IC chiefs Pushes Back Against the White House


"America’s top intelligence official acknowledged Tuesday that President Obama and other senior White House officials were well aware of U.S. surveillance activities targeting leaders of friendly foreign nations — a stark contradiction of the administration’s insinuation in recent days that the president was unaware of such spying. 
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper described the targeting of foreign leaders, including American allies, as a “fundamental” aspect of intelligence gathering, and said neither the CIA nor the National Security Agency can tap into a given leader’s private communications without White House oversight.  His testimony, made during a series of tacit exchanges Tuesday with members of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, came as all sides in Congress have begun seriously examining legislative proposals that would rein in the legal framework surrounding the NSA’s snooping programs. "  Washington Times


 It appears to me that James Clapper, the DNI, and Michael Haydon, former DCI and NSA director, have decided that the Obama White House has been trying to "stake them out" as sacrificial goats in the kerfluffle over NSA intercepts in Europe. 

The Obama Administration has been trying to claim that such intercepts are a new development brought on by technological advances in the last decade.  They are also trying to imply that NSA and the IC generally have been "off the reservation" and conducting intercept operations that BHO (the commander in chief of the IC) did not know of.

Yesterday, Clapper made it clear in public testimony before a House committee that such operations have been conducted for many decades.  I suspect that Eisenhower was probably president when they began.  The technology required is not terrribly complex and de-cryption software for things like GSM circuits has steadily advanced and is easily available to many different countries.  Clapper also insisted that the very countries who are complaining of our actions have cooperated with the US in collecting the same kind of data against their own citizens and those of other countries. 

Clapper was asked if foreign countries including those complaining now have conducted operations against the United States.  His answer was "absolutely."  My personal experience supports this.

Clapper also insisted that such operations are a normal feature of intelligence operations and that the White House surely knew what NSA was doing and had been doing over a long period of time.

Today on "Morning Joe," Michael Haydon managed to get  past Mika B's attempts to defend Obama to support Clapper's statements that such operations are a necessary and frequent part of the information gathering process of mature states.

I support and salute both Clapper and Haydon for their honest answers and statements.  They are doing their duty.  It will be interesting to see if other IC chiefs like Brennan, Flynn and Alexander will also answer the call of duty.  pl    




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72 Responses to IC chiefs Pushes Back Against the White House

  1. jon says:

    Feeding frenzies among the sharks is never a pretty sight. This is usually done more quietly and out of public view. Agency heads don’t have lifetime tenure (except for Hoover, proving the rule), and it is common for presidents to fire them when too much adverse attentions falls on their work. Should Obama give greater defense to these fellows than he did for Van Jones? He was fired faster than I can blink.
    My impression is that Obama has been rather supportive of the intelligence agencies and their leadership, including their activities of dubious constitutionality. Perhaps he has been a bit too expansive on professing shock or ignorance. However, I don’t see what would be gained by Obama confirming any level of awareness, particularly for foreign activities.
    Yesterday we learned that, on many occasions, EU security services were eager participants in the surveilling of their own citizens and passing on their intelligence to the US. This story seems to have a few more twists and turns left.
    The progress of this train wreck does seem to indicate that US intelligence agencies still have a very incomplete knowledge of the documents in Snowden’s possession.

  2. At law there are both FOIA issues and state secrets issues arising from advice given to and by the President on National Security issues. The so-called “deliberative process” privilege arises under both. The theory being that communications between a President and his/her staff should be privileged and protected from disclosure.
    I also believe a movie from long ago starring Robert Redford called “Sneakers” involved issues of encryption. Perhaps another for Alan F. to review.
    And then of course the NIXON TAPES even though both JFK and LBJ also taped.
    The theory is that both a President and his/her advisors will act differently if they know they are recorded or listened in upon and only with nondisclosure will there be a free give and take and deliberation.
    Whatever the merits of the above “law” the American people should have the same access as foreign IC to discussions leading to any Presidential decision, but after the decision made and implemented.
    And just as much policy background and information and decisions is “leaked” “off the record” to the MSM and now bloggers and others all communications from the government and its personnel should be considered on the record and disclosed. This would IMO end many leaks.
    But perhaps the awkwardness of the “whistelblower” system and its meager protections means as long as disclosures on previously disclosed information are premised as personnel opinions perhaps that should also be subject to disclosure.
    Clearly this WH has no idea of the complexity of modern technology or its implications for governance in a democracy [republic]!
    And because most appointees and high ranking civil servants do their current jobs with a view towards their next “non-government” jobs no one is guarding the store or the federal fisc.

  3. The Twisted Genius says:

    The Snowden revelations and the ongoing aggressive reporting on these revelations are giving the world a close up tour of the sausage factory of SIGINT. A lot of people don’t like the way the sausage is made… but a lot of people still like the sausage. Obama has a habit of getting mad at his administration for screw ups, real and perceived. Attempts at portraying the IC and the NSA in particular as rogue elements are bullshit. The IC is doing exactly what this and previous administrations want it to do. Clapper and Haydon are telling the administration and the American people that if they like the sausage, they will have to accept how that sausage is made.
    On the other hand, the IC has also screwed itself. It gladly engaged in mass collection of Americans’ personal communications and stored this data for later use. Clapper, Alexander and others clumsily denied this was going on, only to be later proven to be liars. It screamed bloody about the massive Chinese SIGINT efforts targeting us as if the efforts were somehow unnatural and immoral. Now that our robust and very capable SIGINT efforts are revealed, many people wonder why there efforts are not also unnatural and immoral.
    Clapper is right. Countries have spied on other nations and will continue to do so to the best of their abilities. To do otherwise would be a dereliction of duty. Get used to it. Now he and the rest of the IC should embrace the reforms coming down the road. Get collection operations in line with the Constitution and take a harder look at the risk vs. gain of SIGINT collection operations. Collect it all will not suffice as a guiding mantra in the future.

  4. Michael McCarthy says:

    So we are believing Clapper today?

  5. Of course nations gather intelligence on each other — whether considered friend or foe — using any means possible regardless of invasion-of-personal-privacy etiquette or “agreements” to the contrary. Any national leader who doesn’t know and guard against this is either stupid or naïve — maybe both.
    The current side-show is all a political PR stunt to satisfy the stupid and naïve. Also known as: hand-caught-in-cook-jar song and dance routine.
    Quoting Samuel L Jackson: “Wake the f!@k up!”

  6. turcopolier says:

    Michael McCarthy
    Yes, because he speaks this time of what I know to be the truth. pl

  7. turcopolier says:

    “…The progress of this train wreck does seem to indicate that US intelligence agencies still have a very incomplete knowledge of the documents in Snowden’s possession.” I know that to be so. The IC has no idea when this might end. pl

  8. b says:

    @Pat – “The IC has no idea when this might end. pl”
    That was one of my first assertions when Snowden went public.
    You need system admins who know all systems. When one of them, leaks or screws with your systems you are in deep dark s***. Good sysadmins are gods. They can see and get anything they want and no one will ever know the what, where and how of what they do. As a CIO I would never outsource such powers.
    I wonder how the NSA knows its systems are “clean”. Snowden may well have laid a code bomb here or there. That may very well be the reason why he is still alive.
    As for Obama, Alexander, Clapper and all such liars. That is to be expected. The first is a politicians, the others are spies. Lying is part of their job descriptions.
    Alexander did this just again today in Congress. The Washington Post reported that the NSA snoops on internal Google cloud traffic between Goggle datacenters. Alexander was asked if that was true. He answered that the NSA does not spy within Google datacenters. Well, no one had asserted that. A cloud is by definition and for backup reasons distributed over several datacenters. Spying between those datacenters is spying within all of them. The NSA graphic the WaPo posted shows exactly that. The cloud that is spies on is shown as containing all the datacenters.
    I don’t trust anything Obama, Alexander or Clapper say. All of them can go to hell.

  9. ISL says:

    Dear Colonel,
    My assessment too, based on official missteps in responding to the evolving crisis, which a complete picture should have prevented.
    Further, to me, this indicates
    1. Snowden was very good at covering his digital tracks.
    2. The IC computer system likely has evolved to the point where no one really has a grasp of its complexity and weaknesses,
    3. Snowden would have been a fool not to have left a number of back doors hidden in the system. Since he was not a fool….
    4. Snowden is using encryption that cannot be broken.
    The latter assertion is interesting, as it could explain what Snowden brought to the Russian table.

  10. Allen Thomson says:

    > The IC has no idea when this might end.
    It might be useful, or at least interesting, to keep up a running archive of the revelations as they come out, accompanied by a damage assessment. The assessment might be done in wiki form as, having participated in a few such exercises in the past, I’ve seen very divergent opinions as to how much damage revelations have caused, or might in the future cause.

  11. JohnH says:

    Deutsche Welle reported earlier this week that allied spying was a condition for German independence in the mid-1950’s. Other German lawyers claim that such laws would no longer be operative. Their opinions don’t really matter.
    Either Merkel is either trying to save face or to wrest a little more independence from the United States.

  12. turcopolier says:

    “to wrest a little more independence from the United States.” I don’t know what thqt means. pl

  13. b is correct! Who guards the guards? Avery primitive and opaque OMB Circular A-130 governs computer security and has almost no enforcement of its provisions.
    Computer security and cyber security are separately administered through most of the federal government.

  14. CRS [Congressional Research Service] reported on October 25, 2013 that Congress had failed to act substantively on cyber security since 2002!
    Cyber security was a principle stated reason for creating DHS.

  15. Bandolero says:

    I may help out to build understanding here. When the Federal Republic of Germany was founded in 1949, it was not completely sovereign. There were some reservations on German sovereignty by the Allied Forces. Some of these reservations were public, some were secret. On intelligence matters, there were secret reservations on German sovereignty, mainly reserving the secret right for the IC of the Allied forces to do what they want in Germany. After some decades, I believe I read it was in 1969, some of these special rights for the allied IC were formalized in a secret basic US-German intelligence agreement.
    Back then, it was not a problem that this agreement was seen as uneven, besically an agreement between an occupier and a protectorate. The US was seen as a benign hegemon, because it’s major interest was to have a good, wealthy and smoothly working democracy in the FRG as a global showcase to point out that capitalism was better than communism. And the very most people of the FRG loved it, and the US, too, and highly valued the American efforts to prevent Germany from “falling into the hands of communism.”
    With the German reunification, which was last not least due to sovereignty reservation issues negotiated in the 4+2 frame (4 allies + 2 Germanys), so it is credibly reported, the allied forces dropped all their remaining sovereignty reservations on Germany. Some fringe figures in germany however claim that there still exist secret allied sovereignty reservations, which I believe is the basis for parts of JohnH’s comment.
    But what undoubtedly remained basically unchanged are the German-US intelligence agreements from the time, when the US was the benign hegemon over the FRG. However, times have changed. The US is not seen so much as the benign hegemon over Germany anymore than some decades ago. And so, at least I think, it would be quite logical to adapt the quite onesided basic US-German intelligence agreements to the new realities of the post cold war world. And as far as I understand what’s currently going on, I think that’s what might come out of the current IC row. The German side wants better guarantees in a modified US-German intelligence agreement for some privacy rights, as they are defined by the German high court as constitutional right of German citizens.
    Btw: Regarding the US and the independence of Germany or German sovereignty, I see a factual issue instead of a legal issue. As a result of the allied occupation, there exists a powerful “American lobby” in Germany, quite influential and in a way similar to the “Israel lobby” in the US. That “American lobby” or “Transatlantic lobby” in Germany may be seen as not always advocating in the best interest of Germany, but instead more in the best interest of America.
    Using the current intel row to renegotiate the German-US intelligence agreement in regard to German privacy rights may also be seen as a strategy of Merkel to curb the influence of that very powerful “American lobby” in Germany a bit.

  16. The Twisted Genius says:

    With only a very few exceptions, policy makers looking at cyber security are akin to pigs looking at a wristwatch… a lot of curiosity, but precious little comprehension. That leads to a lot of problems in defending our own networks, understanding the technology’s impact on our Constitutional rights and the writing of terrible legislation.

  17. pbrownlee says:

    Are there revelations of bugging Cameron (and/or the other Anglophone staunch allies/toadies) in the wings and waiting to go?

  18. Richard Armstrong says:

    It’s more probable that Snowden just walked his info out the front door. A determined man could keester 128 gigabytes of documents each trip without much discomfort and very probably without setting off any metal detector by using high capacity thumb drives.
    128Gb of documents if my math is correct over 128,000 reams of paper.

  19. JohnH says:

    “During the postwar years, the United States was itself “becoming a European power,” as Richard Holbrooke once said (to the fury of French and other Gaullists). Not merely a European power but the leading West European power, and after communism’s collapse the leader as well of what had been Warsaw Pact Europe…Why should the enormous American military and political operational centers built in Germany during the past 50 years still exist? There no longer is a cold war with Russia, or anyone else, that lends logic to these facilities.”

  20. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Would not a public damage assessment itself be damaging?

  21. Babak Makkinejad says:

    It is their pretension again – you have to humor them.

  22. The Twisted Genius says:

    Oh for crying out loud! Is the NSA spying on Pope Francis? If this report is true, the NSA has too much capability and too much time on their hands for their own good. I think they can be downsized, put under stricter controls and given a more focused target list and they will still serve the nation well.

  23. Amir says:

    From “Someone who has never done anything himself that was not just bullshit”:
    Does your salute for Clapper and co – whose resignation was a conditio sine qua non for you earlier on – mean that you are now supporting one bunch of liers against another bunch of liers just because the former’s uniforme look nicer than the latter’s suits?
    P.S. If you mean by “doing anything” killing someone, the answer is a big no. If you mean whether throughnon-cooperation preventing timely use of Port of Antwerp by Cheney’s gang, then the answer is a resounding YES.
    Hitler couldn’t do it with his Battle of The Bulge.

  24. seydlitz89 says:

    Col. Lang-
    Sir, while I greatly respect your views and agree on most of them, I see this all quite differently.
    First, Hayden, Clapper and Alexander are looking out for the interests of the surveillance system, not what I would see as any “duty”. They have been consistent in this regard, as when the latter two lied before Congress. Hayden’s clearance should be taken away from him and Clapper and Alexander both fired.
    Second, the arguments in favor of bugging Merkel’s phone seem to boil down to “well what else could she have expected?” This avoids the central issues which for me are two: firstly there’s the specific case of Merkel who having grown up in the GDR would have certain memories of Stasi activities and probably doesn’t remember them fondly. Targeting her phone was worse than a bad call, it was a blunder. Of course she would take it very personally and from a strategic theory perspective the character of the political leadership has to be considered. Secondly, if we have in fact established the Sigint setup at Pariser Platz as reported in the German press, then we have the mother of all blunders regarding the Germans starring us in the face.
    Third, Snowden imo is better seen as the latest of a sequence of NSA-related whistleblowers following in the wake of Binney, Wiebe, Tice and Drake. They support Snowden’s actions and Snowden’s actions were influence by their experiences. This means that given the unavoidable tension between what the NSA was set up to do and the actions/activities of the mass surveillance system there will undoubtedly be more Snowdens . . .
    Fourth and finally, this scandal reflects our fundamental political dysfunctions, not any mode of statecraft or business as usual. Five years after the greatest economic crisis since 1929, we’re still unable to reform or reign in Wall Street. The incoherent war on terror still lurches forward with us barely avoiding conflict in Syria where we would have been essentially acting as “Al Qaida’s air force”. Who’s in control of our negotiations with Iran? Obama or the Israeli lobby? And then there the nature of our party politics and what goes on in Washington. We seem to be intent on destroying not only the very post-WWII order that we spent so much to establish, but the very fabric of our national political existence.

  25. turcopolier says:

    Your comment is insulting. Do it again and I will ban you. pl

  26. turcopolier says:

    Seydlitz89 and Amir
    Human nature is complex. the same individual often holds different views and acts differently in differing situations. When Clapper et al lied to Congress I condemned them for their failure to do their civic duty. When Clapper accurately answers questions as to the absolute necessity of the efficacy of American intelligence and the ordinariness of NSA’s intercepts of foreign telephone circuits I salute him. It would have been much easier for him to “go along” with the WH and accept the scapegoating of the IC by politicians in the way that the politicians habitually do. In 30 years in intelligence I frequently watched this same phenomenon occur. Does it matter that Clapper and Haydon are retired officers? Yes, it does, I doubt that you will see Brennan stand up to the WH like this. clapper will be on the Newshour tonight. We will hear what he has to say. pl

  27. seydlitz89 says:

    Sir, has not the US IC been more than willing to fall on their swords repeatedly regarding the so-called “intelligence failure” leading up to the Iraq invasion of 2003? Personally I think it clear there was no intelligence failure at all, rather an action of willful policy . . . with the US IC providing justification (willingly or unwillingly), in all a corrupting abuse of the institution. Yet are they not willing to fall on their swords on this matter to this very day?
    So now, in this instance, they defend the surveillance system rather than the president?

  28. turcopolier says:

    As I wrote in “Drinking the Koolaid,” the neocons and other assorted trashy Bushites ruthlessly exploited the economic vulnerability of analysts to pressure them to reach fantastical “conclusions” At the same time they packed the leadership of the IC with flunkies like Tenet and Admiral Shapiro. Then, when after the fact, it was shown that the Bush Administration had lied about Iraq, the same neocon swine insisted that they would not have invaded Iraq if the IC had told them the truth. As for SIGINT it is absolutely necessary to the survival of the US. Did you have access to SIGINT products? I think domestic surveillance in the US is excessive but I have no problem at all with overseas operations. pl

  29. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The elimination of the residual US political influence in Germany and limitation on the exercise of intelligence operation on her soil does not bring any strategic independence to Germany; in my opinion.

  30. Peter C says:

    TTG, the Vatican Bank is/has been used as a Laundry, and the Vatican/Catholic Church is adept at shielding in its own way communications between Headquarters and deployed units. An organization this old and still thriving must have some real slick ways of maintaining secure communications to the vast reaches.

  31. turcopolier says:

    “elimination of the residual US political influence in Germany and limitation on the exercise of intelligence operation” sounds like liberation for the Americans. pl

  32. The Twisted Genius says:

    Peter C,
    The Vatican Bank is a valid target, IMO, for the reasons you describe. The problem for the NSA is that there is little if any discrimination in what to collect and what not to collect and store. The collect it all philosophy is taken literally. Why target the Pope when the financial dealings of the Bank is the real target? In the case of Merkel, the plans and intentions of the German leadership is a reasonable SIGINT requirement for the NSA. I propose a better approach would have been to target those around Merkel for the same information. Yes, there’s still the risk of being found spying on allies, but the effect would have been less than directly targeting Merkel who has such vivid memories of STASI surveillance.
    Part of the problem is just the current state of SIGINT technology. The capability to collect and store is far more efficient than the capability to analyze. I hope our government is working on technology that can search and analyze in the wild and in real time. That would be a breakthrough that would negate the need to retain the countless petabytes of data that we currently retain. That would still be a very intrusive technology, but it would be far better than our current collect it all approach.
    To end on a dangerously subversive note, I’d like to see a real time search and analyze capability available to people outside the NSA like investigative reporters, human rights activists and ordinary citizens. Of course our real and perceived enemies, big businesses and other ne’er-do-wells would also have it. That would force a greater emphasis on encryption and data protection, which wouldn’t be a bad thing either.

  33. Babak Makkinejad says:

    At the end of an article titled “Managing employee communications” by Mathew D. Sarrel in the March 15, 2010 issue of eWeek, we read:
    “Employee communications can be stored and analyzed forever. On the bright side, this isn’t just for information security. Understanding how employees interact with each other—and with customers—over social networks can provide valuable insight to marketing teams.”
    I find this morally repulsive as it facilitates the destruction of social trust and consequently, human liberty. The wide deployment of such devices injects fear in all levels of society. In the United States, where much of social, commercial, and governmental transactions are trust-based, these devices will have a corrosive effect.
    I think it was in “The Book of Laughter and Forgetting” that Milan Kundera related how the Communist Government of Czechoslovakia, used eavesdropping on the private conversations of dissidents to discredit them by broadcasting those recorded conversation on the state radio.
    Free (of retaliation or consequence) exchanges of ideas and opinions, as well as subjects of more personal nature, will consequently be severely harmed by the users of social computing systems (IM, eMail, etc.) due to the injection of the fear of exposure, intimidation, or blackmail. In more oppressive states, these types of devices will serve to enhance the power and the reach of repressive state organs.
    These devices, being promoted and sold under the guise of enhancing security, are a threat to human Freedom & Liberty. Their security model is that of a Police State and not that of free individuals engaged in free and unencumbered exchanges with one another.

  34. different clue says:

    Perhaps if we were to call such a theoretical period The Great Enlightening we might be able to sell some people on the concept of pursuing it.

  35. different clue says:

    They might well say in response . . . “How can we find a needle in a haystack if we don’t build a haystack? And if we build two haystacks we have twice as much chance of finding the needle.”

  36. LeaNder says:

    JohnH: “… may also be seen as a strategy of Merkel to curb the influence of that very powerful “American lobby” in Germany a bit.”
    I always considered Merkel an Atlanticist.
    You will have troubles to convince me otherwise.
    Spiegel in German, two short passages in translation:
    “A distinction was important to German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the EU summit in Brussels. If she complained about the alleged tapping of her cell phone, it wasn’t about herself, but it was rather about “the phones of millions of European citizens” whose privacy may be compromised by U.S. spy activities.
    But Thursday during dinner when EU heads of state put a stricter privacy regulation on the agenda, Merkel’s fighting spirit for Europe’s citizens had gone out again. As internal documents show, Germany slowed the rapid adoption of the reform.”
    Typical Merkel maneuvers, if you ask me.

  37. turcopolier says:

    “Merkel’s fighting spirit for Europe’s citizens had gone out again. As internal documents show, Germany slowed the rapid adoption of the reform.”” That sounds to me as though the BND has succeeded in explaining reality to her. pl

  38. Peter C says:

    TTG, yes to all your points. Human nature to cover ones ass to both attacks political and real failing’s drive much of this behavior of creating the straw pile. Having dealt with what I call the Cop mentality, the drive to keep what you collect, what are your methods are, and where this information is stored is to be out of reach of every one but themselves. I am referring to local type law enforcement not Signet, but human behavior is the same in both groups.
    Here is an example of why the Police or Sheriff level law enforcement love to store video. Lets say a real good facial image is snapped during the commission of a very seriously bad crime, like shooting an innocent child during a bank robbery or something like the Boston Marathon bombings. The Sherriff or Police have Zillions of hours of video stored from public cameras saturating our cities these days + access to private networked system open to Law enforcement. Thanks to Department of Homeland Security grants, some very high speed processing of video takes place and many found images of the Cretan show up building a who he hangs with, where traveled, etc etc. The police make an arrest of the proper person and take down the network also.
    How can law enforcement not want all this?
    Now comes the Drones for local civil law enforcement, with sensors that capture much more than regular type video and photos. I see the Tax appraiser with off the shelf change detection software noticing that new storage shed that is just a few feet bigger than allowed in you yard and sends you a letter for you to come in to get a permit, and pay the increased property valuation!!

  39. seydlitz89 says:

    I wish in no way to question your clarity or diligence in commenting/reporting on US political/strategic issues. Quite the opposite . . .
    Targeting first is what I see differently, and then the expansive nature of this total surveillance system we are dealing with? This is nothing like what we were dealing with in the 1980s-90s in terms of capability or magnitude? Fantastic systems like this didn’t exist. Capability, which is essentially endless seemingly guides US action, as in so many things . . .
    As to access to Sigint product . . . no, not directly. Various intelligence products and handbooks, but as a collector . . . ? Still, about half the US guys/women I worked with were former Sigint . . . one heard all the stories . . . how wonderful it all was.
    Skeptical to say the least, which reflects of course that I was operating “at the wire” during my entire service. I liked that.

  40. LeaNder says:

    Pat, I of course cannot speak for Merkel, but as far as me as an “ordinary” citizen she talked about above, TTG said it best:
    “The capability to collect and store is far more efficient than the capability to analyze.”
    Around 2002/3/4 it seemed they had to tweak the techniques of the data collection efforts. Suddenly the mails in my in-box doubled, tripled occasionally quadrupled. If you checked the headers some went absolutely parallel and some where delayed by a couple of seconds at one specific node. I doubt this happened only to me. But no one seemed to wonder or worry at that point in time, not a peep on the web.
    After reflecting on it for a while I arrived at TTG’s above cited conclusion. I have to admit that I felt sorry for the people that had to dig through the huge amount of absolutely useless data, like my mails. 😉
    I also somewhat doubt that Merkel had the type of experiences in the former GDR that would shape her perceptions. I think she is intelligent enough to make a distinction. … Seemingly her energy before ’89 went mostly into her work as a scientist. Her life in politics began when the system started to crumble. Thus I somehow doubt she had the type of experiences people suppose she had. Many, many people in the former GDR found the demands of the system ridiculous but conformed on the surface nevertheless. And thus did not get on the system’s radar …
    Merkel has not finished her coalition talks yet. If she manages to get the social democrats into her “boat”, her government will be so strong, while the opposition will not be big enough to demand an inquiry committee. In other words it is not only her take that matters. But nothing can happen before there is not a government or Merkel finds her respective partner. Only if Merkel and the Green become Merkel’s coalition partners, the opposition will be big enough to demand an committee for inquiring into matters.
    Paradoxically I have quite a bit of sympathy for Snowdon, while also being completely unable to feel any moral indignation about being spied upon, a little bit more translation from German:
    “dpa, October 31, 2013
    The intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden generally shows interest to help Germany to throw light on the NSA spy affair, which is becoming more and more explosive.
    According to Green Party Member of Parliament Hans-Christian Stroebele his surprise meeting with Snowden in Russia on Thursday dealt with the conditions under which the ex-employee of the U.S. secret NSA could testify at a German prosecutor or before any committee of the German Federal Parliament.
    Snowden pointed out his complicated legal situation, Stroebele told the first public channel’s Magazin “Panorama” in the evening. Snowden’s lawyer Anatoly Kutscherena had previously expressed concern: He cannot travel any place abroad, otherwise he looses his current status,” he told the interfax news agency. Furthermore, there is an agreement that Snowden cannot reveal any secret information.”

  41. turcopolier says:

    Do not pretend that you know what you are talking about. Massive computer support obviates your objections. pl

  42. turcopolier says:

    So, you actually know nothing except by third parties. pl

  43. seydlitz89 says:

    Sir, is it necessary to have had direct access to US Sigint product to comment on US intelligence collection policy regarding the NSA and their targeting?

  44. Bandolero says:

    Maybe that remark was not so bad.
    In Germany’s campaign against the US spying on Merkel I found an odd component. It looks like that the German Israel lobby supports that German “data protection” campaign against the US. As these guys would be the very last to be expected to support such things like data protection and more German indepedence from the US I wonder about their motive. Seeing German pro-Israel figures to back people like Hans-Christian Ströbele is a very odd experience. Currently I can’t see any other motive for them than aiming to put pressure on Obama.
    Now, back to Clapper. Regarding the chemical attack in Damascus Clapper probably lied, but Clapper’s reporting seemed to be what Netanyahu wanted to have reported – aiming to make the US strike Syria.
    Now, regarding to the NSA spying row, Clapper probably told the truth now regarding presidential oversight. And accidentially, it may be well in line with a potential desire from Netanyahu to bring pressure on Obama.
    In that light Dianne Feinstein’s odd looking remark regarding allegdly lacking oversight of Obama on NSA spying that there is a “big problem” could be seen. It may bring pressure on Obama. And I think, Feinstein would not deny to be “a good friend of Israel,” neither.

  45. ess emm says:

    He’s one of the 5 Eyes.

  46. turcopolier says:

    It would greatly improve your credibility. As it is, you are somewhat like a blind man describing an elephant based on description given him by the sighted. pl

  47. Fred says:

    We have built a platinum plated diamond encrusted haystack collection system. We still look for needles in the same old way, however.

  48. Bobo says:

    Your scaring the beloving Jesus out of me with that one. I can see it now the Colonel sitting at the desk looking at his computer screen saying “hey you over here” now what is this “is that you in this picture of a 1968 March in Boston” and ” you in this picture at Woodstock in 1969″ hmmmm as he pushes the Green Button as I walk up the stairs to the Soylent Green machine……

  49. Babak Makkinejad says:

    In regards to “I hope our government is working on technology that can search and analyze in the wild and in real time.” please see:

  50. turcopolier says:

    What were you doing in Boston in 1968? The following year when I cam back from the war for the first time, a dirty, hairy, bum with a guitar asked me how many babies I had killed. This was in the parking garage under the Commons. I smashed his guitar against a pillar and handed him the pieces. My wife was displeased. I felt pretty good about it. pl

  51. turcopolier says:

    “Regarding the chemical attack in Damascus Clapper probably lied, but Clapper’s reporting seemed to be what Netanyahu wanted to have reported – aiming to make the US strike Syria. Now, regarding to the NSA spying row, Clapper probably told the truth now regarding presidential oversight.” Clapper is essentially a political bureaucrat dominated by his ambition but even he has limits and the implied threat of WH scaprgoating was, IMO, too much for him. His scheduled appearance on the Newshour was “postponed” and I think that means a modus vivendi between the IC chiefs and the WH has been reached. BTW, the president does not “oversee” the IC. He is the commander in chief of the armed forces and the IC. pl

  52. Bobo says:

    Could of been 69 but my SO dragged me along as she was into that stuff as we listened to the tall bum just back who thought he was God’s Gift espouse a bunch of BS on top of that garage, that was my first and last of those. I imagine when the cops came to the hippies defense they patted you on the back as that how it was in them days. As to Woodstock it was me and three others who went, one was from Graves Detail the other saw too much action, where we had one good time. Both of them left us early in life.

  53. LeaNder says:

    “Do not pretend that you know what you are talking about. ”
    Yes, I should stop babbling. No doubt technology makes a lot more possible than it did in earlier decades. Just as I hardly am able to grasp SIGINT, with all it’s interfacing component and/or its technological history.
    There is a reason, why I usually call myself nitwit, the little I know is negligible compared to what I know. 😉

  54. turcopolier says:

    No cops, just me and him and he didn’t want any more. I am a field spook , an analyst occasionally and an SF man. We don’t like cops either and don’t want them interfering in our social interactions. pl

  55. TTG,
    An ignoramus question to you and others who have more grasp of technological possibilities than I: how far can one expect technology not only to ‘search’ but to ‘analyze’? What kinds of ‘analysis’ can it do, and what kinds can’t it do?
    In principle — and leaving aside questions about side effects which may be socially undesirable, and indeed acutely so — any technology which makes it possible to, as it were, isolate needles among haystacks must contribute to better intelligence.
    However, this does bring me back to worries about the inability of elements in the intelligence and foreign affairs communities to face up to the need for knowledge of languages, history and culture, and on-the-ground experience. It is very easy completely to misinterpret the actual significance of statements, without such background.

  56. Bandolero says:

    Regarding Clapper you’re probably right. It’s plausible that up to this day he did exactly what the WH wanted him to do, and now he felt in danger of being made a convenient scapegoat, so he secured himself against that WH hypocrisy.
    However, nevertheless, in Germany I still see this very odd aspect of the Israel lobby helping Merkel and Ströble in the campaign against the NSA activities in Germany – and thereby helping Merkel implicitely against Obama. I don’t know the reason for this Israeli decision, but I suppose, when “Israel firsters” in Germany are on the side of Merkel against Obama in this row, then in the US that may well be the case, too.
    However, the row may end soon, there is already a sense of easing of tension in Germany. The German feeling seems to be that Merkel’s emissary Heusgen made some progress in his talks yesterday in Washington where he met Rice and Clapper and further constructive talks are agreed to.
    Some info published by DPA, looks like coming directly from Merkel’s office:
    Berlin works for a bilateral agreement. In that agreement the U.S. side would, among other things assure to refrain from spying on the German government, government burocracy, and German diplomatic missions. Furthermore, data protection and the privacy of the citizens of Germany should be ensured. In addition, there should be no spying without reason, while US intelligence operations in Germany against terrorists or weapons trade would not restricted.
    I guess, in further German-US negotiations that German aims will be watered down a lot further until it is acceptable for the US and it won’t change much on the ground. But if there is such an agreement and the US is seen another time spying on the German government Merkel or any other future German government will have it more easy to sell the German public a good chunk of German budget for counterintelligence operations against the US. But, so long, the German feeling seems to be that that chunk of budget would be better used for acting side by side with the sacred US allies in the GWOT. How that feeling develops in the future, will then depend on future US behaviour.

  57. optimax says:

    Sometimes a man deserves to have his guitar smashed.

  58. Noting that Congress has failed to enact an IC authorization for a number of years.

  59. Norbert M. Salamon says:

    this will depend on what Mr. Snowden will tell the Bundestag, as it appears that there is apolitical move to have him testify [probably with German guarantee of his safety and political refugee status [per RT news and Der Spiegel of today].

  60. What is the status of CCTV in Israel? In Germany? In Russia?

  61. turcopolier says:

    Snowden is under federal indictment for espionage. He is charged with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and “willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person”, the last two charges having been brought under the 1917 Espionage Act. IMO the charge of treason could easily be added to that. If the German government wishes to deal with a defector from the United States government who is under indictment, then it must be prepared for a fundamental change in its relationship with the US. pl

  62. Bandolero says:

    Norbert M. Salamon
    No, the German push for a revision of the US-German spy agreement is independent from a likely parliamentary investigative commitee and a not-so-likely testifying of Snowden in Germany. If Snowden is to give testimony to German parlamentarian investigators, as I see it, it’s more likely to happen in Moscow.

  63. turcopolier says:

    It doesn’t matter where the talks are held. The US will view them as a hostile act. I am in favor of a US withdrawal from NATO and renunciation of any obligation to treat the EU as other than a competitor bloc. If the German government does this there will be many more Americans who will favor such action.pl

  64. Bandolero says:

    “I am in favor of a US withdrawal from NATO and renunciation of any obligation to treat the EU as other than a competitor bloc.”
    Me, too. So let’s hope we can use that “Snowden row” to get that accomplished. Talks between German parliamentarians and Snowden are already underway.
    The German public is, I’m quite sure, also in the mood to say, when the US spied on Merkel’s handy, , then it must be prepared for a fundamental change in its relationship with Germany.
    And I’m sure Ströbele and the Left will do their best to get that accomplished, too, though, as I see it, some parts of the SPD and Merkel are still a bit overcautious.

  65. turcopolier says:

    Are you a German diplomat or academic? If the German government position clarifies as being against us I will decide if my efforts should be to devote my efforts to a complete divorce from Germany. pl

  66. The Twisted Genius says:

    Yes, semantic nets are part of the solution.

  67. The Twisted Genius says:

    David Habakkuk,
    I know Prolog code when I see it, but I am not an expert in the field. If you asked me to explain semantic webs or geometric algebra, you might as well ask a pigeon. I do know that the technology I described is real. It can search and analyze unstructured data no matter what form or language is involved. I’ve seen it work and it is head and shoulders above every other technology I’ve ever seen. My NDA prevents me from elaborating.
    You are absolutely right about the need for human analysts with the requisite linguistic, historic and cultural skills. The technology I’ve described is just a tool for the skilled analyst, not a replacement.

  68. Bandolero says:

    Please take my excuses, I didn’t want to offend you. No, I’m not a German diplomat and I don’t want to be one, because if I was I couldn’t communicate as freely as I can now.
    I think, neither Germany nor the German government is “against the US.” It’s quite the opposite, in general, the people and the government of Germany feel friendly to the US. However, peoples have not only friendly or unfriendly feelings for other states and their governments, but their states have also interests.
    What I just spoke about is what I perceive a wide-spread mood among the German people, and among the German government, though the government is cautious to say it, that the US troops in Germany do contribute more to diplomatic problems with other partners than to security and that the US troops currently stationed in Germany therefore may go home now.
    I think, having the US troops leave Germany and Europe may be a win-win situation, for Germany, for Europe and for the US. The last major things US bases in Germany did was contributing to wars against Iraq and Libya. They were not contributing to European security, quite the opposite. The US Africom command in Stuttgart arguably contributed to disrupting the oil supplies for the Libyan fed oil refinery in Hamburg. And similarly, the US military presence in Germany doesn’t contribute to securing German oil and gas supplies from Russia. It’s here quite the opposite as well.
    So, if the US presence in Europe doesn’t provide to security in Europe, wouldn’t it be better for the US to take these forces back to the US to let them, or the money spent for them, work for building bridges and roads in Michigan and Detroit? I am aware of some lobby groups working against it for their narrow interests but I think it’s a mutual interest of Germany and the US to make that happen.
    I think, when that happens, the US-German relationship would be described more like partners than allies, and economic competitors for sure, but that wouldn’t need to hamper friendly feelings between the people. What’s bad about such a prospect?

  69. Fred says:

    Don’t worry, the Colonel and men like him would not do that. Men like Barrack Hussein Obama on the other hand are already doing so, just not here. (yet)

  70. turcopolier says:

    DH and TTG
    A few years back I consulted for a contractor who was trying to re-invent actual intelligence analysis for the US Army. After Vietnam this kind of work had been relegated by the geniuses who ran army intelligence to the realm of mechanistic application of “templates” in “preparation of the battlefield.” A group of truly expert people from CIA and DIA (all retired) were assembled and asked to explain how actual analysis works at the top of the game. This proved difficult because both the contractor and the army wanted to rely on “the tools” rather than the talent. No amount of argument on the part of some of the best analysts of the 20th Century could move the discussion and persuade that analysis should be work for the educated and not the merely skilled. pl

  71. Babak Makkinejad says:

    David Habakkuk:
    One approach is for software to perform the analysis on the basis of training sets fed to it; neural nets are example of such a search. There too many commercial as well as free tools for this to mention here.
    There are approaches based on Fuzzy Logic that could make decisions based on the specifications of a range of parameters for both input and out put signals/data – there are commercial as well as open source tools for this – such as MatLab (commercial).
    Lastly, there are approaches based on mathematical statistics – their implementations are usually proprietary but there are many many books that discuss the foundations. See, for example:
    For semantic analysis – which also relies essentially on templates/trainin sets – HP has a set of tools called Vertica.
    There is good survey book on Pattern Recognition: called “Pattern Theory” that covers a large problem area:
    (It requires post-graduate training in mathematics.)
    These systems, however, are incapable of “Insight” and thus are good for removing the drudgery of search from actual human beings.
    They cannot replace human beings.

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