Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Dan Coats’

NSA asks Congress to permanently reauthorize spying program that was so shambolic, the snoops had shut it down • The Register

Posted by M. C. on August 19, 2019

No matter which way you look at it, two things are clear: one, ordinary Americans are being screwed over; and two, there is insufficient accountability at the highest levels of government.

Like a cockroach, the NSA never dies.

By Kieren McCarthy in San Francisco

Analysis In the clearest possible sign that the US intelligence services live within their own political bubble, the director of national intelligence has asked Congress to reauthorize a spying program that the NSA itself decided to shut down after it repeatedly – and illegally – gathered the call records of millions of innocent Americans.

Not only that but in a letter from Dan Coats to the heads of two key Senate committees, the director argues that the powers should be permanently reauthorized, rather than put into a law bill that requires renewal: an approach that has long been standard when it comes to awarding extraordinary powers to Uncle Sam’s snoops.

Coats’ letter [PDF] was sent yesterday, his last day in office, and ahead of a December cut-off for the spying powers that are contained within Section 215 of the Patriot Act. It was first obtained by the New York Times.

The powers he refers to have been hugely controversial ever since they were revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013. In fact the program, which relies on two different, ridiculous, interpretations of the law has repeatedly been found to be unconstitutional.

Even after the law was changed, the NSA has been unable to make the system work and has twice been forced to admit that it gathered millions of call records it shouldn’t have. Back in June 2018, it deleted 534 million call records that it had gathered the previous year but gave virtually no details over how and why that had happened, prompting inquiries from senators – who were roundly ignored.

Then the exact same thing happened again just a few months later – in October 2018. That massive slurp of personal information was again kept quiet and only emerged in June 2019 when a report of the NSA’s inspector general was declassified following a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

We’ll probably just ditch it

The intelligence services were well aware that the second failure of its system was due to become public, and so it started letting congressional aides know that it thinking about axing the program in early 2019.

In a sign of just how little oversight there is over malfunctioning spy programs, the fact that the NSA was considering ditching the program only came out when the national security adviser to House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) mentioned it during a podcast interview….

Since then, the NSA has repeatedly refused to discuss the program or even confirm that it has stopped the program. However in a sign that it has been talking behind the scenes to key senators, a law bill intended to reauthorize the spying powers before December notably did not include this specific program (it does include three other spying measures.)

Many had assumed that was the end of it. But Coats in his letter this week not only suggests reauthorizing the program but says it should be done so on a permanent basis – meaning that there will be even less accountability since Congress will not be in a position to ask questions and threaten to let the powers expire if they are not answered.

It’s a shambles but we like it

And if all that wasn’t sufficiently mind-boggling, Coats explicitly acknowledges that the program is a mess but says the NSA should have the powers anyway in case they prove useful in future…

As such, Trump is extremely skeptical of surveillance powers and the security services and, given a clear choice, would likely prevent their reauthorization. In that respect, Coats’ letter could be a seen as a last-ditch effort to lock spying powers in place before he loses his influence.

No matter which way you look at it, two things are clear: one, ordinary Americans are being screwed over; and two, there is insufficient accountability at the highest levels of government.

Be seeing you

Message In A Bottle (Sort of) - Granite Grok


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Trump is Right: The Intelligence Community Needs to ‘Go Back to School’ | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on February 10, 2019

Their leadership got Iraq wrong. Now they’re making the same mistakes all over again.

By Scott Ritter

Earlier this week, the collective leadership of the United States intelligence community briefed Congress on the Worldwide Threat Assessment Report. In doing so, they provided testimony that seemed to contradict virtually every aspect of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy, including the decision to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan, the threat posed by Iran, North Korean denuclearization, and improving relations with Russia.

The president, in typical fashion, lashed out, criticizing the intelligence community’s collective analysis, which predictably elicited criticism from both Democrats and Republicans. They accused him of undermining public confidence in the pronouncements of the intelligence agencies and damaging national security.

In this case, Trump is right and his detractors are wrong.

The current crop of national intelligence chiefs are cut from the same cloth as their predecessors. They are careerists who have risen to the top not through their analytical or operational talents, but through their willingness to conform to a system that is designed not to challenge conventional thinking—especially when such thinking sustains policies that have been given the imprimatur of the entrenched establishment… Read the rest of this entry »

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Trump Intel Chief: North Korea Learned From Libya War to “Never” Give Up Nukes

Posted by M. C. on July 31, 2017

THE MEDIA IS NOW filled with headlines about North Korea’s missile test on Friday, which demonstrated that its ICBMs may be able to reach the continental U.S. What isn’t mentioned in any of these stories is how we got to this point — in particular, what Dan Coats, President Donald Trump’s Director of National Intelligence, explained last week at the Aspen Security Forum.

North Korea’s 33-year-old dictator Kim Jong-un is not crazy, said Coats. In fact, he has “some rationale backing his actions” regarding the country’s nuclear weapons. That rationale is the way the U.S. has demonstrated that North Korea must keep them to ensure “survival for his regime, survival for his country.” Read the rest of this entry »

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