Remember that pesky scandal where it was revealed the NSA collects metadata on U.S. citizens? Remember how many people (from both sides of the aisle) blew it off as nothing we should worry about; that it was a vital part of our national security efforts?
Now we learn from the former head of the NSA that the United States uses metadata to decide who to kill. Not in the United States (yet), but definitely overseas.
This is disturbing enough. I thought we actually had, you know, SPIES and such operating throughout the world, intercepting communications, reading letters, etc. Now the NSA is revealing that we don’t actually bother to read what’s in the communications… we will actually kill someone just for communicating with other people.
What’s wrong with that? Some people will ask this question. Unfortunately, Republicans will be among them. There’s a lot wrong with this. Right off the top of my head, I can think of a HUGE problem with this. Want to eliminate someone you can’t get to? How about having a bunch of your Al Qaeda buddies to call him a bunch of times. Eventually the United States will classify him as a major terrorist based on his metadata and off him for you!
Another problem: metadata is “data about data”. Which means the United States is killing people not on evidence, but on “evidence about evidence”. I really hope that I don’t have to explain why this is concerning.
Most worrisome about this article, though, is this single statement by former NSA chief Michael Hayden regarding the domestic collection of metadata:
“It’s really important to understand the program in its entirety. Not the potentiality of the program, but how the program is actually conducted.” (emphasis added)
Hayden is asking us to NOT look at the potential of the program. This is a de facto admission that the potentiality of the program is something we would find “distasteful” to put it lightly. Furthermore, within the context of the overall article, I’d like to know exactly what Hayden means when he says “potentiality of the program.” You would think it is unlikely he means the government may start killing civilians on U.S. soil based on metadata, but who knows?
At the very least, we should be concerned about targeted political character assassinations, using metadata to poison someone’s reputation, or blackmail someone. But metadata could eventually become grounds for granting search warrants, which means search and seizure of private property based on evidence of evidence. Or for things like IRS audits. Metadata could easily become a tool in the government’s bag of bully tricks.
The potentiality of the program concerns the hell out of me. I hope it concerns you too.
At least Obama did something (after enormous pressure) and “officially” abandoned the program. Small consolation considering the potential for “unofficial” collection, and that private entities will maintain the metadata and the government will basically have access to that whenever they want.
How many days has it been since news broke that Chris Christie’s administration had intentionally created traffic problems on the Washington bridge? It’s only been a week or so but it seems like forever. Public radio and the main stream media seem to be talking about it any time I turn on the TV, radio, or Internet. I even saw at least one Democrat calling for Christie’s impeachment. I’m not endorsing Christie by any means, but impeachment? Come on…
And now, with the Feds probing possible misuse of Hurricane Sandy relief funds, the left is whipping itself into a feeding frenzy. I even noticed CNN went so far as to call Christie “scandal plagued,” as if two scandals amount to a plague in a world where President Obama can apparently weather a dozen scandals simultaneously without CNN throwing up the quarantine tent.
On August 2nd the House released an investigative report on Solyndra, the failed solar energy company, which shows beyond a doubt the Obama administration abused taxpayer dollars for political gain.
Solyndra received a $535 million loan, straight from our pocket, as part of Obama’s “green jobs” strategy. Indeed, Solyndra was considered one of the jewels in Obama’s green recovery crown. When Obama visited the plant in 2010, he highlighted Solyndra as an example of the “right thing to do for the economy,” claiming the plant would employ at least 1,000 high paying jobs.
As is so often the case with lofty oratory, the reality never lived up to the rhetoric.
First, the Obama administration pressured federal reviewers to sign off on Solyndra despite misgivings about the viability of the company and of the government’s loan model. Emails released by the investigators show the Office of Management and Budget responding to White House requests by saying “We would prefer to have sufficient time to do our due diligence reviews.” The loan was ultimately approved, clearly under political duress as an OMB staffer remarked “given the time pressure we are under to sign off on Solyndra, we don’t have time to change the model.”
Solyndra’s CEO at the time hailed the “Bank of Washington” for coming to their aid.
It quickly became clear that Solyndra was in peril as it began to miss payments on the loan. A government analysis warned that the company would run out of money in September of 2011 and recommended that the government simply cut its losses. Instead, the government chose to restructure the loan, ultimately wasting MORE of our tax dollars than if they had simply allowed Solyndra to fail.
The investigators released emails which clearly indicate the decision to restructure the loan – which inexplicably put taxpayers LAST to recoup losses – was made for political reasons. One government analyst remarked that a Solyndra failure “would likely be very embarrassing for DOE and the Administration.” Another commented that she was “vastly confused by DOE’s decision to negotiate away their senior position in this transaction.”
The final insult came when White House Chief of Staff Jack Yew, perhaps sensing that Solyndra was beyond saving, decided to wash his hands of any further involvement in the Solyndra restructuring. Let me say that again to be sure it sinks in:
Despite the administration’s self-proclaimed “quite active interest” in securing the loan for Solyndra, just months before it failed, the White House distanced itself from any further decision making.
No doubt so that when it finally failed, they could blame it on OMB / DOE / Bush (which is exactly what they tried to do).
Still undetermined is exactly what role Obama bundler Robert Kaiser played in securing Solyndra’s loan in the first place. Emails show Kaiser “advised associates” on how to secure federal assistance for Solyndra. As it turns out, Kaiser’s family also had a “substantial” financial stake in Solyndra. Coincidence?
This is an example of Chicago Politics at its finest. We have a choice in 2012. Are you voting for four more years of cronyism and abuse of our wallets? “Bank of Washington” my ass… it’s the Bank of We the People. I say we shut the damn doors. #ABO2012