation concluded it was intelligence failures on the parts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), NSA, and the State Department - all of whom could have utilized information in their possession to detect Abdulmutallab.

Officials say the guidelines are aimed at "making sure relevant terrorism information is readily accessible to analysts," yet admit that 1) much of the information has nothing to do with terrorism, and 2) five years is a "reasonable time" to keep benign information because of "how long it takes analysts to search large data sets for relevant information." So much for relevant and readily accessible!

More than a decade after 9/11, and now under Obama, the Executive branch is still bent on "legalizing" as much data collection on Americans as possible under the guise of providing national security.

Originally posted to Jesselyn Radack on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 05:09 AM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement and Occupy Wall Street.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (152+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PhilK, Preston S, Sean X, One Pissed Off Liberal, DRo, Dallasdoc, vacantlook, Robobagpiper, jrooth, marina, Don midwest, parsonsbeach, Kathleen McClellan, frandor55, Actbriniel, alizard, J M F, nailbender, Stripe, TexDem, allenjo, artisan, cosmic debris, Lisa Lockwood, OLinda, Angie in WA State, Richard Cranium, Yastreblyansky, kimoconnor, white blitz, Clytemnestra, politik, tle, jadt65, beverlywoods, emal, dirtfarmer, Shockwave, strangedemocracy, maryabein, Jackson L Haveck, quill, cybersaur, dotsright, brasilaaron, jamess, SpecialKinFlag, bobswern, grollen, Damnit Janet, Eric Blair, Sun Tzu, blueoregon, Zydekos, The Lone Apple, CJnyc, Spirit Dancer, albrt, No one gets out alive, 420 forever, Horace Boothroyd III, maxzj05, radarlady, Lovo, AllanTBG, venger, NonnyO, psnyder, run around, Sanuk, ratzo, blueoasis, thomask, rogerdaddy, means are the ends, millwood, JesseCW, tsqd, scurrvydog, mikeconwell, pgm 01, Turbonerd, cslewis, tardis10, Simplify, aliasalias, Pompatus, hubcap, buckstop, Zinman, snowshoeblue, Medium Head Boy, joanneleon, triv33, gooderservice, dan667, frostieb, NearlyNormal, ZhenRen, 0wn, sockpuppet, temptxan, happymisanthropy, AnnCetera, entrelac, joe shikspack, TheMomCat, elwior, Agathena, Nada Lemming, chipmo, Indiana Bob, SSMir, spacejam, uciguy30, NM Ray, rhutcheson, musicalhair, Betty Pinson, lotlizard, glitterscale, zerone, opinionated, Book of Hearts, Danno11, susakinovember, petulans, Yohannon, tarheelblue, coolbreeze, Dem Beans, LillithMc, Rizzo, bluicebank, agincour, Shotput8, Renee, cardboardurinal, cwsmoke, bunsk, lennysfo, poligirl, David Kaib, Sandino, Funkygal, host, Pohjola, splashy, Zera Lee, kurt, Citizenpower, BradyB

    My book, TRAITOR: THE WHISTLEBLOWER & THE "AMERICAN TALIBAN," is Amazon's #1 Best Seller in Human Rights Books for February 2012.

    by Jesselyn Radack on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 05:09:23 AM PDT

  •  Total Information Awareness was slowed down (40+ / 0-)

    Do you recall how scary this was when W Bush's administration tried to do this?

    Collecting all the communication data from all Americans.

    Something that is technologically possible becomes necessary.

    It was slowed down for a while, but now emperor Obama and the oligarchy have put it back on the fast track. Along with the tar sands pipeline.

    There is almost no boundary between government and corporations. People move from one to another setting up programs for corporations and then working for corporations.

    There is big money in stripping an empire of its resources, both physical and cultural.

    Is the 1% unstoppable?

  •  When The Supreme Court "anointed" Bush (12+ / 0-)

    (p)Resident, my recollection is that everyone Clinton and democrat was purged from government. Why didn't Obama do that as well?

    Excellent question. IS the 1% unstoppable?

    "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Matthew 5:11

    by parsonsbeach on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 05:53:58 AM PDT

    •  Sup Court Likely to Endorse War on Whistle Blowers (25+ / 0-)

      The constitutional scholar and former justice department attorney says that the separation of powers doctrine is more important for liberty than the bill of rights.

      The Supreme Court is another of those branches that supports the end of the republic.

      See Chris Hedges article that the Supreme Court is likely to support Obama's war on Whistle Blowers.

      When the goal is to maintain an empire, one has to squash dissent with all of the branches of government.

      http://www.truthdig.com/...

    •  The 1% is not unstoppable (13+ / 0-)

      Many Democratic Party politicians and and most Republican Party politicians are servile to the 1% or more accurately 0.1%, but always remember that the 1% are nothing without the 99%. The 1% can not build their mansions, their jets or their gold-plated toilets. If the 99% were to suddenly wake up, the Kochs would be just two tired old men. Perhaps we have to fight the battles to keep the bad Democrats in office rather than the much worse Republicans, but we need to remember that electoral politics in its present form is a distraction that channels efforts away from real change for the better.  OWS is a feeble first effort toward real change, but it is so much more important than which pawn of the oligarchy is installed in power.

      I'm truly sorry Man's dominion Has broken Nature's social union--Robert Burns

      by Eric Blair on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 08:37:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  No, the 1% is not unstoppable. (5+ / 0-)

      They are outnumbered 99 to 1. It's akin to the way things were in South Africa in the days of Apartheid.
        The thing is, the situation continues until the People realize that it's up to us to do something about it, and even then it's not easy because there's the perception the 1% perpetrate upon us that we are powerless.
         The truth is that we have

      More Power Than We Know
      .
         I blockquote those words because that's the title of a book written by the great David Dellinger back in 1975 when that spirit was still in the air.
          Happily, that same great American spirit is on the rise once again. Let's see it through all the way this time!

      "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

      by elwior on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 12:54:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  true, I just got Gene Sharp's "From Dictatorship (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elwior, lotlizard, Dallasdoc

        to Democracy" and I've just got started reading it, but I did see the film about it and the central message is that dictators never are as strong as they say.
        This from wikipedia might help those that haven't heard about it.http://en.wikipedia.org/...

        Sharp's key theme is that power is not monolithic; that is, it does not derive from some intrinsic quality of those who are in power. For Sharp, political power, the power of any state - regardless of its particular structural organization - ultimately derives from the subjects of the state. His fundamental belief is that any power structure relies upon the subjects' obedience to the orders of the ruler(s). If subjects do not obey, leaders have no power.

        In Sharp's view, all effective power structures have systems by which they encourage or extract obedience from their subjects. States have particularly complex systems for keeping subjects obedient. These systems include specific institutions (police, courts, regulatory bodies), but may also involve cultural dimensions that inspire obedience by implying that power is monolithic (the god cult of the Egyptian pharaohs, the dignity of the office of the President, moral or ethical norms and taboos). Through these systems, subjects are presented with a system of sanctions (imprisonment, fines, ostracism) and rewards (titles, wealth, fame) which influence the extent of their obedience.

        Sharp identifies this hidden structure as providing a window of opportunity for a population to cause significant change in a state. Sharp cites the insight of Étienne de La Boétie (1530 – 1563), that if the subjects of a particular state recognize that they are the source of the state's power, they can refuse their obedience and their leader(s) will be left without power.

        For those who don't know about Gene Sharp...

        A Nonviolent Life

        Born January 1928 in Ohio
         Jailed for nine months in 1953-4 for protesting against conscription of young men to fight in Korean War
         Albert Einstein wrote the foreword to his first book - Gandhi Wields the Weapon of Moral Power: Three Case Histories - published in 1960
         His 1968 Oxford University D Phil, The Politics of Nonviolent Action, formed the basis of a book with the same title, published in 1973
         Professor (now emeritus professor) of political science at the University of Massachusetts since 1972, while simultaneously holding research positions at Harvard University
         Founded the Albert Einstein Institution in 1983, a non-profit organisation advancing the use of non-violent action in conflict around the world
        (emphasis mine)

        without the ants the rainforest dies

        by aliasalias on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 01:38:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for that A.A.! (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          aliasalias, Dallasdoc

          "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

          by elwior on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 01:51:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  there's a great audio clip (2:51) in the article (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            elwior

            (about half way down the page).

            http://www.bbc.co.uk/...

            Catching fire
            To do this Sharp provides in his books a list of 198 "non-violent weapons", ranging from the use of colours and symbols to mock funerals and boycotts.

            Designed to be the direct equivalent of military weapons, they are techniques collated from a forensic study of defiance to tyranny throughout history.

            "These non-violent weapons are very important because they give people an alternative," he says. "If people don't have these, if they can't see that they are very powerful, they will go back to violence and war every time."

            After the Green uprising in Iran in 2009 many of the protesters were accused at their trials of using more than 100 of Sharp's 198 methods.

            His most translated and distributed work, From Dictatorship to Democracy was written for the Burmese democratic movement in 1993, after the imprisonment of Aung San Suu Kyi.
                                           ......................
            Because he had no specialist knowledge of the country he wrote a guide to toppling a dictatorship which was entirely generic. But Sharp's weakness became the strength of the book allowing it to be easily translated and applicable in any country of the world across cultural and religious boundaries.

            (emphasis mine)

            without the ants the rainforest dies

            by aliasalias on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 02:05:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I'm not clear on how the dots connect (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cedwyn, sockpuppet, joanneleon, elwior

    between this new guideline and the NSA Utah Data Center story.  I'm not at all sure even these relaxed limits affect NSA collection and retention of data.  The references to "other agencies" and "other sources" does suggest that among other things they are removing barriers to NCTC accessing the data NSA retains, so it's pretty clear there are connections.  But the big unknown is what, if any, limits are placed on NSA data collection and retention which unfortunately this doesn't shed any light on.

    “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?” - Sherwood Rowland

    by jrooth on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 05:54:52 AM PDT

  •  this is really bad (25+ / 0-)

    so our constitutional law president once again sees nothing wrong here?  Amazing!

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 05:56:07 AM PDT

  •  They've Already Got Me (10+ / 0-)

    I wanted to get back to the basics of living, ie, cooking from scratch, growing my own, which of course was foreign to me, so I wandered around the web and stumbled across a site that had excellent information.  Most of it was over my head but I've learned a lot from it.  Now I find out the government has info on I guess IP addresses that have accessed that site so now I'm on their list, just for trying to grow my own vegetables and herbs and the different ways I can cook the damn things.  Now I'm too sick about it to eat them.

    •  Whoa! What site was that? terroristveggies.com? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Don midwest, Nada Lemming, elwior

      WTF?

      The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. G.B. Shaw

      by baghavadgita on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 07:22:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Reminds me of learning to grow (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Don midwest, happymisanthropy, elwior

      hydroponic tomatoes. This one site had great information, then started confusing me with information about needing to sex the plants. Then I realized they were talking about "tomatoes" (the "herbal" variety) as code to fly under the radar. Somehow I don't think that really helped.

    •  On 9-11-01 scheduled hearings on eco terrorism (9+ / 0-)

      They were cancelled because something happened at the World Trade Center.

      People growing their own food is a threat to corporate agriculture.

      You may even demand non genetically modified seeds!

      It is a slippery slope you are on.

    •  When these idiotic unconstitutional wars... (10+ / 0-)

      ... based on lies for oil (or whatever other reasons they're going to dream up next) make food too expensive to buy in stores because the cost of transportation will tack on too much money so that corporations can profit from the cost of gas, the people who survive will be those who know how to grow their own veggie gardens or raise their own meat on the hoof.

      [No herbicides or pesticides, no feeding unnatural food to cows or pigs or chickens or goats or whatever else a farmer might raise for food for the family, no antibiotics or other medical additives to animal feed, no odd things like bovine growth hormone and the like (my uncle who had a grade A dairy adamantly refused to give BGH to his cows).]

      Oh, and as far as I am concerned, Monsanto and similar other corporations that have been modifying seeds can go to hell.

      Still, Jesselyn's primary point must not be lost.

      In '07 when Obama refused to back the idea of impeachment, or even the investigation into Bushista war crimes and lies, and again when he voted in favor of that idiotic resurrected FISA fiasco '08, and two days later he announced that if he were elected he'd expand and increase funding for Dumbya's 'office of faith-based initiatives' which is run out of the White House, I was certain I could not support his candidacy.  Unfortunately, because RNC got Caribou Barbie in the VP slot, I had to change my mind about the write-in candidate I was planning on and voted "for" Obama, the lesser of the two evils.  I'm still not happy since he just has not changed anything from the Bushista regime.

      A LOT could have been accomplished between Jan. '09 and election day '10....  But NONE of the Democrats, from the president down, were willing to metaphorically smack the Repukes.  On the contrary, the Repukes now have the Citizens United decision and the insurance, medical, and pharmaceutical corporations will be the next big businesses who will be making record-setting profits because they bought off not only Obama but the majority of the Congress Critters, too.

      Our Founding Fathers must be rolling in their graves.

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 09:55:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  ...so they won't conflict with the constitution (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elwior, NonnyO

        which itself is being modified in order to to accommodate the FUTURE>.....

        The white zone is for loading or unloading only.....

        "Democrats shouldn't assume they have our vote. They have to earn it." Oops! I changed my sig. Oh well, Markos said it better than I did anyway.

        by Nada Lemming on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 12:59:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  For what purpose? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Simplify, Joieau

    Have the whistleblowers indicated how the government plans to use the massive collection of data if not to detect terrorists?

    •  It doesn't matter... (10+ / 0-)

      ... whether they use the information or not.

      The act of gathering the information without getting a warrant is unconstitutional.  Period.  See the Fourth Amendment.

      Legally, technically, gathering evidence without a warrant makes the data inadmissible in a court of law.

      Well, at least until/unless Congress changes the constitution and/or SCOTUS renders a decision contrary to the Constitution, all of which would be unconstitutional and illegal....

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 10:01:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's beside the point (0+ / 0-)

        It's important to know why they are doing this because it could clue us in to other things they are doing or plan to do that we should know.

        •  Which leads us back... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          host, SaveDemocracy

          ... to acquiring a search warrant as the Constitution mandates.  The search warrant must state WHY the authorities are doing the search and WHAT they are searching for.

          There is NO need to just gather information that is not relevant to a criminal case.

          Writing a love-letter to your significant other and sending it via email:  Is that necessary for anyone besides the significant other to read?

          Sending a letter via email to Mom & Dad and/or siblings full of mundane news about what you are doing in college or at your new job:  Is it necessary for anyone besides your loved ones to read?

          Sending a letter plus school pix to Gram or Gramps (or even gr-grandparents):  Is it necessary for anyone other than the grandparents to read (and maybe parents to make sure child has spelled words correctly if the child is young enough that communications need monitoring)?  All Gram and Gramps care about is the news of their grandkid's life and the darling pix of their adorable grandchild.

          Writing a letter and sending it via email to your kid in college or away at summer camp or overseas serving in the military and the only content is news and family gossip about what the new neighbors are doing, or maybe it has a recipe found among gr-aunt's things 'cuz her kids are cleaning out her place now that she's in a nursing home:  Is that anyone's business other than your offspring?

          Certainly, things like that ought not be picked up in a warrantless search of the internet.  It is relevant to no one except the sender and the recipient.  The only people who might even be interested in such insignificant communications might be the family historian 100-200 years from now.  As a genealogist, letters with the most mundane info, about weather, about insignificant daily activities, is totally fascinating.  I have copies of such letters in my files, and while the topics are boring, and a couple of them are sad enough to bring tears long after the news of the death of another loved one written about are gone, the letters are of no interest to anyone other than the descendants of these individuals.

          For that matter, whose business is it when genealogists exchange information about documents that mention people who lived between 50-500 years ago, the finer points of old penmanship, language used, etc.?

          When it comes to criminal activities or motives or plans about crimes for the future, one can ask why via a legal search warrant FIRST.  Massive collection of data just on a chance that maybe some kind of criminal activity might be discussed is illegal and unconstitutional.  Period.

          Anyway, we already know what they plan on doing by the simple fact that NO ONE with the authority to do so has cancelled these illegal and unconstitutional activities once the Democrats came to power - not the president, not the DoJ, not our Congress Critters.  They plan to do the exact same things as the Repukes who set up the 'office of faith-based initiatives' (Bush) with an executive order, voted in favor of the Patriot Acts (drafted before election day 2000), MCA '06 [and now the additions to MCA in '09], the FISA fiasco '08 that Pelosi resurrected after it was defeated, dead, and buried - all of a sudden on a Friday morning in '08, it was back, "debate" limited to one hour, the vote was done, it passed, and was hand-carried to the Senate just after noon the same day.  The only reason the Senate didn't take up the discussion and vote was because so many were gone and away campaigning, then when they got back they had to go to a senator's funeral the following Mon. or Tue., so they didn't get to it until Wed. where all those senators who said they wouldn't vote for it if it contained the telecom immunity voted for it anyway, and two days later Obama said if he were elected he'd expand and increase funding for Dumbya's office of faith-based initiatives which gives religious organizations our tax dollars....!

          See?  The handwriting is already on the wall.  None of those things were repealed in January '09, the illegal and unconstitutional wars didn't stop, the unconstitutional legislation was not repealed, Gitmo didn't close, the prisoners who have never been charged with anything are still there (they lack evidence enough to put these fellows on trial, so that's illegal detention by anyone's standards).....

          See Bill Moyers' '07 discussion on impeachment with John Nichols and Bruce Fein, and pay attention to the metaphor of the cherry wood box that contains presidential powers....

          See:  Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism.

          George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "Nineteen eighty-four was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

          I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

          by NonnyO on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 08:01:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's still a separate issue (0+ / 0-)

            I agree that it's wrong for government to do that.  But, I think it is ALSO important to find out what their purpose is.

            I appreciate your passion about civil liberties.  But, please, allow me to discuss an issue of my choosing, not yours.

            •  Might I suggest.... (0+ / 0-)

              ... that you then write a post to discuss a topic of your own choosing?

              Since this diary was authored by Jesselyn Radack, I defer to the author's choice of topic.

              Have a nice day.

              I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

              by NonnyO on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 05:06:06 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Your behavior is outrageous (0+ / 0-)

                For someone supposedly passionate about civil liberties, you're disturbingly eager to silence my speech.

                My question--which was polite and relevant to the topic--was addressed to Jess--in her diary. It was not addressed to you.  You're free to comment, as you did, but you have no business telling me I can't ask that question.

                Regarding your "suggestion...Why should I post a diary just to ask another diarist a short question?  It would be the laughingstock of Daily Kos. Perhaps, that is your intent.

  •  A majority of the electorate just doesn't care. (5+ / 0-)

    They just don't. I didn't like it when it was done under the Bush administration. I was deeply disappointed when it was continued under the Obama administration. But I take my diappointment and set it on a shelf. Nothing else to do. All the ranting and raving in the world will do nothing more than keep the issue alive among those who already care about it. Nothing more.

    A majority will not care about this until and unless they or people close to them begin to personally experience ill-effects. That is reality and I accept it because there is nothing anyone can do to change it.

    There are more than enough other pressing issues where energy can be expended and a difference can be made. Quite frankly, I'm far more concerned with preserving women's access to abortion than I am about any info the government has about me.

    Ds see human suffering and wonder what they can do to relieve it. Rs see human suffering and wonder how they can profit from it.

    by JTinDC on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 07:35:15 AM PDT

  •  Albert Einstein speaks about war and propaganda (12+ / 0-)

    We are not facing new issues. The world didn't totally change after 9-11.

    The founding fathers used three forms of government to protect against tyrants. An aristocracy in the Senate, a democracy in the House and a executive as President. The executive was a weak office because they knew about executive over reach. Thus in the constitution the power to declare war, the way that executives have retained power, tha power to declare war was set in the legislative branch. However since WWII, none of our wars have been declared as demanded by the constitution.

    A couple of quotes from Einstein around the time he was 70 years old in 1949.

    ‘I believe America may totally succumb to the fearful militarisation which engulfed Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. There is real danger that political power and the power to influence the minds of people will pass increasingly into the hands of the military, which is used to approaching all political problems from the point of view of military expediency. Because of America’s supremacy, the military point of view is forced upon the world.’
    and
    ‘In all countries power lies in the hands of ambitious power-hungry men. This is true whether the political system is dictatorial or democratic. Power relies not only on coercion, but on subtle persuasion and deception through the educational system and the media of public information. One can only hope there are enough people the world over who possess the integrity to resist these evil influences. What is important is that individuals have the honesty and courage to stand up for their convictions.’
    web page for these quotations

    http://www.ppu.org.uk/...

  •  Crumbling of the Constitution (16+ / 0-)

    This latest Orwellian move by the Obama Administration is a total violation of the 4th Amendment. What is the probable cause justification? Just because we can? And no probable cause whatsoever is the de facto legal basis for doing so? I is It is now clear that unitarily asserted executive branch privilege, 'guidelines,' memos and policy have replaced the rule of law.

    "Truth is treason in the empire of lies." - George Orwell

    by Thomas Drake on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 08:03:26 AM PDT

  •  There's no better fix (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Simplify, elwior, Dallasdoc

    for gross failure to understand the information you have at hand

    than to add heaps and heaps of extra noise to the equation.

    "a lie that can no longer be challenged becomes a form of madness" -Debord

    by grollen on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 08:06:30 AM PDT

  •  They're That Afraid Of Anonymous? (9+ / 0-)

    That's the only thing I get from this. They're desperately trying to figure out a way to track everyone or profile them based upon their Internet activity in an attempt to discover hacktivists. I wouldn't be surprised at all if some of this information was turned over to outfits like the RIAA and the MPAA to gather evidence about who is downloading the latest track from Adele or Transformers, Part 6.

    My feeling is that aside from reading Cory Doctorow, there should be a group on Daily Kos that gives detailed instructions for non-technical people on how to hide your tracks on the Internet.

    This head movie makes my eyes rain.

    by The Lone Apple on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 08:42:38 AM PDT

  •  Oh don't you know? (11+ / 0-)

    This is only gonna be used to go after Deadbeat Dads, Child Molesters, Terrorists and other people we HATE.  

    So it's ok.  

    /snark

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 08:51:36 AM PDT

  •  Constitution stands in the way... (15+ / 0-)

    ...of the national secrecy and surveillance state. Who is going to stop them? It's that simple. Absolutely egregious that staggering amounts of non-crime, non-terrorism data is persistently kept on Americans and under Section 215 of the Patriot Act their private subscriber information is made available and handed over on a truly vast scale to the government (and its surrogates) for 'relevant' analysis. Why stop at 5 years? With the massive Utah data center of NSA going on line soon, what's to keep them from indefinitely retaining all they can get, subject to their storage constraints?

    "Truth is treason in the empire of lies." - George Orwell

    by Thomas Drake on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 08:54:59 AM PDT

    •  Actually, it's been nearly (0+ / 0-)

      20 years since I learned how the government - and our judicial system - views the 4th Amendment. Explained to me by two Supreme Court justices, three state AGs plus Janet Reno, and the ACLU. In writing.

      The 4th Amendment protections ONLY apply to convicted criminals, and ONLY on appeal of convictions accomplished via the use of illegally obtained evidence ("poison fruit" and all that). If you are not the target of any specific investigation, if you are not charged with any crime, if you are not convicted through the use of tainted evidence, then you have no constitutional right to privacy or security for your person, property, papers and effects. The usual excuse is that your stuff may hold evidence of crimes committed by someone else, but they can use it against you too if they want.

      Your physical person, home, communications (any form), records, even your legal files may be seized, searched and indefinitely held at any time by any duly authorized agent of government without probable cause or warrant. They may rifle through it all, find some kind of crime to charge you with, and use any of the information so collected as evidence to convict you in a court of law.

      After all that, if you've enough money and a decent lawyer, you may appeal to the 4th to later overturn the conviction in a higher court. Good luck with that.

  •  Well, I guess we should expect more things (9+ / 0-)

    like this to happen:

    NYPD intelligence officers monitored liberal groups, files reveal

    A quote from the article:

    The document provides the latest example of how, in the name of fighting terrorism, law enforcement agencies around the country have scrutinized groups that legally oppose government policies. The FBI, for instance, has collected information on anti-war demonstrators. The Maryland state police infiltrated meetings of anti-death penalty groups. Missouri counterterrorism analysts suggested that support for Republican congressman Ron Paul might indicate support for violent militias — an assertion for which state officials later apologized. And Texas officials urged authorities to monitor lobbying efforts by pro Muslim-groups.

    “In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.” Terry Pratchett

    by 420 forever on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 09:03:27 AM PDT

  •  Harold and Kumar, on the Constitution (5+ / 0-)

    “In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.” Terry Pratchett

    by 420 forever on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 09:10:08 AM PDT

  •  Budgets (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Don midwest, joe shikspack, elwior

    The police state agencies have much more money than they need to mount an effective anti-terrorist effort. So they keep expanding their programs. They'll be buried in information to the point that humans can't process it.
     

  •  Keeping Data on Americans (5+ / 0-)

    that has no connection to terrorism for upwards of 5 years begs any number of questions, besides the Constitutionality of doing so.

    Does the government really need 5 years to connect the dots that are unconnected to any probable cause evidence for the conduct of a crime or illegal activity by an American?

    Why keep data on Americans that has no connection to terrorism?

    And yet officials have admitted that 5 years is reasonable for searching the data for relevant information?

    Does that include information NOT relevant to terrorism?

    If it is not relevant, why keep it?

    Is this just a just in case scenario?

    This is not security as much it is a reflection of deep insecurity on the part of the national surveillance state.

    In other countries this type of data access by the government searching for "relevant information" on its citizens who have committed no crimes, serves to also repress the population, track those it finds suspicious and control those who dissent.

    National security is now the means to an end and that end is the replacement of the Constitution as the rule of law, by those who believe they are above the law and can get away with it.

    It's one thing for businesses to monetize private information it holds on citizens and sell it back to them.

    It's a MAJOR Pandora's Box to provide that kind of information to the government and use private information to analyze the population in secret and violate their 4th Amendments rights.

    What would Senators Wyden and Udall say about all of this?

    Is power that afraid of its own citizens?

    Lord Acton said that "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

    What happens when it's secret power, conducted away from the prying eyes of the public?

    I say that the Constitution becomes corrupted.

    And using data collected for other than terrorism purposes now falls into the convenient national security datamining category called suspicious?

    "Truth is treason in the empire of lies." - George Orwell

    by Thomas Drake on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 11:29:35 AM PDT

    •  I'll answer, from a technical perspective (0+ / 0-)

      This morning, Joe Terrorist blows himself up, taking a police station with him.

      As a law enforcement officer, we want to know how we got to this point. What made Joe into a terrorist, and more importantly, did he act alone? What connections has he made, and can we analyze those connections to find other people working with him?

      Some geek starts writing SQL code, and trying to find relationships in the data. Facebook messages, emails, phone calls...

      ...here is the thing that non-technical people don't understand. THE CONTENT OF THE MESSAGES IS THE LAST THING YOU WANT TO LOOK AT. You are looking for communication patterns...who does Joe talk to and when? Does Joe talk to anyone else in a communication network that has come to our attention? No one gives a shit when he called his mom for his birthday, but those phone calls he made after he went on vacation overseas...those are important.

      I make my living looking for patterns in data. I'd be really surprised if anyone is looking at communication content. They are looking at the communication itself; that is the relevant data.

      It's not 11th dimensional chess; it's just chess. And he's KICKING YOUR ASS.

      by pneuma on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 01:54:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'll Answer from a Constitutional Perspective (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        aliasalias

        All data is value laden and especially in the aggregate.

        All my personal and personnel data should have the benefit of the protection of privacy against unreasonable search and seizure by the government under the 4th Amendment and only as determined by probable cause before a judge with an affidavit.

        The content of the message is critical if you want to frame somebody.

        SQL code is crude for finding relationships in existing structured data.

        Got to be really careful with multiple degrees of separation based simply on uni-dimensional connections.

        I know.

        I faced prison over many decades by virtue of 'suspicious' associations and free and lawful 1st Amendment assembly with others and then had the content of messages and information searched and seized from me on my person and in my personal effects framed against me.

        How do people come to the government's attention, I ask?

        What if they don't like you?

        What if you are exposing high crimes and misdemeanors committed by the highest levels of government?

        What if dissent is equated with treason?

        What if they just can?

        Know how tantalizingly seductive it is to target people in secret - and especially when you don't know what they are doing with your personally identifiable information?

        How do you ensure the integrity and fidelity of that data?

        I used to be a collector and analyzer of data in a different life in the government. Believe me, communication content is the gold and where the 'secrets' worth knowing actually exist.

        And as an American, I am still supposed to enjoy the protections afforded to me under the Constitution even when I make phone calls on vacation overseas.

        "Truth is treason in the empire of lies." - George Orwell

        by Thomas Drake on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 02:30:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  So what you are saying is (0+ / 0-)

          When the government has it out for you, they can make your life really difficult - especially if they don't feel bound by the law? Yeah, I'm shocked. If people in power are willing to frame you, as you said, then no Constitution in the world can save you. When you stand up to power - right or wrong - you stand a better than even chance of not coming out ok. Legal or not, this is reality, and always will be.

          As I said in another post, that data is out there for the taking. Anyone can get it, government or not. This in and of itself is not remarkable.

          I agree with you that there is a Constitutional issue here, but I do not agree that the issue is clear cut.  My reading of the fourth amendment's intentions was to prevent the government intruding into your personal space for malicious intent; if they are going to "get up in your business" they need a good reason, and one of the branches of government (judiciary) needs to sign off on that reason. I'm not sure I agree that recording a phone call for possible future use constitutes "getting up in your business". Listening to that phone call does, and I would agree that a warrant is required.

          It's not 11th dimensional chess; it's just chess. And he's KICKING YOUR ASS.

          by pneuma on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 03:34:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Jesselyn (5+ / 0-)

    thanks for this diary.

    I have been puzzling over this since I read Marcy's post last week.  Can you help me understand how Alexander can answer these questions in the way he did without perjury?

    NSA Director Keith Alexander: The FBI Does the Domestic Collection

    [ ... ]

    Congressman Hank Johnson asked NSA Director Keith Alexander about James Bamford’s Wired article describing the data storage and analysis center in UT. Unfortunately, rather than ask Alexander about these activities–storage and analysis–Johnson asked Alexander about data collection. Here are excerpts of the exchange:

       Johnson: Does NSA have the ability to identify Cheney bashers based on the content of their emails?

        Alexander: No. Can I explain? NSA does not have the ability to do that in the United States. In the United States we would have to go through an FBI process–a warrant–to serve it to somebody to actually get it.

        Johnson: But you do have the capability to do it?

        Alexander: Not in the United States. We’re not authorized to collect nor do we have the equipment in the United States.

        Johnson: “NSA’s signals intercepts include eavesdropping on domestic phone calls and inspection of domestic emails.” Is that true?

        Alexander: No, not in that context. I think what he’s trying to raise is are we gathering all the information on the United States? No, that is not correct.

        Johnson: What judicial consent is required for NSA to intercept communications and information involving American citizens?

        Alexander: Within the United States, that would be the FBI lead.  If it was foreign actor in the United States the FBI would still have the lead and could work that with the NSA or other intelligence agencies as authorized. But to conduct that kind of collection in the United States it would have to go through a court order and a court would have to authorize it. We’re not authorized to do it nor do we do it.


    "Justice is a commodity"

    by joanneleon on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 11:57:21 AM PDT

  •  I cannot wait till people start disappearing (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joe shikspack, musicalhair, elwior

    we totally beat the USSR and we are not ever going to live what they went through, right?  Oh wait.

  •  The full-scale assault on civil liberties... (5+ / 0-)

    Over the last 10 years is breathtaking in its scope.
    How do Con Law professors teach the 4th Amendment these days.
    And, no, I'm not trying to spark a debate about President Obama. I'm honestly curious...

    Let The Wild Rumpus Begin!

    by dclawyer06 on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 12:09:25 PM PDT

    •  But I do think that point relates to the president (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aliasalias, host, dclawyer06

      Unless he's managed to forget so many things he learned. And taught. And believed.
        How could he?

      "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

      by elwior on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 01:45:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  like the look forward not backward approach (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elwior, host

        it all depends on the issue, people involved in war crimes... like torture,  look forward, people pointing out the crimes...look backward, not to prosecute those that committed the crimes but to prosecute those that exposed it.

        without the ants the rainforest dies

        by aliasalias on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 02:49:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry for late response... (0+ / 0-)

        I understand both you and aliasalias' arguments and certainly wasn't trying to immunize President Obama from criticism. The office he occupies and policies he supports, tacitly or otherwise, are fair game.

        The reason I asked about Constitutional Law classes and how these topics are being taught(in a post-Cheney/Addington/Yoo and post-AUMF-world) was precisely because I hoped to take us beyond the usual Obamasux/rox debate. This issue really is bigger than one man, as I'm sure you know. Maybe I'll do some poking around on the intertubes and see what I find or, perhaps, re-ask this in a future diary when there are more eyeballs.

        It'd be fascinating to sit in a few classes to see how different professors are addressing these topics. I know I wouldn't have the patience to hear about detailed constitutional tests about competing interests being weighed when it appears the powers granted to the executive during a time of war are absolute, almost monarchical.

        Let The Wild Rumpus Begin!

        by dclawyer06 on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 09:53:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'd like to hear that answer too and I imagine (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, dclawyer06

      we have a lot of company.

      without the ants the rainforest dies

      by aliasalias on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 01:52:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What about gun ownership? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior

    Will the identity of all gun buyers and what they buy be keep in the database, too?

    And what does the NRA have to say about that?

    We delivered. They failed us. We have moved on. (h/t to my good friend)

    by gooderservice on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 12:37:44 PM PDT

  •  We need to (0+ / 0-)

    look forward, not backward.  This data is at least one day old, so unless you have something else, we should all keep our powder dry.  

    Oh, you're saying the DHS and the cops ARE looking forward, not backward?  OK then!  No harm, no foul!  As long as you don't commit a thought crime in the future or the past, or have any associations (like FB friends) who may commit one in the future or past, you have nothing to worry about.  

    100 degrees of separation should be enough.  DId I type this on a public blog?  D'oh!  

    "Democrats shouldn't assume they have our vote. They have to earn it." Oops! I changed my sig. Oh well, Markos said it better than I did anyway.

    by Nada Lemming on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 12:44:35 PM PDT

  •  Illegal search and seizure (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aliasalias, elwior, Betty Pinson, host

    A right to privacy in the things I say on the phone, write in emails... it's still hard to believe that this right has just been taken away.  Just gone.

    As much as I have read about this over the past decade, I am still not exactly sure how it happened.  It seems to be a cobbled mess of law and policy and abuses of the same.

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
    So it wasn't exactly like our Congess (which is us, essentially, our representative voices) voted to repeal the 4th amendment.  Yet it did happen.  How did it happen exactly?

    How can our government leave that Fourth Amendment in place while passing laws and conducting their business in ways that blatantly violate it?  Should they not have to repeal or amend the fourth amendment?  

    I know this is all very simplified and muddled, but I am an informed person and I still don't understand how this happened.  Obviously since I don't know how it happened, I don't know how we go about trying to undo it.


    "Justice is a commodity"

    by joanneleon on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 12:52:00 PM PDT

  •  I often wonder (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CentralMass

    As a veteran, and a veteran of the nation's security service, if all of the comments and diaries on blogs such as Daily Kos are captured and catalogued for future reference!

    Is it possible? Probably!  What would our nation be like in the event of a Santorum or a Romney or a Gingrich administration in the future?

    Impeach Grover Norquist! Defeat a Republican!

    by NM Ray on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 01:20:58 PM PDT

  •  I see this differently (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Anna M

    I'm an IT guy, and when you are dealing with volumes of data this large, it is mostly meaningless. What the NSA are doing are making copies of massive databases (you can bet they have Facebook's, Twitter, and Google for starters), and none of that data means diddly squat until you start sorting through it and putting it together. Yes, they may have loads and loads of information about you, but it's mixed with loads and loads of information about everybody else. Until someone starts pulling your information out, nobody cares.

    At a previous job I had access to the payroll records of about 2/3rds of the Fortune 500. There was a very good chance that I could find out how much you made. You know how many times I looked someone up, maybe someone famous? Never. It's just data. It's meaningless without context.

    What exactly are we afraid of here? The obvious answer is that the government starts arresting people who post in support of OWS, for example. Do we have any indication that anything like that is happening, or are we hand-wringing (OMG WE LIVE IN A POLICE STATE!!)?

    Personally, I don't really have a problem with saving this data off in and of itself. I have long ago gotten used to the idea that there is so much data out there about me that it really is impossible to hide once someone starts to look. Saving the data off just makes looking easier once you start.

    People may be upset that the government is doing this without a warrant. Well, let me tell you - I'm a private citizen, and I don't need a warrant to find out damn near everything about you. The information is out there for the taking.

    It's not 11th dimensional chess; it's just chess. And he's KICKING YOUR ASS.

    by pneuma on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 01:40:57 PM PDT

  •  Violations of the 4th Amendment (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, aliasalias

    is a non-partisan, non-political party issue.

    It affects ALL Americans regardless of creed or affiliation.

    Congress - both Republican and Democrat alike are complicit in the subversion of the Constitution.

    The 4th Amendment is a fundamental right and protects Americans against unreasonable searches and seizures by their own government unless a warrant (supported by probable cause) is issued by the judicial branch.

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
    It was adopted in response to the massive abuse of what was called the writ of assistance (a general search warrant) used by the King's agents against the colonialists and was a centerpiece trigger for the American Revolution.

    Our government has gone FAR beyond any warrants and just takes our data and information beyond all reason, without probable cause, as determined via an affidavit filed before the judicial branch of government.

    We have no reasonable expectation of privacy with our government is this burgeoning national surveillance state.

    Our privacy is now open season for the government to simply plunder and increasingly at will.

    However, a ray of hope was created earlier this year by the Supreme Court in United States v. Jones (the warrantless surreptitious attachment of a GPS device to a car), when the highest court in the land ruled that such a search triggers Fourth Amendment protections when law enforcement trespasses onto a person's property for information gathering purposes, even when that person had no reasonable expectation of privacy!

    This is what is also going on with the warrantless collection and retention of data on Americans not connected in any way to terrorism.

    We need more of this by the Supreme Court.

    What is chilling for me is knowing that the only way for the government to track and control Americans is through violating the 4th Amendment and knowing what the population is doing and in so doing they can determine a lot about people's movements, associations, and communications.

    This is the land of the KGB and repressive governments.

    I took an oath four times in my government career to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic.

    I did not take an oath to see my own government undermine the very Constitution it is supposed to protect and has now become the very violator of the rights and freedoms that fundamentally define who we are as Americans.

    It is NOT the country I want to keep.

    "Truth is treason in the empire of lies." - George Orwell

    by Thomas Drake on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 02:08:37 PM PDT

  •  Oh good grief (0+ / 0-)

    WHO exactly do you think NSA is working for?  Is it the President?  Is Obama collecting information on everyone ...and for what purpose?  Congress?  Other politicians?  The GOP?  The Supreme Court?  WHO exactly?  

    Is it a rogue agency?  Violating laws left and right for what purpose?  Are NSA employees plotting a coup against the US government?  Are other government agencies involved?  Why hasn't Obama called in the Federal Marshals and National Guard to stop them?  Maybe he's part of "The Plot"  to....do what exactly?

    What is their purpose in doing this? I mean, what specific information about you is NSA and "The Government" looking for?  What information that they can't easily obtain through your IRS records, bank accounts, Social Security information, Facebook page, cookies, blogs,  and various other sources easily obtainable?

    After "The Government" collects all your information, what exactly do you think they plan on doing with it?  Are there  Government Internment Camps being set up somewhere?   What information will cause them to come and take people away?  Will it be the local police doing the arresting?, Or has the NSA employed secret agents to come and take people away with black helicopters?

    Will the NSA be pulling all their cryptologists and language translators (for the hundreds of global languages they monitor) off their jobs to read American e-mails and listen to phone calls?   Will they stop their job of protecting government agencies from cyber-attacks and hacking,  just so they can read your e-mails to your Aunt Mable?  I didn't realize the NSA had hired millions of employees to snoop into everyone's business.  And to what end?

    Just a few questions that need to be answered.

  •  Government wishes to retain the option, (0+ / 0-)

    to make the connection.

    Wherein there may be political utility to do so.

    H'mm. I'm not terribly into this, anymore.

    by Knarfc on Fri Mar 23, 2012 at 03:54:02 PM PDT

  •  The FISA Ammendemnt/Telecom Immunity Bill (0+ / 0-)

    seemed like a pivotal point. Its too bad we had dem leadership cave on the vote.

  •  How Long Before They Blackmail People? (0+ / 0-)

    With all this info available to them, I'm sure they could use some of it to achieve their purposes across the board. How many emails between lovers are there in their archive? I'm sure the prospect of a husband or wife (or the public) finding out about such things might persuade a person to go along to get along.

    This head movie makes my eyes rain.

    by The Lone Apple on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 10:47:21 AM PDT

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