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Motion: This House supports the NSA phone surveillance program

  • Jun 25, 2013 · 7:00 PM
  • This location is shown only to members

Recently, Edward Snowden, a contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA), disclosed details of classified NSA surveillance programs to the press. These programs include a huge database the federal government keeps on hundreds of billions of telephone calls within the US or originating overseas to the US.

The database's existence has prompted fierce objections. It is often viewed as an illegal warrantless search that violates Americans' basic constitutional rights. "The program goes far beyond even the permissive limits set by the Patriot Act and represents a gross infringement of the freedom of association and the right to privacy," said Jameel Jaffer, the ACLU's deputy legal director.

President Obama and aides have defended the NSA phone intercept program, saying it has helped prevent terrorist attacks and is subject to oversight by Congress and a special (and secret) court. In the past week, the NSA chief testified before the Senate that 'dozens' of terror attacks have been stopped using phone data from the surveillance program.

So what do you think? Join us at the next SFDebate to explore and debate this Motion. Note that there is a $5 fee charged by the Commonwealth club for non-members to the club.

If you are interested in being a moderator or speaker for this Motion, just email event organizer - Deborah – by clicking on her name and let her know.

Read more:

http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security-technology-and-liberty/aclu-files-lawsuit-challenging-nsas-patriot-act-phone

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NSA_warrantless_surveillance_controversy

http://news.yahoo.com/obama-administration-defensive-over-surveillance-activity-152124350.html

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/06/18/19022364-surveillance-helped-stop-plots-against-nyse-and-new-york-subway-official-says?lite

Join or login to comment.

  • Starchild

    A couple people asked me about what I said about the New York Times reporting the FBI staging terror attacks. Here is a link to that piece:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/29/opinion/sunday/terrorist-plots-helped-along-by-the-fbi.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&;

    Specifically, quoting from the article:

    "Of the 22 most frightening plans for attacks since 9/11 on American soil, 14 were developed in sting operations."

    On a somewhat unrelated topic, I was also asked about the government "drills" that strangely coincided with the 9/11 attacks and the Boston Marathon bombing. Here is the Wikipedia entry on the 9/11 drills: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_government_operations_and_exercises_on_September_11,_2001

    And here is an article discussing the similarly "coincidental" Boston Marathon bombing drill:

    http://intellihub.com/2013/06/13/homeland-security-admits-boston-drill-eerily-similar-to-marathon-bombing/

    1 · June 26, 2013

    • Starchild

      Jeffrey - Indeed I agree that it would be *possible* for a tornado to totally demolish a house while leaving a place setting on a table in that house untouched. The two passports surviving the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 unscathed is also *possible*. However, I think both scenarios are *extremely* unlikely. That was the point of the comparison.

      July 10, 2013

    • Jeffrey F.

      I am saying that an untouched plate setting is more possible than the US government conspiring to blow up the World Trade Center.

      July 11, 2013

  • Starchild

    It's not just the FBI that's staging phony crimes to entrap hapless individuals coaxed into participating in illegal activities by undercover government operators. The ATF has apparently made a habit of the practice as well:

    "Informants are paid by the ATF to pressure people to join the fake robberies. Individuals may be targeted simply because the informants know them through work or a personal connection, just like a raffle ticket sale.

    "In preparation for the fake stash house raids, ATF agents are outfitting robbery crews, supplying vehicles and firearms to would-be robbers...

    "Several of the busts have lead to the deaths of suspects who shot at or tried to run down agents in an attempt to flee."

    http://www.prisonplanet.com/atf-arming-robbers-in-hatched-plots-leaving-many-dead.html

    I guess this approach makes it easier for law enforcers to appear as if they're catching lots of criminals -- at least until the public gets wind of how the operations work.

    July 3, 2013

  • patricia u.

    Great discussion -

    1 · June 27, 2013

  • Jeffrey F.

    Have you ever seen the warnings on a mailbox? Something like this is printed on every mailbox, "Tampering with a mailbox is a federal crime."

    1 · June 26, 2013

  • Bradley H.

    This was my first ever meetup and it was great to get different perspectives and it was awesome to see opposing sides have friendly conversation over beers afterwards.

    1 · June 26, 2013

  • Gary E. M.

    One of our better meetings with many worthwhile opinions to cogitate on. Being distrustful of the clandestine elements of our government I'm surprised at the level of naivete in our midst.

    1 · June 26, 2013

  • Starchild

    One more article worth reading, on the topic of tonight's debate on NSA spying.

    The NSA apparently ADMITTED last year to having violated the 4th Amendment -- but it wouldn't say how. No mention of anyone being held accountable or punished for this highly illegal action:

    http://privacysos.org/node/762

    Finally, a helpful timeline (from the Electronic Frontier Foundation) of the U.S. government's National Security Agency spying on the American people: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-06-25/complete-annotated-history-spying-ourselves

    June 26, 2013

  • Gary E. M.

    I wonder if there has ever been a nation as paranoid as America? Are we using paranoia as a justification for chronic warmongering?

    June 23, 2013

    • Starchild

      The fears that some Americans seem to have of external threats do indeed seem all out of proportion to the reality of the U.S. government's military power relative to that of other governments or organizations. And some in power do seem to be using this paranoia to justify war. "We" are not, or at least I am not, and I presume you are not. The U.S. government is not us, fortunately (though it would be nice if the people had more control over it).

      June 23, 2013

  • Anna M

    Sorry - can't make it after all

    June 20, 2013

  • Jeffrey F.

    Hey, a non-sequitur here. Sometimes you need one in a debate. I'm organizing a hike this Saturday evening in the Presdio. Contact me for details.

    June 20, 2013

  • Adelia

    Starchild, are you on Facebook? If so, you are already volunteering more personal info than will be ever "harvested" though phone tapping.

    June 18, 2013

    • Starchild

      Yes Adelia, I am on Facebook, and I realize that they collect lots of personal information. I'm not a fan of the site, and do have concerns about how they operate. But the key word you used is "volunteering"­. We decide what we want to post there. Not everything people put on their FB profiles is accurate, and that's deliberate in some cases. With the NSA, people aren't volunteering to be spied on -- it's happening without their consent.

      Not to mention, Facebook isn't trying to criminalize me for deciding what to put into my own body, for trying to earn an honest living as a sex worker; for driving a car, crossing a border, selling art without a license, etc., without their permission, etc., without following their rules, and threatening to fine, jail, or ultimately even kill me for disobeying them, the way the U.S. government is.

      June 18, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Actually fb has a long history of dodginess with respect to privacy. It's true that people decide what to post there, but people also decide what to say in private phone conversations. In both cases there is an EXPECTATION that the information is private. facebook's transgressions include:
      - constantly changing their privacy policy underneath users w/o their consent. Often times default privacy settings are changed when a new policy goes into effect.
      - selling user information to corporate partners, and again, changing their policy on this underneath their users
      - security holes, which completely compromise user privacy including account access.

      June 19, 2013

  • Bradley H.

    This'll be my first Meetup (w00t!). I am not sure the protocol other than to bring $5. Looking forward to forming a more informed opinion on the subject.

    June 19, 2013

  • Starchild

    Really? There are people in our group who defend this unconstitutional practice of NSA spying on our phone calls and emails? I would not have thought opposing this would be controversial.

    But maybe I'm wrong, in which case we may be missing out on some fruitful topics for debate. How about, "This house supports installing government-monitored cameras inside the homes of every American," or "This house supports spitting on the graves of the Constitutional framers"?

    June 18, 2013

    • Deborah B.

      Motions don't necessarily represent a majority opinion. Just following the convention of wording a Motion as an affirmative statement, rather than as a 'not' statement, e.g., This House does not support ...

      1 · June 18, 2013

    • Starchild

      Deborah - Thanks for your response. I understand everything you've said; I just wouldn't have thought anybody in our grassroots group would support this unconstitutional and Orwellian behavior of the NSA, and was surprised to see it as a topic for debate. I would be similarly surprised if people wanted to debate whether government segregating people by race (apartheid) is a good thing, or whether women should have equal rights to vote. Some things, I expect, are just so widely agreed upon that we wouldn't find anyone in our group sincerely wanting to argue the contrary position, and I would have thought that opposition to the actions of the NSA as exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden would fall into this category, but perhaps not. The suggestions I made in my previous message for alternative debate topics were of course rhetorical, but they seem to me to be the kinds of things that people who support the NSA's actions would logically support as well.

      June 18, 2013

  • Mary P.

    How can I e-mail this group?

    [masked]

    June 18, 2013

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