Discussion: Surveillance Program Exposed By Snowden Has Quietly Shut Down Under Trump

Sure it has.


If Trump let this expire, it either means that they were too disorganized to notice that it had to be renewed or that they are brewing up something worse.


After right-wing loony Snowden and bigger right-wing loony Greenwald exaggerated, omitted key information, and/or outright lied about the invasive nature of the program in 2013 to try to blame Obama for Bush-era issues . . .

Fixed it for you, TPM.


Hmmm … I’m guessing the program has been a source for some of the intel on the Trumps.


Sure it did. The next thing you’ll be selling is that Osama Bin Laden died in Pakistan and was buried at sea.

$100 says if Snowden had exposed the exact same program when Bush was president you would have applauded him for doing so (rightfully). The surveillance stuff under Obama was disturbing. It’s been disturbing under past presidents and will likely continue to be so, both under Democrats and Republicans. All progressives should care deeply about an invasive national security state regardless of who is in the White House.


“The program was introduced under the George W. Bush administration in response to 9-11 in order to monitor links between known terrorism suspects and their associates and to prevent terrorist attacks, which it has never done.

Holy cow, the Intersect is real.

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This is very good. That program was a clear violation of the 4th Amendment.

There’s this:

A National Security Agency program that reviews private citizens’ calls and text messages and was exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden has quietly ended under the Trump administration, according to The New York Times.

and this:

After Snowden exposed the invasive nature of the program in 2013, Congress ended it and replaced it with the U.S.A. Freedom Act in 2015.



So, Snowden exposed the program in 2013. Congress ended the program then and replaced it with the 2015 act.

The 2015 act did not allow the government to collect bulk data, but rather, made them go to a judge with a request for records from specific individuals… essentially, ask for a warrant (though likely under a lower standard of proof).

That means the ‘Surveillance Program Exposed By Snowden’ was shut down four years ago. And a different one, intended to replace it, hasn’t been used in months because of ‘technical’ issues that make it too broad. From the original report:

Which basically means the telecoms said ‘fuck you, here’s too much information and you can’t filter it properly’ to get the NSA to leave them alone. The NSA, when it found it had a huge volume of data it wasn’t legally allowed to look at, purged all of the data, and then decided to stop trying to do that.

Uhm… ok?

Then there’s some pearl-clutching about how they got clearance on 40 targets in 2017 and still collected 534 MILLION records…

Not for nothing, but we don’t know what constitutes ‘a record’. We do know it includes data on phone calls and text messages, stored by the companies that run the phone networks. So for each text sent, that’s at least 2 records (A sent, B received). It may also include records of things like switching cell towers while you’re on the phone, of the other party switching cell towers, of satellite connections because you’re calling someone overseas, etc. Without a clearer picture of what ‘a record’ is, it’s impossible to tell whether 14,805,000 records per person is actually a lot. Sure, it seems like a big number, but we’re talking about things being shotgunned all over the internet to actually find the destination IP… and we already know the telecoms were massively widening the shit being handed over, just to shut the gov’t down and it worked.

And now the big ‘story’ is that someone on the staff of Kevin ‘Lemme Flap Muh Yap’ McCarthy is also fond of flapping his yap, and has let it slip that the White House might not request the program get re-authorized. Then again, they might. BUT THEY MIGHT NOT.


So, lemme get this straight.

A government program—that is not the already-defunct collection of bulk data exposed by Snowden—has been determined by the NSA to not be at all useful, so they haven’t used it. The Trump administration may or may not request that Congress say they’re still allowed to use the program, even though the NSA isn’t using it now.

Well gosh, I’m glad that’s a headline. I would have hated to have been left thinking the program that ended in 2015 actually ended in 2015.


Wrong. There is a VAST difference between the abuses of the Bush administration and the efforts by the Obama administration to end those abuses. Stop playing the false equivalence nonsense game.

And if the programs were as bad as Snowden (and his master, Greenwald) tried to claim, then why did they find it necessary to lie so much about them?

You need to go back to Greenwald and DK and get some new talking points, because yours still don’t work. The mere passage of time does not magically transform Greenwaldian garbage into daisies.

I agree that there is a difference between the abuses of the Bush administration (e.g. spying on anti-war groups) and the Obama administration continuing/extending certain surveillance programs. The former was active spying on citizens, which did not seem to be a thing with the Obama administration, which is good. But the Obama admin did essentially ratify a super-invasive national security state which it then handed on to President Trump, which is bad. That’s particularly unfortunate given that Obama spoke against some of those same measures as a candidate. I don’t particularly care about Greenwald or Snowden, the reporting on these matters goes well beyond those two. If you are unfamiliar with it, google some articles. It is a simple fact that mass surveillance programs which, I think, were disturbing and ripe for abuse remained operative during Obama’s presidency. Again, that’s unfortunate.

Your comment was based on innuendo and guilt-by-association (which doesn’t even make sense–I don’t take marching orders from Greenwald and have no idea who/what “DK” even is) and free of facts, so I hold to my original assertion that your position here is based on partisanship/affection for a particular politician rather than principle. I think principles are more important than individual politicians. Obama was, of course, far better than Bush or Trump, but he had policies that were worthy of criticism from progressives, including in this area. Just FYI I came to that opinion all by myself with no help from Greenwald or any other boogeyman you could toss in.

If I am not mistaken, it WAS disclosed under Bush, in May 2006 by USA Today. But that went down the memory hole until Snowden.

This is why I am extremely suspicious of Snowden. The stuff that was publicly disclosed was largely not new, certainly in generality if not in every day-to-day detail. But we have no idea what else Snowden disclosed to other governments after he fled the US. That is why I at least remain critical of Snowden.

The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.
The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren’t suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.


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It was. We knew about it before Snowden told us. I remember.

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Yes, certain surveillance programs were disclosed under Bush. Progressives were generally horrified and applauded the disclosure (it was still talked about a lot, I certainly did not forget the programs or Michael Hayden’s comments about them). Then Snowden discloses some surveillance programs that were not previously known (when Obama was president). Many supposed progressives were horrified by the disclosure and applauded the programs as probably being good. The reason for the switch was pretty obvious. Similarly, many progressives who were fans of Greenwald when he went after Bush hated him when he went after Obama. I don’t think it’s complicated, I think a lot of people don’t like it when a politician they like gets criticized. The principled stand to take is that governments should not spy on their citizens en masse, period.

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Uh when did Glenn go after Bush? Never. It was the hated media who told us about the program Bush and Cheney had put together.


It would be nice for some honest person to make a scorecard of which supposed public disclosures by Snowden were new and which were not.

As I said in my previous comment and which you studiously ignored, the problems with Snowden were 1) disclosures of legal, classified, completely foreign surveillance programs. 2) private disclosures to Chinese and Russian governments.

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Uhhhh. I can’t tell if you are being serious or not. Greenwald became known, to me and I think most, as a blogger criticizing Bush (whether or not that makes him part of the media is up to you). He wrote a book criticizing Bush and his administration called A Tragic Legacy. I didn’t read it/don’t even remember that coming out (I just read his blog posts), but apparently some guy named Josh Marshall blurbed the book and said “In the bare-knuckle cacophony of the blogosphere Glenn Greenwald has been a beacon of clarity chronicling President Bush’s unfolding war on the rule of law. No one is better placed to explain how the president’s embrace of extremism in the battle against extremism has put the country’s most sacred ideals, even the country itself, under the gravest threat.” I guess the TPM founder was in league with the evil Glenn back then as well? Hmm.

I hope you can admit you were wrong on this one. It’s okay!