Skip to main content

Jay Stanley is a measured, rational policy analyst. He is a man of facts, not given over to wild speculation or sensationalization. Which is why, before offering his theory that the NSA may currently be blackmailing certain politicians to support the agency's efforts, he sounds almost apologetic.

He sounds apologetic because he doesn't like what he's about to say, not having the unmistakable, absolute data necessary to back it up:

Sometimes when I hear public officials speaking out in defense of NSA spying, I can’t help thinking, even if just for a moment, “What if the NSA has something on that person?”

Of course it’s natural, when people disagree with you, to at least briefly think, “They couldn’t possibly really believe that, there must be some outside power forcing them to take that position.” Mostly I do not believe that anything like that is now going on.

So why, then, does Stanley proceed to offer what, in truth, is a conspiracy theory regarding the NSA and current political support in Washington? Political support that goes against public opinion?

Because, as he admits, the agency has lost all credibility regarding its actions. More than this, though, it has already been revealed that NSA analysts and cooperating entities have surveilled some of the world's most powerful and important leaders.

The phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Communications from the United Nations. Even Pope Francis has been spied upon, it appears.

The NSA's reported reach into not just the lives of ordinary citizens, but the lives of world leaders, has been so expansive that David Sirota explicitly addressed the potential of NSA blackmail against members of Congress. And as Stanley reminds, NSA surveillance against members of Congress is something that has been alleged by whistleblowers with direct knowledge of such activities.

Whistleblower Russell Tice...alleged that while at the agency he saw wiretap information for members of Congress and the judiciary firsthand. Such fears explain why it is considered an especially serious matter any time elected or judicial officials are eavesdropped upon. The New York Times reported in 2009 that some NSA officials had tried to wiretap a member of Congress without a warrant. Members of Congress (and perhaps the judiciary) surely also noted a Washington Post report based on Snowden documents that the NSA had intercepted a “large number” of calls from the Washington DC area code due to a “programming error.”
Do we know that some members of Congress have been approached by NSA officials in possession of compromising personal information? Do we know that members of Congress vociferously expressing support for the NSA hare doing so for reasons other than political ideology or a concern for electoral politics.


Unfortunately, we know too much already to rule such scenarios out as the stuff of Hollywood. We know too much already about the NSA's surveillance reach, and about its failure to disclose such activities.

As revelations continue to trickle out from the documents Edward Snowden provided Glenn Greenwald and others – and there will be more revelations – perhaps we'll be able to put Stanley's theory to rest.

My fear is that the opposite will be the case.


What Do You Buy For the Children 
David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, just out from Oneworld Publications.

Originally posted to David Harris-Gershon (The Troubadour) on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 11:07 AM PST.

Also republished by Writing by David Harris Gershon.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Meteor Blades, Alumbrados, deben, Emerson, Shockwave, CleverNickName, lysias, LEP, rubyr, RFK Lives, expatjourno, niemann, TracieLynn, whenwego, ctsteve, splashy, antirove, kharma, hangingchad, 2laneIA, mnguitar, lcrp, walkshills, Occulus, randallt, Hillbilly Dem, rmx2630, sb, gmoke, one of 8, Simplify, david78209, YucatanMan, lotlizard, stevemb, Ice Blue, markdd, RichterScale, Sandino, Tunk, WisePiper, dbadw, snoopydawg, Jim P, begone, martini, LeftOverAmerica, Knucklehead, vigilant meerkat, cybersaur, Yellow Canary, cookseytalbott, earwulf, kck, philipmerrill, Crashing Vor, JVolvo, sceptical observer, James Hepburn, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, Dianna, bstotts, markthshark, NonnyO, pgm 01, Haningchadus14, camlbacker, devis1, ColoTim, EdSF, Mary Mike, gustynpip, aliasalias, jayden, martyinsfo, bobswern, Wreck Smurfy, JML9999, Don midwest, JDWolverton, CroneWit, JeffW, amyzex, 6412093, poligirl, dadadata, VA gentlewoman, filby, Buckeye Nut Schell, tofumagoo, CIndyCasella, Throw The Bums Out, aufklaerer, greengemini, shopkeeper, mkor7, dRefractor, Lacy LaPlante, Railfan, FogCityJohn, serendipityisabitch, Lost and Found, 4kedtongue, slice, allenjo, ozsea1, StateofEuphoria, swale44, Teiresias70, thomask, enhydra lutris, bluedust, stevie avebury, DRo, No one gets out alive, Take a Hard Left, BlueDragon, quill, DeadHead, 420 forever, Horace Boothroyd III, peachcreek, Arahahex, lunachickie, George3, wasatch, this just in, Hammerhand, Chaddiwicker, jbob, GreenMother, ET3117, Fishtroller01, Jim Domenico, amparo fan, River Rover, Kombema

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site