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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 faηade 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."
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