Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 19, 2013

"Collecting The Haystack" And Almightiness

The NSA will now push new internal rules to protect data it illegally collects from being accessed by its own staff. Those rules will include an additional layer of encryption, four-eyes rule for system administration and more compartmentalized access. That is fine because it will kill the NSA's productivity and effectiveness.

The NSA's says it needs all teh data it collects to find "terrorists". If one believes that the NSA genuinely wants to find terrorists one should be worried that it has chosen the wrong method for the false problem:

General Alexander spoke in defense of the N.S.A.'s surveillance programs, including its collection of a vast database of information about all phone calls made and received in the United States. “You need a haystack to find a needle,” he said
The assertion that one needs a haystack to find a needle is incredibly stupid. It assumes that there is a needle (or "terrorist"). Something neither given nor provable. Even if there were a needle how will making the haystack bigger it easier to find it? And why is the needle the danger that must be found? Edwald Snowden set the NSA's haystack on fire. Alexander now has his house burning because of the much too large haystack he accumulated.

That General Alexander comes up with such implausible assertions makes one wonder about the real motives behind the obsession with data collection. My hunch is that the only real reason behind it is "because we can".

People under total observation change their behavior and change in their characters. But total observation also changes the behavior and character of the observer. It creates fantasies of unlimited power, of almightiness and leads to total arrogance.

I believe that Alexander and the politicians' defending him show the symptoms of this disease. They assume that they are unbeatable and can act without any consequences. It is up to us to teach them that they are wrong.

 

Posted by b on July 19, 2013 at 12:15 PM | Permalink

Comments
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"It is up to us to teach them that they are wrong."
Amen.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jul 19, 2013 12:19:46 PM | 1

"The assertion that one needs a haystack to find a needle is incredibly stupid.."

They need a haystack in order to provide them with the candidates that they can transform into "terrorists."

Almost every "terrorist plot" of the past dozen years has turned out to have been set up by agents of the state, such as the FBI, who have been furnished with lists of potential candidates by the NSA or other surveillance. Taking these wisps of hay they transform them into needles which they then "discover."
All that remains then is to report another plot foiled, another triumph for surveillance and another billion bucks in the departmental budget.

Posted by: bevin | Jul 19, 2013 12:37:03 PM | 2

US officials, in uniform and in mufti, take an oath to protect the Constitution, not to protect the citizens. It's a critical difference. Presidential Oath of Office:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

from the Constitution:
Amendment IV - Search and Seizure. Ratified 12/15/1791.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Nevertheless, we see violations of the Constitution by US officials everywhere, approved in several cases by the Supreme Court.

For example, the Supreme Court has allowed certain vehicle checkpoints without individualized suspicion. Whether a vehicle checkpoint is reasonable depends on (1) the gravity of the public concern, (2) the degree to which the seizure addresses or advances the public concern, and (3) the severity of interference with individual liberty.(Brown v. Texas)

Screw the Constitution -- it's "the gravity of the public concern."

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 19, 2013 12:48:16 PM | 3

Deputy Attorney General James Cole testified to the House judiciary committee on Wednesday:

It’s the old adage: if you’re looking for the needle in the haystack, you have to have the entire haystack to look through. But we’re not allowed to look through that haystack willy-nilly.

There is no such ‘old adage’.Evidently this is a designated talking point for NSA public relations.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 19, 2013 12:58:24 PM | 4

exactly right Don. When there is an obstacle to an elite or bureaucracy, then that obstacle will be worked on until its no more and the public will go along with it because the bureaucrats have all day to campaign for it especially when it seems to help 'evildoers'.

Posted by: heath | Jul 19, 2013 1:10:20 PM | 5

Deputy Attorney General James Cole (#4), another friggin' government lawyer ALL of whom are beholden to their employer and not the law, so they regularly and obediently pull authorizations and lies out of their butts to "legalize" criminality at the highest level. So in government there are no 'lawyer jokes.' The lawyers themselves are jokes (except it's not funny).

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 19, 2013 1:18:52 PM | 6

Everyone should read Rebeca Solnit's letter to Edward Snowden at Asia Times. It is very complimentary to what b, has written here. It is up to us all of freedom fighters and dissidents of this system foisted upon us.
A pelear, que nos la quieren montar!

Posted by: Fernando | Jul 19, 2013 1:33:28 PM | 7

Four eyes could mean twice as many potential Snowdens. Increased internal security will gum up the 'cutting edge' tech and probably cause some of the sharpest minds to exit the NSA. How a country can squander so much of its resources. Welcome to Easter Island.

Posted by: biklett | Jul 19, 2013 1:46:47 PM | 8

@Fernando #7
Link please

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 19, 2013 1:48:31 PM | 9

it's actually on the frontpage on atimes, 2nd article
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/World/WOR-02-190713.html

Posted by: zingaro | Jul 19, 2013 1:58:08 PM | 10

Gotta love RT

Snowden sparks NSA overhaul: Sensitive data to be treated like nuclear weapons

A “two-man rule” is being introduced at the NSA as means of tightening access to top-secret data, according to the agency’s chief Keith Alexander, who was speaking at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado on Thursday.

"We'll close and lock server rooms so that it takes two people to get in there," Alexander said.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 19, 2013 2:13:15 PM | 11

When the new data complex being built in Utah comes on line (bigger than the US Capitol building) the haystack will be so gigantic, as to boggle the mind. They won't stop. You can safely presume that General Alexander's BS about the 4-eyes compartmentalization is just another lie, in the tedious procession of lies they tell. For who is to know, since there is no real oversight? These scofflaws even make up adages out of thin air. These psychopaths make up any story they like; it's what they are paid to do.

Posted by: Copeland | Jul 19, 2013 2:41:38 PM | 12

"It is up to us to teach them that they are wrong"

A contention I made just the other day. here at moa
Asking, so what are we all going to do about the spying?
and the responses other then Fernando's were a huge disappointment
If you can't be a part of the solution, continue being a part of the problem
And "suck it up" when the hammer comes down
All that is done to us, is allowed by us.
Take some responsibility for your own choices and actions
Today, I paid cash for all my purchases
I was the only one I saw doing so
And i thought to myself
My how we all love big brother.....


'The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed'
- Steve Biko

btw
James Corbett has a video up regarding alternatives for computer use, food purchases and more
http://www.corbettreport.com/
Personally, I already do many of them
Shop locally from farmers, grow my own food, pay cash
no smart phone
all do-able
Don't grease the wheels people, jam them up..


Posted by: Penny | Jul 19, 2013 3:28:55 PM | 13

penny, i'm a bit sick of you telling me how to live my life. fuck off, ok?

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 19, 2013 4:06:08 PM | 14

"My hunch is that the only real reason behind it is "because we can"."

The most vociferous proponents of the collection of data and the danger which requires it is the sellers of the machines and systems needed to do it and store it.

Posted by: Mooser | Jul 19, 2013 4:33:44 PM | 15

"penny, i'm a bit sick of you telling me how to live my life. fuck off, ok?"

There is one rule I have found which cuts across all lines of class, political beliefs, and any other distinction: Any man who would use profanity towards a woman (especially one simply making polite suggestion for his own good!) is about the lowest thing there is. A man like that is beneath contempt. And his views and information are about as wortwhile as his manners.

Posted by: Mooser | Jul 19, 2013 4:37:42 PM | 16

You, Rowan Berkely (if that is your real name, and frankly I doubt it!) are quite a piece of work! It's her first post in the thread, it doesn't even mention you and you react with profanity?
Rown, I am fully prepared to conclude that you, sir, are no gentleman. It will be a conclusion sadly and relutantly drawn, but my standards, and the standards of decent people everywhere, admit of only one result.
Crap, I'd have my tongue toirn out before I'd direct the most unutterable, ugliest sort of epithet at a single one of Eve's fair daughters. And it wouldn't matter if she was a brunet, or redhead, either. My Mother taught me to keep a civil tongue in my head. Of course, by the time I was a teen I was always trying to get it into some girl's mouth, but that's another story.

Posted by: Mooser | Jul 19, 2013 4:46:43 PM | 17

+100 to Mooser (16 + 17)

Posted by: salute | Jul 19, 2013 5:40:32 PM | 18

Rowan, I thought you liked my counceling :(

Posted by: Benny | Jul 19, 2013 5:58:06 PM | 19

The problem isn't the data collection - the problem is the system and all the lies.

Actually, one can very well argue that maybe not this but a massive collection of data really is necessary.

After all, modern societies have been and are massively changing and unfortunately in ways almost nobody really fully understands. While in the former physical world one usually needed physical things to live and interact, be it for benevolent or for malevolent purposes, while one needed physical transportation, physical communication, etc. nowadays this isn't true anymore. One can severly damage people or companies using the means of the virtual world.

In the physical world, physical entities makes plans using physical means, they implement those plans using physical means ... aso ... until in the end there are physical effects.

In the "new" world there are basically 2 worlds, the physical one and the virtual one and they are mostly not directly coupled. More importantly though, one often does actually not act within a one world concept but rather within a 2.5 worlds concept. A typical pattern to be observed is that of a sandwich with a physical base and as the top with a thick virtual layer in between that is, the "other" physical world layer is merely a projection area or an "output" layer, often with hardly any (immediately conceivable or direct) connection to the originating physical layer.

A second source of problems and grief is the vast perspective difference between citizens and state players.

For citizens that "new world" is an (sometimes frightening) adventure and an immense source feeding human creativity.
For state players - and their concept, implementations and means to perform their duties - the "new world" is a vast and frighteningly different place where most of their concepts and means run into a void; they simply don't get a grip.

Obviously this is a very major and principle dissonance and mismatch. And obviously (honestly, who would be surprised?) the state players react by somehow implementing their traditional physical world concepts and principles." In the real world there are license plates on cars so let's have some kind of id attached to them moving internet things, too".

But there is more to make them increasingly desperate and hence aggressive.

One major problem is that neither quantity nor order-principles nor a combinations work - intelligence and creativity beats them realiably and mercilessly. The work of government (e.g. fbi or nsa) drones is akin to bringing order to the ocean (with it's highly complex laws and systems likefor instance hydrodynamidc). The work of their "opponents" programmers, hackers, and professional users is rather to explore and use the ocean - obviously they will almost always win.

The only sensible way to become an effective actor in the "new world" is to forget and get rid of most of the current paradigms, concepts, means and ways to act - which evidently is the one thing state players just can't do; it's against their dna and the system that created, defined and authorized them in the first place.

So they do what state players are left with: controlling the interface between physical and virtual world (that's basically what prism and alike are all about), employing massiveness and filters.

The haystack remark says it all. It says that they see themselves confronted with an ocean (massiveness, the haystack), that they try to find physical world equivalences ("needles", a physical concept), that they being confronted with the inherent vastness of the "new world" vulgarly bet the house on ever more massive means for their side, etc.

Even worse, the haystack remark also shows that they have not at all understood the underlying conceptual problem and that therefore they do not even theoretically consider new concepts and approaches; understandably so, because doing that they would necessarily hammer against the very basis they stand on.

Funnily, once more Russia finds itself way better positioned than the west, partly exactly for what pussy riot and others are trying to shake but that is another discussion.

In the end all those nsas are quite ridiculous in desperately trying to hide their being lost while building ever bigger data centers at the cost of massively cutting down on cicil rights and the societies they want to protect (or control; no matter which one, they are losing anyway).

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jul 19, 2013 6:35:10 PM | 20

"My hunch is that the only real reason behind it is 'because we can'."

I'm afraid that's it isn't as simple as that. I think they have very clear reasons for doing this. The DoD has long been interested in network warfare. The post the other day about us all being 4.7 "hops" away form each other, and they are now searching 3 hops from each person they view (and they have certainly viewed everyone of any level of suspicion, it takes only a keystroke) then they've been able to map any overlaps between dissident networks in this country and throughout the world.

I personally think it is a little more sinister than because they can. Snowden showed us what they can collect, but he hasn't shown us it has been used. That is probably out of his purview, but you can be guaranteed there are massive reports generated on the social ecology of Occupy Wall Street or a random Brooklyn mosque.

As for Penny's what can we do, it is extremely difficult because the minute you do something like use encryption you get flagged. You can use an anonymity network, but I still believe that you can be flagged doing that (don't quote me on that, but I believe lists of the TOR network nodes are available. This is something to look into, "NSA surveillance and TOR"). You can try to use all cash, but even that is obvious and suspicious, probably resulting in a flag. The technology is so extensive now that if any part of the transaction is recorded then you are, in some way, able to note how it was completed. Even more dangerous is the fact that behavior can be predicted once even partial information has been collected on someone.

But for people really interested in anonymity, the group "anonymous" does provide many tutorials on this. But it is an extremely fluid game that you're playing. Unless you have a lot of technical knowledge, you're most certainly always relying on others advice and opinions and methods change at a moments notice.

@Mooser: "my tongue... I was always trying to get it into some girl's mouth."
Only their mouth Mooser? You should aim higher... or perhaps lower.

Posted by: guest77 | Jul 19, 2013 6:47:45 PM | 21

The problem is that the data is being collected by anti-social agencies. It might be reasonable, in a future democratic society, to amass data for social purposes and employ it according to the instructions of the people.

But in this case data is being collected by enemies of the people, agents of a state dedicated to promoting the interests of the exploiting few and keeping the masses in line.

To sum it up this surveillance has, as its object, the prevention of democratic change. It is designed to maintain a tyranny because the system is rapidly losing popular support. And those ruling it have no intention of attempting to win back support by sacrificing profits, increasing general living standards or allowing popular control over social services.

So far as Penny's advice is concerned, like her opinions they are welcome and sincere but I am not surprised that Rowan takes exception to her insistence that we do not merely listen politely but must also agree enthusiastically.
(Mooser you must have led a very sheltered life.)

The problem of surveillance, police spies and agents provocateurs is a very old one: so long as there are organisations, spies will join them and rise quickly to the leadership. And the more secretive, disciplined and conspiratorial organisations are, the sooner will they succumb to police influence. In some cases agents will actually take control. In others they will throw their support behind the least capable, most bureaucratic and politically inept cadres succeed. (All of which goes some way to explain the utter absence of socialist leadership in an era of unprecedented capitalist crisis.)

The proper response to the scandalous revelations from Snowden is to organise openly and proudly against the Police State, refuse to be intimidated by fear of losing work or risking persecution and take the fight to the enemy: it is those who side with Obama on this issue who mark themselves indelibly as cowardly conformists ushering in fascism for personal profit. They have chosen to pin swastikas in their lapels: no decent person will have anything to do with them.
I doubt that Rowan or I would either.

Posted by: bevin | Jul 19, 2013 7:32:14 PM | 22

"That is fine because it will kill the NSA's productivity and effectiveness."

This is exactly the thinking of Julian Assange. It is the reason he created Wikileaks. From an essay of his:

The more secretive or unjust an organization is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie. This must result in minimization of efficient internal communications mechanisms (an increase in cognitive “secrecy tax”) and consequent system-wide cognitive decline resulting in decreased ability to hold onto power as the environment demands adaption.

Hence in a world where leaking is easy, secretive or unjust systems are nonlinearly hit relative to open, just systems. Since unjust systems, by their nature induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance.

Only revealed injustice can be answered; for man to do anything intelligent he has to know what’s actually going on.

http://www.kosmopolito.org/2010/11/29/julian-assange-essays-on-conspiracies/

Here is an offered counterpoint for what it is worth. I couldn't make heads or tails of it but maybe someone smarter than me can do so: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1w1O2L-CwY

Posted by: guest77 | Jul 19, 2013 7:52:33 PM | 23

bevin (22)

To sum it up this surveillance has, as its object, the prevention of democratic change.

While one might, of course, at first sight be inclined to agree, I'm afraid it's more complex.

Concretely, I think that its object is not anti-democratic or repressive per se; it of course is de facto repressive but as a side effect rather than a set goal.

The object of all those undertakings, I'm convinced, is what could be summarized as an (ill) transposition of the good old policing which is a legitimate responsability of a state.

We also must see that a very considerable void within which the intelligence players operate is the much increased gap between the understanding of politicians and intelligence agencies. While the latter are obviously overwhelmed by the new world (see my post above) the former, the politicians not only lack interest in what they perceive as executive details and technicalities but they also have a strongly diverging (and outdated) approach angle.

Last but not least: Someone must define how to deal with the new world and the related issues and problems. If it's not the politicians then it's the services and agencies who are under considerable pressure to deliver on one hand, and hardly controlled on the other hand.

Actually it's probably the better (well, the less evil) of the two "solutions". After all, we could experience what a politician who actually understands to a degree how the new world works, will do. He will bluntly abuse it - and the citizens - as obama has shown during his high tech powered election campagne.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jul 19, 2013 8:49:58 PM | 24

@Bevin & Mr. P: I think you're both making the correct point that this is just another tool in the hands of the state. One's opinion from there likely track with opinion's regarding state power.

The question then is the same as always. The state has a new tool (or, a state has a new tool) and if one is a dissident or lives in a country being attacked by the one with the tool then something must be done to combat it. In the same way that the labor union was "invented" as a form of resistance, so too will news tools of resistance have to be created to fight this tool. Wikileaks certainly appears to be one. Maybe Anonymous is another. Penny's suggestions applied to one's personal life perhaps a third.

The question to me is... what is this tool capable of, and is it related to why 'We the People' seem to be losing so badly these days? As bevin pointed out, why is there no oppositional leadership in the world when it is obviously so needed? The world has never been this dominated by one cohesive segment of global society. Is it because of these new tools at work?

We are only just now becoming aware of their existence on a mass scale, and the technology is advancing each day. Have we truly considered the effects - intended and unintended - of all of this power?

Posted by: guest77 | Jul 19, 2013 9:59:43 PM | 25

@ guest77 #23
To follow up on Assange's motivation--

zunguzungu

Julian Assange sees governments as conspiracies and then sees that the best way to attack this organization is to make “leaks” a fundamental part of the conspiracy’s information environment, the idea being that increasing the porousness of the conspiracy’s information system will impede its functioning. Then the conspiracy will turn against itself in self-defense, clamping down on its own information flows in ways that will then impede its own cognitive function.

He begins by describing a state like the US as essentially an authoritarian conspiracy, and then reasons that the practical strategy for combating that conspiracy is to degrade its ability to conspire, to hinder its ability to “think” as a conspiratorial mind. The metaphor of a computing network is mostly implicit, but utterly crucial: he seeks to oppose the power of the state by treating it like a computer and tossing sand in its diodes.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 19, 2013 11:23:52 PM | 26

President Theodore Roosevelt, "The Progressive Covenant With The People" speech (1912)

"Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to befoul this unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of statesmanship."

Julian Assange
“Literacy and the communications revolution have empowered conspirators with new means to conspire, increasing the speed [and] accuracy of the their interactions and thereby the maximum size a conspiracy may achieve before it breaks down. Conspirators who have this technology are able to out-conspire conspirators without it. For the same costs they are able to achieve a higher total conspiratorial power. That is why they adopt it. For example, remembering Lord Halifax’s words, let us consider two closely balanced and broadly conspiratorial power groupings, the US Democratic and Republican parties. Consider what would happen if one of these parties gave up their mobile phones, fax and email correspondence — let alone the computer systems which manage their subscribes, donors, budgets, polling, call centers and direct mail campaigns? They would immediately fall into an organizational stupor and lose to the other.

“An authoritarian conspiracy that cannot think is powerless to preserve itself against the opponents it induces. When we look at an authoritarian conspiracy as a whole, we see a system of interacting organs, a beast with arteries and veins whose blood may be thickened and slowed until it falls, stupefied; unable to sufficiently comprehend and control the forces in its environment.”


Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 19, 2013 11:32:47 PM | 27

@Don And of course Kennedy's famous speech - better known as for being against "secret societies" but in fact is a classic display of US American schizophrenia - he calls for both an expansion of transparency along a clamp-down on the exposure of government secrets through media self-censorship, a "managed" First Amendment.

"I refer, first, to the need for a far greater public information; and, second, to the need for far greater official secrecy...I do ask every publisher, every editor, and every newsman in the nation to reexamine his own standards, and to recognize the nature of our country’s peril. In time of war, the government and the press have customarily joined in an effort based largely on self-discipline, to prevent unauthorized disclosures to the enemy."

http://wakeup-world.com/2011/05/20/jfks-speech-on-secret-societies/

[this is not an endorsement of the site this appears on. I haven't looked at it to form an opinion - though it looks harmless enough - they just happened to have this speech.]

Posted by: guest77 | Jul 20, 2013 12:30:28 AM | 28

@ guest77 #28

There is a whole lot more information now, but much of what the MSM peddles to its advertising targets is government pap -- strategic communications -- and doesn't cover what the government is actually doing, much of it criminal in nature.

So Assange's plan is to encourage leaks about what the government is actually up to. This, in turn, will cripple the government's criminal conspiracy. "Then the conspiracy will turn against itself in self-defense, clamping down on its own information flows in ways that will then impede its own cognitive function."

Now the NSA is treating sensitive data like nuclear weapons (#11) -- two-man rule and locked doors. This might not cripple NSA, but it will sure slow it down.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 20, 2013 12:54:30 AM | 29

The funny thing about the NSA promising all of this new security of course is that they've been telling us for weeks that everything is already completely secure!

And not to deny Assange basic point (because I do think he is right), but of course these peeping toms can say whatever they want be it about "two-man keys" or Get Smart! style "cones of silence", the fact is there is no actual oversight to this secret program at all and no one to confirm these safety measures actually exist... except for another Snowden.

As for him, poor Snowden, the US insane farce continues. Threatening to stop ALL Venezuelan air traffic over Most of Europe and North America?

What a wonderful way for foster even more integration among the global south. Note that the VE upper class would die on the vine (or at least in their fancy clubs in Las Mercedes) if they couldn't go to Europe. It's not a bad trade I'd say.

I can't imagine Europe would stick with this for even a week. It's time someone had an intervention with the US over this. "Hey, we're your friends, but you're really getting crazy here." Unreal.

Kerry Vows to Put the Screws to Venezuela over Snowden – Report
By RT

July 19, 2013 "Information Clearing House - "RT" - - US Secretary of State John Kerry has reportedly promised his Venezuelan counterpart to close NATO airspace to the country’s flights and stop crucial oil product deliveries if Caracas grants asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

Posted by: guest77 | Jul 20, 2013 1:13:13 AM | 30

Penny can tell me how to live my life ANYTIME, smart chics are muy muy MUY CALIENTE!!!
I am going to start paying with cash again to. I also need to cover up that little camera on my laptop.
You know it feels like, somebody's watching meeeeee!

But no seriously, I got an awesome email from Palestinian activist Ramzy Baroud and I was going to start goin into detail about certain plans I have. But, I stopped myself, I say to myself Ay Dios mio. What if the government is checking my Sh!t out?
So I could not even express myself fully to one of the most promising young Palestinian leader of this age.
Damn you NSA, CABRONES!!!
Stop checking out my damn needle!!!

Posted by: Fernando | Jul 20, 2013 3:42:37 AM | 31

Thanks to all for an excellent thread, a nice dialectic of complementary points of view and bits of information.
It seems highly likely that such surveillance will become more widespread, less expensive, and even more comprehensive with the passage of time and the predictable advances in the relevant technologies, so the interesting question, it seems to me, is to find ways to take the results out of the hands of the privileged
securocrats and put it the hands of "everybody", preferably with some still to be formulated limitations. This possibility is surely any politician's nightmare: rather than having a few shadowy securocrats in a position to blackmail her, her entire electorate would be able to access all her phone calls,
e-mails, financial transactions and all the rest. Would giving up
"constitutionally guaranteed rights to privacy" be acceptable for the sufficiently ambitious?
Other future outcomes should be highly interesting, especially if they are unexpected gleanings from what turns out to be an iron haystack.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Jul 20, 2013 6:46:22 AM | 32

Um, well, perhaps I was precipitate. What happened was, when Penny first launched this particular one-woman agitprop campaign, I wrote a lengthy, mature, reasoned, placatory, profound, insightful sort of response, and it dropped into the spam hole. By the time it reappeared, 27 hours later, the conversation had moved on, so probably La Passionaria never even saw it.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 20, 2013 6:55:02 AM | 33

It's just dropped another comment of mine in the spam bin.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 20, 2013 8:05:40 AM | 34

"... the US and the West generally put themselves in the position of parents telling other states, as if they were little children and not fully equal sovereigns, what they will accept and not accept, permit and not permit those states to do in their own countries! And if you don’t go along with these parental orders, the US and EU will slap sanctions on you, like a parent punishing a child. Never mind if there is no international legal basis either for the substantive “non-acceptance” of the activity, or for applying punitive sanctions, as is the case with Iran’s nuclear program. Dad’s going to do it anyway, because he knows what’s best, and because he can ..."
http://armscontrollaw.com/2013/07/13/einhorn-on-getting-to-yes-with-iran/

High priced whores dept: "The Case for American Propaganda: Complain all you want, but Uncle Sam produces better journalism than most of you yahoos." Rosa Brooks, ForeignPolicy.com, Jul 17. Rosa Brooks is a law professor at Georgetown University and a Schwartz senior fellow at the New America Foundation. She served as a counselor to the U.S. defense undersecretary for policy from 2009 to 2011 and previously served as a senior advisor at the U.S. State Department. She's a Democrat. We really need to get used to the fact that Dems are greater assholes than GOP.

Tom Burghardt on how all undersea cables belong to the NSA and GCHQ, even the ones that look as if they ought to belong to PRC Chinese companies:
http://antifascist-calling.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/documents-show-undersea-cable-firms.html

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 20, 2013 8:20:22 AM | 35

Other future outcomes should be highly interesting, especially if they are unexpected gleanings from what turns out to be an iron haystack.
Nice idea.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jul 20, 2013 10:20:25 AM | 36

DB @ 27:

"President Theodore Roosevelt, "The Progressive Covenant With The People" speech (1912)
"Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to befoul this unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of statesmanship."


Thanks DB for this quote. Never heard it before, it's more relevant today than ever. Pity, we have almost no statesmen left.

Posted by: ben | Jul 20, 2013 10:35:54 AM | 37

Legal basis (excerpts)

Executive Order 12333, originally issued 4 December 1981, delineates the NSA/CSS roles and responsibilities. In part, the Director, NSA/Chief, CSS is charged to:

Collect (including through clandestine means), process, analyze, produce, and disseminate signals intelligence information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes to support national and departmental missions

NSA: EO 12333 was amended on 31 July 2008 in order to:

- Align EO12333 with the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004;
- Implement additional recommendations of the 9/11 and WMD Commissions;
- Further integrate the Intelligence Community and clarify and strengthen the role of the DNI as the head of the Community;
-Maintain or strengthen privacy and civil liberties protections.


Executive Order 13470 - Further Amendments to Executive Order 12333, United States Intelligence Activities
July 30, 2008
(b) The United States Government has a solemn obligation, and shall continue in the conduct of intelligence activities under this order, to protect fully the legal rights of all United States persons, including freedoms, civil liberties, and privacy rights guaranteed by Federal law.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 20, 2013 11:30:45 AM | 38

The NSA, like the Marines, starts recruiting with youngsters.

Welcome to the Change the World web page. Here you can have fun solving puzzles and exploring the world of cryptology. Don't forget to check back with us as we will be regularly updating the page with new fun facts, puzzles and brain teasers! So, go forth, do good things and Change the World.

Check Out This Online Competition for 6th through 12th graders!

Want to register for an upcoming online cyber "hacking" competition? From 26 April through 6 May[sic], you can experience and practice offensive and defensive computer skills! All teams are run by students for students, hosted by Carnegie Mellon University! For more information and to register, click on the links below.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 20, 2013 11:35:47 AM | 39

@38
Notice that when important stuff needs to be done the president bypasses the messy legislative process and goes straight to an executive order. He issues other orders that are classified, but of course we can't see those. Since the government agencies (in this case NSA) do whatever they want anyhow, it really doesn't matter.

That's the way it goes in a "democracy." You "vote" for a guy, or others do, and then he does whatever he wants. The example then trickles down, needless to say.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 20, 2013 11:50:42 AM | 40

USA Today, Jul 19

Court renews NSA telephone surveillance program

WASHINGTON — The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court renewed the government's authority Friday to continue the collection of millions of Americans' telephone records, one of the classified counter-terrorism programs disclosed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

In an unusual public statement, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence acknowledged that the court renewed the authority that was set to expire Friday.


Thank god for courts. /s

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 20, 2013 11:56:46 AM | 41

Helen Thomas died today. The same US papers that submitted to the Jewish boycott edict against her are now sentimentalising about her.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 20, 2013 12:16:22 PM | 42

This is all completely crazy. It is the Total Awareness fantasy. But the ppl selling it make money, and that’s the American way!

The whole boondoggle is afforded by present technology. It is a commercial opportunity, a sort of underground and tentacular dot.com bubble.

I remember being in two USSR countries (now ex-), too funny, as a keen young person and collaborator. (Switz. always had strong ties with satellite USSR, not Russia!,Turkey, Cuba, and others, being outside the EU.) In one I had to get permission from the Ministry of Culture to make photocopies. This was easy to obtain, you got a permit with a stamp for a tiny fee. But the photocopies cost a bomb! (It was a scam.) In another every page photocopied was supposed to be consigned to a local official, you could copy anything you liked, simply the Gov. wanted to know what was going on. (many ppl did not bother..) So ads for second hand washing machines or appeals for lost dogs and tons of other totally trivial nonsense piled up endlessly and were, my friend Boris told me, simply thrown away. :) The Gvmts really had no interest in this info, and of course analyzing it was practically speaking out of the question. All this played no role in the Fall of the Wall. But the new technology...was seen as a danger and had to be ‘watched’...or was a potential source of info...

Now that is not to trivialize the collecting of info on ordinary citizens. The danger now is very different, and it should be opposed, fought. The data can be used to falsely target groups, individuals, areas, territories, professions, even States, and so on, with whatever mocked-up or real data. The data can be easily analyzed though that has a cost. The problem is that once the data is there, and has been in fact collected with that aim, and shines with the false gloss of scientific analysis, results will materialize, as a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, as it must be useful for something.

The crux of the problem is not the data itself, but the authoritarian or despotic Gvmt. and its corporate partners.

One can always define the enemy within, like Hitler (groups of ppl), or infidels, terrorists, readers of dodgy books, dissidents, etc. and the enemy without, the savages out there, both lame, ridiculous, and a horrifying potential threat, such as Iran for USisr today.

Spying on individuals - suspected, or important, or open to blackmail - is the main use?

Posted by: Noirette | Jul 20, 2013 12:16:52 PM | 43

Spying on individuals - suspected, or important, or open to blackmail - is the main use? Posted by: Noirette | Jul 20, 2013 12:16:52 PM | 43
I don't think so. I think all this has got very long-term planning behind it, that stretches across multiple administrations, and the long-term purpose is thought control. There will be teams of social psychologists and computer analysts analysing opinion trends as expressed in 'private' communications, such as personal emails, and planning media campaigns aimed at specific opinions. A precedent for this is servicemen's letters home, which were subjected to statistical analysis by military censorship departments during WW1 and WW2, and the results passed to propaganda planners. After ten years, you'll have a population that is not just robotised generally, but robotised with some precision.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 20, 2013 12:44:17 PM | 44

All I have to ask is whether it will prevent any of these:
the Shia LaBeouf story as told on Jay Leno's show;
http://www.examiner.com/article/shia-labeouf-nsa-actor-talked-about-nsa-wiretapping-five-years-ago-to-jay-leno

In 2008, NSA employees admitted to listening to calls from the Green Zone in Iraq.
http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=5987804&page=1#.UbCL_vaDSlg

and this
http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57589495-38/nsa-admits-listening-to-u.s-phone-calls-without-warrants/

Posted by: Curtis | Jul 20, 2013 12:51:03 PM | 45

Posted by: guest77 | Jul 20, 2013 1:13:13 AM | 30

Breathtaking! Gunboat diplomacy never died, I guess.

Posted by: Maracatu | Jul 20, 2013 1:18:01 PM | 46

@39 sick, isn't it? Like the Hitler Youth or the youngsters in 1984.

Posted by: guest77 | Jul 20, 2013 2:04:52 PM | 47

@RB "A precedent for this is servicemen's letters home, which were subjected to statistical analysis by military censorship departments during WW1 and WW2, and the results passed to propaganda planners."

Fascinating! I'm going to research this for sure. Thanks!

Posted by: guest77 | Jul 20, 2013 2:20:01 PM | 48

@46 how crass, right? Imagine if China said that to Italy or something.

Posted by: guest77 | Jul 20, 2013 2:21:24 PM | 49

Mooser @ 15 -- And, aside from Penny being a woman, b has asked commenters over and over to disagree politely.

Which is not that difficult.

Plus, when I read Penny's questions and suggestions, along with what I've read elsewhere, I realized how damn hard it would be. I'm still looking for ways to get away from the all seeing eye and all sucking of all information NSA hoover.

Posted by: jawbone | Jul 20, 2013 3:04:09 PM | 50

Oops, my reply to Mooser was for his comment @ 16.

Posted by: jawbone | Jul 20, 2013 3:05:31 PM | 51

"A precedent for this is servicemen's letters home, which were subjected to statistical analysis by military censorship departments during WW1 and WW2, and the results passed to propaganda planners." Fascinating! I'm going to research this for sure. Thanks! Posted by: guest77 | Jul 20, 2013 2:20:01 PM | 48
One source is George Orwell's diaries. He was involved at both ends of this process during WW2, in relation to the allied armies in the Indian subcontinent: he had some experience in the censorship itself, which was a pretty menial job, then later he was involved in writing scripts for allied forces radio to broadcast to the subcontinent. At least, I think that's right.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 20, 2013 3:23:09 PM | 52

http://rt.com/news/kerry-threatens-venezuela-snowden-308/

guest77, I think this is the link for your article in #30.

A State spokesperson added to the mix, per the article:

Later on Friday US State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf has denied that Kerry ever touched upon the possible nature of US response to Venezuela granting asylum to Snowden in his conversation with Jaua. She dismissed the report that Kerry has threatened Venezuela as “utterly wrong.”

However, Harf said that there would be “an appropriate response” from the US, should the South American country help the NSA leak. [Italics in original]

I particularly like the bit about Kerry allegedly saying that immunity is for the president, not the president's plane. I'm sure Kerry will support searches of Air Force One when it takes Obama overseas...Heh.

I have to admit I voted for Kerry over BushBoy, but I was never that much of a supporter. He was unfairly trashed by the right wingers, and made fun of for a senior moment slip of the tongue in a debate, but I didn't get a good feeling about what he would actually do as president.

And he sure seems to like the bullying part of having the "bully pulpit" as part of being Secty of State.

Seems he'd like to start a few wars of his own down in South America. Or maybe he's doing Obama's bidding on this; maybe Obama would like a few more coup d'etats taking out leadership he doesn't personally like. Or that his Corporastist mentors and "deep state" controllers would like removed. Now that's a scary thought. Nothing new in how the US treats it's little southern neighbors, but, dang, I hate my government being so obvious.

Posted by: jawbone | Jul 20, 2013 3:36:20 PM | 53

PS: I assume you saw this:

US Repeals Propaganda Ban, Spreads Government-Made News to Americans
John Hudson, ForeignPolicy.com, Jul 14 2013

For decades, a so-called anti-propaganda law prevented the US government’s mammoth broadcasting arm from delivering programming to US audiences. But on Jul 2, that came silently to an end with the implementation of a new reform passed in January. The result: an unleashing of thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs for domestic US consumption in a reform initially criticized as a green light for US domestic propaganda efforts....


The article goes on to mention populations of recent immigrants to the US from problematic countries, who might receive targeted propaganda via some convenient broadcasting medium from now on. I don't think it's coincidence. That's how the military mind thinks, and NSA after all belongs to the military. They think of everything as a weapon. Possession of every citizen's emails is no good as a mere fact, it has to be weaponised. And the obvious way to do that is to use it to create target lists of opinions, then aim propaganda exactly at those opinions, including regional variations, down to city level: such and such a US city shows a high proportion of people who express some particular undesirable view in their emails, so propaganda can be targeted at that city. It would make perfect sense to them.

Now please, let me apologise properly to Penny for having been so savagely and gratuitously rude to her. Dear Penny, I'm truly sorry. Very occasionally, perhaps for some psychological reason, something just snaps and my fingers run away with me. I shall take extra care to ensure it doesn't happen again.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 20, 2013 3:42:30 PM | 54

There is a website which runs deep analytics on Twitter (for a steep price, of course) but it does give one the kind of idea of potential uses for the NSA's massive database of human thought and actions.


A specific example: Predicting stock prices based on social sentiment:
http://about.topsy.com/2012/01/16/predicting-stock-prices-using-topsy-social-sentiment/

More broad examples:
http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/08/you-are-the-product-topsys-new-pro-analytics-tool-as-the-all-seeing-eye/

And this is only using Twitter. Imagine using people's personal emails, phone calls, etc...

It's astonishing.

Posted by: guest77 | Jul 20, 2013 3:48:11 PM | 55

@RB #54
I've commented on this "domestic propaganda" before, that the government itself can't possibly do a worse job than the majority of MSM "journalists" who obediently parrots the government line and fail to question criminality and lies. Otherwise, they become ex-journalists.

Dan Rather, an iconic US journalist: "Look I'm an American. I never tried to kid anybody that I'm some internationalist or something. And when my country is at war, I want my country to win, whatever the definition of 'win' might be. Now, I can't and don't argue that that is coverage without prejudice. About that I am prejudiced." So Dan brought us through the criminal war against Vietnam and the Nixon presidency. -- from Norman Solomon's "War Made Easy" -- How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.

One principal reason that this is so, is because the media basically exists to sell an audience to corporate advertisers, and not to report the "truth."

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 20, 2013 3:53:28 PM | 56

On The Media covered the government's managing to get Congress to change the law preventing propaganda prepared for the US's overseas radio stations (and, per an editorial I read, the administration lied to Congress to persuade most legislators' votes to be for the change).

Presently, any station which wished to use VOA programming could do so, just had to make the request. But legislators were told that this change in the law, allowing VOA to present the progamming to media here in the US, was necessary because those poor Somali immigrants were just unable to use the internet, where all was available, or their local public and private outlets just wouldn't ask for the programs which would provide their immigrants listeners with the government's take on things as prepared for the immigrants' "homeland" audience.

Obama just being helpful, of course.

Posted by: jawbone | Jul 20, 2013 4:04:17 PM | 57

@mm57 -- First graf should have ended with "from being broadcast wihtin the US."

Some note that by doing this, it will undermine the belief of many foreign listeners that the VOA reports are not actually propaganda.

Posted by: jawbone | Jul 20, 2013 4:07:35 PM | 58

Even the simplest things ought to be proofread -- I have no idea how the two m's got place before the comment number in "@ 57."

I better go to do the clean up I interrupted.

Posted by: jawbone | Jul 20, 2013 4:09:03 PM | 59

A question to all, why has not the share prices of all the social media , telecom companies which supported or participated with NSA share prices fallen, especially Facebook? are we all so laid back that we dont care!

Posted by: hans | Jul 20, 2013 4:33:09 PM | 60

"Only their mouth Mooser? You should aim higher... or perhaps lower."

My ambitions in that direction were very modest. And once I learned they had teeth in there, I decided it wasn't safe! What if she got angry and, snapp! I wanted to taste my food, and besides, there was a sampler on our kitchen when I was a boy, with the terse message worked upon it: "Kissin' wears out, but cookin' don't".

And you know, it's true. After 24 years, my wife still likes almost everything I prepare.

Posted by: Mooser | Jul 20, 2013 8:36:39 PM | 61

"I want my country to win, whatever the definition of 'win' might be."

Hell, I'd be grateful if that were the case, but I think it'd be more accurarate if Rather said 'I want my sponsor to win, whatever...' A concern for the country would be a big step up.

Posted by: Mooser | Jul 20, 2013 8:41:24 PM | 62


"Very occasionally, perhaps for some psychological reason, something just snaps and my fingers run away with me"

That is the lamest, most crapulous, excuse for contemptibly passive-aggressive behavior I have ever heard. Good Lawd, that someone might say that and have it dissolve instantly into minute atmospheric waves of atmospheric rarefaction and compression which can never again be reassembled, is bad enough, but to commit that to writing?
But yeah, we get it, you have some big anger control problems, and are more than willing to disclaim responsibility for your actions. "Some psychological reason"? Gosh, I bet that "psychological reason" has another, more specific and much uglier name, my friend. But it's in Latin so I don't know how to pronounce it. I called my shrink and he said he won't tell me until I pay my back bill. That must be one nasty syndrome you've got there, Berkely.

Posted by: Mooser | Jul 20, 2013 8:57:33 PM | 63

Okay, man, he apologized. That's enough for me. Drop it, please. Just drop it.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 20, 2013 10:33:00 PM | 64

Mr Pragma @24
"I think that its object is not anti-democratic or repressive per se; it of course is de facto repressive but as a side effect rather than a set goal.

"The object of all those undertakings, I'm convinced, is what could be summarized as an (ill) transposition of the good old policing which is a legitimate responsibility of a state."

The key is in your second paragraph: I disagree about that "good old policing which is a legitimate responsibility of a state."

Policing has to be the responsibility of the people. The basis of all authoritarian regimes is state control of the police. The Panopticon is not a side effect but the culmination of the enlightened despotism that Prince Potemkin favoured.
The liberal utilitarians only came to support universal franchise late in the day and as a counterweight to aristocratic power which they found too "democratic" in the sense that it did not recognise the right of the expert, educated, bourgeois, apostle of the marketplace technocrat to rule.
According to the Benthamites total surveillance and preventitive policing would allow the state, run by experts (cf the Indian Civil Service) to engineer progress. Bentham's ideas became widely influential across the political spectrum. In the Anglo world they were central to Fabianism and Progressivism. In Russia the Stalinists. And in Germany the Social Democrats (Bernstein was a Fabian) have transmitted this anti-democratic plague across the political spectrum.

Posted by: bevin | Jul 20, 2013 10:37:01 PM | 65

Posted by: bevin | Jul 20, 2013 10:37:01 PM | 65

I'll leave it to Mr Pragma to defend/clarify, but your response struck a chord.
There's no doubt that modern democracies were designed to fool The People into thinking that it's "democratic" to be granted permission elect a government which then grants itself permission to ignores the will of the The People in the interests of expediency.

Anyone pointing this out can be sure that the advocates of faux democracy will deliver a tedious sermon on the impracticalities of 'consensus politics' - "consensus" being code for 'consultative/responsive.'

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jul 20, 2013 11:27:08 PM | 66

But yeah, we get it, you have some big anger control problems, and are more than willing to disclaim responsibility for your actions. "Some psychological reason"? Gosh, I bet that "psychological reason" has another, more specific and much uglier name, my friend. But it's in Latin so I don't know how to pronounce it. I called my shrink and he said he won't tell me until I pay my back bill. That must be one nasty syndrome you've got there, Berkely. Posted by: Mooser | Jul 20, 2013 8:57:33 PM | 63
Well, now, this is the fellow who single-handedly drove me away from MondoWeiss. There was nobody there who had any interest in restraining him, and the more he nagged, the more wounding (and feminine) his insults became. He would go hunting for comments by me from completely unrelated threads which he would then ridicule without providing context. You know how bitchy Jewish liberal comedians regularly get. Misspelling the name of the target is a regular tactic, by the way. It's indicative of something. Pettiness, I guess.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 21, 2013 2:34:06 AM | 67

I think it's seductive to mix two aspects here.

One is the question what that whole nsa stuff is about and how it came to be.
The answer imo is in my former post; it's an attempt to transpose old world policing into the new world. There are (among others) two strong hints:
The whole "security vs liberty" dogma names it right away: security.
The other point is that, Pardon me, people are just sheeple in the eyes of the deciders; they wouldn't be worth to be spied on. With one exception and that is the (paranoical) perception of danger to the system/state (as, for instance, in the Ex-Sovjet state).
And indeed there is something being perceived as danger to the system and that is the very fact that the new world is (not yet?) fully understood (and therefore assumed to be dangerous).

The other aspect, the exaggeration/abuse of policing for the purpose of state control (as well as the control of citizens) is looking like a similar phenomenon but isn't; it's on an axis of its own. That axis is nothing to do with the new world, it existed in many old regimes, too. The relevant point here is somewhere else, namely at the government "forgetting" that it's merely acting on behalf and for the citizens and rather seeing itself as a seperate entity, in the worst case one that is opposed by and opposing the citizens.

To summarize it somewhat bluntly, the latter is the mechanics and the former merely a tool. The latter explains the "why", the former explains the typical "how".

Actually this even shows practically. Many of those "evil" meta-data are routinely used,processed, analyzed and stored (usually only short term) for mere technical purposes - by ISPs and other technical or service entities. In other words, all the data the nsa is taking is actually created during normal computer / communication equipment use since many years and nobody complained. But of course those - anyway existing - meta-data are an inviting point of first approach for nsa and the like.

But there is another, imo by far more important point that unfortunately seems to get overlooked.

Right now nsa is building a new vast data facility. But: So what? The very (helpless) largely "quantitative", i.e. massive approach taken by the constitution and law ignorant police and spies also at the same time is it's major Achilles heel. Right now, for instance, they can store something like 3 days worth of content. But then in IT "massive" is easy and works both ways that is, by flooding them their system can be constipated up to the point of being basically worthless.

But there is more to that consideration:

Can that be done? Yes, and even easily. The "why" is the striking point here. Because the "intelligence community" needs the amount of data/communication to be reasonably limited - the "business community" (read: greedy american corporations and banks behind them), however, want the amount of data/communication as large as possible. Isn't that great? As soon as we see and understand that divergence, we recognize that we have an immensely mighty "ally". And it's not at all difficult in the new world to multiply data volume.

Looking at it from a practical point of view we see that the average DSL connection in the western world in the Mb/s range actually is an "invitation" to constipate the control systems. Or, to day it in general alexanders lingo: If they grab the whole haystack to find a needle, we simple make the haystack 10, 100, or 1000 times bigger - for free or for very low cost.

This way of recognizing and thinking is strategically valuable for another reason, too: there *is* something "we, the people" *can* do.
We can't vote them out of power, we can't choose from sensible candidates but from crooks only in elections, and wecan't reasonably fight the police. But we can cripple their regimes by the most basic means, by giving them way mor than they can digest of what they try to pry from us; give it to them and in sheer mass.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jul 21, 2013 2:39:18 AM | 68

Addition:

It's easy to generate tones on a PC. Do it and send it as an email attachment. After all, they love sound files (assuming they contain speech). As added bonus: It's computationally expensive to automatically "listen" to sound files and to discern whether there is speech, even more so when the speech could be hidden/electronically changed.

And btw. you do not even need an existing recipient for your emails. But it's better, of course, if your email can be delivered. You know a provider supporting nsa? Great. Just create a new email account there and send those sound emails to yourself there.

Make general alexander happy, feed his spy systems generously.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jul 21, 2013 2:49:53 AM | 69

jawbone @53, your "Seems he'd like to start a few wars of his own down in South America" is certainly backed up by developments on the ground.

[...] Rangel said that the Bolivarian government has extensive intelligence information on these activities, that will be presented by President Nicolas Maduro to his Colombian counterpart, Juan Manuel Santos.

Colombia has become a base of operations against Venezuela

Five of the 18 aircraft acquired by the Venezuelan right wing to an American company, last May, are already in one of the U.S. military bases located in Colombia, as reported Rangel.

Air units, located in the jurisdiction of the Air Combat Command (Cancom No. 3) unit of the Colombian Air Force, which covers the Colombian Caribbean, would be used in a given scenario for operations of a warmongering character. [...]

Add this story and you have either an overly paranoid Venezuelan government or indeed various coup attempts in the making:

Venezuela arrests 9 Colombians over plot to kill Maduro

CARACAS: Venezuelan authorities said Monday they had arrested nine Colombian paramilitary fighters they accused of plotting to assassinate President Nicolas Maduro amid an ongoing diplomatic spat with Bogota. [...]


Mind you, these plans have most likely been in the works for far longer than E Snowden has been on the scene.

Posted by: Juan Moment | Jul 21, 2013 2:50:33 AM | 70

Five of the 18 aircraft acquired by the Venezuelan right wing to an American company, last May, are already in one of the U.S. military bases located in Colombia, as reported Rangel.
That's a really badly translated article. But if what it's saying is that Venezuelan right-wing militias are building a private air force of their own in Columbia, acting under the protection of the Columbian government and air force, that's a staggering charge. I don't think it makes sense, because it says "fighter planes". You can't put fighters into the hands of civilian paramilitaries. They are physically incapable of flying them. Flying a fighter needs years of air force training. Nor would putting fighters into the hands of civilian paramilitaries have "similarities with other intelligence and counterintelligence operations of the United States, supported by logistics and resources bases in other countries." It would be unprecedented.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 21, 2013 3:04:04 AM | 71

Mr Pragma @68, you wrote "We can't vote them out of power, we can't choose from sensible candidates but from crooks only in elections".

Harking back to a discussion we had a couple of weeks ago, where I suggested we do away with political parties and have a parliament populated by random picks from amongst all eligible citizens, your argument was that my proposition was silly as the status quo of party selections allows us to choose from sensible candidates etc.

Could you outline how you reconcile these two seemingly opposing views?

Posted by: Juan Moment | Jul 21, 2013 3:10:15 AM | 72

Mr P, your idea of flooding the NSA with spoof emails and just plain noise is entertaining but bizarre. What I said originally, in response to Penny's first call to arms about this, was that anything you do to avoid surveillance simply invites it. By adopting some arcane encryption system, for instance, you advertise yourself as someone who either has something to hide, or is determined for political reasons to be obstructive. Either way, you put yourself into a subset of people who merit individual attention. On the other hand, if you just carry on as normal, like I do, the only thing that can possibly draw attention to you is content analysis, which is the most labour-intensive aspect of mass surveillance and the slowest. The case of the German who got a police visit five days after he proposed on Facebook a pleasant day's outing to a local NSA site is a bit intimidating, I admit; it makes content analysis sound much more rapid and thorough than I believe it really is. But then again, this is Facebook. Facebook is the pits. Everybody knows that.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 21, 2013 3:28:39 AM | 73

Yet another of my comments has disappeared into the spam bin, which means Bernhard will retrieve it in about six hours time and it will reappear above this one. But it was a response to Mr P's idea of flooding the NSA with spoof emails and noise. At the end, I mentioned the German who received a visit from the police five days after proposing on Facebook a stroll round a local NSA site. I said Facebook is particularly notorious, probably because Facebook's own staff will monitor what is posted there and report anything problematic to the spooks, of their own accord. But another point is that in terms of content analysis, locations of secret bases are right at the top of the priorities. Compare the Wayne Madsen article a few weeks ago which listed the locations of something like a dozen NSA sites right across Europe. The Guardian went into crisis mode over this, pulling an article that merely mentioned the Madsen interview, even though it didn't actually repeat the names of the locations. Again, it's the military mind: locations of secret bases are top security, even though probably everybody who lives anywhere near them knows what they are.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 21, 2013 3:46:49 AM | 74

Juan Moment (72)

Harking back to a discussion we had a couple of weeks ago, where I suggested we do away with political parties and have a parliament populated by random picks from amongst all eligible citizens, your argument was that my proposition was silly as the status quo of party selections allows us to choose from sensible candidates etc.

Sorry, no

My argument was not that "the status quo of party selections allows us to choose from sensible candidates etc."

I perceived your suggestion as silly for "have a parliament populated by random picks from amongst all eligible citizens"

My understanding of a "sensible candidate" simply isn't that of someone picked by random.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jul 21, 2013 5:04:07 AM | 75

Mooser@63 said: "That must be one nasty syndrome you've got there, Berkely."

I was thinking the same thing about you.

Am I the only one who reads everyone here as pretty much disembodied Internet voices, or shall we go back to the days when newcomers would flirt with Debsisdead because they couldn't work out that it was a reference to Eugene? I'll stray from the topic here long enough to state that if you're only problem with one poster's tone to another's is that the feeble, fair gender might be offended, then you are socially atavistic. Do, please, kindly and in the most polite way possible, get the hell over yourself.

Posted by: Monolycus | Jul 21, 2013 6:26:19 AM | 76

There must be a neat little self replicating algorithm the good people at Anonymous can concoct that will multiply the haystack to immense proportions. I think they're probably working on it as I write.

Posted by: Maracatu | Jul 21, 2013 8:19:43 AM | 77

"My understanding of a "sensible candidate" simply isn't that of someone picked by random."

You could be wrong: the idea of choosing representatives randomly from a Jury list has considerable merit. After all choosing ordinary citizens at random would at least ensure that the current system of picking from the worst elements in society (careerists, conformists unprincipled and rootless, obedient Yes men,and women, sponsored by wealthy individuals, corporations or foreign interests. It is hard to imagine a legislature chosen at random voting 100% in favour of Israeli ethnic cleansing, for example.

"But if what it's saying is that Venezuelan right-wing militias are building a private air force of their own in Columbia, acting under the protection of the Columbian government and air force, that's a staggering charge. I don't think it makes sense, because it says "fighter planes". You can't put fighters into the hands of civilian paramilitaries. They are physically incapable of flying them. Flying a fighter needs years of air force training. Nor would putting fighters into the hands of civilian paramilitaries have "similarities with other intelligence and counterintelligence operations of the United States, supported by logistics and resources bases in other countries. It would be unprecedented."

I'm not sure that it would be unprecedented. (I am sure it isn't cf the Contras. Or even the 1954 CIA backed forces which brought down Guatemala's government.)
It would take no time at all to hire a few dozen highly trained pilots in Miami (or Tel Aviv)who would terrorise Venezuela for money. I expect that some have already been hired, whether their jobs in the USAF are guaranteed when their contracts run out is very likely. The only problem is in providing Air Bases but if the Hondurans would not oblige the Colombians surely would.

Posted by: bevin | Jul 21, 2013 9:28:53 AM | 78

Sorry. This needed to be edited. It should read thus:

After all choosing ordinary citizens at random would be an improvement on the current system of picking from the worst elements in society (careerists, conformists unprincipled and rootless, obedient Yes men,and women, sponsored by wealthy individuals, corporations or foreign interests).

Freud will explain why I seem incapable of closing parentheses. I'm not sure anyone would be interested, though.

Posted by: bevin | Jul 21, 2013 9:32:40 AM | 79

I'm not sure that it would be unprecedented. (I am sure it isn't cf the Contras. Or even the 1954 CIA backed forces which brought down Guatemala's government.) Posted by: bevin | Jul 21, 2013 9:28:53 AM | 78
I know the people you mean, those wonderful men like Eugene Hasenfus. But they weren't flying fighters, they were flying little air donkeys. Pick up the cocaine, drop the weapons, little airstrips, you know the drill.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 21, 2013 9:39:19 AM | 80

For whatever the merit of the suggestions of Penny and Mr. Pragma, the ultimate solution has to be to take back power from the power elite - or at the very very least cause so much trouble in Mr. Pragma's old and new worlds that these elites bend back to some sort of reasonable modes of activity.

I think we have to be moving into a stage of dissent and resistance, and I think people like Snowden, Manning, Anonymous, and Assange are the first examples of it. But it has to develop more, and, like Egypt, it has to develop in the "old world" of people and things as well as the new, virtual world (though the two are intimately connected).

There are two aspects: one, that you can provide oversight on the government and restrictions on activity, two, you can also change the architecture to create a decentralized methods of communication that can't be tracked. There is nothing about this technology that means it has to be set up in the same way as the old phone companies - huge masses of wire and fibers all routed through centralized locations. There are several forms of anonymous architecture people are theorizing, but it takes having the political power to get them implemented. And that would have to be the next battle.

http://isec.uta.edu/anon.next/

Posted by: guest77 | Jul 21, 2013 9:49:53 AM | 81

Rowen @ 74 -- Do you have a link for the Madsen article you reference?

I googled and didn't get what seemed to be what you mention. Thnx much.

Posted by: jawbone | Jul 21, 2013 10:34:05 AM | 82

Rowen @ 74 -- Do you have a link for the Madsen article you reference? I googled and didn't get what seemed to be what you mention. Thnx much. Posted by: jawbone | Jul 21, 2013 10:34:05 AM | 82
Indeed I do: it is here. The same bloggist has written a follow-up, discussing how the Grauniad (or the Observer) burned its fingers on this: it is here.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 21, 2013 10:44:54 AM | 83

Juan Moment @ 70 -- Ah, of course. The US government rarely leaves South American governments alone which have even the slightest anti-Corporatism bent, much less full on socialism approach to bettering the lives of the majority of their people. Of course, there are US attempts to take out the annoying governments and their leaders.

It's just that it's so seldom covered, even in lefty blogs. One has to know the right one to go to -- suggestions, anyone?

And, I'm still amazed about a huge poster I saw at one of the protests against Bush/Cheney's push for the illegal invasion of Iraq back in 2003. The poster had three columns, iirc, smallish font (I had to get close to read it), listing all the military "kinetic actions" undertaken by the US. I knew of a few, but there many I'd never heard of. And, of course, the MCM (Mainstream Corporate Media) coverage of South and Central America and Mexico, even Canada, is almost always based on Corporatist objectives and spin.

(That poster by now would need to be even larger to cover all the newer US military adventures and invasions, black ops, etc.)

It's not easy to be an informed citizen in the US. Yes, we can read foreign press accounts, once we find them and find the time to read them, perhaps struggle through a Google translation, but the main coverage simply ignores anything which the Corporatist elites and deep state want to have ignored.

Posted by: jawbone | Jul 21, 2013 1:30:23 PM | 84

Ad remarks to my new world remarks:

No, that would not lead to being tagged by nsa & co. Why? Because - sensible - flooding is not per se suspicious (unlike e.g. encrypting); it does not try to go against their spying efforts but rather (over)feeds them wit seemingly normal traffic.

One might compare it with a situation of, say, a new "security" system where police checked everyones bags (like in airports) and where one could have half the city going from check point to check point. Nothing suspicious per se (and with plausible deniability) and with no forbidden items or such in the bags, just simply flooding them. Suppose that currently they can check ca. 1.000 people/hour and that normally 800 to 900 people pass a given point. Now, suddenly having 3.000 or even 20.000 people passing that point would clog and/or foil the system pretty badly. But those people would wear V masks nor would they carry anything strange or anti-police - just plain normal people with plain normal stuff in their bags but (to stay close to what this example is to show) with normal things that are somewhat difficult to search (say, lots of very small things).
Unlike people or bags, however, internet packets can be quite arbitrarily and cheaply multiplied.

And what could they charge you with? "Mister, you are sending quite a lot of email!"? Hardly.

To those who mean "No! We must fight that in the old world and politicially" I say:

Good luck. Remember "occupy"?

The point is simple. They, the 1 %, held power over the vast majority of the last couple thousands of years. There were different systems, true, and democracy *seemed* to be different, yes - but in the end they held the power. And they defended it, very brutally if needed; just ask someone who was confronted by police forces during demonstrations.

The factor on the peoples side is that the "new world" is new and that they quite obviously can't control it well. How else would one explain the nsa collecting *everything*? This is not a symptom of power, it is one of being help- and quite clueless.
And their only major weapon is those "take all in", which systemically has a major vulnerability built in: To increase the rate of intake is a) progessively expensive and b) hitting a natural ceiling. To increase the volume (to be controlled) however is almost cost-free and has no or a dimensionally higher ceiling. Simple reason: They need physical assets like (very expensive) sytems and agents - we just need to type some text and/or click a buttom.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jul 21, 2013 3:26:12 PM | 85

bevin (78)

You could be wrong: the idea of choosing representatives randomly from a Jury list has considerable merit. After all choosing ordinary citizens at random would at least ensure that the current system of picking from the worst elements in society (careerists, conformists unprincipled and rootless, obedient Yes men,and women, sponsored by wealthy individuals, corporations or foreign interests. It is hard to imagine a legislature chosen at random voting 100% in favour of Israeli ethnic cleansing, for example.

That's a valid point and you are right.

Unfortunately though, it addresses only 1 (of quite some) problem and furthermore it creates new ones.

There seems to be a tendency to focus on the fact that some few egotistically go for the power no matter what. But there is another side that many tend to ignore, possibly for it being quite unpleasant: The majority of people *want* to be governed (to whatever degree). And *this* is a by far more important factor contributing (and explaining) the status quo than the 1%.

Furthermore the whole democracy thingy is based on fragile assumptions, for instance on equal representation. Which, Pardon me, is something in between day dreaming and plain bullsh*t - and quite possibly an intentional distraction. You can have a perfectly undemocratic country, say with a monarch, a high priest or even a benevolent dictator (or a hazard-driven parliament) where people live and are treated well. How? Have a good constitution and state agencies that are play correctly along the law.

I find it in between funny and absurd how many "solutions" and approaches have been though of, introduced and discussed - bluntly ignoring the most basic and striking one that is based on simple law:

The laws in pretty every country demand that one does not defraud, deceive or mislead the other parties. Plain and simple. In other words: What 99% of the politicians in this world do *is already illegal* - but for quite strange reasons no major attempts have been made to hold politicians bound or at least liable.

This is immensely important because only this "oversight" and the 4 (5, 6, whatever) year terms is all that is needed to profoundly f*ck the citizens.

What's the reality, though? Just look at the (extreme) example of obamas campaign. obamas team basically based their whole campaign *only* on "what would they like to hear?", i.e. they basically ran a blunt sales scam, telling the people whatever was needed to get their voices - with no intention whatsoever to deliver. Conceeded, this was an extreme case; most politicians have some kind of actual view that they try to sell rather than obama deceivingly selling whatever people wanted to hear.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jul 21, 2013 3:50:16 PM | 86

Was Obama the 'first' pol to do this? Or, was he the 'first' to be caught doing it?

While this thread is focused on the negative aspects of the new technology, (data-mining, etc) ~ the positive aspect is that the 'people' are gaining a collective 'voice' much stronger than the voices heard in a pub or 'round an old wood-burning stove in the rural areas of the USA... and the discussions in cyber space are highlighted with links to the facts. We the people are becoming more informed. Now, as Penny and others suggest, what are we going to do with the incoming information ~ most of which only serves to affirm what some of us have 'suspected' all along...

While 1% has and always has had (as someone upthread reminds us)the bulk of the resources and almost all of the power, some of us have individually groaned and complained. Today, we are becoming "collective" in our moaning and groaning... we need to move to the next level of collectively addressing the resolution of issues.

There is, imho, about 1% of us who actually 'care' about what is going on... (perhaps 1% is too low a figure, but it certainly 'seems' correct to this observer) We can be found on only a few forums online... moa being one of the lights in the darkness of cyberspace... thanks to b and the veteran and new posters who attempt to apply critical thinking to the events of the day.

Before there can be a change in behavior, there must be an awareness that change is needed. I don't subscribe to the notions of the 1% (and some others in the 99%) that the 'masses are stupid and need to be controlled/manipulated' ~ first of all, very few folks very few of the 'public' know what 'critical thinking' is... much else how to apply it. We certainly don't teach it in school. And until we begin to teach it, not much is going to change (imho)

I wish to add a suggestion to those others have offered in a list of 'things we CAN do' ~ engage in a one on one conversation with those 'not singing in the choir' - plant a little seed for thought whenever possible. We tend to gravitate toward those forums where we find a high degree of agreement with our own mindset... and even when we find that small degree of disagreement, we allow our egos to attempt to kill the messenger...

[Having a senior 'day' which may or may not account for the random thoughts]

Again, thanks b for hanging in there and bringing us this space/place to vent. And thanks to the thoughts posted by all.

Posted by: crone | Jul 21, 2013 4:44:00 PM | 87

Leviathan.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jul 21, 2013 6:45:31 PM | 88

Althusser, and other's (many others) warned us...

Steel.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jul 21, 2013 6:48:18 PM | 89

Another group all the massive surveillance seemed unable to make even a slight dent in: Mexican Drug Cartels

You all heard about the recent capture of the leader of Los Zetas by the Mexican Marines. Now there is news that the US knew his location and were tracking him for years, yet failed to give the information to the Mexican officials.

Of course there is no evidence that the Zetas were closely aligned with American intelligence.

Surmounts emotion injustice

For at least three years, United States agencies knew the movements of Miguel Angel Trevino Morales and other members of the Los Zetas, but elected not to report it to Mexico, until just a few weeks ago.

At least since 2011, the DEA knew of the operations and movements of Miguel Angel Trevino Morales. DEA even got their agents to acquire information about Treviño's enemies and rivals in other cartels and within the Zetas, but this information was not handed over to Mexican authorities, federal government sources revealed.

Top-level officials consulted by 24 Horas, admitted to being annoyed because the U.S. drug enforcement agency maintains its own agenda, and that because of operations that they were allowed to perform during the last administration they obtained much information that was not shared with Mexico. This resulted in allowing a drug trafficker such as Z-40 to operate without being detained, “because he was useful to them".

http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2013/07/us-knew-movements-of-z40-for-3-years.html

Posted by: guest77 | Jul 21, 2013 7:52:36 PM | 90

The more I think about it, the problem comes down to nothing specific with the program that can't be found in every other current failure of our so-called "democratic" government.

We are required to give up so much for this program - we are forbidden to know even about its very existence - and yet it produces no tangible thing of value for humanity. It seems as though we are required to give up everything, and in return we get nothing. We have to support wars in the Middle East only to see ourselves kicked out of our homes and the economy fall to pieces.

I'm not saying it would be acceptable for the country to go to war and give its citizens goodies or for us to give up our liberty to gain some safety, but that - at the very least - would be something.

But we get no benefits. We only discover, sometime down the road, that there is yet another bill come due for a service we never received.

From Uncle $cams link, by user Razor, seems to draw the only rational conclusion to draw from all of this:

"Their desire is not and never was to make the world safer, but, to use the leveraged power of corporate fictional persons (whether State or profit or non profit) to force mankind’s world as close to the twisted world projected from their deformed souls as possible. Safe for their twisted ways at the expense of all others safety."

By the way, thanks for the links Uncle $cam. Lots of interesting history I just learned about MOA by poking around back in the archives.

Posted by: guest77 | Jul 21, 2013 8:31:53 PM | 91

OT but: Looks like you were right, Rowan...

Panama sent ex-CIA officer to US, not Italy

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- A fugitive former CIA base chief detained in Panama this week was being sent to the United States instead of Italy, which wanted him to serve prison time in the 2003 abduction of a terror suspect, the Obama administration said Friday.

Robert Seldon Lady was held in Panama on Thursday after Italy and Interpol requested his arrest for his role in the anti-terrorism program known as extraordinary rendition. After barely a day in detention, he was put on a plane to the U.S. by the Panamanian government, a close U.S. ally.

Posted by: guest77 | Jul 21, 2013 9:13:20 PM | 92

"The majority of people *want* to be governed (to whatever degree). And *this* is a by far more important factor contributing (and explaining) the status quo than the 1%."

This sounds uncomfortably close to "Russians love the knout." When you talk of "people" you refer, naturally to the alienated population in a class society who have been socialised to doubt their own capacities. In a revolutionary situation political consciousness changes quickly and dramatically: in essence "human nature" is transformed.

"Furthermore the whole democracy thingy is based on fragile assumptions, for instance on equal representation. Which, Pardon me, is something in between day dreaming and plain bullsh*t - and quite possibly an intentional distraction."

Democracy simply means rule by the people. It should not be interpreted to mean "democracy" as currently practised which is, manifestly, not rule by the people but a means of legitimising oligarchy.

"You can have a perfectly undemocratic country, say with a monarch, a high priest or even a benevolent dictator (or a hazard-driven parliament) where people live and are treated well. How? Have a good constitution and state agencies that are play correctly along the law."

You most certainly can, "Kingly government", for example as dreamed of by, inter alia, William Cobbett. But such government is not possible in a capitalist society in which class rule is a sine qua non. No fair minded dictator would last for long if he insisted on, for example, fair taxation or parity of labour and capital. There would be a bourgeois revolution to ensure that the ruler was subordinated to the capitalist class. And that his "demagogic" or "populist" tendencies were reined in.

Posted by: bevin | Jul 21, 2013 9:20:27 PM | 93

My previous attempt at poetry (Casey at Bag-Dad) went over like a lead balloon, with one wag calling it cheap doggerel, but I am undaunted. Water off a duck's back. So here we go:

Bandar at the Bat

Prince Bandar "Bush" bin Sultan,
the intel chief in the Saudi kingdom,
got sent to the minors years ago,
it looked like he was done.

Then the kingdom hit the skids,
lost its regional moxie.
Mubarak was gone,
and Obama might as well be.

Qatar was backing rebels
in Libya, and in Syria too.
It looked like the Saudis
were going to be Gulfers number two.

The House of Saud knew what to do
when the situation's revoltin'
When the game seems lost
you go with bin Sultan.

There he stands, Bandar bin Sultan.
The game seems lost,
gotta get rid of the Brotherhood
no matter what the cost.

First time at bat,
here comes the Emir of Qatar.
Bam! He's over the fence,
flyin' like a broken guitar.

Doha was the backer
of the Muslim Brotherhood
now there'll be a power shift
and it's all to the good.

It's top of the third,
mighty Bandar at the bat.
They toss Morsi at him --
Bam! Hit that cat.

Now Morsi and the B-hood are gone,
where they are is a mystery.
But they're no longer in Cairo,
Bandar made them history.

Inning number eight,
and it's time for Bandar again.
Bam! The Syrian Coalition isn't
what it used to have been.

New SNC president Jarba
is now the Saudi nexus
and Hillary's Prime minister Hitto
has been sent packing to Texas.

Oh, in Saudi the sun is shining bright,
and they shout Bandar's name.
'cause Bandar has come to bat three times
and Bandar has won the game.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 21, 2013 9:23:46 PM | 94

bevin (93)

(myself:) "The majority of people *want* to be governed (to whatever degree). And *this* is a by far more important factor contributing (and explaining) the status quo than the 1%."

(bevin:) This sounds uncomfortably close to "Russians love the knout." When you talk of "people" you refer, naturally to the alienated population in a class society who have been socialised to doubt their own capacities. In a revolutionary situation political consciousness changes quickly and dramatically: in essence "human nature" is transformed.

You see I'd really love to see it like you. Unfortunately though:

The people were free to read a book, to learn something or to watch ever stupider TV programs. Unfortunately most they chose the latter.
Similarly people are free to learn about the state, democracy, rights and important political issues. Unfortunately most chose not to do so but to rather accept the bad choices confronted with and to pick one thug out of some thugs.
People are free to learn about products and to make an informed decision which product best meets their needs, price, aso. Unfortunately most fall for cheap marketing tricks and allow being treated like a herd of sheep. There are even major brands and large corporations that could come into existence and become immensely large merely by marketing such as creating a "cool" image.

Not only have the 1% got at and kept the power based on this but, even worse, one major reason they can stay in power is that a major part of "opposition from the 99%" is based on wet dreams, social dogmata and, frankly, unrealistic interpretations of how humans tick.

I had my share of those discussions with a (democracy fan) friend of mine and it usually ended with me saying "Yes, dear X, *if* people were different, *if* people would be as you'd like them to be, democracy might actually work. Unfortunately though we have to find a more satisfying situation with people the way they actually are".

No matter what issue one wants to discuss with the 99% out there, they usually quite soon turn away toward something that is more interesting to them, soccer, to name an example.

Again, all that is needed is actually there. We do have laws against fraud and deception. We just fail to apply them to the political processes. Just imagine if there was a slight change so as to not only elect new representatives but to also vote at the same time whether the incumbent candidate plus-minus did what he promised; if yes or if at least the canidate can show that he honestly tried hard, everything is fine, if not (as in most cases) he would lose all financial benefits that came with his office and he would, say, be locked for two terms.

Right now, however, there is no consequences whatsoever if representatives f*ck their constituents. Actually, more often than not they end up being the only available candidate of some party again.

On the other hand every other interest group, be it their party, their major donors or the business community, *does* have leverage; a candidate simply can't afford to f*ck them; the average Joe and Jane, however, can be ignored because they have no leveredge. Why on earth should any candidate even care (beyond some nice sounding phrases) what Joe and Jane want? They are simply no or almost no factor in the issue any politician is interested in: his future.

And again we are deceived. By the bullsh*t "logic" that they keep telling again and again that a politician that doesn't perform will be brutally punished by not being reelected. Bullsh*t squared! Even if he wouldn't be the only available candidate again, so what; he would simply be replaced by another thug and would walk away with a nice bonus package (pension, etc.) to work in a good position at some client he served while in office.

The ugly truth is that we, the voters, usually have no power whatsoever because the system makes sure that the politicians are outside the feedback loop; they won't be punished, no matter what.

So, why do we continue to discuss theoretical concepts rather than to simply demand that breaking the law during elections (by intentionally deceiving) shall be punished like everywhere else?

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jul 21, 2013 10:03:42 PM | 95

It is not so much a matter of loving the knout. It's at least equally a matter of sexiness. As far back as I can remember, US TV and cinema has been painting lawmen (and nowadays women) as breathtakingly sexy. I have a sort of sub-lacanian theory about visual media, which is that the images go straight into a part of the memory which is not affected by verbal reasoning, and hence cannot distinguish systematically between real visual memories and fake visual memories from TV and cinema fiction. So the result is a sort of continuous hypnosis. Even cops quoted in newspaper stories have more than once confused things that happened in reality with things that happened only in TV or cinema fiction.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 22, 2013 12:09:06 AM | 96

He didn't get so far as to the memory planting, but Al Gore did say "Television induces a quasi-hypnotic state."

And he's right.

Ah, Al Gore. The man who nearly made Joe Lieberman Vice President. The only thing worse that that ... was what actually happened.

Posted by: guest77 | Jul 22, 2013 12:24:12 AM | 97

I just realized the link (to Billmon's Leviathan),is not there, does anyone have a back-up? of it? It really was an exceptional piece and it seems billmon's archives are gone. Anyway, here's a interesting reply I found, looking for the original: Letter To Billmon About Leviathan...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jul 22, 2013 1:58:54 AM | 98

Rowan & Bevin

I didn't tell either of you how to live, I recounted how I live.
But, your over sized egos actually thought it was about you.
If you both wish to live like watched prisoners, be my guest.

Mooser: I thank you for your consideration.
That is what makes humans decent.
That they are considerate of others

Fernando -Penny can tell me how to live my life ANYTIME, smart chics are muy muy MUY CALIENTE!!!

You absolutely brought a smile to my face with that. Thanks so much.

Jawbone: someone who is trying and is interested in getting away from the all seeing eye
Absolutely wonderful!'

Ben, who seemed a bit disappointed. Don't be, just move on
There are people worth wasting time on and people not worth wasting time on

You and others with open minds and hearts are the people I resonate with :)

You understand the system is not right and it is up to us as individuals to change it

The others who are waiting for the government to change?
It isn't going to happen. Not as long as the masses go along to get along

Rant:
Each day, we make choices on how to live
What to eat.
What to drive
Where to go
What we buy
And what we buy, the money we use is the most important vote we really have left to us
Your vote, in an election, means absolutely NOTHING
It is part of the illusory system, that some still choose to believe in. For what ever reason.
Perhaps it has not 'sunk in' that this entire system was not built by us, for us. It was built by the elites, for them. It serves the powerful people and their partners in government.

YOu vote and say smugly to yourself ---there it is I did my part-- and the government that is supposed to represent you?????
Does nothing that actually benefits you, your family nothing
It takes your money and goes to war, supports big business, and itself
The government does not work for you and your vote means squat.


Then there are several comments about encryption.
As the only option, and quickly condemning it
Fatalists I guess? Can only see one way?
though there are several?
The elites in charge don't operate with tunnel vision, they play every angle, have multiple plans and employ multiple strategies
Here we see one option (encryption) shot down immediately and then hopelessness and fatalism

There are lots of options.
Other intelligent humans are discussing them. Other intelligent human beings are working towards changing the system to suit the human family.

The opportunities are there for those that have eyes to see them and have the will to try them

And once you do you realize the change and adapt the change it is really not that hard. It actually becomes second nature

Posted by: Penny | Jul 22, 2013 7:37:14 AM | 99

The others who are waiting for the government to change? It isn't going to happen. You vote and say smugly to yourself ---there it is I did my part-- and the government that is supposed to represent you?????
I don't think anyone who comments here fits that description. I certainly have no illusions about capitalist governments. But if you think you can evade the surveillance of these governments by some sort of cyber camouflage, I think you're seriously wrong. As I said, the effect of attempts to evade surveillance is to attract surveillance. The first advice any professional would give to someone who has just realised they are being watched is, don't change a thing you do, carry on absolutely as if you hadn't noticed. The essential response to make is no response at all.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 22, 2013 8:14:11 AM | 100

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