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Member since: 2002
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Journal Archives

Al Jazeera America starts NOW! 3 pm EDT. On the former Current TV.

Check your local listings!

Rachel Maddow: "Journalism is NOT terrorism." She is supporting Greenwald. "It's an outrage."

Very skeptical of the US given "advance notice" that Miranda was going to be detained - and letting it go ahead.

Paraphrase: If the US wants to convince the world that Greenwald and Poitrus are wrong about govt over-rearch - then putting journalists through interrogation, letting our supposed ALLIES detain them - is an outrage.


Go Rachel. This is a defining issue. Are you on the right side or the wrong side? Rachel is on the RIGHT SIDE.

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Edited to add video. Thanks, flpoljunkie for posting it!

Are Manning and Snowden patriots? That depends on what we do next.

The spying is all about power and perpetual war. The all-knowing, all-powerful State.

By Andrew J. Bacevich



Wars — either actual hostilities or crises fostering the perception of imminent danger — facilitate this process. War exalts, elevates and sanctifies the state. Writing almost a century ago, journalist Randolph Bourne put the matter succinctly: “War is the health of the state.” Among citizens, war induces herd-like subservience. “A people at war,” Bourne wrote, “become in the most literal sense obedient, respectful, trustful children again, full of that naive faith in the all-wisdom and all-power of the adult who takes care of them.”

Bourne’s observation captures an essential theme of recent U.S. history. Before the Good War gave way to the Cold War and then to the open-ended Global War on Terror, the nation’s capital was a third-rate Southern city charged with printing currency and issuing Social Security checks. Several decades of war and quasi-war transformed it into today’s center of the universe. Washington demanded deference, and Americans fell into the habit of offering it. In matters of national security, they became if not obedient, at least compliant, taking cues from authorities who operated behind a wall of secrecy and claimed expertise in anticipating and deflecting threats.


Critics and outsiders are not privy to the state’s superior knowledge; they are incapable of evaluating alleged threats. Here is the mechanism that confers status on insiders: the control of secrets. Their ownership of secrets puts them in the know. It also insulates them from accountability and renders them impervious to criticism.


To understand this is to appreciate the importance of what Manning and Snowden have done and why their actions have produced panic in Washington. Here is irrefutable evidence of dissent penetrating the machine’s deepest recesses. Thanks to a couple of tech-savvy malcontents, anyone with access to the Internet now knows what only insiders were supposed to know.

By taking technology that the state employs to manufacture secrets and using it to make state secrecy impossible, they put the machine itself at risk. Forget al-Qaeda. Forget Iran’s nuclear program. Forget the rise of China. Manning and Snowden confront Washington with something far more worrisome. They threaten the power the state had carefully accrued amid recurring wars and the incessant preparation for war. In effect, they place in jeopardy the state’s very authority — while inviting the American people to consider the possibility that less militaristic and more democratic approaches to national security might exist.

In the eyes of the state, Manning and Snowden — and others who may carry on their work — can never be other than traitors. Whether the country eventually views them as patriots depends on what Americans do with the opportunity these two men have handed us.

By Andrew J. Bacevich, Published: August 16

Andrew J. Bacevich is a professor of history and international relations at Boston University. He is the author of “Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country.”

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Press Corps Fails To Ask Any NSA Questions At Obama’s NSA Press Conference

Press Corps Fails To Ask Any NSA Questions At Obama’s NSA Press Conference
Gregory Ferenstein


The White House Press Corps just completely botched the one opportunity we had to learn details about the National Security Agency’s spying program, and the rationale for sweeping government surveillance. During the hour-long press conference President Obama held specifically to answer questions about the NSA, not a single journalist asked him details about the NSA. As a result, we learned precisely zero information from something slated to be critically informative.


Let’s review:

Today, President Obama held a last-minute press conference to announce 4 vague reforms to the intelligence community. We have more details here, but essentially, it boils down to 1) a new independent NSA review board that will publish recommendations on protecting civil liberties 2) a new website detailing the surveillance activities 3) changes to the Patriot Act authorizing the spying, and 4) a new public advocate to argue cases in the secret court that grants the NSA spying requests.

After the announcements, Obama opened himself up to questions. Because no one asked any details about the NSA, Here’s what we still don’t know:

1). Do foreign governments swap information with one another to skirt spying laws? British spy agencies reportedly tap the undersea cables used to carry Internet data and share it with the NSA. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) may forbid American agencies from collecting information on domestic targets, but we have no idea whether Britain’s equivalent, the GCHQ, is listening in on American phone calls abroad or watching their Internet behavior (then sharing it with US agents).

2). Have the NSA programs ever actually stopped an attack? A new NSA report [PDF] released today defending its practices notes that surveillance practices helped stop Najibullah Zazi from bombing the New York City Subway. But, as Ben Smith from BuzzFeed argues, it’s likely the first tip came from local police officers, who discovered evidence from a hard-drive of a co-conspirator, collected during the course of normal policy work. Will this new agency have to prove that the programs have ever been useful?

Senator Ron Wyden, who has seen the intelligence reports, likewise does not think they’ve been effective.

“As far as we can see, all of the useful information that it has provided appears to have also been available through other collection methods,” he wrote in a letter.

3). Why is it OK to monitor activity, even if it’s not read? The NSA reportedly keeps data for 5 years. More importantly, it looks at the communications of anyone who is “3 hops” from a suspect (a friend of a friend of a friend). The average person is 3 degrees away from millions of people, which effectively allows the NSA to spy on anyone adult they want. Simply holding the data may be ripe for abuse.




Do the people who have access ("journalists", even care?

NYT to Obama: A Weak Agenda on Spying Reform

A Weak Agenda on Spying Reform
Published: August 9, 2013 76 Comments

President Obama, who seems to think the American people simply need some reassurance that their privacy rights are intact, proposed a series of measures on Friday that only tinker around the edges of the nation’s abusive surveillance programs.


Fundamentally, Mr. Obama does not seem to understand that the nation needs to hear more than soothing words about the government’s spying enterprise. He suggested that if ordinary people trusted the government not to abuse their privacy, they wouldn’t mind the vast collection of phone and e-mail data.

Bizarrely, he compared the need for transparency to showing his wife that he had done the dishes, rather than just telling her he had done so. Out-of-control surveillance is a bit more serious than kitchen chores. It is the existence of these programs that is the problem, not whether they are modestly transparent. As long as the N.S.A. believes it has the right to collect records of every phone call — and the administration released a white paper Friday that explained, unconvincingly, why it is perfectly legal — then none of the promises to stay within the law will mean a thing.

If all Mr. Obama is inclined to do is tweak these programs, then Congress will have to step in to curb these abuses, a path many lawmakers of both parties are already pursuing. There are bills pending that would stop the bulk collection of communications data, restricting it to those under suspicion of terrorism. Other measures would require the surveillance court to make public far more of its work. If the president is truly concerned about public anxiety, he can vocally support legislation to make meaningful changes, rather than urging people to trust him that the dishes are clean.


And this comment from reader Karen Garcia sums it up:

That kitchen analogy not only fell flat, it reeked of the desperation of a demagogue who feels his control slipping away. The president essentially compared the Surveillance State to a henpecked husband (himself.) And we, the victims of government overreach, are the hysterical overbearing Lucy Ricardos with our silly concerns and demands for proof of his divine benevolence.

We won't be invited to the show or get a seat at the table, but he'll put up a webpage, maybe have another Google+ Hangout, invite a bunch of Villagers to meet behind closed doors, order a few more drone strikes, croon out a few more love songs, and proclaim that all is well in Happy Land, all the while reminding God to bless America.

This must be what Hannah Arendt meant by the banality of evil.

NSA paid British spy agency $100 mln in secret funds – new leak

NSA paid British spy agency $100 mln in secret funds – new leak
Published time: August 01, 2013 15:17

The NSA has made hush-hush payments of at least $100 million to Britain’s GCHQ spying agency over the past three years to influence British intelligence gathering operations. The payouts were revealed in new Snowden leaks published by The Guardian.

The documents illustrate that the NSA expects the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters, known as GCHQ, to act in its interest, expecting a return on the investment, The Guardian said Thursday.

Redevelopments at GCHQ’s site at Bude in southwest England, which alone cost over $20 million, were paid for by the US National Security Agency. The facility intercepts information from transatlantic cables carrying Internet and communications information.

The revelations appear to contradict previous denials from British government ministers that GCHQ does the NSA’s “dirty work.” In addition, the latest Snowden dossier details how British surveillance operations could be a “selling point” for the US.


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Adding original source: The Guardian

Your tax dollars at work!

NYT Ed Board calls BS on the NSA: "More Fog From the Spy Agencies"

The New York Times Editorial Board is calling bullsh*t on the the NSA's effort at "limited hangout" yesterday.

More Fog From the Spy Agencies
Published: July 31, 2013

The Obama administration released narrowly selected and heavily censored documents and sent more officials to testify before Congress on Wednesday in an effort to defend the legality and value of the surveillance of all Americans’ telephone calls. The effort was a failure.

The documents clarified nothing of importance, and the hearing raised major new questions about whether the intelligence agencies had been misleading Congress and the public about the electronic dragnet. At the end of the day, we were more convinced than ever that the government had yet to come clean on the legal arguments and court orders underlying the surveillance.


The administration released three documents. One was an April order by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which operates in secret, approving the collection of “all call detail records” from a company that was not named but was a Verizon subsidiary. The order resolved nothing about the fundamental question of why the program was needed and authorized in the first place.


The two other documents released Wednesday were letters to Congress saying the N.S.A. had really analyzed only a tiny fraction of the data it was collecting but failed to say why the enormous collection was necessary, legal or wise. Those legal arguments remain classified. The declassified letters said the collection efforts “significantly strengthen” the discovery of terrorists and their plots; the agency has previously claimed that 54 plots were disrupted by the collection of phone records and a separate, targeted collection of Internet data.

But those claims seemed to fade away on Wednesday. In his testimony, the best that John Inglis, deputy N.S.A. director, could come up with was that “there is an example” that “comes close to a ‘but for’ example.” Senators Mark Udall and Ron Wyden, who have been arguing for the termination of the bulk collection of telephone data, were joined by Mr. Leahy and Senator Charles Grassley, Republican of Iowa, in criticizing the N.S.A. director, James Clapper Jr., for falsely telling Congress that the agency was not collecting large volumes of data on Americans’ phone calls.

-edit -

More at:


Posted by chimpymustgo | Thu Aug 1, 2013, 10:13 AM (1 replies)

Bradley Manning trial: Military Fails to Link Leaks With Any Deaths

Military Fails to Link Leaks With Any Deaths

FT. MEADE, Md. (CN) - The largest intelligence leak in U.S. history, disclosed by Pfc. Bradley Manning to WikiLeaks, did not lead to the deaths of any military sources, the government's first sentencing witness testified Wednesday.

Manning has long admitted to sending WikiLeaks more than 700,000 confidential files, including U.S. embassy cables, Guantanamo detainee profiles, and footage of airstrikes that killed civilians.

The battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan are known as the war logs. WikiLeaks calls its Afghan War Diary "an extraordinary secret compendium of over 91,000 reports covering the war in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2010."

In 2011, then-Army Chief of Staff Mike Mullen had said that Manning and WikiLeaks "might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family" named in the leaked documents as a source of intelligence to the United States.

But Manning has insisted that he sent WikiLeaks only low-sensitivity categories of files that he believed would shed light on U.S. war fighting and statecraft. Three years of journalistic scrutiny into the effects of the leaks could not uncover a case of an intelligence source who was killed or injured because of the disclosures.

The military's position took another hit Wednesday, as the former brigadier general who headed the Information Review Task Force investigating the leaks said that he had never heard that a source named in the Afghan war logs was killed.


More details from the sentencing hearing:


Posted by chimpymustgo | Thu Aug 1, 2013, 08:11 AM (2 replies)
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