Yoo Misleads You

The most breathtaking moment in John Yoo’s op-ed today in the LAT comes when he seamlessly moves from claiming British "advantages" over our civil liberties protections don’t go far enough to throwing out probable cause as equally old fashioned.

But increasing detention time or making warrants easier to come by merely extends an old-fashioned approach to catching terrorists. These tools require individualized suspicion and "probable cause"; police must have evidence of criminal activity in hand. Such methods did not prevent 9/11, and stopping terrorists, who may have no criminal record, requires something more.

Yoo never mentions probable cause again in his op-ed. But he’s already done it–declared probable cause old-fashioned, "quaint" in the same way the Geneva Conventions are.

  1. Libby Sosume says:

    Data Mining is something of a misnomer. It simply means to to use computerized tools explore datasets, looking for interesting relationships and patterns that aren’t immediately obvious. It implies nothing about ACCESS to the data.

    The term â€mining†confuses lay people into thinking it refers to the acquisition of the data (legitimate or not) – or that acquisition is part and parcel with the analysis. NOT TRUE. Corporations use data mining techniques on data they already have acquired or accumulated through the course of day to day business. Typically they put copies of the data in a data warehouse.

    The government also uses data mining on data they already own. That is legitimate. Data mining refers to what you might do with the data, NOT how you got access to it.

    Of course there are privacy implications. It is conceivable that the government could discover things about you that you don’t particularly want them to know, by using data mining technology on data sets they legitimately possess. There is also a question of legitimacy and privacy when several government agencies, each legitimately possessing a data set, merge their data sets together. There ought to be protections against that.

    But the term â€data mining†by itself implies nothing about how the data was acquired or gotten access to.

  2. Kagro X says:

    Yoo forgets — or more likely, hopes everyone else will forget — that his denial of the existence of a data mining program has all the weight of a denial by Mickey Mouse. Neither are government officials, Yoo’s â€Glory Days†reminiscences notwithstanding.

    It’s too bad Yoo wasn’t forced to make this â€defense†closer to July 4th. What a great Independence Day celebration it would have made: Down with Washington! King George was right!

  3. Libby Sosume says:

    Here’s another way of explaining it using a familiar example.

    Every time you visit the grocery store, the store’s checkout system acquires a detailed list of everything you bought – bread, donuts, headache remedies, condoms, magazines, all of it. The legitimate purpose of that data collection is to calculate your bill, give you your discounts, print out your coupons. Another legitimate pupose is to restock inventory. Oh by the way, the store also has your membership record (name, address, etc.), the date and time of day of your shopping trip, your purchase method, etc.

    Now that all the legitimate purposes have been fulfilled, what does the store do with that data? Years ago, when dtata storage was a hundred or 1000 times more expensive, they’d archive to tape and erase the disk. But now they move it to a data warehouse, where they already have your last week’s purchases, the week before, etc, plus all of the data from thousands of other customers and millions of other transactions.

    Now, they â€data mineâ€, looking for patterns and relationships that would help them do a better job of marketing to you, increasing your purchases, arranging their store, etc. You can think of many interesting possibilities, so I won’t bore you.

    But what else can they do with that same data? They can figure out how often you have sex and what is your preferred method of birth control. They can figure out from the magazines you buy your probable political leanings. They can discover whether you are overweight – and why. There is no end to what they might learn or infer from your purchases, especially if you shop at a Wal-mart superstore.

    Who knows? From your heavy purchases of hydrogen peroxide, they might even be able to guess whether you are planning to build a bomb (or bleach your hair).

    Anyway, my point is that â€data mining†refers to what someone does or might do with data they already have access to – legitimately or not – after the fact. It doesn’t refer to the access itself. Data mining has privacy implications, but it is not per se illegal.

  4. Mimikatz says:

    Libby, that’s why I always use cash at the grocery store, and many other places as well.

    Here’s the problem I’m having. The incompetence of the Bush Administration is legendary–nearly everything they touch, fails. Then we find that they are engaged in this mind-boggling array of data collection and collation and correlation schemes, with staggering quantities of data. How could they possibly do anything useful with this? Aren’t they starting to drown in their own data? Who have they actually found doing something? Everyone we actually hear about they found through some more traditional means. It sounds to me like the behavior of truly obsessive-compulsive people on speed. Get more data! Mine the data! More data! It is illegal (at least some of it), but it is also starting to border on insanity, while real problems go unattended.

    I’m more afraid of the folks in the Pentagon using old-fashioned methods to spy on anti-war activists and Quakers. The sooner we are rid of these people the better.

  5. Kenneth Fair says:

    Let’s be clear what John Yoo is trying to do with this editorial. His â€constitutional†â€advice†while in government led to the torture and deaths of numerous people, not to mention numerous other violations of the criminal law. If any investigation ever seriously looks into the abuses at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib or into the NSA scandals – which doesn’t seem like it will ever happen – Yoo could face substantial prison time. This editorial was written for the same reason that Arlen Specter is trying to ram through a whitewash of the warrantless wiretapping – the White House is scared to death.

    John Yoo is an enabler of dictatorship. If we lived in a just world, John Yoo would – at the very least – be shunned from polite society. But in this world, he gets an L.A. Times op-ed.

  6. pdaly says:

    Could someone clarify whether the concept â€ignorance of the law is no excuse†applies to actions by Bush and Cheney, especially if the law, in this case, is the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights?

    Is there any legal jeopardy (civil, criminal, or just merely impeachment risk in a GOP-friendly Congress?) for Bush and Cheney if the US Appeals Court and eventually the US Supreme Court uphold the recent decision of U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor regarding the NSA program that â€violates the separation of powers doctrine, the Administrative Procedures Act, the First and Fourth amendments to the United States Constitution, the FISA and Title IIIâ€?

    Could BushCo maintain cover behind the phrase ’It’s the lawyers’ fault. They made me believe I could do it’? Are BushCo only liable for actions continued after such a US Supreme Court decision or do their actions prior to it also put them in legal jeopardy? (Here’s a hypothetical at the state level: if a Governor is caught joyriding- driving drunk and at excessive speeds-, and the state indulges him while he makes phony lawyer-inspired excuses why it is legal for him to do so, what happens when he loses in court? Because he was acting under faulty assumptions, does he catch a break and get off with a warning not to do it again? Or are his law breaking actions punishable, despite what he ignorantly thought at the time of his crime? Who enforces the punishment?)

    Alternatively, is there legal jeopardy for any of the US Supreme Court justices should they side with BushCo, instead of Judge Diggs Taylor, and cede their constitutional powers to the Executive branch?

  7. Mimikatz says:

    Who enforces the punishment is the key question. In †rel=â€nofollowâ€>Janklow’s case, he got 100 days and 3 years probation, but he lost his House seat, which then sent to Dem Stephanie Herseth. He never got prosecuted while he was Governor. Bush can, of course, be impeached while in office and prosecuted later, if anyone wanted to do it. But he’s not going to be investigated by his own Justice Dept. He’s already seen to that.

  8. freepatriot says:

    Ever heard of the â€Battle of Cowpensâ€

    Don’t tell me what the British Government does or doesn’t do with regard to the rights of it’s citizens


    at one time,my ancestors were British citizens. One of my ancestors owned a cowpen in South Carolina. in the 1770s, a bunch of british Soldiers tried to violate the rights of British citizens in America, and my ancestors KICKED THE BRITISH SOLDIERS AND THEIR FUCKING MONARCH OUT OF THIS COUNTRY

    One of the battles in that war occured in my ancestor’s cowpen

    my ancestors later recieved land grants for their service, and helped settle this country where we’re FREE FROM THE LAWS AND ACTIONS OF THE BRITISH MONARCH

    some of those things that Yoo thinks are a good idea ??? They’re listed in the declaration of grievences that my ancestors devoted their life to upholding

    hey Yoo, ever heard of THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE ???

    If you love the british system so much, MOVE YOUR HAPPY FUCKING ASS TO ENGLAND, YOU FUCKING DOLT

    I ain’t gonna surrender what my ancestors fought and died for

    nuff said …

  9. Beel says:

    This new editorial by Yoo is probably the grounding for Bush’s inane blathering about how we’re in a â€new era,†in response to the court ruling. Reckon George got briefed first, then brought what he thought of as the jist to his popular audience. That’s pretty much his only job, press secretary to the thinkers in the Administration. After he finishes Snow can then try to â€explain†what he said.

  10. margaret says:

    Pollyusa, yes, Yoo is right about one thing, we do have â€enemies among us:†the Bush Administration.

    Freepatriot, my ancestor was part of the Hornet’s Nest which drove the British out of South Carolina and Georgia. He was rewarded with 287 1/2 acres of prime North Georgia farmland. That’s how patriots were treated in the old days. Your outrage is splendid!

    If this were a just world, all of this Administration would be subject to trial for treason against the Constitution.