Under Clinton, NY Times called surveillance "a necessity"

Friday, January 13, 2006
I don't have a lot new to say above what William Tate said, except to emphasize that as the whole NSA "domestic spying" thing went on, I pointed out that it was done under the Clinton administration too, and under the same justifications.

The American Thinker

Apparently, it only bothers the New York Times during wartime. It couldn't be any political consideration.


David Thomson said...

The New York Times is simply upset that a Republican resides in the White House. It’s nothing more complicated than that. The legacy media significantly helped Bill Clinton get elected. Remember all those horror stories concerning the economy? They were pure bovine excrement. The economy during Bush 41 was actually in pretty good shape. Things may get worse with the MSM. These scoundrels are losing audience share and numerous journalists are forced to find a new way of earning a living. They are running scared and desperate people often do desperate things.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

I think certain things are clear.

A) The NYT is a Democratic newspaper advocating the Democratic agenda. Anything else is pretense.

B) The NYT is an advocate for what it perceives to be its side. It is not disinterested; it is trying to give the best case for the side it believes itself to be on, whether that is the Democrats vis-a-vis the Republicans or the East Coast elite vis-a-vis the Utahns.

The real question, it seems to me, is: how did they get themselves into the position that we care? They are unelected, a profit-making entity, so who died and made them God?

Peter UK said...

The fact that the media is big business should be trumpeted more often,they sell newspapers and advertising,they are not charitable institutions

David Thomson said...

“The real question, it seems to me, is: how did they get themselves into the position that we care? They are unelected, a profit-making entity, so who died and made them God?”

The free market givest and takest away. The New York Times earned its earlier dominance. It essentially gave this large media entity godlike powers. Alas, the Times is rapidly losing both market share and influence. I predict that by the middle of 2008---we won’t have to give a damn what the Times prints on either its front page or in its editorial section.

Knucklehead said...

Great article in the American Thinker, Seneca. Thanks for link. It's going to take me a while to sift through the background material linked to within the article itself.

It would help everyone if somehow we could get at what various people mean by "monitoring" or "listening to" phone calls or "reading" emails means.

The sheer volume of communications traffic just originating in the US makes all those things unlikely. Back in the day, and it was some years ago, when I was aware of such numbers there were some 150 MILLION residential phone calls made in a typical day in the US. The number of business calls, IIRC, was a bit less but somewhere around 100 MILLION per/day.

It is reasonably safe to say that something north of 200 million phone calls are placed each day. The number of emails and other electronic communications are surely in the tens of millions per day. I'm pretty confident these are conservative numbers today. Cell phones and email and such were not nearly as ubiquitous back then. It would not surprise me in the least if US electronic comms traffic in 2006 approaches 500 million items per day.

Somewhere in the AT article there was a claim that Echelon could process 1 million calls every 30 miniutes. That's 48 million calls per 24 hours.

Clearly we are not "listening" to 24 million calls per day. That would be impossible unless the NSA employed tens of thousands of people.

What is being done is "mining" of electronic traffic for "indicators". A very good example of this the "not an urban legend" item the 60 Minutes piece about Echelon refered to - the mother reporting, in a phone call to a friend, that "Johnny bombed yesterday". "Bomb" tags an alert, the communication gets listened to, and some NSA agent decides whether or not further attention should be paid. We can be sure this happens thousands of times per day and that 99% of what is flagged for examination is determined to be completely uninteresting.

Even the Evil Gubmint, even when controlled by the JEWS and Neocons and Halliburton and Karl Rove cannot monitor the number of phone calls and emails sent around the US and world. They are mining it. Don't engage in terrorism or other crimes and you got little - well, nothing - to worry about. Unless, of course, you are not a Dem when Dems are in the White House ;)

markg8 said...

I guess if you don't read the underlying 60 Minutes transcript he cites you won't notice this exchange with a Canadian operative who worked on Echelon, Steve Frost of CBS and Rep. and now DCIA Porter Goss:

"KROFT: (Voiceover) But even members of Congress have trouble getting information about Echelon. Last year, the NSA refused to provide internal memoranda on the program to Porter Goss, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

What exactly was it that you requested?

Representative PORTER GOSS (Chairman, House Intelligence Committee): Well, I can't get too specific about it, but there was some information about procedures in how the NSA people would employ some safeguards, and I wanted to see all the correspondence on that to make sure that those safeguards were being completely honored. At that point, one of the counsels of the NSA said, 'Well, we don't think we need to share this information with the Oversight Committee.' And we said, 'Well, we're sorry about that. We do have the oversight, and you will share the information with us,' and they did.

(Footage of Goss and Kroft)

KROFT: (Voiceover) But only after Goss threatened to cut the NSA's budget. He still believes, though, that the NSA does not eavesdrop on innocent American citizens.

If the NSA has capabilities to screen enormous numbers of telephone calls, faxes, e-mails, whatnot, how do you filter out the American conversations, and how do you--how can you be sure that no one is listening to those conversations?

Rep. GOSS: We do have methods for that, and I am relatively sure that those procedures are working very well.


"Mr. FROST: Sounds ludicrous, doesn't it? Sounds like the world of fiction. It's not; not the world of fiction. That's the way it works. I've been there. I was trained by you guys.

Rep. GOSS: Certainly possible that something like that could happen. The question is: What happened next?

KROFT: What do you mean?

Rep. GOSS: It is certainly possible that somebody overheard me in a conversation. I have just been in Europe. I have been talking to people on a telephone and elsewhere. So it's very possible somebody could have heard me. But the question is: What do they do about it? I mean, I cannot stop the dust in the ether; it's there. But what I can make sure is that it's not abused--the capability's not abused, and that's what we do."

Yes Echelon has a broad capacity for abuse. An NSA guy with a grudge can simply go to one of his foreign counterparts and ask. But there's no evidence Clinton abused this system and even Porter Goss says so.

Clinton obeyed the law. Whenever the NSA used the system to spy on people in the US under him they went to the FISA court and got a warrant.

Bush not only didn't, he lied about it for years in public making the claim that he was getting warrants in every case. NSA operatives themselves refused to continue this illegal spying in 2004 until they got a letter from the administration absolving them of any blame if it came to light. Some evidently were so strongly opposed to this secret usurption of power and the intercepts the adminstration made themselves privy to they outed it to the Times.

Tate can play word games with capabilities and actual facts but it doesn't help his credibility.

Rick Ballard said...

"Even the Evil Gubmint, even when controlled by the JEWS and Neocons and Halliburton and Karl Rove cannot monitor the number of phone calls and emails sent around the US and world."

Sure we can. We can create hurricanes and direct them only at poor people.

We are actually in the process of establishing the Utah Re-education Center and Salt Mine and making lists of 13%ers who have won free lifetime scholarships.

Wait 'til you see pictures of the Mark8 'Stuck on Stupid' wing.

Knucklehead said...

Try thinking of it this way...

Every day, along America's highways and byways, sit thousands of police officers keeping millions of Americans under constant surveillance. They look at us, sometimes see us, sometimes even watch us a while. They zap us with radars and lasers. While they do this they apply guidelines that tell them when to dig deeper and when to just let us go on our merry way whatever our business or purpose might be.

Probably no less than half of us are breaking some traffic law. They are there to enforce traffic laws. yet they don't chose to stop and cite more than the tiniest fraction of us for breaking whatever laws we are breaking. Some far tinier fraction, a number so small that it is meaningless, are erroneously stopped and cited or pulled over "just because" some police officer felt like it.

They need no warrant to intrude upon our privacy. We allow them virtually complete freedom to respond to the alert issued by their radar or laser or whatever other means they use to decide to stop and look us over. Few, if any, of us demand that they stop doing what they are doing. Few, if any, of us believe they should rigorously, without exception, enforce the traffic laws 100%. We have no problem with "amber alerts" suggesting every other motorist, and particularly the police, keep an eye out for "a red Toyota Camry with Maryland license plate XYZ123" even though that means that all red cars will be given additional scrutiny until it is clear whether or not it is a Toyota and then further scrutiny until it is determined whether or not the red Toyota is a Camry and then further scrutiny until it is determined whether or not the red Toyota Camry has Maryland plates and then further scrutiny to see if the plate is XYZ123. Along any point in that scrutiny, whether it ultimately yields the the target or not, the police may decide that some other violation was being made.

It does no harm, and probably a measurable amount of good if someone knows how to measure it, to our passage along the highways and byways.

I assert the NSA program is a kissing cousin to this sort of thing and does not harm to our communications or privacy and potentially does good for us all.

flenser said...

Good old mark.

But there's no evidence Clinton abused this system and even Porter Goss says so.

There is also no evidence that Bush abused this system. None at all.

Clinton obeyed the law. Whenever the NSA used the system to spy on people in the US under him they went to the FISA court and got a warrant.

Clinton may have obeyed the law. But if the Echelon system works as reputed there is no way that judges signed off on every intercept. By definition it involves random searching through massive amounts of data, presumably looking for certain key bits of information.

Specter said...

Sure we can. We can create hurricanes and direct them only at poor people.

But.....we missed....more affluent white people were killed.....

Knucklehead said...


Nobody said the process didn't need some refinement. Just write it off as "sacrifices" made in conservatism's eternal quest to make the world every more miserable, especially for "those people".

Rick Ballard said...

"But.....we missed....more affluent white people were killed..... "

Nobody's perfect.

Look, if you've got a problem with this, speak up. Utah is a big state - there's lots of room for you.

markg8 said...

Looking for key bits of data and then getting a warrant within 72 hours if you come across a US person. We've already had this discussion. Let's save it again until congress actually starts holding hearings next week. The prehearings spin is BS meant for you folks who believe only what you hear from Rove's echo chamber.

Peter UK said...

The fundamental problem is that until surveillance has taken place,there is no certainty as what kind of "person" is on that number,whether the number is being used by a bona fide user,if cloning has taken place,whatever.

Phone calls can be routed through many countries,a scam was discovered recently with international calls being done on the cheap.
It is quite possible to used a cellphone for as long as it takes to send the number of another phone.

Given the number of calls people make on cellphones,it is highly probable that only those picked up on systems like Echelon and found to have connections to terrorists are followed up.Quite simply there isn't the manpower or the computing power to waste on pizza deliveries

Buddy Larsen said...

That's right Mark--keep jawboning, foreshadowing, hinting darkly, insinuating, alluding, implying, and generally throwing turdballs at the wall. Don't let being 0-for-thousands slow you down--hell--who knows--the law of averages ought to get some little something to 'stick' someday.

But I dropped in to say thanks for the excellent AT article.

markg8 said...

So? There is ample manpower and time to comply with the law.

Buddy Larsen said...

There is? There is? How do you know?

markg8 said...

Because not even Bush is claiming that. Nope, for some reason he doesn't want the FISA court to see who he's spying on. They hardly ever reject any of these warrants. What is he hiding?

terrye said...

I was looking at the anchoress , and it seems the terrorists may have changed their habits in order to evade detection.

Not good if true.

Knucklehead said...


That's a powerful article by The Anchoress. I remember also, even a couple of things she didn't mention. As she will, so will I hold the seditionists responsible. They really have grown so angry and cynical that nothing matters more to them then shepherding their BDS. What loathesome creatures.

Peter UK said...

"There is ample manpower and time to comply with the law".

Figures please,previous experience useful.

terrye said...


I like the anchoress, I know some people think she is too relgious, but I like her righteous anger.

Peter UK said...

Incidentally Markg8,President Bush is extremely unlikely to give the opposition helpful information,like how precise targeting is.

Buddy Larsen said...

My lord, that is a powerful, powerful essay by the anchoress. Never read her before--thank you, Terrye. This essay will not be finished dry-eyed by very many people.

Peter UK said...

Care to bet who will be dry eyed Buddy?

Buddy Larsen said...

The same mentality that shot the Czar's little children to pieces in that basement room, 'in the name of the people'?

Peter UK said...

This quote from the Anchoress's piece says it all.

"I remember this, too: Ellen Ratner saying to Linda Vestor on Fox News, “we’re just going to have to hope things don’t work out in Iraq, so we can take back the White House."

Moral bankruptcy on a level with pure evil.This is the mentality of the camps and the Cultural Revolution,all can be sacrificed for the Party.

Buddy Larsen said...

The sad thing is, Ellen Ratner is of a type that's very powerful in the party, folks who have not the foggiest notion of history, geopolitics, political philosophy, economics, ANYTHING, but play hard as if to win a fraternity or sorority campus popularity contest.

Buddy Larsen said...

It's not something that can be required, but in earlier times, the graybeards in the parties made sure their spokespeople wouldn't embarrass them. That was back when there was "embarrassment".

Specter said...

Hearings? It should be fun to watch Biden tripping over his tongue and asking 4 questions every 30 mnutes. And maybe Ted "Splash" Kennedy can find some obscure magazine article to read over and over again (provided he can remember where he put his glasses). And Schumer....well who cares.

I mean are we really going to see anything of substance from hearings anyways. The legislature is not the branch of government who decides whether something is illegal. That's what the judicial branch does. With that in mind, and with the shameful smearing or Alito by Demoncrats, now you can see why they are trying to delay his appointment to the court....

Buddy Larsen said...

Dems are so far gone, even a decent pol like Harold Ford--caught between hard-bit leftists like the Kennedys and the ding-dongs like Ratner--never seems to be able to come down solidly anywhere on anything...not without some little caveat somewhere in one of the sentences--to leave him a way to maneuver inside the Great Dem Tower Of Babble. It's just a freaking mess's mess, a Saturn eating its young.

Seneca the Younger said...

I love Goya.

Buddy Larsen said...

Doubly intense--the work, and that a human can see those things.

Peter UK said...

I must admit the "Naked Maja" made an impact when I saw it,even the clothed version.

markg8 said...

Well so much for the "really good news" about the burgeoning cellphone business in Iraq you were all lauding months ago. You might remember I pointed out at the time that cellphones and garage door openers are used as IED triggers.
It doesn't take an article in the NYT for terrorists to realize disposable phones are useful. And a warrant can apply to a person not a phone number or an email address. Even FISA warrants. Getting yourselves panicky or weepy over 9/11 seems to cloud your judgment. That ain't no way to run a war.

Peter UK said...

You have made that point many times before,what technologically safe point in history do you want to go back to?

As for this "That ain't no way to run a war." What in your life experience informs you on this subject?

Knucklehead said...

Whoever feels like monitoring this thread, please feel free to delete this, it will deserve it.

Markg8, you are a flaming dickhead. Please shove a cellphone up your ass and tickle it with a garage door opener.

Peter UK said...

Knucklehead,you spoil that kid!

Knucklehead said...

To my fellow Yargbians and such commenters and visitors as we have, I apologize.

My only expanation, and it is no excuse, is that I sometimes succumb to the ill fellings induced by witnessing so many try so hard to row the boat forward while tedious morons feverishly toss anchors over the side.

Banish me if is warranted.

Knucklehead said...


I should have stuck with the tried and true, "pound salt".

Specter said...


I say if the "foo sh"....oops I mean if the "shoe fits".

I dunno about you, but if I'm going to buy a pre-paid cell phone, it is usually one - not in quantities of 5, 10, 50...etc, at a time.

markg8 said...

I can understand your response Knucks. Ask the Queen. It's what one does when one has no other refutation. I can also know why Peety is so excited.

Peter UK said...

I'm just happy to see you fulfilled Markg8,anything that turns you on,you lead such a drab cynical life.

Knucklehead said...

Not exactly, Mark. It is as I said. You are a tedius moron. That I allow such a minor thing to frustrate me from time to time does not speak well of me. Neither does it alter the fact that you are a tedius moron.

Until such time as I decide to do otherwise, I shall return to ignoring you.

Specter said...

Check out the call for Rocky to come clean over at MacsMind.

Buddy Larsen said...

Macsworld to Murtha:

If the President wanted your two cents Jarhead he would have asked for it. Quite frankly, we can get the same advice you're offering from Osama. "Yes, get out, you're really causing a problem here!"

Har, Macsworld has a way with words, alright.

Peter UK said...

Isn't that the whole point,whilst the left claims to be coming from a different standpoint,what they say is indistinguishable from the Jihadi.
Perhaps they shouldn't be given a heads up,but when Zawahiri uses the same talking points as the DNC,this is not a sign that the Democrats have got it right, but that thay have got it wrong.
The DNC is listening too much to the virtual reality crowd

Buddy Larsen said...

Question: Todays dem left-wing wins control of the gov't, how long 'til the North American Boat People?