Tuesday Reads: Most Classless SCOTUS Justice, Ongoing Snowden Saga, and Other News

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Good Morning!!

I’m enjoying some nice fresh air this morning after thunderstorms during the night. It looks as if the mini-heat wave we’ve been having here in the Boston area isn’t going to be as quite bad as originally predicted. It it supposed to be several degrees cooler than expected today and tomorrow and then we’re back to high 70’s temps. I hope that turns out to be right.

Unfortunately, because of this refreshing change in the air here, I slept longer than I should have and this post will go up a little bit late.

If there were a competition for “most classless supreme court justice,” there would be some serious competition among Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito; but I think in the end the first prize would have to go to Samuel Alito. Clarence Thomas at least has the grace to remain silent and Scalia supposedly can be funny at times. But Alito is just an immature, obnoxious disgrace, as he demonstrated at the State of the Union Address in 2010 when President Obama denounced the Citizens United decision.

Yesterday Alito used childish, offensive body language to publicly mock his senior colleague Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she read a dissenting opinion to a SCOTUS decision that will make it more difficult for employees to sue for sexual or racial discrimination. From Dana Millbank at The Washington Post:

The most remarkable thing about the Supreme Court’s opinions announced Monday was not what the justices wrote or said. It was what Samuel Alito did.

The associate justice, a George W. Bush appointee, read two opinions, both 5-4 decisions that split the court along its usual right-left divide. But Alito didn’t stop there. When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg read her dissent from the bench, Alito visibly mocked his colleague.

Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the high court, was making her argument about how the majority opinion made it easier for sexual harassment to occur in the workplace when Alito, seated immediately to Ginsburg’s left, shook his head from side to side in disagreement, rolled his eyes and looked at the ceiling.

His treatment of the 80-year-old Ginsburg, 17 years his elder and with 13 years more seniority, was a curious display of judicial temperament or, more accurately, judicial intemperance. Typically, justices state their differences in words — and Alito, as it happens, had just spoken several hundred of his own from the bench. But he frequently supplements words with middle-school gestures.

Millbank goes on the describe Alito’s similar treatment of female Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor a few days earlier. Read about it at the link.

Garrett Epps provides more detail at The Atlantic: Justice Alito’s Inexcusable Rudeness.

I am glad the nation did not see first-hand Justice Samuel Alito’s display of rudeness to his senior colleague, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  Because Alito’s mini-tantrum was silent, it will not be recorded in transcript or audio; but it was clear to all with eyes, and brought gasps from more than one person in the audience.

The episode occurred when Ginsburg read from the bench her dissent in two employment discrimination cases decided Monday, Vance v. Ball State University and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. NassarIn both cases, the Court majority made it harder for plaintiffs to prevail on claims of racial and sexual discrimination.  The Nassar opinion raises the level of proof required to establish that employers have “retaliated” against employees by firing or demoting them after they complain about discrimination; Vance limits the definition of “supervisor” on the job, making it harder for employees harassed by those with limited but real authority over them to sue the employers.

The Vance opinion is by Alito, and as he summarized the opinion from the bench he seemed to be at great pains to show that the dissent (which of course no one in the courtroom had yet seen) was wrong in its critique. That’s not unusual in a written opinion; more commonly, however, bench summaries simply lay out the majority’s rationale and mention only that there was a dissent. (Kennedy’s Nassar summary followed the latter model.)

After both opinions had been read, Ginsburg read aloud a summary of her joint dissent in the two cases.  She critiqued the Vance opinion by laying out a “hypothetical” (clearly drawn from a real case) in which a female worker on a road crew is subjected to humiliations by the “lead worker,” who directs the crew’s daily operation but cannot fire or demote those working with him. TheVance opinion, she suggested, would leave the female worker without a remedy.

At this point, Alito pursed his lips, rolled his eyes to the ceiling, and shook his head “no.” He looked for all the world like Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, signaling to the homies his contempt for Ray Walston as the bothersome history teacher, Mr. Hand.

I guess I should be grateful that I’m old enough to recall the Warren Court. We won’t see a SCOTUS like that again in my lifetime, I’m afraid.

Of course the news is still being dominated by Edward Snowden, who once claimed he didn’t want the story of his leaks of classified information from NSA to be about him. “Really?” writes Dan Murphy of The Christian Science Monitor. “But if that were true, we probably wouldn’t even know his name.”

Two weeks ago, Edward Snowden gave The Guardian permission to disclose that he was the leaker of documents from the US National Security Agency.

“I don’t want public attention because I don’t want the story to be about me,” the former NSA contractor said then. “I want it to be about what the US government is doing.”

If that was really his desire, he’s certainly gone about it in a funny way. From that day, every step he’s taken couldn’t have been better calculated to draw attention to himself. Over the weekend he even turned the media dial up when he fled from Hong Kong to the loving bosom of Mother Russia.

And with the assistance of Julian Assange, Mr. Snowden’s “where’s Waldo” saga is turning into aWikiLeaks production.

Mr. Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, has staked out a consistently anti-American and techno-libertarian position in the past few years. The US government is motivated by malice and power lust in his worldview, its rivals like Russia (where state-owned broadcaster RT ran a show of Assange’s) get a free pass, and secrecyis an evil in and of itself. Though he presents himself as a champion of free-speech, Assange has sought refuge in the Embassy of Ecuador in London, never mind that the country has a poor and deteriorating record on freedom of speech. The Committee to Protect Journalists listed Ecuador and Russia as two of the 10 worst places to be a journalist in the world past year.

Read the rest at CSM.

Meanwhile, Russia and China are pushing back against U.S. criticism of their refusal to help the U.S. extradite Snowden. From The Washington Post:

MOSCOW— Russia and China on Tuesday rejected U.S. criticism of their roles in the legal drama surrounding Edward Snowden, saying their governments complied with the law and did not illegally assist the former government contractor charged with revealing classified information about secret U.S. surveillance programs.

Snowden, 30, has not been seen in public since he reportedly arrived in Moscow on Sunday, after slipping out of Hong KongSecretary of State John F. Kerry on Monday strongly urged Russian officials to transfer Snowden to U.S. custody. “We think it’s very important in terms of our relationship,” Kerry said. “We think it’s very important in terms of rule of law.”

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Snowden had not actually crossed into Russian territory, apparently remaining in a secure transit zone inside the airport or in an area controlled by foreign diplomats. Moscow therefore has had no jurisdiction over his movements, Lavrov said, and has no legal right to turn him over to U.S. authorities.

It sounds like Snowden could still be in some VIP lounge at the Moscow Airport, but no one knows for sure. One witness told Reuters that Snowden did in fact arrive there yesterday. If he is in the airport, Russia can claim that Snowden technically never stepped on Russian soil.

In other news, Nelson Mandela is in critical condition for the second day, according to President Jacob Zuma.

Mr. Zuma said that he and Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy president of the governing African National Congress, visited Mr. Mandela late Sunday.

“Given the hour, he was already asleep. We were there, looked at him, saw him and then we had a bit of a discussion with the doctors and his wife,” Mr. Zuma said. “I don’t think I’m in a position to give further details. I’m not a doctor.”

Doctors told Mr. Zuma on Sunday evening that Mr. Mandela’s health “had become critical over the past 24 hours,” according to an earlier statement from the presidency.

In the statement on Sunday, Mr. Zuma said that doctors were doing “everything possible to get his condition to improve and are ensuring that Madiba is well looked after and is comfortable.” Madiba is Mr. Mandela’s clan name.

The Telegraph reports that Mandela’s close relatives “have gathered at his rural homestead to discuss the failing health of the South African anti-apartheid icon who was fighting for his life in hospital.”

From NPR, President Obama today plans To Lay Out Broad Plan To Address Climate Change.

President Obama is expected to announce a sweeping plan to address climate change this afternoon.

The president has framed this issue as a moral responsibility, to leave the Earth in good shape for generations to come. But the nitty-gritty of any serious plan to address this problem is also a challenge, because it means gradually moving away from fossil fuels to renewable energy supplies — and that means there will be economic winners and losers.

Winners include companies that produce clean energy — wind, solar and geothermal energy. That energy will be more in demand, and the administration intends to expand access to public lands, where companies can build windmills and solar facilities.

Public health is also a winner, because the plan would pressure coal-fired power plants to reduce their emissions. Those plants not only produce carbon dioxide, but they are major sources of mercury, radioactive particles and chemicals that contribute to asthma.

The losers will be coal companies and the miners they employ as well as millions of Americans who can’t afford to pay higher electric bills. You can read the entire plan at the NPR link. More detail in this story at CNN. And at Business Insider, Josh Barro lists 3 Reasons Obama’s Carbon Plan Is The Best Solution Right Now

Today should be another busy news day with the ongoing Snowden saga, the President’s climate initiatives, the continuing Whitey Bulger and George Zimmerman trials, and more important SCOTUS decisions. If it gets hot here again this afternoon, I’ll have something to distract me at least. I’ll try to post an afternoon update.

Now it’s your turn. What stories are you focusing on today? Please post your links on any topic in the comment thread, and have a terrific Tuesday!!


77 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: Most Classless SCOTUS Justice, Ongoing Snowden Saga, and Other News”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Milt Shook dares to criticize Glenn Greenwald for imprecision in his reporting on the U.S. charging people with espionage and gets the expected childish response from St. Glenn.

    Updated: Another Unsupported Attack on Obama by Greenwald

    If Greenwald is going to take his status as a “journalist” seriously, he needs to be a little more careful with he facts from now on. His numbers are WAY off. Before I cite some real numbers, let me note that Greenwald cites no sources for his figures, and that he tries to finesse his attack on President Obama by using the term “prosecutions” and not “charges” or arrests. If he plans to be taken seriously as a journalist, he needs to be more precise. You really can’t complain about a law being “too broad’ (which he does later on), and then be incredibly imprecise yourself. Snowden hasn’t even been indicted yet, so comparing his status with “prosecutions” is very misleading. Also misleading is his use of the term “leakers” to qualify his charge further. Snowden may be more than a “leaker.” He claims to have thousands of documents, and intends to release them in a trickle.

    But let’s talk about espionage charges generally, which is a lot more accurate in this context. This is more common than many think. In all there have been at least 150 cases since 1947. This is from “Espionage: A Statisical Overview“:

    Five spies were arrested or otherwise publicly exposed during the decade of the 1950s. This increased to 13 in the 1960s and 13 in the 1970s. Arrests and other public exposures mushroomed to 56 in the 1980s and remained at a high level, with 29, in the 1990s. Information is available for all 150 cases.

    Greenwald needs to learn the difference between a whistleblower and a spy who gives classified secrets to foreign governments.

    • roofingbird says:

      I don’t know which numbers are the more correct, but arrests and prosecutions are not the same thing, nor are convictions. Further, since he hasn’t yet be subject to due process, one might have an opinion, as I know you do BB, but we don’t know if Snowden is a leaker, whistleblower or spy either.

      If the both numbers are somewhat correct, this might actually speak to the problem of actually making these cases get to court.

      • the story should not be about snowden it what is the gov doing there over reaching the power by far & if you don’t think we the edge of a totalitarianism you are naïve

        • bostonboomer says:

          I disagree. Snowden has made it about him. It was his choice. We already knew about the domestic spying, but Snowden has plenty of other stuff on his four laptops (which have almost certainly been hacked by the Chinese government).

          Are you really comfortable with China and Russia knowing the names of all of the our undercover operatives and the locations of every CIA outpost? If so, you are worse than naive.

          Go ahead and worship St. Glenn and St. Edward all you want. Luckily this isn’t your call. This is going to play out and the results won’t be good for Americans. Greenwald and Snowden have guarateed that any changes will be a tightening of controls on information.

        • Beata says:

          I agree with boogieman.

          Falling into the trap of making the story about Snowden ( and Greenwald ) is exactly what our government wants.

          • bostonboomer says:

            I’m not opposed to everything about our government. I applaud whistleblowers, but Snowden is no longer a whistleblower.

            I’m slightly offended that you think I’m “falling into a trap.” I think I’m an intelligent person who is capable of critical thinking. Because I like you so much, Beata, I’ve decided to assume you don’t really think I’m not. I certainly respect your intelligence and your critical thinking ability.

          • dakinikat says:

            From what I have read Snowden didn’t really uncover anything that wasn’t already known about the data mining. He just deliberately went to Booz Allen, picked up specific methodologies on how we spy on foreign countries and turned it over to unfriendly countries. I don’t consider that whistle blowing at all.

          • its because you are falling into a trap that why sometimes the most intelligent people fall into traps the easiest

          • bostonboomer says:

            Well, thank you so very much for that insult, boogieman. I’ll do my best to recover from it and decline to return the favor.

          • Beata says:

            We just have different opinions about this story, BB. That is all. I certainly think you are a very intelligent person, more than capable of coming to your own conclusions. My comment was not meant to be disrespectful. I was offering my point of view about the Snowden story as it is being covered nationally – not just at SkyDancing. I think the focus in general has been too much on the personalities involved.

            You know I like you very much – my fellow Hoosier! ( It is very hot and humid here today, btw. Be glad you are in Boston. )

          • I am going to post this link here, I posted it last night in the comments…

            The Volokh Conspiracy » What is The “Real Story” About Edward Snowden and His Disclosure of NSA Activities?

            Whenever Edward Snowden is discussed, I invariably encounter the following response:

            Edward Snowden is not the issue. You’re trying to distract people by changing the topic. The real issue is what Snowden disclosed about government surveillance, and anyone who talks about Snowden is not talking about the real issue.

            I find this response puzzling. There are two stories here. On one hand, Snowden revealed documents showing how the government was implementing its national surveillance authorities. That’s a big story, and I blogged about it several times. But on the other hand, Snowden himself is a big story, too. Here’s a guy who has single-handedly exposed some of America’s deepest national security secrets because keeping them secret offended his personal ideological commitments. That’s a big story, too.

            Plus, they’re both pretty interesting for a legal blog specifically. I’m a surveillance law nerd, and I was fascinated by what Snowden has revealed so far. Granted, what Snowden has revealed so far either appears to check out as legal and constitutional or at least was so approved by the federal judges on the FISA court (with too few facts known so far to be able to say much more to question that). So there isn’t quite a “scandal” there. But there are some interesting law nerd issues that I’ve blogged about a few times.

            At the same time, there are really interesting legal issues with Snowden, too. Granted, what Snowden did is clearly illegal. Snowden has pretty much admitted to his conduct, so there isn’t much in the way of drama on the legal issues there. (As usually happens when a crime is committed for ideological reasons, some who share the actor’s ideological views think that he shouldn’t be prosecuted and that any prosecution is really a “persecution.” But ideology aside, the illegality seems clear.) At the same time, Snowden’s effort to evade U.S. jurisdiction is fascinating from a legal standpoint; it reveals the limits of U.S. law enforcement in a global world with many countries not entirely friendly to U.S. interests. And the facts of what he did is the perfect symbol of the problem of keeping secrets in an Internet age. How do you design a way of keeping secrets when a single committed actor wants to frustrate that goal and can download all the secrets onto a thumb drive? These are fascinating and interesting questions, I think.

            So there are two stories here. And given that, I don’t understand the claims of those who insist that the former is the “real story” and the latter a “distraction.” They’re both big stories, and it’s legitimate to cover them both.

            More broadly, I don’t know what the standard is for declaring one of these big stories a “real story” and the other a “distraction.” Each of us gets to decide which of the two stories we find more interesting and which we want to discuss at a particular time. Now, perhaps the claims about “real stories” and “distractions” are just themselves cynical efforts to distract others into changing the topic. Or, less cynically, perhaps they reflect a certain myopia among those who think that what they personally care about must be the real story and what they personally don’t care about must be a distraction. But at least taken at face value, I don’t understand how one person can decide for someone else what “the real story” is; I would think that is up to each person to decide.

            You can go read my thoughts about this from yesterday.

          • bostonboomer says:

            Thanks, Beata. I’m glad we can agree to disagree. It’s actually hotter here in Boston than in Muncie anyway, but only until Thurs. Stay as cool as you can!

      • bostonboomer says:

        Roofingbird,

        We know for a fact that Snowden handed over classified documents to a Chinese newspaper closely allied with the government in Peking. We know that he deliberatly took a job for the purpose of stealing classified documents. In getting that job, he lied about his resume and swore not to reveal secret information. What he did is espionage, by definition.

        I’m still waiting for anyone to address the issue of Snowden’s admission that he has the names of every U.S. NOC on his laptops.

        I am not an anarchist. I believe government has important roles in our lives, including protecting national security. I don’t approve of everything the U.S. government does–far from it–but I’d rather fight from within. Every other recent whistleblower has done so, and none have gotten long-term prison sentences. Edward Snowden chose to flee to countries that have far worse human rights records than ours and to hand over classified documents to them. I just can’t support that.

        I’ll just add that I couldn’t care less if Snowden is caught and brought back to the U.S. I couldn’t care less if he is prosecuted. The damage is already done. Let him stay in whatever country offers him asylum. I’ll reserve my empathy for the long-time girlfriend whom he heartlessly dumped and his worried parents, who must be desperately frightened and confused.

        • truth is I don’t know what snowden has on his laptop & neither do I . & if he really had the classified documents such as every U.S. NOC on his laptops the CIA or would had probably offed him by now.

          • correction- truth is you don’t know what snowden has on his laptop & neither do I

          • RalphB says:

            Snowden said he had them in thw Guardian. You calling him a liar now?

          • bostonboomer says:

            I only know what Snowden says he has, boogieman. The CIA doesn’t just “off people,” despite what you may think. They haven’t “offed” any other whistleblowers have they? And what would be the point, since China already has everything Snowden had? Every expert I have read on this subject says there is little doubt China has taken all the info from Snowden’s laptops. So it would be too late to “off him” anyway.

          • BB can you post something showing snowden saying that he has given the info to the Guardian.. I,ve been following this very close & I have not herd that anywhere.

      • roofingbird says:

        I’m speaking here to the activities of due process, not appearances, nor what was reported that he said. Have you read what he allegedly freely submitted to the Chinese? I have been unable to find it. If he is convicted without a fair trial we may not know what really happened for another 50 years.

        • RB that what I would like to see

          • bostonboomer says:

            Then you should probably read more news articles. I’ve also written several post about this story that you could read. If you come by here, we have posted hundreds of links. I just can’t go hunting for them down for you–so you can insult me again? I find that Google works pretty well.

        • bostonboomer says:

          I’ve read some of it. He gave docs to the South China Morning Post http://www.scmp.com/ Some of us have posted the links on previous threads. They gave details of what was in them and published some. They said he gave specific IP addresses that the U.S. was monitoring and spelled out U.S. methods and programs that will not have to be changed.

          The Guardian has also published top secret documents detailing U.S. and U.K. intelligence activities, none of which have anything to do with civil liberties here in the U.S. I’m afraid I can’t go hunting for links right now.

          I really don’t think there’s that much mystery about what has happened. An American contractor who worked for the NSA has defected and taken a lot of top secret data and software with him.

          I don’t think you need to worry about his going to trial unless he returns to the U.S. voluntarily.

          • BB ok know I know what you are referring to. I don’t think he has given them anything they did not know we where already doing . but your claim that he gave classified documents such as every U.S. NOC do you have anything from snowden on that . ? & not from some 3rd party source ?

          • bostonboomer says:

            I didn’t say he gave the names of NOCs to anyone. I mentioned that Snowden claims to have the information. Here’s an article you can read if you want. It explains what U.S. experts believe he has. JJ posted this article twice yesterday.

            Officials: How Edward Snowden Could Hurt the U.S.

            Before he fled Hawaii for Hong Kong in late May, Snowden allegedly downloaded significant amounts of information about some of the country’s most sensitive secrets — specifically how the U.S. government does surveillance abroad. One source told ABC News that as an information specialist with security clearance “he understood the framework of how the whole U.S. surveillance network works.”

            In short, Snowden’s stolen material would help America’s adversaries understand how we use electronics to spy.

            Another official said Snowden had access to a particularly important computer server in the government’s system “which contained ridiculous amounts of information” totaling hundreds of pages worth of secrets. He is suspected of storing stolen material on computers and making copies of documents. At risk is the effectiveness of billions of dollars worth of supercomputer and clandestine spying resources.

            And on human intel:

            Beyond technical systems, U.S. officials are deeply concerned that Snowden used his sensitive position to read about U.S. human assets, for example spies and informants overseas as well as safe houses and key spying centers.

            They worry this recent quote from Snowden was not an exaggeration: “I had access to the full rosters of everyone working at the NSA, the entire intelligence community, and undercover assets all over the world. The locations of every station, we have what their missions are, and so forth.”
            So it’s not just about what he took, but what he knows, officials emphasize. Officials describe Snowden as a walking treasure trove, a dream for foreign intelligence services. One intelligence official called Snowden and his cache an “entire U.S. government problem.”

            If you want to applaud that, be my guest. Just don’t insult me again by telling me I’m “falling into a trap.”

      • roofingbird says:

        One of the items that has puzzled me is the claims of successful terrorist interventions- somewhere in the low 100’s. Yet of the servers who have publicly given numbers, a majority of the FISA requests have been have been for domestic use for police, on drug and gang related activity, etc, which appear to total roughly the same number as those reported for terrorism. This could be a coincidence, or the servers might not be publicly reporting terrorist requests. In any event, it seems to me that a discussion of this kind of suveillance is in order as well. Was this really the intent? Is this what we want?

        • bostonboomer says:

          I certainly don’t want a surveillance state and I don’t believe the claims about stopping terrorist attacks. As I have said repeatedly, I’d love to see the NSA shut down. Realistically that isn’t going to happen.

          But I don’t see what this has to do with Snowden. He has been focused on revealing U.S. foreign spying. I haven’t heard him mention terrorism as a concern of his. Like Greenwald, he is a Paulite and anti-government “libertarian.” But even Ron and Rand Paul believe we need some foreign intelligence collection to protect our national security. Snowden has made it clear that he thinks the U.S. should not spy on any country unless Congress has declared war on it. He doesn’t even believe we should spy on countries that might declare war on us.

          • roofingbird says:

            Sheehy’s “Passages” might stand in as metaphor. We talked about FISA, we passed, it and here we are discussing it again, even to the extent that the ACLU might move forward again with their suit. Snowden has caused this public discussion. Its time to revisit and reevaluate our war needs.

            I liked a comment I saw on the China Times, paraphrasing that the Cold War is not dead, it just looks different.

            This started with domestic survaillence over a country that reportedly controls or manages 70% of internet traffic worldwide. Of course they are related!

            I don’t care whether all his friends are libertarian. The subject needs revisiting, especially in light of the (known) budgeted monies going to this oligarch feeding the NSA…

  2. janicen says:

    Headed back to finish reading your wonderful post but just FYI, the Dana Millbank link doesn’t work.

  3. bostonboomer says:
    • bostonboomer says:

      No ruling on DOMA today.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Apparently there is no longer a “right to vote” in states/counties that are determined to keep certain people from having a voice in their government.

  4. RalphB says:

    AP: Russia rejects US demand for Snowden’s extradition

    MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s foreign minister bluntly rejected U.S. demands to extradite National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, saying Tuesday that Snowden hasn’t crossed the Russian border.

    Story is full of contradictory information.

  5. RalphB says:

    TPM: Texas Senate Dems Plan Thirteen-Hour Filibuster To Kill Anti-Abortion Bill

    After thwarting two attempts Monday by majority Republicans to bring the abortion bill to a floor vote ahead of its scheduled time Tuesday morning, Democrats are turning to Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, to stage the marathon speech.

    “We want to do whatever we can for women in this state,” Sen. Kirk Watson of Austin, leader of the Senate Democrats.

    She will have to speak nonstop, remain standing, refrain from bathroom breaks or even leaning on anything. Other Democrats can give her voice a break by offering questions to keep conversation moving.

    May be a good show once it gets going.
    Watch live… http://www.senate.state.tx.us/bin/live.php

  6. Fannie says:

    In memory of the three young men who died fighting for our voting rights……….take action, let their voices ring out for democracy. They died for a reason, never forget.

    James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Henry Schwerner…………all were murdered and died 21 Jun 1964, Neshoba Co. Ms.

  7. RalphB says:

    WaPo: Leahy introduces bill seeking expanded oversight of surveillance programs

    The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday renewed long-frustrated efforts to expand congressional oversight of government surveillance programs following disclosures about the intelligence community’s collection of phone and Internet records.

    The FISA Accountability and Privacy Protection Act, introduced Monday by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), would raise the legal bar the government must meet before obtaining call detail records from U.S. phone companies, effectively narrowing the scope of collection.

    The bill would amend Section 215 of the Patriot Act to require officials to demonstrate that the phone records sought are relevant not only to an authorized investigation but that they also have links to a foreign terrorist group or power…

    A separate provision in Leahy’s bill would terminate Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, which authorizes a far-reaching Internet surveillance program, in June 2015 — two years sooner than its current expiration date. Details of that program, called PRISM by the National Security Agency, were revealed in articles based on documents obtained by The Washington Post and the Guardian from the same NSA contractor….

    Sounds like a good idea but it’s a shame it took these leaks to get the attempt.

  8. bostonboomer says:
  9. RalphB says:

    TPM: Obama: Keystone Pipeline Will Only Be Built If It Does Not ‘Significantly’ Increase Carbon Pollution

    President Barack Obama addressed the possible construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline in his speech on climate change Tuesday, saying the project will only be built if it does not “significantly” increase carbon pollution.

    “Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest, and our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution,” he said in what was billed as a major speech at Georgetown University. “The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining if this project is allowed to go forward. It’s relevant.”

    Prior to the speech, a senior administration official told the Huffington Post that the president would ask the State Department to only approve the construction of the pipeline if it would not lead to a “net increase” in overall greenhouse gas emissions.

    Hope this means there’s now a War on Pipe.

  10. bostonboomer says:

    Greenwald: Snowden’s Files Are Out There if “Anything Happens” To Him

    Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian Newspaper journalist Snowden first contacted in February, told the Daily Beast Tuesday that Snowden “has taken extreme precautions to make sure many different people around the world have these archives to insure the stories will inevitably be published.” Greenwald added that the people in possession of these files “cannot access them yet because they are highly encrypted and they do not have the passwords.” But, Greenwald said, “if anything happens at all to Edward Snowden, he told me he has arranged for them to get access to the full archives.”

    According to Greenwald:

    “I do know he was vehement about that, he was not trying to harm the U.S. Government, he was trying to shine light on it.”

    Greenwald said Snowden for example did not wish to publicize information that gave the technical specifications or blueprints for how the NSA constructed its eavesdropping network. “He is worried that would enable other states to enhance their security systems and monitor their own citizens.” Greenwald also said Snowden did not wish to repeat the kinds of disclosures made famous a generation ago by former CIA spy, Philip Agee—who published information after defecting to Cuba that outed undercover CIA officers. “He was very insistent he does not want to publish documents to harm individuals or blow anyone’s undercover status,” Greenwald said. He added that Snowden told him, “Leaking CIA documents can actually harm people, whereas leaking NSA documents can harm systems.”

    • bostonboomer says:

      Greenwald says he won’t publish “the technical specifications of NSA systems,” but he (Greenwald) apparently has them. That’s not particularly reassuring.

      • RalphB says:

        If they were on his laptops, China and Russia probably also have them. That’s not reassuring.

        • roofingbird says:

          Those laptops-if he got info out via some small device, you would think he would have to do it several times to fill 4 laptops. Or, maybe the application is so large that it takes 4 to run relatively little data, or, he might be using them to scramble IP addresses so he could communicate, or scrambling the computers while he ran them to avoid hacking, or he gained the app before he went to Booz Allen and then got the data, or he needed them to plan an escape itinerary, or…

          I’m not sure what the purpose of the 4 laptops was, except that he apparently had them. As you noted, China and Russia would be able to hack into those computers for the data. You would think he would know that. Or maybe he assumed that since theoretically the NSA had not been breached before him, that encrypting the data would further protect it. Also as referenced above, Snowden reportedly gave encrypted copies to various persons around the world as protection for the data. You apparently know that the copy given to the China News was not encrypted, because BB says you and she have read at least some of them. I did try to read all your links, and I have made Google searches, but I guess I have missed that data.

          I do think that if the US has revoked his passport, the next port of call for him MUST be the one granting him asylum. I also wonder that if he has been sitting in the nethers of an airport, the Russians would do anything if he were suddenly whisked out of that room by the renditioners showing up on the next flight. It isn’t, after all, like an embassy.

          As a last comment, surely no one thinks that a FRIENDLY country is going to offer him sanctuary? He wanted Iceland, not Russia. Ecuador is Wiki’s idea. He must be really terrified right now. Maybe he deserves it.

          • bostonboomer says:

            The Intel people are saying he somehow stole the four laptops from NSA. NSA knows how he got into the top secret data. It is described in the article I linked to for boogieman.

            Snowden gave the South China Post some docs. I wasn’t aware that he gave them all the data he had. That would be weird. If so, why would he encrypt it and send it around the world? They’ve already published the specific IP addresses he gave them even though he didn’t want them to.

            Snowden was given permission to travel without a passport by both Peking and Moscow. Otherwise he could not have left Hong Kong or landed in Moscow.

            I’m sure he’s still trying to get into Iceland.

            I don’t know who will offer him asylum, but my point is that if he were really a whistleblower trying to change things through civil disobedience, he would have stayed her and faced the consequences of his actions–following the example of Martin Luther King and previous whistleblower such as Daniel Ellsburg. Snowden chose the coward’s way out, because his motives were to hurt the U.S., not help Americans.

    • RalphB says:

      What do they think is going to happen to Snowden now? Sounds like spy novel BS.

    • Wow, that stuff that Greenwald says Snowden said doesn’t sound like the kind of words that came out of Snowden’s mouth. There seems to be a little bit of “public safety” lawsuit liability concerned scripted spin going on…