Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 10, 2013

The NSA's Panopticon

Edward Snowden, the NSA whistle-blower, has so far brought three important issues (back) into public knowledge. The NSA is tapping Verizon and all other major telecommunications providers and stores all information on who talks with whom, from where to where, by what means, when and for how long. These are the meta-data of the calls, not the actual content of the calls though those can and may well be tapped elsewhere or by other means.

The NSA also sucks user data from all major internet services. It taps into various commercial databases, personal medical data and into the records of air lines and other transportation services. It does all this permanently and on a global base. The collecting is not restricted to "foreigners".

The U.S. also has a global target list for cyber attacks. It may, based on the NSA meta-data analysis, attack other countries, companies or individuals without any notice, without declaring war and in total secrecy. All this is "legal" in the sense that the U.S. congress and several U.S. bureaucracies have signed off on it.

The NSA is not the only one doing all this. The British and Canadian services do similar stuff, though on a much smaller scale, as likely do other governments. Their motto: "Yes, we scan!" and "In God we trust. All others we monitor."

But what to do with all this (meta-)data, those trillions of data points? Here is a good explanation. If back in 1770s the British Royal Security Agency had had the capability of collecting and analyzing meta-data of various meeting circles in Boston it would have found that Paul Revere was one of the critical connecting persons of the American revolutionary movement. The RSA would have had no need to know what was spoken between the revolutionaries at their various meetings. Knowledge of who belonged to one or more of these circles would have been enough to find the critical connecting person. Solely based on meta-data one shot would then have been enough to probably end the American revolution movement.

Meta-data and a bit of matrix multiplication can find a "signature" that can then be used to find and target people. The "signature" drone strikes the U.S. conducts in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere are on such meta-data derived targets. The U.S. does not know who it kills in such strikes. It judges that the circumstances of a meeting or the behavior of some unknown people who attend, i.e. the meta-data, is sufficiant to claim that those are "terrorists" and to blow them all apart.

This method can of course be used to find targets other than "terrorists" - environmentalists, pro-gun or anti-gun activists, people with this or that special interest. All just a query away.

That is scarry but that is not yet the real danger of the total observation state. Edward Snowden points to a different danger of such secret data accumulation:

[Snowden] said the [analysts and governments] labored under a false premise that “if a surveillance program produces information of value, it legitimizes it. . . . In one step, we’ve managed to justify the operation of the Panopticon.”
The Panopticon is a architectural concept for a prison where the guards can watch, unseen by the inmates, from a tower in the middle into all cells build in a circle around the tower. It leaves the inmates in a perceived state of permanent surveillance. The French philosopher Michel Foucault described the effect:
Hence the major effect of the Panopticon: to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power. So to arrange things that the surveillance is permanent in its effects, even if it is discontinuous in its action; that the perfection of power should tend to render its actual exercise unnecessary; that this architectural apparatus should be a machine for creating and sustaining a power relation independent of the person who exercises it; in short, that the inmates should be caught up in a power situation of which they are themselves the bearers.
The original Panopticon, like the digital version the NSA is building, takes away all feeling of privacy. Even when one is not watched, knowing that the possibility of being watched is always there, creates uncertainty and leads to self disciplining and self censorship. It is certainly a state the powers that be would like everyone, except themselves, to be in.

There are several ways to fight against this. One is of course by policy means. Tell your representatives that such data collection and analysis must be banned by law. But you can do more. Do not buy devices that are always on and permanently transfer your data to who-knows. Do not join services that use your data for their advantages. I for one do not own a smartphone, do not have a Facebook or other "social-crap" account and even put a piece of tape over my lap-top cam. Is that paranoid? I don't think so. Slipping out of the Panopticon just makes it more difficult for them to intimidate me.

Posted by b on June 10, 2013 at 14:26 UTC | Permalink


Just because your paranoid doesn't mean their not after you. Hoover the cross dresser would be proud of what is currently achievable by the "intelligence" agencies. What a joke out freedoms are becoming, a thin veneer. This country is pretty soon going to be a net exporter of people.

Posted by: Fernando | Jun 10 2013 14:44 utc | 1

The whole focus of the media coverage seems to be off. These people(the .1 percent)aren't worried about a few people being killed and maimed in Boston. They are worried about an existential challenge to their control. You can bet all the occupy movements were carefully monitored. The coordination between the Feds and the heavily militarized local police was carefully done. And full communications knowledge would have made it easy to insert provocateurs. I expect that they are deeply worried that the teabagger right and the left will find common cause against their real enemy and challenge the system. Thats why they keep pounding these tribal differences. There is something deep in our wetware that was needed not long ago when we were small tribes of hunter gatherers. The need to recognize the "other" and attack or flee would have been very valuable then. Now it is still there and easy to exploit for propaganda purposes.

Posted by: Dan | Jun 10 2013 14:54 utc | 2

Only 'Metadata'? Not true and documented in various sources. They're grabbing everything! What's interesting is that the NSA 'outsourced' the data grabbing part of the process to two companies, both allegedly Israeli-based; Narus and Verint. Thus the NSA, government, the GCHQ and whoever else can all 'truthfully' deny that they are not tapping communications (directly).

As William Binney, former NSA employee points out, it's not necessary to read the data, it's enough just to grab it by the bucket-full and process it later. I actually worked on a similar process for the (post-Apartheid) South African government spooks awhile back using recursive equations to filter vast amounts of data. It ain't rocket science. The basic problem is to get rid of all the crap you don't want and, not to miss stuff you DO want.

Posted by: William Bowles | Jun 10 2013 15:42 utc | 3

PS: If you need sources let me know and I'll post them.

Posted by: William Bowles | Jun 10 2013 15:44 utc | 4

b wrote: "The Panopticon is a architectural concept for a prison where the guards can watch, unseen by the inmates, from a tower in the middle into all cells build in a circle around the tower. It leaves the inmates in a perceived state of permanent surveillance."

Yes, perfect analysis. One does not have to work nearly as hard if one lets the target's fears and concerns keep them in line for you. The fact someone may be watching does wonders.

Posted by: Mark Stoval | Jun 10 2013 15:46 utc | 5

Tyranny has some big ears
Empowered by playing on fears
History has taught
About moral rot
An evil that WILL end in tears

The Limerick King

Posted by: Cynthia | Jun 10 2013 16:14 utc | 6

Susie at Suburban Guerrilla posted about the terms which trigger monitoring of social media for possible terroristic activities or tendencies.

The list is from Homeland Security (the very name should trigger some kind of negative response, btw) through a FOIA request by Electronic Privacy Informaion Center.

The intriguing the list includes obvious choices such as ‘attack’, ‘Al Qaeda’, ‘terrorism’ and ‘dirty bomb’ alongside dozens of seemingly innocent words like ‘pork’, ‘cloud’, ‘team’ and ‘Mexico’.

Released under a freedom of information request, the information sheds new light on how government analysts are instructed to patrol the internet searching for domestic and external threats.


Susie's link didn't work for me, but Daily Mail came up from Google.

Somehow I imagine there are even more wide ranging lists somewhere in the Security State.

Posted by: jawbone | Jun 10 2013 16:25 utc | 7

Very well researched and put, b.

I'd like to go another step and to ask "Why"? Why at all and why now?

It's luring and usual to focussing on events and, doing so, losing focus on the bigger picture. Similarly, citizens looking abroad tend to lose focus on the local situation.

Quite certainly this is at least one major factor for zusas engagements in diverse parts of the world. Another one obviously is zusas desperate need to hold to the status of their dollar as reserve currency with claws, paws and teeth.

Looking at zusas engagements abroad it becomes more and more evident how impotent zusa has become. In other words, they can't but re-focus rather sooner than later on their own situation. This, of course, risks that americans recognize how broken their country is and how desinterested, ignorant, corrupt their government and representatives have acted all those years, often even putting alien (israel) interests ahead of american interestes and needs.

In other words, the more zusa is forced to retreat globally the more they must - and do - rely on and apply at home what they did internationally. nsa is one, albeit an important piece of that game.

Interestingly enough that also shines light on the question why zusa, nationally as well as internationally, did and do not even consider honest and constructive options.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jun 10 2013 17:13 utc | 8

The Panopticon was Jeremy Bentham's invention. His life work really, for he devoted years and spent a fortune trying to persuade the British government to put his plan into practice. The Panopticon was not devised as a prison but as a factory in which the poor and the landless would be forced to work. It was perfectly emblematic of an era in which capitalism was pushing millions out of subsistence and semi-subsistence agriculture and the ruling class was looking for cheap and efficient ways to exploit their labour. An era which has not ended yet.

My guess is that Bentham was inspired while living with his younger (and far more interesting) brother (General)Samuel who worked for Catherine the Great and spent some time as a governor in Siberia. He later became the civilian head of the British admiralty and made himself very unpopular by cutting back on waste and inefficiency. In doing so he cut living standards in the shipyards quite dramatically while boosting efficiency and profitability.
The Panopticon is crucial to the understanding of liberalism, of which Bentham and his utilitarian followers were important founders. It was Bentham who called the idea of human rights "nonsense on stilts." He meant it.

And his followers, such as Obama, disciples of by far the most influential strand of capitalist ideology, believe it too. They simply find it convenient to pretend otherwise.

Some may view this as nothing more than a collection of trivia, but I disagree: the ruling ideas in our world are of great importance. Their origins are like birthmarks which tell us where they came from. The people who rule us are Bentham's descendants and, in the end, they share his contempt for the serfs of Russia and his follower James (and his son John's) view that "barbarians" such as the Indians or Chinese need to be governed by foreign armies.
Liberalism has its dark side: when capitalism is in trouble the velvet gloves are removed and the iron fist of fascism emerges, not to challenge but to protect and consolidate the system.
We are the lucky ones, we live in interesting times in which the grey theory of philosophical speculation is overshadowed by the reality of living experience. The world around us is an historical laboratory in which a new and deeper slavery is being fabricated.

Posted by: bevin | Jun 10 2013 17:22 utc | 9

Obama;Never has so much hope been put into such a leaky vessel.
Other than dead people and a couple of dead dictators,just what successes? have we ,the American people,gained from any of this stupid nonsense, our Constitutional rights destroyed,a government totally cut off from its constituents wishes over major issues,and we Americans under the microscope of suspicion.
And not one finger of blame has been laid on any of these perps of our neolibcon disaster,a complete and utter scam of any notion of a free and independent press,and a complete collusion of Ziodelusion,because that is the nexus and right now our bane,as well as theirs.

Posted by: dahoit | Jun 10 2013 18:05 utc | 10

Even when one is not watched, knowing that the possibility of being watched is always there, creates uncertainty and leads to self disciplining and self censorship.

Perhaps for some people, but not all, may be not even for someone all the time. And when rest of the people see the nakedness of the ruler they will just laugh at it as the one that started first.

Basically the Panopticon concept may only work if it is really enforced all time, all places in a non-human god-like way. Not just if it's claimed to exists or run with some algorithms which are as exact as the people who wrote them and their parameters on data that is pure noise. Looking at the drones signature targeting case, what are their purpose? Are they really achieving it? Really? Or they just self-delude themselves using the same faulty algorithm, data and parameters?

Do you really think that the NSA sees or will see in the future any and all act that will endanger the rule by its masters?

Posted by: ThePaper | Jun 10 2013 18:38 utc | 11

If any what I'm intrigued now is what's the play here. It's an attack on Obama? Infighting inside the security Establishment? Just another libertarian whistleblower like Manning and Guardian (which is pure Establishment like all other western media) running on some boring and pretty suspected (or actually already known and confirmed) capabilities and behaviours by the our shining knights of the western democracy security system?

Posted by: ThePaper | Jun 10 2013 18:43 utc | 12

Maybe some of the plutocrats that run the media are afraid that one of their own might fall prey to Obama's Security Protection Services: pay up or fall like Lehman Brothers...

Obama's dragnet of reporters' sources should have sent shivers down their spines.

Posted by: JohnH | Jun 10 2013 20:08 utc | 13

"Yes, perfect analysis. One does not have to work nearly as hard if one lets the target's fears and concerns keep them in line for you. The fact someone may be watching does wonders."

Kind of the purpose behind religion, too..

Posted by: fedup | Jun 10 2013 20:24 utc | 14

Warmonger Mr Hague try to kill the conference on Syria.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jun 10 2013 20:24 utc | 15

@13 "Maybe some of the plutocrats that run the media are afraid that one of their own might fall prey to Obama's Security Protection Services"

General Petraeus certainly might have been worried. It's a sharp sword, and it cuts both ways.

@11 I get the feeling they don't care much about catching "terrorists" - and Boston showed it can't be used for that - but they are really conducting some kind of grand control experiment. I would be wildly curious to know how these programs were used during OWS, the Arab Spring, and the Boston and Ft. Hood attacks.

Maybe they've not even managed to work out all of its powers. It could be that we are in a turn-key totalitarian state in which the key hasn't been turned. It's just important, I think, that it is now officially acknowledged. It certainly brings other supposed democratic tools to bear on the program like FOIA, etc.

It applies more pressure to the government, pressure in which they have to make the choice of acting democratically or like authoritarians. The truth of how we are actually being governed will emerge from that decision. And then the people can attempt to make theirs.

Posted by: guest77 | Jun 10 2013 20:27 utc | 16


Why now (although it's been running since at least 2007 and AT&T was phone tapping back in the 80s for the state)? Well over at Washington's Blog they reckon it's all tied up with the State of Emergency declared by Bush on September 14 2001 and still in force. Quoting the Washington Times, they say, "Simply by proclaiming a national emergency on Friday, President Bush activated some 500 dormant legal provisions, including those allowing him to impose censorship and martial law."

There is also the so-called Continuity of Government laws and not even Congress knows what's actually in them!

It ties up with the events around the Boston 'bombing', where the entire city and environs was locked down, without a peep of protest I might add. The British government are aware of and have prepared for 'civil disobedience' and 'social unrest' just as the USG have done. So we have comparable laws.

The UK still has laws on the book dating back to WWI that have never been rescinded that give the state the power to declare total marshal law and the suspension of ALL civil rights. We still have a form of the 'D' Notice (a phone call to one of the editors of the corporate press, to not run a particular story. In any case, they're all pals, they went to the same unis, hang out in the same locations).

In many ways but with even more powerful tools, we are living in age which is a throwback to pre-Soviet times, more fitted to the time of Queen Victoria. This is what capitalism really looks like when it doesn't have to peddle all that bullshit about being 'democratic'. Hence Obummer tells us we can't have total freedom if want total security (whatever they are).

It all fits. Pastor Niemuller where are you?

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

Posted by: William Bowles | Jun 10 2013 21:30 utc | 17

Will Snowden's disclosures about the NSA's Prism program affect willingness of EU nations to sign on to the US's desired new Trans-Atlantic Trade Treaty?

I heard a brief reference to such a possible effect, on either BBC or NPR. But nothing came up on Google.

Posted by: jawbone | Jun 10 2013 21:46 utc | 18

Interesting observation on the situation in the EU:

This from Sophie in‘t Veld, a Dutch Member of European Parliament who helped draft the EU’s strict data protection laws

“In principle EU law does not allow for data to be transferred to the US. Companies often find themselves caught between two jurisdictions. They usually prefer to comply with US law, rather than EU law. This way US law effectively takes precedence over EU law, even on EU territory. So far the European Commission has done preciously little to solve the issue of jurisdiction and protect the rights of EU citizens. The Prism story is only one of many of massive US spying on people both inside and outside the US. I hope this case will serve as a wake up call.”

This after Obummer's claim that “This does not apply to U.S. citizens and it does not apply to people living in the United States.”

Posted by: William Bowles | Jun 10 2013 22:02 utc | 19

Time for the famous Ben Franklin quote(s)!

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

This was written by Franklin, within quotation marks but is generally accepted as his original thought, sometime shortly before February 17, 1775 as part of his notes for a proposition at the Pennsylvania Assembly, as published in Memoirs of the life and writings of Benjamin Franklin (1818). A variant of this was published as:
Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

This was used as a motto on the title page of An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania. (1759); the book was published by Franklin; its author was Richard Jackson, but Franklin did claim responsibility for some small excerpts that were used in it.

An earlier variant by Franklin in Poor Richard's Almanack (1738): "Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power."

Many paraphrased derivatives of this have often become attributed to Franklin:

They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither.

He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security.

He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither.

People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.

If we restrict liberty to attain security we will lose them both.

Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.

He who gives up freedom for safety deserves neither.

Those who would trade in their freedom for their protection deserve neither.

Those who give up their liberty for more security neither deserve liberty nor security.

From Wikiquote.

Posted by: jawbone | Jun 10 2013 22:03 utc | 20

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, is expected to grill Obama next week, during a much-awaited summit in Berlin. Peter Schaar, Germany's federal data protection commissioner, told the Guardian it was unacceptable for the US authorities to have access to EU citizens' data, and that the level of protection is lower than that guaranteed to US citizens.

This should be very interesting. Not for nothing was Germany a stand-out on that surveillance map. Was it someone here who suggested the potential for industrial espionage?

After asking for their gold back, and now this...I guess we'll soon see if Germany is a sovereign country. Things would be different of course if they were let in on it... probably just a dust up on how they were left out of the fun.

Posted by: guest77 | Jun 10 2013 22:28 utc | 21

ANDREA MITCHELL (from a Clapper interview): What the president said in part was, "You can't have a 100% security and then you have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience. We're going to have to make some choices as a society."

The War on Terror is worldwide. It is war on everybody, and even those in the "homeland" can't be exempted from "inconvenience" -- i.e. loss of civil rights. Deprivation of civil liberties is an inevitable (and intended) part of a country at war. The bogus "war on terror' is no exception. You can't have one without the other.

An excellent analysis of this condition is Randolph Bourne's "War is the Health of the State" which is as valid now as when it was written in 1918. excerpts:

The moment war is declared . .The citizen throws off his contempt and indifference to Government, identifies himself with its purposes, revives all his military memories and symbols, and the State once more walks, an august presence, through the imaginations of men. Patriotism becomes the dominant feeling, and produces immediately that intense and hopeless confusion between the relations which the individual bears and should bear toward the society of which he is a part.

War is the health of the State. It automatically sets in motion throughout society those irresistible forces for uniformity, for passionate cooperation with the Government in coercing into obedience the minority groups and individuals which lack the larger herd sense. The machinery of government sets and enforces the drastic penalties; the minorities are either intimidated into silence, or brought slowly around by a subtle process of persuasion which may seem to them really to be converting them. Of course, the ideal of perfect loyalty, perfect uniformity is never really attained.

War becomes almost a sport between the hunters and the hunted. The pursuit of enemies within outweighs in psychic attractiveness the assault on the enemy without. The whole terrific force of the State is brought to bear against the heretics. The nation boils with a slow insistent fever. A white terrorism is carried on by the Government against pacifists, socialists, enemy aliens, and a milder unofficial persecution against all persons or movements that can be imagined as connected with the enemy. War, which should be the health of the State, unifies all the bourgeois elements and the common people, and outlaws the rest.

In this great herd machinery, dissent is like sand in the bearings. The State ideal is primarily a sort of blind animal push toward military unity. Any difference with that unity turns the whole vast impulse toward crushing it.

So the 'War On Terror' is the problem.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 10 2013 22:30 utc | 22

Interesting article with lots of info on the Narus software and how it works with the PRISM program.

Call it Digital Blackwater

“Narus is the one thing that makes it all possible,” Binney told me over the weekend, of the Verizon surveillance program unveiled by the Guardian. “They probably pick up 60 to 80 percent of the data going over the [U.S.] network.” The Narus technology, he added, “reconstructs everything on the line and then passes it off to NSA for storage” and later analysis. That includes everything, he said, including email, cellphone calls, and voice over Internet protocol calls such as those made on Skype.

NSA’s use of the Narus technology first came to attention in 2006. That was when an AT&T technician named Mark Klein went public with his discovery that NSA had hooked Narus devices to AT&T’s incoming telecom stream in San Francisco and set up a secret room that allowed NSA to divert AT&T’s entire stream to its own databases. Binney believes the equipment was hooked up to as many as 15 sites around the country.

The Narus devices can’t pick up everything, however, because large amounts of traffic (such as domestic calls and Internet messages) don’t go through the switches. That’s why NSA apparently decided in 2006 to create the PRISM program to tap into the databases of the Internet service providers such as Yahoo and Google, Binney says. “Even though there’s so many Narus devices collecting on the Net, they don’t get it all,” he explained. “So if they go to the ISPs with a court order, they fill in the gaps from the collection on Narus.”

Posted by: guest77 | Jun 10 2013 23:03 utc | 23

Ah yes, welcome all, to the brave new world of mega-corporate hegemony. This USA government, which has been captured almost wholly, by corporate interests, is working through these new global trade treaties being proposed, ( Trans-Pacific & Trans-Atlantic trade agreements) to achieve global hegemony. Just as NAFTA & CAFTA have undermined the National Souvereignty of nations in this hemisphere, these new treaties are moving to the EU and Asia. They allow national decisions to be made in boardrooms, instead of elected governments. Most of this snooping is being done, at least here in the US, is being done by private corporations, for their benefit, not the national interest.

Posted by: ben | Jun 11 2013 1:48 utc | 24

Snowden worked for these folks.

Posted by: ben | Jun 11 2013 2:40 utc | 25

why is anyone surprised by this story? isn't it the natural evolution of empire throughout history?
given the state of the art in storage technology, why would anyone think the US WOULD NOT be doing this?
if you want to toss a wrench into it, you can not only take the usual precautions, but you can also do what many already do: make shit up on facebook. use obviously false id's. if you are in the mood, post something completely bogus and neurotic. then post something completely opposite. I figure that if they are going to spend my money doing fascist things, they might as well go broke doing it.

Posted by: anon | Jun 11 2013 2:42 utc | 26

oh, yeah, and moon the camera whenever you can.

Posted by: anon | Jun 11 2013 2:44 utc | 27

Re: "...must be banned by law."
No! A simple law will not do. The surveillance state must be banned by an amendment to the US constitution.

In every other democracy, including Stalin's Soviet Union, the secrecy of correspondence is protected by the constitution. The US constitution provides no such protection, the Fourth Amendment only protects "papers", not letters in transit or telecommunication. Worst of all, it is limited by the legal requirement of a "reasonable expectation of privacy".

What is needed is an explicit amendment guaranteeing the secrecy of telecommunication. If the Soviet Union had one, why cannot the US?

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Jun 11 2013 4:02 utc | 28

a different take on all this:

On the same day that Qusayr fell, the British and French governments hysterically demanded that Obama undertake a total bombing campaign against Syria, whatever the consequences in regard to Russia and other powers. To his credit, Obama is continuing to say no to this lunatic Anglo-French neocolonial adventure. On that same June 5, the London-based daily The Guardian, in an article by the expatriate American Glenn Greenwald, hyped a court order from the secret FISA panel of federal judges showing that the US National Security Agency was routinely monitoring the telephone records (including time, locations, call duration, and unique identifiers, but not the contents of the conversations) of possibly unlimited millions of Verizon phone subscribers. Back in the US, reactionary talk show hosts began screaming “Obama taps your phones!”

On June 6, again in advance of every other newspaper in the world, The Guardian published another article by Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill revealing that the National Security Agency, under a program called Prism, had obtained direct access to the servers of Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Apple, Youtube, Skype, AOL, and Microsoft, and was busily monitoring the content of e-mails, file transfers, and live conversations. Back in the US, reactionary talk show hosts began screaming, “Obama reads your e-mail!”

Under George Bush, warrantless wiretaps and similar illegal programs were revealed by various media organs. These revelations had minimal impact on Bush, whose base was indifferent to civil liberties. Obama’s base, by contrast, cares very much, and has been visibly upset by these new reports. While strongly condemning these totalitarian programs, we must also not lose sight of who is putting these reports into circulation, and why. Phone taps are bad, but a general war in the Middle East leading to a possible Third World War is far worse.

Posted by: brian | Jun 11 2013 7:31 utc | 29

Did not all this start over the Associated Press spying incident? I do not recall the main stream media ever being so concerned about the US government spying in the past. By the way, which group is less than 2% percent of the US population, yet has enormous influence in the main stream media?

Posted by: Hilmihakim | Jun 11 2013 7:38 utc | 30

n tracking down sources for an upcoming presentation on the antiglobalization movement, I have come across a little gem called Arabesque Americaine by French Canadian author Ahmed Bensaada. The full title is Arabesque Americaine: Le role des Etats-Unis dans les revoltes de la rue arabe -- translated American Arabesque: the Role of the US in the Revolts in the Arab Streets.


I have been increasingly skeptical of the authenticity of the "Arab Spring" revolutions -- especially in Egypt (where the outcome is a military junta) and Libya (which, like Iraq , has been bombed back to the Middle Ages). Last February, a few blogs mentioned a 2009 meeting between Hillary Clinton and one of Egypt 's (presumably) US funded pro-democracy groups. Then the English alternative media and blogosphere went all quiet on the issue.

Arabesque Americaine leaves absolutely no doubt that the "Arab Spring" -- like the earlier "color revolutions" in eastern Europe -- were almost certainly destabilization/regime change operations, funded and orchestrated by the CIA, State Department, historic CIA-funded foundations -- and last, but not least, Google.

Posted by: brian | Jun 11 2013 7:48 utc | 31

@Guest77#21 Re: ‘After asking for their gold back’. Whatever happened with that, last I heard the US in 2011 asked for a 7 year extension, about the same time Obama leaves office after his final term. Now its back on the cards for ‘Some’ of the Gold. Looks like central banks just don't trust each other anymore, this includes the IMF (4th largest gold holder). In 1990 Drexel Burnham Lambert, one of America's largest investment banks, filed for bankruptcy. Drexel's failure is famously blamed on junk bond trader Michael Milken, but the central bank of Portugal had loaned 17 tons of gold to Drexel. When the firm failed, Portugal's claim on its gold simply evaporated. That was more than two decades ago at a time when almost no one was interested in gold, which then traded at $380. My take is that the delay is central banks aren't being forced to "buy back" the gold they may have leased out - Much of that to China, India etc.

Also ‘General Petraeus certainly might have been worried’; see this is the lawyer part of ‘Obama’ and all; it’s in the wording ‘Prisim’ i.e. rejection from FB, Google etc, as they know this as ‘Palantir’ AKA Palantir Metropolis platform (formerly branded as Palantir Finance)’ the CEO has shares in FB, his circle is PayPal, Google (Gmail, YouTube, etc), Facebook, Microsoft (Hotmail, Skype, etc.), Apple, Yahoo, PalTalk and AOL, even dropbox and a few more, also was kick-started via CIA funds, (In-Q-Tel venture capital arm) the CEO and the FBI chiefs attend the same conferences. A good reference for Prism cover;

What I don’t get is ‘customers’ more SME’s, conglomerates, institutions and Orgs not taking action with their respective ISP’s, all the more with non-disclosure documents and related legal documents, as well as simple but needed ‘private’ correspondence that is accessible to Government employees and 3rd party contractors (As is the leak person in this case). The ugly side is not only Gov control, even if it does this and is expected, but employees or 3rd party looking/reading, abusing, selling your data, be it as a lead or to blackmail, extort, victimize etc- This is the “Thin Red Line” (Could not resist that) as they are not all squeaky clean people.

What I don’t get is his profile as #32 linked, at times I do, since I have met many people that work as contractors or staff where in the past they have odd even anal CV’s that just don’t gel, much like a Vet (As in Animals) in the UN becoming head of Mission DDR programmes or a mil-drop out, low level mechanic in charge of a mission engineering sector, even top security heads with no previous background in that environment. I met and worked with a US SF analyst, he had flat feet (You don’t get in the club, but good swimmers) and an absolute moron in IT, i.e. CD tray id for holding the cup of joe and he was the US Embassy security contractor - So it happens; and thus I ask in this case, why set-up a fake or rouge whistle blower? What is the other intention, send out a signal that bad is done, but in the end we are good?

So if someone can give a good reason to why this is just a 'story' and not occured I am all ears.

Posted by: kev | Jun 11 2013 9:01 utc | 33

Nice work brian and extremely interesting

Posted by: hilmi hakim | Jun 11 2013 9:53 utc | 34

Brian is on the right path here. Obama has been refusing direct military intervention in Syria. So, here we go with the infamous 2nd term scandal designed to pressure Obama into a libya style bombing campaign. Lets see how this plays out.

Posted by: hilmi hakim | Jun 11 2013 9:58 utc | 35

Booz Allen Hamilton shares down -4.4% on open.

This is the company the NSA leaker Edward Snowden just got a gig with (3 months) BA takes about 98% of its revenues from government contracts.

Verizon stock goes up; go figure?

@Brian - The Willyloman Blog –“ This is what $200,000 a year rents in Hawaii? Well how long was he doing a gig paying 200K, and that sum is not far out, ask Dyncorp, B&R, the UN, contractors, the latter as just ‘volunteers’ (Mission area dependent) get 30k a year, tax free, and travel. Hawaii, an expensive place by all means, bit of a luxury if you are not from Hawaii, in this light, he is living by his means. As for the little bungalow, double garage, lawn, pretty nice. What Scott write is speculation, wish I could live in a ‘crappy’ little place in Hawaii at 29.

Scott also seems to pump out 3 blogs at the same time, all takes of the other but pressing a theme that make no sense, “why manufacture E. Snowden?” That is never clarified, Scott seems more bitter than logical.

If anything, E. Snowden wanted his ‘15 min’, he found the way, and used it, I am not getting the vibe that he did it out of ethics, rather opportunity, but it still about an act that is wrong!

He had the means of getting a job, just not the one he wanted, Father officer in the United States Coast Guard; and his mother is a clerk at the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, so contacts. Back to Hawaii, May 2013, he had been working for defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton for less than three months as a ‘system administrator’ inside the NSA in Hawaii, this does not pay 200K, or did his last posts, around the 70-80k, but then you get expenses, adjustment pay, hazard pay, it all adds up. But 3 month in Hawaii would not make you buy a house, so rental would fit. His job was not ‘high profile’ or did it have rank (IT’S the IT guy, he is ignored, they all want power) but in that, his access (Information) was prolific as he was an administrator.

Before that he worked for Dell, nothing epic, just gave him ‘hand on IT skills’. So he worked for the CIA, so do cleaners, admin, drivers, cooks and candle stick makers, it did not mean he was a ‘special agent’, and he was not, it just means he worked for that entity; the play on this is blow out of all context.

In all this look like a opportunist or narcissist that also saw he was never going to transpire to what he thought he should be, but he also exposed something, or rather gave it content even if this was exposed before, many times I might add. What he did is great, why he did it is grey…

The underlying facts - "Verizon is Committed to Protecting Your Privacy
Protecting our customers' privacy is an important priority at Verizon and we are committed to maintaining strong and meaningful privacy protections for customers… "

This is also for the rest (The Yahoo's, Skypee's, AOL'ers… In turn, this is what is being done: Scapegoat the messenger, to distract us from the message.

Posted by: kev | Jun 11 2013 11:51 utc | 36

The Pew Research Center released a survey showing most US Americans have no problem with being under perma surveillance:

Majority Views NSA Phone Tracking as Acceptable Anti-terror Tactic
Public Says Investigate Terrorism, Even If It Intrudes on Privacy
Overview 6-10-13

A majority of Americans – 56% – say the National Security Agency’s (NSA) program tracking the telephone records of millions of Americans is an acceptable way for the government to investigate terrorism, though a substantial minority – 41% – say it is unacceptable. And while the public is more evenly divided over the government’s monitoring of email and other online activities to prevent possible terrorism, these views are largely unchanged since 2002, shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center and The Washington Post, conducted June 6-9 among 1,004 adults, finds no indications that last week’s revelations of the government’s collection of phone records and internet data have altered fundamental public views about the tradeoff between investigating possible terrorism and protecting personal privacy.

Currently 62% say it is more important for the federal government to investigate possible terrorist threats, even if that intrudes on personal privacy. Just 34% say it is more important for the government not to intrude on personal privacy, even if that limits its ability to investigate possible terrorist threats. [...]

Land of the brave, hey? 6 out of 10 are chickens in my book.

Posted by: Juan Moment | Jun 11 2013 12:09 utc | 37

Posted by: kev | Jun 11, 2013 7:51:29 AM | 36

thanks for strengthening the case against Snowden

Posted by: brian | Jun 11 2013 12:23 utc | 38

Posted by: hilmi hakim | Jun 11, 2013 5:58:48 AM | 35

Tarpley is a very shrewd observer of the political scene

Posted by: brian | Jun 11 2013 12:25 utc | 39

@Brain#38, it’s not really about him, that is in part the point; but the ‘distraction’ is focused on that, 'shoot the messenger'. Scots work is just a crude version of the New Yorker – and Toobin's stuff, biased, pro-establishment on the subject matter; BTW his wife works at Verizon, Amy Bennett McIntosh, has held an executive position- everything is related.

Let’s take this down to the nuts and bolts and the more serious stuff; legality,rights, disclaimers, non-disclosures, privacy, RoL have been violated and by money the citizen gives the Gov (Tax) including the payment he or she forks out to’ Biz’ within legal parameters/restraints or 'trust' for services that are being abused essentially - The other way round you are bounced on. One can now say using P2P and downloading copyrighted material is illegal, (Disclaimer and policy states so); then so is giving out client data even if in a meta data format when policy states so. You can’t have exceptions to rules and erase due process. This meta data is also your banking data, it’s also your private life, most of all it’s held by the fabric in what we trust, the RoL, and agreements, all part of transactions and choice; choice is now gone, and it’s what we pay for (We are paying) and expect within a Democracy.

I look it like this: If you paid me to develop you a business plan and you had the next 'trend' and looking for funding, we sign a non-disclosure, but I take your stuff, since I like it; sell it to someone I know with serious cash, they take it on and make a killing - Would you be cool about it - Or would you take legal action? Now if someone that worked for me, and they were concerned because I was breaching 'The Agreement' came to you and informed you of my actions, would he be now the bad guy? I am assuming not.

In truth, what is the lesser evil, one man doing informing you that your rights are being violated, or the people you elect and work for you are abusing their power and violating your and every citizen rights, irrelevant of sanitized and selective poles on how we are supposed to feel - Why have a legal system if it can just be bypassed?

As for the 'speculation' of another distraction i.e. Clinton & Kosovo cigar job, could be? Then again it could be China saying nice meeting OB, about that cyber spying you kick us with all the time, you know the stuff we both do, but did you hear about the man we have in HK? Or it could just be a 29 year old, ethical or not exposing something that has weight; in all outcomes, it's still wrong, whatever smoke is burned.

Posted by: kev | Jun 11 2013 13:19 utc | 40

Manning, Assange, Snowden... Expect many more to rise up in the name of freedom. If you truly believe in America, the right and honest goodness of America. The America of freedom, liberty and plain old good times. Then the people will reject this Orwellian era that is imposing itself upon us. We need more Snowdens and Mannings to work from the inside to she'd light on this shadow government. If not, pretty soon we'll be living in Idi Amin's Uganda!
Americans will start to emigrate, Canada, Mexico and South America are already seeing large expat communities spring up.

Posted by: Fernando | Jun 11 2013 13:35 utc | 41

@brian the blog you link to points in some interesting directions but often comes to ridiculous conclusions.

Examples being a whole post about the boston bombing based on the color of a mans pants (which he was good enough to kake the admission he was wrong) and a whole piece about the michigan woman in syria being part of a stay behind network (which certainly would fit no definition of the term that i've ever heard).

He offers speculation (some interesting, some wildly off base) but it isn't much more than that as far as i can tell.

Not trying to start an argument, just my opinon.

Posted by: guest77 | Jun 11 2013 13:36 utc | 42

Posted by: Fernando | Jun 11, 2013 9:35:30 AM | 41

now my objection here is that word 'freedom': the people who most use it are on the political right : it seems no matter what, americans are never free enough

Freedom House, Freedom and Democracy..the watch word of the Empire

Posted by: brian | Jun 11 2013 13:44 utc | 43

Antifascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory on his Spitefire site writes "On the subject of those "shocking" disclosures about NSA/GCHQ electronic surveillance(Y-A-W-N)... this isn't new, other countries do the same thing, including Germany. ...what is significant is journalist Glenn Greenwald is..associated with the Cato Institute....nazi fellow traveler Ron Paul and the nazified GOP..the underground reich."

Posted by: hank ketchum | Jun 11 2013 13:59 utc | 44

I disagree with your conclusion b, don't run from them, shove it in their face, let them choke on data. Be and stay provocative. Remember, you can blow out a candle, but not a fire. Anyway, the total surveillance state is only a self delusion. You can't savor the patina of wine when drinking from a fire hose. Give them some spice to jazz up the soup, let them watch our mundane lives, give them a show.

Posted by: scottindallas | Jun 11 2013 14:00 utc | 45

Latest on Snowden from DU:

Posted by: ben | Jun 11 2013 14:33 utc | 46

US constitution:

Posted by: ben | Jun 11 2013 14:58 utc | 47

What's the big news? That nsa spies on communication? Hardly.

And then: Snowden obviously is a somewhat strange guy. There is no way, not in heaven and not in hell that a low level guard somehow wakes up, applies for a mid-to-high level job and gets it. That's just not the way the system works and this is even more true for sensitive agencies.
And there's more, much more, that doesn't add up. To name one, you don't become any kind of analyst in nsa without gigh quality credentials. Furthermore the nsa may outsource a lot of jobs but sure enough not their very job core. And, just btw. it's not the nsa who' in charge of diplomatic IT security (they may develop routines, codes and the like but they don't man IT posts in embassies).

So the real question is: Why did guardian buy his story and why does zusa establishment shout "Ouch" and defend themselves in demonstrative ways?

My guess: Manning gave them pain, Assange turned painful, both got high visibility. So, someone there at NSA or CIA came up with the idea to turn the game around and to actually *use* "a smart young, possily somewhat discontent, IT guy".
Possibly, but this though goes quite far out, someone very high up in nsa or alike, pulled strings, opened some doors for Snowden, put him into some places. Maybe.

But Snowden himself isn't a hero. He is an asset and one with very little credibility. Sorry.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jun 11 2013 17:05 utc | 48

To all (who are interested):
What do you make of the Willie Loman accusations that Snowden is some kind of setup?

Posted by: William Bowles | Jun 11 2013 17:06 utc | 49

Houston, we have a Boozer problem:

from killer apps:

Booz brags: our workers can do 'grave damage' to U.S. security

. . . "In my office, there were probably three Booz Allen [employees] to every one civil servant," said the former private spy who also served several tours in Iraq and the Pentagon as a U.S. military intelligence officer.

"They can get clearances for everything," he added.

In fact, 22-percent of U.S. security clearance holders were contractors in 2012.

These clearances are vital to Booz Allen's business with 76-percent of the company's nearly 25,000 employees possessing security clearances, according to this May 2013 SEC filing by the firm. ("Persons with the highest security clearance, Top Secret, have access to information that would cause ‘exceptionally grave damage' to national security if disclosed to the public" the company brags about the caliber of its people in a beautiful piece of irony.) . . .

However, the presence of a nice suit at a place full of nerds like the NSA can sometimes be a giveaway that someone is a contract spy, according to the former spy who also served several tours in Iraq and the Pentagon as a U.S. military intelligence officer.

"The Boozers tended to dress nicer" than civil servants, he said (though he pointed out that this hardly a scientific way of measuring who works directly for Uncle Sam and who doesn't). "The Booz Allen people have to wear suits."

While the intelligence community is full of contractors from a ton of different firms, from PC-maker Dell (who Edward Snowden worked for before going to Booz Allen) to Lockheed Martin and Boeing to lesser known giants like SAIC and CACI, Booz Allen seems to some to have larger proportion than other firms.

"Booz Allen seemed to run the show in the group where I worked," he said.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 11 2013 17:15 utc | 50

"No! A simple law will not do. The surveillance state must be banned by an amendment to the US constitution."

It is, already. The Fourth Amendment could hardly be clearer.

One aspect of this matter that needs pondering is that this kind of control over the flow of information renders "free" markets obsolete. It is difficult to believe that much of the current movement in financial and commodity markets is not being manipulated by those privy to information garnered from billions of sources.

Such things as the inexplicable robustness of the US dollar and the weakness of precious metals, take on a different aspect when one considers that there is one player in the markets who knows much more than anyone else. The same player is also charged with regulating and monitoring those markets. And has the power, rarely used, to prosecute parties making vast profits illegally.

Then there is the, not unrelated, fact that all corporations are chartered by government and can be ruined in a minute in the sovereign chooses. It is this which accounts for the eagerness with which the telecom companies carry out government's wishes and the media companies (often subsidiaries of the telecoms) make smoke to conceal what is happening.

Posted by: bevin | Jun 11 2013 17:19 utc | 51

If You Have Nothing to Hide, You Have Nothing to Fear

Your Data: If You Have Nothing to Hide, You Have Nothing to Fear

Our value is founded on a unique and deep understanding of risks, vulnerabilities, mitigations, and threats. Domestic Surveillance plays a vital role in our national security by maintaining a total information awareness of all domestic activities by using advanced data mining systems to "connect the dots" to identify suspicious patterns.

Why We Collect Your Data

Under the authority of Homeland Security Presidential Directive 6, which defines the integration and use of screening information to protect against terrorism, the NSA is authorized to collect and disseminate information about suspected foreign and domestic terrorists. In the past, this meant gathering information AFTER a target had been identified. This often led to missed intelligence and lost opportunities.

But what if we could collect the information in advance, before the target was known? What if the mere act of collecting information could result in the identification of new targets? What if we could build a national data warehouse containing all available information about every person in the United States? Under the authority of the classified Homeland Security Directive 15 (U.S. Strategy and Policy in the War on Terror), we can.

What Data We Collect

Every day, people leave a digital trail of electronic breadcrumbs as they go about their daily routine. They go to work using electronic fare cards; drive through intersections with traffic cameras; walk down the street past security cameras; surf the internet; pay for purchases with credit/debit cards; text or call their friends; and on and on.

There is no way to predict in advance which crucial piece of data will be the key to revealing a potential plot. The standard operating procedure for the Domestic Surveillance Directorate is to "collect all available information from all available sources all the time, every time, always".

For security reasons, it is unrealistic to expect a complete list of information we collect for our national citizen database. In the spirit of openness and transparency however, here is a partial list:

internet searches
websites visited
emails sent and received
social media activity (Facebook, Twitter, etc)
blogging activity including posts read, written, and commented on - View our patent
videos watched and/or uploaded online
photos viewed and/or uploaded online
music downloads
mobile phone GPS-location data
mobile phone apps downloaded
phone call records - View our patent
text messages sent and received
online purchases and auction transactions
bookstore receipts
credit card/ debit card transactions
bank statements
cable television shows watched and recorded
commuter toll records
parking receipts
electronic bus and subway passes / Smartpasses
travel itineraries
border crossings
surveillance cameras
medical information including diagnoses and treatments
prescription drug purchases
guns and ammunition sales
educational records
arrest records
driver license information

How We Collect Your Data

For information on how we collect your data, including our PRISM program, visit Our Surveillance Strategy page on this website. For information about our new state-of-the-art Surveillance Data Center, visit our Utah Data Center information page.

How We Use Your Data

We treasure the U.S. Constitution and the rights it secures for all the people. In a world in which privacy has become illusory in so many areas of our lives, the Domestic Surveillance Directorate maintains the highest standards of integrity and lawful action. Your private data is safely secured using our custom database software called Cloudbase, which has fine-grained security to control access down to the cell level.

Threat Matrix Processing

Incoming transactional data is analyzed against a continually evolving threat matrix and is assigned an action code. The vast majority of these transactions are routed directly to a permanent static storage state. In fact, for most Americans, your data is never accessed or viewed by anyone within the US Government unless some future event triggers an inquiry. We work closely with our partners in the Intelligence Community to ensure that your stored data is released only as a result of a "national security" request.

Continuity of Government

Our strong commitment to keeping the Nation safe includes an important role in maintaining the Continuity of Government. Since the early 1980s, the federal government has used its secret Main Core database to track dissidents and watchlisted Americans in the event of a national emergency. The roots of the Domestic Surveillance Directorate can, in fact, be traced back to the early days of this program. We are proud to continue this tradition by sharing our data with the modern-day COG program. Learn more about this.

Parody, but is it?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 11 2013 17:23 utc | 52

Re: "Panopticon"

Jorge Luis Borges wrote of a parallel concept, the Aleph, in which all places, all times, all things are visible:

"I saw tigers, pistons, bison, tides, and armies; I saw all the ants on the planet; I saw a Persian astrolabe; I saw in the drawer of a writing table (and the handwriting made me tremble) unbelievable, obscene, detailed letters, which Beatriz had written to Carlos Argentino .. I saw the coupling of love and the modification of death; I saw the Aleph from every point and angle, and in the Aleph I saw the earth and in the earth the Aleph and in the Aleph the earth .. I felt infinite wonder, infinite pity."

I mention this because in some impossibly better world, such a thing might be a force for good, perhaps as a tool to measure or limit the amount of oppression and futility in the world, instead of as a tool to increase it.

Never forget that the happiness of the one-percenters quite literally depends upon everyone else's misery. That's insane you say? Whoever said they were sane?

I also agree with the comment to the effect that the logic of the Panopticon ultimately requires that it be omnipotent, programmed by humans but beyond the range of human control once it is set into motion.

Weren't there several dozen bad sci-fi movies to the same effect? Once again this proves that if you want to understand Obama, Nixon, Reagan and their kind just look for the crudest possible explanation and you can't go far wrong - In this case an infantile dream of hegemony.

Posted by: papageno | Jun 11 2013 17:54 utc | 53

Endless whining over violations of the US constitution. Does anyone still believe the US constitution means something to those elites in power? I, for one, do not. Here in the US, rules are for the peons.

Posted by: ben | Jun 11 2013 19:28 utc | 54

Now this is weird. If you go to the NSA link above in #52 and click on the link under 'Related Links' titled 'The NSA's domestic spying program', it takes you to an NYT article/video on William Binney! The Program Is this the NSA being disingenuous?

Posted by: William Bowles | Jun 11 2013 19:51 utc | 55

You are not the only one using the panopticon allegory:

The Virtual Panopticon – Edward Snowden and China – by PETER LEE, CounterPunch

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Jun 11 2013 20:17 utc | 56

#48 Yes Mr Pragma, it is all the work of the underground reich, and snowden is a crypto-nazi.

Posted by: hank ketchum | Jun 11 2013 20:31 utc | 57

'If You Have Nothing to Hide, You Have Nothing to Fear'

so its OK for anyone to spy on the NSA? or the USregime, or the police or,....

so videoing the police is OK?

Posted by: brian | Jun 12 2013 1:14 utc | 58

Posted by: William Bowles | Jun 11, 2013 1:06:30 PM | 49

webster tarpleys comments are also interesting:

On the same day that Qusayr fell, the British and French governments hysterically demanded that Obama undertake a total bombing campaign against Syria, whatever the consequences in regard to Russia and other powers. To his credit, Obama is continuing to say no to this lunatic Anglo-French neocolonial adventure. On that same June 5, the London-based daily The Guardian, in an article by the expatriate American Glenn Greenwald, hyped a court order from the secret FISA panel of federal judges showing that the US National Security Agency was routinely monitoring the telephone records (including time, locations, call duration, and unique identifiers, but not the contents of the conversations) of possibly unlimited millions of Verizon phone subscribers. Back in the US, reactionary talk show hosts began screaming “Obama taps your phones!”

On June 6, again in advance of every other newspaper in the world, The Guardian published another article by Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill revealing that the National Security Agency, under a program called Prism, had obtained direct access to the servers of Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Apple, Youtube, Skype, AOL, and Microsoft, and was busily monitoring the content of e-mails, file transfers, and live conversations. Back in the US, reactionary talk show hosts began screaming, “Obama reads your e-mail!”

Under George Bush, warrantless wiretaps and similar illegal programs were revealed by various media organs. These revelations had minimal impact on Bush, whose base was indifferent to civil liberties. Obama’s base, by contrast, cares very much, and has been visibly upset by these new reports. While strongly condemning these totalitarian programs, we must also not lose sight of who is putting these reports into circulation, and why. Phone taps are bad, but a general war in the Middle East leading to a possible Third World War is far worse.

Posted by: brian | Jun 12 2013 1:16 utc | 59

misplaced outrage: the outrage over Snowden by the public is reminiscent of the outage over the Danish cartoon by muslims....Obama can bomb and bomb and the public is silent: the idea we are being watched tho upsets us

Posted by: brian | Jun 12 2013 1:31 utc | 61

@Mr. Pragma | Jun 11, 2013 1:05:11 PM | 48, trust me, you would be shocked who works for the Gov, and Org's that operate globally; some of the contractors follow the first 3 letters 'Con'. In my years I have seen some oddities as employees/contractors; take G4S, a large Sec Co, NASA and other sites, just vet the personal and you would fall over laughing, I can site many ‘irregular’ incidents, then look at all the US Embassies oversees, go through procurement, contractors, vendors, local staffing, security providers and you will be knocked back saying WTF. All too often IT is outsourced, the UN has an India Co for example, the contractors are not vetted, it is moronic, they are privy to code cables, confidential documents, staff details, some are even illegally in mission areas (Void of visa). What looks stringent and secure on paperwork is not the case. That is why I blow a fuse on this type of spying, it’s the hands it can fall in, names, addresses, bank accounts; now if E.S got data, who else has, he was not the first or the last, that would be a fact! This is an epic cluster F***, and all the media steered by Gov is doing is E.S finger pointing, and blaming his actions when the blame is clearly on poor oversight, serious breaches, and based on a very ‘Grey’ if not downright illegal data collection move by Gov and Private sectors.

Posted by: kev | Jun 12 2013 1:41 utc | 62

NSA CIA MOSSADand all politicians and conmens favourite words are 'trust me'

Posted by: brian | Jun 12 2013 1:48 utc | 63
now why would CNN quote Assange at all?

Posted by: brian | Jun 12 2013 2:42 utc | 64

@Brian# 63 - Likewise for Dr.'s, Car salesmen, insurance brokers, boy & Girlfriends, family members, writers of checks, gamblers, cheaters, mothers, fathers, son's daughters; though a bit dubious from those who comment on 'trust me'. CNN comments are correlation, Bad boy, and new bad boy; one bad boy supporting the other - again difusing and distraction from the real issue and crime, it's CNN! Much like many dont open dialog on that aspect (THe crime) and rather highlight the messenger.

Posted by: kev | Jun 12 2013 3:34 utc | 65

Folks - I will not take anyone serious who points to Willy Loman. That guy is a running conspiracy theory machine without much regard for facts.

Posted by: b | Jun 12 2013 9:13 utc | 66

fair enough B, but make sure you dont suffer the fate of those who were led to believe there were 'arabsprings'

Posted by: brian | Jun 12 2013 9:44 utc | 67

a problem

Snowden says he doesnt want to live in a society that does these things....yet he works for the NSA....was he naieve to think they dont do those things?

hasnt he seen Enemy of the State? or even The Simpsons movie?

Posted by: brian | Jun 12 2013 10:05 utc | 68

"... his follower James (and his son John's)" in @9 I left out the key word, the family surname of James and John Stuart Mill.

Posted by: bevin | Jun 12 2013 13:26 utc | 69

@Brain, 'the problem' = Brian - YouTube, Simpsons? – He is 29; sure he had aspirations, e.g. ‘USA all the way’ or a possible career, whatever, we all do the same. Most people that start a career find that it’s not what they expected, (If not all of us when we get older) , most get stuck in that rut, and then to keep your job live with a reality check, do or die, as it pays your way. At first you start with passion, excitement, then the BS pulls you down, you tend not to ‘rock the boat’ as it is also a financial crutch; I am not ashamed to say it, been there a few times myself.

What we are seeing is just that, and the MSN media is taking the ‘Leaker’ route; not ‘Whistle Blower’ - is it even a legal term? Well it’s not, it is a media spun ‘throw it out there’ and an deliberate change perception; camouflage, smoke screen, for the general public, as it seems they are all very stupid, and must be because we watch, and let it run its course, discuss over a coffee, and its yesterdays news, welcome to being a citizen; history proves that.

The reality - What we are seeing is Edward Snowden and him being the focus, in turn, exposed, the flaws (Although accepted at the time);and something we all have -What we are NOT seeing is the truth and the real story, or the poor oversight, mishandling, violations and abuse by Gov and actors in the Private sector, end of story!

Picture this; and deliberate the logic. It is fine to pay, give incentives, reduce sentences for informants, even provide then a new Identity and lifestyle; most informants are equally criminal, or very much complicit, they have no code of ethics to either side. But this is a part of the legal system V’s a whistle blower, who exposes grave injustice and is then persecuted – WTF. Example, and one of many, but will use a ‘popular’ media example for arguments sake; James "Whitey", Boston's (Hope that does not trigger NSA) most notorious gangster, worked hand-in-hand with FBI, pushing out his Mob rivals in exchange for protection, what one would call a Rat, irrelevant of the side, same code, a wanker. Did it stop the FBI and others to pay out? Did is F***, point in case, just as corrupt and complicit.

Like b, stated #68 WL, or Scott (Scott Creighton) as I mentioned previously, is just a cheap plagiarist riding on ego and adding variants in the hope that one of his ‘Many angles in a post’ may come true - the classic told you so hopeful or wanker who covers all bases just to be in the spotlight.

Posted by: kev | Jun 12 2013 13:35 utc | 70

not a whole lot different from yourself and several others here, then.

Posted by: nobody | Jun 12 2013 13:43 utc | 71

Just to note and bookmark.

EXCLUSIVE: Whistleblower Edward Snowden talks to South China Morning Post The piece is just the teaser. There is more to come from the SCMP.

Posted by: b | Jun 12 2013 13:52 utc | 72

F-Me, nobody is perfect...

Posted by: kev | Jun 12 2013 14:07 utc | 73

RE: Class action against Obama, NSA, Verizon etc for 3 billion USD by Former Justice Department prosecutor Larry Klayman -In the case: The Strange element AKA parents of Michael Strange Cryptologist, SEAL Team 6) are suing PRISM. Michael was shot down in a helo call name Extortion 17 8.6.11. 31 spec ops were packed into one CH-47 Chinook. They flew into an ongoing fire fight with no cover, (no pre-assault fire). There was no return fire, the crash left so many questions and the families want a congressional hearing.

Not that it’s related, but one SEAL has had a gender change, Chris Beck's transformation from a male decorated U.S. Navy SEAL member to a woman (But still decorated, just with more panache/Style and rouge, but walks funny in heels), and now known as Kristin Beck . Blanche Oelrichs an American poet, playwright, and theatre actress known by the pseudonym, "Michael Strange." –Strange stuff…

Well back to the discussion, and why I think this is just a tactic; and a very long one. I have picked up many comments in blogs, 100’s, like this; “I've never been a party to a Class Action lawsuit,, but I'm joining this one”./” I'm in!! If it's a class action, I am signing up against Facebook, Yahoo and Google...I use all of these services.”

This admin process will be years and the paper trail will be so epic that it will just collapse. But still big smoke signals on this bombfire whatever the outcome...

Posted by: kev | Jun 13 2013 4:51 utc | 74

@56 - it was also included in a talk at a recent Chaos Computer Congress.

It's becoming part of zeitgeist for sure.


I'm of the opinion that Snowden is legitimate. His personality has the hallmarks of someone who might take a step like this.

I do think some very interesting things are going to start to happen as events take on a life of their own. Though obviously the actions he took involved an incredible amount of bravery, I have the feeling that he might not have the strongest personality (I could be wrong). He's going to be subject to a great deal of manipulation and it will be interesting to see how he takes it.

Posted by: guest77 | Jun 13 2013 11:40 utc | 75

It get better hotter and is some serious shit - Got some background off my tech person, not sure if it’s just her take, yet it all seems plausable; it looks like this saga is reflecting on IBM, who is now laying off workers globally; IBM, and we were already having serious trouble selling our cloud based software solutions in Europe because of concerns about the US government spying on transactions. So the catalyst for all, the mechanics was ‘Cloud’ (A driver), so that tech (Google) was deployed for a very good reson, but sold as cost saving. For example, a cloud computer facility which serves European users during European business hours with a specific application (eg. email) while the same resources are getting reallocated and serve North American users during North America's business hours with another application (eg. web server). This approach should maximize the use of computing powers thus reducing environmental damage as well, since less power, air conditioning, rackspace, and so on, is required for the same functions, the majority based in the US. In turn, Cloud was formed and sold as a ‘Cost cutting’ attribute, and Security could improve due to centralization of data, increased security-focused resources, etc., but concerns can persist about loss of control over certain sensitive data, and the lack of security for stored kernels. Security is often as good as or better than other traditional systems, in part because providers are able to devote resources to solving security issues that many customers cannot afford, but that the kicker, who controls the security, also is the ‘all seeing eye’! Now remember, we have public cloud, and private cloud, 98% are on the public platform, but the 1% are provided for by those in bed! And the outstanding 1% is a hybrid, so just as controlled.

Cloud computing and it’s privacy concerns, be it Verizon or ATT for example (Keeping it relevant) the service provider can access the data that is on the cloud at any point in time. They could accidentally or deliberately alter or even delete information, also pass it on without consent as seems to be the case. On that note: In a virtualized cloud computing environment, customers may never know exactly where their data is stored. In fact, data may be stored across multiple data centers (US, UK, India) in an effort to improve reliability, increase performance, and provide redundancies. This geographic dispersion may make it more difficult to ascertain legal jurisdiction if disputes arise, or who has access and by whom (The administrators, mostly 3rd party). In a nutshell a total cluster fuck!

So how did they get around it, or thought they did? The EULA as a contract.
You can't even see it until you have accepted the purchase or use. By the time you are installing the program, you can't refund it even if you decline the EULA. The EULA came after that transaction, and the purchaser/user was not informed of such. Transactions do not work that way. No court can accept such an agreement but we all accept those terms, it’s a norm without a legal base. However; these days, most companies state that by uploading whatever, you give them a license to use it in connection with their service.
For example, the Google terms of service say:

When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones.
The Facebook terms of service are broader about the allowed usages, but they still say nothing about transferring ownership:
For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.

In addition, she told me just to look at the market this week, and watch the correlation and fall of stocks that have the Social Media, more so those in the very recent class action against not only the players like FB, Yahoo, but the administration and its legal arms, its chaos. Apparently one keyword that freaks the ‘system’ is BITCOIN! So please don’t place that in blogs or emails, or it will be more ‘hit/flagged’ than all the expected; keywords, so remember, no use of the word bitcoin at all! (Do it!!!)

Just to note, the IT gal, “ The US and visiting; After having many requests by TSA in a row to open my laptop and unlock the domain password to access the desktop, I do not take a laptop to the US. The only other place I have been to worse, is Israel.

In that, risking the health of a multi trillion dollar industry was worth whatever you were trying to achieve here, but they are on the back foot...

So weather forecast today; Could’y’, with downfalls, lighting may strike, and blackouts.

Posted by: kev | Jun 13 2013 12:30 utc | 76

Snowden is home free if he stays in HK. Apparently, China maintains the right to veto ANY judicial finding by HK courts if, in China's opinion, the decision crosses one of China's security, human rights or 'other' red lines.
So on the extradition gambit the score is
Obama Mafia = 0
China = 10

I find all this chatter about metadata to be slightly less convincing than most other Yankee hokum, on several levels.
1. The Security-Industrial Complex has been worse than useless at preventing terrist acts. They can't point to one plot they've prevented.
2. Considering all the secrecy required to protect individuals behaving as criminally as NSA employees are, it's a pretty safe bet that NSA expends more of its resources on protecting itself from prosecution than on "Keeping Americans Safe."
3. I've read Kieren whats-his-name's Paul Revere treatise on metadata and (leaving aside the fact that Paul Revere is irrelevant to 2013), imo, all it proves is that if there's no pre-existing list of known organisations, individuals, groups AND their aims then, even if there was enough metadata to fill the Known Universe, it couldn't and wouldn't help to make useful connections. This means that NSA has no choice but to sift through the content it is intercepting.
4. There has been legislation in place in most Western countries for at least 10 years making it illegal to use strong encryption on the www. (When Oz went from analogue to digital cellular networks circa 1999, the telcos were planning strong encryption but the Govt bowed to Yankee pressure and agreed that half-arsed encryption would be good enough for Aussies.

Considering NSA's track record it's fairly obvious that they neither know nor care how to go about their business in a professional manner. There are several ways to frustrate lazy and incompetent Govt spying.
1. Get more than 1 cellphone (in Oz you can own 5).
2. Never send 1 email when you could send 2, or 3, or 4 or more... you can split any email into 3 emails and send each third 3 times with a comma in a different place in each duplicate. (A minor variation in a text file is a major variation to a computer). If everyone pitches in and helps, we could all well-paid (bored shitless) employees of NSA by this time next year ... sifting through mountains of meaningless crap we sent ourselves and each other.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jun 17 2013 9:21 utc | 77

Here's Steve Gowans' take on NSA spying.

Police states, Theirs and Ours

His conclusion is that all states spy on their citizens and will continue to do so for widely diverse reasons. It would be nice to see someone 'prove' he's wrong but, superficially at least, he isn't.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jun 17 2013 14:39 utc | 78

You've probably seen it already, b, but if not the first link (to Cryptome) in Xymphora's June 19 post lists some very juicy stuff pertaining to security/secrecy/spying and lying.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jun 20 2013 4:36 utc | 79

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