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The next question

Once again, the failure of the MSM in general, and NPR in particular, in the simplest sense of not asking the next question. The obvious question.

NPR is running a series on what one might find out about someone if they eavesdropped on them. Like, say, the NSA has been doing to the whole world. So one of their reporters has let someone else monitor his communications with similar tools – except he gets to unplug them if he's doing something embarrassing – I don't remember getting that option from the NSA.

At the end, there's this:

[Carrie Cordero] says because I am a U.S. citizen, the only way the intelligence community could collect my data is with an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, known as FISA. From the beginning of the Snowden affair, the NSA has insisted that all of this collection has been done from within a pre-existing legal framework. Roughly, it works this way:

If you're living abroad and you're not a citizen of the United States, the NSA has a great deal of freedom to try to collect and analyze your data. If you're doing business with a U.S. company or using a U.S.-based service, any kind of bulk collection program has to be approved by the U.S. attorney general. If you're in the U.S. or are a U.S. citizen, no matter where you are in the world, this kind of collection is supposed to be subject to a FISA court order.

But it stops there. It doesn't mention that basically the FISA court basically never turns down a request from the NSA. And doesn't mention that even the toothless FISA court has threatened to sanction the NSA for ignoring the toothless procedures that are in place. And that basically the Obama and Bush administration have set up programs that completely circumvent the FISA court. And that there is no adversarial process, so it's not really a legal proceeding in the Perry Mason sense (Law and Order? Perry Mason is getting a bit stale – I don't think even I ever saw the first run of one of those, just reruns).

NPR just leaves it there, as though the FISA court was some protection of your rights. When your only protection is that probably the NSA is not interested in you. But that's a sad way to live your life, hoping that you never become interesting enough to be interested in. And it seems like you've already lost if that's how you're moving through life.

But the NSA isn't really designed to prevent anything. It's a Cardinal Richelieu machine, designed to find the six lines it can use to hang you.