Friday, August 16, 2013

The NSA's lies and the five worst songs of all time

Please Stop Believing

Posted by Chris Haire on Fri, Aug 16, 2013 at 2:10 PM

I hate repeating myself. I really do. I hate having to say the same thing over again and over again because some people just won't listen and even fewer will listen to reason. And yet, that's what I'm compelled to do. Sigh.

So, without further adieu, I'll say it once again:

"Don't Stop Believing" is one of the five worst songs in pop music history (The others, in case you are interested, are "I'm Proud to be an American," "More Than a Feeling," "We Built This City on Rock 'n' Roll," and "I and Love and You")

The "everybody meets again in the afterlife" twist ending of Lost was a shameful exercise in schmaltz-mongering that defied the show's logic and turned the entire final season into a forced standing ovation.

"Jaws" is the best movie ever made.

Ringo Starr was a better songwriter than George Harrison.

Geraldo Rivera really was a kickass journalist at one time.

The 9/11 hijackers never thought that their actions would cause the Twin Towers to collapse.

Ronald Reagan could not win the GOP nomination if he ran for president today.

Lindsey Graham likes ham biscuits.

The alleged Will Folks-Nikki Haley is an example of how a locker room boast can get out of control.

Dukes and Hellmann's are more or less the same.

Hunts and Heinz ketchup are radically different.

In his early years, Mickey Mouse was a dick. And so was Charlie Brown.

Your grandparents didn't eat vegetables fresh from the garden. They ate them out of a can.

College football players should be paid. 

Pro basketball should be banned.

And baseball is better when everybody is juicing.

Lance Armstrong is still the best cyclist of all time.

Tiger Woods will never win another major.

Not even Michael Jordan can bring save the paintbrush mustache from Hitler.

Andre 3000 is the Axl Rose of hip-hop.

Only half of the Daily Show is worth watching and virtually none of the Colbert Report is. 

CNN may be a pale imitation of itself, but unlike the other two cable news network, it has more than a team of Beltway reporters in the field. 

Nothing denotes the intellectual laziness of the average American better than the rise in popularity of teen fiction among adult men and women. 

The Avengers movie had the look and feel of a TV show, and in many ways, it was no better than an episode of The A-Team. 

And the "Glee" cover of "Don't Stop Believing" is the single worst thing to ever happen in the history of mankind. 

OK. I'm done. Enough with the ranting.

Oh. Who am I kidding. I've got one more: The NSA is out of control, and nobody in Washington seems to give a damn about it.

For example, today the Washington Post reports that the NSA that it has "overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008." The paper notes that the number of violations — case of spying on both Americans and foreigners on American soil — is over 2,000. The Post reports:


In what appears to be one of the most serious violations, the NSA diverted large volumes of international data passing through fiber-optic cables in the United States into a repository where the material could be stored temporarily for processing and selection.

The operation to obtain what the agency called “multiple communications transactions” collected and commingled U.S. and foreign e-mails, according to an article in SSO News, a top-secret internal newsletter of the NSA’s Special Source Operations unit. NSA lawyers told the court that the agency could not practicably filter out the communications of Americans.

And it gets worse. The Post notes:

The NSA uses the term “incidental” when it sweeps up the records of an American while targeting a foreigner or a U.S. person who is believed to be involved in terrorism. Official guidelines for NSA personnel say that kind of incident, pervasive under current practices, “does not constitute a . . . violation” and “does not have to be reported” to the NSA inspector general for inclusion in quarterly reports to Congress. Once added to its databases, absent other restrictions, the communications of Americans may be searched freely.

And worse. 

In one required tutorial, NSA collectors and analysts are taught to fill out oversight forms without giving “extraneous information” to “our FAA overseers.” FAA is a reference to the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which granted broad new authorities to the NSA in exchange for regular audits from the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and periodic reports to Congress and the surveillance court.

Using real-world examples, the “Target Analyst Rationale Instructions” explain how NSA employees should strip out details and substitute generic descriptions of the evidence and analysis behind their targeting choices.

“I realize you can read those words a certain way,” said the high-ranking NSA official who spoke with White House authority, but the instructions were not intended to withhold information from auditors. 

Of course, none of this should surprise anyone who read Wired's March 2013 story on the NSA domestic spying program. 
If you haven't read it yet, read it — and all of the followup stories — now, and you'll discover that long before Edward Snowden ratted out the NSA, several high-ranking former members of the NSA already did. Here's a taste of what you'll find:

... for the first time since Watergate and the other scandals of the Nixon administration—the NSA has turned its surveillance apparatus on the US and its citizens. It has established listening posts throughout the nation to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls, whether they originate within the country or overseas. It has created a supercomputer of almost unimaginable speed to look for patterns and unscramble codes. Finally, the agency has begun building a place to store all the trillions of words and thoughts and whispers captured in its electronic net. And, of course, it’s all being done in secret. To those on the inside, the old adage that NSA stands for Never Say Anything applies more than ever


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