FBI Aspires to Be the Stasi

Charlie Savage describes changes the FBI is making to its Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide. On its face, the changes he describes are downright bad. The changes allow FBI agents to:

  • Make a database “assessment” search of a group or person “proactively” without making a record of that search
  • Tail people during a “proactive” assessment more than once
  • Search a potential informant’s trash to gather information to use to force the informant to snitch for the government
  • Attend up to five meetings of a group undercover
  • Eliminate extra supervision of investigations of politicians or journalists if they are witnesses, not suspects, in the investigation
  • Eliminate such protection altogether for “low-profile” blogs

These new rules allow all sorts of fishing expeditions of people based on nothing more than a lead. Moreover, it would make it easy for the FBI to surveil targets with almost no evidence against them until they could be trumped up on some crime.

To some degree they feel like an effort to clean up past illegal activity (as the FBI did with its exigent letters program).

But consider how much worse these guidelines are in consideration of what else we know, or suspect.

We suspect, after all, that our government collects generalized databases of geolocation using Section 215. Since that information need only be “relevant” to a foreign intelligence investigation, it may well include records on all of us.

These new rules would allow the FBI to search such a database without recording that search. Aside from the obvious invitation for abuse–some agent wondering whether his girlfriend was hanging out with his best friend–it also eliminates the evidence that the FBI used such a controversial technique as geolocation as the premise for further investigation. It makes it easier for the FBI to investigate someone because of nothing more than who they know.

Then there’s the new rules allowing the FBI to conduct investigations of what a journalist “witnessed” without supervision. Remember that after the FBI decided James Risen had “witnessed” a leak of classified information, they collected his business records and emails, collecting much of the evidence they needed to indict Jeff Sterling. This rule would seem to virtually eliminate any real protection for journalists’ sources.

Finally, there’s the invitation to snoop through a potential informant’s trash. As I have pointed out, as far back as 2002, the government explicitly described using FISA to collect information, even on potentially unrelated crimes like rape, on potential informants so they could blackmail them into serving as snitches. Taken together, these rules would allow the FBI to search through existing databases (potentially including telecommunications metadata showing who a person communicated with and hung out with, as well as some financial information) to find potential snitches. The agent could search those databases with no apparent limits or record. And then the agent could sift through the potential informant’s trash to get the evidence to blackmail him to become an informant.

These rules seem ripe to snare a bunch of totally innocent people in the FBI’s investigative web. And even if it doesn’t, it may well serve to increase the paranoia of average people.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

  1. bmaz says:

    I am inclined to agree that this is mostly a formal blessing of shit they have mostly been doing, in one form or another, since the J. Edgar days. That said, it does not make it innocuous, reasonable or acceptable.

    By the way, just for grins, how exactly do they define the concepts “prominent blogger” and “low-profile blogs”?

    • DWBartoo says:

      Several cups of well-used kitty litter in every garbage bag makes the “search” more noisome, more wholesome, and much more welcome.

      Come on fellas, dig in.

      bmaz has called the “pitch” poifectly.

      The FIB just wants all their “activity” to be on the legal “up and up”, since THEY may have no expectation of “privacy” for their brave, patriotic behavior… except, possibly, in Illinois and Massachusetts.

      Is Barack Obama a really swell guy and a “good man”… or what?

      (Such snark as may appear in this comment is for entertainment porpoises only … although they have not laughed for a very long time, and what they HAVE said would, without a doubt, offend the delicate sensibilities of “thinking man”, ole homo sap …)

      DW

    • jawbone says:

      “Raw” kitty litter? I’d suggest well-used kitty litter, nicely soaked and lots of turds.

  2. Frank33 says:

    The FBI, 2011 same as 1969 with more COINTELPRO. The FBI did plenty of False Flag ops against anti-Vietnam war dissidents. The FBI also covers up the False Flag ops of the Intelligence Community, such as Underwear Bomber. The FBI has gone international with its Gestapo tactics, protecting government conspiracies such as Mumbai 2008.

    Two of Headley’s wives reported him to be a terrorist. Headley had trained with Pakistan L-e-T and was making frequent trips to India and Pakistan. The FBI covered up Headley’s ties to terrorism before and after Mumbai.

    The New York Times reported Saturday that the second wife, a Moroccan, provided information at the American Embassy in Islamabad in 2007 that Headley was involved in a terrorist group that was actively plotting against targets in India. It said the second wife, Faiza Outalha, met twice with an assistant regional security officer and an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer at the embassy.

    The Times said Headley had at least three wives, and at one time was married to all three.

    One of the two American officials confirmed that Headley’s wives shared concerns with U.S. officials prior to the attack and that those concerns warranted attention

      • lefty665 says:

        Things like No Script and Better Privacy for Firefox are needed too. LSO cookies are stinkers. All the browser add ons are in addition to up to date hardware and OS firewalls, OS, anti-virus, and anti mal-ware tools.

        You can at least make it a little harder for the bozos to casually “assess” you. However, if someone with actual national technical means wants any of us we’re dead meat.

        Remember too which Agency has been consulting with the tech sector on security. That includes at least two generations of Windows, and the newest generation of Intel cpus that have remarkable capabilities to do things like phone home or brick your system without letting you know or asking your permission. It is reasonable to infer that the newer the technology, the greater the probability that backdoors are baked in from the beginning.

        Never consider that any electronic communication, or any communication where electronics are present, is private or protected. Never.

  3. Kassandra says:

    Sounds like the HUAC investigations into the “Red Menace” in the 40’s and 50’s. Remember McCarthy’s witch hunts, focused on Hollywood? That ruined a lot of people. They even got Lucille Ball up there in front of congress while that MF was grandstanding.

    An interesting article on HP the other day. I was halfway through expressing my considered opinions when i realized it was the first major article on there for a looooong time that was moderated, THAT gave me pause…..and a tail and I became suspicious of a set-up by our friendly government fascisti types.

    Here’s the article: Daniel Ellsberg: The Crimes Richard Nixon Committed Against Me Are Now Legal

    Hate to be so paranoid, but the times seem to justify it.

    • ottogrendel says:

      Indeed. And it sounds like a return to the writs of assistance that the Fourth Amendment was intended to quash. Noticing another right circling the drain is not paranoia. Although, if the power and utility of the Bill of Rights can be summarily stripped, they aren’t really rights to begin with. Ulrike Meinhof’s articles “The New German Ghetto Show” and “Human Dignity Is Violable” are relevant here for an historical comparison.

      Thanks for the link.

  4. radiofreewill says:

    You know, talk about defaulting on the National Debt – something the goopers threaten to do all the time – could very easily be classified as ‘extremist agitation with grave potential harm to the nation.’

    So, those goopers better watch out – the feds could be tracking the lobbyist swarm around each and every one of them – by geo-location on the web of their own phones.

    It’s going to be blazingly obvious ‘who’ the real enemy is if we default – and then find out who shorted US – through corrupt and compromised ‘in the bag’ politicians – for their own profit…

  5. bonncaruso says:

    However, comparing the FBI to the Stasi is really terrible. Obviously, you have absolutely no idea how the Stasi worked.

    Shame on you.

    • radiofreewill says:

      She said ‘aspires’ to be the Stasi – a reasonable inference given that this level of un-auditable State access to personal lives is a revelation for most of us here in the US.

      Here’s the Stasi Wiki. Except for the section on Execution of Dissidents, which was done entirely in secret, and not discovered until after the fall of the wall – where’s the difference?

    • Frank33 says:

      Shame on you. COINTELPRO was successful in neutralizing the anti-war protesters in the 60’s. People who were FBI targets had careers destroyed, were put in prison on false charges and worse. The FBI probably assassinated Martin Luther King Jr. We know the US Government is now run assassins. The new improved FBI COINTELPRO has neutralized the anti-war protesters now. As I said the FBI protected the mass murderer Headley

      Now the oligarchs use private corporations to impose their fascist police state. But the FBI are real terrorists just as in 1969. For years the FBI also protected Al Qaeda and the 9-11 attackers.

    • emptywheel says:

      There were plenty of surveillance regimes I could have picked. However, none is so well known as the Stasi for its pursuit of informants for the sake of having informants. That’s what a big part of this seems to be about.

    • onitgoes says:

      Obviously, you have absolutely no idea how the Stasi worked.

      I would hazard a good guess that EW is pretty clear on how the Stasi worked, as am I.

      Perhaps it is you who is unclear on the FBI has operated in the past and continues to operate right this minute. You may wish to do some serious research into that. Just a suggestion…

  6. jo6pac says:

    well I don’t about you all but this sounds like a job program to me, they’ll need to hire half of Amerika to watch the rest of us;)

    What do you mean the rest of us?

  7. TarheelDem says:

    The ghost of Alexander Mitchell Palmer and J. Edgar Hoover lives on in the FBI.

    What else is new but the technology they are using?

    And no President is willing to rein them in. They are either politically dangerous or politically useful.

    • liberalarts says:

      I would guess the agency makes a point to know as much as is knowable about anybody who could be friend or foe, starting at the top of the political food chain.

  8. reddog says:

    The Stasi couldn’t imagine the technology now available to the FBI. Powerful computers, sitting right on the desktop and access to enormous databases is a totalitarian’s wet dream.

      • DWBartoo says:

        A true “Got ya!!!” regime, perpetuated, “endlessly” by a unitary (government) executive, untroubled by anything more than the staged appearance of the most superficial of “checks” or “balances”, all from the implemented “plans” which the cunning, calculating, and conscience-less, the sociopathic elite, have been able to devise … and “sell” these last forty years. Such learned deceit and masterful manipulation permeates the law, finanacial “invention”, current “thought”, mythology, and “convention”, indeed it rules the world.

        Beneath it all is fear and the desire for unchecked, uncheckable “power”. premised not on Mao’s “barrel of a gun”, but upon stealth drones and nuclear anihilation, and all the other wonders of committed “r and d” (for a “reasonable” profit, of course).

        The highly charged and terrifying walls of the neofeudal “future” you have amply described, EW, are daily being erected around conscience, humanity, and freedom of thought.

        We are well on our way, bringing to mind my great pleasure in knowing that Cass Sunstein runs the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs./Sss

        Soon enough, Sunstein will embark on the “Official History of America”, when, presumably, he will have some means, “taxation”, has been suggested, to quiet those who remember or consider things … differently.

        Wall Street is accepting bets as to when we will arrive “there”.

        Wanna bet?

        DW

        • thatvisionthing says:

          Hey DW. I’ve been going back and forth between fdl and dkos diary on Alzheimer’s and assisted suicide. I’ve been saying for a while now that this government of paranoia and secrecy is like national Alzheimer’s. Just thought I’d share a couple of comments I read over on dkos today — see if you recognize anything:

          Both of my wife’s parents and my father died of some form of cancer, while my mother died with Alzheimer’s Disease. For both of us, while the prospect of cancer is frightening, the prospect of Alzheimer’s is far more frightening. At least with cancer, you’re YOU pretty much until the end. With Alzheimer’s, on the other hand, my mother hadn’t been herself for years before she died. The memory problems weren’t even the worst. The worst was the paranoia, with the accompanying hiding things so they wouldn’t be stolen, then not being able to find them and insisting that this was proof that people really were stealing from her. When we’d find the hidden object, she’d insist that this merely meant that the thief had either brought it back, or had brought back an inferior imitation. She was constantly fearful and angry, and generally unable to enjoy anything for the last several years of her life.

          I almost threw out Mum’s engagement ring

          To keep it safe, she had place it in a ring box, then wrapped it in several discarded pair of pantyhose. I just happened to squeeze the resulting ball of nylon in the right way to feel that something square was inside the ball, or her ring would have gone out in the trash.

          Even worse than the paranoia, though, were the sudden, terrifying, inexplicable rages. We finally had to put Mum in a nursing home after she attacked her sister with a butcher knife. No one wanted to do it, but what choice did we have?

          Just saying.

          Also — I think I saw this in EW’s diary on the FBI recruiting hackers to inform on other hackers and now everybody’s paranoid about everyone else? Man, who could have foreseen that? There is some serious crazy going on “up” there. And they call it intelligence! You cannot, cannot, cannot make this stuff up.

          • PJEvans says:

            I’d call it insanity, because that’s what it looks like from here. It’s likely to get me on a list, somewhere, but I suspect everyone here has been on one or another list for years.

          • thatvisionthing says:

            JOHN LE CARRÉ: …this suggestion that there are those in the know and those not in the know, and that those not in the know are second-class citizens, is extremely dangerous to society. And I think we have to address it all the time.

            We have no idea. We don’t have a spokesman for these intelligence services, either one of them, either one of the three main intelligence services. We have inspired leaks. We have people who seem to speak with authority. But when somebody tells us suddenly that we’ve gone on to red alert, and there are tanks outside London Airport, or whatever it is, we don’t know by what process this definition reaches us. It’s very easy inside an intelligence service to develop a capsule mentality. You live inside the bubble. The one thing you begin to lose is common sense, a sense of balance. And particularly when it’s men, all together, men in a room.

    • thatvisionthing says:

      Justice Brandeis foresaw it in 1928: link – passage from Olmstead dissent on wiretapping

      Of course he was imagining the government being after evidence to be used in open court. Ha ha ha. Old school.

  9. fatster says:

    And while they’re doing all this to us and our 4th Amendment, look at what they’re doing for others:

    United States developing anti-censorship Internet systems

    “The US government is financing the development of “shadow” Internet systems [and cellphone networks] to enable dissidents abroad to get around government censors.”

    LINK.

  10. bobschacht says:

    Isn’t it Congress’s prerogative to establish the law on these matters?

    Your post reminds me of the recent Ellsberg claim that everything illegal that Nixon did is now legal.

    Bob in AZ

  11. TomThumb says:

    In order to open an assessment on an antiwar group all they have to do is get someone to lie and say that a member of the group advocates violence or the destruction of property. See the top of page 44 of the FBI manual linked at the NYT article.

  12. onitgoes says:

    Thanks for the post, EW. I saw an article in my local “nooz” paper about how the FBI is now being legitimized for the tactics its used forever. My first thought was: what’s “new” about these purported changes to FBI procedures/tactics/ etc?? Been going since the inception of the FBI… Oh yeah: now their tactics are being legitimized.

    Great!

    Of course, I can hear the conservative rant: well, IF you don’t have anything to hide, then … yadda yadda yadda…

    I might add that, in addition to all the surveillance etc, done during Viet Nam era war protests & such, J. Edgar also had surveillance on the nascent feminist movement by infiltrating women’s consciousness raising groups:

    http://www.freedomarchives.org/Documents/Curr%20C101/Cointelpro%20and%20Women's%20Liberation.pdf

    I suppose one *may* make some kind of “argument” in support of the Feebs infiltrating, for ex, the Black Panther movement (I don’t *agree,* just saying). But infiltrating the early women’s movement of the late 1960s/1970s??? Really???

    Anyone who dislikes the comparison of the the FBI to Stasi may wish to do a little homework. Just saying….

  13. potsdam602 says:

    Can we write ‘pervert’ on our garbage items? I’m using a paper plate for a bagel right now. Think I’ll write ‘ducks fly south in winter’ on it bf throwing it away. Put some random lat. and long. on an empty tp roll. Them looking through all this is WAY more important than trailing, interviewing and recording the Wall Street terrorists who brought America down.

  14. marksb says:

    Who has any paper of interest anymore? It’s all online. If they cruise my trash they’ll get the bagged dog poop and banana peels. If they raid my recycling they’ll get my utility bills and junk mail. And the LA Times, which probably deserves the trash, now that I think about it.

    But I agree this “legitimizes” actions taken regularly–from my experience–in the late 60’s and 70’s with war protests and well into the 90’s with radical environmental actions.

    It’s just that the technology available is so much better now. And Congress will fold like a cheap blanket.

    • emptywheel says:

      Right, but we have every reason to believe they’re accessing the online stuff, too.

      Consider: in 2002 DOJ said they coudl use FISA to get info with which to recruit informants. FISCR said no, sort of. But all the while, Cheney had his own data collection system, one where htey didn’t have to prove to the judge any tie to foreign power.

      Meanwhile, since then, they’ve basically laid out Cheney’s program via other collectoin means, probably including Section 215. And we know they consider “collecting information to blackmail people to become informants” a legitimate “intelligence investigation” tactic.

      So presumably they’re already using online stuff. Including, probably, geolocation.

      • marksb says:

        Having worked in the data com and telecom industries, I long ago assumed that everything I do is interceptable. Geolocation is a given as well–we can imagine the FBI/Intel meeting where some geek mentioned that this data was being logged: “No shit! Wow.” Everyone’s eyes lit up and a new project was formed.

        I’ve also given up on the idea/fantasy that any of this monster can be put back into the box. I just can’t see how.
        If anyone is doing anything that is remotely counter to the PTB, use the strongest crypto you can…(which of course flags you)

        • thatvisionthing says:

          Why catch their contagion? You can see where it goes: crazy. I saw the movie: The Conversation. The Bedford Incident. Dr. Strangelove. uhhh…

          Never mind, my head’s in a different place right now. I treated myself to Summer of My German Soldier last week and right now I’m still a 12-year-old Jewish girl in Georgia in WWII falling in love with the German POW she’s helping escape. Anton Friedrich Reiker. * Sigh. * She wants to dream of growing up and going to Germany to be with him after the war, going to the opera with him in Munchkin. And he tells her,

          “Sshhh, liebchen. No dreams now. Not beyond dreams that perhaps can someday come true. When the war is over, there will be no more Germany. Not a real Germany. There will only be a shambles that Germans have made for other Germans. It will not be a place that you would like.”

          Spoiler alert. Shambles ahead.

          Earlier he had been shocked to find out that the girl helping him was a Jew. “You are not joking me? … You are a Jew, little girl. I am a soldier of the Third Reich. We are enemies, you and I. We do not help each other, Jew. We cannot save each other.”

          But they kind of do.

          Hugs y’all.

  15. applepie says:

    Great , a new use for used kitty litter. Thanks! As we move into a future that is very unpredictable, and our empire really does continue collapsing around the world, I think the FBI and shadow govt will become less controllable and more Stasi-like. Sorry, but I think the allusion of FBI to becoming a Stasi is valid. I think we should push this re-branding as far as we can. Maybe it will cause some to see this as different than the military-inudustrial-entertainment complex wants us to believe.

    The trash thing and infiltration have been going on for a long time. The new electronic database stuff is different though. Perhaps the open acknowledgement and expansion of using databases against the information revolution was inevitable.

    Mr. German said the change would make it harder to detect and deter inappropriate use of databases for personal purposes.

    We have had ECHELON in place for the last two decades or so, filtering intl emails for keywords and amassing vast amounts of data. This may signal another level of cross-agency coordination and merging. NSA was intl, and now it greases the track to openly domestic ops. It’s a normal evolution of the security state, I suppose, same as a cancerous growth expands into something new and different and dangerous.

    Everyone should start using a VPN and encrypting data. This is probably not enough but is a good start. Get rid of the porn on your computer. It is easily accessible and downloadable for a reason. Learn about how to secure yourself. Over and out.

  16. lakeeffectsnow says:

    you want to know what else slows down a search ???

    a .40 or a .45 bullet behind the ear.

    if anyone – and i do not care if they have a badge or not – starts rooting through my trash, i will shoot them.

    dirty rotten f***ing bastards.

    and really f*** 9/11 – i just knew that we would be paying for cheney’s plot for the rest of our f***ing lives.

    gd it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • bmaz says:

      Um, let’s not be bandying about such statements here, okay? I hate this stuff too, but it is NOT acceptable to suggest it is okay to shoot agents or anyone else.

      • lefty665 says:

        There’s your justification for a “proactive assessment”, even if the advocacy of violence comes from one of their own, as it so often has.

        Acknowledging the change of the rules of “assessment” itself becomes the pretext for assessing each and every one who participates in the conversation, or views it, or who has ever visited the site, or one like it.

        We’ve been here before, but without the technology:

        “Are you now or have you ever been,
        Were you ever sympathetic to or interested in?
        When did you start, how long did it last,
        Tell us all about your interesting past —
        Answer yes or no!”

        “Did you go to a meeting, did you sign a petition,
        Did you ever hold an executive position?
        Did you make a speech, did you carry a card,
        Did you ever hold a conference in your back yard?”

        Talking Unamerican Blues – 1952

    • DWBartoo says:

      Once upon a time, les, whilst inhabiting the far end of a very different universe, I did, I admit, once or twice, ponder upon those “things” which might initiate the “interest” of “going” on a “search” in the minds of FIBbers… and then, years, and several universes later, the term “collateral damage” was devised … and all kinds of associations began to seem guilty, just simply for being “there”… you understand, “plausible deniability”, “all the usual suspects”, and that sort of “stuff”?

      (On a totally different topic … scribe once (upon a time) put up, for consideration, a most interesting comment regarding the cost of ammunition … and the “select” group who “make” such stuff – very interesting names popped up – same, for those who “make” firearms …)

      DW

    • teqwi says:

      You’ll have to kill someone else, Lake old sport. Surprisingly enough, FBI agents will not stand around on your property sorting through your crap while you fire away. You put your trash out for collection. They collect it just a tad bit sooner than the real trash truck. Away it goes to be sorted well out of your field of fire. Just stop putting your trash out. That fools them every time.

  17. Jeff Kaye says:

    Same old, but we should never lower our sense of outrage, or our will to end these abuses.

    They don’t just yen to be Stasi, they are Stasi.

  18. potsdam602 says:

    Since Bush-Gonzalas times–just for fun–began computer routine by searching ‘good morning FISA!’ or ‘hi y’all!’ or ‘do you need me to use all capitals?’ Might be equivalent to bringing donuts and coffee to a stakeout car.

    Thanks bmaz. I don’t like talk of any violence or harm here either. If we did that kind of stuff–like them–we would lose the fight and be dragged down. Freedom and life are priceless. Sometimes writing stupid, nerdy stuff is all one can do.

  19. speakingupnow says:

    For those in the Boston area on June 15th, there is an “Action to Protest Anti-Whistleblower Grand Jury Investigation” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

    Information on Protest

    We are gathering to protest the detainment and unfair treatment of Bradley Manning and the pending grand jury investigation that seeks to embroil WikiLeaks, its associates, and its supporters in espionage charges. Recent attacks on its citizens has made it clear to us that the United States government no longer automatically grants freedom and liberty to its governed.

    All of this is related.

    • thatvisionthing says:

      the United States government no longer automatically grants freedom and liberty to its governed.

      That the civics they’re teaching now? That we the people have freedom and liberty on grant of the government? Nothing about how we the people make the government, nothing about self-evident truths, nothing about enumerated powers and reserved rights? Checks and balances? Juries? We are SO not America anymore! The Constitution is SO shredded! Man we suck! Hooowwwlll

      I have posted this link so many times, but damn: E pleb neesta

  20. jawbone says:

    Serious question — My understanding is that once items are in your garbage the police, other authorities, can rifle through it.

    However, can they do so while your garbage and recycled paper is on your property? Out of the house, but in the garbage pail or recycling container on your property? Would that not be trespassing?

    I’m assuming they can stop garbage trucks to dig through the load to find a specific person’s garbage?

    • DWBartoo says:

      The FIB does NOT hijack garbage trucks, jb.

      If police officers can enter your house over suspect suspicious flushing, then you had better believe that the Federal Inveigling Dept. CAN and WILL get access to any and all of your “property” any time it damned well suits them, and if you even think about hiccuping, they’ll nail you six ways to hot-fudged sundae for interfering with a half dozen things … and, if they have ANY suspician that you are an enema combatant or a supposaterrorist … well, they tossed the Constitution, the “Convention” and Yoo know who decides “what” the “law” is these days, “finding” it convenient and lucrative, in any case, not a good “category” to be placed “in”.

      The FIB does not trespass, it merely does its bidding in secret and to suggest otherwise is probably illegal (as soon as the ink dries …).

      And one final point, the FIB does NOT deal in garbage, it Recycles information, to keep us all safe, secure, and free-enterprized.

      I would like to take a moment to recognize all those who listen in: Stand up! Take a bow. It takes someone very special to do what you do, and you all deserve our appreciation. Just send in your names, in care of this station, and we’ll add your names to the Honor Roll of the Homeland Heroes.

      Honest.

      ;~DW

    • Deep Harm says:

      Per a recent California case, it depends on how a reviewing court defines “public” space. In that case, the court decided that a one’s driveway was “public” and therefore it was permissible for law enforcement to surreptitiously attach a GPS device to the resident’s car.

  21. hereitcomesagain says:

    It is exactly true that we now have civil rights explicitly granted or denied on the whims of the Stasi. And just like with the E German Stasi, it is more often the career ambitions or coverups of incompetence and venality that drive what it does. They probably have 100 employees and 10 million dollars per year for every real terrorist, at this point. What are they going to do. They have to invent stuff or they have nothing to do.

    As long as our elected leaders enjoy this “ethics are for wimps” and “rule of law is for losers” and “rights are yours if we say so” institutionalized corruption, what are we going to do?

    • thatvisionthing says:

      It is exactly true that we now have civil rights explicitly granted or denied on the whims of the Stasi.

      Do not try to bend the spoon – that’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth: there is no spoon. – The Matrix

      Matrix, Wizard of Oz, Dumbo, whatever. No spoon, no wizard, no magic feather. It’s not there. America’s not there.

      I think I was right a year ago: here and here – Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is a better American than any of those assholes in Washington ordering torture and detentions and hiding their responsibility. Unless he doesn’t exist anymore. I mean, who knows? You can’t believe anything and you can’t see or test evidence. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Wag the Dog? Don’t I remember Elizabeth and Richard having a child, and as their marriage deteriorates it turns out the child is only a desperate illusion the two of them use to hold their empty marriage together? And Richard destroys Elizabeth by destroying the child, pronouncing him dead? And in Wag the Dog – the White House is faking a war to take attention away from the fact that the president screwed around with a Girl Scout in the Oval Office, and then the opposing party takes the war story and writes their own fake events to twist the narrative to their purposes? On and on? Reality is the story you make up and feed the news? I heard a book review of Albert Brooks’ new book and it’s set in the future, say 20 years I think, and it’s about the real world vs. the “real” world, iirc. Two separate realities ahead, one for us and one for them. Don’t know if they can even see each other anymore.

      In New Orleans post Katrina, when police officers shot and killed/maimed innocent people on the bridge? They went back and sat around and made up a story to suit. Called across, “I need a name!” Somebody calls back, “How about Lakeisha?” Wrote it down, worked for them.

      Do you believe this guy in office? I don’t. That’s not what I voted for. He can say he’s my president all he wants, but he’s not representing me anymore. He lost me, and there’s a million mes. He’s lost his mandate. I think he’s an idiot, but he doesn’t see me anyway, and now I won’t look at him. x millions.

      And does anyone remember Fahrenheit 451 (I think), where the bus speedometers showed them going faster and faster every year? Except they’re really going slower and slower as the totalitarian society crumbles?

      Dude, it’s crumbling. The mandate is lost. The faith is broken. The shark is jumped. (I feel so Kennedy! :-)

      • thatvisionthing says:

        Get it wrong, get it right, get it fake, get it real – works either way:

        From 5/25/11 press call:

        JULIAN ASSANGE: Now, from our perspective, from WikiLeaks’ perspective, actually either of these outcomes works. Either the mainstream press in the United States collapses as an effective investigative organ holding the government to account and all sources then are forced to only deal with WikiLeaks, or the administration finds that it has to conform to the U.S. First Amendment and other parts of the Constitution and then the United States is a free society that upholds our values.

        “Little did we realize that our greatest struggle would come in 2010, as we tried to bring the First Amendment to the United States.” – Julian Assange