|Contents||Bulletin||Scripting in shell and Perl||Network troubleshooting||History||Humor|
|News||Corporatism||Recommended Links||Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism||Neo-fashism||Nation under attack meme|
|Total Surveillance||Media-Military-Industrial Complex||The Grand Chessboard||Elite Theory And the Revolt of the Elite||Two Party System as Polyarchy||The Iron Law of Oligarchy|
|Edward Snowden as Symbol of Resistance to National Security State||Facebook as Giant Database about Users||Social Sites as intelligence collection tools||Systematic Breach of Vienna Convention||Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism||Corporate Media: Journalism In the Service of the Powerful Few|
|American Exceptionalism||New American Militarism||Machiavellism||Is national security state in the USA gone rogue ?||Humor||Etc|
"The greatest threat is that we shall become like those who seek to destroy us"
the legendary US diplomat George Kennan warned in 1947
“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem”
Books have been written about President Eisenhower’s famous farewell warning in 1961 about the “military-industrial complex,” and what he described as its “unwarranted influence.” But an even greater leviathan today, one that the public knows little about, is the “intelligence-industrial complex.”
Michael Hirsh in
If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.
- James Madison
The National Security State is an ideology and practice of the USA elite, closely connected with the idea of the rule of the Media-Military-Industrial Complex. In this social system US intelligence apparatus and military establishment are raise to the level beyond civilian control and become an autonomous system, a hidden government of the USA. or at least king makers for all top positions in the USA government whose colossal budget with its juicy cost-plus contracts is only controlled by vested ideological and financial interests. Instead of the servant of the state intelligence agencies became the master. It was actually betrayal of KGB brass, who switched side and decided to privatize the country, that among other things doomed the USSR.
The key "three letter agencies" (CIA, DOD, NSA, FBI) were established by the National Security Act of 1947, an enduring legacy of then President Harry S. Truman. This year can be considered as the year when National Security state was born and should be celebrated accordingly.
National Security State is a modern form of corporatism, closely related to concepts of neo-fascism and Inverted Totalitarism. As ellatynemouth noted in the comment to the Guardian article Internet privacy as important as human rights, says UN's Navi Pillay (Dec 26, 2013):
The surveillance state is the ruling class's key hole through which they monitor us and our potential dissent. It's now an integral part of capitalism and can't be removed.
The game has changed. It's now about convincing us as much as possible that they will stop snooping on us. They won't though. It will just become more heavily hidden.
Survellance state was made possible with the advent of computers, Internet and wireless communication. In some features it is close to neo-fascism and Latin-American authoritarian regimes, but it achieved its goals without relentless physical repression/elimination of opponents. It's key feature is mass surveillance, not mass repression of opponents. At the same time, like neo-fascism and authoritarian regimes it make opposition to the government virtually impossible. Of the 20 characteristic traits of neo-fascist regimes probably more then half are applicable to the national security state.
After 9/11 Bush government appeals clearly resonate with the proto-fascist "... uber alles" ideas. Amazingly they were integrated into the framework of globalist neoliberal regime. Bush goverement inspired post-9/11 paranoia doesn’t come cheaply, though. Cost were staggering: the military ($682 billion), Homeland Security (about $60 billion), and 15 intelligence agencies (combined perhaps $75 billion). While US government spent around $3.67 trillion in 2013, the revenue was just $2.77 trillion in revenue. Which means it has to borrow about $900 billion in order to maintain national security state programs intact. As Paxton describes it (Tracking Fascism):
...Feelings propel fascism more than thought does. We might call them mobilizing passions, since they function in fascist movements to recruit followers and in fascist regimes to "weld" the fascist "tribe" to its leader. The following mobilizing passions are present in fascisms, though they may sometimes be articulated only implicitly:
- The primacy of the group, toward which one has duties superior to every right, whether universal or individual.
- The belief that one's group is a victim, a sentiment which justifies any action against the group's enemies, internal as well as external.
- Dread of the group's decadence under the corrosive effect of individualistic and cosmopolitan liberalism.
- Closer integration of the community within a brotherhood (fascio) whose unity and purity are forged by common conviction, if possible, or by exclusionary violence if necessary.
- An enhanced sense of identity and belonging, in which the grandeur of the group reinforces individual self-esteem.
- Authority of natural leaders (always male) throughout society, culminating in a national chieftain who alone is capable of incarnating the group's destiny.
- The beauty of violence and of will, when they are devoted to the group's success in a Darwinian struggle.
Those "passions" were definitely at play in the debate over the Iraq war and the attacks on dissenters that occurred during it. Here is a more extrended treatment of this issue (cited from Rush, Newspeak and Fascism An exegesis IV Tracking Fascism):
1. [Group primacy]: See, again, the Bush Doctrine. An extension of this sentiment is at play among those jingoes who argue that Americans may need to sacrifice some of their civil rights -- say, free speech -- during wartime.
2. [Victim mentality]: This meme is clearly present in all the appeals to the victims of Sept. 11 as justifications for the war. It is present at nearly all levels of the debate: from the White House, from the media, even from the jingoist entertainment industry (see, e.g., the lyric of Darryl Worley's extraordinarily popular country-western hit, "Have You Forgotten?": "Some say this country's just out looking for a fight / Well after 9/11 man I'd have to say that's right.").
3. [Dread of liberal decadence]: This meme has been stock in trade of the talk-radio crowd since at least 1994 -- at one time it focused primarily on the person of Bill Clinton -- and has reached ferocious levels during the runup to the war and after it, during which antiwar leftists have regularly and remorselessly been accused of treason.
4. [Group integration] and 5. [Group identity as personal validation] are, of course, among the primary purposes of the campaign to demonize liberals -- to simultaneously build a cohesive brotherhood of like-minded "conservatives" who might not agree on the details but are united in their loathing of all things liberal. It plays out in such localized manifestations as the KVI Radio 570th On-Air Cavalry, which has made a habit of deliberately invading antiwar protests with the express purpose of disrupting them and breaking them up. Sometimes, as they did recently in Bellingham, this is done with caravans of big trucks blaring their horns; and they are also accompanied by threatening rhetoric and acts of physical intimidation. They haven't yet bonded in violence -- someone did phone in a threat to sniper-shoot protesters -- but they are rapidly headed in that direction.
6. [Authority of leaders]: This needs hardly any further explanation, except to note that George W. Bush is actually surprisingly uncharismatic for someone who inspires as much rabid loyalty as he does. But then, that is part of the purpose of Bush's PR campaign stressing that he receives "divine guidance" -- it assures in his supporters' mind the notion that he is carrying out God's destiny for the nation, and for the conservative movement in particular.
7. [An aesthetic of violence]: One again needs only turn to the voluminous jingoes of Fox News or the jubilant warbloggers to find abundant examples of celebrations of the virtues -- many of them evidently aesthetic -- of the evidently just-completed war.
Which explains that neoliberalism necessarily with time became more and more neofascism-friendly regime despite its core globalism ideas. More than anything, the exercise underscores just to what extent fascism itself is made of things that are very familiar to us, and in themselves seem relatively innocuous, perhaps even benign and in small dozes even constructive reaction to the danger.
Similar processes took place in other nations after WWII. Of course the USSR was a National Security Surveillance State even before WWII, being one of the "pioneers" of this form of state along with Italy and Germany. But it was primitive in a sense that it did not rely on computers for surveillance.
Tremendous push (or acceleration of pre-existing tendencies) toward National Security State occurred after 9/11 under the banner of fighting terrorism. At the point technological capabilities of mass surveillance using computers and the ability to have a dossier for everybody were in place, while mass deployment of PC, credit cards and cell phones provides constant stream of information to those dossiers, not that different from "gum shoes" reports. On November, 2001 the phone records of most Americans begin flowing to the N.S.A. After 9/11, President Bush authorizes the N.S.A. to collect phone and Internet content and metadata without a warrant. Within weeks, under the so-called President’s Surveillance Program (P.S.P.), the major telephone companies voluntarily hand over the data. The N.S.A. creates a twenty-four-hour “Metadata Analysis Center” (MAC) to search the phone records. In October 26, 2001: The Patriot Act is passed. Section 215 allows the government to seize “any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items) for an investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.”
At this point the process started with adoption of Truman doctrine came to a logiacl end: national survellance state became a reality. Formally Truman Doctrine was created "to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures." but in reality their function was more questionable and after 9/11 (some people date this event as early as 1963 -- JFK assassination) those activities created what is called "The State Within a State" similar to the USSR KGB role (see The State Within a State by Yevgenia Albats and Catherine A. Fitzpatrick). Here is one review of the book:
passionate albeit muddled, August 24, 1999
I have problems with the author's obvious hatred of the Russian Revolution and Stalin and the way she claims there is an unbroken chain of horror going all the way back to 1917. Obviously things are better today -- hence her book! She says 66.7 million people died under "Chekist" rule since the Russian Revolution -- and then cites the Guiness Book of Records as her source!? No one could ever prove such a figure, I think its one of things that's repeated 'til it becomes fact.
I also find the author's lack of knowledge about our own CIA kind of disheartening. This fine organization has spread as much death and terror in the Third World (Indonesia, Guatemala,Chile, Argentina, Brazil etc. etc. ) as the KGB ever did anywhere, yet she seems to make them out to be benevolent compared to the KGB (which if you read this book are responsible for everything wrong with the world today).
After reading this book I still don't understand why she thinks the KGB or its incarnations are as bad today as they were at the height of the Terror in 1937. Its not really explained in the book. I still am not convinced that the KGB was the NKVD, and definitely convinced that either was the SS. Research I have done casually has never come up with hard, convincing figures for a Nazi style genocide in the USSR, and this anecdotal, unconvincing book didn't change my historical views.
See Michael J. Hogan, A Cross of Iron: Harry S. Truman and the Origins of the National Security State, 1945-1954. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998; which "explains the transformative process that ended in the ultimate demise of the New Deal state with its emphasis on social spending and ushered in the militarist National Security State.". From Amazon review:
Hogan, a specialist in American diplomatic and national security studies, has written a complex but interesting work on the emergence of the national security state. To create this state, it was necessary to merge the armed forces, the Defense Department, and scientists into a single unit to enhance the military's capabilities. To a large extent, this unification was accomplished in the 1950s. The driving forces were James Forrestal, Dean Acheson, and powerful members of Congress such as Carl Vinson (D-GA), who chaired the Committee on Naval Affairs, along with presidents Truman and Eisenhower.
Hogan presents a compelling case but overemphasizes the importance of Truman and Eisenhower while downplaying the role of Vinson and others in the security state's creation. In fact, both Truman and Eisenhower often seemed opposed to it but succumbed to pressure from Congress and key figures like Acheson. This extremely complex study, which deals with a subject few other books handle, is designed for scholars and informed lay readers interested in the creation of the "military-industrial complex." by Richard P. Hedlund, Ashland Community Coll., KY
Former CIA officer Victor Marchetti in his book "Propaganda and Disinformation: How the CIA Manufactures History" noted:
"As I pointed out in the preface to The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence in 1974, democratic governments fighting totalitarian enemies run the risk of imitating their methods and thereby destroying democracy. By suppressing historical fact, and by manufacturing historical fiction, the CIA, with its obsessive secrecy and its vast resources, has posed a particular threat to the right of Americans to be informed for the present and future by an objective knowledge of the past.
As long as the CIA continues to manipulate history, historians of its activities must be Revisionist if we are to know the truth about the agency's activities, past and present."
Attempts to curtain the surveillance proved to fruitless. In December 14, 2005 Senators Barack Obama, Chuck Hagel, John Kerry, Richard Durbin, and several colleagues sign a letter warning that Section 215 “would allow the government to obtain library, medical and gun records and other sensitive personal information” that “would allow government fishing expeditions targeting innocent Americans.” They demand that the records requested should “have some connection to a suspected terrorist or spy,” a requirement that would
protect innocent Americans from unnecessary surveillance and ensure that government scrutiny is based on individualized suspicion, a fundamental principle of our legal system.
In March, 2006, the Patriot Act is reauthorized without the changes sought by Obama and others.
In his October 19, 2012 review of the book Saman Mohammadi (The Excavator) wrote:
The case could be made that the creation of the CIA and the National Security State in 1947 was necessary. But after sixty years of human rights abuses, systematic attacks on the constitution, false flag terror events, assassinations of political reformers, and other horrible crimes against humanity, should not the CIA be reformed?
Let's put the question of morality aside. What are the "national security" reasons that legitimize the existence of the CIA? Once you learn that Al-Qaeda is a CIA creation and proxy insurgent army and that 9/11 was a massive false flag operation, you come to the natural conclusion that the CIA does not perform a national security role.
The CIA plays a much dirtier role: engineering the American mind. It is not denied that the shadow CIA has major influence in the mainstream media, especially amongst top newspapers such as The Washington Post and The New York Times. Michael S. Rozeff speculates that the New York Times is entirely run by the CIA.
We can't know for certain if that is true because of the lack of historical documentation in the public domain, but there is a mountain of observable evidence that proves the CIA has many of its spooks working for the New York Times. Go here for just one example.
Until the American people demand that the U.S. government commit to radical transparency and the principles enshrined in the U.S. constitution, the shadow CIA and the mainstream media can twist history and manage public perceptions of reality as much as they like.
The shadow CIA's greatest power comes from its command of the American public mind as well as its ability to create a fictional version of history. The false flag September 11 events was the shadow CIA's biggest media operation to date. It was their Mona Lisa. They painted the canvas of reality with the brush of myth, and worked day and night to shape the collective memory of the American people while the horror of the tragic attacks was still fresh in the nation's mind.
Although the shadow CIA doesn't have a total command of the American mind and of history, as proven by the rise of the global 9/11 truth and justice movement, it possesses enough media power to mold world public opinion and dictate government policy for the United States with ease. There is no question that its power is totalitarian in nature and its aims are evil. It does not serve the interests of the American people; that much is clear.
How can there be freedom when CIA officials in television studios, newspaper offices, and publishing companies drive the public conversation and form the national narrative on every issue of significance. The global alternative media is the only global civil society actor that is putting limits on the CIA's power to make up history and suppress the truth about historical events like 9/11 and the occult sacrifice of JFK.
In the past, the shadow CIA was presented with roadblocks in the Congress. But 9/11 fixed that problem. The laws and the politics changed. In "The Big Chill," author Dan Froomkin says the absence of Congressional leadership in the post-9/11 political universe has strengthened executive power. Here is an excerpt his article:After past periods of executive excess, the Fourth Estate was certainly more robust and arguably more persistent, but it also found natural allies in the other branches of government—particularly Congress. By contrast, over the summer of 2012, the publication of a minimal amount of new information regarding drones, cyberwarfare and targeted killings incited bipartisan agreement on Capitol Hill—not to conduct hearings into what had been revealed, but to demand criminal investigations into the leaking.Since the Congress is not willing to stand up for the rights of the American people, the truth, human rights, and the U.S. Constitution, then the American people and global civil society must stand up. Congress has no real power. According to a recent Rasmussen survey, Congress only has an eight percent approval rating. There are underground, neo-Nazi groups in Europe that are more popular than the Congress.
That's how Congress has been ever since the terrorist attacks 11 years ago. "We never got our post 9/11 Church Committee," said Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists's Project on Government Secrecy, referring to a special investigative Senate committee that held hearings on widespread intelligence abuses after the Watergate scandal. "What we've got instead is the intelligence oversight committee drafting legislation to penalize leaks."
The mainstream media is no better. It is content with its role as a propaganda arm of the shadow CIA, and that is a tragedy. American newspapers have the power to improve their nation and change the world for the better, but instead they choose to cover up independent investigations of shady events like 9/11 that shed light on how the U.S. government really operates.
Alternative media outlets like Infowars.com, Veterans Today, Lew Rockwell.com, Washington's Blog, The Corbett Report, and countless others are doing the best they can to educate the American people and wake up humanity.
The last thing the shadow CIA wants to see is an informed and awakened America. It is waging a silent war on human consciousness because it is scared of an enlightened world. A world that is awake and aware of its crimes against humanity is its greatest nightmare.
If the shadow CIA has its way, it will continue inventing stories and passing it off as history with total immunity. But the global alternative media is telling the shadow CIA: Enough is enough, stop lying to the American people and the world.
The CIA's reckless disregard of U.S. traditions and laws made former President Harry Truman rethink his decision to create the CIA in the first place. On December 22, 1963, Truman wrote in The Washington Post:
On August 17, 1975 Senator Frank Church stated on NBC's Meet the Press without mentioning the name of the NSA about this agency (Wikipedia):
For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas. I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations.
In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.
If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.
I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.
In his book "Brave New World Order" (Orbis Books, 1992, paper), Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer argues that the Bush I war in Iraq (as well as Bush II invasion and occupation of the country) was an action of the military industrial complex usurping the "peace dividend". Iraq was attractive target as it has oil and far enough away to prove a good vehicle for eating up contract cash. He views the rise of the National Security Defense State as a consequence of "the threat of peace" for military industrial complex and identifies seven characteristics of a such a state:
Compare that definition of the National Security State with the definition of Inverted Totalitarism. Most countries now have features of both.
The debate about National Security State reemerged in June 2008 due to revelations make about existence of the Prism program and similar program by British security services. For example, Jacob Augstein used the term "Obama's Soft Totalitarianism" in his article Europe Must Stand Up to American Cyber-Snooping published by SPIEGEL.
Here is an interesting comment of user MelFarrellSr in The Guardian discussion of the article NSA analysts 'wilfully violated' surveillance systems, agency admits (August 24, 2013):
Here's the thing about the NSA, the GCHQ, Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, et al...
We all have to stop commenting as if the NSA and the GCHQ are in this thing on their own; the reality is that no one was supposed to know one iota about any of these programs; the NSA and the GCHQ began and put in place the structure that would allow all internet service providers, and indeed all corporations using the net, the ability to track and profile each and every user on the planet, whether they be using the net, texting, cell, and landline.
We all now know that Google, Yahoo, and the rest, likely including major retailers, and perhaps not so major retailers, are all getting paid by the United States government, hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money, our money, to profile 24/7 each and every one of us..., they know how we think, our desires, our sexual preferences, our religious persuasion, what we spend, etc.; make no mistake about it, they know it all, and what they don’t currently have, they will very soon…
These agencies and indeed all those who are paid by them, will be engaged over the next few weeks in a unified program of "perception management" meaning that they will together come up with an all-encompassing plan that will include the release of all manner of statements attesting to the enforcement of several different disciplinary actions against whomever for "illegal" breaches of policy...
They may even bring criminal actions against a few poor unfortunate souls who had no idea they would be sacrificed as one part of the "perception management" game.
Has anyone wondered why, to date, no one in power has really come out and suggested that the program must be curtailed to limit its application to terrorism and terrorist types?
Here’s why; I was fortunate recently to have given an education on how networks such as Prism, really work, aside from the rudimentary details given in many publications. They cannot, and will not, stop monitoring even one individuals activity, because to do so will eventually cause loss of the ability to effectively monitor as many as 2.5 Million individuals.
Remember the “Two to Three Hop” scenario, which the idiot in one of the hearings inadvertently spoke of; therein lies the answer. If the average person called 40 unique people, three-hop analysis would allow the government to mine the records of 2.5 million Americans Do the math; Internet usage in the United States as of June 30, 2012 reached a total of over 245,000,000 million…
The following link shows how connected the world is… http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats2.htm
We should never forget how the Internet began, and who developed it, the United States Armed Forces; initially it was known as Arpanet, see excerpt and link below…
"The Internet may fairly be regarded as a never-ending worldwide conversation." - Supreme Court Judge statement on considering first amendment rights for Internet users.
"On a cold war kind of day, in swinging 1969, work began on the ARPAnet, grandfather to the Internet. Designed as a computer version of the nuclear bomb shelter, ARPAnet protected the flow of information between military installations by creating a network of geographically separated computers that could exchange information via a newly developed protocol (rule for how computers interact) called NCP (Network Control Protocol).”
There is no government anywhere on the planet that will give up any part of the program…, not without one hell of a fight...
Incidentally, they do hope and believe that everyone will come to the same conclusion; they will keep all of us at bay for however long it takes; they have the money, they have the time, and they economically control all of us...
Pretty good bet they win...
The book American Exceptionalism and Human Rights (edited by Ignatieff) raised an important and probably the most controversial question in world politics: whether the United States stands within the order of international law or outside it.
Following are based on the article by Laurence W. Britt published in Free Inquiry magazine
To a secular humanist, the principles of international law seems logical, right, and crucial. Yet, there is one archetypal political philosophy that is anathema to almost all of these principles. It is fascism. And fascism’s principles are wafting in the air today, surreptitiously masquerading as something else, challenging everything we stand for. The cliché that people and nations learn from history is not only overused, but also overestimated; often we fail to learn from history, or draw the wrong conclusions. Sadly, historical amnesia is the norm.
We are two-and-a-half generations removed from the horrors of Nazi Germany, although constant reminders jog the consciousness. German and Italian fascism form the historical models that define this twisted political worldview. Although they no longer exist, this worldview and the characteristics of these models have been imitated by protofascist regimes at various times in the twentieth century. Both the original German and Italian models and the later protofascist regimes show remarkably similar characteristics. Although many scholars question any direct connection among these regimes, few can dispute their visual similarities.
Beyond the visual, even a cursory study of these fascist and protofascist regimes reveals the absolutely striking convergence of their modus operandi. This, of course, is not a revelation to the informed political observer, but it is sometimes useful in the interests of perspective to restate obvious facts and in so doing shed needed light on current circumstances.
The following regimes can be studies in this respect: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Papadopoulos’s Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, and Suharto’s Indonesia. They constitute a mixed bag of national identities, cultures, developmental levels, and history. But they all followed the fascist or protofascist model in obtaining, expanding, and maintaining power. Further, all these regimes have been overthrown, so a more or less complete picture of their basic characteristics and abuses is possible. Analysis of these seven regimes reveals fourteen common threads that link them in recognizable patterns of national behavior and abuse of power. These basic characteristics are more prevalent and intense in some regimes than in others, but they all share at least some level of similarity.One can wonder how many of those are applicable to Bush/McCain. What do you think ?
Propaganda of nationalism and Exceptionalism ("shining city on the hill", beckon of democracy, etc). Prominent displays of flags and ubiquitous lapel pins. The fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy. Pride in the military, and demands for unity are way of expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a level of suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia (French fries - Freedom fries).
Disdain for the importance of human rights. Despite "freedom rhetorics" the party views human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious and truth about gulags is out, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.
Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. The use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people’s attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice—relentless propaganda and disinformation—were usually effective. Often the parties would incite “spontaneous” acts against the target scapegoats, such as Muslims, communists/socialists/liberals, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and “terrorists.” Opponents of these party were inevitably labeled as terrorists stooges and dealt with accordingly.
The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. Ruling elites identified closely with the military. A disproportionate share of national budget is allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an ultimate expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.
Sexism. Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, the party covertly views women as second-class citizens. Often are both anti-abortion and homophobic with the cover of religious values. For propaganda reasons those attitudes were masterfully blended into strong support of the fundamentalist religious sects, thus lending the party some legitimacy to cover for its abuses.
A controlled mass media. The mass media could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Control can be indirect and subtle with formal adoption of slogan about "free media". Methods included the control of licensing, access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders and owners of the mass media are part of the power elite. The result is rampant brainwashing, which usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the party's excesses.
Obsession with national security. A national security apparatus is bend to come under direct control of the ruling elite. It is used to bypass laws as a direct instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting “national security,” and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.
Abuse of religion. The party attaches itself to the dominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of religious values. The fact that the ruling elite’s behavior was incompatible with those values is swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents are “godless.” A perception was manufactured that opposing the party is tantamount to an attack on religion.
Power of corporations protected. Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of “have-not” citizens.
Power of organized labor suppressed or eliminated. Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Being poor was considered akin to a vice.
Disdain and suppression of intellectuals. Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these party. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities professors come under close scrutiny; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or scientific theories, especially economic, are strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed.
Obsession with crime and punishment. Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police is often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. Criminal charges sometimes are used against political opponents. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or “traitors” was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.
Rampant cronyism and corruption. Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.
Fraudulent elections. Elections in the form of two candidates representing the same power elite are usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, suppressing responsibilities for legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.
Does any of this ring alarm bells? Of course not. After all, this is America, officially a democracy with the rule of law, a constitution, a free press, honest elections, and a well-informed public constantly being put on guard against evils. Historical comparisons like these are just exercises in verbal gymnastics. Maybe, maybe not.
The most recent debate was sparked by Edward Snowden revelations. Here are an interesting quotes from his interviews (via Zerohedge):
The following are 27 quotes from Edward Snowden about U.S. government spying that should send a chill up your spine...
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July 8, 2014 | The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity“The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself… Almost inevitably, he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable.”It’s vogue, trendy, and appropriate to look to dystopian literature as a harbinger of what we’re experiencing at the hands of the government. Certainly, George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm have much to say about government tyranny, corruption, and control, as does Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report. Yet there are also older, simpler, more timeless stories — folk tales and fairy tales — that speak just as powerfully to the follies and foibles in our nature as citizens and rulers alike that give rise to tyrants and dictatorships.
—H.L. Mencken, American journalist
One such tale, Hans Christian Andersen’s fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes, is a perfect paradigm of life today in the fiefdom that is the American police state, only instead of an imperial president spending money wantonly on lavish vacations, entertainment, and questionable government programs aimed at amassing greater power, Andersen presents us with a vain and thoughtless emperor, concerned only with satisfying his own needs at the expense of his people, even when it means taxing them unmercifully, bankrupting his kingdom, and harshly punishing his people for daring to challenge his edicts.
For those unfamiliar with the tale, the Emperor, a vain peacock of a man, is conned into buying a prohibitively expensive suit of clothes that is supposedly visible only to those who are smart, competent and well-suited to their positions. Surrounded by yes men, professional flatterers and career politicians who fawn, simper and genuflect, the Emperor — arrogant, pompous and oblivious to his nudity — prances through the town in his new suit of clothes until a child dares to voice what everyone else has been thinking but too afraid to say lest they be thought stupid or incompetent: “He isn’t wearing anything at all!”
Much like the people of the Emperor’s kingdom, we, too, have been conned into believing that if we say what we fear, if we dare to suggest that something is indeed “rotten in the state of Denmark,” we will be branded idiots and fools by the bureaucrats, corporate heads, governmental elites and media hotshots who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo—or who at least are determined to maintain the façade that is the status quo. Yet the truth is staring us in the face just as surely as the fact that the Emperor was wearing no clothes.
- Truth #1: The US is on the brink of bankruptcy, as many economists have been warning for some time now, with more than $16 trillion in debts owned by foreign nationals and corporations. As one financial news site reports: “Internationally, the world is fed up with The Fed and the US government’s unabashed debt growth. China, Russia, Iran, India and a host of other countries are establishing trade relationships that are bypassing the US dollar altogether, a move that will soon see the world’s reserve currency lose purchasing power and status. In anticipation of this imminent collapse gold is being hoarded by private and public entities from Berlin to Beijing in an effort to preserve wealth before the Tsunami hits.”
- Truth #2: We no longer have a government that is “of the people, for the people and by the people.” What we have now is a feudal monarchy, run by wealthy overlords and financed with the blood, sweat and labor of the underclasses who are kept in check by the increasingly militarized police. This sorry state of affairs is reinforced by a study which found that average citizens have “little or no independent influence” on the policy-making process. A similar study published by the Political Research Quarterly revealed that members of the US Senate represent their wealthiest constituents while ignoring those on the bottom rung of the economic ladder.
- Truth #3: Far from being a benevolent entity concerned with the well-being of its citizens, whether in matters of health, safety or security, the government is concerned with three things only: power, control and money. As an often quoted adage says, “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” Unfortunately, the master-servant relationship that once had the government answering to “we the people” has been reversed. Government agents now act as if they are the masters and we are the servants. Nowhere is this more evident than in the transformation of police officers from benevolent keepers of the peace to inflexible extensions of the military hyped up on the power of their badge.
- Truth #4: Our primary use to the government is as consumers, worker bees and bits of data to be collected, catalogued, controlled, mined for information, and sold to the highest bidder. Working in cahoots with corporations, the government has given itself carte blanche access to our phone calls, emails, bank transactions, physical movements, even our travels on foot or in our cars. Cybersecurity expert Richard Clarke envisions a future where data about every aspect of our lives will be collected and analyzed. Thus, no matter what the U.S. Supreme Court might have said to the contrary, the government no longer needs a warrant to spy on your cell phone activity or anything else for that matter. As the Washington Post recently revealed, 9 out of 10 people caught up in the NSA’s surveillance net had done nothing wrong to justify such intrusions on their privacy. Clearly, the government now operates relatively autonomously, answering only to itself and unbridled by the courts, Congress, the will of the people or the Constitution.
- Truth #5: Whatever problems we are grappling with in regards to illegal immigrants flooding over the borders has little to do with the fact that the borders are porous and everything to do with the government’s own questionable agenda. How is it that a government capable of locking down roads, open seas, and air routes is unable to prevent tens of thousands of women and children from crossing into the US illegally? Conveniently, the Obama administration is asking Congress for $3.8 billion in emergency funding to send more immigration judges to the southern border, build additional detention facilities and add border patrol agents. The funds would be managed by the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, State and Health and Human Services, the very same agencies responsible for bringing about a rapid shift into a police state.
- Truth #6: The US government is preparing for massive domestic unrest, arising most likely from an economic meltdown. The government has repeatedly made clear its intentions, through its US Army War College report alerting the military to prepare for a “violent, strategic dislocation inside the United States,” through its ongoing military drills in cities across the country, through its profiling of potential homegrown “dissidents” or extremists, and through the proliferation of detention centers being built across the country.
- Truth #7: As Gerald Ford warned, “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.” Too often, Americans have fallen prey to the temptation to let the government take care of whatever ails them, whether it be financial concerns, health needs, childcare. As a result, we now find ourselves caught in a Catch-22 situation wherein the government’s so-called solutions to our problems have led to even graver problems. In this way, zero tolerance policies intended to outlaw drugs and weapons in schools result in young children being arrested and kicked out of school for childish behavior such as drawing pictures of soldiers and crying too much; truancy laws intended to keep students in school have resulted in parents being arrested and fined excessively; and zoning laws intended to protect homeowners have been used to prosecute residents who attempt to live off the grid.
- Truth #8: The US is following the Nazi blueprint to a “t,” whether through its storm trooper-like police in the form of heavily armed government agents, to its erection of an electronic concentration camp that not only threatens to engulf America but the rest of the world as well via NSA surveillance programs such as Five Eyes. Most damning of all is the Department of Homeland Security’s self-appointed role as a national police force, a.k.a. standing army, the fundamental and final building block for every totalitarian regime that has ever wreaked havoc on humanity. Indeed, just about every nefarious deed, tactic or thuggish policy advanced by the government today can be traced back to the DHS, its police state mindset, and the billions of dollars it distributes to police agencies in the form of grants.
- Truth #9: Not only does the US government perpetrate organized, systematic violence on its own citizens, especially those who challenge its authority nonviolently, in the form of SWAT team raids, militarized police, and roaming VIPR checkpoints, but it gets away with these clear violations of the Fourth Amendment because the courts grant them immunity from wrongdoing. Expanding its reach, the US also exports its violence wholesale to other countries through armaments sales and the use of its military as a global police force. Yet no matter how well trained, well equipped and well financed, America cannot police the world. As history shows, military empires, once over extended, inevitably collapse into chaos.
- Truth #10: As I make clear in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, the United States of America has become the new battlefield. In fact, the only real war being fought by the US government today is the war on the American people, and it is being waged with deadly weapons, militarized police, surveillance technology, laws that criminalize otherwise lawful behavior, private prisons that operate on quota systems, and government officials who are no longer accountable to the rule of law.
So there you have it: facts rather than fiction, so naked that a child could call it for what it is, and yet so politically inconvenient, incorrect and uncomfortable that few dare to speak of them.
Even so, despite the fact that no one wants to be labeled dimwitted, or conspiratorial, or a right wing nut job, most Americans, if they were truly paying attention to what’s been going on in this country over the past few decades and willing to be truthful, at least to themselves, would have to admit that the outlook is decidedly grim. Indeed, unless something changes drastically for the good in the near future, it looks like this fairytale will not have a happy ending.
Reprinted with permission from the Rutherford Institute.
At the outset of Glenn Greenwald's communications with the "anonymous leaker" later identified as 29-year-old former NSA employee Edward Snowden, Greenwald – a journalist, blogger and former lawyer – and the film-maker Laura Poitras, with whom he is collaborating, are told to use a PGP ("pretty good privacy") encryption package. Only then will materials be sent to him since, as Snowden puts it, encryption is "not just for spies and philanderers". Eventually Greenwald receives word that a Federal Express package has been sent and will arrive in a couple of days. He doesn't know what it will contain – a computer program or the secret and incriminating US government documents themselves – but nothing comes on the scheduled day of delivery. FedEx says that the package is being held in customs for "reasons unknown". Ten days later it is finally delivered. "I tore open the envelope and found two USB thumb drives" and instructions for using the programs, Greenwald writes.
His account reminded me of the time, nearly a decade ago, when I was researching Britain's road to war in Iraq, and went through a similar experience. I was waiting for an overnight FedEx envelope to reach me in New York, sent from my London chambers; it contained materials that might relate to deliberations between George Bush and Tony Blair (materials of the kind that seem to be holding up the Chilcot inquiry). A day passed, then another, then two more. Eventually, I was told I could pick up the envelope at a FedEx office, but warned that it had been tampered with, which turned out to something of an understatement: there was no envelope for me to tear open, as the tearing had already occurred and all the contents had been removed. FedEx offered no explanation.
As Greenwald notes, experiences such as this, which signal that you may be being watched, can have a chilling effect, but you just find other ways to carry on. FedEx (and its like) are avoided, and steps are taken to make sure that anything significant or sensitive is communicated by other means. In any event, and no doubt like many others, I proceed on the basis that all my communications – personal and professional – are capable of being monitored by numerous governments, including my own. Whether they are is another matter, as is the question of what happens with material obtained by such surveillance – a point that this book touches on but never really addresses. Greenwald's argument is that it's not so much what happens with the material that matters, but the mere fact of its being gathered. Even so, his point is a powerful one.
This is the great importance of the astonishing revelations made by Snowden, as facilitated by Greenwald and Poitras, with help from various news media, including the Guardian. Not only does it confirm what many have suspected – that surveillance is happening – but it also makes clear that it's happening on an almost unimaginably vast scale. One might have expected a certain targeting of individuals and groups, but we now know that data is hovered up indiscriminately. We have learned that over the last decade the NSA has collected records on every phone call made by every American (it gathers the who, what and when of the calls, known as metadata, but not the content), as well as email data. We have learned that this happens with the cooperation of the private sector, with all that implies for their future as consorts in global surveillance. We have learned, too, that the NSA reviews the contents of the emails and internet communications of people outside the US, and has tapped the phones of foreign leaders (such as German chancellor Angel Merkel), and that it works with foreign intelligence services (including Britain's GCHQ), so as to be able to get around domestic legal difficulties. Our suspicions have been confirmed that the use of global surveillance is not limited to the "war on terror", but is marshalled towards the diplomatic and even economic advantage of the US, a point Greenwald teases out using the PowerPoint materials relied on by the agencies themselves. Such actions have been made possible thanks to creative and dodgy interpretations of legislation (not least the Patriot Act implemented just after 9/11). These activities began under President Bush, and they have been taken forward by President Obama. It would be a generous understatement to refer to British "cooperation" in these matters, although Greenwald's intended audience seems to be mostly in the US, and he goes light on the British until it comes to the treatment of his partner, David Miranda, who was detained in the UK under anti-terror legislation.
When the revelations first came out, in the summer of 2013, Snowden explained that he "had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications". That meant "anyone's communications at any time", he added, justifying the public disclosure on the grounds that this "power to change people's fates" was "a serious violation of the law". Snowden's actions, and the claims he has made, have catalysed an important debate in the US, within Congress (where views have not necessarily followed party lines) and among academics and commentators. Views are polarised among reasonable individuals, such as New Yorker legal writer Jeff Toobin ("no proof of any systematic, deliberate violations of law"), and the New York Review of Books's David Cole ("secret and legally dubious activities at home and abroad"), and in the US federal courts. In Britain, by contrast, the debate has been more limited, with most newspapers avoiding serious engagement and leaving the Guardian to address the detail, scale and significance of the revelations. Media enterprises that one might have expected to rail at the powers of Big Government have remained conspicuously restrained – behaviour that is likely, over the long term, to increase the power of the surveillance state over that of the individual. With the arrival of secret courts in Britain, drawing on the experience of the US, it feels as if we may be at a tipping point. Such reluctance on the part of our fourth estate has given the UK parliament a relatively free rein, leaving the Intelligence and Security Committee to plod along, a somewhat pitiful contrast to its US counterparts.
The big issue at stake here is privacy, and the relationship between the individual and the state, and it goes far beyond issues of legality (although Snowden's fear of arrest, and perhaps also Greenwald's, seems rather real). It is in the nature of government that information will be collected, and that some of it should remain confidential. "Privacy is a core condition of being a free person," Greenwald rightly proclaims, allowing us a realm "where we can act, think, speak, write, experiment and choose how to be away from the judgmental eyes of others".
Snowden's revelations challenge us to reflect on the ideal balance between the power of the state to know and the right of the individual to go about her or his business unencumbered, and this in turn raises fundamental questions about the power of the media, on which Greenwald has strong views, usually (but not always) fairly articulated. He makes the case for Snowden, and it's a compelling one. One concern with WikiLeaks acting independently was the apparently random nature of its disclosures, without any obvious filtering on the basis of public interest or the possible exposure to risk of certain individuals. What is striking about this story, and the complex interplay between Snowden, Greenwald, Poitras and the Guardian, is that the approach was different, as the justification for the leaks seems to have been at the forefront of all their minds. In his recent book Secrets and Leaks Rahul Sagar identified a set of necessary conditions for leaks. Is there clear evidence of abuse of authority? Will the release threaten public safety? Is the scale of the release limited? Many people, though not all, see these as having been met in the Snowden case.
Britain needs a proper debate about the power of the state to collect information of the kind that Snowden has told us about, including its purpose and limits. The technological revolution of the past two decades has left UK law stranded, with parliament seemingly unable (and perhaps unwilling) to get a proper grip on the legal framework that is needed to restrain our political governors and the intelligence services, not least in their dance with the US. "The greatest threat is that we shall become like those who seek to destroy us", the legendary US diplomat George Kennan warned in 1947. In response, revelations can be made, Greenwald's book published, and a Pulitzer prize awarded. Long may it go on.
• Philippe Sands QC is professor of law at University College London. To order No Place to Hide for £15 with free UK p&p call Guardian book service on 0330 333 6846 or go to guardianbookshop.co.uk
No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State
by Glenn Greenwald
Tell us what you think: Star-rate and review this book
Imlessbiasedthanyou2, 23 May 2014 8:41am
Ed Snowden needs to be pardoned.
Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian have been the only source for this information in the UK, which is a disgusting state is affairs. The timidity of our media is striking, embarrassing and scary.
Information needs to be collected by security agencies within reason. Indiscriminate harvesting is information corrupts democracy indescribably.
Incumbent powers can, and will, use private information to quell legitimate protest and debate, and protect their own interests at the expense of justice for their own citizens, and the innocent citizens of foreign countries. They will use it to bribe public servants and corrupt democracy.
Innocent information can still be used against you. It is a failure of intellect and imagination to doubt this, and proclaim the old, untrue mantra, "nothing to hide, nothing to fear".
This cannot be disputed, and so those who continue to defend the actions of our governments are either blind, ignorant or working in tandem.
Thank you Ed Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian.
Keep this story alive. It's almost the only one that matters.
mirageseekr, 23 May 2014 11:45am
While I agree that personal privacy is important and needed I think the bigger concern is what happens to democracy when people in authority can be blackmailed. The important thing about Snowden was that he confirmed what Tice and Binney have been saying all along and just lacked the actual evidence.
What I see with some of the rulings from the courts and laws from congress is puppets on a string. They know their argument fails to hold water and yet the feverishly stand by and defend it. The only reasonable answer for that is someone has the goods on them and is using it, just as Russ Tice has been saying for years. So the major question and one I hope Snowden and Greenwald have the answer to is, who is the puppet master?
Our societies have only the charade of democracy. Now the proverbial curtain has been pulled back and we must look to see the truth. Tice has said he saw the orders for surveillance of Obama and Supreme court justices as well as top brass. So who is it exactly that this very expensive system paid for by our tax dollars is used for. We know the "terrorism" is a lie or possibly a distraction for workers they may worry about having a conscious. They claim it is not for industrial espionage, but I am willing to bet some people have made lots of money from having access to information that was stolen. To me the tin foil hat club had it right all along. The people calling the shots are the Council on Foreign Relations, The Trilateral Commission, and Bilderbergs. And if that is true then we have a few global elite of un-elected people determining economies, wars, policy for us all and doing it in violation of sovereignty laws. I wish The Guardian would report more on the military state the USA has become, daily the police beat and kill people here. The DHS has been loading up on ammunition that is not used for target ranges and is against the Geneva convention, the TSA, just ordered weapons and ammunition. The State Department just got a few tons of explosives even the post office has a SWAT team. We have allowed them to build a standing army within our country in direct violation of our constitution. The FEMA camps are up and running and NDAA ensures you can be quietly taken away in the night with absolutely no rights and no charges and even gives them the right to kill Americans. This is not a partisan issue, the bill passed 84-15. So how much more will it take for Americans to realize that the only difference between the US right now and Nazi Germany is that they haven't started loading the trains yet. The US also learned from the Germans mistakes, they will most likely not go house to house with weapons at first. It will be some false flag to make the population willingly go. Maybe it will be like the drills they have had (one in Denver) where they took the schoolchildren to the football arena for a FEMA/DHS "drill" except they forgot to make any mention to the parents about it. The puppet masters need to be exposed now, there is not much more time to wait to see how this is going to work out.
MiltonWiltmellow, 23 May 2014 11:48am
Snowden's revelations challenge us to reflect on the ideal balance between the power of the state to know and the right of the individual to go about her or his business unencumbered, and this in turn raises fundamental questions about the power of the media, on which Greenwald has strong views, usually (but not always) fairly articulated.
These sorts of understatements represent a sort of passive acceptance. (e.g., "Let's debate about the tigers dragging our children to the jungle where it devours them. Tiger's have legitimate needs too. Maybe if we stake goats, the tigers will devour the goats instead of our children ... " )
The entire relationship between State and individual changes when the State takes it upon itself to monitor the everyday activities of its citizens.
This isn't an academic question which august authorities like yourself can debate among themselves for the next ten or twenty years.
This is a fucking tiger in the nursery.
Either the citizen has basic human rights (the right to freely interact with others) or the citizen turns into a subject -- a potential threat to State security and thus a suspect.
The question isn't "how much secret surveillance should be allowed" but rather "how can this secret surveillance be stopped?
AhBrightWings -> MiltonWiltmellow, 23 May 2014 12:41pm
Brilliant Milton. Couldn't agree more, and love your metaphor. Just because it's crouched under the dust-ruffle doesn't mean it isn't there. If you've watched footage of tigers hunting, they often freeze for long periods of time to lull their prey into a fall sense of well-being.
As you said so well: This is a fucking tiger in the nursery.
LostintheUSMiltonWiltmellow, 23 May 2014 1:26pm
And it is not just about reading our emails, etc. Or listening into phone calls. I mentioned an obscure book to my husband (in the same room) that has been out of print for 34 years one day while working on my computer and a short while later there was an ad for that book that popped up on gmail.
Think about that.
And NONE of this is about "protecting" us. The Boston Marathon bombers were all over the radar for their previous activities and the NSA was paying them no mind. This web is to protect the oligarchy from us peasants. We are living in 17th century France...the aristocracy pay no taxes and we are being taxed and worked to death.
Levi Genes -> LostintheUS, 24 May 2014 11:44am
The Boston Marathon bombers were all over the radar for their previous activities and the NSA was paying them no mind. This web is to protect the oligarchy from us peasants.
It's much more violently proactive than simple 'protections' from potential opposition. The reason they appear now on the 'radar' is because the so-called Boston 'bombers' were deeply run by the FBI for the same nefarious reasons as are all other patsies in the parade of US false flag operations: deflection from public investigation identifying the actual terrorist perpetrators / plausible deniability for the public to bite on to facilitate the desired effect of implemented programs of public terror. The evidence of state sponsored terror is there if one chooses to look.
The recent, violent murder in Florida of an associate / witness to that FBI operation by an FBI agent / interrogator, tasked with insuring that associate / witness's compliance to the prescriptive, government narrative of the Boston event as force fed to the public by compliant / co-opted mass media, is but yet another thinly but effectively veiled, social conditioning manipulation of public consciousness reinforcing the enabling myth of just who is the actual threat to public peace and safety.
Boston was an exercise in social conditioning to martial law where no civil rights exist. They shut the city down in contrived pretext and stormed through whatever private domain they chose as a show of force in exercise of police state power over all constitutionally based constraints. All on a desperate, audacious and unthinkable lie.
You will do exactly what you're told to do, when you're told to do it, by heavily armed masked men in black, storming through your house without your invitation, ostensibly in pursuit of and protecting you from the terrible phantoms created by their masters.
Bagdad, Boston, London, Kiev, no matter. Same game of violent control from the same power cabal while draining the hard earned wealth and civil power of the masses by the same boom/ bust / state terrorist means. All of it, an horrific extension of covert enablement by forced public pacification to Operation Gladio and its drive to global dominion.
NATO / NWO intent is defined by its break-away elitist culture of absolute authoritarianism by absolute systemic corruption in absolute secrecy. Snowden and his journalist associates are providing a glimpse of its all encompassing scope. Our individual response, or lack thereof, will determine our fate as either citizens with rights based in moral principles and economic equity, or as mere commodities for use as needed by hidden powers.
A stark choice, as the presumptive enemies of the state that we in fact are.
guest88888epinoa, 24 May 2014 3:29am
Baubles handed out - nothing changed.
Agreed. Ultimately, despite their good intentions, I feel as though both Greenwald and Snowden aren't pushing the case against dragnet surveillance hard enough. We don't need a debate. This is fascism pure and simple, and they are spying on us because they fear the day that we revolt against their putrid austerity and the general failure of capitalism.
The Grauniad of course possesses no perspective whatsoever. Seriously Mr. Sands, we need a debate? You find out the majority of the world is being spied on and violated, and you are actually think that a few cosmetic changes will make a difference?
There will be no debate, and you know it. But I suppose that while you are wealthy and safe from economic deprivation, who cares if the NSA tramples on the freedoms of common people, all in defense of the ultra-rich, right?
KilgoreTrout2012, 23 May 2014 12:14pm
"NSA has collected records on every phone call made by every American (it gathers the who, what and when of the calls, known as metadata, but not the content), as well as email data."
I don't buy it's just metadata, since the US and are allies have the technology to do so, the content is also being "saved". Most likely US "content" is collected in Great Britain to give the NSA plausible deniability that they are not collecting content. And the US probably has Great Britain's "content".
The NSA may not have the technology to truly read all that data today but someday it will all be collated, analyzed, and used to put each citizen into national security classifications. Your travel, jobs prospects, etc. will be limited based on where you fall in their assessments.
guest88888 -> KilgoreTrout2012, 24 May 2014 3:34am
I don't buy it's just metadata,
Of course I agree with you sentiment that the US and its cronies are lying through their teeth about everything, but I want to point out that metadata collection is far more intrusive than just regular wiretapping.
Greenwald gave a great example. To paraphrase:
If I call an AIDS clinic, and you monitor the content of my call, I may never bring up the actual disease in most of my conversations. I might say, let's meet at this time, or book an appointment, or make small talk etc.
But, if you have the metadata, you can know that I've been calling an AIDS clinic repeatedly. You can know where I'm calling from. You can find out where I've been getting meds (from the pharmacy).
In short, you can rapidly figure out if I have AIDS, what I'm doing about it, even how I may have got it. Much easier with metadata than simple wire-tappping.
Not that much analysis needed, since you need much less data.
AhBrightWings, 23 May 2014 12:35pm
Not sure I agree that the debate has been "more limited" in Great Britain. The Guardian is, after all, a British publication and it has had ten times (conservatively) more coverage than any other journal I know of, and continued congratulations for doing so.
The problem in the US is that we can't get any traction on the revelations that kicks over into judicial action to end this crime spree. Congress is ossified, the populace is mummified, and so we march on, becoming the United States of Zombieland, where the only signs of sentient life are in the MIC and its many tentacles and claws.
Snowden's sacrifice and Greenwald's work only have value if people wake up and use what we've learned. The mystery is what we are all waiting for. The trajectory from UPS hold-ups to being held-up in a cell is shorter--when things truly take a dire turn (and we may get lucky and they may not, I fully concede that)--than many want to concede. The rise of every despot and tyrant has illustrated that arc well. Why do we think we'll be the exception to that pattern?
Our exceptionalism appears to have blinded us in more ways than one.
Theodore McIntire, 23 May 2014 12:54pm
In addition to revealing how invasive and law/truth twisting big governments / organizations (of any orientation and denomination) are likely to behave, the Snowden revelations also showed how much the media and public are/were disengaged from reality and blindly trusting of big governments / organizations.
Except for those poor souls who live in fear or live off the fear of others... They are very afraid and angry about the Snowden revelations and any other disruptions to their fear based animal herd behavior.
CraigSummers, 23 May 2014 1:32pm
I find it interesting that you don't mention even once in your review the potential ramifications of compromising US intelligence. This is an extremely important consideration in the debate (at least to some concerned citizens). In addition, the released information goes far beyond civil liberties in many instances. One can certainly question the motives of Greenwald. Greenwald has a body of written work from Salon, the Guardian and others which indicate he was not motivated entirely by a debate about "privacy" and civil liberties.
The release of information that the NSA spied on universities in Hong Kong coincided with Snowden's arrival in the special administrative region of the People's Republic of China. This was hardly a coincidence - and shows the level of planning used by Snowden before illegally stealing tens of thousands of top secret documents.
".......The big issue at stake here is privacy, and the relationship between the individual and the state, and it goes far beyond issues of legality (although Snowden's fear of arrest.......seems rather real)...."
Jesus, ya think?
Leondeinos -> CraigSummers, 23 May 2014 4:26pm
The ramifications are simply that the NSA has been caught in its full incompetence and arrogance. Snowden did the world a great favor. Greenwald's book is a good read that does expose and explore those ramifications for the world.
The version of the Defense Intelligence Agency's assessment of damage done by Edward Snowden's leaks released by the US (here on the Guardian website) contains no information about the potential ramifications of compromising US intelligence. This "redacted" version consists 12 pages of blanks out of a total of 39 pages in the original. What you see is what you get. A year after Snowden's revelations, it is a pathetic, contemptible defence of a vast waste of money, people, and diplomatic reputation by the US government.
Mark H. Gaffney (Chiloquin, OR USA),February 28, 2012 - See all my reviews
Gates incriminates himself -- out of his own vanity, February 28, 2012
In his memoir Bob Gates inadvertently corroborates explosive assertions made in 1992 by Israeli whistleblower Ari Ben Menashe in his amazing book, Profits of War, arguably the most important political expose of our time. This continues to be the case even today, twenty years after it was published.
In 1981 Gates served as CIA director Casey's chief of staff. This was the time of the first secret Israeli arms shipments to Iran -- the result of the October Surprise, the treasonous secret arrangement with the Iranians worked out by Casey and HW Bush that denied Jimmy Carter a second term and put Ronald Reagan in the White House. Casey and Bush did what Carter had refused to do: they traded arms for hostages. With an important proviso: Casey insisted that the US embassy hostages must remain in captivity until AFTER Reagan's presidential inauguration.
In his memoirs Gates brags (p 199) that he was "closer to him [Casey] professionally and knew him better than anyone else at CIA or in government.." He also writes (p 222) that he "was in on virtually all of his [Casey's] meetings.." This means that Gates was in the loop on all sensitive issues.
So who else would Casey have turned to -- other than his go-to guy, Gates -- to coordinate the most sensitive issue of them all, the clandestine arms pipeline to Iran that was being managed by Israel?
Gates also corroborates Ben Menashe on another point. Gates confirms (p 395-396) the key role of the Israeli Mossad agent, David Kimche, during the 1984-86 arms deliveries. This was Oliver North's secondary arms channel -- the part of the story that became public and embarrassed Reagan. The rest remained in the shadows for years -- until the release of Ben Menashe's book in 1992. Menashe writes in Profits of War that, starting in 1981, there was a continuous arms pipeline to Iran, too many deals to enumerate. Indeed, the shipments even continued during the later phony investigations into Iran-Contragate.
How ironic that Gates titles his own memoir From the Shadows! It is likely that Gates did not know about Ben Menashe's memoir when he wrote his own. Had he known that Ben Menashe had fingered him -- he might have had second thoughts about boasting of his close relationship with Casey. Gates snares himself, no doubt, because of his sense of his own self-importance: vanity by any other name.
Due to his central role at CIA in 1981, Gates must have known about the treasonous nature of Casey & HW Bush's secret dealings with Iran during the 1980 campaign -- and the arms channel that started soon after Reagan's inauguration. None of this is in Gates' book, of course. For the rest of the story we must turn to Ari Ben Menashe's memoir, Profits of War.
Gates is a classic example of the amoral apparatchik. The man who follows orders no matter how odious the assignment. Doing so took Gates all the way to the top, but at what cost: he damned his soul in the process.
Bottom line: Gates was an accessory to treason. Last time I checked, there was no statute of limitations for this highest of capital crimes.
I know this type of criticism about the current administration upsets a lot of disillusioned (and desperate) liberals who cling to Brand Obama, but at the end of the day, he is no progressive reformer. He seems more like a moderate Republican, Herbert Hoover, with splash of Nixon.
Yes, he is 'better than' those Luddites and corporate crypto-fascists that scare you, but isn't that really the point? Negotiating away your freedom, bit by bit, out of fear?
January 11, 2014"In the same way, those who possess wealth and power in poor nations must accept their own responsibilities. They must lead the fight for those basic reforms which alone can preserve the fabric of their societies. Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
John F. Kennedy, First Anniversary of the Alliance For Progress
It was Thursday afternoon and the first week after the winter break – and it was hardly a surprise that only few seats were filled in room JAN 2Q2 at the European Parliament (EP) in Brussels. But Claude Moraes, British MEP from the group of Socialists and Social Democrats (S&D), woke the European Union from its winter slumber with a bang.
The rapporteur of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) had come to present the 52-page draft report on the committee's inquiry into the NSA spying scandal and its implications on European citizens. The draft report is hard on all sides - including governments and companies in the EU.
"Collect, store, analyze"
The report summarizes the findings from the past six months. On page 16, the text says that the recent revelations in the press by whistleblowers and journalists, together with the expert evidence given during the inquiry, have resulted in "compelling evidence of the existence of far-reaching, complex and highly technologically advanced systems designed by US and some Member States' intelligence services to collect, store and analyze communication and location data and metadata of all citizens around the world on an unprecedented scale and in an indiscriminate and non-suspicion-based manner."
Claude Moraes' draft report is a sweeping blow targeting both US and EU authorities
The authors explicitly point at Britain's signals intelligence agency GCHQ and its upstream surveillance activity (Tempora program) as well as decryption program (Edgehill), and add that it's quite likely that programs of a similar nature as the NSA's and GCHQ's exist - "even if on a more limited scale" - in countries like France, Germany and Sweden.
Claude Moraes and his fellow committee members drew their conclusions from hearing a variety of experts during the second half of 2013 - among them technology insiders, civil rights activists, legal experts, US politicians, former secret service employees and spokespeople of companies such as Microsoft and Yahoo. Journalist Glenn Greenwald also testified. He was the first to publish former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's revelations.
Fight against terrorism = a fig leaf
The fight against terrorism, according to the committee's draft report, can "never in itself be a justification for untargeted, secret and sometimes even illegal mass surveillance programs." Moraes and his fellow rapporteurs showed themselves unconvinced that the NSA's only goal is the fight against terrorism, as the US government has claimed. In their draft report, European politicians suspect that there are instead "other power motives," such as "political and economic espionage."
EU buildings' IT infrastructure must be better protected against political espionage, demand MEPs
Moraes wrote that "privacy is not a luxury right, but the ... foundation stone of a free and democratic society." Above all, the draft report condemns the "vast, systemic, blanket collection of the personal data of innocent people."
The authors add that mass surveillance has potentially severe effects on the freedoms of the press, thought and speech, as well as a significant potential for abuse of the information gathered against political adversaries. In a nutshell, Moraes said, surveillance programs are "yet another step towards the establishment of a fully fledged preventive state."
During Thursday's session, MEPs repeated the call to halt negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the United States. But Kilian Froitzhuber from German-language blog netzpolitik.org said he doesn't believe that talks will be suspended. He told DW he was glad, however, to see that "in the draft report, the committee announces that the European Parliament won't sign any agreement that doesn't explicitly protect the civil liberties of European citizens."
September 14, 2009: Obama fully embraces the use of the Patriot Act to seize phone records in bulk.
Despite massive compliance problems that continue to be uncovered throughout 2009, the Obama Justice Department fights to keep the metadata program running. In September, Obama requests that the Patriot Act be reauthorized without the changes he sought when he was a senator. The Justice Department sends Congress a letter insisting thatthe business records provision addresses a gap in intelligence collection authorities and has proven valuable in a number of contexts … [including] important and highly sensitive intelligence collection operations.
Section 215, the letter says, “is being used as intended.”
"National Security, the last refuge of the scoundrel".
December 26, 2013 | Guardian
The united states is no longer the world leader in freedom. It has become the world privacy snooper no different than a peeping tom. Where has the morality of the leadership of the united stated gone? Where is the leadership?
We need people outside of the united states to see that what is going on in the states is wrong? We the united states can't even govern our own actions correctly. What shame!
Thank You Edward Snowden.
Why do you not mention the U.K., their partner in mass surveillance?
But yes, the hypocrisy is greater on the side of my own country, the Land of the Free etc etc etc.
Arguably, the hypocrisy is greater this side of the pond.
At least your guys are manning (no pun intended) up and having a public discussion of sorts, albeit reluctantly and probably dishonestly.
Here, the hypocritical, two faced idiots that run the UK are still hiding behind their 'We don't discuss National Security' soundbyte, to hide their nefarious, immoral actions from public scrutiny.
As another commenter wisely stated here today - 'National Security, the last refuge of the scoundrel'.
The President's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies: Liberty and Security in a Changing World
Quote: "The information contributed to terrorist investigations by the use of section 215 telephon meta-data was not essential to preventing attacks"
At last people are taking this seriously. America has become the fascist state it always said it fought against. It's like seeing the end of an empire where it's legitimacy has been destroyed. I write this knowing they are recording it. I have no faith in electronic communications any more to write to much
I write this knowing they are recording it
Recording it, and more, my friend.
Given that the Comments columns of the Guardian are Snowden Central for NSA/GCHQ, there can be no doubt that they're keeping a very close eye on it.
Then given their 'mastery of the internet', and their stated goal of 'getting it all', it must be very easy for them to hack the email addresses of 'unsympathetic' commenters.
Then with your email address, they have you nailed.
You know, if I had read a statement like this a year ago, I would have been ridiculing the commenter as a deluded conspiracy theorist.
How times have changed in such a short time.
If they are, I signed up to CiF with a Hide My Ass disposable email account.
December 19, 2013 The Future of Freedom Foundation
Given that most all of us living today have been born and raised under a national-security state apparatus, we’ve all been inculcated with the notion that the enormous military empire, CIA, and NSA are a necessary and permanent part of our lives. We’ve all been taught that our very freedom and well-being depend on the existence of these agencies. In fact, we praise them and glorify them for “defending our freedoms,” “keeping us safe,” and protecting “national security.”
It’s important, however, to bear in mind that the Founding Fathers fully and totally rejected this type of governmental structure and way of life, which is why our American ancestors lived without such an apparatus for the first 150 years of American history. Our predecessors understood that enormous, permanent military establishments and secret intelligence agencies were hallmarks of totalitarian regimes, not free societies, and, in fact, constituted grave threats against the freedom and well-being of the citizenry.
So, how did the U.S. national-security state apparatus come into existence? What caused the American people to move in this totalitarian-like direction? Why did Americans decide to reject the philosophy of liberty and limited government of the Founding Fathers in favor of militarism, empire, foreign interventionism, covert operations, coups, torture, assassinations, spying, surveillance, and the like?
The justification for this revolutionary change in direction for the United States was rooted in the post- World War II fear of the Soviet Union in particular (and to a certain extent communist China) and communism in general. U.S. officials convinced the American people that a national-security state apparatus was necessary to prevent the United States from being conquered by communism and the Soviet Union.
As Senator Arthur Vandenberg told President Harry Truman, the president needed to “scare hell out of the American people,” which is precisely what Truman and his successor President Eisenhower did. Americans who grew up in the 1950s lived lives of constant fear—fear that communists were everywhere, fear that communism was a contagious illness of the mind that was spreading throughout America and the rest of the world, and fear that the Soviet Union was going to initiate a nuclear attack on the United States. Fear became the coin of the realm for the national-security state.
Why was there even a Cold War? Why was there a constant state of hostilities between the United States and Soviet Union for so long? After all, let’s not forget that these two nations worked together in partnership for four years to defeat the Nazi regime. Why couldn’t that spirit of cooperation have continued after World War II?
Sure, the Soviet Union was a brutal communist regime. No doubt about that. But the fact remains—the United States and the Soviet Union worked together to win the war. It didn’t have to be that way. The war could have been waged with the Soviet Union and the United States (and the Allied powers) acting independently of each other to defeat Nazi Germany. Instead, they worked together.
So, why couldn’t the United States and the Soviet Union have co-existed after World War II in the same way that the United States coexists with countries like China and Vietnam today? Those two countries are run by brutal communist regimes. In fact, during the Cold War U.S. officials taught Americans to hate China as much as the Soviet Union. Why couldn’t that type of situation have developed after World War II?
One big reason is that then there would have been no justification for the national-security state apparatus that the statists wanted to graft onto our constitutional order. In order to induce Americans to move in a totalitarian-type direction, the statists needed a new big official enemy, one as big as the Nazi regime, one that could be used to “scare hell out of the American people.”
U.S. officials pointed to the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe after the war was over and essentially ordered the Soviets to get out of those countries and to refrain from installing puppet regimes there. They expected their orders to be followed, especially given that the U.S. government was the only power to have nuclear weapons and, as shown by Nagasaki and Hiroshima, had the will to employ them.
President Truman went out of his way to insult and demean the Soviets. At a meeting in April 1945, Truman lashed out at Soviet Minister Molotov, insulting and demeaning him to such an extent that Molotov said to Truman that he had never been talked to like that. Truman said to him—Keep your agreements and you won’t be talked to like that. Truman later bragged to a friend that he had given Molotov “the straight one-two to the jaw.”
To Truman, it was irrelevant that the United States and Great Britain had previously delivered Eastern Europe into the hands of the Soviet Union. That was the cost of the partnership between the West and the Soviets. In fact, at any time during the war, the United States could have attempted to negotiate a peace with Germany before the Soviets had begun pushing the German forces back across Eastern Europe, that could have, say, sent Hitler and his henchmen to South America and kept Eastern Europe free and independent of both Nazi and Soviet control. FDR said no because this would constitute a betrayal of his partnership with the Soviet communists. Unconditional surrender was his policy.
Was it any surprise that the Soviets remained occupying Eastern Europe after the war? How could it be? The Soviet Union had been invaded by Germany twice in the past 20 years. Moreover, don’t forget that the United States was quickly rebuilding and rearming West Germany as well as integrating many Nazi officials into its Cold War military-intelligence operations.
While no one could condone the Soviet Union’s refusal to exit East Germany and Eastern Europe, one can still understand why they were doing it—to provide a buffer against a possible third invasion from Germany. Don’t forget, after all, that the extreme irrational paranoia that the U.S. government displayed with communist regimes in Cuba, Chile, and elsewhere in Latin America. Why would we expect the Soviet Union to behave with less paranoia about another German attack in the future?
But U.S. officials couldn’t see it that way. They used the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe and East Germany to convince Americans that the Soviet Union was bent on worldwide conquest. The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming They’re going to attack the United States, occupy our country too, run the IRS and the public schools, and brainwash Americans into loving communism.
It was a totally irrational fear. The last thing the Soviets wanted was a war with the United States. Remember: They lost more than 20 million people in WWII. Compare that to American deaths of 418,000. Their country had been invaded and destroyed by Nazi forces. The United States was never invaded or bombed. The Soviet Union’s productive capacity was decimated at the end of the war. The American productive capacity was still running at full speed.
Why in the world would the Soviets have wanted a war against its WWII partner and ally under those unfavorable conditions, especially since there was no possibility that they could have won such a war? And don’t forget the biggest factor of all: The United States had atomic weapons and the Soviets didn’t. Equally important, as U.S. officials showed the Soviets with their atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, U.S. officials wouldn’t hesitate to use them against Soviet cities.
Peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union was the last thing that U.S. officials wanted. Peaceful coexistence wouldn’t justify the rise of the permanent military establishment, a foreign empire of military bases, a CIA, a NSA, covert operations, spying, foreign interventionism, coups, assassinations, torture, surveillance, spying, and support of foreign dictatorships. By “scaring hell out of the American people,” U.S. officials could induce them to reject the founding principles of their nation and support a communist-like and totalitarian-like governmental structure grafted onto their constitutional system, all in the new name of “national security” and protecting the nation from communists and the Soviet Union.
It wasn’t until the administration of John F. Kennedy when a glimmer of light shone through the Cold War darkness. In his famous Peace Speech at American University, Kennedy reminded Americans of the World War II partnership that had been entered into between the United States and the Soviet Union. He talked about the devastating losses that the Soviet people had lost during the war. He emphasized that the Russian people were human too. He asked Americans to put themselves in the position of the Russians and to empathize and understand their reasoning. Most important, he called for ending the Cold War. He said that there was absolutely no reason why the two nations, despite their philosophical differences, couldn’t peacefully coexist in the world.
While Kennedy’s Peace Speech was overwhelmingly well-received by the Russian people, including Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, it was a shocking notion to the U.S. national-security establishment, a notion that added to the deep anger and hatred that national-security officials had for Kennedy. For them, war with the Soviet Union was inevitable and necessary. They believed that the sooner war came, the better, given that the U.S. still had nuclear superiority over the Soviets.
But Kennedy, of course, has been proven right. If the United States could peacefully coexist with communist China and communist Vietnam, along with communist North Korea and communist Cuba, and a whole host of leftist-socialist regimes in Latin America, Africa, Europe, and elsewhere, there is absolutely no reason why the same couldn’t have been done with the Soviet Union, not only in 1963 but also in 1945. Of course though, that would have meant that there would have been no justification for the establishment and rise of the permanent U.S. national-security state, along with its army of well-paid lobbyists and contractors.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
[Video] Fox News
Documents Show NSA Repeatedly Promised To Stop Surveillance Rules Violations Judge Andrew Napolitano...
CHUCKMAN'S WORDS ON WORDPRESS POLITICAL ESSAYS
The Aftermath of 9/11: America’s Second Great Transformation and the Emergence of a Brave New World
One might think the United States would have learned from the country it now copies closely: Israel has had a paralyzing web of secret police, border restrictions, secret prisons, and a massive military establishment for 65 years, yet it has never enjoyed genuine peace and lives in a chilling, unpleasant relationship with all of its neighbors. The average Israeli too does not enjoy a great life in an economically-inefficient society (whose interests, moreover, are heavily tilted towards those of its privileged groups), and then there’s that “great mob of Arabs out there” regarded in much the same way America regards its poor blacks. And were it not for immense subsidies and special favors keeping Israel afloat, that security state likely would collapse under the weight of its economic inefficiency. When any state puts absolute security above everything else, much of what it achieves is not worth having. Stalin perhaps provides history’s bleakest, most extreme example of running an absolute security state.
Of course, security, as understood by what Stalin called “wreckers of the revolution” and what Israel and the United States call “terrorism,” is not the complete reason for secret prisons and building walls and networks and police forces and spy systems. Those with great power and wealth and special interests have always had an instinctive impulse to control their environment, including the other people who inhabit it. Vast guarded estates and fences and bodyguards and summary justice for those trespassing have always been features of life for the great and powerful, and the same impulses exist for powerful organizations within a state, especially militarized states. Close control over behavior unacceptable to an establishment – including behavior that is merely different or dissident or embarrassing or slightly shady or emotionally off-balance or politically threatening – is at the heart of the matter. A gigantic network has been created in the United States which will detect, track, and file away information on these behaviors in perpetuity. The potential for blackmail and intimidation of political opponents or NGO leaders or writers or the press is enormous. While this may not be the case at first, over time, can you think of any apparatus that has gone unused by those with power, any apparatus which has not been abused? We should not forget that as recently as the 1960s, the FBI was actively trying to get Martin Luther King to commit suicide with anonymous letters threatening to reveal secret recordings. America is, after all, a country that has used atomic weapons, twice, and both times on civilian targets.
September 10, 2011 | CHUCKMAN'S WORDS
A note to readers: Normally, I post my book reviews only on another site of mine, Chuckman’s Miscellanea of Words, but because of the nature of this book and its being the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I am also posting on this site.I have long been an admirer of the work of Anthony Summers, one of the world’s great investigative journalists.
His biographical notes on J. Edgar Hoover, Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover are required reading for an understanding of how the center of American power operated for a major portion of the 20th century.
His first book on the Kennedy assassination, Conspiracy, is the greatest book ever written on that event, and it has never been surpassed for the depth of its analysis and gripping nature of its writing. Indeed, because so little new evidence of any importance has emerged since that time, it remains the definitive study.
When I read that he was publishing a book on 9/11 – an event around which swirl clouds of doubt and mystery as great as the ferocious storm of dust which swept through lower Manhattan when the World Trade Center collapsed – I was ready to devour it.
And while there is a good deal to admire in the new book, my lasting impression is one of disappointment. It simply does not measure up to what I think of as the standard of excellence set previously by Mr. Summers.
There are assumptions here I cannot accept without better evidence, much of the main thread of detailed facts contained come ultimately from American torture of countless people in the CIA’s “rendition program,” a bureaucratic euphemism for an international torture gulag, and there are important facts not even touched on.
I have never accepted notions like insider plots and false flag operations pertaining to this event, but anyone who has followed matters over the last decade knows that a great deal remains obscured and unexplained, almost certainly deliberately so by the American government.
Mr. Summers believes it is essentially for several reasons: one is to cover up the close to utter incompetence of the CIA and other agencies leading up to the event. Another is to cover up the almost criminal incompetence of the Bush administration both before and after the event. And another is to guard the long and deep and fairly secret intimate relationship America has with Saudi Arabia.
... ... ...
New facts Summers presents us with are interesting and not contemptible, but they are inadequate to our curiosity. Some of those involved in 9/11 from Saudi Arabia may well have been double or triple agents for Saudi intelligence. Osama bin Laden was paid handsomely by Saudi princes to keep his various operations off Saudi soil, thus indirectly funding 9/11. After dumbly dawdling at a school-reading photo-op, Bush was finally whisked away in Air Force One where the commander-in-chief was virtually out of the loop with remarkably faulty communications. His Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, the number two man in a wartime chain of command, was for some time wondering around the Pentagon unavailable to military commanders needing his authority.
Summers pretty well accepts the official version of 9/11, with the important proviso that the official version, the commission report, includes such matters as the fact that there was little cooperation from Bush officials during the investigation, and the CIA certainly did not explain itself adequately.
The collapse of building 7, which was not hit by an airplane and which occurred after the collapse of the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center, is attributed to debris falling from the other towers. I just don’t know, but it did bother me that Mr. Summers seemed to go out of his way to poke fun at some of the scientists or engineers who doubt that.
The large effort of Israeli spies around 9/11 is not even mentioned in the book, and I found that a disturbing omission.
There was a group of five Israeli spies who were seen on the roof of their truck taking pictures of the explosions and then behaving in a raucous congratulatory manner, yelling and high-fiving. The police were called and they were arrested, but we know nothing of their purpose or achievements. There was another large group of Mossad agents posing as art students who travelled around the country apparently following some or all of the 9/11 plotters. They, too, were arrested and later deported, but we know nothing of them.
Summers accepts the “let’s roll” scenario for the fourth high-jacked plane which crashed in Pennsylvania, but I have always doubted it. First, the photos of the debris field certainly suggest to a non-technical person that it may have been shot down. Second, after three deliberate crashes into buildings, it seems almost unbelievable that the huge air defenses of the United States had not finally taken action. Third, on at least one occasion, Donald Rumsfeld spoke to the press inadvertently using the expression “shooting down” the plane over Pennsylvania in discussing the high-jackings. Fourth, only naturally, the United States’ government would not publicize the shooting-down of a civilian airliner because the resulting lawsuits would be colossal. I am willing to be convinced otherwise, but Mr. Summers does not succeed in doing it for me.
Another important fact is not mentioned in the book. An American consular official at the time was complaining in public about all the visas they were issuing in the Middle East owing to pressure from the CIA. It was not a headline story, but it was an important clue to something unusual going on.
I have always regarded it as a strong hypothesis that the high-jackers were part of a secret CIA operation which badly backfired, an operation which saw many questionable people receiving visas and being allowed to do some pilot training. Risky CIA operations have a number of times backfired, and they even have nickname for that happening, blowback.
Of course, we could see the entire matter also as blowback from the CIA’s secret war against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Fundamentalist Muslims in Afghanistan, Mujahideen, were recruited, provided training and money and sophisticated weapons to fight the Soviets. Several billion dollars were poured in. Osama bin Laden was himself part of the business, but, as Mr. Summers agrees, he later did not see the United States as any different to the Soviets when they sent troops onto the sacred soil of Saudi Arabia.
Mr. Summers is trying to place a good deal of blame on the Saudis for their funding and secret operations, and while I regard it as an interesting observation that certain members of the royal family paid Osama, I do not regard that as a stunning fact. After all, Saudi Arabia’s countless billions come in good part either directly or indirectly from the United States and Osama bin Laden’s family was a very successful wealthy contractor there, so you could say in the same sense that the United States subsidized Osama’s operations. And it goes deeper than that, for Saudi business connections in the United States, including connections directly with the Bush family, go back many years.
This reader for one would like to see some hard proof of some things that Mr. Summers takes as fact. First, that bin Laden even was responsible for 9/11: the public has never been provided a shred of good evidence. Second, that bin Laden was not in fact killed in the unbelievable bombardment at Tora Bora, his death being kept hidden to prevent martyrdom. Third, that the recent assassination in Pakistan was genuine, not the effort of a president down in the polls and feeling that after ten years he could afford to make the claim.
Fourth, that there ever was an organization called al Qaeda. I know that sounds odd to people who assume everything they hear on television is true, but there are good reasons for doubting it. While Mr. Summers gives one translation for the Arabic word, people who speak Arabic have said it commonly means toilet, and surely no one running a terror organization would use such a name. Indeed, we have several very prominent people quoted in the past, including former British Foreign Minister Robin Cook, saying that al Qaeda was just a derogatory catch-all term used for various “bad guys” out there. That is a tremendously meaningful difference between the two things, but Mr. Summers does not touch the issue.
Again, I cannot stress how important it is for all decent-minded people holding to democratic values to accept neither the CIA’s international torture gulag nor the results of its dark work. Yet the bulk of Mr. Summers’ idea of events is based on evidence deriving ultimately from torture, the people being tortured never receiving the benefits of counsel, fair trial, or even opportunity to rebut.
In summary, a book worth reading, if only to get mad at, but it hardly represents a definitive effort on its subject.
TLR (California USA) - See all my reviews
Garrison' side of the story,
August 3, 2013"...our Government is the CIA and the Pentagon, with Congress reduced to a debating society...We won't build Dachaus and Auschwitzes; the clever manipulation of the mass media is creating a concentration camp of the mind that promises to be far more effective in keeping the populace in line...I've learned enough about the machinations of the CIA in the past year to know that this is no longer the dream world America I once believed in...Huey Long once said, 'Fascism will come to America in the name of anti-fascism.' I'm afraid, based on my own experience, that fascism will come to America in the name of national security." - Garrison's interview given to Playboy magazine in October 1967
Since 9/11, and the growth of the National Security State under Bush and Obama, that quote now seems a lot less paranoid today than it did 46 years ago. The existence of the NSA was not even known to the public back then.
Nonetheless, I've always had mixed feelings about Garrison. His heart was in the right place, and his ultimate targets were probably the right ones, but his methods were often questionable. He sometimes had an "end-justifies-the-means" mentality. There's no doubt today that Clay Shaw was associated with US intelligence, but I doubt that he was involved in the JFK plot itself. More likely he was one of Oswald's handlers, and given the compartmentalization of such a project, may not have known how Oswald would ultimately be used (the same is probably true of people like George De Mohrenschildt and Guy Banister). If Garrison could have continued his investigation privately, without being exposed by the press, things might have turned out differently.
Still, with better witnesses and suspects either dead or uncooperative, or living in states where he couldn't extradite them, Garrison rolled the dice with a very weak case and hoped something would break loose. It didn't. The mainstream media went on the attack, rushing out a flood of books questioning his integrity and sanity: Plot or Politics by Rosemary James; Counterplot by Edward J. Epstein; The Garrison Case by Milton Brener; American Grotesque by James Kirkwood. Federal agents did everything possible to disrupt and infiltrate his investigation. Jim DiEugenio's two editions of Destiny Betrayed go into great detail about the powerful forces intent on stopping Garrison.
Eventually, other JFK researchers like Harold Weisberg and Sylvia Meagher turned against him when they saw how he was bluffing his way through the case against Shaw, lining up highly questionable witnesses against him. Every attempt to go after higher-ups failed. Garrison subpoenaed former CIA director Allen Dulles to testify, but Dulles ignored it. He managed to convince the jury that a conspiracy was behind JFK's death, but the evidence of Shaw's involvement was (and is) not enough to convict the man.
November 15, 2013 | NYTimes.com
Before being sentenced inside a packed courthouse in Lower Manhattan, Mr. Hammond, 28, described his hacking activities as “acts of civil disobedience” against both an expanding surveillance state and the companies that do the government’s bidding. His lawyers said their client was part of a proud tradition of protest in the United States, dating back to the American Revolution.
But Federal District Judge Loretta A. Preska was unmoved, telling Mr. Hammond “there’s nothing high-minded or public-spirited about causing mayhem.”
“These are not the actions of Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, John Adams or even Daniel Ellsberg,” she said, referring to the former analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers to several news organizations. Mr. Ellsberg had written a letter to the court praising Mr. Hammond’s hacking campaign.
... ... ...
Mr. Hammond and several other hackers were arrested based on information from another prominent member of Anonymous, Hector Xavier Monsegur, whom the FBI had turned into a government informant.
... ... ...
Dressed in two T-shirts and baggy pants, Mr. Hammond at one point stood at a podium at the front of the courtroom, speaking directly to Judge Preska. He said he had been inspired by Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier who gave hundreds of thousands of American diplomatic cables and military records to WikiLeaks.
“If Chelsea Manning fell into the abysmal nightmare of prison fighting for the truth, could I in good conscience do any less, if I was able?” he said.
November 14, 2013 | NYTimes.com
The Central Intelligence Agency is secretly collecting bulk records of international money transfers handled by companies like Western Union — including transactions into and out of the United States — under the same law that the National Security Agency uses for its huge database of Americans’ phone records, according to current and former government officials.
... ... ...
Orders for business records from the surveillance court generally prohibit recipients from talking about them. A spokeswoman for one large company that handles money transfers abroad, Western Union, did not directly address a question about whether it had been ordered to turn over records in bulk, but said that the company complies with legal requirements to provide information.
“We collect consumer information to comply with the Bank Secrecy Act and other laws,” said the spokeswoman, Luella Chavez D’Angelo. “In doing so, we also protect our consumers’ privacy
... ... ...
In addition, a Justice Department “white paper” on the N.S.A.’s call records program, released in August, said that communications logs are “a context” in which the “collection of a large volume of data” is necessary for investigators to be able to analyze links between terrorism suspects and their associates. It did not say that call records are the only context that meets the criteria for bulk gathering.
... ... ....
In September, the Obama administration declassified and released a lengthy opinion by Judge Claire Eagan of the surveillance court, written a month earlier and explaining why the panel had given legal blessing to the call log program. A largely overlooked passage of her ruling suggested that the court has also issued orders for at least two other types of bulk data collection.
Specifically, Judge Eagan noted that the court had previously examined the issue of what records are relevant to an investigation for the purpose of “bulk collections,” plural. There followed more than six lines that were censored in the publicly released version of her opinion.
November 2, 2013 | Eric Margolis
In 1975, I was invited to join the US Senate’s Church Committee that was formed after the Watergate scandals. Its goal was to investigate massive illegalities committed by the CIA, National Security Agency and FBI.
As a then staunch Republican, and having worked on President Nixon’s reelection campaign developing Mideast policy, I declined.
With the wisdom of hindsight, I should have joined the investigation.
Senator Frank Church warned:
“ If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. “
The Church Committee revealed Washington’s role in the assassinations of foreign leaders, CIA collaboration with the Mafia, wide scale subversion around the globe, mail and phone intercepts, spying on Americans by the US Army and intelligence services, collusion with right-wing terrorist groups like Gladio, and much, much more.
Edward Snowden’s revelations of NSA malfeasance have done much the same thing today. Both Church and Snowden were branded traitors by rightwing zealots and flag-wavers. Government security agencies were reined in for decades. But it’s now clear they are not only back to their old tricks, but are out of control.
The gigantic rock lifted by the courageous Snowden revealed the chilling global reach of US electronic domination and intrusion.
Take operation “Stateroom.” NSA reportedly used the embassies and consulates of Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand to spy on Asian targets. This was part of the “Five Eyes” system in which Anglo-Saxon intelligence agencies act as subsidiaries of US intelligence.
One reason we have so far heard little about NSA spying against these nations is that they spy on their own citizens using NSA technology, then pass the data to Big Brother in the US.
It seems that data on US citizens hoovered up by NSA is also routinely passed to Israel’s intelligence services, a double violation of US law. Israel has long tapped into the US communications networks and even, it is alleged, the White House phone system – installed by an Israeli electronic firm.
Sen. Church’s prescient warning was made 38 years ago when electronic were still in their infancy, compared to today’s high-tech gear. Not only do we see US intelligence agencies again spying on their own citizens, but a total failure in controlling them by their ostensible “masters,” the US Congress and White House.
Clearly, neither Congress nor the president know what’s going on behind CIA and NSA’s wall of secrecy – not to mention the 14 other US intelligence agencies.
The cowardly acceptance by Congress of the evil Patriot Act has removed any reins from intelligence/security, allowing them to spy on everyone, anytime, anywhere by simply invoking the magical mantra, “terrorism.”
There was little difference between America’s post-9/11 hysteria that produced the Patriot Act and Germany’s frenzy after the burning down of the Reichstag in 1933, an act that opened the way to Hitler’s dictatorship. In both cases, civil rights were swept away supposedly to fight “terrorism.” President George W. Bush doubled the size and budget of America’s Intelligence State.
America’s intelligence establishment has been trying to excuse its malfeasance by the old “everyone else does it” adage. Untrue. No other nation we know of so thoroughly sifts through the world’s communications, bugs 35 key leaders, targets individuals for assassination by CIA drones or US special forces and stores every word its citizens ever sent. No other case where the spy agencies are so uncontrolled. Besides, the US, which claims “exceptionalism,” should be setting a good example.
We should hold Congress almost as liable. Its members have been too busy using insider information to make money in the market, and too busy boot-licking donors to do their job of supervision. They should all be fired, starting with intelligence committee chair, Diane Feinstein and the chief Republic dolt, Mike Rogers.
Ben Franklin, that great thinker and sage, put it perfectly when he said that government (read spy agencies) is like fire – a useful tool, but a terrible master.
November 14, 2013 | Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity
These are major long term wars each lasting two to three times as long as World War II. Forbes reports that one million US soldiers have been injured in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. RT reports that the cost of keeping each US soldier in Afghanistan has risen from $1.3 million per soldier to $2.1 million per soldier. Matthew J. Nasuti reports in the Kabul Press that it cost US taxpayers $50 million to kill one Taliban soldier. That means it cost $1 billion to kill 20 Taliban fighters. This is a war that can be won only at the cost of the total bankruptcy of the United States.
Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes have estimated that the current out-of-pocket and already incurred future costs of the Afghan and Iraq wars is at least $6 trillion.
... ... ...
Why is it necessary for Washington to attack the freedom of the press and speech, to run roughshod over the legislation that protects whistleblowers such as Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, to criminalize dissent and protests, and to threaten journalists such as Julian Assange, Glenn Greenwald, and Fox News reporter James Rosen?
How does keeping citizens ignorant of their government’s crimes make citizens safe from terrorists?
These persecutions of truth-tellers have nothing whatsoever to do with “national security” and “keeping Americans safe from terrorists.” The only purpose of these persecutions is to protect the executive branch from having its crimes revealed. Some of Washington’s crimes are so horrendous that the International Criminal Court would issue a death sentence if those guilty could be brought to trial. A government that will destroy the constitutional protections of free speech and a free press in order to prevent its criminal actions from being disclosed is a tyrannical government.
One hesitates to ask these questions and to make even the most obvious remarks out of fear not only of being put on a watch list and framed on some charge or the other, but also out of fear that such questions might provoke a false flag attack that could be used to justify the police state that has been put in place.
Perhaps that was what the Boston Marathon Bombing was. Evidence of the two brothers’ guilt has taken backseat to the government’s claims. There is nothing new about government frame-ups of patsies. What is new and unprecedented is the lockdown of Boston and its suburbs, the appearance of 10,000 heavily armed troops and tanks to patrol the streets and search without warrants the homes of citizens, all in the name of protecting the public from one wounded 19 year old kid.
Surveillance is defined as the use of monitoring and recording technology along with the creation and use of databases of personal information and the record of communications in the digital age.
The potential for surveillance of citizens in public spaces and private communications has increased dramatically over the last decade...
November 11, 2013 | RTThe UK’s electronic spying agency has been using spoof version of LinkedIn professional social network's website to target global roaming data exchange companies as well as top management employees in the OPEC oil cartel, according to Der Spiegel report.
The Government Communications Headquarters has implemented a technique known as Quantum Insert, placing its servers in strategic spots where they could intercept and redirect target traffic to a fake website faster than the legitimate service could respond.
A similar technique was used earlier this year to inject malware into the systems of BICS, a subsidiary of Belgian state-owned telecommunications company Belgacom, which is another major GRX provider.
In the Belgacom scandal first it was unclear where the attacks were coming from. Then documents from Snowden’s collection revealed that the surveillance attack probably emanated from the British GCHQ – and that British intelligence had palmed off spyware on several Belgacom employees.
The Global Roaming Exchange (GRX) is a service which allows mobile data providers to exchange roaming traffic of their user with other providers. There are only a few dozen companies providing such services globally.
Now it turns out the GCHQ was also targeting networking, maintenance and security personnel of another two companies, Comfone and Mach, according to new leaks published in the German magazine by Laura Poitras, one of few journalists believed to have access to all documents stolen by Snowden from the NSA.
Through Quantum Insert method, GCHQ has managed to infiltrate the systems of targeted Mach employees and successfully procured detailed knowledge of the company’s communications infrastructure, business, and personal information of several important figures.
A spokesman for ‘Starhome Mach’, a Mach-successor company, said it would launch “a comprehensive safety inspection with immediate effect.”
The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries was yet another target of the Quantum Insert attack, according to the report. According to a leaked document, it was in 2010 that GCHQ managed to infiltrate the computers of nine OPEC employees. The spying agency reportedly succeeded in penetrating the operating space of the OPEC Secretary-General and also managed to spy the on Saudi Arabian OPEC governor, the report suggests.
LinkedIn is currently the largest network for creating and maintaining business contacts. According to its own data the company has nearly 260 million registered users in more than 200 countries. When contacted by The Independent, a LinkedIn spokesman said that the company was “never told about this alleged activity” and it would “never approve of it, irrespective of what purpose it was used for.”
According to a cryptographer and security expert Bruce Schneier, Quantum Insert attacks are hard for anyone except the NSA to execute, because for that one would need to “to have a privileged position on the Internet backbone.”
The latest details of GCHQ’s partnership with the NSA were revealed just last week, after the reports emerged that GCHQ was feeding the NSA with the internal information intercepted from Google and Yahoo’s private networks.
The UK intelligence leaders have recently been questioned by British lawmakers about their agencies’ close ties and cooperation with the NSA.
The head of GCHQ, Sir Ian Lobban, lashed out at the global media for the coverage of Edward Snowden’s leaks, claiming it has made it “far harder” for years to come to search for “needles and fragments of needles” in “an enormous hay field” of the Internet.
However, the intelligence chiefs failed to address public fears that Britain’s intelligence agencies are unaccountable and are operating outside the law.
November 9, 2013 | NYT
...Even when Mr. Obama travels to allied nations, aides quickly set up the security tent — which has opaque sides and noise-making devices inside — in a room near his hotel suite. When the president needs to read a classified document or have a sensitive conversation, he ducks into the tent to shield himself from secret video cameras and listening devices.
American security officials demand that their bosses — not just the president, but members of Congress, diplomats, policy makers and military officers — take such precautions when traveling abroad because it is widely acknowledged that their hosts often have no qualms about snooping on their guests.
... ... ...
On a trip to Latin America in 2011, for example, a White House photo showed Mr. Obama talking from a security tent in a Rio de Janeiro hotel suite with Hillary Rodham Clinton, then the secretary of state, and Robert M. Gates, the defense secretary at the time, about the air war against Libya that had been launched the previous day. Another photo, taken three days later in San Salvador, showed him conferring from the tent with advisers about the attack.
Spokesmen for the State Department, the C.I.A. and the National Security Council declined to provide details on the measures the government takes to protect officials overseas. But more than a dozen current and former government officials, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity, described in interviews some of those measures.
They range from instructing officials traveling overseas to assume every utterance and move is under surveillance and requiring them to scrub their cellphones for listening devices after they have visited government offices, to equipping the president’s limousine, which always travels with him, to keep private conversations private. Mr. Obama carries a specially encrypted BlackBerry; one member of his cabinet was told he could not take his iPad on an overseas trip because it was not considered a secure device.
Countermeasures are taken on American soil as well. When cabinet secretaries and top national security officials take up their new jobs, the government retrofits their homes with special secure rooms for top-secret conversations and computer use.
In accordance with a several-hundred-page classified manual, the rooms are lined with foil and soundproofed. An interior location, preferably with no windows, is recommended.
RAY MCGOVERN, RETIRED CIA ANALYST: Welcome.
JAY: So Ray, in case you don't know, is a former CIA analyst. He's now a political activist. He's--was instrumental in founding the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence. He's a cofounder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.
Thank you. And I know you actually have found some veterans and professionals with some sanity. It's somewhat of a--.
MCGOVERN: And with some conscience.
JAY: You have. I've actually been quite impressed. You know, I got politicized during Vietnam days, and then we had no idea there actually were anyone like you in the CIA.
MCGOVERN: Thanks a lot.
JAY: You were all the bad guys.
I'm going to pick up--part one of the interview I suggest you watch, 'cause I'm going to kind of pick up on something we talked about in part one. You said that the Constitution defends people's rights at home and that should be respected in an ironclad way--my words, but that's what you meant. But you understand the need for adult intelligence abroad, meaning don't do something stupid like spy on Merkel, but you might do something else that's required.
MCGOVERN: That's correct. Yeah.
JAY: I want to push back a little bit on that, which is, with U.S. foreign policy as it is, with the basic mindset of the American elite, whether it's represented by Republicans or Democrats in terms of their leadership, that you will necessarily violate the Constitution at home if you have this mindset abroad.
And let me just quickly--from right after World War II, with the development of Truman and the national security state and the fighting of the Cold War and the beginnings of the fight against national liberation movements and anything that smelled anything like socialism anywhere in the world, you have at home the House Un-American Activities Committee. You have McCarthyism, which, if they had had the NSA kind of spying in those days--and I'm sure they did as much as they could in terms of listening to phones, but they were going after everybody. I mean, they were going after ordinary teachers and union members and actors. And let me emphasize how much it was directed against trade unions to get rid of militants.
Jump ahead. The Vietnam War creates the conditions at home for the criminalizing of dissent, and even to the point of shooting students on university campuses. You know.
Jump ahead. And, of course, I'm missing all kinds of stuff in between. The ambition, objective, which actually gets enunciated most clearly by Zbigniew Brzezinski--if you want to, you know, run the world, you'd better dominate Eurasia, and Brzezinski works for Jimmy Carter, a Democrat. And I'm not saying that Brzezinski was saying anything that a Kissinger wouldn't, a Republican, but the desire to dominate the world, dominate Eurasia, leads to the arming of jihadists in Afghanistan and gives rise to bin Laden, gives rise to 9/11, you know, in terms of not just that thread but the whole issue of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and attitude towards Israel and so on and so on, you wind up getting 9/11, which becomes a whole new rationale for spying on Americans at home.
What I'm saying is you cannot disconnect the two, that if you seek hegemony abroad, you will violate people's rights at home. And if you really want to deal with this issue of the development of a security state that violates people's constitutional rights at home, then people have to also take a stand against this kind of superpower activities abroad.
MCGOVERN: Paul, you don't understand. America is the sole exceptional country in the world, the soul indispensable country in the world. Now, if you know the antonym for indispensable, it's dispensable. Okay? So the rest of you Canadians, everybody else, are dispensible by definition. Okay? The president said that. He said that as recently as just a couple of months ago. And Putin of all places--of all persons says, you know, you ought to be careful giving the impression that your country is so exceptional that it can do what it wants around the world.
Now, the answer to this is that after World War II, that's when we became the sole remaining superpower in the world. Russia was decimated, 30 million people killed. You know, Europe was in ashes. We had to devise a policy. And what did we do? George Kennan, who used to be my hero, George Kennan, head of the policy planning staff at State Department, policy planning paper number one, we comprise--we dominate 50 percent of the world's national resources but comprise only 6.3 percent of its population. Therefore our policy has to be devised in such a way as to maintain this equilibrium. We can't be diverted by thoughts about soft power or democracy or civil rights. The time will come when we have to exert hard straight power.
JAY: Yeah, if you want to consume 50 percent of the world's resources, then you do what it takes.
MCGOVERN: That's right. So that's the policy, okay? And that's 1948. First policy.
Now, what happened? He's instrumental in setting up an intelligence agency that is far from what President Truman wanted, an analysis shop to tell him what was going on in the world, with a clandestine collection part, which would give us some spies to tell us that kind of information. And Kennan says, no, let's put these OSS guys, these people that overturn governments, these people that, you know, can really operate abroad, let's put them in with these analysts. What happens? Well, these operators get all the money and all the attention, and when this upstart, Mosaddegh, in Iran gets this weird notion that the oil underneath the sands of Iran should be--you know, should go to the benefit of the Iranian people at least, and he doesn't realize it all belongs to British Petroleum, well, the British take this by the--you know, MI6 says, okay, you fledgling CIA, you're only six years old; this is what you do. So we--.
Now, was that a smart thing?
JAY: Overthrew Mosaddegh.
MCGOVERN: Overthrow Mosaddegh, yeah. And, you know, BP emerge.
Now, what were the results of that? Well, we know what--the results of that. We can see them today.
So what we have is a sort of myopic view of what the world is like. It goes in four-year cycles, or two-year cycles if you talk about Congress, four-year cycles about what would be good for politicians. And it hinders the achievement of a broad policy that could be based, despite George Tenet's disavowal of this, on a certain degree of altruism. You know? On a certain degree of recognition that we're all in this together. And, God, if we don't come to that now with, what, 7 billion people in the world and resources going down the drain, we'll never do that. But the political cycle makes that very different.
Now, with respect to the intelligence services, you know, this goes in waves as well. After Vietnam, after all those abuses, after Bill Colby, the head of the CIA, to his credit, decided he would be a lawyer and obey the law and testify to Congress about the incredible abuses that took place in the '50s and '60s by the CIA, after the FISA law was put it in in '78, this Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which prohibited precisely the kinds of things that NSA is doing now--.
JAY: And it has become a kind of rubberstamp for the NSA.
MCGOVERN: Yeah, now it's become a complete--. So these things do go in circle--in cycles. And I'm hopeful that out of all this, with the help of some of our allies that know what it's like to live under a different kind of regime, you know, know what it's like to live under fascism--let's say the word--that we can come to our senses, and maybe some leadership will come to the top and say, well, you know, President Obama, you know, you think you can't deal with these security types, you don't have the backbone or you don't want to risk the political costs it would take, but you really can, because the American people are fed up with this kind of stuff.
JAY: But there's no reason to think President Obama doesn't share the same mindset. In fact, there's every reason to think he does.
MCGOVERN: Well, share the same mindset of--.
JAY: Which--that the United States needs to project power abroad, and to do so, if you have to curtail rights at home, you do so.
MCGOVERN: Well, you know, I don't know. It doesn't really matter, because even if he thought that, even if he thought the better of that, he doesn't seem to have the backbone implant that he needs to stand up to those.
JAY: Doesn't even articulated anything, any--. He more or less justifies it.
MCGOVERN: Well, his--well, in some of his speeches he does. But the point is that as far as Obama is concerned, he is intimidated.
JAY: But I guess what I'm saying is I'm kind of less speaking to the elites here, 'cause I don't think the elites are going to change much, except for one thing. There are sections of the elites that don't want to get spied on by other sections of the elite. I mean, I saw Hayden on TV a couple of months ago, and Hayden was--Hayden's the former head of the CIA and is right in the--.
MCGOVERN: And NSA too.
JAY: NSA. And NSA.
JAY: Both. Yeah. And Hayden was defending all this. But all of a sudden he was upset about something, and he says, who exactly authorized the spying on Petraeus? Now he's concerned, 'cause, like, one of his guys actually got, you know, listened to. So, I mean, there are fractures in the elite who don't like this 'cause they may be on it. And I'm sure, you know, Congress, there's a lot of congressmen who don't want to be listened to, 'cause what if some of that leaks, some of the stuff they're up to, both in terms of their personal life and what--all the money they get in the connection between policy and receiving money? So within the elite there's fractures.
But I'm kind of talking to more ordinary people who find foreign policy abstract, who think what happens over there doesn't affect me. And what I'm saying, I guess, is, number one, not only are you paying for it, and as a result--. Like, in an ordinary worker in the United States pays about the same taxes a Canadian worker does. You know, Canadian workers get a health care policy, and here you get a Pentagon that spends almost $1 trillion a year. But to speak to what's happening now, the issue of people's constitutional rights, it is affecting you, because it's--that foreign policy creates the condition and the rationale for violating all these rights that people consider at the core of what it is to be an American.
MCGOVERN: You're right. And one of the major problems is the military leadership and the way it gets to be--gets to the top. When Hayden was told by Dick Cheney very early--before 9/11, mind you--forget about that first commandment out of NSA, okay, forget about the commandment that says thou shalt not eavesdrop on Americans without a court warrant, forget about it, okay, before 9/11, okay, Hayden said, okay, I'll do that, despite his constitutional oath to defend the Fourth Amendment and everything else.
Now, earlier heads of the NSA, Bill Odom, for example, said, as soon as he realized that, that Hayden should be court-martialed. Okay? And Bobby Ray Inman, who was sort of the father of the NSA, who helped actually with the wording of the FISA act, said what Hayden did was clearly illegal, was clearly beyond what FISA, what the FISA law--.
Okay. Now, I heard Inman say that one Thursday. And the next Thursday, I'm in with Lou Dobbs's blue room, okay, and I'm going to talk about my little debate with Rumsfeld. And in rushes Bobby Ray Inman. You know, he's got no tie on. So they put it on. And they say, what are you talking about? Hayden's nomination. He's just been nominated to be the CIA director. I said, oh! I said, great. Tell them what you told the New York Library folks there a week ago when Bobby Ray Inman said, look, what Hayden did was beyond the law, it's illegal, and I know, and I even put wording in that FISA law saying you can't do anything else that's not expressly put in this law! [incompr.] go at it! So I'm watching a monitor. Lou Dobbs: Admiral Inman, what do you think of Michael Hayden becoming the head of the CIA? He said, I couldn't pick a more qualified person. He's an excellent--he's very bright and he's devoted to our country. And he comes out, and I say, what the hell happened there? And he just--he's out of there. [incompr.]
Well, that's how it works. You know, they were all in this together [incompr.] except people like Bill Odom, who was really furious. He said, Hayden, you know, we take this oath to the Constitution. I take that seriously. Every other NSA director before me, Bill Odom says, did. And to watch that happen, that's not a trivial thing. Okay? That's the Fourth Amendment. And that's what, you know, the Third Reich just--they had a similar provision in their Constitution in 1933. All that went by the board.
So this is important stuff. And you're right to point out that some repression internally is often a companion, a handmaiden of what's going on abroad. But I don't see that it needs to be that way. And I see that with all this that's been happening, you know, if people can unshackle themselves from party affiliation--.
You know, I'm a Bronx Irish Catholic. Okay? When I was baptized, I had membership in the Democratic Party, as well as the union, automatically. Okay? And I am incredibly ashamed for what's happened to the Democratic Party. I don't want any part of it anymore. When people come canvassing, I say, are you in favor of targeted assassination? Oh, what's that about? And I says, well, you know, look what the Democratic president is tolerating or even approving before he has lunch with Michelle every Tuesday at noon time. Hello? First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Fifth Amendment. You know, I'm a Virginian now. And when those folks said that we're going to risk their--pledge their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to this enterprise, they meant it. And it was just as likely they would end up on the end of a rope as they would emerge as new leaders of a wonderful country. Okay? Well, the latter happened. And we have an obligation to safeguard those freedoms.
JAY: And let's not forget the NDAA amendment, because it's kind of--you know, there was a lot of fuss about it, and it's now not being talked about, 'cause everything's on the intelligence gathering, but President Obama signs this thing, right? It's become law. Did I miss something? The military can arrest you if they can just somehow--like, we were talking in part one how the British can call Glenn Greenwald's partner, Dave Miranda, call him a terrorist, well, if you can start using language like that, then you got the NDAA amendment, which has been passed, which is if you can be defined as a terrorist or some sort of ally of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, you can be arrested by the army, never mind the FBI. You can be put into military detention.
MCGOVERN: Right, come in here right now, Paul, pluck me out, and--. No, they wouldn't detain me forever; just so long as there are no terrorists around in the world. Okay?
Now, I thought that that was John McCain and Lindsey Graham in the Senate. You know? That came out of the Senate, okay? And when the bill came back and indicated that American citizens could be wrapped up this way, there was a hue and cry by some progressive senators. And they asked Carl Levin, the head of the Armed Services [Committee], well, what about this [incompr.]? And he said, and I quote, well, it wasn't that way when we sent it over to the White House, but that's the way it came back.
JAY: Actually, we're going to run the tape right now that has Levin doing that.
MCGOVERN: Two questions. Since when does Carl Levin, one of the most powerful members of Congress, have to take legislation that's changed by the White House and enact it into law? 'Cause they're all afraid. And you and I had a little dispute about this two years ago. I said it was because of Occupy. I still think it was because of Occupy. They want to protect themselves against a mass movement, which is, you know, fledgling right now, but they want to be able to arrest people off the streets. They have the capability the NSA provides. They're going to do it real easy.
JAY: Oh, I never said it wasn't about fear of a mass movement. I'm just said Occupy wasn't going to be that mass movement. It wasn't Occupy they were afraid of.
MCGOVERN: Yeah, but Occupy was a symptom of what they're afraid of, yeah. So, yeah.
So it's really kind of--we're at a crossroads now, and I feel it, I feel it in my bones. And for some reason I think that the people who feel violated, you know, in that sense of the word, in Western Europe and others of our allies, the Brazilians and other--you know, maybe, maybe they will be able to stop their servile, their supine posture towards the U.S. and say, look, enough of this stuff. This is the way the new world is. You're losing your clout. We've got all kinds of movements that are exceeding your power to dictate to people. And maybe, just maybe enlightened leadership will come along and say, oh, you know, read the signs of the times and say, well, we need really not to think that we can do what George Kennan advocated in 1948, that we're no longer the sole remaining superpower in the world, that we have to deal with these other countries in a more mutually beneficial and--what's the word?--respectful way.
October 31, 2013 | newstatesman.com
Edward Snowden saw things he thought we, as Americans, should know. He valued the truth and thought you could handle it, says Alec Baldwin.Obviously, we’ve been here before. The United States has been here before. The friction between democracy (or democracy as we like to think of it) and capitalism has often created agonising tensions and dramatic upheavals for America. Those spasms left us at least as demoralised as many Americans feel in the wake of the Edward Snowden-NSA revelations. The reality that the government is spying on Americans on a wholesale level, seemingly indiscriminately, doesn’t really come as a surprise to many, given the assumed imperatives of the post- 9/11 security state. People seem more stricken by the fact that Barack Obama, who once vowed to close Guantanamo, has adopted CIA-NSA policies regarding domestic spying, as well as by government attempts to silence, even hunt down, the press.
Americans, in terms of their enthusiasm for defending their beloved democratic principles in the face of an ever more muscular assault on those principles by the state in the name of national security, are exhausted. If you are a “boomer”, like me, and have lived through the past five decades with any degree of political efficacy, you can draw a line from JFK’s assassination to the subsequent escalation of the Vietnam war, on to 1968 with the murders of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, the Chicago Democratic Convention and Nixon’s resurrection; from there, to Kent State, the Pentagon Papers, Nixon’s re-election, Watergate, Nixon’s resignation, Ford’s pardon, Carter’s one term and out, the curious Iran hostage situation, Reagan (who brings back a degree of the charm and affability that died in Dallas), Iran Contra, Oliver North, Bush the First (as in first CIA director to become president), Iraq the First, Clinton kills welfare, Gingrich shuts down the Congress, Clinton’s impeachment, the 2000 election, Bush v Gore, Bush the Second, 9/11, Iraq the Second, “Mission Accomplished”, the Swift Boaters, Afghanistan, Gitmo, Assange, Manning, Snowden.
I have left out a good deal. There is, of course, a lot that’s positive running through the American narrative during this time, but I think more bad than good. You look at all of this laid end to end and you’d think the US might have had a nervous breakdown. I believe it actually did.
Americans are pretty basic. Generally speaking, they are a “suit up and show up” type of crowd. In spite of images of rampant obesity running throughout the country, gun laws that border on madness and our debt ceiling made of Swiss cheese, more Americans wake up every day to participate in an experience defined by work, sacrifice and moderate self-denial. They are workaholics who exercise, eat fairly well, drink in moderation and refrain from drugs and extramarital affairs while, perhaps, fantasising about either or both. They are devoted to family, friends, churches and social organisations. They are generous with their money as well as time. When disaster strikes, America is a good place to be.
But one thing that Americans fail at, miserably, is taking their government to task when that government has lied to them, defrauded them, covered up its crimes and otherwise blocked them from knowing essential truths. In political terms, Americans have a strong devotion to afflicting the afflicted and comforting the comfortable. They have a hard time contemplating any meaningful overhaul of the rules of their political system, preferring to say “Please, sir, may I have another” in the face of abuses of power. Americans, despite all of their claims to an “exceptionalism” among the nations of the world, have been lied to for so long about so many relevant topics, they have lost sight of what the truth is.
It seems more difficult, at least to me, to effectively assess historical events that came before my lifetime with the same perspective as those I lived through. Pearl Harbor, Nazi appeasement, Hiroshima and Nagasaki or the Pumpkin Papers feel slightly more remote, more like history, than what’s happened since 1958, the year that I was born. And two great and urgent factors that emerged during my lifetime, I believe, have kept us in a type of karmic stall and prevented the US from growing into what it might have been. One is the Vietnam war and the other is the assassination of President Kennedy.
Kennedy died 50 years ago. Since then, Americans have honoured his legacy, or their somewhat beatified version of it, in every conceivable way. Countless schools, highways, bridges and even airports have been renamed in his honour. Kennedy is not on Mount Rushmore, but in the hearts and minds of many of my generation he exists on his own equally exalted plateau. Yet while a mere photo of Kennedy can still overwhelm one with a sense of loss, while innumerable books have been written and countless words have flowed that till the soil of who Kennedy was, what he stood for and what might have been if he had lived, Americans have not done the one thing you would expect such deep affection for a fallen hero would demand: we still don’t know who killed him.
How much has been written on this subject? Too much, perhaps. To wander into the rabbit hole of JFK assassination theory, one must prepare for a Lewis Carroll-esque tumble through a record, half a century in the making, that is among the greatest lies any society has ever been asked to swallow in the name of moving forward in order to heal itself.
No sane person believes Kennedy was killed by one bitter ex-marine. To be an American today is to accept this awful truth and to live your life with unresolved doubts about your country as a result. Those who promote the Oswald theory do so knowing that some Americans are still incapable of seeing the truth, or they are still working on behalf of the portion of the US intelligence community that remains invested in the cover-up.
Kennedy died because a hell-bent confluence of anti-Castro, pro-interventionist Vietnam war architects believed, after the Bay of Pigs, that Kennedy didn’t have the mettle that a cold war US commander-in-chief required. They swore that Kennedy had to go for the sake of national security. Enter a crew of FBI-monitored American Mafia bosses who had their own beef with the Kennedy White House. A little Fair Play for Cuba here, a bit of David Ferrie there, a touch of David Atlee Phillips and a dollop of Jack Ruby, and it all comes out in a way that adds up to more than a Mannlicher-Carcano and a sixth-floor window. Anyone with eyes can see that Kennedy was shot from the front. Why we haven’t demanded answers after all this time relates to why what happens to Snowden seems so essential to our future.
Snowden saw things he thought we, as Americans, should know. He valued the truth and thought you could handle it. He thought you needed it. Here, in America, 50 years after Kennedy was murdered, after 50 years of destroyed or altered records and vital evidence, someone risked his career, reputation and even his life to bring you the truth about what US intelligence is keeping from you.
I am uncomfortable, no doubt, with the idea that exposing secret government information could jeopardise the lives of US troops or operatives. The efforts of Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden carry with them the possible risk of real harm to US forces and agents. But I believe that without a random appearance by the truth now and then, from whatever source, we learn nothing. We are thus doomed to remain on a course bound for not only threats to our own security from within, but a spiritual death as well. As long as we choose to remain in the dark we risk a further erosion of our true nature.
And then we become a nation defined only by our consumption. We are closer to that now than we have ever been. Watergate is the dividing line in the American consciousness, separating the time when we suspected from the time we confirmed certain truths about our government. Setting aside Nixon’s own political campaign operations, Watergate’s subsequent revelations about Vietnam alone changed for ever the way a generation viewed their country and its motives. The government knew the war could not be won and yet ventured on out of pride, greed, ignorance and hatred. Fifty years laced with singlebullet theory, Eric Starvo Galt, the LAPD destroying the RFK crime scene, J Edgar Hoover, the Chicago Seven gagged in court, Nixon, Laos, Howard Hunt, Daniel Ellsberg, Woodward and Bernstein, gas shortages, airline deregulation, Ed Meese, Richard Secord, Dan Quayle, “Read My Lips”, Shutdown One, Kenneth Starr, Richard Mellon Scaife, hanging chads, Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US, yellowcake, Valerie Plame, Cheney, birthers, Shutdown Two.
That is quite a run and a reality that bears certain consequences. I am mistrustful of my government. I think it lies to us, reflexively and without a scintilla of compunction, on a regular basis. That mistrust began on 22 November 1963. In honour of the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination, I stand for truth. I stand for more truth and transparency in government. The intelligence community believes that most Americans don’t want to know how the sausage is made. But I can handle it. I think most Americans, a pretty tough bunch, can handle it, too.
Alec Baldwin is an actor and author. Follow him on Twitter: @AlecBaldwin
Oct 25, 2013 | The Guardian
The UK intelligence agency GCHQ has repeatedly warned it fears a "damaging public debate" on the scale of its activities because it could lead to legal challenges against its mass-surveillance programmes, classified internal documents reveal.
Memos contained in the cache disclosed by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden detail the agency's long fight against making intercept evidence admissible as evidence in criminal trials – a policy supported by all three major political parties, but ultimately defeated by the UK's intelligence community.
Foremost among the reasons was a desire to minimise the potential for challenges against the agency's large-scale interception programmes, rather than any intrinsic threat to security, the documents show.
The papers also reveal that:
• GCHQ lobbied furiously to keep secret the fact that telecoms firms had gone "well beyond" what they were legally required to do to help intelligence agencies' mass interception of communications, both in the UK and overseas.
• GCHQ feared a legal challenge under the right to privacy in the Human Rights Act if evidence of its surveillance methods became admissible in court.
• GCHQ assisted the Home Office in lining up sympathetic people to help with "press handling", including the Liberal Democrat peer and former intelligence services commissioner Lord Carlile, who this week criticised the Guardian for its coverage of mass surveillance by GCHQ and America's National Security Agency.
The most recent attempt to make intelligence gathered from intercepts admissible in court, proposed by the last Labour government, was finally stymied by GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 in 2009.
A briefing memo prepared for the board of GCHQ shortly before the decision was made public revealed that one reason the agency was keen to quash the proposals was the fear that even passing references to its wide-reaching surveillance powers could start a "damaging" public debate.
... ... ...
October 20, 2013 | RT News
US electronic surveillance in Mexico reportedly targeted top officials, including both current and previous presidents. Intelligence produced by the NSA helped Americans get an upper hand in diplomatic talks and find good investment opportunities.
The US National Security Agency was apparently very happy with its successes in America’s southern neighbor, according to classified documents leaked by Edwards Snowden and analyzed by the German magazine, Der Spiegel. It reports on new details of the spying on the Mexican government, which dates back at least several years.
The fact that Mexican President Peña Nieto is of interest to the NSA was revealed earlier by Brazilian TV Globo, which also had access to the documents provided by Snowden. Spiegel says his predecessor Felipe Calderon was a target too, and the Americans hacked into his public email back in May 2010.
The access to Calderon electronic exchanges gave the US spies "diplomatic, economic and leadership communications which continue to provide insight into Mexico's political system and internal stability," the magazine cites an NSA top secret internal report as saying. The operation to hack into presidential email account was dubbed “Flatliquid” by the American e-spooks.
The bitter irony of the situation is that Calderon during his term in office worked more closely with Washington than any other Mexican president before him. In 2007 he even authorized the creation of a secret facility for electronic surveillance, according to a July publication in the Mexican newspaper, Excelsior.
The surveillance on President Nieto started when he was campaigning for office in the early summer of 2012, the report goes on. The NSA targeted his phone and the phones of nine of his close associates to build a map of their regular contacts. From then it closely monitored those individuals’ phones as well, intercepting 85,489 text messages, including those sent by Nieto.
After the Globo TV report, which mentioned spying on Mexico only in passing, Nieto stated that US President Barack Obama had promised him to investigate the accusations and to punish those responsible of any misconduct. The reaction was far milder than that from Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff, another target of NSA’s intensive interest, who has since canceled a planned trip to the US and delivered a withering speech at the UN General Assembly, which condemned American electronic surveillance.
Another NSA operation in Mexico dubbed “Whitetamale” allowed the agency to gain access to emails of high-ranking officials in country’s Public Security Secretariat, a law enforcement body that combats drug cartels and human trafficking rings. The hacking, which happened in August 2009, gave the US information about Mexican crime fighting, but also provided access to "diplomatic talking-points," an internal NSA document says.
In a single year, this operation produced 260 classified reports that facilitated talks on political issues and helped the Americans plan international investments.
"These TAO [Tailored Access Operations – an NSA division that handles missions like hacking presidential emails] accesses into several Mexican government agencies are just the beginning - we intend to go much further against this important target," the document reads. It praises the operation as a "tremendous success" and states that the divisions responsible for this surveillance are "poised for future successes."
Economic espionage is a motive for NSA spying, which the agency vocally denied, but which appears in the previous leaks. The agency had spied on the Brazilian oil giant, Petrobras, according to earlier revelations. This combined with reports that the NSA hacked into the email of Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff, triggered a serious deterioration of relations between the two countries.
While the NSA declined comment to the German magazine, the Mexican Foreign Ministry replied with an email, which condemned any form of espionage on Mexican citizens. The NSA presumably could read that email at the same time as the journalists, Der Spiegel joked.
"Conor Friedersdorf at the Atlantic writes up a new report (and infographic) from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School. 'What the Government Does With Americans' Data' is the best single attempt I've seen to explain all of the ways that surveillance professionals are collecting, storing, and disseminating private data on U.S. citizens. The report's text and helpful flow-chart illustrations run to roughly 50 pages. Unless you're already one of America's foremost experts on these subjects, it is virtually impossible to read this synthesis without coming away better informed.."
Cough (Score:5, Interesting)
Unless you're already one of America's foremost experts on these subjects,
Okay first, two things: Other countries are doing this too. Their experts are not any less 'expert-y' than the USA is. In fact, I'm betting they can at least build a data center that doesn't spontaniously shoot lightning at the equipment and catch fire. Soo... sorry but maybe you need to just stick with "expert" without the qualifier there, mate.
Second, why do you have to be a "foremost expert" on this? I see plenty of people in this thread that know everything! *cough* But more seriously; You don't have to work for the government, or be a security expert, to figure out how they use the data. Look at what they have access to, look at their stated goals, then forget the stated goals and look at what they're actually trying to do and have done... and it's easy-peasy:
They're supplying the internet with limitless porn captured from surveillance footage. Duh. Where do you think all the crappy amateur pics come from?
Data Retention By the Numbers
- 5 years: How long the National Security Agency keeps “metadata” about all Americans’ domestic and international phone calls without suspicion of wrongdoing
- 5 years: How long the National Counterterrorism Center can keep and search databases of non-terrorism information about Americans
- 5 to 20 years: Retention periods for databases that store at least some information from border searches of Americans’ laptops, phones, hard drives, and more
- 6 years: Time period, beginning with the start of surveillance, that the NSA can keep Americans’ incidentally gathered communications
- 20 to 30 years: Amount of time the FBI keeps information collected via assessments and National Security Letters, even when it is irrelevant to a current investigation
- 30 years: Time period that Suspicious Activity Reports with no nexus to terrorism are kept by the FBI
- 1 Billion and growing: Records in the FBI’s Investigative Data Warehouse
- 1,000,000 sq. ft.: Size of National Security Agency’s data center (opening in 2014)
- 41 billion: Communications records stored by NSA’s XKEYSCORE system every 30 days
Problem partially identified (Score:3)
Their distortions continue in part because no matter how many times President Obama, NSA Director Keith Alexander, Clapper and others egregiously mislead the public in their statements about surveillance, news organizations treat them as honest men and report on subsequent statements as if they're presumptively true.
Exactly, anyone familiar with this:
Who then has watched the news media just lap up every word the ONDCP puts out as if the drug czar was reading the word of god off golden tablets for them; knows this is nothing new, but is a huge problem.
These people get way more credibility than they rightly deserve.
Terrorism and our situation (Score:5, Insightful)
The idea that the United States clumsily, but accidentally, brought the terrorism situation and surveillance state that followed on itself can be approached from enough angles that it represents an undeniable truth... or does it fully?
We all now know that the tin foil hat crowd was not only right all along, they didn't take it far enough. Perhaps we are still not taking it far enough. With extreme paranoia over our governments conspiracy to subvert its people now wholly justified, perhaps creating the terrorist situation was intentional and represents a broader and more sinister plan that has been in play longer than we know with goals more far reaching than we are prepared to entertain.
If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. - James Madison
As vague as I'm being, I know that I am still presenting a level of paranoia that is completely insane... or am I? It sounds crazy now, and I hope it is.
NSA exists for 3 main reasons (Score:1)
- ONE (the most important) - to 'read' the mind of the public. Your masters control you via propaganda -- control messages disseminated via mainstream media and public schooling. The NSA provides near real-time feedback as to the effectiveness of any given propaganda project, allowing that project to be refined for greater effectiveness, or even aborted (see the recent failure of Obama's intended holocaust of Syria -- killed by an inability to gain public support despite a saturated mainstream media project demonising Syria at the time).
- TWO- to identify ALL emerging grassroots social and political activity, allowing groups and potential leaders to be co-opted or eliminated BEFORE they reach significant levels of power and/or influence.
- THREE- to gather blackmail and coercion intelligence on ALL people in potential positions of power and influence, so they can be 'persuaded' to follow the 'correct' agendas as and when required. The mainstream media, for instance, was created in its modern form as a 'scandal' mechanism to allow the ire of the sheeple to be directed at ANY target designated by those that rule. Assange, and the recent rape scandal that ruined the prospects of one of France's likely next leaders shows this tactic in action.
It should be noted that throughout Human History, intelligence agencies have ALWAYS existed to serve the above three listed agendas. Fighting crime and 'terrorism' (which is almost non-existent outside of state-sponsered terror by nations like the USA, Britain, and Israel) has always been the domain of ordinary policing. NSA full surveillance is about YOU. Who you are, what you think, and who you may become.
Re:NSA exists for 3 main reasons (Score:1)
So you worked for them.
Way back when there was an org called the OSI, and some earlier incarnations, the going thread was "All you have to topple a government is 3% of the people".
What you posted is *precisely* what the NSA does, if anyone doubts this just Google "The Vengeful Librarians".
Better question, what they don't do with it.
Considering all of this has materialized after the concept of corporate lobbying I'd have to say that what doesn't fall into what the goberment is directly looking for: (actual terrorists, and undermine the lives of individuals they do not like, and corporate secrets sold to competitors), the rest is probably sold as marketing data. This would be congruent to the 3 pronged, both sides played against the middle template of the war on drugs, yet another ponzi scheme just like the war on terror. Just goes to show ya, if it's illegal and the goberment does it, it's classified, goberment seems to be into crime, and they don't like competitors.
August 12, 2013 | LewRockwell.com
When I searched for the term “parallel construction” only Wikipedia provided the definition I needed. The first dozen links returned grammar-related definitions, and that’s OK. Actually, it’s more than OK. The state is empowered and exists largely in the realm of language – not by facts or reality. Language is the most useful tool of government. Language shapes beliefs, constructs arguments, and lends credence to fantasy. Orwell explained this truth about language and government, and how language as control agent could, and would be technologically facilitated. Goebbels understood this, as do the ruling classes, neoconservatives, and of course, advertisers everywhere. There is what is said and believed, and then there is a measureable concrete reality.
In words, government at all levels helps us do “things” we couldn’t or wouldn’t do otherwise. In reality, government is parasitical in the way of the tapeworm or tick, consuming what we produce, feeding itself, and growing larger, until it becomes unsustainable and is gracelessly shed by an exhausted population.
In words, the United States is at war with her enemies. In reality, there is no “war” with any US “enemies.” Rather, the US government is a war-loving and warfare-dependent organization that seeks internal and external conflict using two key and opposing criteria: 1) conflicts and wars it may involve itself in without attracting any domestic attention, and 2) conflicts fomented to attract the “right” kind of domestic attention, i.e. against “terror” and for “democracy” or “justice.” This is precisely why there is such rage in the machine against truthtellers Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden.
Manning was subjected to institutionalized torture, mistreated, and labeled a “guilty traitor” by bureaucrats for nearly four years before his date with a kangaroo court. He faces up to 90 years of prison for what has already been shown in the court to be a crime without a victim. In reality, his actions did little more than embarrass State Department lackeys and reveal the real nature of America’s modern day “fighting men” to people around the world. Many who watched the incriminating video of US soldiers killing civilians and laughing about it were already familiar with America’s high tech and soulless wars against fourth rate militaries or no-count insurgencies in far away countries filled with poor brown people. Having a conscience, a backbone and faith in the good of mankind has gotten Manning nowhere in his government career, and if he is not a martyr, he is certainly a posterboy for why every good and honorable person should tread lightly around the snake of state.
Snowden seems to have particularly infuriated the head of state in this country – by ingeniously honoring his oath to the Constitution and acting on his own faith that government works for us, not the other way around. He was mistaken in this belief, but by acting nobly he exposed the nefarious lying hypocrite that is the President, the executive branch and the warfare state, and as we no doubt will see in coming years, the welfare state as well. Because he is mild mannered and polite, intelligent and honest, he makes a perfect superman to the USG villains. That he wisely sought personal safety and freedom of speech outside of the United States (in Putin’s Russia!) is a further source of enragement to our “government” – viscerally and fundamentally exposing its hypocrisy and lawlessness to the patriotic masses.
In words, Washington seeks democracy and fights terrorism. In reality, the US government funds Islamic fundamentalism around the world, subsidizes tyrants and dictators, and actively trades with and works with al Qaeda places like Libya and Syria. In reality, US tax dollars funds murder of innocents and those of good will. The US government funds and facilitates the murders of Christians in Iraq, Egypt, Syria, and elsewhere and has done so for years with the reliable, predictable, and entirely indefensible support of “pro-Christian values” Congressmen and Senators.
A few days ago, in a parking lot picking up supplies from our regional organic supplier, I was reminded that Obama policies in Syria (and our own tax dollars) have directly caused a recent atrocity that is similar to many others, none of which seem to make mainstream news in the “heartland” or to shift state policy.
In that parking lot, my Catholic neighbor was frustrated that our own conservative Congressman for the 6th Virginia district had continually voted to support the foreign policy of aid to tyrants and al Qaeda linked groups. He has written repeatedly to the Congressman’s office, recently on the US-funded murder of Friar Murad in Syria, and he has garnered no response. Silence. Checking this conservative Congressman’s voting record finds that he also recently voted to continue funding the illegal domestic monitoring and data collection ongoing by NSA, unconstitutional programs that Ed Snowden helped us better understand (building on the truths told by James Bamford and Russ Tice.) The Democrats are no better — they support murder and monitoring at home and abroad as predictably as the Republicans. New fractures along the lines of state and anti-state seem to be emerging, and this is at once a sign of hope, but also a harbinger for the centralized state’s larger ongoing battle against the rest of us for its survival, a battle that increasingly forces all of us to choose sides, to clarify our values, and to prepare.
Truthtellers like Manning and Snowden have impacted the world of lying and wordsmithing governments in ways that may not have been initially seen. The unraveling of the government storyline is irreversible. From knowledge of our government’s ability and intentions to know everything about us have come demands from defense attorneys, corporations, and interest groups for the data “they paid for.” From this data we get a closer semblance of “justice” in individual cases, and from this we open the door more widely to recognizing broad government stupidity, excess and overreach. From widespread recognition of stupidity, excess and overreach we get a new confidence from the nether regions and otherwise unempowered rubes (present company included). We get resource flows away from government. We see that the IRS can’t enforce Obamacare, IT guys buy government-allied newspapers for pennies on the dollar, and private sector engineers design space, time and transportation solutions as government bureaucrats gaze helpless, speechless, doe-eyed.
A small but perfect intersection of these concepts is demonstrated by “parallel construction,” as defined by the FBI, DEA and dozens of other agencies that share “sources.” Simply put, the government recreates a fact stream to hide the actual facts, as a matter of longstanding policy.
It’s always done for a “good cause,” to protect the paid stooges, narcs and government informers so critical to the government “making its case” and justifying its activities. Except, now that we know more about how the government operates, and we see how the government works not for us, but for itself and its connected corporate or bureaucratic “friends,” we the people don’t really like “parallel construction.” We the people don’t like being taken for idiots, being lied to, getting the runaround, funding their own accusers and paying bureaucratic peeping Toms.
The Constitution bound no man, and the Founders knew it wouldn’t. However, its language offers a grappling hook for those who value liberty and honesty – and inevitably it is language today that powerfully arms us against the state. As in any guerilla war, we systematically acquire our enemy’s cache and use his techniques and weaponry against him. The concept of parallel construction – a weapon of the state – is so understandably in violation of the law in a way that touches so many people – that we who oppose the state must chuckle and celebrate. The government’s admission and embrace of a policy of “parallel construction” in the ongoing era of the Panopticon is one more revelation of the utter lawlessness of the state, and it has great potential to increase mass intolerance of state “authority.”
June 14, 2013 | LewRockwell.com
I’m eternally grateful that curious and justice-minded Edward Snowden grew to adulthood without becoming jaded, wedded to power and position, or prescribed into numbness by ubiquitous authority.
His less than stellar performance within the public schooling machine was an early cause for celebration. Despite his nonconformity in state schools – or perhaps because of it, Snowden was and is very interested in serving his country and fellow man.
Believing his country needed him in the military, he enlisted and tried to get through some serious combat training. Perversely, his broken legs in training probably preserved his moral compass. Early on, he noticed his military instructors were more interested in getting trainees to enthusiastically kill Middle Easterners than in preserving and securing the country. This makes sense. Expeditionary volunteer forces, mercenaries for an empire, whatever you want to call the modern American standing army, must emphasize the attractiveness and the excitement of the fight rather than the necessity of it. To do otherwise would be self-defeating and hypocritical. To admit the truth beforehand would be harmful to recruitment, as much as record suicide rates do after recruitment.
Snowdon has confirmed what has already been reported and published in books by James Bamford and others. The aims and workings of the US Congress and Executive branch have studied and reported for years, and we understand the agenda both in terms of bureaucratic tendencies as well as specific executive goals in the post 9/11 era. So far, nothing really new has been revealed, and all neoconservative state worshippers of both parties have to complain about is that Snowdon confirms the existing suspicions and expectations of the majority of Americans.
What angers the D.C. elitists is that one more serf stood up and publicly denied the commands of the government father figure.
Implicit in the phrase “to suspect” is a sense that all this government surveillance and data capture and storage is bad. A minority of Americans suspect their government. On the other hand, “to expect” is somewhat value neutral – and sadly a majority of Americans expect the government to own its citizens, their communications, their written and verbal commentary, their networks and friends, their very thoughts and imagination and dreams.
Many Americans seem willing to give away our fundamental humanity to empty bureaucrats, hated federal representatives and even employees of the widely despised IRS and TSA. They lie back and take it, so to speak. Being repeatedly raped in this way – invaded, owned, subdued and frightened – is not just what so many “law and order” types and state-loving neoconservatives advocate with a wink for prisoners in our many penitentiaries, it is apparently what they advocate outright for every man, woman and child in the country, every day.
Perhaps Americans don’t mind this daily rape by the state because they have become used to it, or perhaps, like abused wives and children, they feel there is nothing they can do – the state also supplies so much that they need, so they feel they must endure the bad side of being a citizen.
Perhaps they are afraid. At least what is being done today is survivable, endurable; perhaps what could happen may be worse.
Perhaps they feel they deserve no better. They already give it away all the time already, so who would believe their claim of rape so late in the game?
For a country and a government so intensely concerned about the treatment of far away Afghani women by a patriarchal clan system, it has little problem with the same kind of state-enforced ownership of the daily communications activities of 300 million average Americans – real-time collection of metadata plus content storage for years – without consent or court order.
Clan leaders in Afghanistan justify their traditions as safer for women, and in their best interests. Curiously, that’s the same excuse given by the ruling goons in D.C.
Ron Paul is right. “The government does not need to know more about what we are doing. We need to know more about what the government is doing. We need to turn the cameras on the police and on the government, not the other way around.”
Of course, the U.S. government is so large that it is impossible to know what it is doing, and if we could know, it would be impractical to monitor it. The better choice is to drastically limit it, and current trends show us that this is already happening. Law and constitutions certainly haven’t worked, but happily the federal government borrows or prints 46% of what it spends, a percentage that has been inching up for years. We the people are not directly financing the growth of government, even as we the people seem to demand more and more government spending. Inflation, currency collapse, and peaceful secessions of the productive parts of the country will ultimately comprise “payment due”, and it will be traumatic. But we have already stopped directly funding nearly half of our excessive government.
As Gary North points out, government monitoring of everyone is relatively cheap, efficient and technologically easy. Further, it supports the driving state objective of continuing government growth and borrowing by ensuring taxes are gathered, property annotated, and opposition voices punished, quelled, and silenced.
The fevered obsession of our rulers with everything we are doing, writing, saying and thinking is simply one more sign that the clay foundation of the corporatist state is crumbling. The ongoing bankruptcy of the state, financially and morally, is on display and it is to be celebrated. The very overreach of government is its undoing, and the fact that Russia and China are both publicly condemning the behavior of the United States government is sweet icing on the cake.
Much as in Russia and China, we the people in America don’t exercise positive power over our government. Elections are kabuki dances, entertaining but we know how the story ends. Like serfs everywhere, we only have the negative power of consent – we get what we tolerate. Edward Snowdon decided to withdraw his consent, and his action offers each of us multitudinous opportunities to withdraw our consent as well.
He is an enemy of the state. May he live long and prosper!
August 16, 2013 | WSJ.com
What is privacy? Why should we want to hold onto it? Why is it important, necessary, precious?
Is it just some prissy relic of the pretechnological past?
We talk about this now because of Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency revelations, and new fears that we are operating, all of us, within what has become or is becoming a massive surveillance state. They log your calls here, they can listen in, they can read your emails. They keep the data in mammoth machines that contain a huge collection of information about you and yours. This of course is in pursuit of a laudable goal, security in the age of terror.
Is it excessive? It certainly appears to be. Does that matter? Yes. Among other reasons: The end of the expectation that citizens' communications are and will remain private will probably change us as a people, and a country.
Among the pertinent definitions of privacy from the Oxford English Dictionary: "freedom from disturbance or intrusion," "intended only for the use of a particular person or persons," belonging to "the property of a particular person." Also: "confidential, not to be disclosed to others." Among others, the OED quotes the playwright Arthur Miller, describing the McCarthy era: "Conscience was no longer a private matter but one of state administration."
Privacy is connected to personhood. It has to do with intimate things—the innards of your head and heart, the workings of your mind—and the boundary between those things and the world outside.Enlarge Image
A loss of the expectation of privacy in communications is a loss of something personal and intimate, and it will have broader implications. That is the view of Nat Hentoff, the great journalist and civil libertarian. He is 88 now and on fire on the issue of privacy. "The media has awakened," he told me. "Congress has awakened, to some extent." Both are beginning to realize "that there are particular constitutional liberty rights that [Americans] have that distinguish them from all other people, and one of them is privacy."
Mr. Hentoff sees excessive government surveillance as violative of the Fourth Amendment, which protects "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" and requires that warrants be issued only "upon probable cause . . . particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
But Mr. Hentoff sees the surveillance state as a threat to free speech, too. About a year ago he went up to Harvard to speak to a class. He asked, he recalled: "How many of you realize the connection between what's happening with the Fourth Amendment with the First Amendment?" He told the students that if citizens don't have basic privacies—firm protections against the search and seizure of your private communications, for instance—they will be left feeling "threatened." This will make citizens increasingly concerned "about what they say, and they do, and they think." It will have the effect of constricting freedom of expression. Americans will become careful about what they say that can be misunderstood or misinterpreted, and then too careful about what they say that can be understood. The inevitable end of surveillance is self-censorship.
All of a sudden, the room became quiet. "These were bright kids, interested, concerned, but they hadn't made an obvious connection about who we are as a people." We are "free citizens in a self-governing republic."
Mr. Hentoff once asked Justice William Brennan "a schoolboy's question": What is the most important amendment to the Constitution? "Brennan said the First Amendment, because all the other ones come from that. If you don't have free speech you have to be afraid, you lack a vital part of what it is to be a human being who is free to be who you want to be." Your own growth as a person will in time be constricted, because we come to know ourselves by our thoughts.
He wonders if Americans know who they are compared to what the Constitution says they are.
Mr. Hentoff's second point: An entrenched surveillance state will change and distort the balance that allows free government to function successfully. Broad and intrusive surveillance will, definitively, put government in charge. But a republic only works, Mr. Hentoff notes, if public officials know that they—and the government itself—answer to the citizens. It doesn't work, and is distorted, if the citizens must answer to the government. And that will happen more and more if the government knows—and you know—that the government has something, or some things, on you. "The bad thing is you no longer have the one thing we're supposed to have as Americans living in a self-governing republic," Mr. Hentoff said. "The people we elect are not your bosses, they are responsible to us." They must answer to us. But if they increasingly control our privacy, "suddenly they're in charge if they know what you're thinking."
This is a shift in the democratic dynamic. "If we don't have free speech then what can we do if the people who govern us have no respect for us, may indeed make life difficult for us, and in fact belittle us?"
If massive surveillance continues and grows, could it change the national character? "Yes, because it will change free speech."
What of those who say, "I have nothing to fear, I don't do anything wrong"? Mr. Hentoff suggests that's a false sense of security. "When you have this amount of privacy invasion put into these huge data banks, who knows what will come out?" Or can be made to come out through misunderstanding the data, or finagling, or mischief of one sort or another. "People say, 'Well I've done nothing wrong so why should I worry?' But that's too easy a way to get out of what is in our history—constant attempts to try to change who we are as Americans." Asked about those attempts, he mentions the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, the Red Scare of the 1920s and the McCarthy era. Those times and incidents, he says, were more than specific scandals or news stories, they were attempts to change our nature as a people.
What of those who say they don't care what the federal government does as long as it keeps us safe? The threat of terrorism is real, Mr. Hentoff acknowledges. Al Qaeda is still here, its networks are growing. But you have to be careful about who's running U.S. intelligence and U.S. security, and they have to be fully versed in and obey constitutional guarantees.
"There has to be somebody supervising them who knows what's right. . . . Terrorism is not going to go away. But we need someone in charge of the whole apparatus who has read the Constitution."
Advances in technology constantly up the ability of what government can do. Its technological expertise will only become deeper and broader.
"They think they're getting to how you think. The technology is such that with the masses of databases, then privacy will get even weaker."
Mr. Hentoff notes that J. Edgar Hoover didn't have all this technology. "He would be so envious of what NSA can do."
Lurking Lawyer wrote:
That ship has sailed. Our police have been effectively militarized.
For good reason. Especially if you are in the 1%
Aug 11, 2013 | Economist's View
Obama: Please Be Nice to Me as I Fail to Deal with This Awful Mess I Created!:
"Surreal." "Kafkaesque." The best you can say is "pathetic." The kicker is that without a single finger lifted on the part of congress Obama could have implemented four years ago procedures for his administration that match those that he now wants congress to undertake. He could have:
- had the government's presentations to FISA include arguments from an advocatus diaboli
- created a task force
- established internal executive-branch safeguards against abuse of §215
- released his own administration's justifications
- required the NSA to explain what it was doing.
He did none of those things, which he now says that he dearly wants to do.
Obama concedes that Snowden's leaks triggered a passionate and welcome debate. But he claims that Snowden is no patriot because "we would have gotten to the same place" eventually.
This does not pass the bullshit test. ...
Tom Shillock :
Obama and his regime are a continuation of the Cheney / Bush regime albeit with a rhetorical style. Given what is required to become president via the usual mechanisms of party, vested interest support for campaign financing, and so on it would be surprising had he turned out differently.
Cheryl -> Tom Shillock...
If this is true then Americans need to be very careful who becomes the next President. If one more administration carries on the Cheney/Bush regime it will be very hard to overturn it.
Darryl FKA Ron -> Cheryl...
I would be more concerned about NSA spying if the oligarchy actually had a domestic political enemy to spy on.
August 8, 2013
Breaking Through Limits on Spying
Apparently no espionage tool that Congress gives the National Security Agency is big enough or intrusive enough to satisfy the agency’s inexhaustible appetite for delving into the communications of Americans. Time and again, the N.S.A. has pushed past the limits that lawmakers thought they had imposed to prevent it from invading basic privacy, as guaranteed by the Constitution.
It was bad enough in 2008 when Congress allowed the agency to spy without a warrant on e-mails and text messages between Americans and foreign targets of an investigation. That already strained the Fourth Amendment’s protections against illegal searches, but lawmakers decided it was justified as part of a terror investigation.
It turns out, as Charlie Savage revealed in The New York Times, * that the N.S.A. went far beyond those boundaries. Instead, it copies virtually all overseas messages that Americans send or receive, then scans them to see if they contain any references to people or subjects the agency thinks might have a link to terrorists.
That could very well include innocent communications between family members expressing fears of a t Fourth Amendment. It’s as if the government were telling its citizens not to even talk about security issues in private messages or else they will come to the attention of the nation’s spies. “By injecting the N.S.A. into virtually every crossborder interaction, the U.S. government will forever alter what has always been an open exchange of ideas,” said Jameel Jaffer, the deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Obama administration officials justified this unwarranted expansion of surveillance powers with the usual hairsplitting arguments over semantics. It’s not “bulk collection” of messages if the messages aren’t stored, they said (even if every message is analyzed by supercomputers as it is sent). It’s legitimate to search through conversations “about” a target, even if the target isn’t part of the conversation. Naturally, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved these half-baked assertions with a secret opinion.
The disclosure of this practice makes it more urgent than ever that Congress clamp down on what is unquestionably the bulk collection of American communications and restrict it to clear targets of an investigation. Despite President Obama’s claim this week that “there is no spying on Americans,” the evidence shows that such spying is greater than the public ever knew.
August 9, 2013
A Weak Agenda on Spying Reform
President Obama, who seems to think the American people simply need some reassurance that their privacy rights are intact, proposed a series of measures on Friday that only tinker around the edges of the nation’s abusive surveillance programs.
He said he wants “greater oversight, greater transparency, and constraints” on the mass collection of every American’s phone records by the National Security Agency. He didn’t specify what those constraints and oversight measures would be, only that he would work with Congress to develop them. But, in the meantime, the collection of records will continue as it has for years, gathering far more information than is necessary to fight terrorism.
He said he wants an adversary to challenge the government’s positions at the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a long-needed reform that would allow the court’s federal judges to hear more than one point of view in approving targets and security policy. But if those arguments remain closed to the public — and the president did not suggest otherwise — then it will be impossible to evaluate whether the change has had any effect. At a minimum, he could have urged the court to release unclassified summaries of its opinions when possible.
Finally, he announced the N.S.A. would hire a civil liberties and privacy officer and create a Web site about its mission, and that a task force would review the nation’s surveillance technologies. These measures, however, are unlikely to have a real effect on intelligence gathering.
Fundamentally, Mr. Obama does not seem to understand that the nation needs to hear more than soothing words about the government’s spying enterprise. He suggested that if ordinary people trusted the government not to abuse their privacy, they wouldn’t mind the vast collection of phone and e-mail data.
Bizarrely, he compared the need for transparency with showing his wife that he had done the dishes, rather than just telling her he had done so. Out-of-control surveillance is a bit more serious than kitchen chores. It is the existence of these programs that is the problem, not whether they are modestly transparent. As long as the N.S.A. believes it has the right to collect records of every phone call — and the administration released a white paper Friday that explained, unconvincingly, why it is perfectly legal — then none of the promises to stay within the law will mean a thing.
If all Mr. Obama is inclined to do is tweak these programs, then Congress will have to step in to curb these abuses, a path many lawmakers of both parties are already pursuing. There are bills pending that would stop the bulk collection of communications data, restricting it to those under suspicion of terrorism. Other measures would require the surveillance court to make public far more of its work. If the president is truly concerned about public anxiety, he can vocally support legislation to make meaningful changes, rather than urging people to trust him that the dishes are clean.
kievite -> anne...
Let me play a devil advocate.
We need to understand why government should be heads above standard industry practices. Part of NSA actions are inevitable "externalities" of universal use of Internet for communication. I still can't understand why NSA intercepting all the traffic and metadata of your emails without your consent is bad, but identical or worse transgressions of Google, Facebook, Amazon, eBay, Apple and other "cloud providers" for some reason fell under the radar.
Google is actually scanning all your email (and thus have infrastructure that can be abused by employees). Facebook is designed for collecting huge pool of information about you.
I am not sure that all your Google searches reveal less about you then, say, your emails.
And please note that Facebook business model is selling information about you to the highest bidder.
If all those companies are engaged in this "data mining" why NSA can't ? It is just a natural part of national security state operation.
So we might talk about safeguards, procedures, ability of citizens to check what information is collected on them, but not practice per se. The horses left stable long ago. And so far I did not see any NSA initiated prosecutions for "criminal browsing of Internet", although I would like to see some especially in case of child pornography and sexual exploitation of women.
I also do not understand why "cloud providers" do not sponsor a free tattoo "death to privacy" on each user forehead ;-). And IMHO each Internet browser should display in title "Those Who Enter, Leave Any Hopes of Privacy"...
My impression is that as soon as you are engaged in using cloud providers you voluntarily agree to waive all questions of privacy of your data. It is a part of the deal. Am I wrong ?
I would recommend you starting to enter in your emails along with "Dear ... " also "Hello NSA", just to remind for yourselves the rules of the game.
Darryl FKA Ron -> kievite...
Besides the realistic points that you have already made, there is "Person of Interest" problem that murderers and child molestors are not interesting enough for the NSA to waste their time and the ordinary domestic political enemies suspects don't even seem to exist.
The Citizens United establishment of unlimited dollar democracy and the get out of jail free TARP card for TBTF investment bankers had already proved that the plutocracy was entirely safe from domestic political threat, so they know that they have nothing to fear from the domesticized electorate that would make us persons of interest.
Yes, "the plutocracy was entirely safe from domestic political threat" but as Reagan once notes "Trust but verify" ;-).
Anyway you are right and the current two-party system automatically exclude any opposition to oligarchy rule. In this sense a two party "winner takes all" system is as bad as one which existed in the USSR. It's just allow selection of the lesser evil between two candidates preselected by oligarchy, although in retrospect even this is questionable.
Darryl FKA Ron -> Darryl FKA Ron...
Just to be on the safe side though, it would be better not to elect a POTUS that sends visual signals of deeply neurotic paranoia with their body language and facial expressions. For instance, if Mitt Romney would get even twitchier and run again in 2020, then that would worry me with regards to NSA surveillance powers.
Julio -> kievite...
There is a big difference between companies having copies of my data, and even using some of it for commercial purposes, and the state prying into that data.
Technology changes, and with it the boundaries of an expectation of privacy. We should not simply assume that the "natural" development of this concept is for us to lose our privacy; it is, rather, for us to revise and extend the prohibitions on intrusive government activities.
anne -> Julio...
There is a big difference between companies having copies of my data, and even using some of it for commercial purposes, and the state prying into that data.
[ Simple, but importantly right. Evidently there is considerably more to come but, as we should understand already, governmental destruction of privacy is intolerable as a latent threat. ]
anne -> Julio...
August 10, 2013
Greenwald Testifies to Brazilian Senate about NSA Espionage Targeting Brazil and Latin America By Mabel Duran-Sanchez
This past Tuesday, investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald testified before the Brazilian Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations and National Defense (CRE) at a public hearing on the clandestine surveillance activities of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) in Brazil.
Greenwald, who has published many top-secret NSA documents leaked to him by whistleblower Edward Snowden, explained how the agency’s surveillance programs go far beyond gathering intelligence related to terrorism and other national security threats, as the U.S. government has suggested. According to Greenwald, NSA spying has focused on foreign business interests as a means for the U.S. government to gain a competitive advantage in negotiations. Greenwald mentioned that he has information regarding instances of NSA surveillance of the Organization of American States (OAS) and secret intelligence documents on economic agreements with Latin American nations. He explained that this type of surveillance has helped the U.S. to make the agreements appear more appealing to Latin American countries. Brazil’s concern about this economic espionage is particularly understandable given that it is the U.S.’s largest trading partner in South America.
During the hearing, Greenwald made reference to a 2009 letter wherein Thomas Shannon, the former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs (from November 2005 – November 2009) and current U.S. Ambassador to Brazil, celebrated the NSA’s surveillance program in Latin America and how it has helped advance U.S. foreign policy goals in the region. Greenwald wrote a detailed account of his findings in an article entitled “Did Obama know what they were thinking?” in the Brazilian print magazine, Época. In this piece, Greenwald explains that Shannon’s letter, addressed to NSA Director Keith Alexander, discusses how the spy agency obtained hundreds of documents belonging to Latin American delegations detailing their “plans and intentions” during the summit. Shannon asserted that these documents were instrumental in helping the Obama administration engage with the delegations and deal with “controversial subjects like Cuba” and “difficult counterparts” like former President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, and Bolivian President, Evo Morales. In the same letter Shannon encouraged Alexander to continue providing similar intelligence as “the information from the NSA will continue to give us the advantage that our diplomacy needs,” especially ahead of an upcoming OAS General Assembly meeting in which he knew discussions on Cuba’s suspension from the OAS would ensue.
Greenwald went on to explain the functioning of the NSA’s XKeyscore program to the Brazilian senators, which he referred to as the most frightening of all the programs revealed thus far. He also discussed the first U.S. secret surveillance program revealed to the world, PRISM. In the next 10 days, Greenwald said, he will have further reports on U.S. surveillance and “there will certainly be many more revelations on spying by the U.S. government and how they are invading the communications of Brazil and Latin America.” ...
When he enters the gates of hell, Dante sees the famous line "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here". ... no hope of release, no hope of any improvement or escape from their punishments. Virgil guides Dante through the nine circles of Hell.
July 1, 2013 | TPM
“Partners do not spy on each other,” said EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding. “We cannot negotiate over a big trans-Atlantic market if there is the slightest doubt that our partners are carrying out spying activities on the offices of our negotiators. The American authorities should eliminate any such doubt swiftly.”
European Parliament President Martin Schulz, said he was “deeply worried and shocked about the allegations of U.S. authorities spying on EU offices.” And Luxembourg Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Jean Asselborn said he had no reason to doubt the Der Spiegel report, and rejected the notion that security concerns trump the broad U.S. surveillance authorities.
“We have to re-establish immediately confidence on the highest level of the European Union and the United States,” Asselborn told The Associated Press.
According to Der Spiegel, the NSA planted bugs in the EU’s diplomatic offices in Washington and infiltrated the building’s computer network. Similar measures were taken at the EU’s mission to the United Nations in New York, the magazine said. It also reported that the NSA used secure facilities at NATO headquarters in Brussels to dial into telephone maintenance systems that would have allowed it to intercept senior officials’ calls and Internet traffic at a key EU office nearby.
... ... ...
The Weapons of War Come Home
... ... ...
Above all, surveillance technology has been coming home from our distant war zones. The National Security Agency (NSA), for instance, pioneered the use of cell phones to track potential enemy movements in Iraq and Afghanistan. The NSA did this in one of several ways. With the aim of remotely turning on cell phones as audio monitoring or GPS devices, rogue signals could be sent out through an existing network, or NSA software could be implanted on phones disguised as downloads of porn or games.
Using fake cell phone towers that actually intercept phone signals en route to real towers, the U.S. could harvest hardware information in Iraq and Afghanistan that would forever label a phone and allow the NSA to always uniquely identify it, even if the SIM card was changed. The fake cell towers also allowed the NSA to gather precise location data for the phone, vacuum up metadata, and monitor what was being said.
At one point, more than 100 NSA teams had been scouring Iraq for snippets of electronic data that might be useful to military planners. The agency’s director, General Keith Alexander, changed that: he devised a strategy called Real Time Regional Gateway to grab every Iraqi text, phone call, email, and social media interaction. “Rather than look for a single needle in the haystack, his approach was, ‘Let’s collect the whole haystack,’â€Š” said one former senior U.S. intelligence official. “Collect it all, tag it, store it, and whatever it is you want, you go searching for it.”
Sound familiar, Mr. Snowden?
Welcome Home, Soldier (Part I)
Thanks to Edward Snowden, we now know that the “collect it all” technique employed by the NSA in Iraq would soon enough be used to collect American metadata and other electronically available information, including credit card transactions, air ticket purchases, and financial records. At the vast new $2 billion data center it is building in Bluffdale, Utah, and at other locations, the NSA is following its Iraq script of saving everything, so that once an American became a target, his or her whole history can be combed through. Such searches do not require approval by a court, or even an NSA supervisor. As it happened, however, the job was easier to accomplish in the U.S. than in Iraq, as internet companies and telephone service providers are required by secret law to hand over the required data, neatly formatted, with no messy spying required.
When the U.S. wanted something in Iraq or Afghanistan, they sent guys to kick down doors and take it. This, too, may be beginning to happen here at home.
- Recently, despite other valuable and easily portable objects lying nearby, computers, and only computers, were stolen from the law offices representing State Department whistleblower Aurelia Fedenisn.
- Similarly, a Washington law firm representing NSA whistleblower Tom Drake had computers, and only computers, stolen from its office.
In these years, the FBI has brought two other NSA wartime tools home. The Bureau now uses a device called Stingray to recreate those battlefield fake cell phone towers and track people in the U.S. without their knowledge. Stingray offers some unique advantages: it bypasses the phone company entirely, which is, of course, handy in a war zone in which a phone company may be controlled by less than cooperative types, or if phone companies no longer cooperate with the government, or simply if you don’t want the phone company or anyone else to know you’re snooping. American phone companies seem to have been quite cooperative. Verizon, for instance, admits hacking its own cellular modems (“air cards”) to facilitate FBI intrusion.
The FBI is also following NSA’s lead implanting spyware and other hacker software developed for our war zones secretly and remotely in American computers and cell phones. The Bureau can then remotely turn on phone and laptop microphones, even webcams, to monitor citizens, while files can be pulled from a computer or implanted onto a computer.
... ... ...
So welcome to post-Constitutional America. Its shape is, ominously enough, beginning to come into view.
Orwell’s famed dystopian novel 1984 was not intended as an instruction manual, but just days before the Manning verdict, the Obama administration essentially buried its now-ironic-campaign promise to protect whistleblowers, sending it down Washington’s version of the memory hole. Post-9/11, torture famously stopped being torture if an American did it, and its users were not prosecutable by the Justice Department.
Similarly, full-spectrum spying is not considered to violate the Fourth Amendment and does not even require probable cause. Low-level NSA analysts have desktop access to the private emails and phone calls of Americans. The Post Office photographs the envelopes of every one of the 160 billion pieces of mail it handles, collecting the metadata of “to:” and “from:” addresses. An Obama administration Insider Threat Program requires federal employees (including the Peace Corps) to report on the suspicious behavior of coworkers.
... ... ...
In the UK we have RIPA (2000) – the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. If one ever discovered oneself under surveillance, one has to go to Judicial Review at great expense (no legal aid available – so this is a law discriminating between rich and poor) to try and find out why and stop the process. Even then you can simply be told you may or may not have been under surveillance and may or may not be told what it was all about – totally at State discretion.
All the points in this excellent review apply throughout Europe. The real killer is that jobs are now very scarce and police checks are being made that are irrelevant in 99% of cases. We had an outfit called the ‘Economic League’ here – neo-con scum with a blacklist. Such must be much easier to put together now. This is an area where the big data approach would catch us all – neo-con scum being enough to black list me – and they might also list everyone else on a blog with a black-lister.
It’s dire and I found that even I had ‘conspiracy’ feelings as I read – this is an indication of the extent to which they have got ‘retaliation in first’ even amongst those of us who already believe they have gone too far.
There was a time when George Orwell could boast that “it was not possible” for the members of the British ruling class
“to turn themselves into mere bandidts, like the American millionaires, consciously clinging to unjust privileges and beating down opposition by bribery and tear-gas bombs.” (Orwell, “England Your England”)
He could furthermore boast that the British ruling class, if it were completely corrupt, would have come to an agreement with Hitler.
“But — and here the peculiar feature of English life that I have spoken of, the deep sense of national solidarity, comes in — they could only do so by breaking up the Empire and selling their own people into semi-slavery. A truly corrupt class would have done this without hesitaiton, as in France. But things had not gone that distance in England.”
I’m not as sanguine as Orwell, and have a much more cynical view of what impeded the British ruling class. It wasn’t so much an abiding sense of noblesse oblige, but imperial overreach and national decline that stopped them in their tracks. “The Weary Titan staggers under the too vast orb of its fate,” as Joseph Chamberlain told the Colonial Conference in 1902.
But regardless of whether the British ruling class could or could not legitimately claim moral one-upmanship on Europe and the US in 1941, such claims these days completely lack legitimacy.
This is where Morris Berman and I part ways. Earlier this year Berman gave an interview to the radio station at the University of Monterrey. The subtext of his discussion was this — blame America for everything. However, I believe many of the things Berman blames on America are better laid at the feet of the Enlightenment, Modernism, the Western tradition, or human nature itself.
Here’s the interview:
Friends; On a close to home front here in America, we have local cops cruising the parking lots of retail vendors scanning license plates. These were private property rights issues once. Now they are Police State issues. If the cop finds an outstanding warrant, he or she gets an easy bust, another object of tribute to the Imperial Treasury. The rest of the information goes somewhere, to flesh out some Aparatchiks State Security Algorithm. There’s the rub; the numbers don’t lie, but the uses to which you put them to most certainly can. The only consolation in all this that I can find is that nothing lasts forever.
From abroad: absolutely in agreement. It even feels a bit mild and incomplete (but understandable because it’s just so overwhelmning).
Since 9-11 the USA, Europe and almost the whole World have been suffering that slide to totalitarianism which has not almost been challenged at all (certainly not from mainstream politicians nor journalists, with the rare and shy exception). On September 2013, Obama will sign again the emergency state decree that has kept, along with other measures, the USA under exceptional legislation for more than a decade already.
In many aspects it reminds of the rapid evolution of the Roman Republic to the Imperial rule: neither “imperator” nor “princeps” were originally monarchic or even any kind of official titles, just institutional flattery to the de-facto strongman who arose after decades of “unconstitutional” rule by the triumvires; the Republic was never abolished, it just became irrelevant and new militaristic institutions arose to take its role.
Exactly as it’s happening right now before our eyes. The difference may be that this seems to be a more conscious effort to replicate the Roman transition to the imperial dictatorship. It is ironical that, in the name of patriotism and defense against a ghostly and surely fake enemy, the whole USA is being dismantled in favor of something relatively new and in any case totally anti-democratic.
I still hope that the whole conspiracy (not “conspiranoia”) will not succeed because of the extreme challenge that such an imperial rule poses, especially in the midst of a major economic crisis and the most complex ecological catastrophe that Humankind has ever met, and also because of the new social and political networking ways arisen with the Internet… but it is very scary in any case.
Since 9-11 the USA, Europe and almost the whole World have been suffering that slide to totalitarianism which has not almost been challenged at all (certainly not from mainstream politicians nor journalists, with the rare and shy exception).
A few days ago a Mexican writer, Pierre Charasse, published a couple of articles in one of the Mexico City dailies in which he grappled with the conundrum of why Europe would so blithely concede to such an outcome:
He attributes Europe’s obeisance to what he calls “the new Stockholdm Syndrome.”
That the European ruling class is marching in lockstep with the US ruling class is undeniable, and was fleshed out by a post from links a few days ago:
In this second phase, the German political elite has shifted its feet; rather than trying to deny any involvement whatsoever, they have instead tried to interpret the possibility of something really outrageous as being necessary for your security, and part of fundamental alliance commitments which cannot be questioned within the limits of respectable discourse. The ur-text here is Die Zeit‘s interview with Angela Merkel, in which Merkel argues that she knew nothing, further that there was a balance to strike between freedom and security, that although some kinds of spying were unacceptable, the alliance came first. The effectiveness of this, at least in the context of the interview, can be measured by astonishingly uncritical questions like the one in which she was asked “what additional efforts were necessary from the Germans to maintain their competitiveness”.
I see things a little bit differently than Charasse, however, because I view the neoliberal project as being a supranational endeavor. From my point of view the complicity of the European ruling class is explained by the fact that it is working for the same paymaster as the US ruling class: the transnational corporate class.
My sense as a young Britisher was that the US was the beacon of democratic hope – but I was brought up on half-stories sometimes as wrong as that Julius Caesar invaded Britain in 53 BC. WW1 & 2 were both fought by a democratic Britain against fascist, authoritarian Germany. In the same trance, I imagined the Opium Wars about the Royal Navy chasing down drug pushers! I wasn’t really disabused of this until I found myself in Northern Ireland “protecting” against the Marxist-Leninist IRA. This bunk is still around to swallow, and is best summed-up in the ‘nuke Rio’ attitude during the Falklands. By then I had hands on experience of doing ‘British protection’ – a matter of deep shame for me and colleagues from them I still know. This despite a deeply socialist father. Now I’d probably go further than Mexico.
Our anti-Nazi group before WW2 was led by Churchill, a ghastly creature who ordered troops to fire on striking miners (1890s) and may have been a US agent. Whatever the truth, the Boys Own history won’t do, but is continued in our media. Further back, the ability to take the lash amongst European peasantry is legendary and what revolutions we have had generally produced tyranny, hardly much encouragement to try again.
My working hypothesis is that today’s information gathering has been going on since the Byzantine Empire and the electronic form changes much less than we think. With the exception of Scandinavia we have all failed to bring about democratic foreign policy and prevent engagement in imperialist wars. It has remained utterly obvious that the rich get much more favourable treatment under our laws, often because representation is non-existent.
My guess is we cannot face up to real history in an almost Freudian sense of pushing it away. We are also getting old in population proportion. We should remember Canadian soldiers were kept in appalling conditions in Wales after WW1 – some died – because the establishment considered them a rebellion risk – and broke Britain just happened to have an 80,000 man army in Egypt in 1956 and we killed 28,000 Indonesians in a secret war, mostly under genuine Labour government in the 70s.
My guess is we have been under the cosh for a very long time and preferred to look away. That the big data is not being used against the banksters, but we bring harmless jokers to court and convict them should tell us all. Apathy is the main European emotion, maybe even in our sex.
Agree regarding the supranational character.
Their stealth template (Link from CNN)?
“Germany’s Weimar Constitution was changed into the Nazi Constitution before anyone knew. It was changed before anyone else noticed. Why don’t we learn from that method?” —Japanese Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso; August 1, 2013
In 1933, Adolf Hitler’s National Socialists turned the democratic Weimar Republic into a dictatorship using “a combination of legal procedure, persuasion, and terror,” according to the U.S. Library of Congress.
Hitler used a fire that burned down the parliament building as a pretext to suppress the opposition through an emergency clause in the constitution. He then pushed through the Enabling Act, which allowed him to govern without parliament and vastly extend the Nazis’ grip on power. — http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/02/world/asia/japan-politician-nazi-comment/index.html
The strategy and tactics being applied appear to be similar.
Nothing has really changed since the 1870 to 1945 era. The imperialist project, previously known as liberal internationalism or liberal imperialism, has a new name – neoliberalism – but other than that everything else is the same. Europe and the non-US Anglosphere are now junior partners, but they are still very much on board with the imperialist project. And imperialism and its racist ideology still come cloaked as patriotism, lurking behind the more beguiling disguise of nationalism — of national unity and national interest — as Hannah Arendt explains:
The curious weakness of popular opposition to imperialism, the numerous inconsistencies and outright broken promises of liberal statesmen, frequently ascribed to opportunism or bribery, have other and deeper causes. Neither opportunism nor bribery could have persuaded a man like Gladstone to break his promise, as the leader of the Liberal Party, to evacuate Egypt when he became Prime Minister. Half consciously and hardly articulately, these men shared with the people the conviction that the national body itself was so deeply split into classes, that class struggle was so universal a characteristic of modern political life, that the very cohesion of the nation was jeopardized. Expansion again appeared as a lifesaver, if and insofar as it could provide a common interest for the nation as a whole, and it is mainly for this reason that imperialists were allowed to become “parasites upon patriotism.”
Partly, of course, such hopes still belonged with the old vicious practice of “healing” domestic conflicts with foreign adventures. The difference, however, is marked. Adventures are by their very nature limited in time and space; they may succeed temporarily in overcoming conflicts, although as a rule they fail and tend rather to sharpen them. From the very beginning the imperialist adventure of expansion appeared to be an eternal solution, because expansion was conceived as unlimited. Furthermore, imperialism was not an adventure in the usual sense, because it depended less on nationalist slogans than on the seemingly solid basis of economic interests. In a society of clashing interests, where the common good was identified with the sum total of individual interests, expansion as such appeared to be a possible common interest of the nation as a whole. Since the owning and dominant classes had convinced everybody that economic interest and the passion for ownership are a sound basis for the body politic, even the non-imperialist statesmen were easily persuaded to yield when a common economic interest appeared on the horizon.
These then are the reasons why nationalism developed so clear a tendency toward imperialism, the inner contradiction of the two principles notwithstanding. The more ill-fitted nations were for the incorporation of foreign peoples (which contradicted the constitution of their own body politic), the more they were tempted to oppress them. In theory, there is an abyss between nationalism and imperialism; in practice, it can and has been bridged by tribal nationalism and outright racism. From the beginning, imperialists in all countries preached and boasted of their being “beyond the parties,” and the only ones to speak for the nation as a whole…
The cry for unity resembled exactly the battle cries which had always led peoples to war; and yet, nobody detected in the universal and permanent instrument of unity the germ of universal and permanent war.
–HANNAH ARENDT, The Origins of Totalitarianism
I of course disagree with Arendt when she asserts that “Neither opportunism nor bribery could have persuaded a man like Gladstone to break his promise.” Here I side with John Adams:
Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God’s service when it is violating all His laws. Our passions, ambitions, avarice, love and resentment, etc., possess so much metaphysical subtlety and so much overpowering eloquence that they insinuate themselves into the understanding and the conscience and convert both to their party.
Or to put it much more bluntly:
It is a common phenomenon for a ponerogenic association or group to contain a particular ideology which always justifies its activities and furnishes motivational propaganda. Even a small-time gang of hoodlums has its own melodramatic ideology and pathological romanticism. Human nature demands that vile matters be haloed by an over-compensatory mystique in order to silence one’s conscience and to deceive consciousness and critical faculties, whether one’s own or those of others.
If such a ponerogenic union could be stripped of its ideology, nothing would remain except psychological and moral pathology, naked and unattractive.
–ANDREW M. LOBACZEWSKI, Political Ponerology: A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes
What’s even more creepy to me is when you’re working for a big corporation how you’re expected to show Moonie-like devotion to the cause (that cause being far, far from wholesome) and the enterprise surveillance system and other measures such as performance monitoring are extremely adept at spotting the potential miscreants. It’s not that many steps away from being the Thought Police.
Never having lived in a country with a documented constitution, I’ve always been a little sceptical that it brings an awful lot of protection to the average citizen (US residents seem to take it very seriously though so maybe I’m wrong and it does represent a significant limit to the power — and potential abuses — of the state).
But a fat lot of good that is if the only work you can get is with one of a succession of enterprises that a) want to own your whole life and b) will expel you if you’re not a True Believer. The counterargument is, you can quit and get another job. But the more the world of employment turns into cookie-cutter replicas of the same model, the harder this turns out to do in practice.
As for me, I’m faking it as hard as I can. But it’s more and more difficult to keep one step ahead, I’ll get found out eventually !
So sorry Bradley, you were doomed from the start.
Opting In or Out of your Default Life
A technique now in use by the Stasi and Corporations is the Optout or Optin Option. The most famous use is at the airport by the Inyerpantsers. It is your right, of course, to optout of the scanner abuse. But if you do so, holy hell breaks out and you are pointed out to all present as a pariah, anti-American, possibly a terrorist or someone who sympathisizes with them. So, exercising a right in America has become a wrong. You will be punished. This is classic Schoolyard Bully.
A variation of this which we seem to see and hear of more and more is by the police. “Can we search your car, house, computer……” If you exercise your right to say no, particularly at 2AM, you may be dealt with harshly and, again, a pariah, anti-American, possibly a terrorist or someone who sympathizes with them.
The latest American Poodle in England, David Cameron, successor to the last lap dog, Tony Bliar, is running an Optin variation in England. One of the big reasons for the English decline is pornography according to Cameron. Therefore, the default for Internet providers will be NO PORN. If you want porn, you, you despicable, degenerate, etc. non-human must OPTIN to get it. So, there, have your porn, you……..
This leads also to the fact that apparently most users of a service accept the defaults and never change them. Thus we have more and more corporations using optin optout. So, next time, you may just get that Apple Pie because that’s the default.
Governing all the above, there now seems to be a prevalent belief in America today that the only rights you have are the ones a majority of the population thinks you should have. I would suspect that the Stasi are working overtime on these coercive techniques probably with the assistance of expert Game Theorists, Psychologists and Sociologists.
So, NSA, here’s a good name for your program OPTERATION BAFFLE.
This passage from Solzhenitsyn came to mind during the GW Bush years, but it’s probably more apt now:
“If … we count the numbers imprisoned … and then add three times that number for the members of their families – banished, suspected, humiliated and persecuted – then we shall be forced to admit to our astonishment that for the first time in history the people had become its own enemy, though in return it acquired the best of friends – the secret police.”
The Gulag Archipelago Two, Chapter 10: In Place of Politicals
Manning was held in prison for (10?) months without being formally charged with a crime. That alone would have commanded a full front page of all major news papers only 20 years ago. It seems you can get away with anything as long as you burry it in enough outrageous other stuff you are getting away with.
American manufacturing invented world scale volume but since “materialism” is so, ahem, vulgar, we turned our ingenuity to manufacturing something more abstract, corruption, rather than material things, but on the same overwhelming scale.
If your computer isn’t protected against things like key-stroke capture, then all The Onion Routers in the world won’t hide a thing.
I wonder if anything is safe (or private) short of pre 2001 hardware and software.
July 31, 2013 | The Guardian
NSA is bad for American Economy
The NSA's Overreach And Lack Of Transparency Is Hurting American Businesses
from the the-economy-has-been-drafted-into-the-War-of-Terror dept
One major negative side effect of the NSA leaks is the problem it's causing for US-based tech companies. Not only have they been forbidden to discuss the details and scope of their interactions with American intelligence agencies, they've also been put in the worst possible light by some of the revelations.
Very simply put, the actions of the NSA harm American businesses. The NSA's control of the narrative only makes it worse as existing and potential customers have no way of knowing the full extent of the protection (or lack thereof) surrounding their data. Under the current law, companies can't even acknowledge they've received FISA court orders, much less provide statistics on frequency and compliance. With these restrictions in place, the government becomes the mouthpiece for American tech companies, and that mouth isn't saying much.
Pointing to the potential fallout from the disclosures about the scale of NSA operations in Europe, [Nellie] Kroes, the European commissioner for digital matters, predicted that US internet providers of cloud services could suffer major business losses.
"If businesses or governments think they might be spied on, they will have less reason to trust cloud, and it will be cloud providers who ultimately miss out. Why would you pay someone else to hold your commercial or other secrets if you suspect or know they are being shared against your wishes?" she said.
"It is often American providers that will miss out, because they are often the leaders in cloud services. If European cloud customers cannot trust the United States government, then maybe they won't trust US cloud providers either. If I am right, there are multibillion-euro consequences for American companies. If I were an American cloud provider, I would be quite frustrated with my government right now."
As it stands right now, hardly anyone trusts the American government. Those who are loudest in their defense of these programs also stand to gain the most by their continued existence. And while a lot of the discussion centers around the constitutional issues of harvesting of data on American citizens, the rest of the world isn't exactly thrilled either, especially considering these rights (even if ignored domestically) aren't extended to foreigners.
31 July 2013 | The Guardian
NSA is the only part of the US government that actually listens to the people.
The article indicates that it stores data per session, so you'd have to be careful about pattern matching and regular haunts as well.
How bizarre is it that literally the only thing limiting the surveillence technologies governments build are the limits of the technologies themselves. If we don't get the privacy concerns correct now we're completely stuffed when its possible to, say, detect our presence from skin particles in the air.
There's a campaign to stop Tempora, the UK data trawling part of this please sign - http://www.stoptempora.com
Nothing changes if we give up. attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The controllers are hoping like hell we give in to hopelessness, that our interest wanes and we go back to our tv shows, sports, lattes, etc. . . and let them continue to have their way. I don't think it matters what party someone votes for. that's all about giving us the illusion of choice, when really the Ds and Rs are doing the same thing. I think Einstein once said that problems cannot be solved from the mindset from which they were created. It's in our best interest to continue to be informed, create opportunity for dialogue, encourage family and friends to do the same: eyes wide open. We've been sleeping far too long.
SummerLulsticeSummerLulstice -> Salmanc
Another illuminating article on the dataholic mass surveillance state. The Guardian is fast becoming one of my most visited news sites.
Interesting commentary by Evgeni Morozov: Information Consumerism: The Price of HypocrisyIt is outrageous but in the absence of any real meaningful resistance some people signed us all up when they started commodifying the private data they generate, either through the systemic peer pressure companies like Apple and Facebook so expertly exploit or because they didn't really understand what had happened and as such didn't care. There is no real shutting down of programmes like these (they will probably only expand) because on the one hand we live in a world where people are supposedly outraged by mass surveillance and on the other hand happily pouring their most private thoughts and desires onto Facebook, to be sold to advertisers and forever stored for advertising algorithms to analyze and extract our deepest desires so that ads are better at selling us products we wouldn't buy otherwise. Facebook is not bound by (relevant) laws, has no independent oversight and is not obligated to delete anything, ever.
Until we try to resolve this staggering hypocrisy, any attempt to even just bring oversight to mass surveillance will ring hollow because what they won't collect directly they will then just buy on the open data marketplace (so that, in the end, people and their thoughts aren't just commodities but also pay for the data they themselves generate several times over). Think about it, the Electronic Police State will exist one way or another, until we get to grips with the fact that these oceans of data (which, like "the Cloud" serves as a nice euphemism for the private thoughts of billions of people) we're talking about are one and the same. And we stop pretending mass surveillance is a necessary or even effective way of stopping terrorism, when at best it's been an illusion of control that enabled us to ignore the underlying causes and revert to an infantile state of unquestioning overconsumption, all over again, giving no thought to what we've come to represent.
Please let's not act surprised, it's not like they don't know we're faking it and knew all along, but mostly were too afraid to speak out, if not out of fear then for fear of speaking about matters which, as George Orwell once pointed out, are "not done" to talk about because they expose the prevailing orthodoxy. Carmen Hermosillo wrote this in 1994:
pandora’s vox: on community in cyberspace
"it is fashionable to suggest that cyberspace is some kind of _island of the blessed_ where people are free to indulge and express their Individuality. some people write about cyberspace as though it were a 60′s utopia. in reality, this is not true. major online services, like compuserv and america online, regular guide and censor discourse. even some allegedly free-wheeling (albeit politically correct) boards like the WELL censor discourse. the difference is only a matter of the method and degree. what interests me about this, however, is that to the mass, the debate about freedom of expression exists only in terms of whether or not you can say fuck or look at sexually explicit pictures. i have a quaint view that makes me think that discussing the ability to write 'fuck' or worrying about the ability to look at pictures of sexual acts constitutes The Least Of Our Problems surrounding freedom of expression."
"i have seen many people spill their guts on-line, and i did so myself until, at last, i began to see that i had commodified myself. commodification means that you turn something into a product which has a money-value. in the nineteenth century, commodities were made in factories, which karl marx called 'the means of production.' capitalists were people who owned the means of production, and the commodities were made by workers who were mostly exploited. i created my interior thoughts as a means of production for the corporation that owned the board i was posting to, and that commodity was being sold to other commodity/consumer entities as entertainment. that means that i sold my soul like a tennis shoe and i derived no profit from the sale of my soul. people who post frequently on boards appear to know that they are factory equipment and tennis shoes, and sometimes trade sends and email about how their contributions are not appreciated by management."
Michele Catalano was looking for information online about pressure cookers. Her husband, in the same time frame, was Googling backpacks. Wednesday morning, six men from a joint terrorism task force showed up at their house to see if they were terrorists. Which begs the question: How'd the government know what they were Googling?
RELATED: We'll Never Know What Google's Doing With the NSA
Catalano (who is a professional writer) describes the tension of that visit.[T]hey were peppering my husband with questions. Where is he from? Where are his parents from? They asked about me, where was I, where do I work, where do my parents live. Do you have any bombs, they asked. Do you own a pressure cooker? My husband said no, but we have a rice cooker. Can you make a bomb with that? My husband said no, my wife uses it to make quinoa. What the hell is quinoa, they asked. ...
Have you ever looked up how to make a pressure cooker bomb? My husband, ever the oppositional kind, asked them if they themselves weren’t curious as to how a pressure cooker bomb works, if they ever looked it up. Two of them admitted they did.
The men identified themselves as members of the "joint terrorism task force." The composition of such task forces depend on the region of the country, but, as we outlined after the Boston bombings, include a variety of federal agencies. Among them: the FBI and Homeland Security.
RELATED: PRISM Companies Start Denying Knowledge of the NSA Data Collection
Ever since details of the NSA's surveillance infrastructure were leaked by Edward Snowden, the agency has been insistent on the boundaries of the information it collects. It is not, by law, allowed to spy on Americans — although there are exceptions of which it takes advantage. Its PRISM program, under which it collects internet content, does not include information from Americans unless those Americans are connected to terror suspects by no more than two other people. It collects metadata on phone calls made by Americans, but reportedly stopped collecting metadata on Americans' internet use in 2011. So how, then, would the government know what Catalano and her husband were searching for?
August 1, 2013 | naked capitalism
I’m not sure why people are so cynical about Obama’s proclivity for playing 11-dimensional chess. Isn’t the fact that he’s playing the game against his own party, against his own ethnicity, against his own class, and against his own country evidence enough that he’s playing a far more complicated game than most?
Though it does boil down to selling out, which isn’t as hard to follow as rationalizing it.
How ironic that an average person like Snowden (certainly not average in the character category) could be such a remarkable thorn in Obama’s side. Snowden has taught us all a valuable lesson in the value of truth.
Interesting to watch how the credibility trap continues to grow for Obama. As you mention, it may not be the abuses themselves that result in the big O’s undoing, but the ensuing cover-up and lies.
“People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage.” -- John Kenneth Galbraith
The people advising Obama aren’t interested in America. They are only interested in Israel. And Israel has a national, strategic, and economic interest in keeping the security state functioning with the public-private relationships that its defense contractors, security contractors, and telephonic partners provide them. For example, it is inconceivable that the utility AT&T, in its pre-breakup days, would have routed all call record data through an Israeli (foreign) government-backed company for billing of US customers. Now, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint, et cetera, do.
Further, General Keith Alexander has outsourced US strategic interests to private contractors outside US jurisdiction that cannot be curtailed or controlled directly by US law, or the quaint notion of the express wishes of the American people. They can only be curtailed or controlled by Alexander himself, and as James Bamford pointed out this past month, Alexander as the head of Cyber Command has his own army, navy, and air force that is not under the direct control of the US President.
Cornell West was talking with Larry Lessig in an interview and went into detail about “simple virtue” and how threatening it is to the state. Very good interview, I highly recommend it.
Fifty percent of congress-persons leave congress to go to work on “K” Street as lobbyists, with an average increase in pay of 1,452%.
And yet juxtaposed to this we still find folks with “simple integrity,” as West goes on to explain:
And yet in the end we do have a significant number of fellow citizens who just want to be decent. I think it’s just fundamentally a moral and spiritual issue. When you look at the words of Bradley Manning and Snowden and others, they really talk about conscience; they really talk about trying to do what’s right regardless of the consequences. And that really is in the end an issue of integrity… It’s a matter of them being willing to sacrifice and being willing to disclose truths that they know could lead toward their destruction of their lives.
What West said reminded me of something Susan Neiman wrote:
Moral Clarity – Facing Gallows
Are there moral laws that bind everyone—wherever they come from, whatever they believe? The greatest philosopher of modern times walked up to this question and turned sideways, refusing to answer directly. Instead, Immanuel Kant reached for a parable.
Imagine, he says, a man who claims temptation overwhelms him whenever he passes what the 18th century discretely referred to as “a certain house”. No matter what he tells himself beforehand, when he reaches the whorehouse he has to go in. He’d like to be prudent, he’d like to be faithful; perhaps he thinks sex is one thing that doesn’t belong on the market. But no tie of love, no fear of disease or shame is stronger than the claims of the flesh. Can we understand him? Easily, says Kant. But what if a gallows were installed before the whorehouse on which he will be hung immediately after emerging from its sin-sating depths? Suddenly he discovers he can withstand temptation very nicely, thank you. For however bright ordinary desires may be—for sex or wealth or any other form of mortal pleasure—all of them pale before the desire for life itself. No life, no consumption: all the sweets of the world put together cannot weigh against that.
Let the same man be summoned before an unjust ruler, and given a choice. The ruler intends to execute an innocent subject fallen afoul of his regime, but the semblance of law demands the appearance of just procedures. Someone will write a letter denouncing the innocent, bearing false witness to a capital crime. Our roue is asked to do it. Should he refuse, the ruler will make sure he is executed himself.
As in the first case, Kant thinks it’s easy to imagine being in this fellow’s shoes. But unlike the first case, we suddenly waver: we do not know what we would do. Kant always emphasized the limits of knowledge, and one of the things we never know for certain is the inside of our souls. None of us is so righteous as to be sure not to crumble in the face of death or torture. Most of us probably would. But all of us know what we should do: refuse to write the letter though it cost our own lives. And all of us know that we could do just that—whether or not we would totter in the end. In this moment, says Kant, we know our own freedom, in a breath of awe and wonder. Not pleasure but justice can move human beings to deeds that overcome the strongest of animal desires, the love of life itself. And contemplating this is as dizzying as contemplating the heavens above us: with this kind of power, we are as infinite as they are.
[We should never] be urged to live rightly because it’s in our self-interest to do so. Such arguments leave us helpless whenever morality and self-interest part company; in the times when they don’t, we don’t need morality to move us.
So how do you answer the skeptic who asks why he should be moral? Kant says you do it by talking about heroes: those who risk their lives rather than resign themselves to injustice. “Here virtue is worth so much because it costs so much.”
“What’s absolute, ” says Cornel West, “is what I’m willing to die for.”
@ from Mexico,
Good insight from Kant and many thanks for sharing.
I am reminded though that in the movie “V for Vendetta” the heroine is held captive by the man of the Guido Fawkes mask – our hero, during weeks of torture, Evie refuses to give up her friends, knowing full well they, and most likely herself, would be killed regardless of the outcome.
The end of that particular scene, when Evie believes its better to die, than betray, is the moment she’s overcome by all human emotion, love of life, love of freedom and a love of all that’s good in humanity.
Its a very powerful movie despite being based on a comic, and one regular posters should view or review again – particularly given the fascist trends so evident in the USA and UK presently – its a good dystopian warning that offers hope.
…Snowden is bushbama version of bushcheney’s WikiLeaks…
we, the American people, must be thankful for both…and contrast within, to LIES…
a. Thanks for quoting me.
b. “If the NSA knows what Snowden downloaded (as they assert they do) they should be well aware of what he can publish. ”
I believe they do NOT know what he downloaded. Unless the NSA has a very diligent access and logging system (which for efficiency reasons does not make sense) a sysadmin like Snowden can delete the traces of access he had to a machine or file. The NSA does not know what Snowden got.
In yesterdays hearing the NSA robot said they did not know yet how Snowden did what he did. If that is true they can not know what he has.
(The NSA does not even know if he left a bug in the system or some kind of time bomb like virus. It will take month for them to be sure that their systems are not corrupted. Quite mess in that data shop.)
Thanks for paying a visit!
Well, even if they feel compelled to lie, their actions still are remarkably nonsensical (or as you said re Obama, arrogant). If they don’t know what he has, they should assume the worst. And they aren’t acting that way (well they are in their desperation to get him, but with the info having gone to Greenwald, that horse has left the barn and is in the next county) as least in terms of what they’ve been saying to Congress.
My thoughts would be that that is the exact reason they are so extremely obsessed with getting him. They want him so they can put the screws to him to find out what Greenwald has so they can know what needs to covered up. Right now they don’t know how much of their a** is hanging out.
It’s important to note that Snowden was hired in the role of “infrastructure analyst” at Booz Allen. They advertised for someone to fill that role and Snowden was an absolute catch for them. He could do awesome things on the keyboard, according to those who knew him.
What does an infrastructure analyst do? Test the system. Put on a black hat for the good of the company and see where the weaknesses in the network and security protocols are. To do that, he or she has to be able to get in and out AND cover their tracks, just as an expert outside hacker would do.
Edward had the run of the place, and a thumb drive, for three months, and only left when he was completely satisfied. He had his way with them.
So no, there is no real way short of peeling Edward’s skin off to discover exactly where he went and what he took from Booz Allen and the NSA. The blowhards in Congress and the bureaucrats atop the NSA have no idea.
If Snowden is taken or disappeared, the NSA will then treat anyone who publishes the rest of his material similarly, no matter where they live or what nation they are a citizen of. The gloves are off to save their secrets, and their own asses.
That’s escalation. If discretion in releases doesn’t buy any indulgence, their next disgruntled infrastructure analyst might not be bothered to exercise it. Training documents and presentations are one thing to have exposed, but there are crown jewels, such as sources and methods, cipher details, keying material, source code, and email server contents, that once disclosed could irreparably damage billions of dollars in black ops investments throughout DoD and might even be fatal to the agency (and, though we may hope to find the teachable moment, probably to the discloser as well).
What Antifa said, but some what differently, and then more. Snowden is a two-level problem for the NSA.
The first and highest level problem is _how_ Snowden knows what he knows. That is, what he knows about how the NSA’s data gathering operates systemically, and how it’s internal structures work; just as Antifa remarks. Snowden BEAT that system, in that he got in, got data, got out, and they didn’t know until he told the world. Now, Ed Snowden has publicly promised not to reveal this kind of ‘structural knowledge,’ because in principal that could harm ‘real national security’ as opposed to the obscene simulacra of that concept which is the workaday perception in the minds of the Securacrats and the ultimate insiders of Permanent Washington. But who knows how Ed will feel months or years from now? Or if the Russkis will worm it out of him; “We have ways . . . .” goes the thinking. Ed Snowden walking free and unafraid is more dangerous to the NSA as of today than an armed nuclear missle in flight given what he knows of their big iron and little bugs. Getting him back before he squawks anything of that ‘structural knowledge’ is Mission One for them, and hence for the President. Greenwald & Co. may very well _not_ have much if any damaging components of such ‘structural knowledge’ since Ed said he was keeping mum on that. So there may still be time, from the securecrats’ standpoint. Obama is stalling for time therefore, hoping to figure some way of getting Snowden out of circulation before the ‘iron’ gets shopped, deliberately or inadvertently. Or at least until the NSA can reconfigure internally on the hurry-up to keep themselves from getting hoovered via Ed’s keys should they come out. That has to be a worry against simply assassianting Snowden too: he could have a ‘dead man drop’ of those keys. Don’t be surprised if he hasn’t left them a message to that effect which neither he nor the securecrats have chose to make public.
Snowden also presents a second-level problem for the President even more than the NSA in _what_ he knows. I can think of at least two potential reveals, or two-and-a-half, which would get Barack Obama and his main crew in an all night stew to defense, delay, and deny. Just guessing, but when Greenwald says ‘bigger to come,’ this is where I go.
1) We me find out that the NSA has systematically snooped on every member of Congress since long since, and in particular monitors all communications of those thought to be ‘politically unsound’ such as Grayson, McDermott, Rand Paul, or, yes, Amash. Folks who might actually take a call from *cough* _Julian Assange_, or ‘an agent of a foreign power,’ or ‘an Islamofascist sympathizer’ who might try to funnel data to said Congressperson which proved embarassing or worse to the Prez and the securecrats. I mean, what is the _highest_ value domestic intel out there for those who RUN the security state? Com-taps on dissenters; as always, ever. So that at least the securecrats know what’s coming before it’s out. Or better (from their viewpoint) can catch someone from the other team showing a little too much of their hand. Or, maybe as sweet, can get something incriminating, or at least indiscreet, on said member of Congress to break their arm on a critical vote. If Congress thought Greenwald was about to spill _that_ kind of snopping program via telelink to the whole Democratic Caucaus of the House, I can definitely see Barack Obama getting his skinny ass plunked in front of the screen between two flags on the hurry-up.
2) It is very telling that despite the international shennanigens of the NSA already revealed we have heard nothing from the Near East, and absolutely not a whisper of Israel. Now, this is an area of perceived ‘national security [sic],’ and so Snowden may just not be going there. But that strikes me as ridiculous, since we know that Israel and the US are interlocked at the basal ganglia level on intell and black op wire-work in the Near East. Much of that is dirty work, and not a little of it might have nothing to do with mad bombers and much to do with heads of state. I suspect one reveal to come would be that the US systematically snoops all internal communications at the head of state and Defense Ministry level of every country bordering Israel—and runs this by Israeli filters. Not ‘direct sharing’ but simply allowing Israel to glean most everything obtained while the US ‘looks the other way.’ Consider that: the US effectively bugs all military and state communications in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and all else, and lets Israel have a look in passing. Can you imagine Obama and the NSA being in an epileptic froth to try to get out in front of something like THAT? They may not know if Ed Snowden can prove it, but it seems highly likely that the US-NSA is doing this, so they have to believe that Snowden _could_ reveal it. And them are Big Potatos. Even if Ed got Dead, they could still upset quite a few pretty apple carts if they got rolling.
2.5) A further reveal which might be available to Snowden would be if he had evidence that the NSA wasn’t just scanning transmission data in other countries, specifically in the Near East, but was actively _falsifying transmission data WHICH DID NOT EXIST_. It seems highly likey that they US is doing this, both on its own and in collusion with Israel. This, for instance, is specifically the counter-charge that Hezbollah made when suspicious phone data records in Lebanon were produced to impute that Hezbolla could or did orchestrate the assassination of Rafik Hariri. The issue of falsfied transmission records has come up in other instances as well. This, again, treads closer to ‘national security [sic]‘ but at the same time is completely bogus info that at least is used to mislead international justice bodies and the American Congress, but which, far worse, could easily be used as a pretext for military action. “We caught them plotting ON THE PHONE (*hahahahaha* who’ll ever know?).” The concept that the NSA could fake records of discussions in other countries and that military action could be launched in consequence of such black-op fakes should send a chill down every spine. I could see Snowden revealing something like that. And THAT kind of reveal would hit like a .40 Magnum round taking out the right testical of the NSA. Again, the NSA very likely does this kind of thing, so they have to assume that Snowden could know and might chose to reveal it. Hence the frenzy.
This is a GREAAAAAAAAAAT show, I’ve gotta say . . . Information wants to be free, and freedom wants to be informed. It’s only the unfreedom salesmen who have a problem with that . . . .
Code Name D:
If you forgive the pop-sociology, what they are doing is actually quite predictable. To Obama – this is a publicity problem, nothing more. It’s Wikileaks all over again, laving it to the grunts and cubical-drones from the press core to clean up the mess while Obama focuses on more important maters.
But I suspect there may be some very different thinking going on here over at the NSA. This is NOT a security operation, but something else entirely. I have argued on my own blog that NSA is more like a deep-data broker. GE has gone on a media blitz promoting deep-data as the next big thing, and GE apparently has significant connections to NSA. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.
In other words, this is more a market agenda, rather than a security agenda. And the data being collected by NSA is not really intended for security, which is likely why they believe NSA is not violating the law. But rather they are collecting information with the intent of giving corporations the privilege of data-mining the data-stores for what ever agenda they wish to bring. It has accord to me that this may be just another approach to selling role-on deodorant.
Privacy rights in this regard are already non-existent. But corporations have been under pressure by consumers to tighten up privacy policies. One possible true function for NSA is to be a means of bypassing these restrictions, allowing corporations to claim they have tight privacy policies while secretly mining the data behind the NSA security curtain. This may also be about industrial espionage as well, with NSA pulling for US corporations against competition from Europe, China, and India.
All speculation of course. So perhaps I should go and take my anti-conspiracy theorist medications before I find connection to 911.
You have company in your tin-foil conspiracy theory beliefs. I have the same suspicions as you. I wouldn’t discount that the NSA continues to operate as a security organization but no reason it can’t be a dual function entity. If it’s not doing the commercial work itself, it’s working in cooperation with companies that are. The public/private partnerships that Obama touts at work.
We have reports of private organizations doing similar work already, such as Endgame, allegedly working in cooperation with Uncle Sam. As revealed by Anonymous a couple years ago, for a mere cool $2.5 million, a company can purchase 25 exploits from Endgame, exploits which are no longer limited to crashing networks and stealing data but now can do actual physical damage.
I wonder if Snowden might test Putin by standing innocently by while Greenwald or the Guardian keeps releasing more damaging info, saying, “Hey, I’m not the one releasing this stuff. They are.”
Thus keeping his promise to Putin to stop releasing damaging info about the USA as the price for refugee status in Russia. Technically.
Poking the Russian bear is risky.
That assumes, of course, that Putin’s public statements about not “inflicting damage to our American partners” were anything but pro-forma/diplomatic ass-covering. Under the current circumstances, he can point to the same excuse as Snowden: “Dude, horse is already out of the barn, I’m not riding it anymore.”
Kurt Sperry :
This is a real possibility. One can safely assume that Snowden mentioning that he could access even the President’s private email communications was a very deliberate and very blunt signal, a shot across the bow. If he could have done so and made a point of mentioning it, surely he was canny enough to actually do so. Even if he didn’t do so, it seems likely the head spooks believe that he might have. The desperation hangs thick in the air here doesn’t it? The Morales fiasco, the incredibly clumsy handling of the whole thing, the unforced errors, it all points to panicky, sweaty fear being the driver of the administration’s response.
They (or Obama) evidently think he may have some real dirt, the kind that could pose a real or even existential threat to them.
Let us all fervently wish that is in fact the case. I want to see Obama and the US security state twisting in the wind, exposed, helpless and just waiting for the next bombshell to hit. “Looking back” can be cathartic.
Jeff W :
some real dirt
As I said in this comment a little over two weeks ago, Edward Snowden himself said, in his first interview, in answer to a question about what he “didn’t end up doing,” said,
Anyone in the positions of access with the technical capabilities that I had could suck out secrets, pass them on the open market to Russia; they always have an open door as we do. I had access to the full rosters of everyone working at the NSA, the entire intelligence community, and undercover assets all over the world. The locations of every station, we have what their missions are and so forth.
That’s a pretty clear statement of what he actually had access to. That to me is even more of “a shot across the bow.”
Of course, what’s not clear to us (or, judging from the fascinating comments above, even to the NSA, which, in itself, would account for the air of desperation on the part of the administration) is whether or not he actually took that information regarding rosters, missions, station locations—his denial seems to be more aimed at how he did not seek to profit from what he had access to—although I would say, as I suspect you would, that he is definitely canny enough to have done so.
I took his statement
I sitting at my desk certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a Federal judge to even the President if I had a personal e-mail.
more as an indication of just how pervasive and completely without controls the surveillance actually is; his phrase “if had a personal e-mail” indicated (to me) that his ability to wiretap the President was purely for purposes of illustration. But, if, in fact, no one knows what Snowden took, even that comment might be, as you say, “a very deliberate and very blunt signal.”
I’ve ehard they can’t even find their OWN emails. So the package may already have opened. In any event, their “surveillance” certainly didn’t stop the Tsarnov brothers…..or whoever…..
Jim Haygood :
XKeyscore’s ultimate justification is summarized in the concluding sentence of the NSA’s statement:
“These types of programs allow us to collect the information that enables us to perform our missions successfully – to defend the nation and to protect US and allied troops abroad.“
Got that? If you don’t blindly support the NSA, then you don’t support the troops.
Or to state the case in the opposite sense, until the m*****f****** troops are brought home — every bleeding one of them — permanent war means permanent surveillance under de facto martial law.
To stop the NSA, stop the war(s).
Find me a single person in a powerful position in Washington DC that endorses peace.
I haven’t found too many.
To echo that idea, a marriage between privacy and security will be doomed to failure because of irreconcilable differences.
As long as we have permanent war, Defense will want the kind of security NSA tries to provide.
The best way, or the only way, to reduce the desire for security is to work for peace.
The USA is responsible for a big part of the permanent state of war.
To protect our privacy we must persuade the USA to stand down from our permanent state of war.
Until we achieve peace, our right to privacy will be like the ideal expressed in our founding documents, that all people are created equal. It turns out that equality is a goal, not a fact. The fact of our privacy in the past was a function of the lack of technology. It appears it will be necessary to work to establish actual privacy the way we have worked to establish actual equality.
In peace or war, all this meta-data must have some value on the black market, with so many unscrupulous private contractors potentially having access to much of it.
Start following the money, and we might find out how much this NSA program is costing the taxpayer, and who has ownership and political connections to the private companies operating it.
It then becomes obvious why the biggest blowhards like Feinstein and Rogers are its biggest defenders.
kimsarah, Booz Allen Hamilton for one has insidious threads connecting it to America’s power-elites from several presidential administrations beginning with GHW Bush’s. The Carlyle Group hedge fund owns 2/3 of BAH. Check out the board members and try to fathom the depth of foreign policy intrigue emanating from that toxic mix alone. The AIPAC nexus with the Beltway is another profound horror to the autonomy of this nation. We are not only lost, we are owned by the power mongers of the world.
The documentary film The Power Principle does a great job of giving a short 15-minute or so history of what happened to Russia after 1989, beginning here at minute 44:28, which goes a long way to explain why relationships between the US and Russia are so strained:
No one so stunningly unqualified to be an executive could be an inept politician, but until he started flailing around in his Snowden hissy, it’s hard to think of any issue or principle that made a difference to him. The king of empty rhetoric is as pathetic as he is pompous. But he is probably better than Romney or McCranky (by 2008) would have been in his office.
The Ruling Party has “binders of sociopaths” just waiting to fill POTUS, SCOTUS, etc…
If you think it was only Roberts, Kagen, & Obama they have been grooming, suggest you check out this version of Swiftboat Kerry:
In a rat race, the winner is still a rat.
I’m just loving this story.
Obama can’t understand that full spectrum dominance doesn’t apply when his nightmare whistleblower is safely tucked away in Moscow. Even Bush would have got his head around that fact. Just imagine the uproar if Bush had forced down Morales’ plane.
(I think this contributes to the internal debate about what Obama is like as a man within out own NC sphere. Rather than the evil Manchurian candidate who knew what he was doing all along, which is what I might call the “Lambert View”, this shows that he’s actually just a fairly inept politician and negotiator.)
Anyway, I’d like to point out another marginal influence here, and that’s the situation in Syria. Putin knows that Obama’s and the securicrat’s “arm Al qaeda’s bitches in the clearly non-moderate FSA” policy is wildly unpopular, and that strengthens his hand somewhat. He can shove Obama around a bit more than he would otherwise be able to do without arousing the bi-partisan ire that a Russian president normally would.
I suspect that you are right in attributing some of this to Obama’s frustration over his loss of personal power and prestige. He is also showing pique over the Democrats’ unwillingness to rubber stamp his preference for old crony Larry Summers.
The Morales affair was totally unhinged, risking the resurrection of 100 years of bitterness over gringo political domination, all to to catch one programmer.
So in the end I think this is about more than Obama’s personal feelings. The spooks and thugs manning the 12-year regime of GWOT abuse and overstepping are now seeing the possibility of the end of the road, with the blown-up careers and prison sentences the unraveling will bring. They know what Snowden knows, and Obama must be under intense pressure to keep the lid on it all.
I’m worried that Obama might lash out militarily at something to reassert presidential and state authority.
Dan, The very fact that Obama is pushing for a spectacular failure (Barry Ritholz expression) like Larry Summers is proof positive that he totally lost it.
Exactly. The Summers push defies all political logic short of one becoming completely unhinged.
I don’t think that in itself would show he had lost it. Politicians routinely opt for the usual established party hacks and insiders to fill big positions. Lots of people in the old guard are friends of Summers, and that’s just government as usual. But Obama’s willingness to start shredding US foreign policy priorities and relationships in a mad pursuit of one lone whistle-blower seems different.
Right. And I think he’ll go with Yellen at the end of the day. This trial balloon isn’t going over with anyone, including his own party. Not the time for a lightning rod trail balloon, much less one that he needlessly appoints, who could very well be rejected.
Don’t underestimate Obama’s capacity to cut off his nose to spit his face. Egomaniacs will do that from time to time.
Over the last 3-4 years, the people at the top have become increasingly careless of image, making less and less effort to bring consistent messaging/cover. I think Obama has been assuming, after long dirty work built on top of Shrub’s admin on top of Bush Sr on top of…., that the whole oligarchy thing is sewed up tight. Gift-wrapped global empire with an NSA bow.
I’m sure Obama knew there would be pushback but I suspect he planned that it would appear after he left office. Instead, his filth is being globally exposed while he is yet in office, against his wishes, and he’s indulging narcissistic rage, which only further exposes him, ripping off his suave sophisticated image. There have been hints of his malice before, but not like this. He might not yet recognize what he’s doing, or he is so angry that he doesn’t care, but surely the people around him are aware and know it matters, at least a little bit.
It must not be easy to be Obama, with his combination of empty-suitism, narcissism, pressure to perform for the oligarchs, (likely) vague threats of blackmail via NSA, etc.
I am delighted.
But the oligarchy is well-established, with/without Obama or Summers. Obama’s work is nearly finished, right? If he goes off the deep end and doesn’t collect all his reward, who will care? There is a pre-selected cadre of people “qualified” to run the country, and they’ll pull from it. Voila.
from Mexico :
But the oligarchy is well-established, with/without Obama or Summers. Obama’s work is nearly finished, right? If he goes off the deep end and doesn’t collect all his reward, who will care? There is a pre-selected cadre of people “qualified” to run the country, and they’ll pull from it. Voila.
The dream of global domination runs like a thread through Western civilization, starting with the Spanish Habsburgs in the 16th century and continuing with Napoleon and Hitler. Many people, such as Jonathan Schell writing in The Unconquerable World, believe the current neocon project for world domination will end just like the others did.
I’ve always admired the following passage from Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace:
All historians are agreed that the external activity of states and nations in their conflicts with one another finds expression in wars, and that the political power of states and nations increases or diminishes in direct proportion to success or defeat in war….
An army suffers a defeat, and at once a people loses its rights in proportion to the magnitude of the defeat, and if its army suffers complete defeat, the nation is completely subjugated.
So it has been (according to history) from earliest times to the present day. All Napoleon’s wars serve to confirm that rule. In proportion to the defeat of the Austrian armies, Austria loses its rights and the rights and powers of France increase. The victories of the French at Jena and Auerstadt destroy the independent existence of Prussia.
But suddenly in 1812, the French win a victory near Moscow, Moscow is taken, and after that, with no further battles, it is not Russia that ceases to exist, but the French army of six hundred thousand, and then Napoleonic France itself…
The victory did not bring the usual results because the peasants Karp and Vlas (who after the French had evacuated Moscow came in their carts to plunder the town and in generally personally failed to manifest any heroic feelings) and the whole vast multitudes of others like them, did not bring their hay to Moscow for the high prices offered them, but burnt it instead…
[T]he cudgel of the people’s war was raised with all its menacing and majestic might, without regard for anyone’s taste, or for the rules, or for anything else, but with obtuse simplicity and utter efficacy it rose and fell, belaboring the French till the whole invasion was extirpated.
Why do you think that the push for Summers is the least bit sincere? The very fact that Summers’ personality can generate such pique in almost any forum demonstrates just how credible his candidacy is. He strikes me as uniquely positioned- an upper level economist so thoroughly offensive to both the left and right that almost any credible alternative will sail through the wake…of his bilge, to abuse the metaphor.
Of course Yellen is better qualified. Of course she’ll be elected. But having Summers as the putative alternate serves to discredit any of her potential detractors, leaving them looking like misogynists and economic cranks. And this, I suspect is the point. The most material difference in Yellen’s and Summers’ perspectives is the broader economic benefit of QE. In this regard, I’m in the uncomfortable position of agreeing with Summers that QE hasn’t been demonstrated an unalloyed good. If he is the face of policy skeptics, particularly while markets serially hit all time highs (today, included) then no deeper public consideration of the policy is necessary, right?
America’s ГУОТ installed Obama and they will uninstall him if he doesn’t restore the blissful ignorance of the subject population. It’s Snowden or Obama, it’s that simple. If Snowden is returned, his former employers will torture him to death. They have a sinking feeling that Snowden is not a lone wolf.
If Obama doesn’t stop the drip-drip-drip it’s going to loosen the massive foundation of unacknowledged crime that props up this regime. The family jewels are not secure. The regime has had 50 years. Now their time is running out.
Cache Is King:
I just read the news that Russia granted conditional asylum to Snowden and so I popped off a message of thanks to the nearest Russian consulate by way of fax.
The fact that I don’t give a rat’s ass anymore whether the CIA, NSA, DIA or DICK monitored that is of blindingly significant import.
When the people you are oppressing begin to lose the fear of telling you to shove it, the beginning of the end is in sight. I just don’t care anymore. Just an average guy who has had enough.
That should be something to shake the foundations if anyone at HQ is REALLY paying attention.
This image reflects your comment: “Never Push a Loyal Person To the Point Where They Don’t Give a Damn”
I don’t think people are giving Snowden enough respect.
I think he knows he has chosen an interesting way to commit suicide, and like Aaron Swartz, he hopes his life makes a difference in our world.
Of course Yves, he would have been safer in the transit zone but the play had to change acts to keep the consciousness level up. On top of some well planned and executed bit diddling, he is playing the data release for all its worth.
Are there any who believe that eventually all that Snowden has will be released? I would argue that that genie will not go back into the bottle and it has yet to be seen if the movement this truth showing is creating will take on enough momentum to bring down our current “government”…..it would not burnish Obama’s image if that were to occur.
However this plays out, I am all over nominating Snowden for the Nobel Peace Prize like Manning. Might as well try and get it to those who really deserve it.
I hope we have a chance to build a better world than the wreck we are being handed by the plutocracy intent on destroying everyone’s home for their control and enjoyment.
Gerard Pierce :
It’s oly a metaphor, but the operative idea comes from the prisons and the streets – with 9-11, the US got punked. That’s an idea that has a lot more meaning and emotional charge than most people acknowledge.
The result is that the neo-cons and war-makers were able to take charge of large parts of US policy and large parts of the US government. (Can you spell Homeland Security?) These same people are neurotically sensitive to any new challenges to US power.
Fifteen years worth of failed or f#cked up military adventures have left these people in a state of emotional fragility. And a collapsing economy has not done much to improve their mental state.
The ones who are not foaming at the mouth are allied with outfits like the Chertoff group and working hard to make as much money as they can while supporting their shared ideology in the background.
And Obama is their whipping boy.
Seems to me that this is where the “Occupy Wall Street” movement should be intersecting with “The Tea Party” movement. Can we get together and fight the Government-Corporate monster, or are we too busy hating each other as directed by our lying snooping puppet masters and their media lackeys?
Agreed. To me, that’s what was so valuable about the occupy protests. They showed beyond any shadow of a doubt that it was Democrats at the heart of enabling the police state and all the oppression and racism and unconstitutionality it entails.
It’s also what I enjoyed so much about the Dem pundit temper tantrums around people like Jane Hamsher and Glenn Greenwald.
That reminds me, this is another delicious angle of what is making the Obots so pissed. Greenwald is still beating them. The Dem pundits even now making this personal about Greenwald and Snowden rather than about the story are helping to drag out the story while revealing their own irrelevance when it comes to discussing substantive matters.
What people seem to be missing is that Snowden spent a month at Moscow airport because the USA voided his passport while he was en-route to South America. Once he landed, he could go no further. As it happens, Russia is a big enough player to stand up to the American government’s bullying — and of course, it is ironic that one country (with a history of internal oppression) is now cast into the role of hero by sheltering a refugee from another country whose long-time motto has been “the land of the free”.
As for the secrets Snowden revealed: they are not plans for bombs or military orders of battle. Rather, they demonstrate that Americans are now deeply ensnared in the folds of a military/espionage/corporate complex, where new technology makes it that much easier to sidestep and negate Constitutional rights. He did not sell these “secrets” for personal gain; he placed himself in personal peril because of them. That is the classic definition of “hero”.
Hugo Stiglitz :
To quote the group Anonymous, “When exposing crimes becomes a criminal act, you are ruled by criminals.”
John Poindexter and Robert Gates… Iran-Contra… Total Information Awareness… Mujahideen… the “Reagan Doctrine”…
Lying to Congress?
John Poindexter: “Found guilty of 2 counts of false statements, 2 of obstructing Congress, and conspiracy. Given 6 months in prison for each count, to be served concurrently.”
Robert Gates: “Testified falsely about when he first learned about the Diversion (received a report on it during the summer of 1986 from CIA official Richard Kerr ["Gates claimed that he did not recall the meeting."]). Also helped prepare Casey’s false testimony.”
Poindexter appointed head of the “Information Awareness Office” in February 2002. Gates was appointed Secretary of Defense by George W. Bush in 2006 and retained in that position by President Obama.
I raised the issue of kabuki re the Amash Amendment. Clearly the vote was an enormous setback for the Surveillance State, an “unwelcome surprise” as we diplomats like to say.
My congressman’s vote is still a mystery. He’s an impressive guy in many ways — worked his way through college and medical school, successful family practice, chain of fast food restaurants, popular with constituents in a safe Republican district. The only part of the Bill of Rights he’s enthusiastic about is the 2nd Amendment.. But he voted for the Amash Amendment. There’s no reason for him to go against the leadership, so I wonder if he got a dispensation. The only reasons I can see for him to vote that way are (1) worry that beyond some point surveillance would be electoral cyanide, (2) recognition that as a member of the Outer Party he and others in his position are easy targets of blackmail.
There are some other mysteries in the Snowden revelations. With the massive surveillance, it should have been easy to unravel the drug trade. This suggests a large involvement by the government. The other obvious target is the financial system. Transactions may be encrypted, but any M&A activity will leave a huge footprint of phone calls, travels to company headquarters, involvement of law and accounting firms. All it would take is one junior analyst to run some social network analysis. I’m cynical enough to believe that all those thousands of underlings were as pure as the driven Snowden.
Your assessments regarding blackmail, the drug trade, and financial activity would appear to be dead on.
Guess I’ll be seeing you soon in the Gulag.
Obama is more perturbed about losing the semblance of running a “tight ship” than any national security concerns. Or probably any imperial concerns, for that matter. I think he’s a thoroughly superficial person in all aspects. Say what you will about imperialism, it requires an affirmative belief.
There’s Obama, and there’s McCain, Graham, Schumer and so on. These people are addicts. They disturb me more than Obama, who for his basic lack of character I don’t think has the appetite for the long haul of imperial service. They scare me, because they are terrified at the faintest whiff of decline in status, America’s or their own. They and Obama WILL do something really, really big and stupid, I just hope it’s to their own ruin and not everyone else’s.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Iran-Contra affair involved illegal activity and cover-up of that illegal activity engaged in by intelligence agency officials to circumvent “safeguards” against infringements on “the rights of Americans to engage in political activity free from government surveillance” that were enacted by Congress in response to the findings of the Church Committee of extensive illegal activities by the CIA, including COINTELPRO. And here we go again… and again… and again.
The report is concerned primarily with the FBI’s COINTELPRO counter-intelligence campaign, but also discusses the CIA’s Operation CHAOS, whereby the CIA engaged in domestic intelligence work in violation of the CIA charter. Other agencies including the NSA and Army Intelligence are also discussed. Illegal electronic surveillance, mail opening, infiltration of dissident groups, “black bag” break-in jobs, media manipulation, IRS targeting, and the intense campaign waged against Martin Luther King, Jr. are all subjects of this report. The overriding theme is the violation of the rights of Americans as identified in the U.S. Constitution.
It should be noted that the activities that eventually morphed into Iran/Contra commenced with covert arms supplies to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan PRIOR TO (and in the view of some, helping to precipitate) the Soviet invasion.
In addition to convicted felon John Poindexter’s role in establishing the Total Information Awareness program that was supposedly defunded by Congress but actually continued with “classified” funding to renamed components, the retention as Secretary of Defense by Obama of Bush appointee Robert Gates needs to be viewed in the context of Gates’s “disquieting” activity and testimony during the Iran/Contra affair and subsequent investigation.
From Chapter 16, “Robert Gates,” of the Final Report of the Independent Counsel for Iran/Conta Matters, Lawrence E. Walsh:
Kerr told Independent Counsel that he did not recall Gates referring to other rumors of a diversion at this meeting. The Select Committees’ report of the interview did not contain the statement that Gates was aware of “rumors” of a diversion, but it did state that Gates told Kerr to “keep him informed.” Accordingly, the evidence was clear that Gates’s statements concerning his initial awareness of the diversion were wrong: Kerr brought him the information from Allen over a month earlier than Gates admitted. This would have been material because it suggested that the CIA continued to support North’s activities without informing North’s superiors or investigating. By October, when Gates claimed he first remembered hearing of the diversion, Casey ordered an inquiry and later made a report to Poindexter; but, by then, the Hasenfus aircraft had been shot down and Casey and Gates were beginning to cover.
Gates’s defense was that he did not recall the Kerr meeting. To say the least, this was disquieting. He had been told by a very senior officer that two of President Reagan’s personal priorities were in danger — not something an ambitious deputy director of central intelligence would likely forget. Allen was acting as a whistle-blower in a difficult situation. His concern was for the safety of the hostages and the success of the efforts of the President. His information suggested serious malfeasance by Government officials involved in a clandestine and highly sensitive operation. Even though Gates may have believed Allen to be excessively concerned, could such an expression of concern be forgotten, particularly after it had been corroborated within a few weeks? Logically, Gates could ignore or forget the Allen report only if he already knew of the diversion and he knew that Casey and Poindexter knew of the diversion. Gates also was on the distribution list for highly reliable intelligence that should have informed him of the pricing dispute among Kangarlu, Ghorbanifar, and the U.S. Government, although it did not refer specifically to any diversion of funds. Gates claimed that he rarely reviewed the intelligence. North testified that he did not discuss the diversion with Gates or in Gates’s presence. Gates also never met with Richard Secord, whom Gates was aware of only as a “private benefactor” (the CIA’s term for non-Government donors to the contras) by July 1986.
Notwithstanding Independent Counsel’s disbelief of Gates, Independent Counsel was not confident that Kerr’s testimony, without the support of another witness to his conversation with Gates, would be enough to charge Gates with perjury or false statements for his testimony concerning the timing of his knowledge of the diversion. …
The evidence established that Gates was exposed to information about North’s connections to the private resupply operation that would have raised concern in the minds of most reasonable persons about the propriety of a Government officer having such an operational role. Fiers and Cannistraro believed that Gates was aware of North’s operational role. The question was whether there was proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Gates deliberately lied in denying knowledge of North’s operational activities. A case would have depended on the testimony of Poindexter. Fiers would not testify that he supplied Gates with the details of North’s activities. In the end, Independent Counsel concluded that the question was too close to justify the commitment of resources.
There was conclusive evidence that in October 1986, following the Hasenfus shootdown, Clair George and Alan Fiers obstructed two congressional inquiries. Gates attended meetings where the CIA’s response to these inquiries was discussed. None of the evidence, however, links Gates to any specific act of obstruction.
Read the Church Committee report, vol. 2. Read the Walsh Independent Counsel’s report.
Here’s a better link for book 2 of the Church Committee report:
With all the signs of frayed temper and no patience from the WH, I keep wondering if they could be that open about being pissed off? The whole reaction to Snowden has seemed very unmanaged, like barely restrained panic, especially after the Moralles jet incident. I can see where some of the foil-wearing types get ideas for their double-tripple secret agent hallucinations now.
The Russian badgering has been the most laughable part so far, but perhaps that is for domestic consumtion. If there is really no more back channel effort going on than that, we are in a very bad way. The emperor seems to be getting some very bad advice, or the good advice is going out the window. We will know in a few years when the books come out.
That’s a good synopsis of what is bothering me. Obama and the US are looking frazzled. One incident might be a replay of the Kissenger cultivating the image that Nixon was nuts (as in might do reckless, crazy things, as in drop the Big One) but this is clearly not strategic and if it’s posturing, it’s awfully lame.
And yes, the Obama call to Putin looked like either super misplaced ego or back channels had broken down, neither of which is good.
Obama is notorious for his lack of poise in private meetings. He is famously hostile to anyone who disagrees with him. He is a classic little tin god of academia, encouraged in a small, insular environment to think he’s god’s gift to everything. I’ve heard more than one academic call this president “a brilliant Constitutional scholar” — this president who has done more to undermine the First Amendment than all other presidents in the past 100 years combined. Obama hasn’t lost it, he never had it.
Obama is merely re-branded status quo. It took Obama’s historic presidency to kill any momentum for political change, probably for generations. To be honest, I regard his supporters with outright disgust and even hatred. It’s hard to imagine finding any common ground with anyone so easily compromised.
As PCR suggests, all the NSA has to do now is create some sort of false flag terror, and all will fall in line to maintain the Stasi state
Right on cue!
“US Warns Al-Qaida Could Strike Embassies, Other Targets”
General Counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence Robert S. Litt explained that our expectation of privacy isn't legally recognized by the Supreme Court once we've offered it to a third party.
Thus, sifting through third party data doesn't qualify 'on a constitutional level' as invasive to our personal privacy. This he brought to an interesting point about volunteered personal data, and social media habits. Our willingness to give our information to companies and social networking websites is baffling to the ODNI.
'Why is it that people are willing to expose large quantities of information to private parties but don't want the Government to have the same information?,' he asked."
... ... ...
While Snowden's leaks have provoked Jimmy Carter into labeling this government a sham, and void of a functioning democracy, Litt presented how these wide data collection programs are in fact valued by our government, have legal justification, and all the necessary parameters.
Litt, echoing the president and his boss James Clapper, explained thusly:
"We do not use our foreign intelligence collection capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies in order to give American companies a competitive advantage. We do not indiscriminately sweep up and store the contents of the communications of Americans, or of the citizenry of any country. We do not use our intelligence collection for the purpose of repressing the citizens of any country because of their political, religious or other beliefs. We collect metadata—information about communications—more broadly than we collect the actual content of communications, because it is less intrusive than collecting content and in fact can provide us information that helps us more narrowly focus our collection of content on appropriate targets. But it simply is not true that the United States Government is listening to everything said by every citizen of any country."
It's great that the U.S. government behaves better than corporations on privacy—too bad it trusts/subcontracts corporations to deal with that privacy—but it's an uncomfortable thing to even be in a position of having to compare the two. This is the point Litt misses, and it's not a fine one.
Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone To Facebook: Start a Premium Subscription Service 149
Posted by samzenpus on Sunday July 21, 2013 @10:37AM
from the bad-ideas dept.
An anonymous reader writes
"Twitter co-founder Biz Stone today decided to offer some business advice for Facebook: launch a premium subscription service. For $10 a month, Stone figures the company could get rid of ads on its site for those willing to pay to go 'premium.' He says in part: ' Anywhoo, now that I’m using it and thinking about it, I’ve got an idea for Facebook. They could offer Facebook Premium. For $10 a month, people who really love Facebook (and can afford it), could see no ads. Maybe some special features too. If 10% percent of Facebook signed up, that’s $1B a month in revenue. Not too shabby. It’s a different type of company, but by way of validation, have a look at Pandora’s 1Q14 financial results. Of all Pandora’s revenue generators, the highest growth year-over-year by far (114% growth rate) is in subscriptions—people paying a monthly fee for an ad-free experience....."
Yeah Right (Score:1)
by Anonymous Coward writes: on Sunday July 21, 2013 @10:41AM (#44342083) 10% ???? It would probably be more like 0.001%.
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Re:Yeah Right (Score:5, Funny)
by HornWumpus (783565) writes: Alter Relationship on Sunday July 21, 2013 @10:44AM (#44342109) Think how valuable that list would be. The world's uberchumps.
You are the vulgarian, you fuck.
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Re:Yeah Right (Score:2)
by binarylarry (1338699) writes: Alter Relationship on Sunday July 21, 2013 @11:55AM (#44342625) Facebook Whales
Mod me down, my New Earth Global Warmingist friends!
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Re:Yeah Right (Score:5, Interesting)
by Art Challenor (2621733) writes: Alter Relationship on Sunday July 21, 2013 @02:01PM (#44343645) I'd pay for a subscription if it gave me access to, and the ability to delete, any information they have that references me.
Re:Yeah Right (Score:2)
by oPless (63249) writes: Alter Relationship on Sunday July 21, 2013 @03:57PM (#44344581) Journal Even that figure would be a revenue stream worth having.
Personally I only see adverts when I'm on a machine that doesn't run chrome and I stray off onto "consume this" type of sites. It's quite a shock seeing all the crap regular joe has to put up with.
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Re:Yeah Right (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward writes: on Sunday July 21, 2013 @11:24PM (#44347053) That'd still be $100,000 a month in revenues, assuming .001% of 1 billion users (they had this number somewhere back end-2012) pays $10 a month.
I'd consider it, depending on the price. Why? Because:
1) I do value my privacy, and control of my data (which is why i'm very selective about what I upload to Facebook today);
2) I do still get some value out of the service Facebook provides;
3) I understand that Facebook does not exist to provide me with free services, and that running an ad blocker as I do currently is kind of underhanded;
Taking those 3 data points together, if they offered ad-free, plus better control over how my data is shared with other people (i.e., "we won't share your data at all"), and a covenant to truly and permanently delete any data I upload or enter into their systems whenever I wish, plus access to, say apis that allow other integrations they've worked hard to make difficult (google, twitter, etc.), I'd consider paying a subscription. I don't know that I'd value it at $10 a month, but offer me a $60 a year discount plan or something? I might go for it.
Re:Yeah Right (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward writes: on Monday July 22, 2013 @05:47AM (#44348471) don't underestimate the gullibility of the average facebook user. malware writers, crooks, hackers and scammers don't.
by Anonymous Coward writes: on Sunday July 21, 2013 @10:41AM (#44342087) ... they'd still track and sell your data anyway, so what exactly is the point?
Re: But... (Score:3)
by Xicor (2738029) writes: Alter Relationship on Sunday July 21, 2013 @01:26PM (#44343355) facebook is already ad-free. just download the free app called adblocker and put it to good use
by Anonymous Coward writes: on Sunday July 21, 2013 @10:42AM (#44342091) So his grand advice of making $1B/month (LOL!) is to disable ads?
Adblock + (Score:3)
by MightyYar (622222) writes: Alter Relationship on Sunday July 21, 2013 @10:43AM (#44342101) If you were so addicted to Facebook that the ads really annoyed you, wouldn't you have Facebook enhancing crap installed, like Adblock+? Social Fixer is pretty great, but I'm not quite addicted enough to use it.
W..w..W - Willy Waterloo washes Warren Wiggins who is washing Waldo Woo.
Ads aren't the problem Re:Adblock + (Score:0)
by mozumder (178398) writes: Alter Relationship on Sunday July 21, 2013 @11:27AM (#44342413) The ads aren't the problem. No one minds the ads. In fact, if they had any skills, they would make the ads a FEATURE of the site. People actually BUY magazines like Vogue FOR the ads.
The problem is that the content is crap - photos of your friends throwing up, political rants no one cares about, etc..
Subscription services generally offer professional content worth buying. No one wants to buy photos of your friends throwing up.
Facebook tries to filter the content automatically to limit low-value content, but that only gets rid of the bottom-of-the-barrel. They still aren't going to offer professional articles, movies, music, etc.. that people generally pay for.
Their layout sucks too. The web has moved far beyond their old-school layout into magazine-quality layout. Amateur's aren't going to be able to produce magazine quality layout as well.
Facebook has 1 billion users, and ONLY makes $4billion/year. Conde-Nast makes $4billion just from 10 million readers - 1/100th less. Their amateur content is the reason they can only charge $0.10 CPM, whereas a professional media company can charge $50 CPM.
Re:Adblock + (Score:4, Interesting)
by Andy_R (114137) writes: Alter Relationship on Sunday July 21, 2013 @11:49AM (#44342567) Homepage Journal Adblock + gets rid of the overt adverts, and FBPurity (http://www.fbpurity.com/) gets rid of the spammy content (game requests, 'questions', 'trending articles', 'promoted posts') and cleans up the UI cruft (news ticker, half the left column).
With those two, and manually turning on the see all posts option for every page, FB doesn't have much left to charge for that you can't get for free.
Re:Facebook isn't that good and people know it (Score:2)
by dingen (958134) writes: Alter Relationship on Sunday July 21, 2013 @11:04AM (#44342261) It used to be the case that Facebook was sort of OK. Nothing special, but not too bad too. But in the last couple of months (years maybe even), it really has declined in quality a lot.
I fully agree that some edge cases are always going to be a problem, but Facebook's utter randomness really goes way beyond acceptable behavior from a software product.
It seems to me that the more you use Facebook, the more you grow upset with it. Which is kind of hard to combine with the "lets let people who love Facebook pay for it" idea, as it really are the people who should love the platform the most who are the ones having the most issues with it.
Pretty good is actually pretty bad.
Re:Facebook isn't that good and people know it (Score:3)
by siride (974284) writes: Alter Relationship on Sunday July 21, 2013 @11:05AM (#44342269) People get pissed about FB changes, and then they keep on using it, because the problem is that people don't like change. Can you provide some specific examples of the downhill direction?
Re:Facebook isn't that good and people know it (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward writes: on Sunday July 21, 2013 @11:10AM (#44342289)
because the problem is that people don't like change.
You cannot decide that for them. What change? All change? No; some changes are good, and others are bad. This 'You just don't like change' nonsense is just that: nonsense.
Re:Facebook isn't that good and people know it (Score:2)
by siride (974284) writes: Alter Relationship on Sunday July 21, 2013 @11:16AM (#44342351) I can decide that when the same people stop complaining and keep using the service and use the new features without a peep. Remember when they first started having the feed? That caused a huge uproar. Now I'm trying to imagine anyone making good use of Facebook without the feed. That's how I even see stuff to common on or follow up on. So yes, people complain when it changes and it's clear that they're only complaining because of change.
When people say the feds are monitoring what people are doing online, what does that mean? How does that work? When, and where, does it start?
Pete Ashdown, CEO of XMission, an internet service provider in Utah, knows. He received a Foreign Intelligence Service Act (FISA) warrant in 2010 mandating he let the feds monitor one of his customers, through his facility. He also received a broad gag order. In his own words:
The first thing I do when I get a law enforcement request is look for a court signature on it. Then I pass it to my attorneys and say, “Is this legitimate? Does this qualify as a warrant?” If it does, then we will respond to it. We are very up front that we respond to warrants.
If it isn’t, then the attorneys write back: “We don’t believe it is in jurisdiction or is constitutional. We are happy to respond if you do get an FBI request in jurisdiction or you get a court order to do so.”
The FISA request was a tricky one, because it was a warrant through the FISA court — whether you believe that is legitimate or not. I have a hard time with secret courts. I ran it past my attorney and asked, “Is there anyway we can fight this?” and he said “No. It is legitimate.”
It was also different [from other warrants] because it was for monitoring. They wanted to come in and put in equipment on my network to monitor a single customer. The customer they were monitoring was a particular website that was very benign. It seems ridiculous to me. It was beyond absurd. It wasn’t like a guns and ammo website.
They came in and showed me papers. It was a court order from the FISC (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court) for the intercept, with the agent’s name… and the court’s information. I think it was three or four pages of text. They wouldn’t let met me copy them. They let me take notes in regards to technical aspects of what they wanted to do.
We had to facilitate them to set up a duplicate port to tap in to monitor that customer’s traffic. It was a 2U (two-unit) PC that we ran a mirrored ethernet port to.
[What we ended up with was] a little box in our systems room that was capturing all the traffic to this customer. Everything they were sending and receiving. (Ed note: it would have looked a lot like the picture below — a typical, black, two-unit server, unremarkable among many others.)
There was discussion [amongst employees] asking, “What is that box?”
I said, “It is something I am dealing with,” and usually that was where it ended.
I didn’t facilitate the install at the time; another engineer, who no longer works for me, did. I’m not sure it had any access to the internet, so they could manage it remotely, but if they requested that, we would have facilitated them. I’m sure it was just capturing the entire stream to hard disk for later analysis. After the initial install, they didn’t come in again until it was removed.
It was open ended. I called six months into it and said, “How long is this going to go on?” and they said, “I don’t know.” I went on for nine months. If it were still there, I would have probably smashed it by now. There have been no [related] arrests that I have heard of.
I can’t tell you all the details about it. I would love to tell you all the details, but I did get the gag order. I have probably told people too much. That was two years ago. If they want to come back and haunt me, fine.
These programs that violate the Bill of Rights can continue because people can’t go out and say, “This is my experience, this is what happened to me, and I don’t think it is right.”
There is absolutely [a] need for secrecy when you are dealing with a criminal investigation. You don’t want to tip off criminals being monitored. But you can’t say, “You can never talk about this ever, for the rest of your life.”
The FISA court should be a public court, and documents should be sealed for a set period of time, [to] let people audit the actions later.
We have received lots of federal requests. I don’t think a lot of people realize just how much information is transmitted in the clear on the Internet.
We run a Tor node, in some ways as an affirmation of our belief that there are legitimate reasons for being anonymous on the internet. That is where the majority of requests come in from these days. Some illegal traffic comes in through Tor node and we get a federal request through the FBI or DOJ (Department of Justice). I respond to them and say that this is a Tor node [and therefore inaccessible, even to the ISP]; that is usually the end of it. They realize what that is, and it is a dead end.
I am in a little bit of a different situation than large companies. I don’t have a board of directors to answer to. A number of [larger] companies are getting paid for the information. If you go establish a tap on Google’s network, they will charge X amount per month. Usually the government pays it.
It isn’t worth it to me to do that kind of wholesale monitoring at any price, and lot of companies disagree with that, because it is a financial issue for them. [They say] if it is worth this much profit, let’s go for it. The return for standing up for people’s constitutional rights and privacy is much greater and more satisfying.
Re: Tiny Utah-based ISP makes a name for itself
The company, a comparative midget with just 30,000 subscribers, cited the Fourth Amendment in rebuffing warrantless requests from local, state and federal authorities, showing it was possible to resist official pressure says it all http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/09/xmission-isp-customers-privacy-nsa [guardian.co.uk]Re: Tiny Utah-based ISP makes a name for itself. July 21, 2013 @06:08PMGarridan
Something to consider:
I once worked for a company that used XMission's downtown SLC location as its colo location; excellent guys, and kick-ass service. That said, there's one other bit: a large number of their 30k customers are some rather large(-ish) corporations and companies - a few of whom have the ear of Sen. Orrin Hatch, among others in both state and federal government... not to mention (guessing this part, but given their location and name) they likely have a very strong hook into the LDS hierarchy.
(By the by, XMission is one of the few (and IMO lucky) ISP's who provide for/with the UTOPIA fiber-to-home networks, and IIRC the only local/SLC-based one. )
IOW, they're not just some tiny naive dial-up provider. If they didn't have a line to some heavy-hitters, I'd wager that they'd likely buckle to the demands out of sheer survival instinct, if for no other reason.--
"GIR, quickly! Ride the pig!"
Re: Tiny Utah-based ISP makes a name for itself. July 21, 2013 @06:27PM
I once worked for a company that used XMission's downtown SLC location as its colo location; excellent guys, and kick-ass service.
I second this. My boss was a good friend of Pete's, and our site was hosted there. I got to hang out with Pete quite a bit, and he's a superb example of a human being. Moral, upstanding, and fair. XMission isn't just a 'tiny ISP', it's a long-proven company with a history of smashing success; rather than expand to a national then multinational power, it has kept sight of its core, takes care of its people, and focuses on offering the best product for its customers. This is the ISP after which all others should be modeled. Pete Ashdown for president!
Re:No Surprises Here (Score:3)
Having worked for an ISP and at one point having to deal with these myself, you don't really. You send it up to the lawyers. They can do some basic checks. The request comes in, there's an agents name and where he/she works. The lawyers call there, talk to someone that's NOT him about it... that's about as far as you can check it. The main thing you're trying to prevent is someones ex-husband requesting his ex-wives call logs and such... that actually happens more than you'd think. Once it was even a cop and the case number and everything were bullshit. But if the entire law enforcement agency in question is up to no good, there's no way to prevent that. It's not like you can call up the judge and ask them about it.
I've mentioned this in the past but it bears mentioning again, we RARELY got requests. There were very very few. It always suggested to me that had better/easier ways to get the same info and it was only in rare cases that they needed to come to us.
Re:Ethics versus Legality (Score:5, Insightful)
The problem with that law is it is meant for people, it depend on people to be honest, not wanting extra money, not being able to be blackmailed or social engineered, not falling into common human bias like the ones shown in the Stanford prison experiment [wikipedia.org]. You maybe could manage to find a few people that could cope with that.
But if you have up to up to 5 millon people to access that information [salon.com] (including 500k with top secret access that work at for profit contractors), then you are doing the equivalent of giving guns to all prison inmates and setting them free in all the big cities.
You know that people will get killed, abused, robbed and so on with that action. So in the actual context, that law is legalized robbery with impunity.
Re:Ethics versus Legality
The problem with that law is it is meant for people, it depend on people to be honest, not wanting extra money, not being able to be blackmailed or social engineered, not falling into common human bias like the ones shown in the Stanford prison experiment [wikipedia.org].
So, assuming humans aren't humans is how laws are meant? I don't agree with that assessment. The "wanting extra money" jab makes you sound like a misanthrope conservative/libertarian complaining about who people on welfare vote for.
Current laws are bad because they assume complete knowledge of the law (ignorance of the law is no excuse, and all that) but the law is unknowable (it changes faster than people can read, and is based on "case law" that is semi-closed and highly complex. When you commit 3 felonies a day, then why bother trying to follow the law? But if you make the law 10 rules, and enforce it with punishment of death, you have no prisons, no jails, and anything less than that is a civil matter. Assault could be a civil-matter only, and leave attempted murder for the lowest criminal side. If the damage is temporary, broken bones, bruises, then sue for damages and punitive damages.
I think that the "fix" to our current problem is to remove prison punishment for nearly all offenses.
Jesse's Café Américain
This is a rough translation of an article that appears in Der Spiegel.
Here is the only article I was able to find in English that discusses the same interview I believe. There were some others but they only talk about Carter's comments on the Zimmerman trial.
NSA affair: Ex-President Carter Condemns U.S. Snooping
By Gregor Peter Schmitz, from Atlanta
17.07.2013 – 13:59 Uhr
Ex-President Carter: "The invasion of privacy has gone too far"
The Obama administration has tried to placate Europe's anger over their spying programs. Not so ex-President Jimmy Carter: The Democrat Carter sharply criticized U.S. intelligence policy. The disclosure by the whistleblower Snowden was "useful."
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter was in the wake of the NSA spying scandal criticized the American political system. "America has no functioning democracy," Carter said Tuesday at a meeting of the "Atlantic Bridge" in Atlanta.
Previously, the Democrat had been very critical of the practices of U.S. intelligence. "I think the invasion of privacy has gone too far," Carter told CNN. "And I think that is why the secrecy was excessive."
With regard to the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Carter said his revelations were "likely to be useful because they have informed the public."
Carter has repeatedly warned that the moral authority of the United States has declined sharply due to excessive curtailment of civil rights. Last year he wrote in an article in the "New York Times" that new U.S. laws have allowed "never before seen breaches of our privacy by the government."
The entire article in German can be found here.
SlashdotPosted by Soulskill
from the why-couldn't-they-have-gotten-holodecks-right-instead dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Just to address one thing straight away: one of your favorite science fiction stories dealing, whether directly or indirectly, with surveillance is bound to be left off this list. And 1984's a given, so it's not here. At any rate, the following books deal in their own unique way with surveillance. Some address the surveillance head-on, while others speculate on inter-personal intelligence gathering, or consider the subject in more oblique ways. Still others distill surveillance down to its essence: as just one face of a much larger, all-encompassing system of control, that proceeds from the top of the pyramid down to its base."
Re:Nothing to predict (Score:5, Insightful)
The government still changes by means of election,
So far as I can see, the election changes very little. Giving people a choice of two figureheads is not democracy. Real democracy needs transparency, accountability and rule of law. Whether there is one party, or two slightly different parties, running things is a relatively minor point.
Re:Nothing to predict
That accounts for much of President Obama's actions in the war against al Qaida.
What war against al Qaida? You mean that big recruitment drive for them in Iraq, where Al Qaida did not even exist before the US invasion?
You mean the lost war against the Taliban, US allies against Russia, who were no threat against the US, and held no grudge until being invaded?
8000 American troops dead, >600,000 Iraqi excess deaths, and worldwide loss of respect. Beats "negligence or inaction" eh?
Re:Nothing to predict
They don't seem to be terribly afraid of your pea-shooters, either... letting people have guns is apparently less of a threat to power than losing votes due to further restricting them.
Why would they be afraid of guns, when their side has drones, tanks, ICBMs, sonic weapons (these have already been deployed against peaceful protests), smart bombs, a state-of-the-art spying network, sophisticated propaganda systems, etc?
Besides, if you really wanted to hurt the people that control this country, you'd:
A. Organize massive labor strikes. I'm talking "Nobody is working in California this week" kind of massive.
B. Stop shopping as much as possible.
The reason is that the money they use to control everything has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is from the pockets of the rest of us.
Re:Nothing to predict
The Road Ahead by Bill Gates.
Though that wasn't so much a prediction of a surveillance state as a plan for his cronies to use his company to spy their "users" and to distribute astroturf and propaganda for business and government.
Re:Nothing to predict
I don't think we can use rules, laws and regulations to keep them in line. They need to be good people.
Then you've failed. This Machiavelli quote summarizes my opinion of that:
Whoever desires to found a state and give it laws, must start with assuming that all men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature, whenever they may find occasion for it.
Re:Nothing to predict
I'd say the situation is the exact opposite.
They will have this power, and they will use it; toward what end?
To the same end as everyone else in power--every government, every religion, every political party. Power is the end unto itself. The goal of power is to gain more power. The question is settled.
That surveillance is one of those powers isn't particularly new. People had networks of spies in ancient times.
Surveillance and spies certainly aren't new, but changes in technology drastically change the implications of surveillance. You think the NSA tracking every call and every email is the same as the king planting a spy in the local tavern to eavesdrop?
The book you want is Huxley's Brave New World. Instead of overlords controlling people through power and domination, people allow themselves to be controlled in exchange for the pleasantries of modern life - sex, entertainment, and other trivialities.
As long as they get as much of those as they want, they don't give a damn what else is going on in society or who is controlling it. As the saying goes, you attract more flies with honey...
Re:Not 1984 (Score:2)
This was a pretty good one, and pre-dated 1984 by a good few decades.
Re:Not 1984 (Score:2)by similar_name (1164087) writes: Alter Relationship on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @08:01PM (#44304193)
Plus Spock is in the 1998 TV movie [imdb.com] The older BBC version is on [youtube.com].Reply to This Parent Share
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The computer is your friend... (Score:3)by rsborg (111459) writes: Alter Relationship on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @08:06PM (#44304225) Homepage
The book you want is Huxley's Brave New World. Instead of overlords controlling people through power and domination, people allow themselves to be controlled in exchange for the pleasantries of modern life - sex, entertainment, and other trivialities. As long as they get as much of those as they want, they don't give a damn what else is going on in society or who is controlling it. As the saying goes, you attract more flies with honey...
Another good take is the role-playing game Paranoia - which made the surveillance state amusing (and insane) . In addition to big brother, brave new world-ish mandatory uppers and downers combined with a Kafka-like maze of rules that can never all be respected - you are forced to betray, backstab, lie and cheat faster/better than the other players.
This, along with games like Diplomacy , should be mandatory for all 10y+ kids so they can become accustomed to shit that others will pull on them with more real-world painful consequences.
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paranoia_(role-playing_game) [wikipedia.org]
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diplomacy_(game) [wikipedia.org]
Re:Not 1984 (Score:5, Insightful)
by jimbrooking (1909170) writes: Alter Relationship on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @08:21PM (#44304333) Bread and circuses, the Romans knew, were necessary for a well-ordered society.
Re:Not 1984 (Score:5, Interesting)by newcastlejon (1483695) writes: Alter Relationship on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @08:46PM (#44304457)
The book you want is Huxley's Brave New World. Instead of overlords controlling people through power and domination, people allow themselves to be controlled in exchange for the pleasantries of modern life - sex, entertainment, and other trivialities. As long as they get as much of those as they want, they don't give a damn what else is going on in society or who is controlling it. As the saying goes, you attract more flies with honey...
There was much more to it than that. The Savage (whose name escapes me) rejected all those supposedly pleasant things while the citizens, having been conditioned since before they were born, accepted them. Take the epsilons, for example: they weren't afforded much at all in the way of luxury, yet still served the state and might have fought to preserve the status quo if their development hadn't been retarded to the point where they couldn't even grasp the concept.
When people talk about Ninteen Eighty-Four, they often focus on the telescreen, to the exclusion of the mass surveillance of citizens by their peers. Similarly, with Brave New World the state essentially breeding people to be satisfied with what little they have takes second place to soma and free love that is (perversely) mandatory.
There was a pause; then the voice began again.
"Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they're so frightfully clever. I'm really awfully glad I'm a Beta, because I don't work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don't want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They're too stupid to be able "
The Director pushed back the switch. The voice was silent. Only its thin ghost continued to mutter from beneath the eighty pillows. "They'll have that repeated forty or fifty times more before they wake; then again on Thursday, and again on Saturday. A hundred and twenty times three times a week for thirty months. After which they go on to a more advanced lesson."
... "Till at last the child's mind is these suggestions, and the sum of the suggestions is the child's mind. And not the child's mind only. The adult's mind too—all his life long. The mind that judges and desires and decides—made up of these suggestions. But all these suggestions are our suggestions!
As for 1984, literary analysis was never my strong suit, but if asked I'd say that Orwell was afraid that an oppressive state would turn men against their fellows; I can only imagine what he would say about a world where people surrender their privacy willingly.
If God forks the Universe every time you roll a die, he'd better have a damned good memory.
... the citizens, having been conditioned ...
While this is the driving event of the story, there is a far simpler meme: Don't fight the system. Remember, the Savage commits suicide.
Aside: In 'Fahrenheit 451' the driving event is the burning of books but the meme being examined is censorship, and to a lesser extent, self-reflection.
... an oppressive state would turn men against their fellows ...
Mr Winston ('1984') was afraid of being killed by his own government, which spent so much time watching the middle class. But on the last page we discover that his death was metaphoric. Real death came from loving the very people that enslaved and tortured him.
By torturing the conscience, the oppressor removes all concepts of self-determination or individuality. Given that so many people are genetically driven to ignore the mob mentality, I wonder how effective such brain-washing will be.
user32.ExitWindowsEx (250475) writes: Alter Relationship on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @10:32PM (#44305043)
Oh, Star Trek does predict humanity's future...but it won't be the Federation.
We are the NSA. Your biological and technological metadata will be added to our index. Your computers will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.
--Reply to This Parent Share Flag as Inappropriate
"Evil will always triumph because good is dumb." -- Dark Helmet
darthservo (942083) writes: Alter Relationship on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @04:15PM (#44311413)
The ship's computer seemed to do more of a passive listening - as you note, it only responded to commands but didn't record all conversations taking place on the ship. There are a number of episodes where crew have to filter through official ship or communication logs. If the computer was performing complete surveillance, there'd be no need to search through the official logs for suspicious activity. Additionally, conversations of mutiny or sabotage would no doubt have been immediately escalated to the proper chain if it had been monitoring everything.
Essentially Star Trek seems to feature the passive listening Microsoft would like to have you believe is in the XBox One.
Local ID10T (790134) writes: Alter Relationship <ID10T.L.USER@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @08:00PM (#44304175) Homepage
Terry Gilliam's interpretation of Orwell's 1984: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088846/ [imdb.com]--
"You want to know how to help your kids? Leave them the fuck alone." -George Carlin
Blind Faith - Ben Elton (Score:4, Informative)by Macgrrl (762836) writes: Alter Relationship on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @08:02PM (#44304195)
Ben Elton is perhaps better known in Commonwealth countries as a TV comedian, but he writes a fine line of satire which frequently swerves into the SciFi realm and is almost always a form of social commentary.
Blind Faith is an interesting posit on where the current obsession with social media, coupled with government surveillance and the slide away from science to religion could do to a slightly futuristic society.
Well worth a read, and if you enjoy that, you may enjoy some of his older works, such as Stark, This Other Eden, or some of his more recent stuff (there's dozens).
Designer, Gamer, Macgrrl in an XP World
TheGratefulNet (143330) writes: Alter Relationship on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @12:26AM (#44305517)
Blind Faith is an interesting posit on where the current obsession with social media, coupled with government surveillance and the slide away from science to religion could do to a slightly futuristic society.
"had to cry today..."
"It is now safe to switch off your computer."
The imporant qualifier (Score:4, Interesting)by cold fjord (826450) writes: Alter Relationship on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @08:06PM (#44304219)
What makes the fictional dystopias featuring surveillance states interesting isn't simply the fact that they conduct surveillance, but rather what they do with the information. In the fictional dystopias is it to engage in various sorts of general repression against the population, sometimes subtly, sometimes in a heavy handed and cruel fashion. How many of them involve actions by the state to genuinely protect the citizenry except in an Orwellian fashion? Moving from fiction to history and current events reveals that the difference between free societies using surveillance to protect themselves is in marked contrast to unfree societies. Nobody went to prison for 10 years at hard labor for simply calling George Bush, "Chimpy McHitler," while he was President, but plenty of people went to the Gulag for 10 years for telling a joke about Stalin, and far from all of the people sent to the Gulag survived. There may need to be refinement and more oversight over the activities of the intelligence services of Western governments, but getting it wrong will ultimately lead to harsh feedback of another sort.
Too true:(Listen for the joke at 1:40) Reagan tells Soviet jokes [youtube.com]
If you punish ordinary opposing views in debate you aren't committed to free speech. Prove me wrong.
- How many of them involve actions by the state to genuinely protect the citizenry except in an Orwellian fashion?
In reality, how many actions of the state genuinely protect the citizenry? Protecting the citizenry is nothing more than an excuse to get away with profiteering, cronyism, and ever expanding bureaucracy. e.g. Micheal Chertoff and his back scatter machines.
Moving from fiction to history and current events reveals that the difference between free societies using surveillance to protect themselves is in marked contrast to unfree societies
Free societies don't use surveillance at all.
Nobody went to prison for 10 years at hard labor for simply calling George Bush, "Chimpy McHitler," while he was President
When you rule as a strong man, your power is genuinely threatened by people making light of you. But when power is as systematicaly entrenched as it is in the US, it's no threat at all. What are we going to do, vote for the other guy whose policies are 99% identical? Those who control the political process in the US don't care which figurehead is president, as long as the rich keep getting richer.
The reason satire is tolerated in the US is because it can't change anything.
--Reply to This Parent Share Flag as Inappropriate
Censorship is obscene.
Patriotism is bigotry.
Slashdot is unusable without noscript.
jimbrooking (1909170) writes: Alter Relationship on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @08:06PM (#44304221)
Greg Bear, Black List: A ThrillerReply to This Share Flag as Inappropriate
Stainless Steel Rat called it frighteningly close (Score:5, Informative)by thinktech (1278026) writes: Alter Relationship on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @08:09PM (#44304239)
I'm disappointed that Harry Harrison's "Stainless Steel Rat" is not at the top of this list. Written in 1961, it's entire premise is about a thief that operates in a society with computer surveillance tracking everyones every move. Facial recognition, camera and car tracking, etc, etc. I've re-read this many times and it's almost frightening how close it is to reality. Even to the point of most of the populace being comfortable with the intrusion.--
What's up with this box everyone has to think inside of or outside of? Why does there have to be a box?
hguorbray (967940) writes: Alter Relationship on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @09:34PM (#44304711)
also features a sort of 1% -99% societal split
The novel is set in a dystopian future United States following a Second Civil War which led to the collapse of the nation's democratic institutions. The National Guard ("nats") and US police force ("pols") reestablished social order through instituting a dictatorship, with a "Director" at the apex, and police marshals and generals as operational commanders in the field. Resistance to the regime is largely confined to university campuses, where radicalized former university students eke out a desperate existence in subterranean kibbutzim. Recreational drug use is widespread, and the age of consent has been lowered to twelve. Most commuting is undertaken by personal aircraft, allowing great distances to be covered in little time.
John Brunner's -'The sheep look up' is another excellent dystopian (though not all that surveillance-oriented) novel
-I'm just sayin'
I think often of the original Running Man story by Stephen King(as Richard Bachman)and wish someone would have the balls/resources to do a 100% accurate(if slightly updated for the times)interpretation, right down to the punch-in-the-face ending.Reply to This Share Flag as Inappropriate
George Lucas's Directorial Debut film 1971
antifoidulus (807088) writes: Alter Relationship on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @09:30PM (#44304681) Homepage Journal
From a more economics-based standpoint(specifically, what happens when there are no real "jobs" left), I would have to say "Player Piano" by Kurt Vonnegut. Now of course there is the obviously dated references to computers with so many vacuum tubes that they fill a cave, and alas engineers ARENT the richest people on the planet but there is some great social commentary in there re: what to do when technology and society has rendered most people useless.
In the book, 99% of young men are basically given 2 options: join the army or join a meaningless public works organization....this is eerily similar to today's economy.
Having spent time on a military base as a contractor, I can say that most of these guys would have been working at a factory if they had been born 50 years ago, but as most of those jobs have dried up they ended up in the Army.
I know people in the US like to go all hero worship on these people, but lets face facts: For most of them, it's their only ticket to anything that even closely resembles a middle class lifestyle. They either aren't cut out for post-secondary education or cannot afford it, and since we don't have any other place for them(much like in the story), we stick them in the army...... The "reeks and wrecks" are the public works people, not quite as big in the US as they are elsewhere(for instance, Japan), but they are still there.
If you have time, definitely check it out, I've just scratched the surface of how correct Vonnegut was in predicting what happens when people stop being "useful" to society.
/. should just come clean and rename "Overrated" to "I disagree"
I'm New Around Here (1154723) writes: Alter Relationship on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @11:47PM (#44305375)
" I know people in the US like to go all hero worship on these people, but lets face facts: For most of them, it's their only ticket to anything that even closely resembles a middle class lifestyle."
As a former active duty military and on-base contractor, I know what you mean. I wouldn't even be that nice about it. There are heroes in the military, but there are also idiots. Some soldiers are dedicated, others are lazy wastes of space. Even one of the 'hard chargers' I served with was useless in our actual field; he just didn't do any work, yet got promoted by the system.
I save me hero worship for the ones that actually deserve it.
Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) writes: Alter Relationship on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @09:39PM (#44304739) Homepage Journal
The Slow Glass stories, by Bob Shaw.Reply to This Share Flag as Inappropriate
Somebody Is Using My (985418) writes: Alter Relationship on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @10:42PM (#44305095) Homepage
Harry Harrison's "To The Stars" trilogy [wikipedia.org] ("Homeworld", "Wheelworld" and "Starworld") also predicted a society under constant surveillance, although it's not a major part of the story. It's sort of like the future of 1984, except one where the society seems to have been founded less on "for the evilz" (which seems to be the primary motivator of the party in Orwell's "1984") and more based on greed and power-hunger.
While the story itself is not particularly engrossing, some of the predictions on the society and surveillance methods are frighteningly close. Of course, Harrison missed the date by approximately 500 years but that date seems to be more an artifice to explain how mankind has reached other planets rather than a necessity for the technology to evolve; if anything, the world seems somewhat backwards technologically and societally given it is set 5 centuries hence. Of course, it was written back in 1981...twitter facebook linkedin
Those *are* old. I have read them, but they're rare. I razored out cigarette ads from my copy...
July 11, 2013 | WSJ.com
By banning unreasonable "seizures" of a person's "papers," the Fourth Amendment clearly protects what we today call "informational privacy." Rather than seizing the private papers of individual citizens, the NSA and CFPB programs instead seize the records of the private communications companies with which citizens do business under contractual "terms of service." These contracts do not authorize data-sharing with the government.
Indeed, these private companies have insisted that they be compelled by statute and warrant to produce their records so as not to be accused of breaching their contracts and willingly betraying their customers' trust.
Mr. Barnett is a professor of constitutional law at Georgetown University and the author of "Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty" (Princeton University, 2005).
I wish he'd addressed the argument regarding pen registers. There is an old Supreme Court case (Smith v. Maryland) which holds that a pen register which recorded all phone numbers being called by a given phone did not require a warrant as there was no reasonable expectation of privacy. So, the fact a phone call is coming from A to B is not private information - among other things, the phone company needs to know those facts in order to connect the call. It is an easy leap from that to the metadata of an email - size, originator, destination, etc. Bottom line - it is unclear what the NSA is doing is unconstitutional. I expect better from a constitutional law professor.
That is not what they are doing.
I'm not sure we 100% know what they are/were doing. We have bits and pieces from leaks, not an entire picture.
As an attorney, if I was making the argument before a court that the program was unconstitutional, I would clearly have to deal with Smith v. Maryland. When I see another attorney simply calling the program unconstitutional without dealing with that case (or even mentioning it), I feel cheated. I actually agree that there may be substantive differences between what they're doing and what they are arguably authorized to do without a warrant under Smith v. Maryland ... but to ignore the topic altogether is a failure of analysis in my view.
"There is an old Supreme Court case (Smith v. Maryland) which holds that a pen register which recorded all phone numbers being called by a given phone did not require a warrant as there was no reasonable expectation of privacy."
The phone numbers that a person calls are their business, not the gov't's and the only interest the phone co has in the matter is understood between the parties to be for legitimate business purposes. Gov't suveillance and involvement in such matters is unwarranated per the 4th Amendment, unless a warrant is obtained based on specific evidence of some ongoing conspiracy and immanent crime--a SCOTUS decision to the contrary notwithstanding.
They simply have no justification whatsoever in siezing business records, general or limited, w/o without appropriate cause being presented. Smith v Maryland is no more absolute than Plessy v Ferguson.
>>the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform, is compiling a massive database of citizens' personal information—including monthly credit-card, mortgage, car and other payments—ostensibly to protect consumers from abuses by financial institutions. <<
This, combined with the FEC, the NSA, the IRS and abuses at the Justice Department add up to a serious challenge to our democratic form of government.
We are creating the tools for a future dictator.
Charles J Jernigan:
"Does Professor Barnett feel the this 4th amendment encroachment is more dangerous than not acquiring information to defend the nation? "
Yes, and so do I. There are many ways to defend the nation short of violating the Constitution. Frankly, preventing something like another 911 isn't worth giving up our individual liberty. Another point, it doesn't actually matter what the "majority" thinks ether, the rights guaranteed to us by the bill-of-rights accrue to each citizen individually and aren't subject to the popular democratic will of the majority.
The correct solution is to be as vigilant as possible within the constraints of the constitution and if you fail to uncover and prevent an attack before the fact, use a devastating punitive military response to punish those who precipitated it. Screw the "Powell" doctrine of you break it you buy it. Use the Genghis Khan approach of scorched earth, leave and tell those who are left standing that we'll be back if you mess with us again.
The FISA Court (Foreign Intelligence Surveilence Court) was "Supposed" to oversee "Foreign" intelligence gathering. You know "Foreign", like out side the United States. At least that was the story. Now we find out the FISA Court, in a Star Chamber proceeding, gave it self authority to oversee intelligence gather Inside the United States. It also, in a Star Chamber proceeding, secretly gave itself authority to write it's own secret laws governing lt self and the power to decide for it self the Constitutionality of it's own actions. Looks like the "Foreign" in the title means foreign to the laws of The United States.
Dennis has a point.....there being similarities between the FISC and the Star Chamber. I do believe the 'bell of silence' which has descended on this Obama's 'most transparent of all administrations' is objectionable. Such as Obama's secret wars, and obstruction of Congressional oversight.
For FISC, the general nature of the data mining profile can be revealed, and the statistical reporting of activity should be made public. The reduction of several billions if not of trillions of metadata strings into recognition patterns requiring less than 3000 specific FISC search warrant requests each year is quite impressive.
For the less than 3000 specific search warrants issued by FISC, the subject and general justification could be revealed atter180 days. Uncensored transcripts of decisions should be available by request a year or two after the decision is entered. Those requesting such information would have to agree to wave their rights to privacy, holding FISC harmless, as part of their application to obtain the data.
" I have not seen an alternative manner of reducing a huge amount of data into the few communications of suspicion .....nor a less intrusive means of screening."
That's because you operate under the premise that "screening" of private communications is a harmless technique, justified in order to prevent crime before it happens.
"Does Professor Barnett feel the this 4th amendment encroachment is more dangerous than not acquiring information to defend the nation?"
Yes, and so do I. No level of terrorism threatens the United States Constitution like these NSA programs do.
"Had it not been for recent leaks, the American public would have no idea of the existence of these programs"
Then how did I know? Because president George W. Bush told us they were analyzing phone call patterns as a means of locating jihad warriors in our midst. And then if suspicious patterns were found, then courts decide if it warrants further investigation, including revealing the identity of the callers.
Anyway, I accept that all of the dangers the author cited are true, and they are indeed dangerous, particularly in the hands of the Left, which knows no bounds of legality or decency when pursuing their political goals. And government work seems to disproportionately attract those on the liberal-left, at least in the current era.
That having been said, I can think of no better weapon against jihad Muslims than this program. They are spread out all around the world, and they propagandize and communicate by website, e-mail, and telephone, all of which leaves a trail to find them. If they conclude it's too risky to use e-mail, websites, and telephone, then that cuts off their primary means of "radicalizing" more people into jihad.
Given that, I'm willing to accept it. But what I will suggest is that the people handling and using the data become a LOT smarter about it. E.g., Edward Snowden -- someone who just became an employee of an NSA contractor just months before, apparently had access to the whole enchilada of data. And was able to download several laptop-fulls of data, and walk off with those laptops, without anyone becoming suspicious. The heads of NSA need to be at least as smart as America's Founders, who didn't trust ultimate power in anyone's hands. NSA needs to realize that NSA workers can be tempted to abuse what is at their fingertips, just like anyone else. And likewise, the top people at NSA can be tempted. No one can be given 100% trust, with so much at stake. To presume only purity from every single worker, is to be foolish.
Snowden previously worked for the NSA. If you want to rely on govt. to be "smart," not much to say.
Cloaked in their 'national security' reasoning, our government doesn't care about 'constitutionality', your opinion or mine. Not to mention many Americans believe what they are told about the NSA and support it's existence. Time will move the NSA back underground where the snakes live.
I don't buy the argument that "they're not listening to specific conversations without a warrant, just collecting data on everyone and analyzing it in aggregate." That's no different than the local police taking a stroll through the homes of every citizen in their jurisdiction, not looking for anything in particular, just collecting data.
Supposedly the type of data being collected would be more analogous to a partolman patrolling the neighborhood from the street collecting locations, addresses, number of cars etc. When they notice an address with a high volume of nonresident vehicle arriving and leaving at odd times, they become suspicious that a crime is occurring in that location and then proceed to get the warrants etc. to search that residence.
I, however, also remain extremely suspicious of what data is collected, how its collected, and the legality of collecting it. From what I've read, the PRISM program is more like spy satellites recording each individuals every public movement and then analyzing our behavior patterns to determine if a potential crime exists. Visit a lot of garden centers? You might be a terrorist. We're supposed to trust that this domestic spying and data collecting simply "doesn't touch" or "doesn't look at" all the data that doesn't demonstrate a criminal pattern. To me that's pure malarky - especially with the Obamination's track record for harassing his political opposition. With the extreme prejudice he and his supporters have against the Tea Party - what proves the "pattern" they're looking for isn't that of Tea Party affiliation. Since they're so confident Tea Partiers are terrorists in waiting, what proves they're not listening to, reading, or analyzing THIS communication because it has the keyword Tea Party in it. They've already done it once.
My feelings on the NSA's activities have been mixed at best, but this other collecting a person's personal financial data really stretches any credibility to any such inquiries.
I wonder if the NSA pays a roylaty to Sting when they play their theme song in the mornings... "Every breath you take Every move you make Every bond you break Every step you take I'll be watching you"
Finally, the WSJ editorial board at least allows an outside writer to criticize the NSA programs, which they valiantly defend. I'm glad this author includes the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau along with the NSA, since it highlights that the same concerns apply to personal data that is economic in nature. Maybe the brains at the WSJ can understand that loss of privacy and growth of government's abusive power at little more easily. They are the same, but for the CFPB the wild (and probably false) claims about protection from terrorists can't be applied.
The trouble is, we know absolutely nothing is going to be done to stop these programs. The author says Congress and the courts SHOULD stop them. We know they won't. What we need is a plan for how to stop them.
Terrorist. Hijackers. Al Qaeda. Najibullah Zazi. What do these words have in common?
The IRA? The Shining Path? The KKK? Mohammedans? From whom are we trying to protect ourselves by sacrificing real liberty for pseudo-security?
Lawfully or unlawfully, rightly or wrongly, it was Mr. Snowden who exposed the secret, deceitful activities of the federal government (in this case, NSA) for what they are ... not lawyers such as Mr. Barnett. Mr. Snowden’s apparently well-intentioned but ill-planned actions followed by his ill-conceived and ill-executed escape have allowed lawyers such as Mr. Barnett to pontificate, albeit correctly, from the lavish comfort of their offices in the District of Corruption while their sole benefactor sits alone and desperate in a Russian airport; his passport invalidated without trial, let alone conviction.
Is breaking the law to expose law-breakers (lying governmental law-breakers, at that) a crime, Mr. Barnett? Your lawyer’s defense of our Constitution is admirable; your willful neglect of even a word about the plight of Mr. Snowden, however, is something else.
Mr. Barnett, does not Obama’s denying Mr. Snowden his internationally-recognized right to seek asylum testify to the indifference of the federal government to the law and custom that it claims to honor? Does not Obama’s denying freedom of travel to an elected president, Mr. Morales, of a sovereign nation, Bolivia, add insult to injury?
Mr. Snowden has shown all us Americans ... not only you, Mr. Barnett ... our government naked. At the very least, we all owe him a debt of acknowledgment, a debt to look long and hard at the ugly beast that he alone exposed, and a debt to face American reality as it is ... not as we wish it were (www.nationonfire.com).
Continuing to address Mark's mention of "concepts of privacy"; hope this is placed somewhere near part one.]
Systematic collection and analysis of "Big Data" is effective, and oddly enough minimizes unneeded intensive action against innocent individuals because it allows separating the clearly innocent from those deserving special suspicion and scrutiny at an early stage of the process. The biggest problem today in police and foreign intelligence is too much data, not too little, and (again oddly) the best way to filter it to only that likely to be useful is to collect as much as possible and use computers to sort it.
A "privacy benefit" of computers is that they do not give a fig for your privacy, but care about only what they are programmed to care about. If looking for indicators indicative of terrorism, they will be blind as bats to pedophilia, illegal gambling, public drunkenness, and driving too fast on the Interstates, things that human investigators checking out a suspect likely would notice and respond to. And the computer programs can be inspected to verify what they are looking for, long after the fact, where a human investigator asked why he did xxx while investigating Joe Smuck 2 years ago may not remember and if he does remember may not tell you the full and accurate truth.
I suggest you accept as a given that Government must, and will, employ means to collect the information it needs. Otherwise, it will fail, and be replaced by Government that will do things much differently from the fail Government, and likely not different in a way you would favor.
Then consider what information it needs, and how it can be collected, analyzed and assessed. Then look at how much can be computerized and automated to maximize effectiveness, minimize cost, and automatically screen out the tons of dross that are accumulated by records systems public and private today. I submit that some people within Government are doing that (based on NSA's recent defense of its conduct, reported by the WSJ) in a manner intended to maximize benefits and minimize costs to the people of the United States.
This is not a simple problem, not subject to easy examination and analysis, but what I see in the papers (to use an old line from Will Rogers, that still seems good 80 years later) leads me to favor the NSA and its arguments.
James, if you were a technical person in the field, you would have a completely different opinion, as I do. I worked in "Electronic Reconnaissance" with the Brown Boxes of the NSA for the government years ago, and I saw the schematic diagrams of the equipment they used in 2006, .. . and we are toast.
Democracy is GONE if they continue to do what they are doing.
You mention one factor that does need to be addressed, "concepts of privacy."
The historians say that privacy basically was a creation of the Dutch in the 17th Century, and they have what appear to be sound arguments supporting that thesis. "Privacy" it would seem is not the normal human condition. There is a reason.
While I am quite happy that privacy did come about, I also recognize that it brings with it forces disfunctional for society, and that the changing nature of our society has intensified the effect of those forces. In particular, anonymity, made possible by privacy, appears to be a major and effective enabler for crime of all sorts and types.
In 1790, U.S. population was just under 4 million, and located somewhere near the East Coast from Maine to Georgia. People were few, population centers were small, people traveled on foot or by slow means of conveyance when they traveled at all, and pretty much everyone was known to and kept track of by a significant fraction of others he might associate t with. In short, people were generally well-known to those they came in contact with.
Today, we have 330 million in 50 states plus minor territories. People travel by car from coast to coast in days, by aircraft in hours. With length of residence in many suburbs averaging 3 to 5 years (changes in job and transfers do move people around) the opportunity for people to be "well-known" to those they live near is severely limited. Cars and public transportation allow people to by-pass local residents and socialize with others of the same interests across a wide area, and this contributes to people being less known to others who live near them. Add to this all the factors sociologists cite as causes for anomie, and you get an idea of the factors making all of us less "well-known" to others we may encounter.
Yet, trust is fundamental to functioning of society, in all arenas, economic, political, social, military, and other -- and this has bearing on opportunities to engage in crime, terrorism, and other "anti-social" activities and to get away with it.
There was a time when one could talk to people who lived near a person, supplement that with talking to people who worked near him if he worked at a distance from his residence, and get a pretty good idea of who/what he was and what his activities were (political, economic, military, etc). Not so today.
Today, to assess a person for basically any qualification important to society, you need information from a variety of places and times that will not often be obvious and may not be readily available even if you know where to go for what time periods. Society must collect the information it needs (and does, or it would fall apart), in the form of records in the police files, in the schools, in the businesses and financial institutions, and in other entities public and private. But discovering information for an individual, tracking out where it may be found, and recognizing it for what it is when crime, terrorism, or other anti-social activities are involved is ineffective when done on the basis of a bit here, a piece there, an odd note over there, and blind luck to see them as all inter-related. [To be continued]
george kamburoff \
Nice lecture, James. But they are not reading it for advice in the government, and instead are taking EVERYTHING they want, starting with the CONTENT of your stuff, and to whom you talk, write, post, or debate online.
It is already too late for discussion.
I agree. This activity is plainly and undeniably unconstitutional. The only basis that the NSA advances for its constitutionality is that they aren't going to read the information without first getting a warrant. But that is basically an admission that a warrant is required, and the violation does not occur when they "read" the information. It occurs when they conduct a "search and seizure," i.e. when they compile the information.
If the Courts do not put a stop to this, then they are basically writing the Fourth Amendment out of the Constitution. Frankly, if they do not stop it, then what use do we have for courts and judges?
I might add that the judges who have passed on it so far have basically demonstrated their own uselessness. Why have them if they are simply going to rubber stamp what the Obama Administration says?
We really must consider that NSA has enough dirt on everyone, including judges, that it can extort or blackmail [them] into doing whatever the admin wants.
Yes, but the real reason they rubber stamp these applications is more interesting than that. If you remember, during the Bush Admin the Dems were outraged that Bush was tapping calls from terrorists overseas without a warrant. They demanded that a judge be involved and that a warrant be obtained. The Bush Admin said it wasn't necessary--these calls were overseas calls involving non-Americans, and if an American was involved, then they would get a warrant. The Democrats and the Judges would not accept that though, claiming it was simple enough to get a warrant, and it would be no burden on the war on terror. As a result, the system was changed so that they now go in front of a judge and get a warrant, but the judge practically rubber stamps the warrant. Why? Because the whole unstated reason they wanted the warrant in the first place was to give jobs to NSA judges. The last thing the NSA judges want is to interfere in the war on terror. They just want the jobs. Having gotten them, they made the assumption that the best way to keep them was to do what the Administration says and rubber stamp the warrants.
Ironically, their actions in doing so have made their involvement in the process meaningless, except that it's a waste of money. We don't need them. They don't do anything useful. We pay their salaries, but they just rubber stamp what the government wants anyway--possibly even giving it a false presumption of correctness. One of the claims made in this NSA scandal is that the judges have ruled that these blanket warrants allowing the NSA to collect info on hundreds of millions of Americans without probable cause are somehow constitutional. I don't see how.
James G. Dickinson
Congressional collaboration in the excesses of the NSA and the FISA court, not to mention other collaborators large and small across the country, is substantiation of the imminent dangers described in John Whitehead's new book, Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, which I commend to all.
Be afraid; be very much afraid.
Dangerous precedents have been set by the likes of Roosevelt, Nixon Bush, etc. for a future dictator to work within the laws of the U.S.
President Obama famously joked in a college commencement address in 2009 at at Arizona State University that he could use the IRS to target political enemies but of course he never would.
It appears that people at the Internal Revenue Service didn't think he was joking.
He also said that Latinos should vote and not just say (in Obama’s words), "We're going to punish our enemies and we're going to reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us."
These “enemies” he spoke of are other American citizens.
Jörg Muth explains in Foreign Policy Magazine: “Interestingly, the literally hundreds of American observers who were regularly send to the old continent during the course of the 19th century never noticed Auftragstaktik, a command concept in which even the most junior officers [and NCOs] were required to make far reaching decisions,”
On February 21, 1934, Werner Willikens, German State Secretary in the Ministry of Food said, “Everyone who has the opportunity to observe it knows that the Führer can hardly dictate from above everything he intends to realize sooner or later. On the contrary, up till now everyone with a post in the new Germany has worked best when he has, so to speak, worked towards the Führer…”
Ian Kershaw in “Working towards the Führer” suggests a strange kind of political structure. Not one in which those in power issue orders but one in which those at the lower end of the hierarchy initiate policies themselves within what they take to be the spirit of the regime and carry on implementing them until corrected.
Not a single written document signed by Hitler has ever been found authorizing the SS murderers to wipe out Untermenschen or to killing foreign slave workers or Jews in concentration death camps or by starving them or working them to death.
In England too, Henry II said, ‘Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?’ and the barons rushed to Canterbury to murder Thomas Becket. No direct order was given, but the courtiers sensed what would please their king.
To get a frightening idea of an ordinary citizen caught in the web of corrupt officials and men in the NSA watch the film (also on the web) “Enemy of The State” with Gene Hackman and Will Smith.
The question is “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” (Who will guard the guards?”).
The price of freedom is constant vigil and independent oversight on every government department as well as those who run our government.
Check out The Guardian's article today, about Microsoft's collaboration, before any kind of NSA or FBI application or order was sought/offered. Microsoft assisted NSA in getting access to emails, chats, cloud storage, and in making Skype video and audio more clear, after MS bought Skype (previously, the audio was ok but video was subpar; MS made sure NSA could capture crystal clear video, too).
There are numerous memos showing how much NSA appreciated Microsoft's proactive assistance in spying on Microsoft's customers, and how it would have been impossible without Microsoft's generous proactive assistance.
In particular, it details how Microsoft went out of its way to help NSA "work around" issues that might allow Outlook.com subscribers to use aliases. MS consolidated all its email products into Outlook.com a few months ago---maybe the sole purpose was to make surveillance easier.
A while ago one of our Community comment boards talked about the new push by MS and Google to try to force people to attach a phone number to their email account (in case you lose your password). MS now requires--requires--2 ways to "reach you" in the event you "lose your password." Think about why [MS] would want to contact you.
The company obviously spent significant sums of money on this spy effort. That would have depressed profits, as that money had nothing to do with the business of the company as shareholders understand it. If this collaboration story causes the stock to tank, is there liability for failure to disclose? Is there liability for undisclosed spending that depressed profits/stock price? Does anybody believe they were smart enough to get the govt. to sign an indemnity/hold harmless agreement?
The article seems to say MS was a more zealous collaborator than, e.g., Google et. al. If I ran MS, I'd make sure I wasn't left hanging all by my lonesome.
**This is all my understanding of the article, so it's my opinion, only.
Who do you think makes all that spy equipment for the government? They do not make it themselves.
Corporations are the real owners of Big Brother.
“The paramount lesson of the Roman experience is actually not peculiar to Rome. It may be, in fact, the most universal lesson of all history: No people who have lost their character have kept their liberties.”
Are We Rome? By Lawrence W. Reed www.fee.org/library/detail/are-we-rome-by-lawrence-w-reed
The critical government problem not being addressed today is aggregation - secret courts, IRS and FEC attacks on conservatives and conservative donors, DoJ attacks on the press and failure to investigate obvious cases of voter fraud, EPA and OSHA attacks on conservative donors, NSA and FBI surveillance of everybody, USPS surveillance of all mail, IRS and Consumer Protection capture and surveillance of all credit and debit card transactions, Obamacare acquisition of all medical records, Democratic party demands for an end to fraud preventing voter identification laws, the ongoing militarization of police forces, etc. etc. etc. are all aimed at amassing power and attacking and suppressing all opposition.
To understand this behavior keep in mind that bureaucrats are punished for solving problems and being efficient – they lose budget and therefore power and status. They are rewarded for loyalty to superiors, growing the bureaucracy and centralizing power - and the State is always and everywhere all about power. Every page, every sentence, every word of legislation and regulation is fertilizer that enables bureaucrats to grow the bureaucracy and the power of the state. The multi-thousand page unread legislation promoted by this administration massively feeds and enables all of this.
To assume these actions are unconnected, uncoordinated and undirected is lunacy. By far the greatest danger and damage is in the aggregate. Clearly America is certainly no longer the "sweet land of liberty".
Q: From Snowden shared documents with you, there is much more information related to Latin America?
A:Yes. For each country that has an advanced communications system, such as from Mexico to Argentina, there are documents that detail how the United States collects the traffic information, the programs that are used to capture the transmissions, the number of interceptions are performed per day, and more. One way to intercept communications is through a telephone corporation in the United States that has contracts with telecommunications companies in most Latin American countries. The important thing will be to see what the reaction of the various governments. I do not think that the governments of Mexico and Colombia do much about it. But maybe those of Argentina and Venezuela itself willing to take action.
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 07/12/2013 10:53 -0400
It is surprising how things change diametrically in 30 short years...
From the Ronald Reagan address to the National Association of Evangelicals, March 8, 1983.
It was C.S. Lewis who, in his unforgettable “Screwtape Letters,” wrote: “The greatest evil is not done now…in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is…not even done in concentration camps and labor camps. In those we see its final result, but it is conceived and ordered; moved, seconded, carried and minuted in clear, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.
Well, because these “quiet men” do not “raise their voices,” because they sometimes speak in soothing tones of brotherhood and peace, because, like other dictators before them, they’re always making “their final territorial demand,” some would have us accept them at their word and accommodate ourselves to their aggressive impulses. But if history teaches anything, it teaches that simpleminded appeasement or wishful thinking about our adversaries is folly. It means the betrayal of our past, the squandering of our freedom.
So, I urge you to speak out against those who would place the United States in a position of military and moral inferiority... I urge you to beware the temptation of pride–the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.
I believe that communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last–last pages even now are being written. I believe this because the source of our strength in the quest for human freedom is not material, but spiritual. And because it knows no limitation, it must terrify and ultimately triumph over those who would enslave their fellow man.
Yes, change your world. One of our founding fathers, Thomas Paine, said, “We have it within our power to begin the world over again.” We can do it, doing together what no one church could do by itself.
Isn't it ironic that 30 years later, those who refuse to "remove themselves from the struggle between right and wrong, between good and evil" and those "who speak out against those who would place the United States in a position of military and moral inferiority" are forced to seek asylum in... the Evil Empire?
Imagine the aircraft of the president of France being forced down in Latin America on "suspicion" that it was carrying a political refugee to safety – and not just any refugee but someone who has provided the people of the world with proof of criminal activity on an epic scale.
Imagine the response from Paris, let alone the "international community", as the governments of the west call themselves. To a chorus of baying indignation from Whitehall to Washington, Brussels to Madrid, heroic special forces would be dispatched to rescue their leader and, as sport, smash up the source of such flagrant international gangsterism. Editorials would cheer them on, perhaps reminding readers that this kind of piracy was exhibited by the German Reich in the 1930s.
The forcing down of Bolivian President Evo Morales's plane – denied airspace by France, Spain and Portugal, followed by his 14-hour confinement while Austrian officials demanded to "inspect" his aircraft for the "fugitive" Edward Snowden – was an act of air piracy and state terrorism. It was a metaphor for the gangsterism that now rules the world and the cowardice and hypocrisy of bystanders who dare not speak its name.
In Moscow, Morales had been asked about Snowden – who remains trapped in the city's airport. "If there were a request [for political asylum]," he said, "of course, we would be willing to debate and consider the idea." That was clearly enough provocation for the Godfather. "We have been in touch with a range of countries that had a chance of having Snowden land or travel through their country," said a US state department official.
The French – having squealed about Washington spying on their every move, as revealed by Snowden – were first off the mark, followed by the Portuguese. The Spanish then did their bit by enforcing a flight ban of their airspace, giving the Godfather's Viennese hirelings enough time to find out if Snowden was indeed invoking article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: "Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution."
Those paid to keep the record straight have played their part with a cat-and-mouse media game that reinforces the Godfather's lie that this heroic young man is running from a system of justice, rather than preordained, vindictive incarceration that amounts to torture – ask Bradley Manning and the living ghosts in Guantánamo.
Historians seem to agree that the rise of fascism in Europe might have been averted had the liberal or left political class understood the true nature of its enemy. The parallels today are very different, but the Damocles sword over Snowden, like the casual abduction of Bolivia's president, ought to stir us into recognising the true nature of the enemy.
Snowden's revelations are not merely about privacy, or civil liberty, or even mass spying. They are about the unmentionable: that the democratic facades of the US now barely conceal a systematic gangsterism historically identified with, if not necessarily the same as, fascism. On Tuesday, a US drone killed 16 people in North Waziristan, "where many of the world's most dangerous militants live", said the few paragraphs I read. That by far the world's most dangerous militants had hurled the drones was not a consideration. President Obama personally sends them every Tuesday.
In his acceptance of the 2005 Nobel prize in literature, Harold Pinter referred to "a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed". He asked why "the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities" of the Soviet Union were well known in the west while America's crimes were "superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged". The most enduring silence of the modern era covered the extinction and dispossession of countless human beings by a rampant US and its agents. "But you wouldn't know it," said Pinter. "It never happened. Even while it was happening it never happened."
This hidden history – not really hidden, of course, but excluded from the consciousness of societies drilled in American myths and priorities – has never been more vulnerable to exposure. Snowden's whistleblowing, like that of Manning and Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, threatens to break the silence Pinter described. In revealing a vast Orwellian police state apparatus servicing history's greatest war-making machine, they illuminate the true extremism of the 21st century. Unprecedented, Germany's Der Spiegel has described the Obama administration as "soft totalitarianism". If the penny is falling, we might all look closer to home.
i have no love for leftist demagogues but yes, this was pretty outrageous. id be pissed if i were morales.
im not a cheerleader but i think what snowden did was important.
privacy is rapidly becoming a quaint notion.
we have to fight for it...or it will be gone.
anyone who thinks the world is a shit place now, wait until you can't take a dump without the govt. knowing what it smelled like
The irony is that by changing the rules on diplomatic immunity the US is making the F-16's less valuable. Countries who had no chance against the US military can do what the US and its allies just did. Give Air Force One safe passage then revoke it and force the plan down. The President is a hostage and the F-16's are too late.
Swanmaster -> snix
Actually the pirate party does represent a better option than any of the mainstream political parties.
However, what I want to say here is how panicked the corporate-state machine must be to scramble so many apparatchiks (AKA trolls) in an attempt to undermine John Pilger's superb article. I've never seen such a sorry list of corporate-government apologists lining up to comment upon publication of a CiF article before.
They're all peddling the same line: Snowden isn't a hero, he's a criminal. The irony of this cannot be lost on any intelligent person; a simple analysis of what Ed Snowden exposed - the gross abuse of power and illegal activities of a US government agency against its own citizens and those around the world - clearly shows who is the criminal and who is the man upholding the truth.
From Ban Ki-Moon's obsequious guff to these apparatchik shills, we can see that the corporate machine IS rocked, it's ruffled, the cracks in the illusion are becoming harder and harder to paper over, and the Emperor is naked.
God bless you Ed Snowden, wherever you are.
Oh, and just to add that George Orwell's oft-quoted (these days) maxim is entirely appropriate here:
In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act
What Snowden did was illegal, what America is doing is Tyranny.
John Locke said it..."Tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, which nobody can have a right to; and this is making use of the power any one has in his hands, not for the good of those who are under it, but for his own private, separate advantage".
Seems to fit the bill.
As was pointed out by Craig Murray : 'The forcing down of the Bolivian President’s jet was a clear breach of the Vienna Convention by Spain and Portugal, which closed their airspace to this Head of State while on a diplomatic mission.'
Manfridayconsulting -> MerkinOnParis
Vienna Convention is so .... 20th century. This is global fascism.
Gerbetticus -> MerkinOnParis
Will there be international law in the 21st century?
It's turning out to a fucking nightmare.
We can rage John, but we are impotent. The sick beast that is the United Police States of America will only be healed from within. And that day is coming.
The 13 colonies did not unite to fight a republican war of liberation against British tyranny in order to swap it for a darker, deeper, home-grown variety.
Amerika is teetering on a knife edge. Watch this space.. . it's gonna be awesome! Come on down Virginia... your country needs you.
cudbird -> shinotora
I'd like you to be right but in fact the 13 colonies did not unite to fight a republican war of liberation against British tyranny. The revolt was initially funded by American businesses trying to avoid tax. The average American rebel fell for the freedom ruse hook line and sinker.
After the collapse of the USSR the rule of international law has disappeared in a unipolar world. We are in the wild west with the survival of the most vicious.
bill4me -> thankgodimanatheist
Perhaps the millions of people in Eastern Europe are rather grateful for this collapse.
michalakis -> bill4me
I'm not so sure about that. I'd say the majority are vastly ambivalent about the collapse of the Eastern Bloc.
bill4me -> michalakis
You must be joking!
Oh, they loved to have the tanks on the streets of Budapest, of Berlin, of Warsaw.
Have you ever visited eastern Europe?
michalakis -> bill4me
Of course. But, more importantly, Eastern Europe has visited me. I'm sure the Rumanian labourers who now have to travel abroad while they work all day for a pittance in southern Europe, where they are also discriminated against, are delighted at the change in the nominal political system that rules them.
I'm sure the intelligent, beautiful women of Russia and Hungary who would now be professionals or some sort, but whom capitalism has condemned to a life of sex-for-sale because of their particular USP, are over the moon. Central Europe came out well; Eastern Europe didn't.
finnkn -> michalakis
You might say that. This recent survey suggests something entirely different, particularly in the former Soviet dominated countries of Eastern Europe.
michalakis -> finnkn
Actually, the study would seem to back me up. Also, there isn't enough information on who was polled to allow any conclusions to be drawn--for example, the millions of Rumanian day-workers in Southern Europe certainly won't have been, as they have left Rumania, just as the pretty girls have been forced out of Hungary and Russia.
The most enduring silence of the modern era covered the extinction and dispossession of countless human beings by a rampant US and its agents.
This is a silly argument. What does it mean? All conflicts end up with countless human beings being killed on both sides. The fact that one side is ahead does not mean anything.
This will not be forgotten in Latin America, it will be added to the long history of intervention and mafia like policies of the Western world towards our nations.
AJQDuggan -> Coribantes
This will not be forgotten in Latin America, it will be added to the long history of intervention and mafia like policies of the Western world towards our nations.
Nah, they're more concerned with the mismanagement and corruption at home. Has Caracas had a toilet paper delivery recently?
rgrabman -> AJQDuggan
Uh... Caracas is in Venezuela. And, having only one paper mill and one paper products company in Venezuela, a temporary shortage of paper products is something that should be expected when incomes have risen to the point that people are using more of them. What does that have to do with Evo Morales and the French anyway?
metropolis10 -> haveblue
This equals to putting Evo's life in danger. In fact the US thought seriously that the plane was carrying Snowden and they could make it crash by denying landing!?
Also who had the right from Austria to search the plane? Any warrants from police based on what?
This was a deliberate act of piracy. To seize an elected a legitimate government representative may be construed by some as an act of war. Report Share this comment on Twitter Share this comment on Facebook
So would you like that? You want Bolivia to declare war on the US?
I thought presidential aircrafts would be protected by diplomatic immunity, but evidently not so.
edwardrice -> ID721024
Frank McCarry -> edwardrice
On paper and America can do anything and get away with it. It doesn't answer to any international law! America sucks big time! Time the people took it back.
qwerd -> Frank McCarry
Let's not forget that the Europeans have been willing lap-dogs in all this...
Fully agree with john. The bloody usa managing the world as prostitutes. It is very sad to see how these countries are mere puppets of the america. One order, one country, one president who is in turn a puppet of the military-financial establishment. Democracy...what a joke ! Poor Evo morales ! What a humilliation !
angelamarica -> tiquitaca
I don't think Evo Morales was humiliated. In fact, his pleasant demeanor throughout the whole ordeal was very refreshing. The West and USA were definitely humiliated though, exposed, and looking as if they are blaming a double game, with the EU pretending to be shocked by the spying but in reality, complying with the Americans.
People still think of the US as FDR middle-class country full of freedom. It was, for a time.Still there was Mccarthyism, even in that time. In the 19th century, US dispossessed the Indian from Dakota so cronies of the then president, Grant, could explore the biggest gold mine of that time, contrary to the beliefs of sacredness of the site by the Indians. The 20s were the time where the president that voted and campaigned for Prohibition was a passed-out drunk, many times met sleeping his drink in the floor of the White House. He still gave away The Teapot Dome, the US oil reserve to some cronies. The 19th century US stock exchange was a merry go round manipulated by few people known as the Robber Barons. that is what the country is returning or already returned. A few uber-rich who will dispute who has the most luxurious abode/yacht/plane and the rest...there will always be MacDonald's.
"peace will come at the barrel of a gun" to quote a popular song. American foreign policy since the Monroe Doctrine in 1823 hasn't changed much and Pilger has his finger on the button once again. The arrogance overreaching and decadence that has brought down all past Empires will bring this one down too and given the damage they have done in their short period of dominance it will probably be soon. I once lived there for a long time and loved it but it's a shame to see what has become of it over the past 40 years or so.
This weekend's epic indignation by Francois Hollande at the NSA, coupled with his laughable ultimatum for Barack Obama to stop spying, was almost good enough to mask the fact that none other than France has its own version of the NSA happily intercepting and recording every form of electronic communication. Almost.
Overnight French Le Monde reported that "France, like the United States with the Prism system, has a large-scale espionage telecommunications device. Le Monde is able to reveal that the General Directorate for External Security (DGSE, special services) has systematically collected and spied on the electromagnetic signals emitted by computers or phones in France, as well as flows between French and abroad all our communications. Politicians are aware of this, but secrecy about the Big Brother operation is the rule."
... ... ..
Reuters has more:
France's external intelligence agency spies on the French public's phone calls, emails and social media activity in France and abroad, the daily Le Monde said on Thursday.
It said the DGSE intercepted signals from computers and telephones in France, and between France and other countries, although not the content of phone calls, to create a map of "who is talking to whom". It said the activity was illegal.
"All of our communications are spied on," wrote Le Monde, which based its report on unnamed intelligence sources as well as remarks made publicly by intelligence officials.
"Emails, text messages, telephone records, access to Facebook and Twitter are then stored for years," it said.
The activities described are similar to those carried out by the U.S. National Security Agency, as described in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The documents revealed that the NSA has access to vast amounts of Internet data such as emails, chat rooms and video from large companies such as Facebook and Google, under a program known as Prism.
They also showed that the U.S. government had gathered so-called metadata - such as the time, duration and numbers called - on all telephone calls carried by service providers such as Verizon.
France's DGSE was not immediately available for comment.
France's seven other intelligence services, including domestic secret services and customs and money-laundering watchdogs, have access to the data and can tap into it freely as a means to spot people whose communications seem suspicious, whom they can then track with more intrusive techniques such as phone-tapping, Le Monde wrote.
What is amusing is that some are still surprised by such ongoing revelations. The sad truth is that every "democratic", "developed" government has been violating the privacy of its citizens for years and in this electronic day and age, no such thing as privacy exists.
Which is to be expected: Egypt just showed what happens to "democracy" when it is not properly cultivated by the 1% which has a vested interest in giving the peasantry the impression that people still have rights, and liberties and their vote "counts" just so the public attention is diverted from what truly matters: the endless transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich under the guise of "wealth effect", "democracy", "representation" and other lies.
June 30, 2013 | NYTimes.com
According to Der Spiegel, the N.S.A. installed listening devices in European Union diplomatic offices in downtown Washington and tapped into its computer network. The Guardian reported that the eavesdropping involved three different operations focused on the office’s 90 staff members. Two were electronic implants, and one involved the use of antennas to collect transmissions.
“In this way, the Americans were able to access discussions in E.U. rooms, as well as e-mails and internal documents on computers,” Der Spiegel reported.
The American code name for a similar eavesdropping operation aimed at the union’s mission to the United Nations is “Perdido,” The Guardian reported. That operation involved the collection of data transmitted by bugs placed inside electronic devices, and another covert operation appeared to yield copies of everything on computer hard drives at the mission, the newspaper reported. Among the documents the newspaper said it had obtained from Mr. Snowden was a floor plan of the mission, in midtown Manhattan.
July 3, 2013 | NYTimes.com
Leslie James Pickering noticed something odd in his mail last September: a handwritten card, apparently delivered by mistake, with instructions for postal workers to pay special attention to the letters and packages sent to his home.
“Show all mail to supv” — supervisor — “for copying prior to going out on the street,” read the card. It included Mr. Pickering’s name, address and the type of mail that needed to be monitored. The word “confidential” was highlighted in green.
“It was a bit of a shock to see it,” said Mr. Pickering, who with his wife owns a small bookstore in Buffalo. More than a decade ago, he was a spokesman for the Earth Liberation Front, a radical environmental group labeled eco-terrorists by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Postal officials subsequently confirmed they were indeed tracking Mr. Pickering’s mail but told him nothing else.
As the world focuses on the high-tech spying of the National Security Agency, the misplaced card offers a rare glimpse inside the seemingly low-tech but prevalent snooping of the United States Postal Service.
Mr. Pickering was targeted by a longtime surveillance system called mail covers, a forerunner of a vastly more expansive effort, the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program, in which Postal Service computers photograph the exterior of every piece of paper mail that is processed in the United States — about 160 billion pieces last year. It is not known how long the government saves the images.
Together, the two programs show that postal mail is subject to the same kind of scrutiny that the National Security Agency has given to telephone calls and e-mail.
The mail covers program, used to monitor Mr. Pickering, is more than a century old but is still considered a powerful tool. At the request of law enforcement officials, postal workers record information from the outside of letters and parcels before they are delivered. (Opening the mail would require a warrant.) The information is sent to the law enforcement agency that asked for it. Tens of thousands of pieces of mail each year undergo this scrutiny.
The Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program was created after the anthrax attacks in late 2001 that killed five people, including two postal workers. Highly secret, it seeped into public view last month when the F.B.I. cited it in its investigation of ricin-laced letters sent to President Obama and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. It enables the Postal Service to retrace the path of mail at the request of law enforcement. No one disputes that it is sweeping.
“In the past, mail covers were used when you had a reason to suspect someone of a crime,” said Mark D. Rasch, who started a computer crimes unit in the fraud section of the criminal division of the Justice Department and worked on several fraud cases using mail covers. “Now it seems to be, ‘Let’s record everyone’s mail so in the future we might go back and see who you were communicating with.’ Essentially you’ve added mail covers on millions of Americans.”
Bruce Schneier, a computer security expert and an author, said whether it was a postal worker taking down information or a computer taking images, the program was still an invasion of privacy.
10 May 2013 | The Anti-Empire Report
What is it that makes young men, reasonably well educated, in good health and nice looking, with long lives ahead of them, use powerful explosives to murder complete strangers because of political beliefs?
I’m speaking about American military personnel of course, on the ground, in the air, or directing drones from an office in Nevada.
Do not the survivors of US attacks in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya and elsewhere, and their loved ones, ask such a question?
The survivors and loved ones in Boston have their answer – America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
That’s what Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving Boston bomber has said in custody, and there’s no reason to doubt that he means it, nor the dozens of others in the past two decades who have carried out terrorist attacks against American targets and expressed anger toward US foreign policy. 1 Both Tsarnaev brothers had expressed such opinions before the attack as well. 2 The Marathon bombing took place just days after a deadly US attack in Afghanistan killed 17 civilians, including 12 children, as but one example of countless similar horrors from recent years. “Oh”, an American says, “but those are accidents. What terrorists do is on purpose. It’s cold-blooded murder.”
But if the American military sends out a bombing mission on Monday which kills multiple innocent civilians, and then the military announces: “Sorry, that was an accident.” And then on Tuesday the American military sends out a bombing mission which kills multiple innocent civilians, and then the military announces: “Sorry, that was an accident.” And then on Wednesday the American military sends out a bombing mission which kills multiple innocent civilians, and the military then announces: “Sorry, that was an accident.” … Thursday … Friday … How long before the American military loses the right to say it was an accident?
Terrorism is essentially an act of propaganda, to draw attention to a cause. The 9-11 perpetrators attacked famous symbols of American military and economic power. Traditionally, perpetrators would phone in their message to a local media outlet beforehand, but today, in this highly-surveilled society, with cameras and electronic monitoring at a science-fiction level, that’s much more difficult to do without being detected; even finding a public payphone can be near impossible.
From what has been reported, the older brother, Tamerlan, regarded US foreign policy also as being anti-Islam, as do many other Muslims. I think this misreads Washington’s intentions. The American Empire is not anti-Islam. It’s anti-only those who present serious barriers to the Empire’s plan for world domination.
The United States has had close relations with Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar, amongst other Islamic states. And in recent years the US has gone to great lengths to overthrow the leading secular states of the Mideast – Iraq, Libya and Syria.
Moreover, it’s questionable that Washington is even against terrorism per se, but rather only those terrorists who are not allies of the empire. There has been, for example, a lengthy and infamous history of tolerance, and often outright support, for numerous anti-Castro terrorists, even when their terrorist acts were committed in the United States. Hundreds of anti-Castro and other Latin American terrorists have been given haven in the US over the years. The United States has also provided support to terrorists in Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Kosovo, Bosnia, Iran, Libya, and Syria, including those with known connections to al Qaeda, to further foreign policy goals more important than fighting terrorism.
Under one or more of the harsh anti-terrorist laws enacted in the United States in recent years, President Obama could be charged with serious crimes for allowing the United States to fight on the same side as al Qaeda-linked terrorists in Libya and Syria and for funding and supplying these groups. Others in the United States have been imprisoned for a lot less.
As a striking example of how Washington has put its imperialist agenda before anything else, we can consider the case of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an Afghan warlord whose followers first gained attention in the 1980s by throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil. This is how these horrible men spent their time when they were not screaming “Death to America”. CIA and State Department officials called Hekmatyar “scary,” “vicious,” “a fascist,” “definite dictatorship material”. 3 This did not prevent the United States government from showering the man with large amounts of aid to fight against the Soviet-supported government of Afghanistan.4 Hekmatyar is still a prominent warlord in Afghanistan.
A similar example is that of Luis Posada who masterminded the bombing of a Cuban airline in 1976, killing 73 civilians. He has lived a free man in Florida for many years.
USA Today reported a few months ago about a rebel fighter in Syria who told the newspaper in an interview: “The afterlife is the only thing that matters to me, and I can only reach it by waging jihad.” 5 Tamerlan Tsarnaev may have chosen to have a shootout with the Boston police as an act of suicide; to die waging jihad, although questions remain about exactly how he died. In any event, I think it’s safe to say that the authorities wanted to capture the brothers alive to be able to question them.
It would be most interesting to be present the moment after a jihadist dies and discovers, with great shock, that there’s no afterlife. Of course, by definition, there would have to be an afterlife for him to discover that there’s no afterlife. On the other hand, a non-believer would likely be thrilled to find out that he was wrong.
Let us hope that the distinguished statesmen, military officers, and corporate leaders who own and rule America find out in this life that to put an end to anti-American terrorism they’re going to have to learn to live without unending war against the world. There’s no other defense against a couple of fanatic young men with backpacks. Just calling them insane or evil doesn’t tell you enough; it may tell you nothing.
But this change in consciousness in the elite is going to be extremely difficult, as difficult as it appears to be for the parents of the two boys to accept their sons’ guilt. Richard Falk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, stated after the Boston attack: “The American global domination project is bound to generate all kinds of resistance in the post-colonial world. In some respects, the United States has been fortunate not to experience worse blowbacks … We should be asking ourselves at this moment, ‘How many canaries will have to die before we awaken from our geopolitical fantasy of global domination?’” 6
Officials in Canada and Britain as well as US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice have called for Falk to be fired. 7
President Kennedy’s speech, half a century ago
I don’t know how many times in the 50 years since President John F. Kennedy made his much celebrated 1963 speech at American University in Washington, DC 8 I’ve heard or read that if only he had lived he would have put a quick end to the war in Vietnam instead of it continuing for ten more terrible years, and that the Cold War might have ended 25 years sooner than it did. With the 50th anniversary coming up June 13 we can expect to hear a lot more of the same, so I’d like to jump the gun and offer a counter-view.
Let us re-examine our attitude toward the Soviet Union. It is discouraging to think that their leaders may actually believe what their propagandists write. It is discouraging to read a recent authoritative Soviet text on Military Strategy and find, on page after page, wholly baseless and incredible claims such as the allegation that “American imperialist circles are preparing to unleash different types of war … that there is a very real threat of a preventative war being unleashed by American imperialists against the Soviet Union” … [and that] the political aims – and I quote – “of the American imperialists are to enslave economically and politically the European and other capitalist countries … [and] to achieve world domination … by means of aggressive war.”
It is indeed refreshing that an American president would utter a thought such as: “It is discouraging to think that their leaders may actually believe what their propagandists write.” This is what radicals in every country wonder about their leaders, not least in the United States. For example, “incredible claims such as the allegation that ‘American imperialist circles are preparing to unleash different types of war’.”
In Kennedy’s short time in office the United States had unleashed many different types of war, from attempts to overthrow governments and suppress political movements to assassination attempts against leaders and actual military combat – one or more of these in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, British Guiana, Iraq, Congo, Haiti, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Cuba and Brazil. This is all in addition to the normal and routine CIA subversion of countries all over the world map. Did Kennedy really believe that the Soviet claims were “incredible”?
And did he really doubt that that the driving force behind US foreign policy was “world domination”? How else did he explain all the above interventions (which have continued non-stop into the 21st century)? If the president thought that the Russians were talking nonsense when they accused the US of seeking world domination, why didn’t he then disavow the incessant US government and media warnings about the “International Communist Conspiracy”? Or at least provide a rigorous definition of the term and present good evidence of its veracity.
Quoting further: “Our military forces are committed to peace and disciplined in self-restraint.” No comment.
“We are unwilling to impose our system on any unwilling people.” Unless of course the people foolishly insist on some form of socialist alternative. Ask the people of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, British Guiana and Cuba, just to name some of those in Kennedy’s time.
“At the same time we seek to keep peace inside the non-Communist world, where many nations, all of them our friends …” American presidents have been speaking of “our friends” for many years. What they all mean, but never say, is that “our friends” are government and corporate leaders whom we keep in power through any means necessary – the dictators, the kings, the oligarchs, the torturers – not the masses of the population, particularly those with a measure of education.
“Our efforts in West New Guinea, in the Congo, in the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent, have been persistent and patient despite criticism from both sides.”
Persistent, yes. Patient, often. But moral, fostering human rights, democracy, civil liberties, self-determination, not fawning over Israel … ? As but one glaring example, the assassination of Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, perhaps the last chance for a decent life for the people of that painfully downtrodden land; planned by the CIA under Eisenhower, but executed under Kennedy.
“The Communist drive to impose their political and economic system on others is the primary cause of world tension today. For there can be no doubt that, if all nations could refrain from interfering in the self-determination of others, the peace would be much more assured.”
See all of the above for this piece of hypocrisy. And so, if no nation interfered in the affairs of any other nation, there would be no wars. Brilliant. If everybody became rich there would be no poverty. If everybody learned to read there would be no illiteracy.
“The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war.”
So … Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Cuba, and literally dozens of other countries then, later, and now, all the way up to Libya in 2012 … they all invaded the United States first? Remarkable.
And this was the man who was going to end the war in Vietnam very soon after being re-elected the following year? Lord help us.
This is not to put George W. Bush down. That’s too easy, and I’ve done it many times. No, this is to counter the current trend to rehabilitate the man and his Iraqi horror show, which partly coincides with the opening of his presidential library in Texas. At the dedication ceremony, President Obama spoke of Bush’s “compassion and generosity” and declared that: “He is a good man.” The word “Iraq” did not pass his lips. The closest he came at all was saying “So even as we Americans may at times disagree on matters of foreign policy, we share a profound respect and reverence for the men and women of our military and their families.” 9 Should morality be that flexible? Even for a politician? Obama could have just called in sick.
At the January 31 congressional hearing on the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense, Senator John McCain ripped into him for his critique of the Iraq war:
“The question is, were you right or were you wrong?” McCain demanded, pressing Hagel on why he opposed Bush’s decision to send 20,000 additional troops to Iraq in the so-called ‘surge’.
“I’m not going to give you a yes-or-no answer. I think it’s far more complicated than that,” Hagel responded. He said he would await the “judgment of history.”
Glaring at Hagel, McCain ended the exchange with a bitter rejoinder: “I think history has already made a judgment about the surge, sir, and you are on the wrong side of it.” 10
Before the revisionist history of the surge gets chiseled into marble, let me repeat part of what I wrote in this report at the time, December 2007:
The American progress is measured by a decrease in violence, the White House has decided – a daily holocaust has been cut back to a daily multiple catastrophe. And who’s keeping the count? Why, the same good people who have been regularly feeding us a lie for the past five years about the number of Iraqi deaths, completely ignoring the epidemiological studies. A recent analysis by the Washington Post left the administration’s claim pretty much in tatters. The article opened with: “The U.S. military’s claim that violence has decreased sharply in Iraq in recent months has come under scrutiny from many experts within and outside the government, who contend that some of the underlying statistics are questionable and selectively ignore negative trends.”
To the extent that there may have been a reduction in violence, we must also keep in mind that, thanks to this lovely little war, there are several million Iraqis either dead, wounded, in exile abroad, or in bursting American and Iraqi prisons. So the number of potential victims and killers has been greatly reduced. Moreover, extensive ethnic cleansing has taken place in Iraq (another good indication of progress, n’est-ce pas? nicht wahr?) – Sunnis and Shiites are now living more in their own special enclaves than before, none of those stinking mixed communities with their unholy mixed marriages, so violence of the sectarian type has also gone down. On top of all this, US soldiers have been venturing out a lot less (for fear of things like … well, dying), so the violence against our noble lads is also down.
One of the signs of the reduction in violence in Iraq, the administration would like us to believe, is that many Iraqi families are returning from Syria, where they had fled because of the violence. The New York Times, however, reported that “Under intense pressure to show results after months of political stalemate, the [Iraqi] government has continued to publicize figures that exaggerate the movement back to Iraq”; as well as exaggerating “Iraqis’ confidence that the current lull in violence can be sustained.” The count, it turns out, included all Iraqis crossing the border, for whatever reason. A United Nations survey found that 46 percent were leaving Syria because they could not afford to stay; 25 percent said they fell victim to a stricter Syrian visa policy; and only 14 percent said they were returning because they had heard about improved security.
How long can it be before vacation trips to “Exotic Iraq” are flashed across our TVs? “Baghdad’s Beautiful Beaches Beckon”. Just step over the bodies. Indeed, the State Department has recently advertised for a “business development/tourism” expert to work in Baghdad, “with a particular focus on tourism and related services.” 11
Another argument raised again recently to preserve George W.’s legacy is that “He kept us safe”. Hmm … I could swear that he was in the White House around the time of September 11 … What his supporters mean is that Bush’s War on Terrorism was a success because there wasn’t another terrorist attack in the United States after September 11, 2001 while he was in office; as if terrorists killing Americans is acceptable if it’s done abroad. Following the American/Bush strike on Afghanistan in October 2001 there were literally scores of terrorist attacks – including some major ones – against American institutions in the Middle East, South Asia and the Pacific: military, civilian, Christian, and other targets associated with the United States.
Even the claim that the War on Terrorism kept Americans safe at home is questionable. There was no terrorist attack in the United States during the 6 1/2 years prior to the one in September 2001; not since the April 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. It would thus appear that the absence of terrorist attacks in the United States is the norm.
- William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, chapters 1 and 2, for cases up to about 2003; later similar cases are numerous; e.g., Glenn Greenwald, “They Hate US for our Occupations”, Salon, October 12, 2010 ↩
- Huffington Post, April 20, 2013; Washington Post, April 21 ↩
- Tim Weiner, Blank Check: The Pentagon’s Black Budget (1990), p.149-50. ↩
- William Blum, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II ↩
- USA Today, December 3, 2012 ↩
- ForeignPolicyJournal.com, April 21, 2013 ↩
- The Telegraph (London), April 25, 2013; Politico.com, April 24 ↩
- Full text of speech↩
- Remarks by President Obama at Dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library↩
- Los Angeles Times, February 1, 2013 ↩
- Anti-Empire Report, #52, December 11, 2007↩
Other critics suggested the lockdown represented a massive overreaction that was symptomatic of a larger social crisis. Steven Rosenfeld argued that "beyond lingering questions of whether the government went too far by shutting down an entire city and whether that might encourage future terrorism, a deeper and darker question remains: why is America's obsession with evil so selective?" This was an important point and was largely ignored by most commentators on the tragedy. Implicit in Rosenfeld's question is why the notion of security and safety are limited to personal security and the fear of attacks by terrorists rather than the rise of a gun culture, the shredding of the safety net for millions of Americans, the imprisonment of one out of every 100 Americans, or the transformation of public schools into adjuncts of the punishing and surveillance state.
Lockdown as a policy and mode of control misrepresents the notion of security by reducing it to personal safety and thereby mobilizing fears that demand trading civil liberties for increased militarized security. The lockdown that took place in Boston serves as a reminder of how narrow the notion of security has become in that it is almost entirely associated with personal safety but never with the insecurities that derive from poverty, a lack of social provisions, and the incarceration binge. Most importantly, it now serves as a metaphor for how we address problems facing a range of institutions including immigration detention centers, schools, hospitals, public housing and prisons. Lockdown is the new common sense of militarized society, the zone of unchecked surveillance, policing, and state brutality.
Security in this instance is reduced to issues of law and order and mirrors a Hobbesian free-for-all, a world that "reveres competitiveness and celebrates unrestrained individual responsibility, with an antipathy to anything collective that might impede market forces" - a world in which the Darwinian survival of the fittest ethos rules and the only values that matter are exchange values. In this panopticon-like social order, there is little understanding of society as a public good, of the importance of providing public necessities such as decent housing, job programs for the unemployed, housing for the poor and homeless, health care for everyone, and universal education for young people.
In a society where critical analysis and explanation of violent attacks of this nature are dismissed as terrorist sympathizing, there is a stultifying logic that assumes that contextualizing an event is tantamount to justifying it. This crippling impediment to public dialogue may be why the militarized response to the Boston Marathon bombings, infused with the fantasy of the Homeland as a battlefield and the necessity of the paramilitarized surveillance state, was for the most part given a pass in mainstream media. Of course, there is more at stake here than misplaced priorities and the dark cloud of historical amnesia and anti-intellectualism, there is also the drift of American society into a form of soft authoritarianism in which boots on the ground and the securitization of everyday life now serve either as a source of pride, entertainment, or for many disposable groups, a source of fear.
Yet, in the immediate aftermath of the marathon bombing, shock and collective dislocation left little room to think about the context in which the bombing took place or the implications of a lockdown strategy that hints at the broader danger of exchanging security for freedom. Any attempt to suggest that the overly militarized response to the bombings was less about protecting people than legitimating the ever expanding reach of military operations to solve domestic problems was either met with disdain or silence in the dominant media. Even more telling was the politically offensive reaction to such critics and the intensity of a right-wing diatribe that used the Boston Marathon bombing as an excuse to further the expansion of the punishing state with its apparatuses of militarization, surveillance, secrecy, and its embrace of lawless states of exception. Equally repulsive was how the Boston bombing produced an ample amount of nativist paranoia about immigrants and the quest for an "enemy combatant" behind every door.
In the midst of the emotional fervor that followed the bloody Boston Marathon bombings, a number of pundits decried any talk about a possible militarized overreaction to the event and the hint that such tactics pointed to the dangers of a police state. One critic in a moment of emotive local hysteria referred to such critics as "outrage junkies," claimed they were "masturbating in public," and insisted he was washing his hands of what he termed "bad rubbish." This particular line of thought with its discursive infantilism and echoes of nationalistic jingoism ominously hinted that what happened in Boston could only register legitimately as a deeply felt emotional event, one that was desecrated by trying to understand it within a broader historical and political context.
Another register of bad faith was evident in the comments of right-wing pundits, broadcasting elites, and squeamish liberals who amped up the frenzied media spectacle surrounding the marathon bombing. Many of them suggested, without apology, that the country should be grateful for an increase in invasive searches, the suspension of constitutional rights, the embrace of total surveillance, and the ongoing normalization of the security state and Islamophobia. One frightening offshoot of the Boston Marathon bombing was the authoritarian tirade unleashed among a range of government officials that indicated how close dissent is to being treated as a crime and how under siege public space is by the forces of manufactured terrorism. For example, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) used the attacks in an effort to undo immigration reform, no longer concealing his disdain for immigrants, especially Muslims and Mexicans. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) argued that President Obama should not only deny Tsarnaev his constitutional rights by refusing to read him his Miranda Rights, but also hold him as "an enemy combatant for intelligence gathering purposes." As one commentator pointed out, "This is pretty breathtaking. Graham is suggesting that an American citizen, captured on American soil, should be deprived of basic constitutional rights."
Representative Peter King (R-N.Y.) reasserted his long standing racism by repeatedly arguing that the greatest threat of terrorism faced by the U.S. "is coming from the Muslim community" and that it might be time for state and federal authorities to spy on all Muslims. According to King, "Police have to be in the community, they have to build up as many sources as they can, and they have to realize that the threat is coming from the Muslim community and increase surveillance there," adding "we can't be bound by political correctness." King seems to think that dismissing the rhetoric of political correctness provides a rationale for translating into policy his Islamophobia and the national hallucination it feeds. Of course, King and others are simply channeling the racism of the cartoonish Ann Coulter, who actually suggested that all "unauthorized immigrants in the United States might be terrorists." This nativist paranoia is not new and has a long and disgraceful legacy in American history.
What is new in the current historical moment is how easily nativist paranoia and a culture of cruelty have become normalized and generated an acceptable public lexicon more characteristic of state terrorism and a military state than a "free and open" democracy. For instance, New York State Sen. Greg Ball (R), channeling Dick Cheney, took this logic of state terrorism to its inevitable end point, reminding Americans of the degree to which the United States has lost its moral compass, when he sent a message from his Twitter account, suggesting that the authorities torture Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. As Ball put it, "So, scum bag #2 in custody. Who wouldn't use torture on this punk to save more lives?" There is more at work here than an evasion of principle, to say nothing of international law. There is an erasure of the very notion of a substantive and democratic polity, and a frightening collective embrace of an authoritarianism that points to the final rasp of democracy in the United States. Such unconsidered remarks should compel us to examine the state's use of lockdown procedures within a savage market-driven society that sanctions the return of the 19th century debtor's prisons in which people are jailed - and their lives ruined - for not being able to pay what amounts to trivial fines. The culture of punishment and cruelty is also evident in the attempt on the part of some West Virginia Republican Party legislators who are pushing for a policy that would force low-income school children to work in exchange for free lunches. The flight from ethical responsibility associated with the rise of the punishing state and the politics of the lockdown is also evident in the willingness of police forces around the country to push young children into the criminal justice system. More specifically, there is a frightening, even normalized willingness in American life to align politics and everyday life with the forces of militarization, law enforcement officials, and the dictates of the national security state.
The lockdown and ongoing search for those responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings was an eminently political event because it amplified the dreadful potential and real consequences of the never-ending war on terror and the anti-democratic processes it has produced at all levels of government along with an increasing diminishment of civil liberties. The script has become familiar and includes the authorized use of state-sponsored torture, the unchecked power of the President to conduct targeted assassinations, the use of warrantless searches, extraordinary renditions, secret courts, and the continuing monitoring of targeted citizens.
Since 9/11 we have witnessed the rise of a national-security-surveillance state and the expansion of a lockdown mode of existence in a range of institutions that extend from schools and airports to the space of the city itself. The meaning of lockdown in this context has to be understood in broader terms as the use of military solutions to problems for which such approaches are not only unnecessary but further produce authoritarian and anti-democratic policies and practices. Under such circumstances, not only have civil liberties been violated in the name of national security, but the promise of national security has given rise to policies which are punitive, steeped in the logic of revenge, and support the rise of a punishing state whose echoes of authoritarianism are often lost in the moral comas that accompany the country's infatuation with war and the militarization of everyday life.
Glenn Greenwald, a columnist for The Guardian, succinctly insists that the Boston Marathon bombing is a political event because it "connects to larger questions about our culture and because it was infused with all kinds of political messages about Muslims, about radicalism, about what the proper role of the police and the military are in the United States." While there has been some criticism over what was perceived as the unnecessary imposition of a lockdown in Boston, and especially Watertown, what has been missed in many of these arguments is that the US is already in lockdown mode, which has been intensifying since 9/11. A number of critics have raised questions about the abridgement of civil rights and the specter of excessive policing after the marathon bombing as one-off events, but few have discussed the continuity and expansion of the logic of lockdown predating September 11 which can be traced back to the massive incarceration of disproportionate numbers of people of color beginning in the early 1970s.
This history has been addressed by Christian Parenti, Tom Englehardt, Angela Davis, Michelle Alexander, and others and need not be repeated here, but what does need to be addressed is how the concept and tactic of the lockdown has moved far beyond the walls of the prison and now shapes a whole range of institutions, making clear how the United States has moved into a lockdown mode that is consistent with the precepts of an authoritarian state. While the Boston lockdown was more of a request for the public to stay inside, it displayed all of the attributes of martial law, especially in Watertown where house-to-house searches took on the appearance of treating the residents as feared criminals.
Lockdown cannot be understood outside of the manufactured war on terrorism and the view, aptly expressed by Lindsey Graham, that the Boston Marathon bombing "is Exhibit A of why the homeland is the battlefield." Graham's comments embrace the dangerous correlate that everyone is a possible enemy combatant and that domestic militarization and its embrace of perpetual war is a perfectly legitimate practice, however messy it might be when measured against democratic principles, human rights, and the most basic precepts of constitutional law. Lockdown as a concept and strategy gains its meaning and legitimacy under specific historical conditions informed by particular modes of ideology, governance, and policies.
At a time when the United States has embraced a number of anti-democratic practices extending from state torture to the ruthless militarized logic of a Darwinian politics of cruelty and disposability, the symbolic nature of the lockdown is difficult to both ignore and remove from the authoritarian state that increasingly relies on it as a form of policing and disciplinary control. This becomes all the more obvious by the fact that the lockdown in Boston appears to be a major overreach compared to the response of other countries to terrorist acts. As Michael Cohen, a correspondent for The Guardian, points out:
The actions allegedly committed by the Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, were heinous. Four people dead and more than 100 wounded, some with shredded and amputated limbs. But Londoners, who endured IRA terror for years, might be forgiven for thinking that America over-reacted just a tad to the goings-on in Boston. They're right - and then some. What we saw was a collective freak-out like few that we've seen previously in the United States. It was yet another depressing reminder that more than 11 years after 9/11 Americans still allow themselves to be easily and willingly cowed by the "threat" of terrorism.
Some would argue that locking down an entire city because a homicidal killer was on the loose can be attributed to how little experience Americans have with daily acts of terrorism, unlike Israel, Baghdad, and other cities which are constantly subject to such attacks. While there is an element of truth to such arguments, what is missing from this position is a different and more frightening logic. Americans have become so indifferent to the militarization of everyday life that they barely blink when an entire city, school, prison, or campus is locked down. In a society in which everyone is treated as a potential enemy combatant, misfit, villain, or criminal "to be penalized, locked up or locked out," it is not surprising that institutions and policies are constructed that normalize a range of anti-democratic practices. These would include everything from invasive body searches by the police and the mass incarceration of people of color to the ongoing surveillance and securitization of schools, workplaces, the social media, Internet, businesses, neighborhoods, and individuals, all of which mimic the tactics of a police state. At a time when prison, poverty, and a culture of cruelty and punishment inform each other and encompass more and more Americans, the "governing-through-crime" complex moves across America like a fast-spreading virus. In its wake, Mississippi schoolchildren are handcuffed for not wearing a belt or the wrong color shoes, young mothers who cannot pay a traffic ticket are sent to jail, and according to Michelle Alexander "More African-American men are in prison or jail, on probation or parole than were enslaved in 1850, before the Civil War began."
These examples are not merely anecdotal. They point to the frightening degree to which a society marked by a particularly savage violence in which lockdown becomes a central tool and organizing logic in controlling those growing populations now considered disposable and subject to the machinery of social and civil death. The racist grammars of state violence that emerged during and in the aftermath of the lockdown of Boston speak to a connection between the violence of disposability that haunts American life and the increasing reliance on the state's use of force to implement and maintain its structures of inequality, misplaced power, and domination. Within this system of control and domination, matters of moral, social, and political responsibility are silenced in the name of securitization, even as efforts to pass legislation on gun control are routinely displaced by the assertion of individual rights. For instance, Americans rightly mourn the victims of the Boston bombings but say nothing about the ongoing killing of hundreds of children in the streets of Chicago largely due to the abundance of high-powered weaponry and the gratuitous celebration of the spectacle of violence in American culture. Nor is there a public outcry and mourning for the tragic deaths of over 200 children killed as a result of drone attacks launched by the Obama administration in Afghanistan and other countries said to harbor terrorists. Evil in this equation when employed by the American media and its complicit politicians becomes too narrow and self-serving.
Accordingly, the rush to the lockdown mode must be understood within a wider military metaphysics, largely informed by the dictates of an authoritarian society, the ongoing war on terror, and the establishment of the permanent warfare state, which now moves across and shapes a wide range of sites and institutions. As a metaphysic, lockdown is an essential mode of governance, ideology, and practice that defines everyone as either a soldier, enemy combatant, or a willing client of the security state. One implication here is that the war on terror actively wages a war on the very possibility of judgment, informed argument, and critical agency itself. More specifically, the lockdown mode is hostile to dissent, the questioning of authority, and its disciplinary practices are steeped in a long history of abuse extending from harassing prison inmates, turning schools into prisons, transforming factories into slave labor camps, bullying student protesters, transforming black and brown communities into armed camps, and treating public housing as a war zone. It is a practice that emerges out of the glorification of war and the appeal to a state of emergency and exception. Moreover, the values and practices it legitimates blur the lines between the wars at home and abroad and the ongoing investment in the culture of war and machineries of death.
Tom Englehardt has eloquently argued that the National Security Complex, with its "$75 billion or more budget," continues to accelerate and that "the Pentagon is, by now, a world unto itself, with a staggering budget at a moment when no other power or combination of powers comes near to challenging this country's might." Moreover, under the guise of the war on terror, the Bush and Obama administrations have "lifted the executive branch right out of the universe of American legality. They liberated it to do more or less what it wished, as long as 'war,' 'terrorism,' or 'security' could be invoked. Meanwhile, with their Global War on Terror well launched and promoted as a multigenerational struggle, they made wartime their property for the long run."
The lockdown mode exalts military authority and thrives in a society that "can no longer even expect our public institutions to do anything meaningful to address meaningful problems." One indication of the militarization of American society is the high social status now accorded to the military itself and the transformation of soldiers into objects of national reverence. As Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri point out,
What is most remarkable is not the growth in the number of soldiers in the United States but rather their social stature... Military personnel in uniform are given priority boarding on commercial airlines, and it is not uncommon for strangers to stop and thank them for their service. In the United States, rising esteem for the military in uniform corresponds to the growing militarization of the society as a whole. All of this despite repeated revelations of the illegality and immorality of the military's own incarceration systems, from Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib, whose systematic practices border on if not actually constitute torture.
At the same time, military values no longer operate within the exclusive realm and marginalized space of the armed forces or those governing structures dedicated to defense. On the contrary, the ideas, values and profits emerging from the war sector flood civilian society to create what Charles Derber and Yale Magrass call a militarized society, which, as they put it,
develops a culture and institutions which program civilians for violence at home as well as abroad. War celebrates the heroism of soldiers who use the same style weapons and ammunition used by the mass shooters at Newtown, Los Angeles or Columbine. A warrior society values its armed forces as heroic protectors of freedom, sending a message that the use of guns [and the organized production of violence are] morally essential.
Military values in America have become one of the few sources of civic pride. In part, this explains the public's silence in the face of not only the eradication and suppression of civil liberties, public values and democratic institutions by the expanding financial elite and military-industrial-complex but also the transformations of a number of institutions into militarized spheres more concerned about imposing a punitive authority rather than creating the conditions for the production of an engaged and critical citizenry. Lockdown politics signals the rise of an anti-politics, the rise of a new authoritarianism - an era of liminal drift in which democracy does not merely get thinned out but begins to collapse into dangerous forms of militarization that are increasingly normalized. Since when are SWAT teams viewed as the highest expression of national honor?
Militarism thrives on the mass-produced culture of fear and the spectacle of violence. It abhors dissent and flourishes in an ever-expanding web of secrecy. Both Bush and Obama have used the cult of secrecy to silence whistleblowers, allow those who have committed torture under the government direction to go free, and refused those who have been interrogated illegally to take their case to the courts. In the age of illegal legalities, the rule of law disappears into a vast abyss of secret memos, personal preferences, classified documents, targeted killings, and secret missions conducted by special operations forces. Tom Englehardt rightly argues that America has become a country locked into the ethical-stripping fantasy that the rule of law not only still prevails but applies to everyone. He writes:
What it means to be in such a post-legal world - to know that, no matter what acts a government official commits, he or she will never be brought to court or have a chance of being put in jail - has yet to fully sink in. In reality, in the Bush and Obama years, the United States has become a nation not of laws but of legal memos, not of legality but of legalisms - and you don't have to be a lawyer to know it. The result? Secret armies, secret wars, secret surveillance, and spreading state secrecy, which meant a government of the bureaucrats about which the American people could know next to nothing. And it's all 'legal.'
The cult of secrecy in the age of the lockdown suggests that the United States has more in common with authoritarian regimes than with flourishing democracies. Yet, the American people still believe they live in what is touted in the mainstream media and right-wing cultural apparatuses as a country that represents the apogee of freedom and democracy. Why aren't people pouring into the streets of American cities protesting the rise of the prison and military as America's dominant institutions, especially when, as Brian Terrell argues, "prisons and the military, America's dominant institutions, exist not to bring healing to domestic ills or relief from foreign threats but to exacerbate and manipulate them for the profit of the wealthiest few, at great cost and peril for the rest of us?"
What will it take for the American public to connect the increasing militarization of everyday life to the ways in which the prison-industrial complex destroys lives and for-profit corporations have the power to put poor people in jails for being in debt. Or for that matter when school authorities punish young children by putting them in seclusion rooms while on a larger scale the US government increasingly relies on solitary confinement in detaining immigrants. When will the American people link images of the "shattered bodies, dismembered limbs, severed arteries ... and terrified survivors" to the reports of over 200 young children killed in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia as a result of drone attacks launched by faux video gamers sitting in dark rooms in cities thousands of miles away from their targets? In the face of the Boston Marathon bombings, the question that haunts the American public is not about our capacity for compassion and solidarity for the victims of this tragedy but how indifferent we are to the conditions that too readily have turned this terrible tragedy into just another exemplary register of the war on terror and a further legitimization for the military-industrial-national security state.
Violence and its handmaidens, militarism and military culture, have become essential parts of the fabric of American life. We live in a culture in which a lack of imagination is matched by diminishing intellectual visions and a collective refusal to rebel against injustices, however blatant and corrosive they may be. For instance, a political system completely corrupted by big money is barely the subject of sustained analysis and public outrage. The mortgaging of the future of many young people to the incessant greed of casino capitalism and the growing disparities in income and wealth does little to diminish the public's faith in the fraud of the free market. The embarrassing judgments of a judicial system that punishes the poor and allows the rich to go free in the face of unimaginable financial crimes boggles the mind. The challenge facing Americans is not the risk of illusory hopes but those undemocratic economic, political, and cultural forces that hold sway over American life, intent on destroying civic society and any vestige of agency willing to challenge them.
Young people, especially those in the Occupy movement, the Quebec protesters, and the student resisters in France, Chile and Greece seem currently to represent the only hope we have left in the United States and abroad for a display of political and moral courage in which they are willing individually and collectively to oppose the authority of the market and a growing lockdown state while still raising fundamental questions about the project of democracy and why they have been left out of it. Salman Rushdie has argued that political courage has become ambiguous and that the American public, among others, has "become suspicious of those who take a stand against the abuses of power or dogma" or even worse, are blamed increasingly for upsetting people, given their willingness to stand against and challenge orthodoxy or bigotry. Gone, he argues, are the writers and intellectuals who opposed Stalinism, capitalist tyranny, and the various religious and ideological orthodoxies that reduce thinking and critically engaged subjects to anti-intellectual fundamentalists and political cowards, or even worse, willing accomplices to power.
Of course, there are brave intellectuals all over the world such as Ai Weiwei, Angela Davis, Noam Chomsky, Stuart Hall, Olivia Ward, and others who do not tie their intellectual capital to the possibility of a summer cruise, the rewards provided to those who either shut up or sell their souls to the intelligence agencies who offer research funds, or the likes of Fox News that offers anti-public intellectuals instant celebrity status and substantial reward for parading the virtues of being uninformed and thoughtless, demonstrating the pedagogical virtues of keeping the public politically illiterate while making it easier to push risk-takers to the margins of society. An Noam Chomsky has pointed out, these are pseudo public intellectuals whose most distinguishing feature is not only "acceptance within the system of power and a ready path to privilege, but also the inestimable advantage of freedom from the onerous demands of thought, inquiry, and argument."
American culture powers a massive disimagination machine in which historical memory is hijacked as struggles by the oppressed disappear, the "state as the guardian of the public interest is erased," and the memory of institutions serving the public good vanishes. The memories of diverse struggles for democracy need to be resurrected in order to reimagine a politics capable of reclaiming democratic institutions of governance, culture, and education; moreover, the educative nature of politics has to be addressed in order to develop both new forms of individual and collective agency and vast social movements that can challenge the global concentration of economic and political power held by a dangerous class of financial and wealthy elites.
Gayatri Spivak has argued that "without a strong imagination, there can be no democratic judgment, which can imagine something other than one's own well-being."  The current historical conjuncture dominated by the discourse and institutions of neoliberalism and militarization present a threat not just to the economy but to the very possibility of imagining an alternative to a machinery of death that now reaches into every aspect of daily life. A generalized fear now shapes American society, one that thrives on insecurity, precarity, dread of punishment, and a concern with external threats. Any struggle that matters will have to imagine and fight for a society in which it becomes possible once again to imagine the project of a substantive democracy. Central to such a struggle is the educational task of inquiring not only how democracy has been lost under the current regime of neoliberal capitalism with its gangster rulers and utter disregard for its production of organized irresponsibility but also how the project of democracy can be retrieved through the joint power and efforts of workers, young people, educators, minorities, immigrants, and others. At the present historical moment, lockdown culture is being challenged in many societies. A fight for democracy is emerging across the globe led by young people, workers, and others unwilling to live in societies in which lockdown becomes an organizing tool for social control and repression. The future of democracy rests precisely with such groups both in the United States and abroad who are willing to create new social movements built on a powerful vision of the promise of democracy and the durable organizations that make it possible.
 Eduardo Galeano, "The Theatre of Good and Evil, La Jornada (September 21, 2001), translated by Justin Podur.
 Andrew O'Hehir, "How Boston exposes America's dark post-9/11 bargain," Salon.com (April 20, 2013).
 Ibid., O'Hehir, "How Boston exposes America's dark post-9/11 bargain"
 Zygmunt Bauman, In Search of Politics (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999), p. 13.
 Michael Schwalbe, "The Lockdown Society Goes Primetime," Counterpunch, (April 24, 2013); see also, Josh Gerstein and Darren Samuelsohn, "Boston lockdown: The new normal?" Politico, (April 20, 2013); and Wendy Kaminer, "'We Don't Cower in Fear': Reconsidering the Boston Lockdown," The Atlantic, (April 21, 2013).
 Steven Rosenfeld, "America's Focus on Terrorism Blinds Us To Everyday Violence and Suffering," Alternet, (April 22, 2013).
 Guy Standing, The Precariat: A Dangerous Class (New York: Bloomsury, 2011), p. 132.
 William Rivers Pitt, "Random Notes From the Police State," Truthout (April 23, 2013).
 On the cost of American militarism and national security, see Melvin R. Goodman, National Insecurity: the Cost of American Militarism (San Francisco: City Lights, 2013).
 Igor Volsky, "Top Opponent Of Immigration Reform Totally Loses It During Immigration Hearing," ThinkProgress (April 22, 2013).
 David A. Graham, "Shorter Lindsey Graham: Constitution? What Constitution?" The Atlantic (April 19, 2013).
 Ibid., Graham, "Shorter Lindsey Graham: Constitution? What Constitution?"
 On the question of racism and the response to the Boston Marathon bombing, see David Sirota, "The huge, unanswered questions post-Boston," Salon, (April 21, 2013) and Andrew O'Hehir, "How Boston exposes America's dark post-9/11 bargain," Salon.com, (April 20, 2013).
 Adam Serwer, "5 of the Worst Reactions to the Boston Manhunt," Mother Jones, (April 19, 2013). Some critics argued persuasively that the government response to the Boston marathon bombing indicated the degree to which a bloated surveillance state failed. See: John Stanton, "US National Security State Fails in Boston," Dissident Voice, (April 20, 2013) and Falguni A. Sheth and Robert E. Prasch, "In Boston, our bloated surveillance state didn't work," Salon, (April 22, 2013).
 Ibid., Serwer, "5 of the Worst Reactions to the Boston Manhunt."
 Katie McDonough, "New York state senator on Boston suspect: "Who wouldn't use torture on this punk?"," Salon, (April 20, 2013)
 A Report by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, How Ohio's Debtors' Prisons Are Ruining Lives and Costing Communities (Cleveland, Ohio: ACLU, 2013).
 Hannah Groch-Begley, "Fox Asks If Children Should Work For School Meals," Media Matters, (April 25, 2013).
 See: Annette Fuentes, Lockdown High: When the Schoolhouse Becomes a Jailhouse (New York: Verso, 2011); Erik Eckholm, "With Police in Schools, More Children in Court," The New York Times, (April 12, 2013).
 I am drawing from the excellent article by Jonathan Turley, "10 Reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free," The Washington Post (January 13, 2012).
 Cited in Bill Moyers, "The Boston Manhunt as a 'Political' event," Truthout (April 25, 2013).
 One of the few who provided this type of analysis was Michael Schwalbe, "The Lockdown Society Goes Primetime," Counterpunch, (April 24, 2013).
 Jennifer Rubin, "Sen. Lindsey Graham: Boston bombing "is Exhibit A of why the homeland is the battlefield'," The Washington Post (April 19, 2013).
 Michael Cohen, "Why does America lose its head over 'terror' but ignore its daily gun deaths?" The Guardian (April 21, 2013).
 Guy Standing, The Precariat: A Dangerous Class (New York: Bloomsury, 2011), p. 132.
 A number of excellent sources take up this issue, see, for example, James Bamford, The Shadow Factory: The NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America (New York: Anchor Books, 2009); Zygmunt Baum and David Lyons, Liquid Surveillance: A Conversation (London: Polity, 2013); Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Declaration (New York: Argo Navis Author Services, 2012). Relatedly, see Stephen Graham, Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism (New York: Verso, 2011).
 Jonathan Simon, Governing Through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).
 Nicole Flatow, "Report: Mississippi Children Handcuffed in School For Not Wearing a Belt," Nation of Change, (January 18, 2013); Suzi Parker, "Cops Nab 5-Year- Old for Wearing Wrong Color Shoes to School," Take Part, (January 18, 2013).
 Alex Kane, "Miss a Traffic Ticket, Go to Jail? The Return of Debtor Prison (Hard Times, USA)," Alternet, (February 3, 2013).
 Cited in Dick Price, "More Black Men Now in Prison System Then Were Enslaved", LA Progressive, (March 31, 2011).
 See, for instance, Robert Scheer, "277 Million Boston Bombings," Truthdig, (April 23, 2013).
 Tom Engelhardt, "Washington's Militarized Mindset," TomDispatch, (July 5, 2012).
 Tom Engelhardt, "The American Lockdown State," TomDispatch, (February 5, 2013).
 Steven Rosenfeld, "What Is the Cause of Violent and Senseless Massacres in America?" AlterNet, (July 24th, 2012).
 Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Declaration (New York: Argo Navis Author Services, 2012), p. 22.
 Charles Derber and Yale Magrass, "When Wars Come Home," Truthout, (February 19, 2013).
 Tom Engelhardt, "The American Lockdown State," TomDispatch, (February 5, 2013).
 Brian Terrell, "Drones, Sanctions, and the Prison Industrial Complex," Monthly Review Magazine, (April 24, 2013).
 See: Mark Karlin, "How the Prison-Industrial Complex Destroys Lives: An Interview with Marc Mauer," Truthout (April 26, 2013). There are many excellent resources on the subject, see, for instance, Angela Y. Davis, Abolition Democracy: Beyond Prisons, Torture, and Empire Interviews with Angela Y. Davis (New York: Seven Stories, 2005); Marc Bauer, Race to Incarcerate (New York: New Press, 2006); Anne-marie-Cusac, Cruel and Unusual: The Culture of Punishment in America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009) and Michelle Alexander, New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New York: New Press, 2012).
 Ethan Bronner, "Poor Land in Jail as Companies Add Huge Fees for Probation," New York Times (July 2, 2012), p. A1.
 Bill Lichtenstein, "A Terrifying Way to Discipline Children," New York Times, (September 8, 2012).
 Ian Urbina and Catherine Rentz, "Immigrants Held in Solitary Cells, Often for Weeks," New York Times, (March 23, 2013).
 Barry Lando, "The Boston Marathon Bombing, Drones and the Meaning of Cowardice," Counterpunch, (April 16, 2013).
 Joshua Kurlantzick, Democracy in Retreat (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013) and Hardt and Negri, Declaration.
 Peter Edelman, So Rich, So Poor: Why It's So Hard to End Poverty in America (New York: The New Press, 2012); Joseph Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality (New York: W.W. Norton, 2012); see also the brilliant article on iequality by Michael Yates, "The Great Inequality," Monthly Review, (March 1, 2012).
 See, Henry A. Giroux, Youth in Revolt (Boulder: Paradigm, 2013).
 Salman Rushdie, "Wither Moral Courage," New York Times (April 27, 2013). P. SR5.
 Noam Chomsky, The Culture of Terrorism (Boston: South End Press, 1988), p. 21.
 Pierre Bourdieu, Acts of Resistance (New York: Free Press, 1998), p. 1.
 Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, "Changing Reflexes: Interview with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak," Works and Days, 55/56: Vol. 28, 2010, pp. 1-2. Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission of the author.
May 4, 2013 | The Guardian
CNN Clemente Former FBI counterterrorism agent Tim Clemente, on CNN, discussing government's surveillance capabilities.
The real capabilities and behavior of the US surveillance state are almost entirely unknown to the American public because, like most things of significance done by the US government, it operates behind an impenetrable wall of secrecy. But a seemingly spontaneous admission this week by a former FBI counterterrorism agent provides a rather startling acknowledgment of just how vast and invasive these surveillance activities are.
Over the past couple days, cable news tabloid shows such as CNN's Out Front with Erin Burnett have been excitingly focused on the possible involvement in the Boston Marathon attack of Katherine Russell, the 24-year-old American widow of the deceased suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. As part of their relentless stream of leaks uncritically disseminated by our Adversarial Press Corps, anonymous government officials are claiming that they are now focused on telephone calls between Russell and Tsarnaev that took place both before and after the attack to determine if she had prior knowledge of the plot or participated in any way.
On Wednesday night, Burnett interviewed Tim Clemente, a former FBI counterterrorism agent, about whether the FBI would be able to discover the contents of past telephone conversations between the two. He quite clearly insisted that they could:
BURNETT: Tim, is there any way, obviously, there is a voice mail they can try to get the phone companies to give that up at this point. It's not a voice mail. It's just a conversation. There's no way they actually can find out what happened, right, unless she tells them?
CLEMENTE: "No, there is a way. We certainly have ways in national security investigations to find out exactly what was said in that conversation. It's not necessarily something that the FBI is going to want to present in court, but it may help lead the investigation and/or lead to questioning of her. We certainly can find that out.
BURNETT: "So they can actually get that? People are saying, look, that is incredible.
CLEMENTE: "No, welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not."
"All of that stuff" - meaning every telephone conversation Americans have with one another on US soil, with or without a search warrant - "is being captured as we speak".
On Thursday night, Clemente again appeared on CNN, this time with host Carol Costello, and she asked him about those remarks. He reiterated what he said the night before but added expressly that "all digital communications in the past" are recorded and stored:
Let's repeat that last part: "no digital communication is secure", by which he means not that any communication is susceptible to government interception as it happens (although that is true), but far beyond that: all digital communications - meaning telephone calls, emails, online chats and the like - are automatically recorded and stored and accessible to the government after the fact. To describe that is to define what a ubiquitous, limitless Surveillance State is.
There have been some previous indications that this is true. Former AT&T engineer Mark Klein revealed that AT&T and other telecoms had built a special network that allowed the National Security Agency full and unfettered access to data about the telephone calls and the content of email communications for all of their customers. Specifically, Klein explained "that the NSA set up a system that vacuumed up Internet and phone-call data from ordinary Americans with the cooperation of AT&T" and that "contrary to the government's depiction of its surveillance program as aimed at overseas terrorists . . . much of the data sent through AT&T to the NSA was purely domestic." But his amazing revelations were mostly ignored and, when Congress retroactively immunized the nation's telecom giants for their participation in the illegal Bush spying programs, Klein's claims (by design) were prevented from being adjudicated in court.
That every single telephone call is recorded and stored would also explain this extraordinary revelation by the Washington Post in 2010:
Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications.
It would also help explain the revelations of former NSA official William Binney, who resigned from the agency in protest over its systemic spying on the domestic communications of US citizens, that the US government has "assembled on the order of 20 trillion transactions about US citizens with other US citizens" (which counts only communications transactions and not financial and other transactions), and that "the data that's being assembled is about everybody. And from that data, then they can target anyone they want."
Despite the extreme secrecy behind which these surveillance programs operate, there have been periodic reports of serious abuse. Two Democratic Senators, Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, have been warning for years that Americans would be "stunned" to learn what the US government is doing in terms of secret surveillance. tia logo Strangely, back in 2002 - when hysteria over the 9/11 attacks (and thus acquiescence to government power) was at its peak - the Pentagon's attempt to implement what it called the "Total Information Awareness" program (TIA) sparked so much public controversy that it had to be official scrapped. But it has been incrementally re-instituted - without the creepy (though honest) name and all-seeing-eye logo - with little controversy or even notice.
Back in 2010, worldwide controversy erupted when the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates banned the use of Blackberries because some communications were inaccessible to government intelligence agencies, and that could not be tolerated. The Obama administration condemned this move on the ground that it threatened core freedoms, only to turn around six weeks later and demand that all forms of digital communications allow the US government backdoor access to intercept them. Put another way, the US government embraced exactly the same rationale invoked by the UAE and Saudi agencies: that no communications can be off limits. Indeed, the UAE, when responding to condemnations from the Obama administration, noted that it was simply doing exactly that which the US government does:
"'In fact, the UAE is exercising its sovereign right and is asking for exactly the same regulatory compliance - and with the same principles of judicial and regulatory oversight - that Blackberry grants the US and other governments and nothing more,' [UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef Al] Otaiba said. 'Importantly, the UAE requires the same compliance as the US for the very same reasons: to protect national security and to assist in law enforcement.'"
That no human communications can be allowed to take place without the scrutinizing eye of the US government is indeed the animating principle of the US Surveillance State. Still, this revelation, made in passing on CNN, that every single telephone call made by and among Americans is recorded and stored is something which most people undoubtedly do not know, even if the small group of people who focus on surveillance issues believed it to be true (clearly, both Burnett and Costello were shocked to hear this).
Some new polling suggests that Americans, even after the Boston attack, are growing increasingly concerned about erosions of civil liberties in the name of Terrorism. Even those people who claim it does not matter instinctively understand the value of personal privacy: they put locks on their bedroom doors and vigilantly safeguard their email passwords. That's why the US government so desperately maintains a wall of secrecy around their surveillance capabilities: because they fear that people will find their behavior unacceptably intrusive and threatening, as they did even back in 2002 when John Poindexter's TIA was unveiled.
Mass surveillance is the hallmark of a tyrannical political culture. But whatever one's views on that, the more that is known about what the US government and its surveillance agencies are doing, the better. This admission by this former FBI agent on CNN gives a very good sense for just how limitless these activities are.
I hope they indict themselves good and proper. That's evidence of their wrongdoing, when they are in the dock.
Rather than specific prosecutions, my reading of this article is that it is concerned that the US government has overseen the widespread interception of private communications beyond that expected, or likely approved by ordinary citizens, under a veil of secrecy.
This is a shocking situation. It is hypocritical of the state to do this while condemning others. And, it is unlikely that the state has acquired a fair mandate to engage in such extensive activities.
Privacy has value....which must be set against any supposed benefits of surveillance, it is the chilling "like it or not" attitude that is the problem. And what matters here is that the state starts to respect whether people like it or not.
04 May 2013
@Montecarlo2 - yes, it makes everyone potentially subject to blackmail. It's what made J.E. Hoover so powerful.
Records from the former soviet republics are still being used in this manner. You just need a contact in the records dept. In Romania and Bulgaria they can't tell the government, the intelligence agents from the Mafia. There is too much overlap and this is part of the problem. Even when you get rid of the securitate, the corruption is too deep to excise. Don't expect USA State Dept to help. They like these corrupt officials because they are controllable.
All governments, especially those who claim to be "of the people, by the people and for the people", want to control their masses.
What is so concerning, is the organizations normally there to protect the people from their government; such as, the legislature, the judicial system and the ACLU, have all left the building. The people are doomed and are left with no recourse against the tyranical takeover by Big Brother.
04 May 2013
@TheGreatRonRafferty 04 May 2013 2:12pm. Get cifFix for Chrome.
I have only seen evidence that this is happening in the US. Where is the evidence that ALL communications are being recorded and stored in UAE and Saudi?
Recording every communication for archival in massive facilities with Petabytes of storage is a big undertaking, if it were happening now in the UK I think there'd be some evidence of it. There may be plans for it, but I don't see any evidence it is in progress.
04 May 2013 3:20pm
Back in 2010, worldwide controversy erupted when the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates banned the use of Blackberries because some communications were inaccessible to government intelligence agencies, and that could not be tolerated. The Obama administration condemned this move on the ground that it threatened core freedoms, only to turn around six weeks later and demand that all forms of digital communications allow the US government backdoor access to intercept them. Put another way, the US government embraced exactly the same rationale invoked by the UAE and Saudi agencies: that no communications can be off limits.
See Obama was just being Obama. He wasn't condemning the UAE and Saudi governments because banning Blackberry communications interfered with the core freedoms of the people to communicate freely. Banning Blackberry communications interfered with the government's core freedom to spy on the people. No communication between Saudi and UAE citizens and/or others = no interceptions by US government. Obama wanted the Saudi and UAE governments to let the Blackberrys power up because being banned interfered with interception and full spectrum awareness at all times. Presumably, if the Saudis and UAE governments can intercept calls, the US government can intercept the interceptions.
It's full spectrum global surveillance man. The governments of the world cannot allow the proles to communicate freely with one another because that is a threat to "the controls" in place to make sure the proles never get uppity and organize effectively using technology to challenge their governments. Unless and until of course one government or group decide another government is getting too uppity to the elites of a relatively more powerful government(s) in which case it's time for regime change and "the controls" come off to the degree necessary.
Okay maybe I watched too much of the "UFO trials" and have had too much caffeine. Maybe I'm a little paranoid given it's a known fact all domestic US communications are being collected. Or maybe not.
Anyway off to do a little paramutual wagering on the ponies. Big day. Kentucky Derby. Wooooo hoooooo. Come on #3, come on #3,
@mickstephenson 04 May 2013 2:30pm. Get cifFix for Chrome.
i'm not going to say too much as I can't give any sources available on-line..however - Compression algorithms have significantly become more adept.
Where once only a couple of years ago this volume of data storage would have been incomprehensible that is not the case now.
Of course the use use of these compression algorithms is not only limited to data storage but also comprises revolutionary advancements in digital image making and collation.
These advancements are not public, these are military only.
The UK has computer scientists and Artificial Intelligence engineers that are on the forefront internationally. (Some banks and other dubious funds use these types of algorithms in algorithmic trading)
I agree with TheGreatRonRafferty, if you think it's not happening in the UK your deluded. In fact, a lot of the technology comes from the UK.
I'm not going to believe that military scientists are so far ahead of civilian ones just because you say so, if you have documents off line proving so scan them and make them available to those who want them (such as me).
In a thread on here a few weeks ago some people clearly believed that geo-stationary satellites could resolve humans walking around cities in real time like on 24. Which is clearly fantasy.
The NSA throwing tons of money into creating petabytes of storage using off the shelf components so it can keep a copy of every conversation, is viable enough. Why bring secret futuristic compression algorithms into it. I have no doubt there is algorithms and codecs with better compression ratios, that are secret, but lightyears ahead? I doubt it.
Recording every communication for archival in massive facilities with Petabytes of storage is a big undertaking, if it were happening now in the UK I think there'd be some evidence of it.
Echelon is about the sharing and transference of such resources and data load among the Anglo world.
Recording every communication for archival in massive facilities with Petabytes of storage is a big undertaking, if it were happening now in the UK I think there'd be some evidence of it. There may be plans for it, but I don't see any evidence it is in progress.
I don't think you understand how this game works. The US government, being the nominated "victim" of a worldwide terror war, spends half the global total on "defense and security/intelligence" every year. That means it has the most capacity for things like spying on everybody.
As others have noted, phone calls have long been a target, and ECHELON was the first widespread international iteration of this capability.
Today, the UK relies on the US to spy on Britons, and this is why the UK government is very careful to maintain good relations between its own security/intelligence agencies and those of the USA. That is what all those threats about 'withdrawing cooperation' were about when the UK considered refusing an extradition and making public some details of US agencies behaviour in a UK court case.
Average citizens were horrified by the idea that anti-terror sleuthing might be endangered by this lack of cooperation, but the UK government itself has no fear of that: what it fears is the loss of its ability to monitor its own citizens.
Effectively, it has outsourced domestic tyranny to the US.
As have many other self-styled liberal democracies in the West: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, etc.
Similarly countries like Yemen and the Pakistani military have effectively outsourced domestic suppression operations to the US military.
When that Iranian lady published her letter about how we have more in common with her than she has with her government, and her government has more in common with our government than we do, she wasnt kidding.
These kinds of "revelations" are only more evidence that what she said was correct, and it is long past time we realised it. What we've glimpsed here is the tip of a very large submerged structure that, as Glenn noted, operates behind a dense wall of secrecy.
see this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Menwith_Hill
RAF Menwith Hill is a Royal Air Force station near Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England which provides communications and intelligence support services to the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The site contains an extensive satellite ground station and is a communications intercept and missile warning site and has been described as the largest electronic monitoring station in the world.
@goto100 04 May 2013 9:46pm. Get cifFix for Firefox.
The NSA and IBM knew about differential cryptanalysis well before the open cryptographic community.
How do you stop them from telling? Are you saying that the threat of several years in Federal PMITA prison wouldn't discourage you from any talking shop with outsiders? The NDA is common enough practice in the private sector anyway; classification is just a bigger, badder NDA so what's the diff?
you live in the United States of America, you live in a giant prison where liberty and freedom are slowly being strangled to death. In this country, the control freaks that run things are obsessed with watching, tracking, monitoring and recording virtually everything that we do. Nothing is private anymore. Everything that you do on the Internet is being monitored. All of your phone calls are being monitored. In fact, if law enforcement authorities suspect that you have done something wrong, they will use your cell phone microphone to listen to you even when you think your cell phone is turned off. In many areas of the country, when you get into your car automated license plate readers track you wherever you go, and in many major cities when you are walking on the streets a vast network of security cameras and "smart street lights" are constantly watching you and listening to whatever you say. The TSA is setting up "internal checkpoints" all over the nation, Homeland Security is encouraging all of us to report any "suspicious activity" that our neighbors are involved in and the federal government is rapidly developing "pre-crime" technology that will flag us as "potential terrorists" if we display any signs of nervousness. If you are flagged as a "potential terrorist", the U.S. military can arrest you and detain you for the rest of your life without ever having to charge you with anything. Yes, the United States of America is rapidly being turned into a "Big Brother" prison grid, and most Americans are happily going along with it.
The sad thing is that this used to be "the land of the free and the home of the brave".
So what in the world happened?
A fundamental shift in our culture has taken place. The American people have eagerly given up huge chunks of liberty and freedom in exchange for vague promises of increased security.
Our country is now run by total control freaks and paranoia has become standard operating procedure.
We were told that the terrorists hate our liberties and our freedoms, and that we needed to fight the terrorists so that we could keep our liberties and our freedoms.
But instead, the government keeps taking away all of our liberties and our freedoms.
How in the world does that make any sense?
Have the terrorists won?
As a country, we have moved so far in the direction of communist China, the USSR and Nazi Germany that it is almost impossible to believe.
Yes, turning the United States of America into a giant prison may make us all slightly safer, but what kind of life is this?
Do we want to be dead while we are still alive?
Is this the price that we want to pay in order to feel slightly safer?
Where are the millions of Americans that still yearn to breathe free air?
America is supposed to be a land teeming with people thirsting for independence. For example, "Live Free or Die" is supposedly the official motto of the state of New Hampshire.
But instead, the motto of most Americans seems to be "live scared and die cowering".
We don't have to live like this.
Yes, bad things are always going to happen. No amount of security is ever going to be able to keep us 100% safe.
We need to remember that a very high price was paid for our liberty and we should not give it up so easily.
As one very famous American once said, when we give up liberty for security we deserve neither.
The following are 30 signs that the United States of America is being turned into a giant prison....
#1 A new bill that is going through the U.S. Senate would allow the U.S. military to arrest American citizens and hold them indefinitely without trial. This new law was recently discussed in an article posted on the website of the New American....
In what may be a tale too bizarre to be believed by millions of Americans, the U.S. Senate appears ready to pass a bill that will designate the entire earth, including the United States and its territories, one all-encompassing “battlefield” in the global “war on terror” and authorize the detention of Americans suspected of terrorist ties indefinitely and without trial or even charges being filed that would necessitate a trial.
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham is a big supporter of the bill, and he says that it would "basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield".
According to the PPJ Gazette, the following are three things that this new law would do....
1) Explicitly authorize the federal government to indefinitely imprison without charge or trial American citizens and others picked up inside and outside the United States;
(2) Mandate military detention of some civilians who would otherwise be outside of military control, including civilians picked up within the United States itself; and
(3) Transfer to the Department of Defense core prosecutorial, investigative, law enforcement, penal, and custodial authority and responsibility now held by the Department of Justice.
#2 U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman is asking Google to install a "terrorist button" on all Blogger.com blogs so that readers can easily flag "terrorist content" for authorities.
#3 Most Americans have no idea how sophisticated the "Big Brother" prison grid has become. For example, in Washington D.C. the movements of every single car are tracked using automated license plate readers (ALPRs). The following comes from a recent Washington Post article....
More than 250 cameras in the District and its suburbs scan license plates in real time, helping police pinpoint stolen cars and fleeing killers. But the program quietly has expanded beyond what anyone had imagined even a few years ago.
With virtually no public debate, police agencies have begun storing the information from the cameras, building databases that document the travels of millions of vehicles.
Nowhere is that more prevalent than in the District, which has more than one plate-reader per square mile, the highest concentration in the nation. Police in the Washington suburbs have dozens of them as well, and local agencies plan to add many more in coming months, creating a comprehensive dragnet that will include all the approaches into the District.
#4 In some American schools, RFID chips are now being used to monitor the attendance and movements of children while they are at school. The following is how one article recently described a program that has just been instituted at a preschool in California....
Upon arriving in the morning, according to the Associated Press, each student at the CCC-George Miller preschool will don a jersey with a stitched in RFID chip. As the kids go about the business of learning, sensors in the school will record their movements, collecting attendance for both classes and meals. Officials from the school have claimed they're only recording information they're required to provide while receiving federal funds for their Headstart program.
#5 Increasingly, incidents of misbehavior at many U.S. schools are being treated as very serious crimes. For example, when a little girl kissed a little boy at one Florida elementary school recently, it was considered to be a "possible sex crime" and the police were called out.
#6 But what happened to one very young student in Stockton, California earlier this year was even worse....
Earlier this year, a Stockton student was handcuffed with zip ties on his hands and feet, forced to go to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation and was charged with battery on a police officer. That student was 5 years old.
#7 In the United States today, police are trained to respond to even the smallest crimes with extreme physical force. For example, one grandfather in Arizona was recently filmed laying unconscious in a pool of his own blood after police rammed his head into the flood inside a Wal-Mart on Black Friday night. It was thought that he was shoplifting, but it turns out that he says that he was just trying to tuck a video game away so other crazed shoppers would not grab it out of his hands.
#8 Did you know that the government actually sets up fake cell phone towers that can intercept your cell phone calls? The following is how a recent Wired article described these "stingrays"....
You make a call on your cellphone thinking the only thing standing between you and the recipient of your call is your carrier’s cellphone tower. In fact, that tower your phone is connecting to just might be a boobytrap set up by law enforcement to ensnare your phone signals and maybe even the content of your calls.
So-called stingrays are one of the new high-tech tools that authorities are using to track and identify you. The devices, about the size of a suitcase, spoof a legitimate cellphone tower in order to trick nearby cellphones and other wireless communication devices into connecting to the tower, as they would to a real cellphone tower.
The government maintains that the stingrays don’t violate Fourth Amendment rights, since Americans don’t have a legitimate expectation of privacy for data sent from their mobile phones and other wireless devices to a cell tower.
#9 U.S. border agents are allowed by law to search any laptop being brought into the United States without even needing any reason to do so.
#10 In the United States of America, everyone is a "potential terrorist". According to FBI Director Robert Mueller, "homegrown terrorists" represent as big a threat to American national security as al-Qaeda does.
#11 Most Americans are not that concerned about the Patriot Act, but that might change if they understood that the federal government has a "secret interpretation" of what the Patriot Act really means. U.S. Senator Ron Wyden says that the U.S. government interprets the Patriot Act much more "broadly" than the general public does....
"We’re getting to a gap between what the public thinks the law says and what the American government secretly thinks the law says."
#12 The FBI is now admittedly recording Internet talk radio programs all over the United States. The following comes from a recent article by Mark Weaver of WMAL.com....
If you call a radio talk show and get on the air, you might be recorded by the FBI.
The FBI has awarded a $524,927 contract to a Virginia company to record as much radio news and talk programming as it can find on the Internet.
The FBI says it is not playing big brother by policing the airwaves, but rather seeking access to what airs as potential evidence.
#13 The federal government has decided that what you and I share with one another on Facebook and on Twitter could be a threat to national security. According to a recent Associated Press article, the Department of Homeland Security will soon be "gleaning information from sites such as Twitter and Facebook for law enforcement purposes".
#14 What you say on your cell phone is never private. The truth is that that the FBI can demand to see your cell phone data whenever it wants. In addition, according to CNET News the FBI can remotely activate the microphone on your cell phone and listen to whatever you are saying....
The FBI appears to have begun using a novel form of electronic surveillance in criminal investigations: remotely activating a mobile phone's microphone and using it to eavesdrop on nearby conversations.
The technique is called a "roving bug," and was approved by top U.S. Department of Justice officials for use against members of a New York organized crime family who were wary of conventional surveillance techniques such as tailing a suspect or wiretapping him.
#15 In some areas of the country, law enforcement authorities are pulling data out of cell phones for no reason whatsoever. According to the ACLU, state police in Michigan are now using "extraction devices" to download data from the cell phones of motorists that they pull over. This is taking place even if the motorists that are pulled over are not accused of doing anything wrong.
The following is how a recent article on CNET News described the capabilities of these "extraction devices"....
The devices, sold by a company called Cellebrite, can download text messages, photos, video, and even GPS data from most brands of cell phones. The handheld machines have various interfaces to work with different models and can even bypass security passwords and access some information.
#16 The federal government has become so paranoid that they have been putting GPS tracking devices on the vehicles of thousands of people that have not even been charged with committing any crimes. The following is a short excerpt from a recent Wired magazine article about this issue....
The 25-year-old resident of San Jose, California, says he found the first one about three weeks ago on his Volvo SUV while visiting his mother in Modesto, about 80 miles northeast of San Jose. After contacting Wired and allowing a photographer to snap pictures of the device, it was swapped out and replaced with a second tracking device. A witness also reported seeing a strange man looking beneath the vehicle of the young man’s girlfriend while her car was parked at work, suggesting that a tracking device may have been retrieved from her car.
Then things got really weird when police showed up during a Wired interview with the man.
The young man, who asked to be identified only as Greg, is one among an increasing number of U.S. citizens who are finding themselves tracked with the high-tech devices.
The Justice Department has said that law enforcement agents employ GPS as a crime-fighting tool with “great frequency,” and GPS retailers have told Wired that they’ve sold thousands of the devices to the feds.
#17 New high-tech street lights that are being funded by the federal government and that are being installed all over the nation can also be used as surveillance cameras, can be used by the DHS to make "security announcements" and can even be used to record personal conversations. The following is from a recent article by Paul Joseph Watson for Infowars.com....
Federally-funded high-tech street lights now being installed in American cities are not only set to aid the DHS in making “security announcements” and acting as talking surveillance cameras, they are also capable of “recording conversations,” bringing the potential privacy threat posed by ‘Intellistreets’ to a whole new level.
#18 If you choose to protest in the streets of America today, there is a good chance that you will be brutalized. All over the United States law enforcement authorities have been spraying pepper spray directly into the faces of unarmed protesters in recent weeks.
#19 In many areas of the United States today, you will be arrested if you do not produce proper identification for the police. In the old days, "your papers please" was a phrase that was used to use to mock the tyranny of Nazi Germany. But now all of us are being required to be able to produce "our papers" for law enforcement authorities at any time. For example, a 21-year-old college student named Samantha Zucker was recently arrested and put in a New York City jail for 36 hours just because she could not produce any identification for police.
#20 According to blogger Alexander Higgins, students in kindergarten and the 1st grade in the state of New Jersey are now required by law to participate "in monthly anti-terrorism drills". The following is an excerpt from a letter that he recently received from the school where his child attends....
Each month a school must conduct one fire drill and one security drill which may be a lockdown, bomb threat, evacuation, active shooter, or shelter-in place drill. All schools are now required by law to implement this procedure.
So who in the world ever decided that it would be a good idea for 1st grade students to endure "lockdown" and "active shooter" drills?
To get an idea of what these kinds of drills are like, just check out this video.
#21 With all of the other problems that we are having all over the nation, you would think that authorities would not be too concerned about little kids that are trying to sell cups of lemonade. But sadly, over the past year police have been sent in to shut down lemonade stands run by children all over the United States.
#22 The federal government has decided to invest a significant amount of time, money and energy raiding organic farms. The following example comes from Natural News....
It is the latest case of extreme government food tyranny, and one that is sure to have you reeling in anger and disgust. Health department officials recently conducted a raid of Quail Hollow Farm, an organic community supported agriculture (CSA) farm in southern Nevada, during its special "farm to fork" picnic dinner put on for guests -- and the agent who arrived on the scene ordered that all the fresh, local produce and pasture-based meat that was intended for the meal be destroyed with bleach.
#23 It is an absolute disgrace that all of us (including grandmothers and young children) must either go through body scanners that reveal the intimate details of our naked bodies or endure "enhanced pat-downs" during which our genitals will be touched before we are allowed to get on an airplane.
It is also an absolute disgrace that the American people are putting up with this.
#24 Invasive TSA security techniques are not just for airports anymore. Now, TSA "VIPR teams" are actively conducting random inspections at bus stations and on interstate highways all over the United States. For example, the following comes from a local news report down in Tennessee....
You're probably used to seeing TSA's signature blue uniforms at the airport, but now agents are hitting the interstates to fight terrorism with Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR).
"Where is a terrorist more apt to be found? Not these days on an airplane more likely on the interstate," said Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons.
Tuesday Tennessee was first to deploy VIPR simultaneously at five weigh stations and two bus stations across the state.
TSA "VIPR teams" now conduct approximately 8,000 "unannounced security screenings" a year at subway stations, bus terminals, ports and highway rest stops.
#25 More than a million hotel television sets all over America are now broadcasting propaganda messages from the Department of Homeland Security promoting the "See Something, Say Something" campaign. In essence, the federal government wants all of us to become "informants" and to start spying on one another constantly. The following comes from an article posted by USA Today....
Starting today, the welcome screens on 1.2 million hotel television sets in Marriott, Hilton, Sheraton, Holiday Inn and other hotels in the USA will show a short public service announcement from DHS. The 15-second spot encourages viewers to be vigilant and call law enforcement if they witness something suspicious during their travels.
#26 Certain "types" of American citizens are being labeled as potential threats in official U.S. government documents. An unclassified Department of Homeland Security report published a couple years ago entitled "Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment" claims that a belief in Bible prophecy "could motivate extremist individuals and groups to stockpile food, ammunition and weapons." The report goes on to state that such people are potentially dangerous.
#27 Back on February 20, 2009, the State of Missouri issued a report entitled "MIAC Strategic Report: The Modern Militia Movement". That report warned that the following types of people may be potential terrorists....
*those that are against illegal immigration
*those that consider "the New World Order" to be a threat
*those that have a negative view of the United Nations
#28 As I have written about previously, a very disturbing document that Oath Keepers has obtained shows that the FBI is now instructing store owners to report many new forms of "suspicious activity" to them. According to the document, "suspicious activity" now includes the following....
- *paying with cash
- *missing a hand or fingers
- *"strange odors"
- *making "extreme religious statements"
- *"radical theology"
- *purchasing weatherproofed ammunition or match containers
- *purchasing meals ready to eat
- *purchasing night vision devices, night flashlights or gas masks
Do any of those "signs of suspicious activity" apply to you?
#29 Soon you may get labeled as a "potential terrorist" if you are just feeling a little nervous. A new "pre-crime" technology system that is currently being tested by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will soon be in use all over the nation. It is called "Future Attribute Screening Technology" (FAST), and it is very frightening. The following description of this new program comes from an article in the London Telegraph....
Using cameras and sensors the "pre-crime" system measures and tracks changes in a person's body movements, the pitch of their voice and the rhythm of their speech.
It also monitors breathing patterns, eye movements, blink rate and alterations in body heat, which are used to assess an individual's likelihood to commit a crime.
The Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) programme is already being tested on a group of government employees who volunteered to act as guinea pigs.
#30 The truth is that nobody puts more people into prison than America does. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world and the largest total prison population on the entire globe.
To read about some of the crazy things that the control freaks running things have planned for the future, just check out this article by Natural News: "10 outlandish things the 'scientific' controllers have in mind for you in the near future".
Once again, despite all of this outrageous "security", it is inevitable that a lot of really bad things are going to happen in the United States in the years ahead.
When there are incidents of violence, it is also inevitable that there will be calls for even more "Big Brother" security measures.
We are going to be caught in a never ending spiral of tyranny where the "solution" is always even tighter security.
Eventually, we will have lost all of our liberties and freedoms, and we will probably be even less safe than we are today.
Do not be deceived. We could put a soldier on every corner, a video camera in every room of every home and an RFID chip in every citizen but that would not make us "safe".
Every single lawmaker that is backing these laws which strip our liberties and freedoms away deserves to be voted out of office.
If you love the United States of America, please stand up and say something while you still can.
Please use this article and other articles like it as tools. Share them with your friends and your family. If we can get enough people to wake up, perhaps there is still enough time to turn the direction of this country around.
Will the final chapters of the history of the United States of America be mentioned in the same breath as communist China, the USSR and Nazi Germany, or will the final chapters of the history of the United States of America be the greatest chapters of all?
The choice, America, is up to you.
SURVEILLANCE, IMPLANTS, AND TELEVISIONS THAT WATCH YOU
So the next step would be the single card and then the next step would be to replace the single card with a skin implant. The single card could be lost or stolen, give rise to problems; could be exchanged with somebody else to confuse identify. The skin implant on the other hand would be not losable or counterfeitable or transferrable to another person so you and your accounts would be identified without any possibility of error. And the skin implants would have to be put some place that would be convenient to the skin; for example your right hand or your forehead.
There was some mention, also, of implants that would lend themselves to surveillance by providing radio signals. This could be under the skin or a dental implant … put in like a filling so that either fugitives or possibly other citizens could be identified by a certain frequency from his personal transmitter and could be located at any time or any place by any authority who wanted to find him. This would be particularly useful for somebody who broke out of prison.
There was more discussion of personal surveillance. One more thing was said, “You’ll be watching television and somebody will be watching you at the same time at a central monitoring station.” Television sets would have a device to enable this. The T.V. set would not have to be on in order for this to be operative. Also, the television set can be used to monitor what you are watching. People can tell what you’re watching on TV and how you’re reacting to what you’re watching. And you would not know that you were being watched while you were watching your television. How would we get people to accept these things into their homes? Well, people would buy them when they buy their own television. They won’t know that they’re on there at first. This was described by being what we now know as Cable TV to replace the antenna TV. When you buy a TV set this monitor would just be part of the set and most people would not have enough knowledge to know it was there in the beginning. And then the cable would be the means of carrying the surveillance message to the monitor. By the time people found out that this monitoring was going on, they would also be very dependent upon television for a number of things. Just the way people are dependent upon the telephone today. One thing the television would be used for would be purchases. You wouldn’t have to leave your home to purchase. You just turn on your TV and there would be a way of interacting with your television channel to the store that you wanted to purchase. And you could flip the switch from place to place to choose a refrigerator or clothing. This would be both convenient, but it would also make you dependent on your television so the built-in monitor would be something you could not do without.
There was some discussion of audio monitors, too, just in case the authorities wanted to hear what was going on in rooms other than where the television monitor was, and in regard to this the statement was made, “Any wire that went into your house, for example your telephone wire, could be used this way. I remember this in particular because it was fairly near the end of the presentation and as we were leaving the meeting place I said something to one of my colleagues about going home and pulling all of the wires out of my house.. except I knew I couldn’t get by without the telephone. And the colleague I spoke to just seemed numb. To this day I don’t think he even remembers what we talked about or what we hear that time, cause I’ve asked him. But at that time he seemed stunned. Before all these changes would take place with electronic monitoring, it was mentioned that there would be service trucks all over the place, working on the wires and putting in new cables. This is how people who were on the inside would know how things were progressing.
“A fundamental shift in our culture has taken place. The American people have eagerly given up huge chunks of liberty and freedom in exchange for vague promises of increased security.”
The shift has taken place in Washington DC and has been forced upon the American people against their will.
“Every single lawmaker that is backing these laws which strip our liberties and freedoms away deserves to be voted out of office.”
Send in the Marines and escort all of these lawmakers to Gitmo.
Too bad they own the military and use them as their pawn.
All this surveillance will apply only to the 99%. The 1% will be given cloaking devices. This is going to raise the prostitution industry to a whole new level.
This also raises the question of how many Americans will be willing to enforce this kind of surveillance. Our taxes might need to be raised so that we can hire foreigners to spy on us and throw us into the for-profit prisons.
I just had an alarming thought: will I still be able to vote on which celebrity wore that ugly dress better?
This system was prophecized in the bible, in terms of the mark of the beast in Revelation. How can the mark be enforced unless there is an economic surveillance system in place? It is being implemented under the pretense of security but really it’s a way to get everyone used to the idea of compliance with the beast system. No matter what, do not accept the mark of the beast. Those who take the mark or worship the image of the beast or his name will spend eternity in the lake of fire. This life is temporary. In the new heaven and earth Jesus will rule and there will not be any checkpoints!
What exactly is the Mark of the Beast you’re referring to? The RFID chips? Also I thought the Lake of Fire was to end all the evils of the world, not let them live to suffer for eternity… Just curious.
At this point, I think it has come to where the only thing that can stop the juggernaught from running over the citizenry, is a total economic collapse – taking the paychecks and pensions of all the federal, state, county and city employees with it – along with the rest of our 401k’s, of course.
Sometimes what might be perceived as a total disaster, ends up to be the thing which saves the day in the end.
But more important than all of that, is that if we are Christians, we should not worry. Not worry?! Correct, not worry.
Those of us who have been touched by the Holy Spirit and delivered into the hands of Jesus Christ, need not fear and should not fear.
Instead, warn others not just of things such as seen in this excellent article but also remind them that the peace that passes all understanding is only available to people of faith; that God cannot stand having imperfection in His sight; and that the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ has taken away the sin of the world for those who believe in Him, repent (change direction), begin to and continue to get closer to Christ, including that word rarely seen in American churches – obeying Him. Showing evidence in your life of the change which has transpired. Walking the walk and talking the talk. Being a redeemed, saved and enlightened Christian, adopted as a son or daughter of the creator of the universe.
Then these things don’t vex and perplex, or cause concern in the same way. “I’ve read ahead to the end of The Book, and the good (God) guy wins; also, I’m on His side!”
While I agree that the capacity to change exists, I firmly believe that the last chapter of the bible was written because human nature will never change, and here in America, while I love this country, I believe it’s borderline self delusion to believe that we will return to what we once were.
There are far too many indicators that our society has passed the point of no return in regard to returning to the founders vision of what America could be, and for that matter even what it once was in the not to distant past, say the 1950′s. As I have said on your other blog ” The Economic Collapse ” change will only occur when it begins within the four walls of every American household, with a return to morality and lives based upon blical principles. You know, it’s no small coincidence that you can really begin to see the breakdown of the American society explode in the 1960′s, which, if you remember, was the decade that the ten commandments were removed from public schools ( 1963 ). And really, you need to go back to go back to the late 1800′s to the very beginning of America’s departure from biblical priciples when scholars of the time were making it an acceptable practice to question the relevance of the bible which eventually led to it’s credibility being called into question, and whether an individual believes in God or not, I think it’s safe to say that we’ll all agree on the fact that society today lacks a moral compass, which leaves one to ask the question, why?. I mentioned many indicators of societial breakdown pointing to America being beyond saving, I think that one has only to go back a few days to Black Friday to see one of them. Americans have lost all love for one another, they have become like animals. I often wonder what people in other countries must think of Americans when they see the footage from Black Friday. America, and the world will not recover from this coming collapse unless they return to the God of the bible, which means they will not recover… Again, it’s why the last book of the bible was written in the first place.
Urban Survival Guide:
People can try to war against the machine all they want, but they don’t have the right weapons.
For at its core, the plan of the elite to move us towards their New World Order is a spiritual battle of good vs. evil.
The elite are empowered by Lucifer and they seek to kill, steal and destroy, and they are intolerant of other religions and people, such as Muslims and especially Christians.
Ephesians 6:12-17 says “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”
I agree with 90% of your article Michael. I also highly support the Oath Keepers and their efforts to keep LEOs and the military complying with the Constitution. I initially supported the Patriot Act, but now believe that it has gone way toooooo far.
I have worked with numerous Federal agencies in my career. To me, the biggest threat to freedom in the country is the Federal Gov’t and I am very alarmed by point #1…..
To think that this is a bi-partisan bill supported by the likes of Graham, McVain, and others is frightening….We need to telephone, fax, email, and endlessly cajole our reps in Congress to veto this monstrosity. We have little time left….Seriously America, you are more in danger from your Federal Gov’t than you are from any terrorist or foreign state. If this bill passes as is, any Constitutional freedoms you once had will be gone forever….
November 29th, 2011 at 4:27 pm · Reply
‘the control freaks that run things are obsessed with watching, tracking, monitoring and recording virtually everything that we do.’…& THE LORD SEES ALL!
Lord Jesus, Come in Glory!
Oh sure, and then he’d have the Feds’ nose up his ass all the time. Hell no.
November 29th, 2011 at 7:05 pm · Reply
THIS IS AMERIKA, DAGNABIT. AND GOVERNMENT IS MERELY GIVING THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT:
Although I share your disgust in many ways, in the spirit of Bushism, I say about the fascist police state: Bring it on! Amerikans deserve to have their freedoms and liberties taken away from them seeing as how eager they are to give them up in the first place.
Bottom line is this: Amerika is now an asylum state that is government welfare, warmonger infested, fast food grease and sugar fattening, celebrity gossip worrying, drug and alcohol sex party induced, power mad tyranny, addicted in the worse ways imaginable.
Hey, anybody knows what last night’s winning lotto numbers were?
Michael McDonald once said, “Shine Sweet Freedom”
Baraack Obama, “Two words: Predator Drone”.
November 29th, 2011 at 7:38 pm · Reply
As long as the general population continues its daily trot through its drunken, drugged state of life, there will be no consciousness to change. This situation is going to hit some people like a ton of bricks and they won’t see it coming. Wake up America, blacks, browns and whites alike before it is too late!
November 29th, 2011 at 7:54 pm · Reply
The brunt of this tyranny has come upon US with a vengence. Within the past 3 years our society has been so deeply ensconed and so painfully forced into socialism that we have had no reaction time. It’s reached a point of Nothing -Can -Be -Done Now, hence the in-your-face attitude.
I recall while only a youngster, of being very consciously aware of the USSR/China and their counter parts with their communistic philosophy spreading around the world that I feard that someday we might be taken over too. Paradoxically, I still felt safe however. I expected that communism would manifest itself with the same charactistic proof as usual, and give us a huge FIGHTING chance as it approached. But how naieve was that? It morphed. And into a new breed of oppression, something that went ultimately unrecognized for too long. Our poor minds couldn’t conceive of Communism working in an entirely differnt format with new garb. It came as global trade and false reform. The fact is, they buried us, like they said they would using our system of freedom. They came in and bought us out, bought us up, and we eventually and finally borrowed ourselves into slavery to them. And now, “they’re here!”
And the mere HATE that underlies all of their works is very stressful to say the least. This HATE maifests itself in every sector of our soiety today because they are involved in every sector. Opression is the main goal to acheiveme in a communistic society. And this a more brutal type with more psychologaical intensity than anything that has ever preceded it due to the technology involved. Soon the planet will be a representation of HELL on earth. However, as long as money continues to flow in massive quanaties into the hands of the evil doers, they will never suffer the deprivations that make living on the planet unbearable for the masses to come, unless a power greater than they are takes over. I think that could come by way of a massive nuclear war or the Second Coming. I hope for the latter. And I say to like the first one who did, ” I would rather be dead than Red!!!”
November 29th, 2011 at 7:58 pm · Reply
The Fed fears home-grown terrorists because they are seeding and cultivating the crop. They know we aren’t happy having everything we worked all our lives for stolen from us. They know we aren’t happy watching our children go hungry.
Bystander Obama and the rest of the gang are happy to do the dirty work because they think when the hammer comes down, they will be exempted. A bunch of liars and thieves trusting each other.
November 29th, 2011 at 8:35 pm · Reply
Our government just can’t help itself. They simply must bring everyone under their control. And all this will happen because nobody will do anything to stop them.
November 29th, 2011 at 9:21 pm · Reply
In Nazi Germany, citizens were required to report any “illegal activities” that their neighbors were doing, to the authorities. Like the guy across the street who was hiding Jews, for example.
Slowly but surely… we’re going down the same road.
November 30th, 2011 at 12:10 am · Reply
“Once when he happened in some connection to mention the war against Eurasia, She startled him by saying casually that in her opinion the rocket bombs which fell daily on London were probably fired by the Government of Oceania itself, just to keep people frightened.”
November 30th, 2011 at 12:42 am · Reply
The County Tax Man has more than doubled taxes from last year. What more can I say? I’ll probably be put on the first train to CAMP FEMA USA.
I would rather die in my own home.
Senator Pushes to Implement "Flag" Button for Terrorist Blogger Content
November 30th, 2011 at 1:08 am · Reply
I wish I could comment on all of the items, but lets start with #4:
I think in the next few years, it will be Federal Law to install an RFID chip into the neck or armpit or whatever of every newborn baby. Parents who refuse will be fined, jailed, audited by the IRS, etc. Then, it will be done without knowledge and/or permission. Any doctor that refuses will be fined, jailed, audited by the IRS, lose their license to practice, etc. Fellow Americans, boycott schools that require these chips. Pull your kids out and homeschool them.
November 30th, 2011 at 1:23 am · Reply
Michael, I just got an email from moveon.org warning that there is a law going through now regarding censorship of the internet. This is devastating to me because this is where I get my news. The law is being backed by lobbiests and basically states that any site can be blocked if someone complains about it. Is this possible?!!?? What is happening to this country?
That Internet censorship law is supposed to be targeted at the sellers of counterfeit products, but in this day and age you never know what the feds will decide to use it for.
November 30th, 2011 at 1:40 am · Reply
Hey CIA, FBI, NSA, TSA, DHS, FEMA, etc.: Come and arrest me right now! You can track my ip. I bet you already know my real name. I committed great crimes against the U.S. by being a home-grown terrorists. I do, have, believe, etc. in all of these:
*against illegal immigration
*against New World Order
*against United Nation
*pay with cash
*make extreme religious statements
*purchase guns and ammunition
*purchase meals ready to eat
*purchase night vision night binoculars
You can call me a redneck, home-grown terrorist, OWS member, whatever, but let it be known, that I am a Constitution loving, 1776 America loving, Founding Fathers friend, and true American Patriot. There are many more like me that will not stand it any more of your lies, deceit, abuse, control, sexual harassment, etc.
I feel a little embarrassed to say this, but coming back to Israel from JFK about two weeks ago, I got sexually molested by the TSA goons. Even though it was only an agent sticking his hand into my pants (Thank G-d no groin touching), I felt weird. I am a single guy, but if I were a parent and he did that to my son or daughter, I would have difficulty restraining myself from punching out the child molester.
I not only hate them, I kind of fear them, because they can do almost anything and having the full protection of the Federal backing them. If one needs to do trans-ocean traveling, how in the world is one supposed to do that without flying???
November 30th, 2011 at 2:13 am · Reply
These is what Judge Neapolitano haa to say:
SMASH THE CONTROL MACHINE
November 30th, 2011 at 2:22 am · Reply
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
November 30th, 2011 at 2:47 am · Reply
We will never return to the nation that once sang, “My country, Tis of Thee!”
It actually makes me cry to think of all the immigrants that fled to this country for Freedom, escaping Communism, Fascism, Nazism, Maoism, any other atrocity that no human being should experience or see, just to become Americans and get a new chance at life, most of the time arriving with nothing but the clothes on their back.
There is no more love of America, the America that once was. There is no more love for your neighbor or social responsibility. There is no more duty to protect the Constitution.
What have we become is disgusting! Most Americans are now fat, lazy, greedy, angry, brain-dead, drug-addicted, G-dless, sheeple. And that is being nice. We are being punished for abandoning G-d and the nation He gave us.
This is the End Game! Let’s be honest with ourselves. To be an G-d fearing, honest, law-abiding, America loving, Constitution following citizen will not save you from the wrath of the NWO. But, one must still strive to follows G-d’s laws and be the best that you can and pray for the destruction of the NWO.
November 30th, 2011 at 5:02 am · Reply
I wish the government would lock up republicans and conservatives. Their single minded pursuit of cutting taxes on the rich is tantamount to genocide on the poor and they should be locked up for war crimes as they are at war against the poor.
umm… no, it’s not. You’re more part of the problem than a part of the solution. No doubt, you’ll get your wish. Either way, once the doers and thinkers are gone, you may miss them. Read Kipling’s Mother Hive.
November 30th, 2011 at 8:56 am · Reply
Closest thing to a vote we have is the money we spend. Every dollar is a vote. Don’t be confused, this is not a democracy, you may get to vote but who knows how legitimate the count is, and you get to choose between people that have ave already been chosen. The corporations run this country but they do need our money to do so. Take your money out of banks and put them in credit unions, it is such an easy step and you will most likely get better rates.
November 30th, 2011 at 11:13 am · Reply
America is a prison already.
No country, not even China or India with each 4 times the population of the USA, has more people in prison than America.
November 30th, 2011 at 11:57 am · Reply
If you still believe *********** Zelikow’s whitewash and coverup of the events of 911, you are part of the problem.
But, most in America are so dumbed-down they actually believe that a large commerical airliner disappeared into a 16 ft wide hole in the wall of the Pentagon, leaving NO debris field. no seats, no bodies, no parts of bodies, no luggage, no airframe parts, no 757 engines, …nothing from a Boeing 757.
So, Americans, sit there in your stunned stupidity and watch this great experiment in Jeffersonian democracy become a new version of the USSR, where the Cheka slaughtered millions, and where millions in the Ukraine were starved to death in the early 1930s. If you do not know the names of Uritsky, Sverdlov, Zioniev, Kamanev, Kerensky, Trotsky, Beria, Yagoda or Kaganovich, you are just part of the mind numb and niave sheep on the way to the meat packing plant.
SMASH THE CONTROL MACHINE
November 30th, 2011 at 2:18 pm · Reply
ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL!!!!
The insidious Patriot Act followed by
The Security Enhancement Act of 2003,
the infamous Military Commissions Act 2006,
followed by the John Warner Defense Authorization Act 2007 and,
which called for the suspension of habeas corpus (4th Amendment due process)
all of which gave the president the power to arbitrarily determine on his own, that any one of us was a “domestic terrorist” and going even further to
allow the president to strip us of our citizenship at his discretion with no oversight.
November 30th, 2011 at 3:25 pm · Reply
What’s amazing is that although people are specifically warned about Facebook being surveilled, and facebook’s record of selling and distributing private information, that people are still using it! And that websites like this use Facebook for people to add comments!
November 30th, 2011 at 6:28 pm · Reply
I’m pretty sure this is all due to laws that came out of conservative, post-911 hysteria, perpetuated by the right. Remember, it’s the right who want the govt out of our lives as far as guns and money go, but want a larger presence when it comes to sexuality, marriage, possible terrorism. But conservatives spend so much time with their eyes closed, they’d rather quickly blame it on Obama (the foundation for all of these things predates his presidency) and encourage things to go back to the way it was, no not the 1950′s, but the 1600′s, when there was the same class division and lack of religious freedom that made our forefather come to America in the first place.
Riiight, blame this all on the evil Right Wing. Just above you is a post by a Communist who wants the government to lock up all conservatives. And the Left has never minded sicking the government on peaceful law-abiding Americans, especially when they can grow it bigger for their welfare or Green Policing or anti-family agenda.
November 30th, 2011 at 8:16 pm · Reply
There are more prisoners in jails, prisons, & institutions in the USA than all the prisoners in prisons and jails in every country of the globe added together. There are 4 bags of fortune in the USA 1. Medicare 2. Military 3. SS 4.Taxes where do the giant corporations run as big business called prisons get funding from? Your right it’s bag #4TAXES.
THATS ALL BROTHER
November 30th, 2011 at 8:28 pm · Reply
None of this is gonna matter anyhow. By the time the 2012 election rolls around, all of you serfs will be locked up in GITMO or some other X-Files styled CIA underground prison where no one will hear any of you scream…………….
El Pollo de Oro
November 30th, 2011 at 10:47 pm · Reply
As The Banana Republic of America (the Third World hellhole formerly known as Les Etas Unis) slides deeper and deeper into the abyss economically, the police state will become increasingly abusive. And sadly, much of Boobus America (to borrow a term from the late, great Libertarian talk show host Irv Homer) will welcome the abuses of the neocon police state if they think it will keep them safe from Islamo-terrorists and tattooed gangbangers in baggy pants. But as Gerald Celente, Ron Paul, Alex Jones, Katherine Albrecht, Justin Raimondo and others have pointed out, history proves that police states are the most murderous thugs of all. The atrocities of Pol Pot, Stalin, Hitler and others demonstrate that the death toll is much higher with abusive regimes than it is with terrorist attacks. If you think al-Qaeda are a gang of sick, murderous bastards (which they most certainly are), just wait until BRA neocons get the gulags and concentration camps they long for. And the offensive language of the neocons says it all: “homeland security,” “protecting the homeland,” “if you’re innocent, you have nothing to worry about”………their rhetoric is right out of Stalinist Russia, Hitler’s Germany, Mao’s Cultural Revolution and Pol Pot’s Killing Fields.
About Samantha Zucker: the comments from neocons (or rather, neoKKKons) tell us everything we need to know. Libertarian/paleoconservatives and liberal/progressives are horrified by what happened to her; neocons, on the other hand, are saying that it serves her right for not having her ID with her. Honestly, Osama bin Laden must be laughing and giggling in hell when he thinks about the utter contempt that neocons have for the civil liberties of fellow Americans.
Alex Jones is absolutely right: neocons are the very essence of un-American, anti-Constitution, pseudo-capitalist, pro-fascist, anti-free enterprise, big government authoritarians. And they’re getting ready to tighten the noose even more. God help La République Banane d’Amérique.
November 30th, 2011 at 11:42 pm · Reply
“We were told that the terrorists hate our liberties and our freedoms, and that we needed to fight the terrorists so that we could keep our liberties and our freedoms.”
That was all nonsense, of course. If people were told the truth – that the attacks were in response to US foreign policy – then they’d demand changes in it, and we can’t have the peasantry getting so uppidity.
“Yes, turning the United States of America into a giant prison may make us all slightly safer, but what kind of life is this?”
Over the course of human history, individual freedom has been an anomaly. Don’t worry, it’ll be gone soon and humanity will be back to “normal.”
New World Order Truth
Attacks such as 9/11 were ‘false flag’ events, that blamed someone else for the attacks, but were carried out by insiders who sought to promote their New World Order.
When you read though the above list of how the U.S. is being turned into a giant prison, much of that came as a result of 9/11 and the resulting Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security.
Want the truth on 9/11? http://thetruthfulone.com/911-truth/
December 1st, 2011 at 12:17 am · Reply
I don’t give a ************ about the 99% because they are already owned and cry for more even they have no ideas about it.
December 1st, 2011 at 2:39 am · Reply
On the other hand, if it really is as bad as you’re all saying, perhaps you should change your career goals to get into federal, state, and local law enforcement while the getting’s good.
I have to laugh at all this stuff, if it’s true, since we’re totally broke at this point. If they keep putting up million dollar lights and cameras and whatnot, I’m sure our friends in the recreational scrap removal business will quickly have them removed and sold before they’re even activated. Look at Detroit-if there was ever a place to put up crime lights, it’s that place, but they’re removing the lights instead of putting them up-the power co. says the city can’t afford to pay for them. Go figure.
I’m no Pollyanna, but as much as this stuff bugs me, I think it’s sort of self-applied. Bear with me on this one. While it sucks to see freedom diminish in the name of security-it really only applies to people with money.
For instance, if you travel by plane, you’re going through the Meat Gazer. If you don’t fly, you won’t be scanned. If you can afford a cell phone and you carry it with you everywhere, you’re liable to be monitored, scanned by the cops, and they might decide to collect room audio from your location. If you don’t use a cell or you remove the Sim and battery when you don’t need them, you won’t be tracked or scanned. If you don’t want to be spied on by some newfangled light, live in the country-no scanners there. If you don’t want to be implanted with some kind of chip-get off the grid-no chips there. Do you want to avoid having your email read, your IP tracked, and your browsing habits reviewed? Don’t use a computer and/or don’t pay for your own internet access-they can’t spy on you if you don’t use it. But who on this site wants to live that way? There are tons of people in this country who don’t own, use, or do these things and we tend to look down on them as either poor, ignorant, boring, or other choice descriptive terms. And those kinds of people fall below the radar. They’re not a threat, they’re of no interest, and they’re Winston Smith’s Proles. I could even see these luxuries, and the intrusive security that goes with enjoying them, coming to define a new class of successful people, while the poverty-stricken off-the-grid-and-don’t-count-for-anything class is mostly left alone, aside from occasional high-profile crime busts for drugs, violence, rape, and other evils of “the Vulgarians.”
If you want all the fruits of the hi-tech life, you’ll have to accept the worms that come with them. I’m not defending this, but I recognize the inevitability of much of it.
Here’s my idea, though. Go find a copy of the CIA Factbook and look up the comparative stats on which nations are the best in the world at things like education, wealth, mortality, life enjoyment, etc. You’ll find we are not at the top of any category. The nations that ARE at the top might surprise you. You might consider one of them as an alternative. I know the one I like the best. Oh, and for those who are interested, I have a friend who picked the nation he wants to live in based off the list of nations who refuse extradition with the US.
December 1st, 2011 at 3:59 am · Reply
LOL, WOW, finaly Americans seem to waking from their slumber, BUT it pains me to say, sorry folks, the horse has well and truly left the stable and bolted.
Going by the posts here, I get the impression folks think they can put the Genie back in the bottle by changing their Govt. DUH !
Pray tell people, how do you intend to do that, when over the last 60 years, ever Congress person (with the exception of a few you can count on one hand, and the ones who died mysterious deaths so far still unexplained) has committed high treason against you all and set in place laws to contain and curtail any actions you may initiate to reclaim control of your country.
For example, your Xray machine you have to go thru before boarding an aeroplane, how many Americans have REFUSED to be Xrayed or refused to fly as long as this was being done ? Again, countem on the fingers of your hand.
To the folks who are under the mistaken impression, this has all come about due to 9/11, LOL, sorry folks, it was in train well and truly long before that, 9/11 was nothing but the public coming out of their intentions.
And lastly, how could any genuine Democratic country give their Govt representatives carte blanch for insider trading while sitting in Congress ??? And this is OK with the folks of the U.S. ? WOW.
December 1st, 2011 at 7:06 pm · Reply
None of this stuff is true. I go to the States at least 5 or 6 times a year, and I never get questioned, i never get body scanned, almost no scrutiny whatsoever. I’ve driven across the border, I’ve flown, no questions asked. I don’t buy any of this nonsense. I’ve got better things to do with my life than live in paranoid fear.
December 1st, 2011 at 7:08 pm · Reply
Furthermore…what’s all this God fearing or God loving rubbish all about? The US isn’t a Theocracy is it? You have a clear separation of church and state? you’re a democratic republic governed by the people you elect to represent you, right? What has god got to do with anything?
Thank-you Atwas911. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. The New World Order is right on schedule down to the smallest detail. We have nothing but power in numbers. It is our only means of preserving what is left of this country. Did you think the powers that be were going to perpetuate their plan is a light that you could plainly see? No. But make no mistake, it is happening and the more of the baby boomers or “old” people who fall off of the contributing conveyer belt, the easier it will be to control the rest of the population. Keep watching American Idol and concerning yourself with what the Kardashians are wearing and one day you will find yourself sitting in a FEMA camp wondering how this could happen to you.
- R Minick
December 2nd, 2011 at 5:07 am · Reply
For the love of ****************, I’m sick of all this fear-mongering ************* being fed to me. The people in the Government aren’t animals, I’m sure they are totally capable of listening to reason.
December 2nd, 2011 at 5:16 am · Reply
Perhaps our own military should take part in the revloution? They all swore an oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. They did NOT, however swear an oath to defend the Government.
December 2nd, 2011 at 4:54 pm · Reply
The problem is our responsibility to vote is just an illusion of control over the govt. Read up on gerrymander, the electoral college and maybe research a little bit the power and money it takes to run even a state election campaign.
Honest, just people will never run our country because to get to the top here, you kind of have to be evil…
December 2nd, 2011 at 10:54 pm · Reply
Once again, don’t trust the gov, manipulated by lobbies.
There is another way to avoid all that shit. Why owning a cel, a car?
Be wise at home too, with your Internet connection.
Everything can be logged.
Have you heard about echelon?
And no, this is not a paranoia crisis.
Do you really think those guyz, elected, are working for us!
December 3rd, 2011 at 2:12 am · Reply
Ron Paul is also a puppet…he is calling for a new monetary system…he has no credibility with me…hmmmm good cop…bad cop…dismantle the fed government and let each state govern itself
December 6th, 2011 at 1:05 am · Reply
The writer thinks maybe it is because of the threat of terrorist where i see it because of ignorance and denial on the part of millions of Americans. America bought the governments story of 9/11. Bush said don’t question 9/11? When bush said you are either with us or the terrorist millions of good little sheepe went right along and when bush called for war with Iraq there was the sheep again knowing all the while it was based on lies.Bombing of Kuwait same story. the Kuwaiti Ambassador’s daughter comes on T V and start crying. Lying by saying that the Revolutionary Guard was taking babies out of incubators and leaving them on the ground to die. The attack on the people of Libya and killing of some of Gaddifi’s family members.’ It is fortunate for the governments that the masses don’t think.” Adolf Hitler! Over two million innocent men, women and children are dead because of the ignorance and denial of millions of Americans, Another 500,000 dead from disease and starvation due to sanctions imposed on Iraq by the US before the Gulf war.500,000 babies born deformed, as reported by the WHO, because of the use of depleted uranium by the US military.How many more will either die or be born deformed because of all the depleted uranium dust covering Iraq? the US did the same to South and North Vietnam with agent orange although agent orange effects were mild in comparison to depleted uranium which has a half life of 4.5 billion years.
December 7th, 2011 at 2:45 am · Reply
A scientific dictatorship cannot occur without control of all information … those avenues for control are namely Google, Facebook and Twitter. If 30% of people stopped using these sites … information control is lost and the scientific dictatorship cannot survive.
December 7th, 2011 at 3:35 pm · Reply
The issue is not so much that the Government is doing it, but more that it is being pushed to happen by those people who are so frightended to live thier lives that they want it to happen. If you see “suspicious activity”, instead of getting freaked out, think for a minute about what you actually saw. Is the guy sweating because he is going to blow himself up on an airplane?…or is he wearing too warm of a jacket or worried about who is going to grope him in the search? Is the guy speeding to get to a terrorist meeting, or is he rushing to the hospital because his wife is having a baby? Everybody just needs to CALM THE ************* DOWN!
December 7th, 2011 at 8:58 pm · Reply
I agree that under normal circumstances people shouldn’t be monitored, but we cannot ignore the fact that these are not normal circumstances.
America has for a long period of time created a mindset of entitlement, wherein many people feel that they should have many things provided for them. The problem is that many people never give anything at all back to the system that they take and expect so much from. Then there are some that do contribute a little here and there in one form or another but take much more of an amount than what they ever contributed. Then there are some that contribute a very large amount that end up getting very little or nothing from the system.
I mention these things because the government and the people have equally created the problems that we find in our world today. Fixing the government will not work unless we also fix the attitudes of the people as well.
How could this be done:
(1) Hold people accountable for their actions, stop shifting blame to someone or something else.
(2) Change the educational system to teach ethics, morals, self reliance, teamwork, how to balance a checkbook and especially work ethic. Teach them that our country is only as strong as the people who make up the population of that country. Teach them about voting and how their vote actually effects every aspect of their lives, get it right. Dont vote for higher taxes, vote for more efficiency before ever voting for higher taxes.
(3) Change and enforce entitlement programs so that they are temporary, and encourage personal accountability and responsibility, and punish anything less. Manditory suprise drug, alcohol and cigarette testing failure should warrant immediate and perminant termination as well as other penalties. No more using the food stamps to feed the dogs or to create a bunch of unhealthy fat kids.
(4) Start the military draft for everyone after graduation from high school, requiring at least an 8 week military training course.
(5) Encourage business creation and sucess by abolishing the current tax codes and enacting a flat sales tax, no income tax, dont punish people for working hard.
(6) Everyone should pay local taxes that fund their local school system, not just the property owners and farmers. And the teachers shouldn’t be protected by powerful unions, and the local school board should not be allowed to practice nepatism.
(7) Prosecute and jail any political leader who puts their own political career over the long term survival and enhancement of America and the people that CONTRIBUTE to this countrys success.
(8) Allow controlled government monitoring to expose those that wish to undermine America and our free way of life.
Yeah. Let us make a total Police State. If someone doesn’t fit the mold we can jail them. If politicians are self interested we can jail them.
You do not advocate liberty but tyranny. That is the attitude that is the prevalent one in Government. Are you a paid shill…a troll?
December 8th, 2011 at 7:44 pm · Reply
And how scary and terrorist: officers and soldiers swearing to uphold and keep their oath to the Constitution? Scary indeed. Pure psychos in need of reconditioning. Where do they get off keeping their solemn sworn oath to the Constitution? Nobody in Congress does (except a couple crackpot Pauls). No one in the Pentagon does. No one in the White House does. No one in the Supreme Court does. It’s these wacko “Oath Keepers” that are the real danger. Let us hope our Homeland Security keeps the Fatherland safe from such violent and dangerous individuals. “Give me television and give me text!”
December 10th, 2011 at 8:31 pm · Reply
December 13th, 2011 at 8:14 pm · Reply
DO NOT ASK FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS….IT TOLLS FOR THEE……………..THEM…..
December 15th, 2011 at 1:14 am · Reply
First they massacred Branch Davidian in Waco Siege,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Davidian.
Then they created OKC bombing, tried to get a Patriot act,
and I didn’t speak out because I didn’t want to offend the Feds.
Then they created 911 attack to get the Patriot Act and war,
and I didn’t speak out because I am not a muslim.
Now they come for US citizens with military Authorization Act,
and I didn’t speak out because I am not a terrorist.
Then when they prison you as a terrorist, and there is no law to protect you because you have given up all your civil rights already.
December 19th, 2011 at 1:45 am · Reply
No – you don’t vote these freaks out – you KICK them out. This is the type of thing that impeachment and recall was made possible for. You need to reject their actions, or the actions go through and stand for the next dweeb to use. The continued idea of “vote them out” is stupidity that is allowing these draconian actions to continue and thrive.
As far as losing rights — they are gone. Suck it up and act accordingly.
December 21st, 2011 at 8:18 am · Reply
I have been trying to find a site like this during the month of October there were several occupy rallies in the USA does anyone find it disturbing that we as a nation watch other countries have “organized rallies” on the news and there police shoot drag beat and mace them and in some cases kill there people and we criticise that country yet we organize for peacefull purposes and our government blacked out almost all of the footage of the use of “less than lethal” and beatings of our own people. It just goes to show how much power the people have in the USA if we organize the press gets a gag order and is not alowed to air footage or the sponsors will pull there adds we dident see half of what happend to the very curagious people that spent days rallying to protect the constitutional right of free speech in public areas throughout the USA. If you would like to see some of the footage go to cop blocker.org this is a very eye opening site
40 Hard Questions That The American People Should Be Asking Right Now « Eclectic Thoughts
December 29th, 2011 at 4:22 pm · Reply
[...] do so many of our politicians think that it is a good idea to allow the U.S. military to arrest American citizens on American soil and indefinitely detain [...]
February 6th, 2012 at 3:55 pm · Reply
Thanks for the chuckle. Nice to know there are still some loony toons out there that keep thses conspiracy theories alive. If the government were as all powerful as you would have us think then things would run a heck of a lot smoother than they do. But, I’m sure you already figured that one out and have decided that the government is deliberatly acting like a bunch of 2-year olds to throw us off the track. Keep the silliness coming, we could all use a good laugh.
March 9th, 2012 at 6:56 pm · Reply
I blame technology for all of this. Technology has become a toy that is irresistable to play with and use to moniter and track. It’s not really a liberal or conservative thing as it is a technology thing. Maybe Ted K. is right
March 13th, 2012 at 8:23 pm · Reply
“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”
Samuel Adams, speech at the Philadelphia State House, August 1, 1776:
April 1st, 2012 at 6:30 am · Reply
I see and hear all these problems and they seem to be getting worse. And everybody commenting on them but what is anyone doing about them. You see rallys in the streets over a kid being shot but why dont you see more people standing up agasinst the government in this country. You see people in other countries standing up against the government. So when are we going to do something about it? When its to late? We let them take over little by little yet we do nothing but post on these forums and complain.
People think its a democrate or rebublic think when both parties are just puppets to the the great puppet master. We need to do something and we need to do something now before its to late. When they start coming to your house and take away your weapons and food and haul you off to some camp its kinda late to stop it. The signs are out there and you think nothing is going to happen because it never has here, well wake up its all falling into place for their big plan. Or lets just talk about it on here and wait to see if it really does happen and live with the results or die with them. The government is here to work for us not the other way around. We already have no real rights. We are over controlled already. Its just been happening so slow that We get used to it slowly. But if all the changes that have happened over the last twenty years happened all at once We would say “whatthe hell is going on” and do something about it, at least I’d hope we would. Wake up before its to late!!!
The following article is from Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 23, Number 2.
Free Inquiry readers may pause to read the “Affirmations of Humanism: A Statement of Principles” on the inside cover of the magazine. To a secular humanist, these principles seem so logical, so right, so crucial. Yet, there is one archetypal political philosophy that is anathema to almost all of these principles. It is fascism. And fascism’s principles are wafting in the air today, surreptitiously masquerading as something else, challenging everything we stand for. The cliché that people and nations learn from history is not only overused, but also overestimated; often we fail to learn from history, or draw the wrong conclusions. Sadly, historical amnesia is the norm.
We are two-and-a-half generations removed from the horrors of Nazi Germany, although constant reminders jog the consciousness. German and Italian fascism form the historical models that define this twisted political worldview. Although they no longer exist, this worldview and the characteristics of these models have been imitated by protofascist1 regimes at various times in the twentieth century. Both the original German and Italian models and the later protofascist regimes show remarkably similar characteristics. Although many scholars question any direct connection among these regimes, few can dispute their visual similarities.
Beyond the visual, even a cursory study of these fascist and protofascist regimes reveals the absolutely striking convergence of their modus operandi. This, of course, is not a revelation to the informed political observer, but it is sometimes useful in the interests of perspective to restate obvious facts and in so doing shed needed light on current circumstances.
For the purpose of this perspective, I will consider the following regimes: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Papadopoulos’s Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, and Suharto’s Indonesia. To be sure, they constitute a mixed bag of national identities, cultures, developmental levels, and history. But they all followed the fascist or protofascist model in obtaining, expanding, and maintaining power. Further, all these regimes have been overthrown, so a more or less complete picture of their basic characteristics and abuses is possible.
Analysis of these seven regimes reveals fourteen common threads that link them in recognizable patterns of national behavior and abuse of power. These basic characteristics are more prevalent and intense in some regimes than in others, but they all share at least some level of similarity.
1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.
2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.
3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people’s attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice—relentless propaganda and disinformation—were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite “spontaneous” acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and “terrorists.” Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly.
4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.
5. Rampant sexism. Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.
6. A controlled mass media. Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes’ excesses.
7. Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting “national security,” and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.
8. Religion and ruling elite tied together. Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and protofascist regimes were never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite’s behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the “godless.” A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.
9. Power of corporations protected. Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of “have-not” citizens.
10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated. Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice.
11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts. Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.
12. Obsession with crime and punishment. Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. “Normal” and political crime were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or “traitors” was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption. Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.
14. Fraudulent elections. Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.
Does any of this ring alarm bells? Of course not. After all, this is America, officially a democracy with the rule of law, a constitution, a free press, honest elections, and a well-informed public constantly being put on guard against evils. Historical comparisons like these are just exercises in verbal gymnastics. Maybe, maybe not.
1. Defined as a “political movement or regime tending toward or imitating Fascism”—Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary.
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Sharp, M.E. Indonesia Beyond Suharto. Armonk, 1999.
Verdugo, Patricia. Chile, Pinochet, and the Caravan of Death. Coral Gables, Florida: North-South Center Press, 2001.
Yglesias, Jose. The Franco Years. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1977.
January 23, 2005
Last week, courtesy of Seymour Hersh and The New Yorker, we learned that a long-held prediction of mine had come true. American forces have been operating inside Iran, thus extending yet further the President's "war on terror".
There is no war, other than the one the President unilaterally is waging against a weak Congress and weak countries with oil. It's true that Congress has given the President certain unusual powers, but as only Congress has the constitutional power to declare war, he is not, as he keeps yapping, a wartime president. Hence his conviction that he can lock anyone up, foreigner or native, and send them off to Guantanamo without due process of law.
This is simply a Bush war. It has nothing to do with the American people. And we were not in danger from weapons of mass destruction. The danger is an Administration that has fallen in love with war because of the special powers war gives the Administration to rid itself of the Bill of Rights and lock up dissenters. We've had some scary times in the past but nothing to compare with this. So what do we have to look forward to?
A disaster, in short. Iran/Persia represents a brilliant culture, one of the greatest the planet has ever known. They do have atomic weapons, and that is why our rulers are pretending that they are longing to blow us up - because we have liberty and freedom and democracy and are so prosperous. (None of these things do we actually have, but this is the official line that we are asked to believe.)
The Iranians have a lot of oil, of course, and a lot of enemies among the neocons, who have pretty much taken over the Pentagon. The President doesn't seem to understand what is happening, but if he does he's seriously culpable. So here we are, in the middle of the unfinished Iraq tragedy, and the President, in his inaugural address, is serenely declaring war on the rest of the world. Instead of talking about how the hell we get out of Iraq and Afghanistan, we are talking about going into Iran.
Here we are headed for absolute disaster, yet the American public has no weapons left, legally. If an American citizen were really in trouble - I ask in all seriousness - to whom would he turn? He can't go to his Congressman, because he's helping out GM or whoever paid for his election. He can't turn to the executive branch, because they now run concentration camps and don't like dissent. The courts are pretty expensive and the higher courts are, shall we say, not on our side.
No one has explained why, if Saddam Hussein had all these weapons - which he did not have - why he would have wanted to blow us up. We know why Osama bin Laden hit us. He sent us a lot of unpleasant letters and wrote a long list of things saying why, for religious reasons. He is a religious zealot. And he was doing a religious job. We're doing a job for the oil and gas business. They're the people who are making a lot of money out of all this. Heaven knows how it will end, but we, the American people, are going to be the losers.
Symbolically, it's interesting that regions of the US are rejecting Darwin and evolution. I can see why. We have a substantial minority in the US that hasn't advanced much beyond the baboon. These ignorant folk are full of hatred, which is why they are currently rejecting evolution and going back to the stone age with torture, killing innocent people, attacking countries that have done us no harm. This is insupportable.
In a recent TV programme that we lucky Americans were shown of previous inaugural addresses, our former President Franklin D Roosevelt spoke of Social Security, something he invented for us. Yet his successor, Harry Truman, starts talking about a terrible enemy. In effect, he is starting the Cold War. Roosevelt had made certain arrangements with Stalin and the USSR, which could have kept the world quite peaceful and avoided the Cold War, but Truman was having none of it. He had been convinced by certain people who had made a lot of money out of the war that we should be forever armed, in order to wage perpetual war for perpetual peace.
So there we are, on top of the world, militarily and economically. We have the atomic bomb, and here is Harry Truman saying in 1948 that we've got to watch out there - there's this godless nation intent on world conquest.
But the Russians didn't want anything very much then, except to recover the 20 million people they had lost in the Second World War. They weren't going anywhere at that time, but we saw to it that over time they became frightened and heavily armed. We made them active enemies, and we've been creating enemies ever since. Now we are going to take on one billion Muslims. Brilliant. One billion people who will really deeply and truly hate us. And it will take several generations for us to bring them around, if possible.
George Bush doesn't compare with previous presidents. He doesn't come from any established system that we've ever tried before. He wasn't elected the first time and perhaps not truly the second time. Certainly, he was not elected on any issues, like the morality of the war or the wisdom of the war, or the techniques that we used in waging that war.
I would have thought that, at the moment since about 56 per cent of the people think we should never have gone to war with Iraq and those numbers were indeed rising as we approached the election, we would have voted against this President. Instead of talking about the war, we were talking about abortion and homosexual marriage. What great topics to be discussing for a great people on the march with atomic weapons! There was so much else to talk about, but neither Bush nor John Kerry were going to do so because they both approved of the war, and their advisers - or certainly Kerry's - had told them to do so. No wonder people don't care to vote. They seldom have much to vote for. But often a lot to vote against.
There was a huge, unrepresented anti-war party at the last election. We, as a people, have generally believed in minding our own business, not in attacking other countries - "enough to do at home" and all that. But we now have a government that is not remotely a democracy but we're trying to export it elsewhere. I suppose that on the ground democracy is a nice word. We treat it like ketchup. Put it on everything. We're bringing it to Iraq, we say.
The result, once more, is perpetual war for perpetual peace. The spirit of Harry Truman marches on. After war with Iran, who's next? Russia? Or someone else? God help us if we make China angry. There are a great many more of them than of us.
This war will end in our defeat, and that is why I want us to get out of it as soon as possible. I want us to try and bring the troops home and try and invent a more realistic education system because I am convinced that democracy, too, may one day come to the US, and I want us to be alive to celebrate it.
With the 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq, the most controversial question in world politics fast became whether the United States stands within the order of international law or outside it. Does America still play by the rules it helped create? American Exceptionalism and Human Rights addresses this question as it applies to U.S. behavior in relation to international human rights. With essays by eleven leading experts in such fields as international relations and international law, it seeks to show and explain how America's approach to human rights differs from that of most other Western nations.
In his introduction, Michael Ignatieff identifies three main types of exceptionalism: exemptionalism (supporting treaties as long as Americans are exempt from them); double standards (criticizing "others for not heeding the findings of international human rights bodies, but ignoring what these bodies say of the United States); and legal isolationism (the tendency of American judges to ignore other jurisdictions). The contributors use Ignatieff's essay as a jumping-off point to discuss specific types of exceptionalism--America's approach to capital punishment and to free speech, for example--or to explore the social, cultural, and institutional roots of exceptionalism.
These essays--most of which appear in print here for the first time, and all of which have been revised or updated since being presented in a year-long lecture series on American exceptionalism at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government--are by Stanley Hoffmann, Paul Kahn, Harold Koh, Frank Michelman, Andrew Moravcsik, John Ruggie, Frederick Schauer, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Carol Steiker, and Cass Sunstein.
"An excellent new collection of essays on American exceptionalism. . . . Michael Ignatieff . . . seeks to distinguish between US 'exemptionalism,' double standards and legal isolationism."--Quentin Peel, Financial Times
"This collection on American exceptionalism seeks to explain the seeming paradox of US governmental support for, and aversion to, global human rights. . . . This study is an important contribution to the scholarship of international humanitarian law and US foreign policy."--Choice
"[An] important collection of essays by leading scholars. . . . Together the authors wonderfully capture the complex interplay between values, law, and American power."--G. John Ikenberry, Foreign Affairs Magazine
"Beyond providing a highly valuable and innovative study of American exceptionalism, this book makes an original contribution to scholarship and may start a long overdue conversation with conservatives about the origins of their grievances with international human rights standards."--Michael J. Boyle, International Affairs
"This is an extremely interesting and well-written collection of essays on a very timely topic. Moreover, the contributors are some of the leading figures in the fields of international relations and international law. The book will certainly be read by scholars and practitioners and used as a supplemental text in courses, and it will appeal more broadly to people in America and abroad who are curious about the U.S. resistance to international treaties, international institutions, and foreign law."--Sean D. Murphy, George Washington University, author of United States Practice in International Law, Volume 1: 1999-2001 and Humanitarian Intervention: The United Nations in an Evolving World Order
Table of Contents
Other Princeton books by Michael Ignatieff:
Books by Michael Ignatieff:
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