Glenn Greenwald NSA

Look Who’s Attacking Me Again

It’s Charlie Pierce, again, reacting to my Greenwald column from yesterday.

[T]he point is that, in all of human history, if you grant the government surveillance powers, it will use them and, in using them, expand them, and it will end up using them on its own citizens simply because that is always the path of least resistance. This is why James Otis got all up in the king’s grill about the Writs Of Assistance. This is also why we have the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. It’s not because of what British soldiers already had done in Boston and in Philadelphia. It was about what, if they weren’t stopped by the force of law, they then would do later on. See also; Cointelpro, Plumbers, Committee To Re-Elect The President, Red Squads, CISPES, etc., etc., etc. This isn’t paranoia. Unless you watch them very, very closely, this is how intelligence services act. All intelligence services. Everywhere. And, no Bob, your funny ha-ha about cat memes and porn habits — some of which latter can really land you in jail, if the well-meaning but mistake-prone heroes of our intelligence apparatus happen to accidentally share information with the local cops — is also inaccurate. It’s no cat memes. It’s gamers.

Okay, first, on the video gamers story, isn’t this not unlike a virtual version of the use of undercover cops and sting operations?

Regarding “Cointelpro, Plumbers, Committee To Re-Elect The President, Red Squads, CISPES,” perhaps Charlie can point to something, anything resembling the illegalities of those programs (from 40+ years ago) in the Snowden reporting so far. And that speaks directly to my point. If Charlie hadn’t misrepresented what I wrote, he would’ve included when I wrote, “Sure, I suppose anything’s possible. I suppose NSA could target U.S. citizens for surveillance without warrants again, as it did during the post-9/11 years, or as it did in the years before the Church Committee when counter-intelligence programs such as MINARET and SHAMROCK were clear examples of intelligence overreach.” But he didn’t because it would’ve contradicted his argument.

“It was about what, if they weren’t stopped by the force of law…” But they were stopped. Recently, the FISA court stopped a questionable NSA program that inadvertently collected domestic phone calls. When the government oversteps there’s accountability. But the trespass has to be committed first.

Also, am I misreading Charlie or did he imply that NSA is, in fact, surveilling the porn habits of Americans without a warrant? For the record, it’s not. The porn story was about six — yes, six — terrorism suspects.

The whole slippery-slope argument is just as cheap and pathetic as Greenwald’s 1984 analogies. And in the process of accusing me in the pages of Esquire of missing Greenwald’s point, Charlie missed my point.