Patents of Nobility: Feinstein and McCain

It is an amazing spectacle to see Senators Feinstein and McCain, both A-OK with NSA spying on ordinary American citizens, draw the line at NSA spying on foreign politicians.  A reasonable person would say that tapping the German leader's phone is a hell of a lot closer to the NSA's true brief than tapping mine, but our political leaders believe the opposite.

That is because they have come to believe that politicians and government officials are a special class with special rights and privileges.  They don't have to follow labor law (Congress is exempt), they don't have to deal with the Obamacare exchanges (Congress is exempt), they don't even have to follow the same laws, like DWI (DC police typically help drunk Congresspersons home rather than arrest them).


  1. mlhouse:

    Sorry, there is a major difference between "tapping" a phone and tracking metadata from a phone. This is where the entire libertarian argument breaks down: the absolutism that they look at the world.

  2. Robert Hewes:

    "The proud man's contumely, the law's delay, the insolence of office..."

  3. marque2:

    Unfortunately the Metadata is the important part. If a politician like Obama asked for the medadata from a phone number that happens to be Carl Rove's phone, they could find out every person he is callings. Discard a few obvious dump numbers (dryclearners) and you can find out exactly who is talking with - which organizations, political leaders, businessmen. That there metadata is pretty powerful information, even though they might not have the contents of the call. Metadata gathering on US citizens without a warrant should be banned as well.

  4. mlhouse:

    We already have been through this discussion. Metadata is NOT the most important part. It is very weak data. For example, you identify it in the beginning. Identifying the important and not important telephone calls is virtually impossible. And, in the end, if you really want to know who Karl Rove is talking to, gathering billions of phone call records and maintaining a database of "routine" telephone numbers is a very expensive proposition to gain what exactly??????
    Content is still the most valuable part of the telephone call. Relationships built on telephone metadata are going to be very weak. I have lots of experience utilizing this type of data with advanced statistical methods. There isn't much there there.

  5. marque2:

    And you would be wrong again. They have told us they are saving the phone numbers called, the links as part of the metadata. This alone is too much info. Very easy with DB technology to abuse this if you want to target one person and knowing who they called (Even without NSA powers I can very easily get a link from a phone number to a person ) We saw how the IRS helped Obama get elected, why wouldn't other departments do the same. And so yeah 10 out of 100 numbers might be interesting but with 1000's of people on hand to parse each call - it is trivial.
    I don't understand why you are such an NSA spying on citizens apologist.

  6. mlhouse:

    And, again, your level of expertise on the matter really makes your conclusions meaningless.

    Basically, lets look at your assertion and see how it proves my point. WIth modern technology to abuse, of you want to target one person, even without NSA powers it could potentially be very easy. QED. Why go through the expense to acquire billions of records of telephone metadata to accomplish THIS goal if you are willing to take the risk of getting caught? IF it is a political spying the issue, the only thing that really prevents a governemnt in power is the calculation of risk and reward.

    The IRS scandal is an example of the risk and reward. The political manipulation of IRS data and audit are very powerful. Your tax return isn't just "metadata". It is equivalent to tapping the phone to get content. Then, if they conduct an "audit" that is equivalent to an indictment. The Obamanuts conducted these operations because they clearly believed that they would be beyond scrutiny and for hte most part they were correct. But, this is information way beyond the collection of telephone metadata, the IRS equivalent would be the date you filed your return and which tax schedules you filed.

    As far as being a NSA apologist I claim I am not. IF the NSA were "tapping" citizens telephone records like Warren states, then that would be soemthing that is not to be tolerated. But they aren't. Collecting telephone metadata is not a major privacy intrusion. Further, this aint the movies. Unlike the political appointees that run the IRS, I have a reasonable trust of the professionalism of the staff of the NSA. THey are dedictated to protect the security of the United States. IF there is a "rogue", that happens in many situations.

    And, finally, a citizen only has limited privacy rights. THere is no such thing as absolute privacy. If you make a telephone call a record of that call will be created. There is nothing you can do about it. If you don't want a metadata record created, don't use the phone. And, if in the very limited chance that those records can be utilized to improve national security with such marginal intrusions to your privacy, then that is nothing but a positive.

  7. Deborah English:

    Check it, Feinstein under investigation now by feds,