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Charlie Savage didn't mince any words, nor did The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board PCLOB). The lede:
An independent federal privacy watchdog has concluded that the National Security Agency’s program to collect bulk phone call records has provided only “minimal” benefits in counterterrorism efforts, is illegal and should be shut down.
The massive surveillance is neither legal nor effective:
But in its report, the board lays out what may be the most detailed critique of the government’s once-secret legal theory behind the program: that a law known as Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the F.B.I. to obtain business records deemed “relevant” to an investigation, can be legitimately interpreted as authorizing the N.S.A. to collect all calling records in the country.
The program “lacks a viable legal foundation under Section 215, implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments, raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy matter, and has shown only limited value,” the report said. “As a result, the board recommends that the government end the program.”
One of the questions that has been hanging in the background is why the NSA is flouting the law, their oaths, and the Constitution for an extremely program that really doesn't work at all well at preventing international terrorism, and poses real dangers to American soft power worldwide.
One answer to that question was offered this week by the Ukrainian security forces:
The government’s opponents said three recent actions had been intended to incite the more radical protesters and sow doubt in the minds of moderates: the passing of laws last week circumscribing the right of public assembly, the blocking of a protest march past the Parliament building on Sunday and the sending of cellphone messageson Tuesday to people standing in the vicinity of the fighting that said, “Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.”
We'll start there. No Grammys.
The 2014 Virtually Speaking Media Panel: Allison Kilkenny, Avedon Carol, Cliff Schecter, David Dayen, Dave Johnson, David Waldman, digby, Gaius Publius, Joan McCarter, Marcy Wheeler, RJ Eskow, Stuart Zechman