Bill Clinton On NSA Spying: “We Are On The Verge Of Having The Worst Of All Worlds: We’ll Have No Security And No Privacy”

Former Presidents and Vice Presidents Agree: Mass Surveillance Is Destroying Our Country

Bill Clinton said (via Agence France-Presse):

“The question is when, if ever, is the government justified in going beyond the patterns to listen to telephone calls, read emails, read text messages, and who’s supposed to decide that?”


The fact that Snowden was able to receive a top-secret security clearance despite having only been a contractor for several months “made me think that we are on the verge of having the worst of all worlds: We’ll have no security and no privacy” ….

He’s right. Top security experts say that mass spying interferes with U.S. counter-terror efforts (more here and here) and harms web security.

And it is totally destroying our privacy.

Clinton isn’t the only former president to slam mass surveillance.  Jimmy Carter said that NSA spying on Americans meant that “America has no functioning democracy”. And Clinton’s VP – Al Gore – says it constitutes “crimes against the Constitution of the United States”.

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  • Jeff Parker

    I wonder when the secret Clinton-Lewinsky tapes will be leaked.

    • cold340t

      Really? Damn thats where your head is? Now wonder nothing will stop this process.

  • cold340t

    Gee, you’d think they would actually do something to stop this terrible trend. I mean really people in positions to affect change, sitting around complaining about things they initiated. A little disingenuous I must say. Stop talking as if you are impotent and can’t change things. Lots of talk! Yet, NO ACTION. DO SOMETHING!!!! Please??????? The Country is suffering from your inaction. Sorry, I forgot the NSA/TSA/DHS already knew your plans and thwarted/muted their effect.

    • TheTruth

      Politicians, the very powerful ones of both sides, take the equivalent of bribes from agencies, military, and corporations. They don’t do squat but bend over and then lie to the public, because they don’t actually do anything but keep perpetuating the status quo.

      The last president that actually did wake up from the status quo, and tried to challenge it, got killed. His name was JFK. The activist that woke the public up to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world (the U.S.), wanted all men and women of any race to be equal and for war to be abolished, got killed. His name was MLK. A brother of a murdered president wanted to challenge the status quo of organized government crime, like his brother, and got killed. His name was RFK.

      • cold340t

        Paul Wellstone should also be on this list.

  • h5mind

    The loss of privacy and security is no longer a process, but a done deal, a ‘fait accompli’. Anyone in position to do anything about it is probably the same scumbag who voted for the surveillance state in the first place.

  • Dave_Mowers

    Spying on ex-lovers, stalking love interests, harassing personal enemies, rooting out drug dealing activities, listening to political groups conversations, acquiring trading firms strategies and records, monitoring politicians of opposing parties, stealing proprietary research, patent front-filing other people’s great ideas, reading your family’s local business competitor’s emails, Quickbooks and customer files….this is the future of the NSA spying program.

    • cold340t

      That is the past and the NOW! And as we type here NOW! NSA/TSA/DHS et al/ are reading this in real time. Aren’t we lucky!

      • TheTruth

        Although, technically all the agencies, including the CIA, and FBI, have spied on behalf of the government on anyone the government doesn’t like since… well a very long, unfortunate amount of time. It ramped up in the 60s/70s when people started waking up to the lies of war, steadily grew/scaled upwards with technology up to the 90s, while newly elected officials claimed to be ‘solving the issues’ (only weren’t and in fact were lying or were lied to by their advisors and agency director’s), then expanded beyond even Orwell’s worst nightmares from the the 2000s to now.

        • cold340t

          You don’t have to explain this to me, my friend still has her copy of the FBI printed/distributed Black Panther coloring book. The “KILL WHITEY” Edition. CoIntellpro anyone?

  • Danny Cahalin

    LOL….he is so full of horse dung…To Wit…Tim Berners-Lee, Belgian computer scientist Robert Cailliau and their team at CERNdeveloped a system for assembling, and sharing, hypertext documents via the internet, which they dubbed the World Wide Web, in 1994 the Clinton administration announced it would compel software and hardware developers to install what came to known as the “Clipper Chip” into their products.

    • gordon smith

      what is your point?

  • gozounlimited

    (2009) Operation Echelon: Will Obama resurrect Clinton’s spy program?

    President Barack Obama’s security team is nothing more than Bill Clinton Administration retreads, so
    don’t be surprised if you discover nationwide spying on millions Americans. And don’t expect to see, hear or read any outrage emanating from the denizens of US newsrooms.

    For years now, Bill Clinton has saturated the news media with his exploits in the White House.
    And while he’s no longer president — and unlike most former presidents — he’s still capable of garnering major press coverage. It’s understandable since without the adulation and love poured on the man known as Slick Willie, he’d be left alone with himself. And the reality would set in that beneath all the bluster and verbal gymnastics lays a man who’s basically an empty suit…… Read More:

    • cold340t

      While you are correct about “retreads” from the Clinton Admin. It’s more alarming to me that the Bushjr/Cheney Admin. policies are what OBama is carrying out to the fullest. OBama is to me a continuation of the Bushjr/Cheney Regime. That from a guy who voted twice for this guy. Damn the lesser of 2 evils is still evil! No change here! 🙁

  • Frodo

    Lmao. Bill is pulling an Obama…. Change you can believe in. Don’t believe a word he says. Maybe he forgot to add, it depends what the meaning of is, is.


    • gordon smith

      thank you for your thoughtful addition to this conversation.

  • Guest

    Former President Bill Clinton slams mass surveillance. Really?

    “Cryptography expert Matt Blaze wrote a now famous 1994 paper on the subject before the algorithm was declassified, Protocol Failure in the Escrowed Encryption Standard: “The EES cipher algorithm, called ‘Skipjack’, is itself classified, and implementations of the cipher are available to the private sector only within tamper-resistant modules supplied by government-approved vendors. Software implementations of the cipher will not be possible. Although Skipjack, which was designed by the US National Security Agency (NSA), was reviewed by a small panel of civilian experts who were granted access to the algorithm, the cipher cannot be subjected to the degree of civilian scrutiny ordinarily given to new encryption systems.”

    This was precisely as NSA and the Clinton administration intended.

    A partially declassified 1993 NSA memo noted that “there will be vocal public doubts expressed about having a classified algorithm in the device we propose for the US law enforcement problem, the CLIPPER chip, we recommend the following to address this.” We don’t know what those agency recommendations were, however; more than 20 years after the memo was written they remain secret.

    The memo continued: “If such people agree to this clearance and non disclosure process, we could go over the algorithm with them to let them develop confidence in its security, and we could also let them examine the detail design of the CLIPPER chip made for the US law enforcement problem to assure themselves that there were no trapdoors or other techniques built in. This would likely require crypto-mathematicians for the algorithm examination and microelectronics chip design engineers for the chip examination.”

    But the extreme secrecy surrounding Skipjack’s proposed deployment in commercial products was the problem. Even if researchers learned that Clipper was indeed the government-mandated backdoor they feared, non-disclosure of these facts, backed-up by the threat of steep fines or imprisonment would hardly assure anyone of the integrity of this so-called review process.

    “By far, the most controversial aspect of the EES system,” Blaze wrote, “is key escrow.”

    “As part of the crypto-synchronization process,” Blaze noted, “EES devices generate and exchange a ‘Law Enforcement Access Field’ (LEAF). This field contains a copy of the current session key and is intended to enable a government eavesdropper to recover the cleartext.”

    “The LEAF copy of the session key is encrypted with a device-unique key called the ‘unit key,’ assigned at the time the EES device is manufactured. Copies of the unit keys for all EES devices are to be held in ‘escrow’ jointly by two federal agencies that will be charged with releasing the keys to law enforcement under certain conditions.”

    What those conditions were however, was far from clear. In fact, as we’ve since learned from Snowden’s cache of secret documents, even when the government seeks surveillance authorization from the FISA court, the court must rely on government assurances that dragnet spying is critical to the nation’s security. Such assurances, FISA court judge Reggie B. Walton noted, were systematically “misrepresented” by secret state agencies.

    That’s rather rich considering that Walton presided over the farcical “trial” that upheld Bush administration demands to silence FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds under the state secrets privilege. Edmonds, a former contract linguist with the Bureau charged that top FBI officials had systematically covered-up wrongdoing at its language division and had obstructed agents’ attempts to roll-up terrorist networks before and after the 9/11 provocation, facts attested to by FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley in her 2002 Memo to then-FBI Director Robert Mueller.

    In 2009, Walton wrote that “The minimization procedures proposed by the government in each successive application and approved and adopted as binding by the orders of the FISC have been so frequently and systemically violated that it can fairly be said that this critical element of the overall BR regime has never functioned effectively.”

    “The Court,” Walton averred, “must have every confidence that the government is doing its utmost to ensure that those responsible for implementation fully comply with the Court’s orders. The Court no longer has such confidence.”

    Predating those critical remarks, a heavily-redacted 1993 Memo to then-Special Assistant to the President and future CIA chief, George Tenet, from FBI Director William Sessions noted that NSA “has developed a new encryption methodology and computer chip which affords encryption strength vastly superior to DES [Digital Encryption Standard], yet which allows for real time decryption by law enforcement, acting pursuant to legal process. It is referred to as ‘Clipper’.”

    [Two redacted paragraphs] “if the devices are modified to include the ‘Clipper’ chip, they would be of great value to the Federal, state and local law enforcement community, especially in the area of counter narcotics, investigations, where there is a requirement to routinely communicate in a secure fashion.”

    But even at the time Sessions’ memo was written, we now know that AT&T provided the Drug Enforcement Administration “routine access” to “an enormous AT&T database that contains the records of decades of Americans’ phone calls,” The New York Times reported, and had done so since 1987 under the auspices of DEA’s Hemisphere Project.

    Furthermore, in the wake of Snowden revelations we also learned that listening in on the conversations of drug capos is low on NSA’s list of priorities. However, programs like X-KEYSCORE and TEMPORA, which copies all data flowing along fiber optic cables, encrypted and unencrypted alike, at petabyte scales, is supremely useful when it comes to building profiles of internet users by intelligence agencies.

    This was an implicit goal of Clinton administration maneuvers to compel developers to insert Clipper into their product designs.”