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What part of what you just said don't you understand?

vastleft's picture

Mike McConnell wants to spy on 100% of Internet traffic.

"Americans will have to trust the government not to abuse the authority it must have in order to protect our networks, and yet, historically the government has not proved worthy of that trust."

Here are the parts of this that I don't understand. What do you mean "will have to trust" and "must have"?

No votes yet


Submitted by lambert on

And I'm been so busy shoveling back the tide of pony shit this week that I haven't posted on it.

McConnell has big ties to the telcos, right?

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

and the people who don't understand either won't, ever, and won't care that they don't; or they will be made to understand by various changes to their internets experience.

when people start getting busted, Little People taken away from cubicles and offices, some will notice. there just aren't enough "real terrorists" here in the US for the SCLM to present every disappearance as justice and victory over the brown hoarde.

It's amazing to watch how this stuff gets spread.

One of the reasons that I stopped getting the New Yorker was because they publish propagandists like McConnell without calling bullshit. "If it's in the New Yorker, it must be true. They have all those fact checkers and aren't trying to push an agenda!".

Makes it all the more difficult to stamp out.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

in the study of ancient ones, but i think it applies today: they write laws to make illegal crimes that have already occured. that is, someone was doing it, and some lawmakers decided to act upon it.

that came to mind as i read this from the above wired link:

Simply put, the FISA law is intended to prevent the NSA from operating inside the United States.

I don't know if i find such a statement naive, romantic, quaint and "historical" or what. perhaps clinton's people obeyed the law regarding intelligence and the constitutional elements regarding privacy, but i *know* bush's people don't. indeed, show me a law that bush officials have consistently followed/obeyed?

law is for the Little People, and for 8 years now, a big part of the appeal of playing with republicans is that if they raise you up high enough, law will never apply to you again. and your friends, the democrats in congress, will ride that unity pony with you all the way to the bank.

Submitted by lambert on

Last I checked, the New Yorker had Seymour Hersh on the staff, and he's pretty adept at calling bullshit.

So, I went the the Wired link, expected to find something about problems in the New Yorker story, and I find.... Zip. Nada. Zilch.

So, Bruce, what's your problem with the McConnell interview? Maybe you can type in some excerpts from the print version, since it's not online and, obviously, you've read it?

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

This took longer than I thought...... and I still not sure I got it right.

My initial comment was a bit of hyperbole - this is the internet - but I think I'm on to something. Also, I've lurked around Corrente for a while and seen how less than coherent comments get taken apart, usually by Lambert. With that in mind I'll try to explain myself. A couple of caveats. I'm not an expert, a writer, or formally trained in much of anything. I've got some free time and I like to read. That's all.

Briefly (or not), I think the magazine is far too deferential to it's subjects, particularly when they are high profile figures from the military-industrial complex. I think this is done in part because they want/need to play to the prejudices of their readers. A fair number of whom could be described as being from the cruise-missle left. Believing that Neo-liberalism isn't a bad thing. That the state of Israel might cross the line occasionally, but the Palestinians really should get their shit together. The refined version of "We're Number One". And so on. This desire to please sets the tone for the piece. It takes a lifelong spy at his word. That is just nuts.

A little digression. I was a subscriber for about 15 years and stopped buying the magazine recently because of their lack of skepticism. Also the Eustace Tilly thing infects the whole place. For an example of what I'm talking about, read Calvin Trillin's story about Shopsin's ( and then rent the movie "I Like Killing Flies".

Seymour Hirsch is a living treasure. I can't think of another investigative reporter like him.

On to a couple of the holes............

In the opening paragraph of an 18 page story in The New Yorker, Lawrence Wright tells an anecdote about kidnapped American soldiers who, according to Director of National Intelligence McConnell, might not be found because eavesdropping analysts needed to get a warrant to monitor conversations between their Iraqi captors.

By not challenging McConnell's point of view on this here or later in the piece, Wright sets the tone of story AND glides over some important facts. Ones that could shed light on why the agency is using the talking point of "Why are we giving 4th Amendment protections to Iraqi Insurgents, located overseas, who have taken U.S. soldiers hostage? " in order to press for a massive increase in the power to spy on Americans.


"But the new law is not just about the NSA not having to prepare a court order to start surveillance on a Yahoo or Hotmail email account that it suspects is being used by a foreigner.

In fact, its about ordering Yahoo or Microsoft to open their email systems in perpetuity to the NSA so that it can start looking at the content of all emails sent from or to IP blocks it believes to be outside the country and begin monitoring all U.S.-based communications services on a meta-level, with an option to get at content when it thinks it should."

One reason McConnell wants these extra powers is given in the Wright's second paragraph:

"McConnell said that federal judges had recently decided, in a series of secret rulings, that any telephone transmission or e-mail that incidentally flowed into U.S. computer systems was potentially subject to judicial oversight. According to McConnell the capacity of the NSA to monitor foreign-based communications had consequently been reduced by seventy per cent."

Some judges said, in secret, that the law needs to be rewritten, otherwise the terrorists win. Or something like that.

This is hearsay. (For the record I'm no lawyer, though I do have a dictionary.)

Wright qualifies things with sentences like "According to McConnell, the capacity of the N.S.A. to monitor foreign based communications had subsequently been reduced by 70%. Now, he claimed, the lives of three American soldiers had been thrown on the scale."

Never once does he directly question the wisdom of believing what McConnell says he needs in order to "make us safe". Also, he doesn't find a second source to verify anything that McConnell claims. That might be impossible to do given the facts. It doesn't justify the lack of skepticism or disbelief.

(This is all from the first two paragraphs.)

Next up are a few pages that paint the picture of McConnell as a hard working, honest man from a modest background who served in Viet Nam and is proud of the military. He went on to direct the NSA from 1992 to 1996, then went into the private sector. Before he retired he was making $2 million/year as a senior vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton. The War on Terror has been good for retired spies with top level security clearances.

Clearly, the man is an American Hero, and is not to be questioned too closely. At least not by Lawrence Wright.

Later on in the article, Wright finds out that that in the course of researching an earlier book, both he and then his daughter, had been monitored by the system, in violation of the FBI's own rules. He brings this up to McConnell as an example of how the system can be abused. McConnell says essentially, what's the problem? Wright's only printed response is "That troubles me".

The entire article is worth reading. The facts are held together by a kind of paternalistic tone that suggests they only want to spy on you for your own good. The overall effect is more than a little hypnotic. Nothing to see here, move along.

A bit more of "I call bullshit" would've been nice.

Lambert, thanks for asking me to back up my rant. If nothing else, it helped me make some sense of it.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

never apologize for your writing style. even if it sucked, (and it doesn't) we've no right to judge you, only engage you. which is what we try to do.

anyway, it sounds to me like you fit right in here at corrente and have nothing to worry about. if i understand your main point, it's that we should hold people more responsible for things like a million dead, maimed and homeless iraqis who suffered and died becasue Village writers feel it incivil to point out facts about iraq, or any other place where rich american policy makers dabble, with deadly results.


there are very, very few publications which live up to my standards of "investigative reporting" or "critical journalism." i took at crack at it for a while, and while i appreciate that it's hard, what turned me off quickly is the culture that produces writing like the stuff of which Bruce complains. and it is a culture, one with rules, and hierarchies. truth is almost never 'the most important thing,' nor even something as intangible as morality. which somehow at the same time, i read Villagers telling me i don't have because i'm not civil and i don't believe in Unity like them. fuck them. they all have blood on their hands, ever last enabling one of them, even in the "good" publications. an honest intellect is sickened by what most of them get away with, and well paid for to boot.

there are so few "good" policy makers out there, it's hard to contemplate. not just in terms of the quality and sensible nature of good policy, but in terms of moral character. i have a friend who calls Villagers and beltway types and even some of the dem leadership "moral cripples." it's an ugly term, but i can only agree.

short version: our racist press never has any problem finding the time, resources and outrage to roast brown and black leaders for their crimes. africa, latin america, even asia- oh, we get all the details about their despotic, inhumane rule, right down to the last screaming child. but the more powerful, more wealthy white guys who live in the west and fund and direct the tinhorn despots?

to even suggest they are complict and deserving of condemnation for their greater crimes automatically makes you Shrill, UnCivil, and most importantly, instantly forgotten and ignored.

Submitted by lambert on

.. it never without reason. How else are we to learn? I expect to be judged for every word I write; it's the closest thing religion I have.

But Bruce, thanks. Keep at it! Otherwise, what CD said.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

i don't "judge" other people. that's a religious/loaded/rhetorical word. i can spell out the philology if you want a boring discussion of ancient semitic languages and how they've infected and distored our communications today. (the "infected" part has to do with age/distance, and not "race" or ethnicity.) don't ever say, or do, "judgement," not if you're a progressive. it's a trap.

i "judge" hillary, the woman, differently than hillary, the politician. some realms are right for human judgement, some are not. writing "quality" is one area i put firmly in the "not" category.

people tell me i'm long winded, bloviating, pretentious, and insane. they are not wrong. people i read seem shallow, misdirected, foolish, and paid off. i am not wrong.

my only point is that free speech is really, really important. it engenders two responses: shut up, cut his mike, cut his tongue out; or- please, tell me more and let me share with you why i think you're wrong/right/full of shit/boring/inspirational. while i, at the same time, tell you and try to prove that you're no better a writer than me, or anyone else.

i choose the latter.

hobson's picture
Submitted by hobson on

I am reading the New Yorker article. It's true that McConnell sounds like a propagandist for the current regime. And he is hardly challenged in the article.

What kills me in all this is that these people are always trying to guard against a perceived threat. McConnell talks about Chinese hackers threatening our banking system and other computer systems. I'm wondering what part Chinese or Al Qaeda hackers played in the current mortgage and credit crisis.

How much money did bin Laden have invested in Worldcom or Enron? Maybe these hackers will use Yahoo apps to divert all those tax rebate checks we are going to need to buoy up the economy.

As I remember it from "the old days," one of the reasons we have so few people to put up against all these foreign hackers, so McConnell says, is that the government went after them with a vengeance. The personal computer was seen as a tool that allowed access into corporate and government spaces that ordinary people should not have access to. So you had to put hackers in jail rather than channel them into more useful pursuits.

Frankly, as a network admin at work, I spend inordinate amounts of time trying to catch spam. True a lot of it comes from Asia/Pacific servers. Maybe that's how they are going to undermine us, by harping about how we need to increase our penis sizes.

The same people who see monitoring the internet as necessary to our security see the government monitoring and regulating business as interference with natural market forces. It's in the article, a complete blindness to the idea that our own worst enemies may not be hiding among the people but be the biggest and most visible elements of our society.