Ignatius Has Become a “Choice between Security and Privacy” Stenographer

David Ignatius should be ashamed about this column. Even by his standards, it serves simply as stenography for the buzzwords top security officials have fed him, such that he repeats lines like this without any critical thinking.

Gen. Keith Alexander and other top NSA officials are considering ways they could reassure the public without damaging key programs, according to U.S. officials. They think that forcing Congress to decide between security and privacy is an unfair choice, since the country would lose either way. They’d like an agreement that protects both, but that’s a tall order. [my emphasis]

Remember: we’re talking about the Section 215 dragnet, not the (according to all players) far more valuable Section 702 collection. Even according to the government, it has only come into play in 13 terrorist cases. The only one the government can describe where it has been crucial involves indicting a man the FBI determined was not motivated by terrorism but rather tribal affiliation sending less than $10,000 to al-Shabaab three and a half years earlier.

And yet Ignatius uncritically repeats that requiring the government to use more specificity with its collections would present Congress the “unfair choice” of “deciding between security and privacy.”

So it should be no surprise that Ignatius uncritically repeats other details of the program. For example, Ignatius claims this involves only two-hop analysis, when we know it can go three hops (and therefore millions of people) deep.

When the agency identifies a suspicious number in, say, Pakistan, analysts want to see who that person called in the United States and who, in turn, might have been contacted by that second person.

Ignatius doesn’t note the descriptions — from both Edward Snowden and James Clapper — that they then use this metadata to index previously collected communications. That’s because he’s too busy repeating that we don’t “record” these collections, as if we’d have to.

Then finally there’s Ignatius’ claim that SWIFT (the record of international financial transfers) presents a viable alternative to the dragnet program. As I have reported, when the EU finally got to audit what the US had been doing with SWIFT, they discovered the real content of the queries was transmitted verbally, making it impossible to audit the use.

Thus far, no one has explained whether the queries and underlying articulable suspicion gets automatically recorded or — as happened with one of the precursors to this program — manually in hardcopy form. If it’s the latter (which I will assume until someone asserts differently) it is prone to the same kind of large scale documentation lapses that could hide a great deal of improper use of the dragnet. Which, given Ron Wyden and Mark Udall’s insistence that the problems have been more problematic than James Clapper lets on, could well be the case.

All of these are issues anyone with Ignatius’ access might want to answer.

Alternately, that access may now serve to do no more than produce “security or privacy” automatons, repeating the obviously false cant Ignatius has here.

 

Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Reddit0Share on Facebook0Google+0Email to someone

19 Responses to Ignatius Has Become a “Choice between Security and Privacy” Stenographer

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @VinceWarren Doesn't look like the GJ to me, looks like the cops. And they don't look covered by weak MO GJ law. Still disgusting though.
1mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @armandodkos Right. But are her policies that bad (I honestly don't know answer) or is it just.....her?
3mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @matthewacole @ggreenwald Agree completely. But also curious how Margaret Court always left out of these discussions of the greatest.
5mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @DLind The Apple store. They are geniuses.
9mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @fordm You would have to be a pretty big dick not to make that kind of deal with client. I don't know anybody who wouldn't make some deal.
11mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @ScottGreenfield Exactly. And its only real secrecy protections are oriented to the jurors, not others attendant thereto. Pretty lame.
13mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @BradMossEsq @BuzzFeed Nevertheless, it would have never occurred without climate supplied by the leaks. Leaks are the yeast of democracy!
18mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @ScottGreenfield Maybe I missed it, but I found little of the usual state equivalent of Rule 6. Most focused only on GJurors themselves.
20mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @ScottGreenfield Only by Google, but I looked for MO GJ secrecy law and found shockingly weak and little.
21mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @BradMossEsq @BuzzFeed Of course none of this would be occurring without the Snowden leaks, so they should be praised and people thankful!
27mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @JonathanTurley Yeah, the forensic report really does NOT say that at all and the Post-Dispatch should retract its story.
28mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @davidrook Yes, that is true. Likely just not possible.
30mreplyretweetfavorite
July 2013
S M T W T F S
« Jun   Aug »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031