|11-13-2012, 06:17 PM||Topic Starter|
Make America Great Again
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The real outrage in the Petraeus scandal? The surveillance state.
Just to recap the facts as we know them:
1. Some person receives a mild cyberthreat.
2. She happens to know someone in the FBI, so the FBI agent, who's clearly got a thing for her, spearheads an investigation.
3. The FBI finds the cyberthreats to be quite mild.
4. Nevertheless, they forge forward to attempt to identify who the sender may be.
5. Ms. Broadwell (the chick Petraeus banged) pops as a suspect. A suspect of a mild cyberthreat that wasn't against any crime.
6. Without any warrant whatsoever, or approval from any judge whatsoever, the FBI hacks all of Broadwell's email accounts and read all her emails.
7. They discover sexually explicit emails from somebody.
8. They investigate the sexually explicit emails, and ascertain that they came from Petraeus.
That's what happened. This all happened because the FBI devoted extensive resources for a personal favor, and with no crime, no warrant, and no judicial approval.
Simple question: is this right? Should this be happening?
FBI's abuse of the surveillance state is the real scandal needing investigation
Tuesday 13 November 2012 09.46 EST
The Petraeus scandal is receiving intense media scrutiny obviously due to its salacious aspects, leaving one, as always, to fantasize about what a stellar press corps we would have if they devoted a tiny fraction of this energy to dissecting non-sex political scandals. Nonetheless, several of the emerging revelations are genuinely valuable, particularly those involving the conduct of the FBI and the reach of the US surveillance state.
As is now widely reported, the FBI investigation began when Jill Kelley - a Tampa socialite friendly with Petraeus (and apparently very friendly with Gen. John Allen, the four-star U.S. commander of the war in Afghanistan) - received a half-dozen or so anonymous emails that she found vaguely threatening. She then informed a friend of hers who was an FBI agent, and a major FBI investigation was then launched that set out to determine the identity of the anonymous emailer.
That is the first disturbing fact: it appears that the FBI not only devoted substantial resources, but also engaged in highly invasive surveillance, for no reason other than to do a personal favor for a friend of one of its agents, to find out who was very mildly harassing her by email. The emails Kelley received were, as the Daily Beast reports, quite banal and clearly not an event that warranted an FBI investigation:
[The New York Times this morning reports that the FBI claims the emails contained references to parts of Petraeus' schedule that were not publicly disclosed, though as Marcy Wheeler documents, the way the investigation proceeded strongly suggests that at least the initial impetus behind it was a desire to settle personal scores.]
What is most striking is how sweeping, probing and invasive the FBI's investigation then became, all without any evidence of any actual crime - or the need for any search warrant:
But that isn't all the FBI learned. It was revealed this morning that they also discovered "alleged inappropriate communication" to Kelley from Gen. Allen, who is not only the top commander in Afghanistan but was also just nominated by President Obama to be the Commander of US European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe (a nomination now "on hold"). Here, according to Reuters, is what the snooping FBI agents obtained about that [emphasis added]:
This is a surveillance state run amok. It also highlights how any remnants of internet anonymity have been all but obliterated by the union between the state and technology companies.
But, as unwarranted and invasive as this all is, there is some sweet justice in having the stars of America's national security state destroyed by the very surveillance system which they implemented and over which they preside. As Trevor Timm of the Electronic Frontier Foundation put it this morning: "Who knew the key to stopping the Surveillance State was to just wait until it got so big that it ate itself?"
Having the career of the beloved CIA Director and the commanding general in Afghanistan instantly destroyed due to highly invasive and unwarranted electronic surveillance is almost enough to make one believe not only that there is a god, but that he is an ardent civil libertarian.
The US operates a sprawling, unaccountable Surveillance State that - in violent breach of the core guarantees of the Fourth Amendment - monitors and records virtually everything even the most law-abiding citizens do. Just to get a flavor for how pervasive it is, recall that the Washington Post, in its 2010 three-part "Top Secret America" series, reported: "Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications."