So now, with yesterday’s (30 December) WSJ report, we witness the tawdry spectacle of large numbers of people who for years were fine with, responsible for, and even giddy about NSA mass surveillance suddenly objecting. Now they’ve learned that they themselves, or the officials of the foreign country they most love, have been caught up in this surveillance dragnet, and they can hardly contain their indignation. Overnight, privacy is of the highest value because now it’s their privacy, rather than just yours, that is invaded.
What happened to all the dismissive lectures about how if you’ve done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to hide? Is that still applicable? Or is it that these members of the U.S. Congress who conspired with Netanyahu and AIPAC over how to sabotage the U.S. government’s Iran Deal feel they did do something wrong and are angry about having been monitored for that reason? - Glenn Greenwald in “The Intercept”
Adam Entous, the author of the Wall Street Journal article (behind a paywall), described the situation in an interview with Gwen Ifill. In this interview, Entous describes how the White House decided to limit collection on some allies, but continued collection on Netanyahu was a no brainer. He was doing his best to subvert our political process and scuttle the Iran deal at the time. To not bring all our surveillance capabilities to bear on Israel would have been egregiously negligent. Entous also mentioned NSA’s use of minimize in their reports of recorded conversations between Netanyahu’s aides and the Congress critters. That means the Congress critters weren’t identified by name. They were referred to as U.S. Person #1, U.S. Person #2 and so on. That’s standard practice.
The same Congress critters who fought for years to maintain NSA’s programs to collect it all on U.S. citizens are now harumphing in the most exuberant fashion about their conversations being caught in the dragnet. Unfortunately, I doubt these sorry bastards have the sentience to realize the ridiculousness of their positions.
I’m damn proud that we continued collecting on Israel, Turkey and probably many more of our supposed allies. I wasn’t bothered about tapping Merkel’s phone either. It was somewhat embarrassing when we were caught, but that’s the nature of the business. I expect the Germans to do the same to us, just as the Israelis do. It’s up to each country to protect their own communications… and to protect their people. In the U.S. that means mandating and encouraging more protection for our information and communications. I’ve said it before. We need ubiquitous encryption.