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NSA outrage fatigue

A new story from The Guardian, barely twelve hours after the last set of revelations: “NSA loophole allows warrantless search for US citizens’ emails and phone calls”.

Yes, this one is indeed far worse than the previous ones, unbelievable as that might seem.

Explaining why to those not following in detail is almost not worth it any longer, however.

A friend of mine long ago coined the term “Outrage Fatigue”, the condition in which so many awful actions by a set of State actors have been revealed that one can no longer hope to track the entire list of their offenses and crimes in one’s head.

I have long since passed that point for the Obama administration in general. Imprisonment without charge, war crimes, coverups, the silencing of whistleblowers and dozens of other acts have become so numerous that I cannot hope to remember them all.

However, I have now passed the point where, even as a putative subject matter expert, I could hope to remember even everything that has been revealed about just this one scandal.

It is painfully clear that the contempt of the Obama Administration and its minions for the rule of law is near total, that their contempt for the truth is near total, and that one’s confidence in anything they say in public whatsoever should be precisely zero.

26 comments to NSA outrage fatigue

  • chuck

    Well, they are lefties, one expects these things. I notice you left out plain old corruption, another of the cluster of symptoms the delineate the left. A university education and life in politics would be two more.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    I will note that the current programs were started under the Bush administration, which was putatively of the right, then perpetuated under Obama, who is putatively of the left. There does not appear to be any meaningful left/right distinction here, at least if we are to believe these designations. There is, I think, a much more significant libertarian vs. statist distinction.

  • Mr Ed

    @ chuck, a University non-Science/Engineering education is a strong indicator.

  • JohnB

    If the media wanted you (okay, not you, but the greater public, chattering classes, etc) to be outraged, there would be outrage.

  • chuck

    Actually, my diagnoses of the Obama administration, which some disagree with, is that much of what we see is bureaucracy run wild. There is little control exercised by the Whitehouse and every department strives to achieve its dreams. Note that I see some exceptions, I think the IRS scandal was driven from the Whitehouse. And probably the EPA overreach as well.

    So in a sense, what we see is the danger of an out of control government bureaucracy. That is one of the reasons I don’t support term limits, for those who stay around naturally accrue power, and the bureaucracy is always around. They don’t get turned out of their offices every 8 or 12 years. So we suffer the result of the unfortunate clean government reforms of a century ago.

    That said, I think there is as much chance of privacy in the modern world as there was in a small medieval village. That is, not much. What is different is that now it is the government that has the information, not your neighbors.

    How much was Bush responsible for current developments? Hard to say. Certainly he bears the blame for creating the DHS, and what I consider the overreaction involved in the TSA. And unfortunately the latter will probably never go away in my lifetime. But as to the story of how we got from there to here, that awaits a future historian and probably the release, legal or not, of more classified documents.

  • Tedd

    I agree with Perry M.

    Also, some of the outrage — some — is unwarranted. Displeasure, perhaps, disappointment even. But some people have been spring-loaded to the outrage position under Obama the way BDS sufferers were spring-loaded to the outrage position under Bush.

    Or perhaps I just have a different form of outrage fatigue: fatigue from exposure to the outraged.

  • chuck

    More to be outraged about. What Obama brings to the table is pathological dishonesty, and the idiotic social meddling that comes with the left.

  • Edward Cline

    Perry Metzger: There never really was any fundamental difference between the Left and the Right in the U.S. The Republicans, supposedly of the “right,” have been ideologically rudderless ever since at least Teddy Roosevelt. The “left” has always taken the “moral” high ground, stumping for altruistic and collectivsitic policies. The Republicans have always chimed in, “Me, too!” Far be it from them to stump for anything as radical as individual rights, the sanctity of private property, and even freedom of speech.

  • Regional

    Dear Psychopath is doing a great job.

  • RRS

    Frankly, I would rather there be a long festering, fermenting, internalized anger building to express itself in periodic bursts over the next 40 months, whether I live that long or not.

  • Laird

    I’m with RRS. That’s our only hope for reining in a bloated government and an out-of-control “intelligence” system.

    Sufficient public outrage could also lead to the criminal indictment of Obama after he leaves office. Impeachment is a forlorn hope, even if the Republicans retake the Senate in 2014, despite Obama’s numerous impeachable offenses. It will never happen because the Republicans simply don’t have the stomach for it. So we’re all going to have to endure the next 40 months. But once he leaves office, and more evidence of his perfidy inevitably comes to light, a new Attorney General could demonstrate that there are consequences to blatantly ignoring the rule of law and the Constitution. Obama and Holder serving some hard time would have a salutary effect on future would-be dictators.

  • Tedd

    …criminal indictment of Obama after he leaves office.

    Okay, this is way outside my area of expertise, but isn’t there some provision in place that prevents elected officials in the U.S. from facing civil sanctions for actions they took while in office? I’m almost certain I’ve read about something like that.

  • Edward Cline

    Yes. All U.S., federal politicians are indemnified against the negative and even destructive consequences of their policies and legislation. I’m not sure about state and municipal politicians, but I’m pretty sure virtually every state has a similar indemnification statute on the books. Striking or assaulting a federal employee, regardless of his status (President, Vice-President, Senator, Representative, Cabinet member, postal employee, IRS agent, etc.) is a federal offense carrying very heavy penalties. Obama can destroy the country, and even invite Muslim terrorists into the country (as he has been doing with Somalis, and now proposes to do with Syrians), and he cannot be held responsible for the ensuing chaos, unless Congress deems his actions treasonous or impeachable or in blatant and demonstrable violation of his oath of office, which, technically, he has repeated done since assuming office. He can also be impeached for civil offenses, such as malfeasance, tax evasion, misappropriation of public property (such as he and Michelle hauling off as much as they can from the White House once they vacate it in 2017, as I’m sure they will, since they’re both crooks). This was not always the case. Politicians were ripped up and down in the 19th century for much less than what politicians get away with today.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    Tedd asks: “Okay, this is way outside my area of expertise, but isn’t there some provision in place that prevents elected officials in the U.S. from facing civil sanctions for actions they took while in office?” — no, there isn’t. It is often claimed that this is the case, and Presidents and others would like to pretend that this is what precedent demands, but the Constitution and US law provide no such immunity.

    Of course, Obama refused to investigate or prosecute the crimes committed by the Bush administration, but that was not because he was legally prevented from doing so. One might imagine that he himself did not wish to set a precedent for his successors.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    Edward Cline writes: “Yes. All U.S., federal politicians are indemnified against the negative and even destructive consequences of their policies and legislation” — not quite. Legislators cannot, by precedent, be sued or prosecuted for voting for a law, and executives cannot be sued or prosecuted for carrying out a law.

    That is entirely different from saying they have blanket immunity of any sort — if they commit crimes during the course of their official duties, they can be prosecuted, even while still in office. Although it has been claimed that Presidents cannot be forced to testify in court, in fact, Presidents have been forced to testify in court, just not in recent years. The United States lacks ideas like “parliamentary immunity” that exist in other countries.

  • Edward Cline

    After the attempt on Reagan’s life by Squeaky Fromme (spelling questionable), and agent Brady was wounded while trying to protect Reagan (with he and his wife spearheading the creation of the anti-gun lobby), a law was passed making it a major federal and capital crime to assault the president. I’ve looked for that law but can’t locate it on the Internet. Perhaps you can.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    Squeaky Fromme tried to kill Ford, not Reagan. Jim Brady wasn’t an agent, he was Reagan’s press secretary, injured during an entirely distinct assassination attempt. It is indeed a distinct federal crime to assassinate the President, but that was made into law after Kennedy was killed.

  • Edward Cline

    I guess my memory is foggy.

  • RRS


    A previous post on this site

    For some:

    It might be well to review the conviction John Mitchell in 1975 for actions whilst he was U S Attorney general – which included conspiracy[?], obstruction of justice (there’s a sink-hole)and perjury (which actually involves “moral turpitude”).

  • RRS


    Say hello to John, Eric; and welcome to an introduction to Misprision.

  • RRS

    Not to be tiresome, but there was an extensive article in the Atlantic yesterday (8/9) on the questions of due process in the John Mitchell case.

    You can find it on theatlantic.com/politics.

  • Mr Ed

    I recall reading in a book by Leo Tolstoy about Soviet atrocities that someone was reputed to have asked Stalin if a particular series of crimes might offend Western opinion. His reply was reputed to have been “Never mind, they’ll swallow it.”

    One can easily imagine similar conversations with similar outcomes correctly anticipated, occurring today.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    Mr Ed: I suspect such a book could not have been by Tolstoy, as he died in 1910. The larger point is reasonable, though — humans have shown an astonishing capacity to rationalize such things over time.

  • Edward Cline

    I meant Trotsky.

  • Paul Marks

    Officials can be sued (in Civil Court) for VIOLATING the law (unless corrupt courts decide that citizens have “no standing” – as they did over the California Gay Marriage stuff where officials violated the law, yet the citizens were told they had no recourse to the courts).

    Officials can also be prosecuted (in criminal court) for violating the law – in Britain there is the offence of (for example) “misconduct in a public office”.

    If this were applied in the United States the officials of the Administration (and the President) would presently be in prison.

  • Paul Marks

    And, yes, the blatant refusal to enforce the law counts as “misconduct in a public office” – it is a criminal (not just a civil) matter.

    Private prosecutions are possible. Although they can be sabotaged.