RSSCategory: hypocrisy

Teach the children of America about America’s secret courts

July 19, 2013 | By | Reply More

I wonder if American children in civics classes are taught about the secret courts of America?

Glenn Greenwald on Democracy Now.

That might be the most amazing thing about all of this, is that we have a secret court that meets in complete secrecy, with only the government present, and this court is issuing rulings that define what our constitutional rights are. How can you have a democracy in which your rights are determined in total secrecy by a secret court issuing 80-page rulings about what rights you have as a citizen? It is Orwellian and absurd. And I think one of the reforms that will come and is coming from our reporting is that a lot more light is going to be shined on the shenanigans that have been taking place within that court.

And after we teach them about our secret courts, we are just getting warmed up. Civics classes should also include lessons that our phone companies are happy accomplices to spying on their customers:

We’ve known for a long time that the telecoms—AT&T, Sprint, Verizon—are completely in bed with the United States government. Remember, the scandal of the NSA in the Bush years was that—not just that the Bush administration was eavesdropping on the calls of Americans without the warrants required by law, but also that the telecoms were vigorously cooperating in that program and turning over full and unfettered access to the telephone calls and records of millions of their customers even though there was no legal basis for doing so. And, in fact, the telecoms were on the verge of losing in court and being sued successfully by millions of their customers that they had violated their civil rights and also that they had violated their privacy rights and broken the law, criminally and civilly. And it was only because the Congress stepped in, with the leadership of both political parties, and retroactively immunized the telecoms. But the telecom industry makes massive profits on their extreme cooperation with these—with the NSA to allow all kinds of unfettered access to the communications of their customers. And so, the telecoms are the last people that want transparency brought to their cooperation with the NSA, because that would really shock people to learn just how untrustworthy those companies are when it comes to protecting the privacy of their customers’ communications.

What else is our government up to?

That Snowden has created some sort of “dead man’s switch” – whereby documents get released in the event that he is killed by the US government – was previously reported weeks ago, and Snowden himself has strongly implied much the same thing. That doesn’t mean he thinks the US government is attempting to kill him – he doesn’t – just that he’s taken precautions against all eventualities, including that one (just incidentally, the notion that a government that has spent the last decade invading, bombing, torturing, rendering, kidnapping, imprisoning without charges, droning, partnering with the worst dictators and murderers, and targeting its own citizens for assassination would be above such conduct is charmingly quaint).

Teach the children the truth. If you dare.

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Our secret court system

July 6, 2013 | By | Reply More

I’m a lawyer and I’d like to study U.S. surveillance court rulings, but I can’t, and you can’t either, because court rulings are secret. Our massively opaque government (all three branches) has truly become Kafkaesque. So much for the People running this country. The NYT reports:

In more than a dozen classified rulings, the nation’s surveillance court has created a secret body of law giving the National Security Agency the power to amass vast collections of data on Americans while pursuing not only terrorism suspects, but also people possibly involved in nuclear proliferation, espionage and cyberattacks, officials say.

The rulings, some nearly 100 pages long, reveal that the court has taken on a much more expansive role by regularly assessing broad constitutional questions and establishing important judicial precedents, with almost no public scrutiny, according to current and former officials familiar with the court’s classified decisions.

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Unequal access to secret information shows us who is doing real journalism

June 30, 2013 | By | Reply More

Chris Hayes nails it on MSNBC. The U.S. government and its many cronies in the mass media love to disburse secret information when it bolsters the position of the government. They take the opposite position when information embarrasses the U.S. government.

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Love his conclusion: The conduct of the vast and growing surveillance web is “on all of us what the government does in our name.”

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Barack Obama versus Ben Franklin

June 9, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

Many of the clever images I spot on Facebook do not list an author. This is one of them, and it really nails the current controversy regarding the NSA:

Obama - Franklin

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Parsing Obama’s terrorism speech

May 27, 2013 | By | Reply More

Glenn Greenwald characterizes Barack Obama’s recent terrorism speech as a Rorschach test–something for everyone:

The highly touted speech Obama delivered last week on US terrorism policy was a master class in that technique. If one longed to hear that the end of the “war on terror” is imminent, there are several good passages that will be quite satisfactory. If one wanted to hear that the war will continue indefinitely, perhaps even in expanded form, one could easily have found that. And if one wanted to know that the president who has spent almost five years killing people in multiple countries around the world feels personal “anguish” and moral conflict as he does it, because these issues are so very complicated, this speech will be like a gourmet meal. But whatever else is true, what should be beyond dispute at this point is that Obama’s speeches have very little to do with Obama’s actions, except to the extent that they often signal what he intends not to do.

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Personal revenge against dissenters

April 6, 2013 | By | Reply More

Glenn Greenwald writes:

One very common tactic for enforcing political orthodoxies is to malign the character, “style” and even mental health of those who challenge them. The most extreme version of this was an old Soviet favorite: to declare political dissidents mentally ill and put them in hospitals. In the US, those who take even the tiniest steps outside of political convention are instantly decreed “crazy”, as happened to the 2002 anti-war version of Howard Dean and the current iteration of Ron Paul (in most cases, what is actually “crazy” are the political orthodoxies this tactic seeks to shield from challenge). This method is applied with particular aggression to those who engage in any meaningful dissent against the society’s most powerful factions and their institutions.

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Vatican spokesman: We’re looking for Something New

March 12, 2013 | By | Reply More
Vatican spokesman:  We’re looking for Something New

A TV plays nonstop in the lunchroom at my workplace. Today, as I grabbed a snack, CNN was interviewing a “Vatican spokesman” (I didn’t catch his name, but he was the man on the right in this photo). While this interview was airing, the Cardinals were still deliberating. It occurred to me first of all that despite being guided by the “Holy Spirit” these men were struggling to make a decision. The Vatican Spokesman said to the CNN reporter, “We’re looking for Something New.” Amen to that.

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About Satan

March 9, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

Why did the alleged God banish the alleged Satan from the alleged heaven? Many Christian accounts of Satan bluntly conclude that Satan was full of pride, causing God to give him the boot. Which leads to the follow:

satan pride

I don’t know who creates these images, which are often posted on Facebook. They sharply challenge assertions commonly made by believers. Sometimes they challenge deeply held theological arguments. And as Ronaldo de Souza once suggested, theology is “intellectual tennis without a net.”

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Obama drone policy gets some sunshine

March 8, 2013 | By | Reply More

From Truthout:

Only because Rand Paul, Ted Cruz – and now others – have been willing to stand up to the administration and demand transparency on drone strike policy are Americans learning the chilling truth about the executive’s elastic definition of “imminence” in “imminent threat.”

If you’re concerned about the lack of transparency and accountability of the policy of drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, you have to concede that Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have done us a great service: Cruz, R-Texas, with his questioning of Attorney General Eric Holder in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Paul, R-Kentucky, with his widely reported filibuster on the Senate floor. Unfortunately, some Democrats don’t want to acknowledge this contribution. That’s a shame.

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