Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Some random thoughts on the Snowden scandal

1. Yeah, governments spy on each other, including their own allies. Everyone knows that. When you get caught doing that, the thing to do is to look sheepish and apologize, not to make a huge scandal and create one diplomatic incident after another chasing the whistleblower around the world.

2. We have this thing called the Constitution. Also the Fourth Amendment. The current administration should read it sometime, and so should the Congress. It does not say "the Federal Government should read everyone's mail and eavesdrop on everything that moves".

3. Yep, terrorists. I am all for catching terrorists. Other evildoers, too. That's what we have warrants for, and probable cause. "Uses Gmail" does not constitute a probable cause. While you are at it, you might consider more efficient methods of catching terrorists - for example listening when a foreign government or their own parents warn you about them.

4. I understand there are minimization procedures in place, where NSA only collects the data, and only uses it under very strict rules, so for the most part the data just sits there safe and unused. Hmm... Safe... Didn't NSA just have its own secrets leaked all over the Internet? How safe do you think are yours?

5. It's damn hard to keep secrets nowadays when any fucker with a USB drive and a security clearance can publish them on the Internet.

6. The above concerns both the NSA, and the people's data they collect.

7. That's a lot of data, BTW. How many people do they give the security clearance to in order to deal with it? How well do they check them? How many wannabe terrorists are actually on the NSA payroll?

8. It appears that what Snowden has done was illegal, and what the NSA has done is only of questionable legality. Nevertheless chasing the whistleblower all over the world in embarrassing ways only works to convince the observers that the whistle needed to be blown. And yes, it did.

9. One thing that I've been wondering about since the original Wikileaks scandal: how easy is it to add fake data to any such revelation? Especially if you add it to a mountain of real data?

Change we can sure as hell believe in

"Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process."

From Obama's pre-inaguration ethics agenda.

I think the ethics have changed just a bit.