Revisiting NSA Spying

In 2013 in light of the Snowden revelations about NSA spying I wrote, Did Obama Spy on Mitt Romney?

Did Obama spy on Mitt Romney? As recently as a few weeks ago if anyone had asked me that question I would have consigned them to a right (or left) wing loony bin. Today, the only loonies are those who think the question unreasonable. Indeed, in one sense the answer is clearly yes. Do I think Obama ordered the NSA to spy on Romney for political gain? No. Some people claim that President Obama didn’t even know about the full extent of NSA spying. Indeed, I imagine that President Obama was almost as surprised as the rest of us when he first discovered that we live in a mass surveillance state in which billions of emails, phone calls, facebook metadata and other data are being collected.

The answer is yes, however, if we mean did the NSA spy on political candidates like Mitt Romney. Did Mitt Romney ever speak with Angela Merkel, whose phone the NSA bugged, or any one of the dozens of her advisers that the NSA was also bugging? Did Romney exchange emails with Mexican President Felipe Calderon? Were any of Romney’s emails, photos, texts or other metadata hoovered up by the NSA’s break-in to the Google and Yahoo communications links? Almost certainly the answer is yes.

As I read the situation, mass government surveillance has now become accepted in America, as in China. This bit remains relevant:

Did the NSA use the information they gathered on Mitt Romney and other political candidates for political purposes? Probably not. Will the next president or the one after that be so virtuous so as to not use this kind of power? I have grave doubts. Men are not angels.


The most pathetic aspect of all this is that Mitt Romney has never, nor will he ever, do or say anything about it.

He respects the Constitution, due process, rule of law, and the clear will of Se the People to sanction NSA spying on scary people, which means every US citizen who scares other US citizens.

The Congress passed multiple laws, by due process, authorizing NSA spying on scary people, though seemingly not allowing spying on US citizens, except by way of a secret court and secret orders. Congress would not spend many years debating and crafting clear rules for secret courts authorizing secret spying unless the clear intent was for billions to be spent spying on scary people, and US citizens scare US citizens.

Obama brought the issue back to Congress in his early years and the early Bush year Congressional debate was revisited, but by due process, Congress simply put lipstick on the pig of due process spying on scary US citizens.

I have followed this issue since the 80s when I became involved in implementing computer security, which required understanding computer security architecture. Then, encryption that was pretty good was effectively illegal. The Clipper chip was understood to have an NSA backdoor. RSA and others were developed in the open, then prohibited to be implemented and sold without a license. That happens only because the NSA is spying on US citizens.

When PGP was coded and then published, attempts were made to prosecute Zimmerman, which makes sense only if his work thwarts NSA spying on US citizens. Especially after civil rights lawyers helped get the code published in a book under the first amendment and the code was available on websites outside the US. Restricting the use of pgp in the US is needed only to spy on US citizens. US law can't control what happens outside the US.

Legislatures today are targeting tech companies today to prohibit them from selling every person strong encryption because that prevents NSA spying on US citizens, as well as your local elected racist sheriff.

So, to believe We the People have not by due process authorized spying on US citizens is totally ignorant given the clear debate in Congress as well as in administrative rule making over the four decades I've been watching. Plus in thousands of conferences on computer technology, with lawyers and government officials weighing in.

That was a good job generating a lot of words and forming them into sentences and paragraphs but I don't believe it explains why or how Romney is unable to speak out or fight back over his (alleged) political opponents abusing the surveillance state to spy on his campaign, or for that matter Orange Man's campaign.

As per usual, Romney, among so many other establishment Republicans, feigns impotence in the face of Democrat abuses but always finds the time and energy to take action against those in (again alleged) his own party who actually do fight back.

That's why Orange Man has to go, of course; he's undermining the racket the Washington Generals of politics have set up wherein they collect donor funds to be the rearguard of the liberal agenda.

It's hard to tell whether Romney is a coward, a leftist plant, a media attention whore, or simply massively incompetent; though I'd argue all are more or less true.

Candy Crowly wouldn't get away with pulling the mic from Trump. McCane and Romney were pushovers.

A bit relevant? I like Tabarrok's understatement. Of course, the surveillance state predated tech, but tech has vastly expanded the scope and extent of surveillance. The irony, of course, is that the surveillance that has brought us to a constitutional crisis was in plain sight - people listening in on Trump's phone call with Trump's knowledge. Like Tabarrok says, men are not angels.

What constitutional crisis?

Ironically, it's the surveillance state that is saving Trump on this one. Transcripts and several people listening in on a call on testifying no quid pro quo is helpful.

Are they testifying. I thought that they were prohibited from testifying, and the Lt. Col. who did testify said their was a request conditioned on "a favor for me"

Tell me who else on the phone call has testified. Post below. Under oath.

I think TMC is giving us a stale take, from before Sonderland's sudden recall.

Sonderland did a lot of assuming. When he actually asked, the response was "I want nothing"

"Sondland," my error.

So far, the only one who had an issue with the call was the LT Col. When he was asked where in the transcript game him an issue, he could not point anything out. Transcript? Yes, we have the actual call. We already know Trump didn't asked for anything, just like the Ukrainian President and ambassador have said.

You have been hypnotized.

Repetition is no substitute for reading or understanding.

"I have a favor to ask of you...". Those are the words that will snap you out of your hypnotic state.

The favor, of course, being for Ukraine to look into Crowdstrike, Biden's shady dealings having been discussed before the favor came up.

We do still want to get to the bottom of those pesky Russians stealing Hilldawg's emails, right? Or are we not concerned about Russian meddling anymore now that it's not politically useful and/or it might dig up something the public isn't supposed to find out?

We still don't know if disinformation and innuendo work either, but it can serve as a distraction from looking at the illegal act right before our eyes.

Am reading a good book called the Art of Propaganda, and I suspect you may have read it as well.

The issue before us is clear: withholding military aid and "I would like to ask a favor from you..."

Hopefully that book includes a copy of the transcript you clearly haven't read because the point you're, dare I say, hypnotically focused on is an invention of the press.

Discussion about Biden, 500 words later, asking a favor to look into Crowdstrike.

Rudi, is that you? Nah, its probably Sondland.

I see you haven't reached the chapter of your book yet that covers non-sequiturs that fail to refute my point.

The transcript says: a favor. Col Vindman said the reference to Burisma was deleted and was referred to as the other company.

I thought you were informed, but I guess not. Let me point you to one of the many sources that discuss this:


I thought you knew or were keeping up with what others have testified, so I thought a reference to Rudi would remind you of his effort to write the press release. Sorry, assumed knowledge on your part. Your point is unfounded also because Col. Vindman testified that the Burisma part was left out and he came back to insert it. Here is a link to material on what Col Vindman says was deleted from the transcript.

I assumed knowledge on your part, which I guess was too much of an assumption. Reference to Rudi is not a non-sequitur, but a pointer for those who know or keep up with the info.

I do try to keep up with the daily drama, although I appreciate the lack of self-awareness in your near-simultaneous identification of others' propaganda techniques and dissemination of your own. I can't tell if you're stupid or you simply fancy your audience stupid, but either way, kudos for not being afraid to show it.

In any case, I do wonder why you give more credence to the claims of one person over, for example, the four stenographers who did the transcription. It's convenient of course that Vindman's testimony ("He totally said something different! I tried to correct it, I promise!") effectively boils down to he-said-she-said, or more accurately he-said-they-said.

Of course, the easiest way to solve this problem would be to get the testimony of the stenographers themselves; contradictory accounts show someone is committing perjury. I'm positive the administration would try to block such a thing, but still, from what I see the House has not even attempted to subpoena any of them. Since you're so knowledgeable you might perhaps be able to explain why they feel this is unnecessary given Vindman's claims.

Evidently you didn't read the text of the transcript summary where Trump discusses Biden and Biden's son, as you only mentioned Crowdstrike.

No one is responding to subpoena in the Executive Branch per instructions of WH counsel, so it may be difficult to get those stenographers.

Now, of course, Republican members of the Committee are free to call the stenographers and witnesses, if you believe that would help Trump, but don't hold your breath.

You seem to have an issue with reading comprehension so let's just post the relevant part of the transcript, from the favor to the Bidens.

The President: I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike... I guess you have one of your wealthy people... The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you're surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it's very important that you do it, if that's possible.

President Zelenskyy: Yes it is very important for me and everything that you just mentioned earlier. For me as a President, is very important and we are open for any future cooperation. We are ready to open a new page on cooperation in relations between the United States and Ukraine. For that purpose, I just recalled our ambassador from United States and he will be replaced by a very competent and very experienced ambassador who will work hard on making sure that our two nations are getting closer. I would also like and hope to see him having your trust and your confidence and have personal relations with you so we can cooperate even more. I will personally tell you that one of my assistants spoke with Mr. Giuliani just recently and we are hoping very much that Mr. Giuliani will be able to travel to Ukraine and we will meet once he comes to Ukraine. I just wanted to assure you once again that you have nobody but friends around us. I will make sure that I surround myself with the best and most experienced people. I also wanted to tell you that we are friends. We are great friends and you Mr. President have friends in our country so we can continue our strategic partnership. I also plan to surround myself with great people and in addition to that investigation, I guarantee as the President of Ukraine that all the investigations will be done openly and candidly. That I can assure you.

The President: Good because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that's really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what's happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great. The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that. The other thing, there's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it... It sounds horrible to me.

President Zelenskyy: I wanted to tell you about the prosecutor. First of all, I understand and I'm knowledgeable about the situation. Since we have won the absolute majority in our Parliament, the next prosecutor general will be 100% my person, my candidate, who will be approved by the parliament and will start as a new prosecutor in September. He or she will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue. The issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue of making sure to restore the honesty so we will take care of that and will work on the investigation of the case. On top of that, I would kindly ask you if you have any additional information that you can provide to us, it would be very helpful for the investigation to make sure that we administer justice in our country with regard to the Ambassador to the United States from Ukraine as far as I recall her name was Ivanovich. It was great that you were the first one who told me that she was a bad ambassador because I agree with you 100%. Her attitude towards me was far from the best as she admired the previous President and she was on his side. She would not accept me as a new President well enough.

The President: Well, she's going to go through some things. I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it. I'm sure you will figure it out. I heard the prosecutor was treated very badly and he was a very fair prosecutor so good luck with everything.

Since you seem confused as to why I mentioned Crowdstrike, it should be pretty obvious from the transcript that the "favor" being done is for the Ukrainians to look into Crowdstrike, specifically what they did with the DNC servers they reviewed for alleged Russian hacking but did not turn over to the FBI even though they were "requested" to do so.

Since we just spent the better part of three years panicking over Russian interference in the election it would seem prudent for our own agencies to review the servers to see if, in fact, the Russians actually did hack them, instead of taking the word of a firm hired by the DNC themselves, the latter party of course having a dual motive to blame the publication of their private data on a third party as well as undermine the results of the election by alleging foreign interference. Wouldn't that make sense? Isn't it a pretty big deal to figure this out? How much ink has been spilled by the media and the Democrats fretting over this interference?

In any case, you can see that the discussion about the Bidens not only occurs long after the discussion of the "favor" (buffered by Zelenskyy's blathering on about how honest he is or is going to be plus a shot at Yovanovitch) but is, as Orange Man says, "the other thing", i.e., the thing that is separate from the favor.

This is the type of stuff you don't get when you let the news do your reading for you.

Shark, \\

You conveniently left out the materials on Biden in the call:

“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, what Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that, so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great,” Trump said to Zelensky in the call, according to the White House memo.

Do me a favor, read the complete transcript.

That's in the part of the transcript I posted. Reading comprehension. Why should we take your opinions seriously if you can't even follow this simple discussion?

Well, Shark,
you told us earlier that it was about Crowdstrike

I see you finally read the edited transcript and found the Bidens.

Too bad you couldn't;t have acknowledged it earlier.

I mentioned the Bidens in the very first comment I made on the matter.

You do realize that everyone can read the full comment chain, right?

Again, it's hard to tell whether you believe everyone reading your comments to be as obtuse as you are, or if you're simply too stupid to know the difference.

The mouse is in a corner.

The Media is lying again. Same as they did in 2016 when they went NUTS over bull shit Access Hollywood tapes about Trump while covering up for Jeffrey Epstein et allles child rapes and Harvey Weinstein starlet sex abuses, e.g.

Lying like when they broadcast uncorroborated rape lies against an innocent man; called "racists" innocent high school students and tried to ruin their lives; protected pedophiles; wasted three years pushing a deep state Russia collusion lie.

You sorry people trust the media because they feed your Trump Insanity Syndromes.

So Help Me God . . .

There is proof that there is a standing US-Ukraine mutual legal assistance treaty in effect that justifies investigating 2016-era criminal activities in Ukraine (i.e., Crowdstrike). Read the treaty for yourself on line; Treaty Doc 106-16.

And, MATT MARGOLIS: No, Sondland’s Revised Testimony Doesn’t Prove There Was a Quid Pro Quo.

What about Sondland’s testimony? According to his testimony, when he asked Trump what he wanted from Ukraine, Trump said, “I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. I want Zelensky to do the right thing… to do what he ran on.”

Also released today were transcripts of the testimony of Ambassador Kurt Volker, special envoy to Ukraine. According to his testimony, there was “no linkage” between a White House meeting with Trump and Zelenksy and any promises to hold any investigations.

Spengler hit it closer to the mark last week: “For the record, I don’t care whether there was quid pro quo with Ukraine or not. If President Trump used military aid as a bargaining chip to persuade the government of Ukraine to investigate foreign subversion of our political system, he was doing his job as commander-in-chief to protect this country from its external enemies.”

Although the word “external” was probably unnecessary.

Trump didn't want an actual investigation. He wanted an announcement, one endorsing Manafort's (likely Russian inspired) Ukrainian conspiracy theory.

Mueller documents show Manafort pushed Ukraine conspiracy theory.

He wanted that not for truth, but to throw confusion into the 2020 election cycle.

Sondland said he recalls telling the official that if Ukraine wanted the U.S. military aid, then the country’s newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, would need to deliver a public statement in person announcing the launch of investigations intended to benefit Trump politically.

Trump ambassador changes testimony, admits telling Ukraine there would be no US aid without investigations

“After that large meeting, I now recall speaking individually with Mr. Yermak, where I said that resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks."

A public anti-corruption statement ≠ launching investigations against political rivals

Of course it's corrupt, when you are dictating the statement to be made, and not asking for the organic results of an honest investigation.

LOL. So Orange Man can't ask Ukraine to reopen an investigation, but asking for an anti-corruption statement is wrong because it's not the results of an investigation. I guess we'll have to wait until Biden gets elected, I'm positive he'll make sure Ukraine provides an honest investigation of himself.

Meanwhile the impeachment rolls on, goaded by Orange Man's political rivals, I guess it's honest because it's an inquiry instead of an investigation.

So I wonder, why then did Biden brag about withholding funds from Ukraine until they fired the prosecutor working on his investigation? I guess it wasn't honest enough? Or maybe dangling the right carrot is the only way to get organic results.

The tactics Dick the Butcher is using are the following:

1. Discredit the source, eg, The Media (whatever that is) is lying
2. He ignores the sworn changed testimony of Sondland, and supplants it with the President's statement, which is contradicted by the "can you do me a favor...)
3. He doesn't cite another person on the call: Lt. Col. Vindman, and Vindman's other information.

Again, we have a transcript of the call. You know, the one that's discredited by the media because they prefer secondhand information.

Again, we have testimony, see my comment to you above, and references by Vindman of the material not being included. Learn to keep up with info.

Again, it's not clear why one person's testimony (conveniently unverifiable testimony at that) is more credible than the contradictory accounts of multiple others. But I'm sure the House in its quest for the truth will be happy to accept said accounts into their records.

Motive to lie makes one conflicting statement better than another. Also, withholding and not producing documents also is an indicator re credibility. Produce the docs and testify. Go to jail if you don't, or claim the Fifth, or seek immunity for your testimony.

Motive to lie? You mean like how Vindman (who is Ukranian by birth) is a partisan Democrat with an axe to grind against Trump and his foreign policy, especially against his home country?

I'm also pretty sure the transcript is a document. In fact I remember when the media and House Democrats insisted Orange Man release the documentation of the call (i.e., the transcript), before they realized it didn't help them and they had to dig up more "whistleblowers" to keep the charade alive.

You're grasping at straws, hard. It's not a good look.

Anyone who think anything on a computer connected to the internet cannot be exposed is a fool.
Is that an application of Coase Theorem?

the answer is no. Bugged? As in bugs? that lazily fly around running into things until a candid one surprises you. Angela Merkel is no ally to the United States as has been repeatedly on display and her allegiance to the French oligarchy is no joke. Mitt Romney's exposition is one in a long line.

The blog post is about surveillance. Trump's surveillance was in plain sight (his own people listening in on Trump's phone call), but it didn't dissuade Trump from soliciting a foreign government to investigate Trump's domestic political competitor. Good grief. Can one imagine what Trump may do when he thinks nobody is listening.

It's quite all right, the angels of the Deep State stand ready to spy, leak, conspire, and collude to ensure that all of us remain safe from Orange Man.

Apparently you persist in believing liars.

That political opponent quite capably discredited himself.

AG Barr and US Atty. Durham are on it. The Ukraine thing is a diversionary tactic.

Apparently, you're stuck on the deep-state-doesn't-exist canard. Many of your fellow idiots already moved on to the deep-state-is-good-for-us.


The Butcher cleans the Clock's clock!


If only Tricky Dick had solicited a British ex-spy to contact foreign governments on his behalf, using that dubiously-sourced information to obtain a warrant to wiretap the DNC, then he would have been in the clear. (E-mail, cybersecurity firms, and Ukraine in its current form didn't exist at the time so how he would have conducted his business outside the watchful eye of FOIA is left to some parallel universe.)

Of course Nixon was the first president to run afoul of the Deep State, in trying to win a war that the media, establishment, etc. desperately wanted to lose; similar to how Orange Man is pulling our troops out of a region that the Deep State desperately wants to occupy apparently in perpetuity. History rhymes, I suppose.

Anyway, best of luck in your 384th attempt to depose a duly-elected president.

I think that some of the deep state actors who tried to force a coup will be prosecuted soon. I'm looking forward to it starting with the perp walk. I do hope they charge Obama and all of his cabinet. The last ditch effort to divert attention with the impeachment thingy will backfire.

Did the US spy agencies spy on candidate Nixon when he negotiated with North Vietnam? Or when candidate Reagan negotiated with Iran for the inauguration day hostage release?

Or when Obama "negotiated" with Iran?

What IS the deal with Iran anyway? What did we get? They got the cash.

They got THEIR cash back.

The thing about Iran is they do everything the US does, but in moderation, and generally more principled.

The US has sponsored rebel patriots called terrorists by the dictator of the nation they seek to overthrown to implement republlican government. But the US has sponsored militias seeking to overthrow republican rule with a US dictator.

In the Mideast, the US favors authoritarian rule over republican government, and even Israel is not really republican given only a minority of the people got to decide their government. Jews became a majority only by importing Jews, and driving out the Christians, Druze, Muslims, secularists by force. Of course, that's very American: whites replaced the real Americans, called Indians based on them thought to be in India.

The US has supported Sunni authorian rule over majority non Sunni populations, with Sunni authoritarians criminalizing those who are too far from Sunni like Christians and Jews. So, Saudi Arabia is loved, but Iran hated because its allows religious worship liberty. It holds elections which like in the US for most of its history, allows only certain people to participate: white Christian men who reject Rome, until after Roe v Wade and suddenly the GOP the GOP anti-Catholic converted to being Catholics, probably to avoid converting to bible thumping evangelicals.

Iran is the most like the US of all the nations in the region. Iran First.

Just as Trump will hurt US citizens in his America First program, Iran's leadership will hurt Iranians in Iran First. To imagine Iranians will knee to Trump when they didn't kneel to Reagan backed Saddam is foolish.

Iraqis objected to US occupation so Bush's withdrawal plan was implement on schedule, with Saudi created terrorists then seeking to do what the Saudis are failing to do. Shia militias fought them where government forces wouldn't due to a Sunni bias, but the government sought the US military to return. But the US relied heavily on Kurd militias in Iraq, and then in Syria.

Kurds are considered terrorists in the region because they have become the most republican in their government rule over the territory they control.

The horror is republican rule spreading through the region. The region could become like the US where each State implements republican rule to the frustration of nationalists who object to republican rule. Trump is waging war on the 5th largest nation, California, because he can't control the republican government of California.

Just as Trump can't control Iran, China, Europe, et al.

You amaze me. How do you write these messages while wearing a straightjacket?

Yes. But it's simply a matter of watching people's movements. It's hard to keep meetings secret when they are face to face. Telcos record all calls because that's the only way to bill for calls. Knowing that a US political agent talks to a Chinese or Iranian agent by phone is enough to raise suspicion with subsequent actions providing evidence of the conversation and agreement. Obviously not enough for treason conviction requiring two eye witnesses, but more than enough for a conviction given the thousands of convictions with less evidence that happens daily, eg, property seizure by rule of law making a police officer judge and jury.

Ie, a black person with cash in a car is obviously a criminal so the cash and car are taken as punishment for crimes that don't need to be known.

It's all by due process: We the People elected people who made law by due process allowing police to seize your property by fiat. We the People believe this applies only to those who are not us, We the People. But the 14th amendment requires it apply to all of us, so if you run into police who decide to take your property, they can, by due process.

Conservatives seem to think they can define due process as a court when it comes to conservatives but government agents when it comes to liberals. But the liberals bring up the 14th, which does not eliminate actions by government agents enforcing acts of legislatures or agents implementing law, and conservatives squeal.

Kentucky is now a blue state. Thanks Trump!

Well, the stable geniuses (genii?) at NPR this morning hailed it as an important indicator of Democrat momentum heading into 2020.

Except that while Bevin lost very narrowly, the other five statewide GOP candidates won very comfortably.

If anything, the result was a verdict on Bevin's popularity and the fact that he was polling 10+ points behind last week and was almost dragged across the line anyway is a testament to Trump's popularity, even if it won't be reported that way.

Basically correct. The GOP won every other office that was up for grabs in KY, so in this case it looks like a Bevin-specific problem. VA is another story, of course.

VA is basically a suburb of DC, so there is no hope - it the deep state state.

So how would you update your priors knowing Obama did use surveillance for political gain in the 2016 election?

See my comment below about legitimate counterintelligence operation where there is reason to believe that a campaign operative is an agent of a foreign government or receiving assistance from a foreign government.

The Obama administration manufactured a reason to investigate and slander Trump. For that, some may go to jail. For Obama the questions are: What did he know? When did he know it? Maybe the suave and savvy Obama drove the whole enchilada.

No, Putin manufactured a reason to investigate Trump. Do you remember Don Jr.'s email, or have you forgotten Papadapoulus? Or, maybe you forgot passing of data from Manfort to a Ukrainian oligarch tied to Russia?

No manufacturing, but, yes, investigation.

Treating "Eve spied on Alice" as an all-or-nothing proposition confuses the issue. Just as searches that involve someone's house aren't the same as stingrays, GPS trackers, heat signatures and cameras in public spaces, we need better language for data in databases.

The weakest form of this proposition is:
4. "Data about Alice exists in a database that Eve could have plausibly requested information from". Is it fair to call this spying?

Slightly stronger:
3. "A broad program directed by Eve caused information about Alice to end up in a database controlled by Eve, though no evidence exists that a human ever queried that information nor was any action taken based on it." People can reasonably disagree whether this is spying; I don't think it is, but this is most of how Big Data works these days.

More common:
2. "Individuals or algorithms under Eve's control surfaced information about Alice, that caused someone to take an action they otherwise wouldn't have." Spying, ok, but what action? Does the content of the algorithm matter ("queried information about Merkel" or "collected data from those who repeatedly visited sites promoting child sexual abuse")? Displayed a targeted ad, caused a harassment campaign, or had Eve arrested? Are these the same? Is it fair to say in these case that "Alice spied on Eve"?

All of these are different from:
1. "Alice specifically requested information about Eve, directing searches or actions in such a way to collect or select that information specifically, leading to follow-up actions." Everyone's concerned about this, and it's inarguably "spying". and we should be vigilant against it. But it's relatively rare we see this form of spying - the "unmasking" debate was the closest one.

I wish we had better terms for these 4 scenarios.

I fear a Corbyn victory may subject the Kingdom to a KGB-like political police. Will Trump be remembered as the president who lost the United Kingdom. If he does, his re-election is as lost as Truman's chances in 1952.

Ha, ha. Men are not angels. The assumption that angels are good. Ever heard of fallen angels? Angels, like Men, experienced the Fall.

Setting aside those pedantic issues, here a more substantive issue. Did the Obama Administration spy on Trump? Did NSA, CIA, and FBI gather information on Trump, spy on him, with the intent of killing his election prospects, and failing that, sabotage his presidency?

To me, that is the biggest issue of the past four years. We will see what DA Durham finds out. Democrats are so focused on impeaching Trump that they might not understand that a number of them could be indicted in upcoming months for illegal spying.

Some would argue that the impeachment drive is because of the investigations.

My theory is that Trump rather clumsily exposed how Washington looks after their useless sons, and a very large group of people saw two alternatives; impeach Trump or have their useless twit son living in their basement.

Oh, shoots. If it was about a twit daughter, she dould be made Senior Advisor to the President.

As the head of the executive branch, Trump is the number-one law enforcement officer in the country. He really isn't required to delegate the duties of that position to someone else. If he feels that an individual is breaking US law isn't he constitutionally required to investigate the matter, even if the suspect might at some point be a political opponent?

This is so wrong I don't know where to begin. The Presidency is not the "number on law enforcement" position in the country in the sense you seem to think, and has never conferred the power to initiate prosecution or investigation. It does confer the power to executive agents, who by statute, norm, and jurisprudence are supposed to wield this power independently.

Some examples of said agents being James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Robert Mueller, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page...

On second thought I suppose trying to get your boss, the only person in your chain of command who is elected, impeached so you can replace him with someone who's in on your scam is a pretty good example of wielding your power independently.

So a sitting president can't initiate a criminal investigation of a possible political opponent but that same political opponent can't be the subject of an investigation because he's a political opponent? Or something.

>>> "...mass government surveillance has now become accepted in America.."


.... meaning it's been "accepted" (i.e., aggressively implemented) by Congress, Presidents, SCOTUS, and Deep-State.

The American citizenry rejects it, but obviously has little practical power to fight the now leviathan central government.

The 4th Amendment expressly prohibits this mass-surveillance -- which demonstrates that the Constitution is ineffective in controlling tyrannical government.
(so back to the drawing boards of year 1776)

Tabarrok speaks as a member of that gang, self-selected. He knows who butters his bread.

Or, to square the circle, do you believe that Trump is spying on Biden right now?

No, he has a foreign government do it for him,

And announce

That he would take information about his opponent

If Norway offered it to him.

Hear that Norway!

Or, was it China, Russia, or Ukraine?

Is this post evidence

That this site is not about economics,

But rather politics?

I have been saying for quite a long time that the MR comment section does need some quality Haiku.

Thanks for at least trying. Better than I could do. Don’t give up.

At least we know that if Trump were to misuse surveillance data, a leaker or the news media would find out and let us know about it.

But when Democrats are in power, they will be able to do whatever they want without consequence.

With the name Ektachrome, we know how old you are.

So foreign powers should not be spied on because Romney may have wanted to tak to them (was he running for President in Germany)?

Ding ding! Apparently Alex thinks that once someone is running for office, existing US surveillance on foreign actors with whom said person might interact must stop, lest we be "spying on candidates."

The "logic" in this post wouldn't pass muster in a high school essay. Alex seems to think that if I call a mob boss the Feds are already wiretapping, they are now suddenly wiretapping *me*.

There is a lesson here. If you are a foreign power and don't want the USA spying on you, keep an American voting calendar with you.

Let's make a distinction here: If there is evidence that a foreign government is working with a domestic candidate, then it is appropriate for the United States government to ask a foreign government for information to assist in a counterintelligence operation. Otherwise, you open yourself up to undetected foreign operations.

I agree here, but that's the issue. Biden's corruption was well known. The Ukrainian government reached out to the US about it and nothing ever was pursued. I would not condone a fishing expedition, but if Trump is aware of the corruption, as many people were, he's obligated to investigate.

It is well known you are using a disinformation technique: 1) Asserting that "it is well known" is a social proof misinformation tactic...It is well know that you are using a disinformation tactic...2) Trumps obligation to investigate is to use the FBI if US laws are violated...Certainly Barr must have heard about this from his boss...did he pursue it as the the chief law enforcement officer, or did he recognize it for what it was and 3) The obligation to investigate corruption in Ukraine is Ukraine's responsibility, but, funny how you have to make a press announcement to satisfy a President...maybe that's the way the President likes to conduct his fishing expedition.

Trump's actions were corruption and abuse of office. Admit it.

I think you will be surprised at what comes to light...

Roger Stone confessing? Paul Manafort disclosing he coordinated with Russia? Intelligence services missing involvement by Russia in election or being too timid to act earlier?

"As I read the situation, mass government surveillance has now become accepted in America . . ."

If true, Americans have themselves to thank and to blame for trashing their own political liberties.

President Eisenhower warned us all plainly in January 1960 of what was coming our way: if across six decades Americans have seen fit collectively to disregard the warning, if we have passively accepted all the nifty-keen novelties of tech conveniences to live our lives in accustomed carefree/careless fashion, that was Americans' choice, hunh? -- to sell hard-won political liberties for cheap and chintzy economic (or political) conveniences.

--but have Americans accepted mass government surveillance? We don't need a rogue Edward Snowden to risk compromising national security while grandstanding for domestic political partisanship: we need critical skepticism applied domestically--and severely--to the Tech Tyrants and tech tyrannies we already face.

Americans will have to wait to find the articulate academics, renegade media buffoons, disaffected celebrities, or principled libertarians to begin to move political discourse concerning the tech tyrannies we've gladly submitted to . . . until or unless Americans exhibit some modicum of otherwise unprovoked sense and begin themselves to sever their multiple and overlapping connections with the patriotic American Tech Tyrannies already usurping our liberties.

As long as we all know the rules.
You can still say something to your wife in bed and expect it to be secret (assuming you can trust you wife).

>Did the NSA use the information they gathered on Mitt Romney and other political candidates for political purposes? Probably not.

Dear Lord. You absolute, unflappable moron.

Remember, the important thing is not to investigate!

"Men are not angels."

And we are but observers?

So I read this post and thought for a minute I had been transported back in time, to about 2002 , when there was actually still a question whether or not we were a surveillance state.

Around that time, Republicans were arguing that if you had nothing to hide, you had nothing to fear, and arguing about how FISA court was plenty of due process, and ramming through 20,000 page Patriot Acts that no one who voted for them actually read.

For the record, the Patriot Act:

Passed the House 357-66
Passed the Senate 98-1

I assume the Democrats will use the same excuse they do for the war in Iraq; namely, we were hoodwinked by Bush (yes, he of the C-average whom we were told was not too bright). Apparently we've been passing bills to find out what's in them long before 2010.

The only explanation is that since early in the Clinton administration, the Democratic party has been voting center-right or more right on most economic and security measures.

Yes this includes ACA, for those dingbats who can't spot a corporate subsidy if it bites them in the arse.

As I Republican at the time, I was hyper-aware of the vote and the risks.

It is important to note that the vote was not for "war," it was authorization to use the threat of force to secure UN inspections and Iraqi disarmament.

GWB took that and did what I feared as a worst case. He pulled UN inspectors, who were doing that job, and went to war anyway. He made "looking for weapons of mass destruction" a joke for his correspondents dinner gag.

It is all actually on him.

Oh indeed, utter capitulation by the Dems.

Yet these were unmistakably Republican-led agendas nonetheless. And the only meaningful peeps of complaint I heard came from the left. Plus maybe Ron Paul muttering over in the corner with Ross Perot.

What he says was still true. The situational argument "if you had nothing to hide, you had nothing to fear" was applied in the midst of Gulf War hype.

In a complete retelling, the original Act was pared down in subsequent extensions.

And lest we forget a critical moment in that drama, Comey, Mueller and the showdown at John Ashcroft’s hospital bed


Again for the record:

Patriot Act
Passed the House 357-66
Passed the Senate 98-1

AUMF against “Terrorists”
Passed the House 420-1
Passed the Senate 98-0

what is your point here? that the GOP sponsored some horrendous surveillance and warmaking legislation, and the Dems went along with it.

My meta point, as someone who loathes both parties, is that the warmongering policy and surveillance state apparatus is The Default Position. All these votes passed overwhelmingly on a bipartisan basis.

With the notable and honorable exception of Barbara Lee. And occasionally and less honorably, Rand Paul.

we seem to be in agreement

thats rare on the internets

The difference though is that he (skeptic) thinks before he posts.

Thanks for bringing the average back down to where we expect it

We’re good dude.

We disagree on a lot. But know I’m probably coming from an angle orthogonal to the Repubs, before you dismiss my comments out of hand.

We probably agree on much more than we disagree.


I must be getting old because to be honest i can't always keep track of who's who anymore.

So you can't suspect Obama of nefarious activity? The same Obama who claimed her heard about her private server through news reports like everyone else. Yet, he was sending email to her private address; the fact that Obama's emails were on Weiner's laptop horrified Huma Abedin. The man was a bald faced liar.

Everyone should have a private server.

What's interesting about the Obama years is that people of integrity assessing the situation are left with two choices: (1) that Obama, speaking ex parte to subordinates, made use of the IRS, the FBI, the CIA, and the DNI to harass the opposition or (2) that these agencies doing what comes naturally will do this.

Not that any of this interests Cowen / Tabarrok.

That's a deeply dishonest argument, but that's all you've got, right?

You don't actually have any violation of standards, procedures, or laws, as the US intelligence community conducted intelligence and counter-intelligence activities.

You're just going for the Trumpian argument that if what they found was bad for Trump, it's bad for America, in a strictly authoritarian sense.

How a Populist Destroys America

A better MR would speak with moral authority on such things, as does George Thomas there.

That's a deeply dishonest argument,

It's not dishonest at all. That's why it bothers you., Liberal culture in our time is sociopathic. We see that on these boards.

I notice that not only do you have zero links, you have zero citations to any actual crime by US intelligence services.

You are what Thomas warns us about.

For the record:

Lois Lerner, the official in charge of that IRS responsibility, invoked her 5th amendment right to not self incriminate. Then resigned in disgrace.

As to the rest we will know the facts once Durham’s investigation is complete and released to the public. Could be nothing, could be serious. He did recently transition the inquiry into a criminal investigation. Let’s wait until the facts come out.

The IRS scandal seems positively quaint. And here's the thing I never got:

"In 2013, the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) revealed that it had selected political groups applying for tax-exempt status for intensive scrutiny based on their names or political themes."

That's the way you'd do it, right? You'd query the database for political sounding names, and then check them out to see if they were doing disqualifying political activities. And the record shows that they searched both left and right wing names.

In January 2014, James Comey, who at the time was the FBI director, told Fox News that its investigation had found no evidence so far warranting the filing of federal criminal charges in connection with the controversy, as it had not found any evidence of "enemy hunting", and that the investigation continued. On October 23, 2015, the Justice Department declared that no criminal charges would be filed. On September 8, 2017, the Trump Justice Department declined to reopen the criminal investigation into Lois Lerner, a central figure in the controversy.

So why are you even talking to me about this now?

Do you think it equals Manafort and Cohen sitting in jail, Flynn drawing out sentencing, or Roger Stone now on trial?

Are you so desperate for a "both sides do it? "

For the record, the Trump DOJ cleared Lois Lerner. Keep up.


Thanks, good note.

The only thing I’m desperate for is the truth. Which seems to be intentionally avoided by partisans on both sides, which yes includes you.

As to Lerner and the IRS, why plead the fifth then? There’s a reason why she pled to avoid self incrimination. I doubt we’ll ever know the real answer. So it goes.

The Durham investigation is ongoing, and like I said we should wait for the facts to come out before jumping to conclusions.

I don’t see what relevance the rest of your comment has to any of Caning’s points. As far as I know neither Manafort nor Cohen worked for the Obama administration.

Like I said, Durham’s investigation is now officially a criminal investigation. So we’ll see where it goes.

Hey, I'm the one relying on the conclusions of our institutions of justice.

You are the one rejecting those conclusions to make a case.

You might be more partisan than you know.

I don’t think that’s a fair assessment at all.

I stated the facts: she pled the fifth to invoke her right to avoid self incrimination. If the DoJ says she won’t be prosecuted, then great! I’m still curious as to why pleading the fifth was necessary. Are you not?

As to the Durham investigation, I’m saying let’s wait till it concludes before jumping to judgement. You know, in your words, “relying on our institutions of justice.”

I’m sure we’ll know within the next 8-12 months one way or the other.

I bet you can tell me some reasons a lawyer would recommend the 5th, even when he believes in the innocence of his client.

If you really think about it.

For a criminal trial, absolutely.

For a congressional committee hearing, less so.

Skeptic, No, testimony before a Committee is given under oath. If answering a question would place you in jeopardy for a crime, you claim the fifth or force the committee to grant use immunity.

Ask Roger Stone about lying to a committee.

By the way, I think Durham and Barr might be leading you down the primrose path. If you think they're looking for anything other than a loophole to slander our own institutions, think again.

‘It’s like nothing we have come across before’: UK intelligence officials shaken by Trump administration’s requests for help with counter-impeachment inquiry

And the information being requested has left allies astonished. One British official with knowledge of Barr’s wish list presented to London commented that “it is like nothing we have come across before, they are basically asking, in quite robust terms, for help in doing a hatchet job on their own intelligence services”.

You, non-partisan? Pull the other one.

Ah yes. The Independent.

Owned by Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev. Recently stripped of its Orwell prize for “plagiarism and inaccuracy.” Lebedev was a spook in the KGB before transitioning to the FSB when the USSR fell. Then became a billionaire somehow...

Although apparently it’s also now partly owned by the Saudi royal family as well.

Great source. I say let’s wait for the facts of the Durham investigation to come out.

I thought you might be above "I hate that source." Especially given that it is not a sole source.

Barr’s Requests for Foreign Help Prompt Backlash in Australia, Italy, U.K.

This is good:

According to a department official, Mr. Barr is accompanied on at least some of these trips by U.S. Attorney John Durham, whom Mr. Barr tapped to lead the review of the origins of the investigation that became special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russian interference in the 2016 election. Congress has examined the issue over the past two years, but Mr. Barr has said he hasn’t been satisfied with the explanations.

Mr. Trump has said he expects the review to show that crimes were committed by his political opponents, but no evidence of that has emerged. He has asked several foreign leaders, including in Ukraine and Australia, to assist Mr. Barr. In May, Mr. Trump ordered leaders of the U.S. intelligence community to “quickly and fully” cooperate with the investigation.

Nice of Trump to say exactly what he wants from it, eh?

I’m definitely skeptical of tabloids run by Russian oligarch ex KGB agents, yes. We all should be skeptical. I don’t trust RT for the same reasons.

As to the WSJ article, Durham is a respected prosecutor. He’s not going to fabricate evidence. Nothing in that article even suggests otherwise. He’s a professional: Bulger case, Paul Rico, CIA tapes, tapped by Holder to investigate torture, the list goes on.

Just like I waited for the Mueller investigation to be released before jumping to conclusions, I’ll wait for the Durham investigation to be released before jumping to conclusions.

You seem to be doing the exact opposite.

Dude. You don't get it. The President launched an investigation by his direct subordinate and publicly told us what the conclusion should be.

That's what you are defending, while calling *me* partisan.

I mean surely you are old enough to remember when presidents played by more formal rules? Perhaps saying "the investigation is ongoing, and it would be inappropriate to comment at this time?"

Not to mention that they whole thing is entirely irregular.

The Mueller report was produced, and anyone who *actually* accepted it would not be on board for this *redo* by the President's own staff.

No, that’s incorrect. You have an issue with wildly jumping to conclusions, presumably because you’re a dye in the wool partisan.

I’m defending Durham. He, like Mueller, is a straight shooter with a reputation earned with 30 plus years of integrity. He’s a professional. He’s going to follow the facts, wherever they lead. Which by the way might backfire on Trump spectacularly!

Great! Let’s get to the truth, wherever it leads.

There’s no “do over” of the Mueller report. It’s out there for all to read. I’ve read it, as you presumably have.

The truth is the truth. We got it with Mueller, and now we’ll get it with Durham.

He was confirmed with a unanimous Senate voice vote. This is no partisan hack.

I am not a partisan, I'm just a guy who has jumped to the right conclusions since 2016.

But go ahead, hope this time will be different.

By the way, on those "right conclusions" and how they form a neat bundle with Trump's Ukraine adventure and Barr's attempt at cover,

Trump’s chats with Roger Stone loom over trial’s opening

We *know* Trump prefers perjurers. It's just a question of how far Barr will risk to go in his role as "the President's Attorney General."

You’re wildly jumping to conclusions again. Like I said, dye in the wool partisan. Facts incongruent with your partisan worldview create an antibody response. Much like Dick or TMC.

You’re committing the typical mind fallacy. You assume that I, like you, interpret literally every piece of information through a purely partisan lens.

You’re wrong. That’s why we call it a fallacy :). I’m on neither side, because like the Ents in Tolkien, nobody is on my side.

This entire comment chain is because I suggested we trust a respected federal prosecutor (unanimously confirmed by the Senate) of decades to conduct an investigation.

Like I said. Durham will get to the facts. It might make Trump look even worse!

Why are you so terrified of a bipartisan federal attorney investigating the facts?

Only a partisan or criminal is terrified of Durham.

Come on.

Are you serious?

Was it always your long-held political belief that elected officials should investigate themselves?

Was it always your belief that to recuse on issues to which you have interest, as Jeff Sessions did, was wrong?

That an independent investigation by the FBI and the Grand Jury process was a witch hunt?

That this should be "fixed" by kicking out Sessions, getting an Attorney General who is on board, and relaunching your own investigation?

You can't be serious. You are either incredibly naive, or a fake centrist and partisan yourself.

Are you mentally unstable? Do we need to call your children or next of kin?

Nothing you said has any connection to anything I’ve said.

Durham is not investigating the Trump administration.

Nothing here is related to Sessions.

This is a criminal investigation into potential abuses of power.

You’re so far off into Alex Jones territory I don’t even know what to say.

Ummm.. stop reading KGB news. Stop watching Alex Jones. Stop reading extremist blogs.

You’re drifting so far from reality a prosecutor approved 100-0 is a Goebells to you.

So you are actually now maintaining that the Barr and Durham investigation into "origins" is not about protecting Trump from the Mueller report itself?


Don't forget, Trump said it straight up:

"Mr. Trump has said he expects the review to show that crimes were committed by his political opponents,"

He wants to show "witch hunt"

Get out more:

From the start, the Durham investigation has been driven by Barr's suspicions -- critics call them conspiracy theories -- that some of the officials overseeing the counterintelligence investigation of the 2016 Trump campaign may have acted improperly.

You're now at the point of using the actual KGB as your fact check to try to discredit a respected Federal prosecutor. Who was confirmed by the Senate 100-0.

You're on Trump Crowdstrike server territory now.

Own your delusions. Stop the Alex Jones visits.

What happened to honest investigations and uncovering the truth? Or are investigations only honest and the truth only necessary when it confirms your internal narrative?

How many times do I have to repeat that I trust the conclusions of our institutions?

I have no conspiracy theories to sell you.

You were literally just concern-trolling over Durham and Barr's investigation.

Barr's investigation which *includes* the Ukrainian demand now under impeachment?

No that’s factually incorrect.

Durham’s criminal investigation is completely unrelated to Trump’s bizarre request for Ukraine to investigate the Crowdstrike server hoax.

Facts are nonpartisan. Let’s not lie in pursuit of a partisan agenda.

Always google first:

John Durham investigating Ukraine in Trump-Russia origins probe

“A Department of Justice team led by U.S. Attorney John Durham is separately exploring the extent to which a number of countries, including Ukraine, played a role in the counterintelligence investigation directed at the Trump campaign during the 2016 election,” Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement.

You can’t actually be this stupid.

That’s the counterintelligence investigation, which is Durham’s purview.

That has nothing to do with Trump’s obsession with the Crowdstrike hoax.

You cannot possibly be this stupid. This is pure partisan Alex Jones level bs.

Don’t be a liar. This is disgustingly malicious slander against Durham.

You should be ashamed of yourself. Why don’t you spend 10 minutes reading up on the man you’re slandering.

This is exactly akin to extremist republicans slamming Mueller.

Grow the f up. Be an adult.

I think you're just mad because you see the pattern.

And shouting at me is easier than internalizing that Trump, Barr, and Durham have been playing the same game as Giuliani, just a bit less clumsily.

This is not an independent investigation, by an independent or outside counsel, the intelligence services, or a grand jury. This is the President's appointees running the investigation he has asked for.

Now having said that, Barr or Durham might in the end limit themselves, and not give Trump everything he's asking for.

Yes I do see the pattern. You see whatever insane homeless rant you choose to believe.

In the real world Durham is conducting a bipartisan investigation.

You’re exactly the same as Republican extremists shouting nonsense about Mueller.

Grow the f up.

Get out more:

Trump: Probe of Russia probe will reveal ‘really bad things’

The Justice Department had previously considered it to be an administrative review, and Attorney General William Barr appointed John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to lead the inquiry into the origins of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. It’s unclear when Durham’s inquiry shifted to a criminal investigation.

Asked about the investigation on Friday, Trump said, “I can’t tell you what’s happening,” but “I will tell you this: I think you’re going to see a lot of really bad things.”

You're using Trump as your authority now?

Have you completely lost your mind?

Anyways Loony Toon,

You keep using the literal KGB as your news source. You're disgraceful in attempting to slander Durham, in a mirror image of Repubs (and Fox News!) trying to slander Mueller. They were both confirmed unanimously by the Senate. The irony. Someone call Alanis.

Try to stay off the Alex Jones/KGB sites. I'll give you a hint. If the owner is a literal KGB/FSB agent, you should take the source with a large grain of salt.

Encryption to the rescue. Nets like Telegram eliminate spying. The NSA ends up with the opposite problem, they get the crappy info and the real stuff intentionally hidden from NSA. The NSA is not that smart, the brains are working the opposite, more critical problem, data security.

It is a mess. Securing safe drones is the same problem as securing data, the flight software can be certified effectively. Ultimately a drone will bomb the White House and the NSA will be blamed for preventing the security system.

Only very stupid people believe intelligence services are stupid

Regarding wiretapping of Angela Merkel, was the German government complicit, and the NSA simply used a wider scope than the German/US agreement permitted? Or are the mobile phone providers so piss poor that any hacker can get anything?

If the German government was complicit, isn't the big untold story that they allow the US to spy on German commoners.

The word "deep" sounds somehow "deep", as though there's more to it than there is. Originally popularized by L. Wittgenstein (surreptitiously adapted and renamed from G. Hegel), thence borrowed and made even more popular (and misunderstood) by N. Chomsky (in the context of linguistic representations), it is now used to denote something completely ordinary as though it weren't.
Politics has become more like pro wrestling than it ever was. By design. The POtUSA now actively, willingly, participates in the promotion of pro wrestling entertainment productions, while the pro wrestlers (aka ultimate fighters) use him with his consent and cooperation. (Granted it isn't entirely unprecedented, but as F. Engels taught us, small incremental quantitative changes can become large qualitative changes). Thus the revolution is nigh. A violent struggle will ensue, evil will be banished from the earth, American will be Great again, and the price of UFC PPVs will become more affordable for the downtrodden masses.

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