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June 12, 2013

Our Partisan Suspicion of/Tolerance for Government Surveillance

We are shocked... shocked (we tell you) to find that our willingness to allow Big Brother to watch us has a distinctly partisan character to it:

When news broke in late 2005 that the National Security Agency was eavesdropping without warrants — surveillance that was authorized by President George W. Bush — Democrats were not happy campers. More than six in 10 (61 percent) Democrats said the practice was “unacceptable” in a Washington Post-ABC News poll shortly after the story broke.

But Democrats have changed their tune in the wake of new disclosures that the NSA is tracking millions of phone records under President Obama. According to a new Post-Pew Research Center poll, fully 64 percent say the agency’s latest program to access phone records is “acceptable,” which is 27 percentage points higher than their tolerance for the NSA’s probes when polled in 2006.

...Republicans have shifted as well, but in a predictably different direction: 75 percent were OK with the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program in 2006, but a bare 52 percent majority says the NSA’s current phone tracking program is acceptable.

acceptable-by-PID.jpg

If there's one takeaway from all of this, it's that those durned Independents are an unprincipled bunch.

To be continued....

Posted by Cassandra at June 12, 2013 07:13 AM

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Comments

I didn't see any evidence in the Bush years that surveillance intended to forestall terrorist attacks was being misused to target non-violent domestic political opponents or to throw elections. I'm certainly more sympathetic to the apparent fears of Democrats during those years, but I still don't have any evidence that the surveillance was being misused, whereas I have a ton of evidence that the current administration is willing and able to abuse its power in that way.

The fact remains that it's important to have systems with safeguards against domestic political abuse, no matter which party is in power at any particular time.

Posted by: Texan99 at June 12, 2013 09:50 AM

My understanding of the FISA "domestic surveilance" during Bush was that one party to the phone call must have been foreign.

That is, Bush's "domestic surveilance" wasn't. I was, and still am, OK with this in principle. The US side, being warantless and not based on reasonable suspicion is inadmissable in court and so the US couldn't act on it. The foreign side, being not protected by the Constitution, well, we weren't exactly planning on bringing them to court, but rather sending them some lead and/or iron at high velocity.

Collecting this data when both sides are domestic seems to me a different animal. General Hayden assures us that the data could only be queried with a warrant, otherwise it just collects dust.

But anyone who is familiar with databases should know this is highly unlikely to be true from anything but a policy perspective. Database access control is done at the person/table/column/row level. Not at the "why do you ask?" level. So while the NSA has a policy that says you need to have a constitutionally allowed reason to look, well, the IRS has a policy not to act in a political manner either.

And we've seen how well that works out in practice.

I'm sure no "low level rogue agent" would dare go about finding Romney's phone number and seeing who he has called and send those phone numbers over to the IRS to look up.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 12, 2013 10:59 AM

That is, Bush's "domestic surveilance" wasn't. I was, and still am, OK with this in principle.

And that's key. I would have ZERO objection to the Obama administration using the Patriot Act to do as Bush did and surveil targeted foreign sources who merely communicate with someone in the United States. As I said over in Grim's Hall, this is actually the NSA's chartered mission. But what is being reported now is neither targeted nor is it against foreign communications. It is a broad sweep of US communications.

I will not say, however, that I am unaware of people who have swapped their opinions based on who is running the White House. I have seen those people. But those are what we like to call "hypocrites".

Posted by: MikeD at June 12, 2013 11:11 AM

In principle, I wouldn't really have any objection if it were every single foreign communication and not just targeted.

But given that previously believed non-partisan agencies have demonstrated that they do operate in a partisan fashion have given me serious cause to reconsider whether I should have any objections even in the more limited case, in practice.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 12, 2013 11:43 AM

There are two separate questions here:

1. If used in a manner consistent with the legitimate task of interdicting terrorist attacks, (IOW, not abused) do we have a problem with this program?

2. Is the possibility that it *might* be misused sufficient reason to discontinue the program?

That argument has been made wrt a great many issues. Gun ownership, for instance. Guns are often "misused", sometimes to tragic effect. Is that a good enough reason to ban them?

Posted by: Cassandra at June 12, 2013 06:37 PM

But our right to bears arms, as is our right to be secure in our persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, are spelled out in the Constitution. The government's right to snoop on American citizens doesn't exist there... They may be doing it, but it's still unconstitutional in my book. They are supposed to present probable cause to a judge. This wide dragnet doesn't meet that standard.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at June 12, 2013 11:08 PM

But our right to bears arms, as is our right to be secure in our persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, are spelled out in the Constitution. The government's right to snoop on American citizens doesn't exist there

Actually, the Constitution says nothing about wiretapping, and the Constitution prohibits only *unreasonable* search and seizure. The fact is that there are all sorts of warrantless searches that are perfectly legal. The military performs warrantless searches all the time.

I did quite a bit of research on this back in 2005-2007, and I have a bit of a problem with people citing the Constitution in this context, MLB. It's a bit problematic when we conservatives want to apply a strict constructionist theory to the Constitution (i.e., "it means what it says and don't go reading all sorts of things into the text that aren't actually there"), and then we go and do exactly what we say shouldn't be done because that supports our desired end game.

There's no convenient wiretapping provision lurking beneath a shadowy penumbra.

They are supposed to present probable cause to a judge. This wide dragnet doesn't meet that standard.

Just plain wrong. The 4th Amendment does not protect foreigners (the ostensible targets of PRISM) at all. You need to separate out what the actual law says from what you fear *might be done illegally*.

I'm still deciding what I think of all this, but the argument that vague fears about what might be going on in violation of the laws governing this program, utterly unsupported by any evidence to back them up other than a bad feeling, somehow make the program itself unConstitutional are unpersuasive.

This program may well be a bad idea. It may well be too easily subject to abuse to continue. Those are separate questions from whether it is in fact unconstitutional as outlined.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 13, 2013 08:27 AM

2. Is the possibility that it *might* be misused sufficient reason to discontinue the program?

A woman and her husband were going camping. One morning while his wife stayed in the tent and read, the man took the boat out on the lake and went fishing. He brought back the fish and took a nap. His wife decided go read her book in the boat. He had left his rods and reels in the boat, and not wanting to mess with all that, she just pushed it all to the side, got in the boat and pushed it out into the water.

A while later, a game warden came by and asked to speak with her. "Ma'am, can I see your fishing license?" he asked. "I don't have one," she said, "but I'm just reading out here." "Well ma'am," he sighed, "you've got all the equipment for it, so I'm going to have to ticket you for fishing without a license." "In that case," she said, "I'm going to have to accuse you of rape." "But I never touched you!" he exclaimed.

"Yes, but you've got all the equipment for it."

The potential to do something wrong is not the same thing as actual wrongdoing. If we eliminated everything that had a potential to be misused or to cause harm, we'd be forced to live in padded cells.

Posted by: MikeD at June 13, 2013 08:46 AM

1. If used in a manner consistent with the legitimate task of interdicting terrorist attacks, (IOW, not abused) do we have a problem with this program?

If blanket searches of every home were performed in a manner consistent with the legitimate task if interdicting terrorist attacks, do we have a problem with this program?

As I said on another thread, that the tool is electronic doesn't really change the principle.

It's why the argument that the Constitution doesn't have a wiretapping provision isn't persuasive to me. The founder's intent was "Thou shalt not look at my private sh17 without damn good reason". Whether you do that by sending a policeman physically into my home to look through my paper files, or sending him electronically into my network to look through my computer files isn't any different. I'm completely agnostic when it comes to tools.

2. Is the possibility that it *might* be misused sufficient reason to discontinue the program?

Not in and of itself, no. Even reasonable searched conducted with a warrant secured by probably cause *might* still be abused. We do still see officers lie to judges to obtain a warrant and we do still see judge shopping when the cops don't get the answer they like. Even so, despite that blanket searches might be used to address legitimate state functions, the possibility for abuse was so high that the founders thought that tying the .govs hands in this manner was still a good idea.

The 4th Amendment does not protect foreigners (the ostensible targets of PRISM) at all.

Then why does it collect metadata about my phone call (in NC) to my Mom (in GA)? Does Verizon not know when one party to the call is in another country? Of course they do. And those records can be filtered easily prior to sending to PRISM's servers. That, by my understanding, was what was happening under Bush. If that was still the case, I'd have no problem (at least in principle). As you said, the Constitution doesn't protect foreigners at all. We could send in all the policemen we wanted into Justin Beiber's Canadian home for no reason at all. Canada might have something to say about that, but that is a different issue.

That said, given the IRS targeting of the Tea Party, given that the IRS & DoL showed up for a Romney doner that O called out, given that the IRS, ATF, & OSHA showed up for True the Vote after being called out, given that the EPA waives fees for liberals but not conservatives, given that the DoJ goes after Gibson Guitars for customs violations (whose CEO is a republican donor) but leaves Martin alone for those same customs violations (but whose CEO is a democrat donor), given that the DoL goes after Boeing for trying to open a plant in a right-to-work state, and on and on and on I don't think we are talking about some highly theoretical, nebulous *might* any more. They've *done* it in a lot of other places, what confidence should I have that they aren't *doing* it with this one?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 13, 2013 09:23 AM

It's why the argument that the Constitution doesn't have a wiretapping provision isn't persuasive to me. The founder's intent was "Thou shalt not look at my private sh17 without damn good reason".

Do you see what you just did here? You went beyond the plain text (original) meaning to talk about the Founder's intent, which is essentially the same argument used to justify Roe v. Wade: the Founders intended a natural sphere of privacy extending beyond the search and seizure of physical possessions. We know this because... blah, blah, blah :p

I don't necessarily have a problem with this, mind you. I'm all flexibly urban that way. But it's a problem if we want to bar some inferences of intent, but not others. Eavesdropping existed back then, and yet the Constitution says nothing about it.

Interestingly, search and seizure requirements in English law were primarily grounded in the fear of government snooping related to censorship/punishment of criticism of the government. In America, the concern was more searches related to smuggling and the idea of the home as sanctuary. But cell phone and Internet communications are conducted in public too, so protecting them under some broad rubric of "privacy" requires a fairly broad extension of what the 4th A really says.

I'm dying to write about this but just don't have time to do it justice right now :)

Posted by: Cassandra at June 13, 2013 11:49 AM

Do you see what you just did here? You went beyond the plain text (original) meaning to talk about the Founder's intent,

Actually, I claim that *was* the original meaning. Stated more roughly, certainly. But the original meaning was that the state could not enter your owned property to conduct a search or seizure without satisfying certain conditions.

Constitutionally, the question is not whether my rights were violated, but rather were rights of Verizon, AT&T, Google, etc. violated. The .gov may have obtained a court order, but for such a blanket search I don't see any sort of reasonableness or probable cause (warrants specify the place and items to be searched) to justify it.

Furthermore, it has long been accepted that the gov't do things indirectly to acheive what it couldn't do directly. It's why licensing fees much only be "to recoup administrative costs". The state could not impose a $1mm tax on books it disapproves of to get around that whole "no banning books" thing. It could not do this even though taxing sales is a perfectly legitimate thing for the state to do.

Thus it could be argued (granted perhaps unsuccessfully), that since the metadata they are collecting does reside in paper files (it's on the billing statement) in my home, that this is an indirect method of obtaining what it could not do directly.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 13, 2013 12:12 PM

...the gov't *can't* do...

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 13, 2013 12:16 PM

Cass,

By your reading, the gun-grabbers win, since the Founders didn't spell out what "arms" they meant, when a musket was the "assault rifle" of the time. The Founders couldn't have conceived of cell phone (or telephony in general) or the internet, but if they had, I'm sure they would have specifically included that. As for eavesdropping being around back then, I do not dipute that. However, you had to actually be in close proximity to the conversation you intended to snoop on, which increased the likelihood of getting caught. Not so with today's technology...

Long explanation short, I have to side with Yu-ain on this one.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at June 13, 2013 01:06 PM

Dare I suggest that any interpretation of the Constitution that begins with, "If I accept that, the other side wins" may not be entirely dispassionate or principle based? :p

The problem, MLB, is that some conservatives like to pretend that the "plain meaning" of various Constitutional amendments is clear cut if not downright obvious and therefore requires no interpretation... and then they go right on to interpret the heck out of it.

But it's only OK when they do it.

Frankly, the connection between a musket and an automatic weapon or assault rifle is not at all clear cut to me. Back then, a musket was a multi-purpose weapon used to hunt and defend both persons and property, but also used in battle. You can still accomplish both things with a modern rifle.

Back then, there were no standing armies, so militias were not at all uncommonplace. What is the modern equivalent of the citizen militia?

Interpretation and extension again. As I said, I don't necessarily have a problem with that, not being of the "Constitution requires zero interpretation" tribe. Is interpretation/extrapolation a necessary and proper function of Constitutional jurisprudence? Or is it an abuse?

Posted by: Cassandra at June 13, 2013 01:40 PM

The counter argument is that while my copies of those papers may be something I should be secure in, the copies that the phone companies have I should not believe are I am secure in. I believe this is the current reasoning of the court, though I don't know whether I ascribe to it or not. That papers and effects are shared with 1 other party does not really seem to make them "public" and something one should not be secure in. I couldn't call up Verizon and obtain my neighbor's phone records, for instance. That doesn't strike me as particularly "unsecured" papers and/or effects.

It sounds too close to me to saying "Well if you didn't want me to steal your car, you shouldn't have left it unlocked".

Now, maybe current jurisprudence says that that is *constitutional*. But that doesn't make it right.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 13, 2013 01:40 PM

The counter argument is that while my copies of those papers may be something I should be secure in, the copies that the phone companies have I should not believe are I am secure in. I believe this is the current reasoning of the court, though I don't know whether I ascribe to it or not.

You're raising some excellent points, Yu-Ain. Do ordinary citizens "own" phone records collected by a for-profit company for their own purposes (billing) in the same sense that we own private property?

I don't think so - this isn't even close. It's not the actual conversations that are being turned over (this would be a more clear cut question) but essentially parts of billing records.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 13, 2013 01:47 PM

From the "plain text" of the 4th:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated...

Seems to me that considerable interpretation is required to understand this.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 13, 2013 01:49 PM

Does Verizon not know when one party to the call is in another country? Of course they do. And those records can be filtered easily prior to sending to PRISM's servers. That, by my understanding, was what was happening under Bush.

Technically no. The Bush era snooping had to do with the NSA going to a FISA court and saying, "Hey, we've got indications that this terrorist overseas is communicating with someone in the United States. We'd like to listen in on those calls, but USSID 18 prevents us from doing so without a warrant. Here's our evidence that one of the guys involved in this call is al Qaida, can we please have a warrant?" It wasn't simply fishing for all calls made where one of the participants was a foreigner.

I really think people don't understand how restricted the NSA (normally) is on this kind of stuff. They seem to assume that someone is already recording your phone calls all the time, or they assume that they CAN do so at any time. I'm going to tell a story I've never even told my wife before. I take my oaths very seriously, but in this case I think I can do this in a way that does not violate those oaths.

While evaluating some intel from a foreign target, it became clear that the participants in the communication (who were security personnel for that nation) were discussing how the wife of an American public figure might come under attack by terrorists while that public figure was visiting their country. She herself was not a public figure (outside of her marriage to her husband), but she was an American citizen. We agonized over how we could legally report this. Under USSID 18, we could not even use her name (even though it was used verbatim in the communication intercept) in our report unless she was literally in imminent danger. If the intercept had been people discussing plans to attack her, then we might have been able to. But by the same token, reporting the situation as "a named American citizen was discussed as possibly being targeted by terrorists in this intercept" literally was useless as a report. Without the name, there was no context. Without the context, there was no report. Ultimately, we didn't write the report. We were hogtied. The good news is, nothing happened. The visit was uneventful, and everyone came back safely.

When the laws binding the NSA are so strict that we have to not report what would otherwise be an important concern to the intelligence community because NAMING an individual (again, this woman was not even a participant in the conversation, she was just the subject of it) would run us afoul of the law, then you know that it's seriously restricting.

And that's precisely why this whole affair troubles me so. There's no way the Agency would have been allowed to do this in my era. The very idea that it would be able to request a record of every single communications transaction of communications wholly internal to the United States would have been considered risible.

Posted by: MikeD at June 13, 2013 02:02 PM

There is another issue for originalism. What does it mean to bear arms? Just what the Framers could have meant- muskets and edged weapons? Or does it mean any arms anyone ever invents?

In that case the technology has changed but, coincidentally, the word is the same. In the NSA case, the new technology is attended by different words. In either case, an originalist must consider the actual words and the original situation to which the law was meant to apply. In this case, it was to protect political dissidents -- and violent ones -- from easy suppression by an overweening government. It was, like the 2nd, to expose the government to the danger of revolution if it lost popular legitimacy.

Posted by: Grim at June 13, 2013 02:41 PM

You're raising some excellent points, Yu-Ain. Do ordinary citizens "own" phone records collected by a for-profit company for their own purposes (billing) in the same sense that we own private property?

In the strictest sense, I *own* the paper phone records sitting in *my* filing cabinet collected for that for-profit company's billing statement in exactly the same sense that I own private property.

I do not *own* the for-profit company's paper phone records sitting in *their* filing cabinet collected for that for-profit company's billing statements.

But that for-profit company *does*.

From a constitutional perspective, the NSA is not violating *my* 4A rights (it's creepy as hell, but that's a different issue). It's violating the for-profit company's rights by obtaining an unreasonable search and without probable cause of the for-profit company's "person's, houses, papers, and effects".

But tangential to all of this is that Constitutional != Proper.

I do not believe the .gov should be gathering the full communications records of its citizens whether it is constitutional or not. One does not collect data one does not wish to use. It's a massive waste of money, time, and effort. No one goes through that just so that they can have access to 0.0000000001% of it. Claims to that effect (I'm looking at you Gen Hayden) I simply do not believe.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 13, 2013 02:47 PM

I really think people don't understand how restricted the NSA (normally) is on this kind of stuff. They seem to assume that someone is already recording your phone calls all the time, or they assume that they CAN do so at any time.

...When the laws binding the NSA are so strict that we have to not report what would otherwise be an important concern to the intelligence community because NAMING an individual (again, this woman was not even a participant in the conversation, she was just the subject of it) would run us afoul of the law, then you know that it's seriously restricting.

BINGO. That's a thought that bears some serious contemplation.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 13, 2013 03:00 PM

Seems to me that considerable interpretation is required to understand this.

It seems that it isn't so much a question of interpret/not interpret, but *whose* interpretation.

The "living-breathing" document types argue it should be the interpretation of the "reasonable man" in 2013 reading it for the first time. Since that is like nailing jello to the wall, in practice it means that the Constitution means whatever 9 black robes says it means, until it means something else.

Originalists argue it should be the interpretation of those who wrote and ratified it.
And since these debates happened in legislatures, it's written down for us to read what they thought.

I think it's hard to go through those writings and conclude that the founders didn't understand the march of technological progress. To then conclude that because the founders didn't concieve of machine guns, TV, Phones, computers or the internet that the document is out of date and not applicable (not that anyone here is making that argument) is missing the point.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 13, 2013 03:13 PM

There is another issue for originalism. What does it mean to bear arms? Just what the Framers could have meant- muskets and edged weapons? Or does it mean any arms anyone ever invents?

Another excellent point :)

Posted by: Cassandra at June 13, 2013 03:14 PM

I'm pretty sure "arms" means military grade weapons and "bear" means have them with you ready to use.

To think that these same people who just fought a war against the most technologically advanced army in the world, would say that the citizenry could only have technologically inferior weapons to the military and don't you dare try to use them is all sorts of historically contradictory.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 13, 2013 03:39 PM

I always find it dangerous when people say "The Founders couldn't have anticipated fully automatic weapons, so the 2nd Amendment doesn't apply to those." By the same token, they could never have anticipated radio, television, or the internet. So does that mean there's no 1st Amendment protections there?

I do not *own* the for-profit company's paper phone records sitting in *their* filing cabinet collected for that for-profit company's billing statements.

But that for-profit company *does*.

From a constitutional perspective, the NSA is not violating *my* 4A rights (it's creepy as hell, but that's a different issue). It's violating the for-profit company's rights by obtaining an unreasonable search and without probable cause of the for-profit company's "person's, houses, papers, and effects".

I would disagree. I'm sure the founders would have understood it to be a violation of YOUR 4th Amendment rights. We can easily put this in terms they would understand. Letters. In the Eighteenth Century, the primary method of communication between people was letters. There was no federal postal service. A post rider would deliver letters to and from individuals for a fee. I can promise you, the Founders would have understood that stopping and demanding a list of who they had letters from, and to whom those letters were being delivered would have been an intrusion on the rights of the letter writers to be secure in their papers just fine. The fact that they're not READING those letters only takes some of the intrusion away. But it's still an intrusion.

Posted by: MikeD at June 13, 2013 04:34 PM

"Military grade weapons" is the mother of all slippery slopes, though.

What's a military grade weapon? A 155mm howitzer? An LAV? A mortar or RPGL?

If I'm defending myself against people inside an armored vehicle, an assault rifle isn't much good to me. And the government has armored vehicles, whereas the citizenry generally don't.

Compared to a rocket propelled grenade launcher or a howitzer, an assault weapon could easily be said to be a technologically inferior weapon :p

Posted by: Cassandra at June 13, 2013 04:35 PM

I always find it dangerous when people say "The Founders couldn't have anticipated fully automatic weapons, so the 2nd Amendment doesn't apply to those." By the same token, they could never have anticipated radio, television, or the internet. So does that mean there's no 1st Amendment protections there?

Likewise, I find it dangerous to extrapolate indefinitely from one thing to another profoundly unlike thing on the basis that they're both "weapons". What if tomorrow we invent a laser gun that can vaporize entire cities? And the government has it.

Do we now say that you can buy one because the Founders clearly meant us to be able to fight back against a tyrannical government? You can't just neatly excise the harm from the cost benefit analysis when the modern harm is several orders of magnitude greater than the harm the Founders contemplated.

Had they had laser guns back then, I'm pretty damned sure the 2nd Amendment would look very different.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 13, 2013 04:40 PM

In the Eighteenth Century, the primary method of communication between people was letters. There was no federal postal service. A post rider would deliver letters to and from individuals for a fee. I can promise you, the Founders would have understood that stopping and demanding a list of who they had letters from, and to whom those letters were being delivered would have been an intrusion on the rights of the letter writers to be secure in their papers just fine.

Once again, the C doesn't protect us against any and all "intrusions". It distinguishes, for instance, between searches/seizures where the seized evidence is used for prosecution and those where it is inadmissible in court, but is used for interdiction.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 13, 2013 04:44 PM

I can promise you, the Founders would have understood that stopping and demanding a list of who they had letters from, and to whom those letters were being delivered would have been an intrusion on the rights of the letter writers to be secure in their papers just fine.

I'm not so sure. For a proper analogy, they wouldn't be stopping the letter carrier in the process of delivery. They would be searching the sales records back at the office. Again, creepy, but Wal-Mart's copy of my sales receipt isn't part of *my* papers and/or effects.

"Military grade weapons" is the mother of all slippery slopes, though.

Well, let's say that the esteemed and *authoritative* journalism professor from the next couple of posts up had his way and there is a new civil war.

Would it be helpful if your new recruit was already familiar with the manual of arms for a nuclear warhead?

Hmmm, probably not. Not a lot of those going around in the infantry corp.

Would it be helpful if he were already familiar with the manual of arms for an M-4, SAW or equivalents.

The standard arms of the infantry soldier. You bet it would be helpful.

That said, individuals did own crew served weapons such as cannon and fully outfitted warships at the time. Not many would be expected to show up for duty with them, so while legal at the time, likely not constitutionally protected.

That is likely the rubric for constitutional protection. What an normal person reporting for military duty (volunteer or draft) would have been expected to fight with.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 13, 2013 05:11 PM

So if the standard weapon of the individual soldier ever becomes a laser gun capable of destroying an entire city, yeah, I'm pretty sure the founder's would have included it.

Which isn't very likely. Any gov't which gives a single pissed off soldier in its own army the ability to wipe itself off the map kinda deserves it.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 13, 2013 05:28 PM

This is very interesting to me for a completely different reason. I have not had the expectation of privacy over anything since my twenties. I signed every bit of it away. Damn choices :)

It's weird because in some ways I can't fundamentally grasp the idea of privacy since I don't have it. It's an academic thing for me.

Posted by: Allen at June 13, 2013 06:20 PM

btw, from wiki:
>>> broadly, militia is defined as every able bodied adult male.

The role of militia, also known as military service and duty, in the United States is complex and has transformed over time.[1] The term militia can be used to describe any number of groups within the United States. Primarily, these fall into:
The organized militia created by the Militia Act of 1903, which split from the 1792 Uniform Militia forces, and consist of State militia forces, notably the National Guard and the Naval Militia.[2] The National Guard however, is not to be confused with the National Guard of the United States, which is a federally recognized reserve military force, although the two are linked.

Constitution - Article II - The Executive Branch Section 2 - Clause 1:The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States when called into the actual service of the United States. [Article 2,Section 2 of the US Constitution]...
The reserve militia[3] or unorganized militia, which is presently defined by the Militia Act of 1903 to consist of every able-bodied man of at least 17 and under 45 years of age who is not a member of the National Guard or Naval Militia.(That is, anyone who would be eligible for a draft.) Former members of the armed forces up to age 65 are also considered part of the "unorganized militia" per Sec 313 Title 32 of the US Code.[2]

Posted by: CAPT Mike at June 13, 2013 09:05 PM

I don't know why, but the image of Dirty Harry "bearing" a warship while asking a punk if he feels lucky amuses me.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 14, 2013 08:30 AM

Back on topic:

From the puppy blender. The .gov now says Snowden is lying because his level of access would not have granted him access to the types of info he is claiming the NSA is gathering.

Reynolds brings up a good question: if true, why the helk did it take so long to find this out?

Other questions, if true: Is there another person, who would have access, funneling info to this guy? Or maybe someone else who has falsely convinced Snowden that they have access and is feeding him disinformation.

Does it really take the better part of a week to interview this guy's boss and review his database access level? Any competant DBA should be able to locate that info within minutes of being asked.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 14, 2013 08:59 AM

Technically, I do believe that the 2nd Amendment was intended to give you access to the same weapons the government had. Most every cannon and mortar used by the Continental Army in the Revolution was privately owned. NOT government property. After the Constitution was signed, most cannons still resided in private hands. And no one found this odd or dangerous. Today, if you want to own a 12 pounder cannon, good luck saying "well the Founders were ok with it." You're technically correct (the best KIND of correct), but the law has decided you're still wrong. And I can't even say I disagree all that much. But ultimately the Founders' intent was that we have the power to overthrow the government if it becomes tyrannical.

Compared to a rocket propelled grenade launcher or a howitzer, an assault weapon could easily be said to be a technologically inferior weapon :p

And while what you said here is NOT what I've heard from others, it's close enough to remind me of what others have said. "If the government DOES become tyrannical, what good are assault weapons against tanks and planes?" I have a very good answer to that.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/15/M1942_liberator.jpg/300px-M1942_liberator.jpg

That is the FP45 Liberator pistol. We churned out almost half a million of them during WWII. It's a single shot .45 caliber pistol. We air dropped a mess of them into France for the French Resistance to use. What good is a single shot pistol against the Nazi's panzers and machineguns? Well, the concept was pretty simple. A member of the resistance would find a German soldier alone (whether lured out by some mademoiselle or some alcohol or what have you), shoot the soldier, take his MP-40 or K98 and hand the Liberator to someone else. No one expected the Liberator to be used in a firefight, much less against tanks and planes.

The Syrians have artillery, tanks and planes. And yet their rebels have managed to take whole sections of that country away from the Assad Regime. People do not need to be armed equally against their government to overthrow it. But it certainly helps.

Posted by: MikeD at June 14, 2013 09:58 AM