❄ Is NSA’s Surveillance Good For Us?

Welcome to a Public Conversation: Is NSA’s Surveillance Good For Us? In the National Interest? In the Public Interest?
Tuesday, 22 October, 7-8.30 pm, Bryant Memorial Library, Cummington, Massachusetts. Introduction: Bruce D. Larkin, Professor Emeritus of Politics, University of California at Santa Cruz. Moderator: Mark de Maranville.


After a 10-minute introduction, summarizing NSA practices, the floor will open to a public conversation on the evening’s topic. For example:

[1] To what extent, and in what ways, are secrecy and surveillance in the public interest?
[2] What is being done (and what is not being done) by Government—NSA, FBI, DEA, USPS—that has caused the present hullaballoo? What is the present controversy about?
[3] What’s at stake? Does NSA’s surveillance have effects on any of us? On people we know? On the public beyond our circle? On the Republic?
What activities have been acknowledged by the Government or are evidenced in the documents reported from the Snowden trawl?

There are any number of other questions that might interest people:

1. Could Congress usefully address this issue? Any sign it will?
2. Does NSA’s reliance on secrecy preclude any effective government/public oversight?
3. How is the plain language of the Fourth Amendment diluted by the ‘foreign intelligence exception’, invocation of ‘national security’, the history of court approval of ‘trap & trace’ and ‘pen registers’, the mere formality of wiretap approval, the fact that wiretap authorization can be obtained in an ex parte proceeding in which the person whose property is searched or seized is not represented?
4. Given the massive commercial collection of information about us—rarely challenged—why are people reacting to the Government doing it?
5. Why is so much emphasis given to whether the person whose email is collected is a citizen rather than a foreigner abroad? [How would the US react if a foreign government was systematically collecting the telephone conversations of people in the United States?]
6. Can the US conduct normal diplomacy with people who believe their embassies are bugged and their conversations intercepted?
7. Experts say encryption is key to safe and reliable transactions (commercial, banking, private). But NSA is alleged to be subverting or circumventing encryption. How are we to understand this contradiction?
8. Does it make sense that the PATRIOT Act provides for administratively-approved ‘national security letters’ compelling that ‘business papers’ be turned over to the FBI or NSA … but that the people to whom these orders are given are forbidden to tell anyone about the order?
9. Should Snowden be given immunity from arrest/incarceration? or should possession of documents not formally declassified be criminalized (as one person in the UK has proposed), even if they are on the Net?

[Bruce’s Blog: 2013.10.17. Post A43. Short Link: http://www.learnworld.com/BRUCE/?p=494. Front Door Index: http://blog.learnworld.com/. Permalink: http://www.learnworld.com/BRUCE/uncategorized/❄-is-nsa-surveillance-good-for-us/]