Discussion: Surveillance State

Please note that with a forecast for excellent weather Wednesday night, we are moving this meeting to Lee's Rooftop, one block from the 4, 5 and 6 stop on the Upper East Side.  Please note that the roof 32 stories up can feel 5 to 10 degrees cooler, especially on a windy day.  There are two picnic tables on the roof and plenty of seating.  Please feel free to bring your dinner or choose from the list of local takeout places at the bottom of this intro.

For the meeting, we will begin with a review of why we have a fourth amendment.  Another point is when information is classified, at what point does the people's right to know about govt fraud and waste trump secrecy.  How about unconstitutional govt activity?  We will also discuss mainstream media coverage and the attack on Glenn Greenwald.

Many articles and youtube posts can be found on the comments below. We also recommend a thoughtful opinion piece from Wired. The main arguments are:

1. The number of federal laws have increased to such an extent that anyone could be in violation of some statute or interpretation thereof. Since prosecuting everyone is not viable, it becomes selective and at the discretion of the federal prosecutors.

2. If people are prevented from civil disobedience then it becomes impossible to change any existing law; with a perpetual surveillance state any civil rights movement comes to an end.

Here are the food choices around the E.86th Station (& Lexington):

Chirping Chicken on Lex and 85th (grilled chicken and ribs on SW corner), Shake Shack on 86th between Lex & 3rd (leave a lot of time, there is a long line), McDonalds on Third b/t 84th & 85th, Subway on Lex b/t 85th & 86th, sushi on the westside of Lex b/t 83rd & 84th. The best pizza place is Mimi’s on the NW corner of 84th & Lex. They also have subs and all the Italian works.

Lee would also be pleased to share Chinese food from Szechuan Kitchen. Their best dishes are Hot Spiced Ginger Shrimp and Hot Spiced Shredded Pork. We also recommended the Beef with Mushrooms (NOT Chinese Mushrooms) and Green Beans with Garlic Sauce (incl. Ground Meat).

You can also order in whatever you like, but you will have to go back down from the roof to the lobby. Too many choices to recommend, but if you have a particular fare you crave, send an e-mail for suggestions.

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  • Laura-Jeanne M.

    Great --it was an interesting discussion.

    July 18, 2013

  • Nancy R.

    Sorry, sounds very interesting, but too hot for me to travel from Brooklyn.

    July 17, 2013

  • Alexander Y.

    Some thing came up. Hope you will have a fruitful discussion.

    July 17, 2013

  • Mark N.

    Sorry, working late all this week for release deadline, have to cancel. Was looking forward to this.

    July 17, 2013

  • Lee

    Insider Threats

    Obama’s crackdown views leaks as aiding enemies of U.S.

    June 27, 2013

    • Bill

      In the one on Manning, it says "Manning said during his February confession that he thought carefully about the information he was releasing, and felt nothing he leaked could be used to harm the U.S.".

      How can he seriously claim that when he could not possibly have had the time to read all the material he was leaking???? How could he know whether it was harmful to the US or not? Is the fact that someone had declared it 'classified' a sign that someone else (who had actually read it) felt it was not in the interest of the United States for this material to be released?

      July 17, 2013

    • Bill

      We discussed Bradley Manning in my dinner discussion group last year http://www.meetup.com...­

      July 17, 2013

  • Lee

    On the New York Times position on Edward Snowden:

    "What a contrast between big-name journalists craven enough to toss the Fourth Amendment overboard and whistleblowers courageous enough to risk their lives for civil liberties."


    June 17, 2013

    • Bill

      Manning was not a "courageous whistleblower". If he were, he would have carefully gone through the material he was leaking, and leaked the minimum amount necessary to make his point (I'm not sure he really had a point). As it was, he leaked hundreds of thousands of documents without reading them in a spiteful, infantile action designed to hurt his employer, the United States, as much as possible.

      July 16, 2013

  • Lee

    Rachel Maddow does a Good Job of Discussing the Programs and Related History

    The NSA AT&T Spying 'Secret Room' & PRISM

    NSA, FBI Secretly Mines Data from Major Internet Companies Google, Yahoo

    Congress regularly complicit in US spy programs

    June 27, 2013

  • Lee

    A concise, excellent analysis of the media coverage from Juan Cole of the University of Michigan. Go Blue!

    Top Ten Ways US TV News are Screwing us Again on NSA Surveillance Story (Iraq Redux)

    And an interesting analysis of the lack or revelation from the Guardian and Washington Post articles.

    NSA Bombshell Story Falling Apart Under Scrutiny; Key Facts Turning Out to Be Inaccurate

    Yet if the latter is correct, then what is Edward Snowden guilty of?

    June 26, 2013

  • Lee

    If Edward Snowden damaged national security by revealing information publicly, apparently the information is already out there.

    So how come in the endlessly repeated statements of harm to national security, we haven't heard one appointed or elected government official give any evidence?

    Sorry, but after all of the lies leading to the Iraq War and then NSA Director Clapper lying to Congress three months ago, a federal felony, I do not believe we should simply trust unsubstantiated claims.

    What may be even more frustrating, the establishment keeps citing plots intended or conducted by foreigners. That is completely outside the issue of collecting electronic communication on all Americans.

    June 24, 2013

  • Dyutiman D.

    from Mark (for elaboration on the web of federal laws) http://www.volokh.com/author/harveysilverglate/

    June 17, 2013

  • Lee

    Senator Joe Biden on collecting telephone records, one part of the program under question today, as it was being applied during the Bush Administration:

    "I don't have to listen to your phone calls to know what you're doing. If I know every single phone call you made, I'm able to determine every single person you talked to. I can get a pattern about your life that is very, very intrusive. . . . If it's true that 200 million Americans' phone calls were monitored - in terms of not listening to what they said, but to whom they spoke and who spoke to them - I don't know, the Congress should investigative this."

    From another one of Glenn Greenwald's excellent articles on the NSA program


    June 17, 2013

  • Lee

    What mainstream media coverage have you seen on the NSA Surveillance of All Americans (NSA SAA)?

    I have been watching the TV coverage of the NSA SAA and have noticed a disturbing parallel to the lead up to the Iraq War. Most of what I have seen comes from Bloomberg TV which comes from a number of angles – regular news, tech industry coverage and political coverage. It appears to me that Bloomberg either typically does not address the implications for Americans of spying on the electronic data of their communications, or if they do, they bring on current and former government officials and technology professionals, discussing how the spying is lawful and/or monitored appropriately.

    June 16, 2013

    • Mark N.

      The Economist seems to be addressing those implications, at least in their leader in the current issue. They're not damning the program, but they are raising an alarm about some of the dangers.
      "Furthermore, governments tend to be opportunistic. ... Perhaps the ends justify the means—we do not know—but that was not the case with extraordinary rendition, “black jails”, waterboarding and the other ventures Mr Cheney’s mob led America into. <p> Our point is not that America’s spies are doing the wrong things, but that the level of public scrutiny is inadequate and so is the right of redress. Without these, officials will be tempted to abuse their powers, because the price of doing so is small. This is particularly true for those who bug and ban."

      June 16, 2013

    • Lee

      Thanks Mark. I would expect sober analysis from the Economist. I was thinking more about American media though.

      June 16, 2013

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