RSSCategory: Orwellian

I have nothing to hide

October 9, 2013 | By | Reply More

Film Maker Laura Poitras responds as follows to those who say (in reaction to revelations regarding the surveillance state) “I have nothing to hide”:

If someone says, “I have nothing to hide,” does that mean they want a camera in their bedroom? Or that they want their computer to be a two-way camera, feeding information into a government office? Do they want a switch that can be flipped so that your phone becomes a microphone streaming your personal conversations to the government? Most people who make the argument “I have nothing to hide” don’t fully understand the technical capabilities that the government has. They are vast. All these devices that we carry around with us can, at the flip of a switch, be turned against us. Our most intimate moments, our beings, ourselves… It can become an Orwellian nightmare where all these tools that we surround ourselves with can beam our whole life to people sitting in some secret government facility.
It’s not that the government is necessarily interested, it’s that there’s nothing to stop them, legally or technologically. And a person would never know when it’s happening. They won’t tell you because it’s all a secret. I have a Gmail account, and I assume that everything is being handed over, probably in real time, to the government, and I think I should have a right to know that that’s happening. There are no technical constraints to this becoming a full surveillance state. And we hardly have any oversight, and any laws that exist are all happening in secret.


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Hostile BBC reporter tries to bait Glenn Greenwald

October 4, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

In this interview/inquisition, Glenn Greenwald puts up with more establishment media questioning, i.e., reporters who feel that their job is to do the bidding of their governments rather than to shed light on government abuses and corruption.


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Encryption tools for journalists

October 1, 2013 | By | Reply More

Glenn Greenwald recently answered questions on Reddit, including the following:

Reddit comment: “Thanks for doing this. At the university I work at, we are putting together a workshop for Media Professionals, including journalists regarding IT security. We plan on covering: PGP, truecrypt, TOR, OTR, and strongbox. What tools, concepts, or techniques should we be teaching aspiring journalists?”

Glenn Greenwald: “That’s so great to hear. One of the most gratifying things I’ve seen since this all started is how many journalists now communicate using PGP, Pidgen, OTR, TOR and similar instruments of encryption.
Just as was true for me, so many national security journalists – including some of the most accomplished ones at large media outlets, the ones who work on the most sensitive materials – had no idea about any of that and used none of it. Now they do. In this age of a War on Whistleblowers and sources and ubiquitous surveillance, it’s absolutely vital that journalists learn advanced encryption methods and use it.”

It’s a shame that modern day journalists need to spend so much time learning about and using encryption technology to protect their sources from spying by the United States and other governments. What would the founding fathers have said about this more than 200 years ago, that the federal government is spying on its own citizens without probable cause and even spying on journalists?


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Terrorism = Criticism of Terrorism

September 25, 2013 | By | Reply More

It is my belief that the reckless use of drones is a form of terrorism, and that the U.S. is engaging in the reckless use of drones against various populations in the Middle East. Therefore I noticed Glenn Greenwald recent article that the definition of “terrorism” has been broadened even further by U.K authorities:

A well-known and highly respected Yemeni anti-drone activist was detained yesterday by UK officials under that country’s “anti-terrorism” law at Gatwick Airport, where he had traveled to speak at an event. Baraa Shiban, the project co-ordinator for the London-based legal charity Reprieve, was held for an hour and a half and repeatedly questioned about his anti-drone work and political views regarding human rights abuses in Yemen.

When he objected that his political views had no relevance to security concerns, UK law enforcement officials threatened to detain him for the full nine hours allowed by the Terrorism Act of 2000, the same statute that was abused by UK officials last month to detain my partner, David Miranda, for nine hours.

Shiban tells his story today, here, in the Guardian, and recounts how the UK official told him “he had detained me not merely because I was from Yemen, but also because of Reprieve’s work investigating and criticising the efficacy of US drone strikes in my country.”

The notion that Shiban posed some sort of security threat was absurd on its face. As the Guardian reported Tuesday, “he visited the UK without incident earlier this summer and testified in May to a US congressional hearing on the impact of the covert drone programme in Yemen. Viewing anti-drone activism as indicative of a terrorism threat is noxious.”


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Putting Larry Summers in charge of the Federal Reserve is absurd

September 15, 2013 | By | Reply More

Lee Camp explains why it is absurd for Barack Obama to even be considering putting Larry Summers in charge of the Federal Reserve.

Here is the referenced article by Greg Palast. Here’s an excerpt:

The Memo confirmed every conspiracy freak’s fantasy: that in the late 1990s, the top US Treasury officials secretly conspired with a small cabal of banker big-shots to rip apart financial regulation across the planet. When you see 26.3% unemployment in Spain, desperation and hunger in Greece, riots in Indonesia and Detroit in bankruptcy, go back to this End Game memo, the genesis of the blood and tears.

The Treasury official playing the bankers’ secret End Game was Larry Summers. Today, Summers is Barack Obama’s leading choice for Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, the world’s central bank. If the confidential memo is authentic, then Summers shouldn’t be serving on the Fed, he should be serving hard time in some dungeon reserved for the criminally insane of the finance world.

The memo is authentic.


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Thank you, NSA

September 10, 2013 | By | Reply More

David Meyer “thanks” the NSA for making us all insecure. His analysis is spot on, and it should outrage everyone who has tried to password protect anything on the Internet:

What is so jaw-droppingly idiotic about your actions is that you have not only subverted key elements of modern cryptography, but you have also appointed yourself as the guardian of the knowledge that the resulting vulnerabilities exist. And if your own security systems were up to the task, then those secrets wouldn’t be sitting in the offices of the New York Times and ProPublica.

One must possess a Panglossian view on things to assume that Edward Snowden was the first person out of the many thousands in his position to make away with such material. He brought it to the public, and without that move there’s a good chance you wouldn’t have even known he took it. So who else has it? Bet you have no idea. So well done; you’ve probably put your own citizens at risk.


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Surveillance state run amok: Another reason most decent people won’t run for public office

August 25, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

What if you were a reasonably smart and good-hearted person who was willing to run for national political office? You most likely wouldn’t because of numerous financial, social and institutional hurdles, some of which I’ve described here. If you were undeterred by those hurdles, you would be somewhat likely to be a psychopath, and you shouldn’t be allowed to serve in a position of public trust.

But let’s say you were one of those rare people who was ready to persevere through all of these hurdles. Well, there would be one more hurdle for you, one that was described by Glenn Greenwald back in November 2012, well before the Edward Snowden Story broke. The situation was the affair of General Petraeus, particularly the vast invasion and public outing of his emails to and from Paula Broadwell. All of this occurred, courtesy of the security state in a situation where no crime had been alleged.

This is a disturbing example of how, at a push of a button, one’s emails are easily accessible, and that the surveillance state doesn’t give a crap about personal privacy. More recent revelations related to Edward Snowden’s disclosures indicate that the surveillance state grabs virtually all of our emails and stores them for later analysis, meaning that they are available to dissuade one from running for office whenever the surveillance state decides to promulgate the most private aspects of your life. Here’s is an excerpt from Greenwald’s description of this real life problem, illustrated by the affair of General Petraeus:

So all based on a handful of rather unremarkable emails sent to a woman fortunate enough to have a friend at the FBI, the FBI traced all of Broadwell’s physical locations, learned of all the accounts she uses, ended up reading all of her emails, investigated the identity of her anonymous lover (who turned out to be Petraeus), and then possibly read his emails as well. They dug around in all of this without any evidence of any real crime – at most, they had a case of “cyber-harassment” more benign than what regularly appears in my email inbox and that of countless of other people – and, in large part, without the need for any warrant from a court.

But that isn’t all the FBI learned. It was revealed this morning that they also discovered “alleged inappropriate communication” to Kelley from Gen. Allen, who is not only the top commander in Afghanistan but was also just nominated by President Obama to be the Commander of US European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe (a nomination now “on hold”). Here, according to Reuters, is what the snooping FBI agents obtained about that [emphasis added]:

“The U.S. official said the FBI uncovered between 20,000 and 30,000 pages of communications – mostly emails spanning from 2010 to 2012 – between Allen and Jill Kelley . . . .

“Asked whether there was concern about the disclosure of classified information, the official said, on condition of anonymity: ‘We are concerned about inappropriate communications. We are not going to speculate as to what is contained in these documents.'”

So not only did the FBI – again, all without any real evidence of a crime – trace the locations and identity of Broadwell and Petreaus, and read through Broadwell’s emails (and possibly Petraeus’), but they also got their hands on and read through 20,000-30,000 pages of emails between Gen. Allen and Kelley.

This is a surveillance state run amok. It also highlights how any remnants of internet anonymity have been all but obliterated by the union between the state and technology companies.

Therefore, no matter who you are, even if you are a decent and intelligent person, the system has all but guaranteed that you won’t run for prominent public office. After all, if you have lived a real life, a meaningful life, you likely have at least a few skeletons in your closet. If you doubt this, go ahead and run for high political office and we’ll see what falls out.


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Recurring haunting thought

August 16, 2013 | By | 5 Replies More

Recurring haunting thought: A formal democracy is not at all inconsistent with a country trending toward dictatorship. Given our bizarre national priorities (I’m referring to the various planet-destroying and hyper-xenophobic policies where the aims of the two major parties INTERSECT), one could meaningfully advocate today for a revolution by which the control of the United States government should be handed to the People. I can imagine people scoffing at this idea: “Isn’t that what we already HAVE?” Sure. On the books, that’s what we have.

How much things have changed in the U.S. that so many high-placed prominent government officials publicly construe common folks who want to be well-informed about government misconduct to be dangerous enemies. How far we’ve come, that a former President declares that “America has no functioning democracy at this moment.” How far we’ve come that it’s so difficult to get so many people to wrest themselves from their TV and sports obsessions in order that they can regain focus enough to see the danger of our policies divesting regular folks of any meaningful political power. If this seems like hyperbole, check out “Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America” by John Nichols and Robert McChesney.


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The continuing shame of Guantanamo

August 15, 2013 | By | Reply More

This is not my country. What we are doing to most of the prisoners at Guantanamo is disgusting and shameful. This article by John Grisham makes U.S. misconduct vivid:

[T]he US was throwing money at anyone who could deliver an out-of-town Arab found in the region. Nabil was sold to the US for a bounty of $5,000 and taken to an underground prison in Kabul. There he experienced torture for the first time. To house the prisoners of its war on terror, the US military put up a makeshift prison at Bagram air base in Afghanistan. Bagram would quickly become notorious, and make Guantánamo look like a church camp. When Nabil arrived there in January 2002, as one of the first prisoners, there were no walls, only razor-wire cages. In the bitter cold, Nabil was forced to sleep on concrete floors without cover. Food and water were scarce. To and from his frequent interrogations, Nabil was beaten by US soldiers and dragged up and down concrete stairs. Other prisoners died. After a month in Bagram, Nabil was transferred to a prison at Kandahar, where the abuse continued.

Throughout his incarceration in Afghanistan, Nabil strenuously denied any connection to al-Qaida, the Taliban or anyone or any organisation remotely linked to the 9/11 attacks. And the Americans had no proof of his involvement, save for bogus claims implicating him from other prisoners extracted in a Kabul torture chamber. Several US interrogators told him his was a case of mistaken identity. Nonetheless, the US had adopted strict rules for Arabs in custody – all were to be sent to Guantánamo. On 15 February 2002, Nabil was flown to Cuba; shackled, bound and hooded.


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