More on the NSA

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Here are a few useful links to fairly detailed background reading on the NSA spying program—some of which may have been linked to elsewhere. A complete chapter of James Risen’s book, which looks at what those few Justice Department officials in the know call “The Program,” is now online. Two interesting tidbits: First, the NSA was given authority to determine, on its own and without any oversight whatsoever, which people they should start spying on in the first place. Second, “senior administration officials” differ on whether the intelligence has actually been used in criminal cases—one of the difficulties in determining this is that, if the NSA happens to find something useful, it will “launder” the intelligence before it is distributed to the CIA or FBI to hide the origins of the info.

Also, two other scholarly links. Back in 2001, Lawrence Sloan wrote a long article on Echelon, the global surveillance system, which is pretty thorough in laying out the legal issues, and pointing out that current rules are inadequate to the task of overseeing the NSA, as technology advances and whatnot. (He believes the NSA, and Echelon, are fundamentally valuable, but just need better oversight.) On a sort of related note, Michael Froomkin has a good 1994 law article going in-depth on the problems with having an “imperial presidency,” along with a follow-up here.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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