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scarletwoman

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Gender: Female
Hometown: Minnesota
Current location: up north
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 26,364

About Me

If you've clicked on my profile to see what it says, here's what you should know: The older I get, the more radical I get -- and I've already gotten pretty damn old.

Journal Archives

My take on it, if I may.

For me, one of the most important parts of Snowden's relevations is not just what they show about the extent of the NSA's surveillance, but the fact that this data collection has been placed in the hands of private contractors.

Private companies are being paid billions of taxpayer dollars and are profiting handsomely for doing NSA's dirty work. The current head of Booz Allen, the contractor who employed Snowden, is Mike McConnell, former head of the NSA. The current head of the NSA used to work for the Booz Allen. This incestuous revolving door relationship between private, for-profit corporations and government agencies basically guarantees that (a) funding for these operations will continue to grow, and (b) the War on Terror (which is the current raison d'etre for this whole surveillance apparatus) will never end, since it contributes so nicely to the private contractors' bottom line.

Aside from the scope of the surveillance itself, there's something very wrong here in regard to the whole paradigm of corporate/government entwinement. The trend is already well underway to treat activists and protestors as "terrorists" if they object to such things as environmental destruction (Fracking, Keystone Pipeline), animal cruelty (factory farms and slaughterhouses), or GMO crops (Monsanto).

It's not just the "Military Industrial Complex" that Eisenhower warned us about. It has now morphed into the Military Intelligence Complex, which cannot be anything but anathema to a "Republic of the People, by the People, and for the People." When the government can use its secret surveillance capability to treat its own people as potential threats, we are no longer living in a free democracy.

sw

The Security State infrastructure is self-perpetuating.

It knows no bounds. Like cancer cells it grows and reproduces in endless progression. It lives within its own bubble of self-justification. The government may direct it to chosen targets, but it cannot control it because the apparatus can just as easily turn its powers to the destruction of the agents of the government.

Since the end of WWII (at least) we've allowed this monster to grow uncontrolled in the shadows, until it has attained unimaginable powers and scope. When there is no where left to hide, what is there to do?

There is a story - to my regret I don't remember it very well, but the details probably don't matter so much - that I heard many years ago when I lived in Alaska. It was about a people, an indigenous tribe, who were being pursued by foreign invaders who would enslave them. The tribe's last hiding place was on a small island, not much more than a bit of rock with tall cliffs all around. Eventually the invaders reached the island and began to climb the cliffs. Seeing that no further escape was possible, and determined that slavery was not an option, the entire tribe - men, women, children - leaped off the cliffs to their deaths.

What will we do to resist our slavery to the military/intelligence complex?

Principiis obsta and Finem respice—‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’

They Thought They Were Free

"What no one seemed to notice," said a colleague of mine, a philologist, "was the ever widening gap, after 1933, between the government and the people. Just think how very wide this gap was to begin with, here in Germany. And it became always wider. You know, it doesn’t make people close to their government to be told that this is a people’s government, a true democracy, or to be enrolled in civilian defense, or even to vote. All this has little, really nothing, to do with knowing one is governing.

"What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.

"This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.

<snip>

"To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it—please try to believe me—unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.

"How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly educated ordinary men? Frankly, I do not know. I do not see, even now. Many, many times since it all happened I have pondered that pair of great maxims, Principiis obsta and Finem respice—‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’ But one must foresee the end in order to resist, or even see, the beginnings. One must foresee the end clearly and certainly and how is this to be done, by ordinary men or even by extraordinary men? Things might have. And everyone counts on that might.


Amid Data Controversy, NSA Builds Its Biggest Data Farm

As privacy advocates and security experts debate the validity of the National Security Agency's massive data gathering operations, the agency is putting the finishing touches on its biggest data farm yet.

The gargantuan $1.2 billion complex at a National Guard base 26 miles south of Salt Lake City features 1.5 million square feet of top secret space. High-performance NSA computers alone will fill up 100,000 square feet.

The Utah Data Center is a data farm that will begin harvesting emails, phone records, text messages and other electronic data in September.


Yes, I realize I've broken Godwin's Law with this post. Can't be helped. Think about this - The NSA gets $1.2 billion to build this gigantic data gathering center, while food stamps are cut, while Meals on Wheels are cut, while cuts to Social Security are being proposed. Because those programs are too expensive, because government is "too big".

The National Security State is stealing from all us - not just our data, but our common wealth, our prosperity, our prospects for forming a "more perfect union".

Please, consider the end.

sw

"The Origins of the Overclass" by Steve Kangas

IMHO, this ought to be required reading for anyone who wants to understand the workings of the National Security State, and the unholy alliance between our government and the Plutocrats. I used to post this piece semi-regularly on DU1, and once or twice on DU2, but it seems to me - in light of the current NSA controversy - it might be useful to post it again.

This piece is somewhat dated - Steve Kangas died in 1999 - however, the history he outlines of the confluence of Big Business/Wall Street is still valid as a primer to understanding the origins of what is happening today, when private contractors are collecting data for the NSA.

http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/L-overclass.html

The wealthy have always used many methods to accumulate wealth, but it was not until the mid-1970s that these methods coalesced into a superbly organized, cohesive and efficient machine. After 1975, it became greater than the sum of its parts, a smooth flowing organization of advocacy groups, lobbyists, think tanks, conservative foundations, and PR firms that hurtled the richest 1 percent into the stratosphere.

The origins of this machine, interestingly enough, can be traced back to the CIA. This is not to say the machine is a formal CIA operation, complete with code name and signed documents. (Although such evidence may yet surface — and previously unthinkable domestic operations such as MK-ULTRA, CHAOS and MOCKINGBIRD show this to be a distinct possibility.) But what we do know already indicts the CIA strongly enough. Its principle creators were Irving Kristol, Paul Weyrich, William Simon, Richard Mellon Scaife, Frank Shakespeare, William F. Buckley, Jr., the Rockefeller family, and more. Almost all the machine's creators had CIA backgrounds.

During the 1970s, these men would take the propaganda and operational techniques they had learned in the Cold War and apply them to the Class War. Therefore it is no surprise that the American version of the machine bears an uncanny resemblance to the foreign versions designed to fight communism. The CIA's expert and comprehensive organization of the business class would succeed beyond their wildest dreams. In 1975, the richest 1 percent owned 22 percent of America’s wealth . By 1992, they would nearly double that, to 42 percent — the highest level of inequality in the 20th century (my note: obviously it's gotten even worse in 2013).

How did this alliance start? The CIA has always recruited the nation’s elite: millionaire businessmen, Wall Street brokers, members of the national news media, and Ivy League scholars. During World War II, General "Wild Bill" Donovan became chief of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA. Donovan recruited so exclusively from the nation’s rich and powerful that members eventually came to joke that "OSS" stood for "Oh, so social!"


Please take a few minutes to read the whole piece. It's a bit of historical knowledge that everyone ought to be aware of.

Thanks,
sw

I don't care whether you approve or disapprove of Edward Snowden's leaks. What REALLY outrages me

is that fucking PRIVATE CONTRACTORS are carrying out this surveillance. PRIVATE CONTRACTORS who are beholden to no-one, who work for PROFIT, whose owners amass huge fortunes doing the bidding of the MIC/National Security State - THESE are the people who are being given access to all this data collection!

THESE are the people who can spend whatever they like IN SECRET to influence our elections and our entire political process. THESE are the people who can spend endless money on lobbyists to make sure that THEY get Defense Department contracts, who can spend endless money on lobbyists to make sure that secret surveillance continues to be approved by Congress.

Do you really think this just fine, just peachy? Do you really think that THIS is how a true democracy should work? Do you really think that giving private, for profit companies access to the apparatus of State Security is okay? Do you really think we should just trust THEM?

I mean - SHIT!
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