From TRNN; first, the last two and a half minutes of the interview:



“And as I said, I can’t stand the gushing about it. It’s important what Edward Snowden has done, that people are starting to react to it, that we’re starting to get some people talking about reforms. But the worst situation here would be to have superficial reforms, and then the country goes to sleep on the mass spying that’s still occurring.

As I said, the NSA has to be torn apart root and branch. It basically has to be gotten rid of. We have to start over and say, what’s necessary here? And what’s necessary can only be necessary in terms of surveillance with a court order, a warrant that allows such surveillance under the stringent standards of our Fourth Amendment. We can’t have this open and notorious mass spying.

So we’re moving along: a court decision, amnesty possible or at least talked about for Ed Snowden. But in terms of thinking of this review or this report as a panacea, let’s not go there.”

Here’s the whole interview, and I do believe he fiddles around a bit before his final declaration:

Here’s the EFF’s take he values highly, and yes, they sorta support the Leahy/Sensenbreener bill: The USA Freedom Act (gaggable name) or S1559, but the piece Ratner mentions is titled, “A Floor, Not a Ceiling: Supporting the USA FREEDOM Act as a Step Towards Less Surveillance:”

What the Bill Doesn’t Cover

The bill only addresses a small portion of the problems created by NSA spying and overreaching government secrecy. It does not touch problems like NSA programs to sabotage encryption standards, it does not effectively tackle the issue of collecting information on people outside of the United States, and it doesn’t address the authority that the government is supposedly using to tap the data links between service provider data centers, such as those owned by Google and Yahoo.

The bill also does not address a key issue that the government uses to inhibit lawsuits contesting the spying: excessive secrecy. For instance, it won’t deal with the major over-classification issues or the state secrets privilege, the latter of which is used aggressively to prevent litigation from getting to a court decision on whether the spying is unconstitutional. The bill also leaves out a clause appearing in Sen. Ron Wyden’s bill, which provides guidelines to obtain standing in legal cases against the spying.

Lastly, it does not hold public officials accountable for their role in allowing this spying to take place and hiding it from public and Congressional oversight, and it does not create a Congressional committee that could independently investigate the surveillance programs and give the country a full accounting. Remember we are still just learning the full depth of the programs on a piecemeal basis.

So while we are happy to support the USA FREEDOM Act, we also acknowledge that there is still much to do to dial back the NSA. This can happen through ongoing improvements to the USA FREEDOM Act as well as through additional bills.

When I’d listened to the Ratner interview, I’d missed that he’d spoken about all bulk surveillance needed to stopped, but saw it at the transcript:

There has to be an absolute end to mass surveillance, whether it’s by private companies or by the government. I don’t consider one to be significantly more honest or better–in fact, perhaps less. Who knows. But certainly neither one should be able to engage in mass surveillance. There should be no such thing as mass surveillance. Surveillance should only be done under court order with a warrant.

Because we know that we’re being surveilled, and our metadata and communications captured by many other groups, both private and public; the FBI has a special ‘elite unit’ (booga, booga).  In answer to a question I posed to Emptywheel, she said that the FBI was mentioned a couple times in the NSA White House Panel report; she didn’t expand on it past that, but agreed that their snooping should be addressed as well.

Michael Ratner lost me when he discussed the conversations going on about the US offering Edward Snowden immunity for…information?  The files?  But if he has any idea that it could work out well for Mr. Snowden, that’s just plain crazy.

Here Trevor Timm spells it out ‘why he should *not* make a deal and return to the US in “If Snowden Returned to US for Trial, All Whistleblower Evidence Would Likely Be Inadmissible.” He includes several prosecution cases for Espionage, and how harmful to the defendants it was that they weren’t permitted to put on a fulsome defense.  Given that NSA ‘reform’ hero Mark Udall should arguably know all this, these two sentences in Timm’s piece rankled:

‘Even NSA reform advocate Sen. Mark Udall said, “He ought to stand on his own two feet. He ought to make his case. Come home, make the case that somehow there was a higher purpose here.” 

Wow, Senator Udall.  Just wow.

What do you think?  Should the entire Acronym surveillance system be abolished?  Can it be ‘reformed?’  (We keep hearing that as some kind of Big Deal (not from DiFi, lol.).  Is there a need for an NSA?  DNI?  Will any ‘reforms’ be verifiable if enacted?  Would unwinding the vast network of NSA hardware and software even be possible or verifiable?  Especially given the fact in the WH report that there hasn’t been one terrorist plot stopped by any of these massive and storage of our communications, isn’t it a good question to ask?  My support would go to ‘tear it apart root and branch.’  Start over?  With nothing, or something entirely different.  Which agencies could ask for individual warrants?  And repeal every law since WWI and take a hard look at ‘need’ before creating new ones.